World Circumnavigation, those two words together send thousands of images shooting through my mind all at the same time. It’s like a race across the globe in a split second without even leaving my chair.
For me a world cruise will be the ultimate experience, it’s my life’s goal I suppose you could say. I one day hope I am lucky enough (and wealthy enough) to embark on a voyage that would see me at sea for several months and taking in some of the best destinations our planet has to offer.
Up to now I must admit I don’t think I have done badly at all when it comes to travel, I have visited so many wonderful places but I always feel like I need to be out there seeing more. My only concern however regarding a world cruise would be how do you possibly cope once back home? I almost fell apart after 5 weeks in the Caribbean let alone 2 or 3 months sailing around the world!
Every time P&O Cruises release their world cruise itineraries I find myself spending forever looking at the ports of call. In fact I am on the website now looking at Aurora’s 2014, 109-night world cruise. Yes, if I was able to do this trip one day then it would most certainly be with P&O Cruises, I can’t help myself!
These are some of the ports on the Aurora cruise: Nuku Alofa - Tongatapu, Tonga, Whitsunday Islands – Australia, Hong Kong – China, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia, Colombo - Sri Lanka, Reunion – Madagascar, Cape Town - South Africa, Luderitz – Namibia, Halong Bay – Vietnam and San Juan Del Sur – Nicaragua.
That’s just a tiny section of where she will be going and that little snippet alone is enough to make me want to get going right this very second. Can you imagine waking up in some of those places? I can but at the same time I can’t. Before my Caribbean cruise I felt the same way, you would see images of the destinations and think, boy I wish that could be me one day. Even when my Caribbean cruise was booked still didn’t quite believe I was going, neither did my friend. It only became real once we boarded the ship in Southampton. It wasn’t exactly a world cruise but it was still a mammoth trip, one that we were very lucky indeed to be able to do.
I know a few people that have done world cruises with P&O and not just once either, some have now done several and have plans to do more. The stories and photographs they come back with only fuel my ambition to one day do it myself.
If you hadn’t already figured it out, my blog today is a public announcement that I want to do a world cruise. So, now my question to you is who’s coming with me? (Well we have to try and keep the costs down! 😉 )
By Danielle aka CruiseMiss
Unless you have personally designed your own luggage or purchased a uniquely different set from a retailer, your luggage probably looks like mine – ordinary black, green or blue - basic and functional. Claiming your luggage on the bag carousel or in the cruise port terminal can be confusing, and it’s easy to walk away with someone else’s stuff when all the bags look alike.
Make your luggage stand out and easier to spot in the endless sea of bags. You don’t have to be an artist to individualize your bags. Try some of these simple tricks:
· Use colorful, unique name tags
· Wrap the handles in colorful tape, ribbon or store-bought handle wraps
· Accent with neon strips of duct tape
· Fasten ribbons, yarn or scarves to the bags
· Personalize it with stickers … they’re not just for kids!
A little bag decorating will go a long way in quickly identifying your bags, avoiding a mix-up and getting you swiftly on your way.
Have you ever noticed that after a cruise, especially if it is a long one, you struggle to get back into the simple things we do day in day out in life?
Like making the bed, such a chore to do again when someone has done it for you for several weeks yet you managed perfectly fine for the last however many years before boarding the ship. There are so many little things that become mammoth tasks you just can’t seem to face anymore. Being “looked after” for a few weeks really does make you appreciate when once back at home just how well we are taken care of whilst on board our favourite cruise ships, and how hard the crew work!!
Let’s take a typical day.
You shower and then place the towel on the floor or in the shower basin for it to be changed. Sadly if you do that at home unless you have cleaning fairies living with you then it’s still going to be there when you return from work. You venture down for breakfast and all that greets you is a box of corn flakes. Not quite the same as having a full English or continental waiting for you, is it?
The fine dining is nothing but a distant memory. Before the cruise you quite happily slaved away cooking a delicious family meal but now even a sandwich feels like something you just don’t have the energy for. You briefly think back to the ease of the lunchtime buffet and how right now you would do anything just to pop your head in and see what’s on offer. Instead you now have the choice of whatever is still edible in the refrigerator.
The evening’s entertainment has resorted back to things like CSI and BBC Drama’s with the occasional trip to the local pub. If you are really lucky a series of Hell’s Kitchen might be running on TV, this way at least you can watch your frustration of being back home, magically leave via Gordon Ramsay’s mouth as he screams expletives and throws scallops at the poor souls in the competition.
As the evening draws near you settle down after such a traumatic day, in a not so comfortable bed for a not so exciting night and to top it all off there’s no chocolate waiting for you. It’s at this moment you remind yourself that even the wake-up calls from god, also known as reception, are no more. You have to fend for yourself now and rely on the good old alarm clock.
Welcome back to reality, Oh yes! It feels wonderful to be back home, doesn’t it!
There are other little things that get to me though, for example even the toilet takes on a new form! The toilets in our homes are often a lot lower than they are on cruise ships, you return home and suddenly you have what feels like 5 extra miles to travel before finding it. Not the nicest experience in the middle of the night when one is still half asleep.
Anyway……this is my back to reality check…………..
To those of you about to embark on another cruise adventure, think of us, your fellow cruisers, who are struggling to once again come to terms with our loss! 😉
By Danielle aka CruiseMiss
When cruising to destinations near or far, chances are you’ll want to see parks, museums, historic buildings, castles and other popular attractions in your ports of call. While shore excursions with the cruise lines include tickets to must-see city sites, you may want to visit on your own and will need to purchase tickets for what you came to experience. When you only have so much time in port, you don’t want to waste it in line waiting for tickets. So plan ahead – and this is especially critical for the more popular visitor sites. Decide what you want to see most and, wherever possible, purchase your tickets on line in advance of your cruise.
For example, on a port stop last summer in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, I knew in advance that I wanted to see Edinburgh Castle, but not at the cruise line’s hefty price. As Edinburgh Castle is THE most popular place with visitors in all of Scotland, I knew lines would be incredibly long and form very early in the day. I went to the Historic Scotland website and purchased a 2-castle deal, which not only whisked us quickly into Edinburgh Castle, but also into Stirling Castle while on an independent Highlands tour from Glasgow. We simply printed out our on-line tickets and headed directly to the entrances of both castles, thereby skipping the long lines at the ticket counter and secretly laughing at the hundreds of people in the ticket lines.
Oh, and did I mention we saved money, too? By buying a multi-attraction ticket, we saved money off the individual ticket price. In the case of Historic Scotland, the more castles on your list to visit, the more you save, which is especially useful for those folks on a land tour of the country.
This summer, we will be visiting Alcatraz in San Francisco in advance of our Alaskan cruise on the Grand Princess. Knowing that Alcatraz is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco and sells out quickly, I booked tickets for the highly-rated evening tour the day it opened for sale. It’s a good thing, too. A week later, they were sold out – more than 12 weeks in advance!
For more on saving time and avoiding lines, read: Tips for Beating Long Lines on a Cruise Vacation
I am so excited, I am beside myself! Our new lightweight luggage has arrived and sits in my living room waiting to be filled with an endless variety of stuff befitting a 10-day Alaskan cruise. As I look at the assortment of wheeled bags in an array of sizes, I realize I went a little overboard in buying 7 pieces. What the heck was I thinking? I needed only a couple of replacements. But, hey - the old stuff was getting - well - old, so why not replace it all, I rationalized to myself. The kids will get the hand-me-down stuff currently stored in the basement. If they don’t want it, I’ll simply donate it.
Armed with my CruiseCrazies packing list, I have begun a list of things I need to purchase. For starters, I have grown weary of laminating my own cruise luggage tags that the cruise lines are too cheap to provide, so I have ordered plastic tags for this purpose. New luggage requires new ID tags in bright, bold colors, complete with blazingly bold duct tape to match, for easy identification in the endless ocean of bags at disembarkation. I am not keen on messing up my pretty new luggage with tape which will eventually peel off and thus look ugly, but my husband wants every step taken to assure a clean get-away when departing the terminal. So be it.
I so want to become a frugal, efficient cruise traveler and pack sparingly. Realistically, however, this will probably not happen – at least this time around. Being my first time to Alaska, my head is already swimming with multi-season items we need to pack. We have been watching videos of people who have cruised to Alaska. Images of people huddled in coats, hats, gloves, scarves and blankets outside on deck viewing glaciers and whales. Really? In August? Is it that cold in Alaska waters? How much winter clothing do I need to retrieve from the attic? I have been following the weather throughout the inside passage and tracking cruise ships along the way, hoping to get a feel for what to expect in the way of climate. However, the unusually warm weather experienced in the region over the last several weeks leaves me even more bewildered. I expect I'll need to pack for any sort of weather that comes our way.
My husband has mentioned checking two 25” suitcases - his and hers - and this from a man who usually packs two days of clothing for a 7-day cruise. I was hoping for one bag to check between the two of us and a carry on each. Correction – make that just one carry on for clothing. My husband’s carry on bag will no doubt be solely used for a vast array of camera gear to quench his thirst for all things phototography.
I have researched and written articles recently about slimming down and simplifying the packing process, but none of it has prepared me for the task that lay ahead.
So, I turn to you, my cruising friends who have packed for an Alaskan cruise. Please share your Alaska cruise packing secrets!
There are many relationships we have in life that help us become the greatest individuals we can be. Sometimes it's a close friend that pushes us to go after a job we're on the fence about, a personal trainer who believes you can when you're ready to throw in the towel or even a sibling giving that "mark the calender because you'll never hear me say these words about you ever again" speech that shocks us all. But there is one relationship that is better than anything - the bond between a father and son! I know first-hand with the relationship I have with my father God and I've also seen it through those I know. I want to introduce you to my cruise industry/Twitter friend Michael and his son, Colton.
It was in 2004 when Colton took his first cruise with his dad at only 10 months young! He sailed aboard Carnival Miracle from the Port of Baltimore and since, Colton has 13 cruises under his belt (which is pretty impressive)! He and his dad use the high seas for bonding and fun father-son time... even though "Mom" tags along, too! They admitted to me in our interview that they don't get too rowdy on ships with random pillow fights or impromptu handstand contest in cabin hallways (but that doesn't mean they haven't thought of doing it - haha). They say it doesn't take much for them to enjoy each other as a family. Mike mentions getting breakfast together and having alone time are special, cherished times that never get rushed (they make certain of it). Colton's mom and Mike wife even chimes in with words about cruising as a family Steph says, "Having that time together allows us to focus on being together as a family without distractions." And as I always say, a cruising family is a happy family!
When I asked Mike if he had any advice for father-son relationships who also share a love for cruising, he responded by saying, "It sounds simple, but just getting alone time is special. Family time is great when we’re all together, but I really value the time he and I get to spend on our own on a cruise. We’ve carved out a routine of getting that time together each morning, but you could do it any time really." Hear that, y'all? Mike ain't say nothing about dropping off your kid with the youth counselors for the whole cruise! LOL I don't have a close relationship with my father, but I do have the best of relationships with my mother and cruising was the common ground that rooted and grew us into the amazing life we know now. So I truly get how the high seas is a special place for any parent and child.
Seeing families like Mike and Colton on the high seas gives me hope for our young people. We've got men like Mike raising their kids as a father should - with love, care and global awareness! It's truly great to expose children to the wonders of the world and cruising is the best way, in my opinion, to do just that! These amazing guys don't foresee they'll out-grow cruising with each other and I can agree with that! Why else would they break the bond they've loved since '04? Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter (@spridlewv) and check out his blog with many cruise updates! Keep cruising and grooving, y'all and don't stop enjoying each other! What an awesome family, right? Be sure to give yours the best you've got - show them love and always spend crazy times with them on a cruise!
"All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..." So sings the trio Peter, Paul & Mary in the classic '70's song. Like all of us who traveled in those days, I'd venture a guess they had no worries about the weight, content or amount of luggage they toured around with. Back then there were few luggage fees. No 3-1-1 rule. No bare feet through security, and no pat downs. We just packed our bags, checked in as many as we wanted within reason, didn't give much thought to what we carried on the plane, and off we went on our merry way.
Nowadays, the airlines charge for everything except maybe using the restroom - and rest assured - that day may come. Of all the ways the airlines nickel and dime us, nothing raises our dander like luggage fees. Fees for checked bags, fees for carry-on luggage, and fees for overweight bags have forced us to rethink how we travel and the way we pack.
It's bad enough that we need to carefully consider the weight and size of our bags when packing before we leave. Even more critical now is the fact that we need to consider the extra stuff we'll come home with. Let's face it, we all buy some memento or other of the places you visit, and bag limits will be tested when you realize you will need to find room in the limited space you have left in your luggage - if any. Shopaholics especially will need to figure out how to fit all those new trinkets and gifts for friends back home without breaking the bank or the rules. Here are a few ideas which I intend to implement at some time in the future in my own travels.
1) If your luggage is expandable, take advantage of the extra inches. Just remember, in it's new larger size, it may no longer fit into the overhead bin, or if it's to be checked, it may exceed the weight limit.
2) Ship the stuff home. Some merchants will ship your purchases. Another option - though not as practical for just a day in port - is to find the nearest Post Office and ship it all home in a flat-rate box. Sure, shipping sounds pricey, but so are excess baggage fees at the airport.
3) Your third, and probably cheapest option, is to pack a foldable compact bag in your suitcase, such as a lightweight duffel or zippered tote bag. If the size and amount of your souvenirs are more than your luggage can handle, pack up the spare and check it at the airport. Although you may end up paying a checked-bag fee for an extra piece of luggage, this might be a more economical way to cart your souvenirs home than paying for international shipping, which is not cheap. Wrap some bubble wrap around any breakable items. If you didn't think ahead and pack bubble wrap, t-shirts or towels will do (but please don't steal the hotel's or cruise ship's towels). Depending on the size of the newly added piece, and any other hand luggage you may have, it may be possible to carry it aboard the plane.
Lastly, one final option is to not check any luggage at all. Instead, ship the bags directly to or from your destination. Federal Express and UPS, for example, both offer boxes and bags for holding luggage. Pack it up, the courier will pick it up and ship it directly to your hotel where it will await your arrival. My boss, in fact, recently did this to ship his black-tie formal wear for a wedding he was attending, and it all worked out just fine - and was super convenient!
For more tips on packing light and lightening your load, check out the article: Lighten Your Luggage and Avoid Baggage Fees
So have y'all been keeping tabs on what's been going down here at the Port of Baltimore between Carnival Cruise Line and the EPA? Well let me bring you up to speed: D-R-A-M-A! Before I give y'all the 411, let me just plug a personal anecdote in. Is that okay? Alright, so a few weeks ago I began looking at cruises to Bermuda from Baltimore (since it's only 15 minutes from my driveway). I was hopeful that Carnival would send Carnival Pride back to Bermuda... but when I pulled up her sailing schedule, it's only posted until April 2014 which had me raising an eyebrow (especially since Royal Caribbean has Grandeur of the Seas' sailings posted until next fall).
So I tweeted the Carnival Public Relations team and they told me they would get back to me on if they'll be going to Bermuda next summer. THEN I see something interesting in the Baltimore Sun about a week and a half later that pretty much stated Carnival Cruise Line has threatened to leave the Port of Baltimore all together! Say what? I KNOW! So now I'm just really at a loss for words.
Okay so here's what happened that's causing this "possible threat", three letters: E-P-A. Yeah, so the EPA told Carnival they had to get Carnival Pride burning some cleaner fuel in order for her to continue to moor here in Charm City (which I get and am okay with). But Carnival instead of agreeing with this new mandate has threatened (again, I say threatened and not confirms) to leave the Port of Baltimore. As a resident and tax payer to the state, I am all about having cleaner air to breath here in Maryland. And the inner cruise ship lover in me wants to see Carnival Pride stay in Baltimore, but if Carnival wants to leave... let them!
So our Governor, Martin O'Malley (D), has intervened on Carnival's behalf. He wants to see Carnival to stay, but from what I'm reading in reports from the Baltimore Sun, he is trying to get the EPA to lessen the regulation so Carnival will stay (which has many Mary;and residents upset). Carnival's argument is that if they make the enhancements needed to see that Carnival Pride burns cleaner fuel while in Maryland, they would then front the money to passengers who sail from Baltimore; stating an increase of around $5.00 per person. This is a story that is continuing to unfold so check back for an update from yours truly on this shocking news. In the mean time, check out the posted article in the Baltimore Sun and watch this video giving you my 2 cents on this. Until we talk ship again, keep cruising and grooving!
My husband and I were vacationing in a beach cottage on Cape Cod seven years ago in one of our favorite New England coastal destinations – Wellfleet, Mass. We arrived to our rental cottage on a Saturday afternoon under sunny skies with the promise of a relaxing week in a lounge chair by the shore. I awoke early Monday morning, went out the door, lost my footing, dropped to the ground and suffered a double fracture of my ankle. What followed next was pain beyond belief, a shot or two of morphine, an ambulance trip to the local hospital, immediate emergency repair of my floppy, broken ankle, and a two-night hospital stay.
Fortunately, for me, I was able to return to the cottage, complete with cast, boot and a pair of crutches - and a couple of friendly assistants.
Now imagine this same scenario, or a more severe medical catastrophe, while on a cruise at sea or on a remote island in the middle of nowhere in a far-away land. Medical evacuation alone can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A cruise or extensive land vacation is a big investment. Ask yourself if you can afford to lose the money you have paid. Most likely, your vacation will be perfect. However, mishaps do happen, and no one can predict the future. Weather delays, family illness, injury, and even death can force a premature end to your vacation.
Consider purchasing travel insurance. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind it will provide.
For more advice on the decision of travel insurance, read the article: Should You Buy Travel Insurance
Entry photo credit: www.kootation.com
I swear I'm not turning morbid. I am, however, turning 40. Maybe that's why this and my last post are a bit on the 'end of life' side. Here's a selection from my new book, Cruise a la Carte.
“I saw a ghost.”
“Mm hmm,” I replied.
“Really, mate!” Rick insisted.
I looked up from my magazine, waiting casually for the flood of profanity sure to follow. I need not wait long.
“A bloody, f@*#ing goddamn ghost!” he continued. His brow furrowed deeply and he stared at the galley deck. I was about to mock him, but chose instead to bite my tongue. Rick was shaking his head slowly back and forth, eyes staring at the floor… staring at nothing. With all those curls piled so high on his head, he reminded me of a fuzzy cat watching a tennis match on television. He was truly distraught. It was very late—I was only in the galley because my evening art auction ran exceptionally late—but I sensed he was too agitated to retire.
“You’re serious?” I said.
It wasn’t really a question. Of course he was serious. Rick was serious about everything that didn’t matter. Had this been an issue of business, safety, or protocol—not that the latter matters too much—Rick would have been flighty and distant, if not downright disdainful. But things that implied secrets, cover-ups, conspiracies, and knowledge beyond the ken of man? Oh, Rick was serious about those, all right.
“I’m not biting,” I replied, returning to my magazine.
“I really did,” Rick mumbled quietly.
Quietly? Rick was never quiet. Even when he was performing a massage—he was the spa manager—he wouldn’t shut up. Made a babbler like me seem mute. Now I was paying attention. Rick continued to stare at the floor, back and forth, back and forth.
“I saw it last night, too,” Rick continued. “But I wasn’t sure. I’d been hearing stories from Natalie for weeks, but blew them off. She drinks too much…”—he ignored my snort of derision—“…but then Claudia said she saw something, too. And now I have.”
“In the spa?” I asked, now intrigued. The spa was deep in the bowels of Wind Surf, down near the waterline, back near the marina. At night it was a very quiet, very lonely place. Strange that such a small ship utilizing every cubic inch had locations that felt… well, abandoned. Everything was clean and tidy, of course, but I’d always felt that hallway to be somehow… different.
“I’ve noticed things moving behind the desk a lot,” Rick said. “Hard to tell when bloody f@*#in’ staplers move on their own when you have four employees, though. But you know the melon slices we keep in the urn of drinking water? I heard a gurgle or something and looked up in their direction. In the blink of an eye—in the blink of a bloody eye—they vanished! Then—splat! Right in front of me, right in the middle of the desk, the melons reappeared. Soaked all my paperwork and everything. Bloody f@*#in’ weird, if you ask me. But even that wasn’t enough to convince me the spa was haunted. Not ’til now.
“I was doing paperwork. It was about midnight. A bloody f@*#in’ guest walked right past me. I saw her clearly as she passed. Middle-aged, long brown hair, and a T-shirt that made her look chunky. I told her we’re closed for the night, but she just walked through the spa and into Natalie’s massage room. I followed right behind her, calling out. I was angry, actually, because I’ve had a bad time with stupid passengers complaining all bloody f@*#in’ day. I was going to give this lady a piece of my mind. When I got to Natalie’s room I flipped the light switch on… and nobody was there!”
Rick was clearly shaken. While he and I had had some pretty knock-down, drag-out fights about whether or not UFO’s were parked in the center of the Earth—coming and going through the holes at the north and south poles, Rick insisted—I sensed he was genuinely scared. This, from a former Australian special forces operative who’d been in the middle of genocidal atrocities in East Timor.
In fact, Wind Surf had more resident ghosts than merely in the spa. The cruise director and shore excursion manager both swore they’d seen an apparition floating in the hallway outside the purser’s office, mid-ship. The specter was a shadowy, yet overt, outline of a man from the waist-up. Both knew instinctively it was male, though no features could be seen on the hazy head. Both had offices with doors open to the haunted hall. Several times while doing paperwork in their respective offices on different occasions—though always late at night—they had sensed someone approaching their office. Looking up and out into the hall, they’d be shocked to see only half a man. Once spotted, the unbidden guest always faded back into the dark.
Not so with the purser, however. The Filipina had run to her office to retrieve copy paper for a busy purser’s desk. It was in the middle of the afternoon, sunlight streaming through her office window to flood the hall. Arms laden with said reams, she rushed out of the office and ran smack-dab into the phantom.
She shrieked, at first thinking she had accidentally run into a crewman. But it wasn’t a crewman—or at least none from the present. A caucasian man of average height regarded her skeptically… then vanished in a blink. The whole scenario happened so fast that, when pressed by the others, she couldn’t answer if she had seen his legs or not.
“But he seemed quite real, quite solid,” she stated resolutely. “I looked into his eyes. I saw surprise and something else… a sense of hopelessness. Though it was sunny in the hall, it felt very gloomy, very sad.”
Brian David Bruns
For more tales like this, be sure to check out my new book Cruise a la Carte. You can't go wrong, it's only three bucks!
Just about anyone who has ever been on a cruise before can relate. You've just experienced a week or more of heaven on the high seas. You arrive home to a pile of laundry, mail, bills and an empty fridge. Suddenly, this feeling you can't quite explain hits you like a brick. A feeling of gloominess, which you can only attribute to one thing - the cruise is over. No more mints on the pillow, fresh towels and a made-up bed every day, room service, gourmet meals prepared by someone else, or a serene ocean scene to lull you to sleep at night. Back to reality and life as usual. It's called the "post-cruise blues" and is a common affliction among cruisers from all walks of life. Is there a cure for this devastating disorder? You bet there is … simply book another cruise!
New cruisers … did you know that your ship will have a future-cruise consultant on board? Yes, while you are aboard your current cruise, you can book another cruise even before you arrive home. Don't know when - or even if - another cruise is in your future? Don't worry. You can put a $100 deposit and pick your cruise later, typically within 4 years. Along with that future cruise credit, you will also receive on-board credit, anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars - depending on the length of your cruise and/or accommodations - money you can use for things like umbrella drinks and excursions. Besides, you have nothing to lose - you'll get a full refund if you decide not to cruise or choose to try a different cruise line.
So, don't despair. Turn that frown into a smile! With another cruise in the pipeline, you'll be too preoccupied with planning the next voyage to be concerned with mundane chores like laundry and bill-paying, and will give you something to look forward to!
For more on ways to beat the post-cruise blues, read today's article: Tried and True Remedies for Those After-Cruise Blues
So have you heard the cruisemazing news? I am super excited for this week because on Thursday I'm gonna be chatting it up with all about one of my favorite destinations of all time: BERMUDA! Last Tuesday, the secret was no longer and just in case you missed it you can read the official announcement (see it here). Want some inside information on what I plan to talk about? Want to see the questions? Well... I'm not going to give any spoilers, but if want a preview... NAAAAAAAAW, I can't do that!
BUT I can say I can basically call Bermuda my third home, after any cruise ship of course! I've cruised there twice and have a third planned cruise there in 2014. Honestly, it's like THE premiere summer cruise destination for folks who aren't feeling Canadian, want to fly to Europe or Alaska or are worn out by what's in the Caribbean Sea!
I'll be sharing links to some of my pictures, videos and so much more coverage I have from the island which is conveniently located east of the Carolinas in the Atlantic Ocean. Want to know what you can do for free? Want to know WHY a ship has to dock there for three whole days? Wonder if the Bermuda triangle rumor is just hype? Want to see the pink sand beaches there in Bermuda?
Well be sure to sign up for the Cruise Chat session happening this Thursday, June 20, 2013 beginning at 8:00pm. I hope to see all of you there! Let me get my thoughts organized so I'll be ready when we talk Bermuda all night on Thursday! Who's ready? I know I sure am! Join me and the cruisetacular, Bermudian fun! See ya in a few days!
Participation limited to members only (it's free to join). To access the chat room click the following link:
Cruise Chat LIVE!
No matter how you book your cruise – whether with a web-only agent, an agency booking engine, with a live agent, or directly with the cruise line – once you have made your deposit, you will receive an email confirmation from the agency or cruise line laying out all the details of your cruise. As a paying guest, it is solely your responsibility to promptly and carefully examine the cruise confirmation with a fine-toothed comb and make certain that everything is correct. If you find any errors, it’s crucial to contact the agent or cruise line to get them corrected as soon as possible to avoid snafus later down the road.
Pay particular close attention to the following:
Passenger names. Verify that the names are spelled correctly and are an exact match to the names on your government-issued photo ID or passport. Some cruise lines or agents will charge a change fee – as much as $50 per correction, especially if not notified of the error by final payment date. More importantly, you risk being denied boarding – and this goes for airline reservations, too!
Dates of birth and gender. Be sure that all passengers’ dates of birth and gender are listed correctly to avoid boarding headaches.
The ship and sailing date. If you suddenly discover weeks or months later that you’re booked on the wrong sailing, getting it straightened out could be costly. Fares for your intended sailing could have gone up since you booked or the ship could have sold out. Worse, if you only realize the error after final payment, changing your booking will – in essence – cancel the first, leaving you with cancellation fees, as well as the cost of rebooking the correct cruise.
It’s also a good idea to have another set of eyes – preferably a traveling companion – review the details as well. Four eyes see more clearly than two!
For more on the subject, see today's Article: 10 Mistakes to Avoid in the Cruise Booking Process
Helloooooo, party people! Happy Monday and early Travel Tuesday! How is everyone doing? Whew! So I see I missed a post last week and I'm so sorry for that. I was having some internet issues and then tonight Baltimore turned into Niagara Falls and got poured on with rain, rain and tornadoes! Yeah... it got real here in Charm City. I almost lost To-To, but I'm glad to say I'm I'm safe and all is cruisetacular in my bachelor pad!
So last we spoke, I told y'all I was getting ready for my next cruise aboard Carnival Glory. Well, I went, I'm back and had a blast! I don't even know where to begin. From losing my voice, to staying up with my fam 'til 4:30am eating pizza, to breaking my shoe because I danced too hard in the club one night, my most recent cruise was truly one of my better and more memorable voyages! Gosh, it's a blast cruising with family and friends, wouldn't you agree? I could tell you so much more BUT I think the following videos will give you a better first-hand recap than a few paragraphs in this post can.
Check out these funny videos from my cruise! You'll REALLY see what a cruise with me is like, how my family cuts-up on a cruise AND why cruising with the Fords is more fun! 🙂 Click here to see my entire album from the cruise on my Facebook Fan Page!
The Pre-Cruise Show: Carnival Glory
LIVE from Carnival Glory: The Party is Here!
LIVE from Carnival Glory: I've Got Burnt Feet!
LIVE from Carnival Glory: I Broke My Shoe
LIVE from Carnival Glory: Let's Do Laundry
Night Club Groovin' w/ CM3K
Carnival Glory Sailaway, May 31, 2013
Karaoke Fun on Carnival Glory
The Post-Cruise: Carnival Glory
Atrium Party Aboard Carnival Glory
And I have a BIG announcement to make! Next Thursday night, June 20, 2013, I will be hosting a cruise chat session ALL ABOUT BERMUDA here at CruiseCrazies! The details will be forth coming on the site this week, so stay tuned for all the details! As Always, you're cruisetacular for reading! Until we talk ship again next Monday, keep cruising and grooving, y'all! Much Love--Shon!
Well there are just 5 more days to go before I join P&O Cruises, Ventura for a 2 week Mediterranean cruise, and after all the sun we have been having in the UK, I can’t wait! (Slogan pun not intended but pretty hard to avoid)The good weather at home always makes me think more about cruising and this time it has made my mind think non-stop about a sunny and warm sail away.
The last time I sailed out of Southampton on a sunny day was in July 2011, since then it has either been pouring with rain or dark. All I want to do is sit on the Lido Deck with a cocktail and feel the sun on my face. It would also be nice to be able to see Southampton and the Isle of Wight as we leave for a change. Recently they have been obscured by fog or it’s been so dark only lights were visible on the shore. These little things make a big difference so someone have a word with Mother Nature for me please!
With regards to pre-cruise preparation, this time I am failing miserably. I mentioned a few days ago on twitter that I had started packing. What I actually meant was that I had removed the luggage labels from my bags that were left on from my Caribbean cruise. I know it’s pitiful, but I keep getting side tracked by a dozen other things. I will say proudly though that yesterday I managed to pack my shoes. That’s it! I am sure I will unpack them and re-pack them again between now and Friday but for the time being as far as I am concerned they are packed.
One thing I did start and have completed is the printing of all the cruise documents. I suppose that’s because I press buttons and the printer then does all the work. I have my e-ticket, luggage labels, insurance info and coach transfer ticket. Seated neatly on top is my passport so in that sense you could say I am all ready to go! 😉
Today’s post is a little shorter because I am telling myself I MUST start getting organised and I can’t do that if I keep the laptop on. I shall finish by saying I can’t wait to be back on board Ventura. My friend is already having fantasies about the Pizza from Frankie’s and I can’t stop thinking about the Chicken Sizzler with Rice from the Beach House. Usually I don’t think too much about the food before a cruise but boy do I LOVE that Sizzler dish! And it must be with Rice never with Chips!
It’s probably a good thing we only decided to book this cruise 17 days before it sailed, I dread to think the state we would be in by now if we had booked months earlier!
By Danielle aka CruiseMiss
When you, dear passenger, step off the gangway for the last time, you are filled with a despondency that is barely tempered by the memories of good times. Why, oh why, you lament, does the cruise have to end? Ah, but it doesn’t have to end! Now you can book a cruise that is the last you’ll ever need to arrange. For you, the cruise will never, ever end. Indeed, it’s for eternity. Cool, huh? Not really. You’ll be dead.
My Final Cruise specializes in arranging details for those who have ‘moved on’ into the sea from cruise ships. Their website is most interesting reading.
Now, you will not be trussed in an old sail—the final stitch poked through your nose to ensure that you are, in fact, dead—and dumped overboard, where your body will sink slowly the long, long way down to the muddy ocean floor, there to be picked apart by large white crabs and other such detritus-eaters. Nope, none of that good stuff. You’re not a pirate, after all. You’ll be cremated long before any of that. My Final Cruise offers a selection of biodegradable urns, which is required by the International Maritime Organization. Prices range from $149 to $324 apiece, depending on your preferred style. After the ashes have been dropped overboard – which must be done outside of the 12-nautical mile limit – these special urns guarantee that the ashes will be dispersed in an environmentally friendly fashion, and that none of the ashes will wash up on the shore. Don’t want to traumatize any swimmers, now.
The company sells receptacles pre-approved by the necessary bodies—pardon the pun—so you don’t violate the strict oceanic policies regarding what can and cannot go overboard. The ‘scallop shell’ urn comes in three colors and costs $324.95. For cheap people such as myself, the simple ‘locker’ comes in six shades and costs an easy-on-the-funeral-budget $149.95. Of course, you have to book an actual cruise, so that’s gonna run up the final cost. You’ll probably save a lot on flowers, though, assuming you don’t buy any on board. Most cruise lines will allow such crematory activity, but must be notified beforehand. This is not something you want to pop on the captain during a champagne meet and greet. My Final Cruise can book the entire cruise for you, via an affiliate cruise agent, so you don’t have to mess with such pesky details. They can also arrange commemorative touches onboard, like a post-ceremony repast. Thus all you have to worry about is packing extra formal wear. The time of the ceremony depends on where the ship is—gotta be outside 12 nautical miles and, thusly, in international waters—and weather conditions. Under ideal circumstances, they say, it takes about seven minutes for the urn to sink.
The exact location where your ashes will be dropped is recorded in the site's database of funereal sites at sea. Via Google Earth, anybody can, uh, appreciate the location. The choice is yours whether to post a public obituary or just a simple ‘X marks the spot’. As of 2012, the site only has two marked locations, one between South Carolina and Bermuda and another just north of Saint Martin. In fact, neither marker represents a real burial at sea site yet; they are merely samples. But the company hopes to be seeing lots of dead people in their world map soon. Don’t we all.
Because of the waveblazing manner of their business, My Final Cruise has had to feel their way around a little bit. They had to brainstorm worst-case scenarios—wouldn’t that be fun?—to build a solid reputation in a sensitive new industry.
“We don’t want deaths being staged as part of a stag party or something,” explains Abbie Sturdley of My Final Cruise. The company requires customers to provide them a death certificate, even though only the Bermuda Maritime Administration actually requires one. Strudley says attempts to partner with cruise lines, which they initially pushed for, were unsuccessful. “Because it’s a sad occasion, lines don’t really want to associate with it,” she says. Still, as global environmental agencies tighten policies, she hopes that lines will start referring potential ash spreaders to My Final Cruise. Hope springs eternal!
At last the day has arrived! No, this is not the day when we embark the Grand Princess in San Francisco bound for Alaskan waters, nor is it time to pack our bags and fly to the “City by the Bay” for three days of pre-cruise sight-seeing. But it is a time of equally enthusiastic celebration. It’s the day we do the “document dance”, also sometimes referred to as the "happy dance"!
Confused? Just ask any avid cruiser who has ever been part of an on-line cruise community. The “document dance” is one of those idiosyncrasies found on cruise forums and blogs and a term fondly used by cruise fanatics everywhere to describe the joy one gets from knowing their cruise documents are ready for processing.
These days, agents or cruise lines seldom mail or hand-deliver your cruise documents. Rather, documents now come in the form of E-docs to be downloaded and printed in the comfort of your own home. Whether my documents come in paper form or cyber form makes no difference to me. I can dance either way!
Today, we received a personal email from Captain Lawes, our fearless skipper who will guide us along on our journey ship through Alaska’s inside passage to Glacier Bay. The fact that every other soon-to-be guest received the exact same captain’s message wasn’t going to burst my bubble, either. I immediately clicked on the attached link, and there was the commander’s smiling and welcoming face bidding greetings from the bridge of the Grand Princess. With excitement beyond anyone’s comprehension, I immediately went to that wonderful place called “My Princess” at Princess.com and clicked on the “Cruise Personalizer” where my booking summary was prominently displayed in all its wonderful glory.
As my eyes glazed over and drifted around the page to be sure that everything was in perfect order – that all forms were completed (check√), “Whale Watch & Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari” excursion properly booked (check√), cabin selection (check√), dining choice (check√), etcetera…etcetera, my eyes stopped and stared at a link with just two precious words: “Boarding Pass”. This could only mean one thing – my cruise documents were ready to print! Sure enough, I clicked on the link, and there they were – those phrases that every cruiser longs for - “Print Boarding Pass, Print Luggage Tag” – indicating that our cruise is no longer a distant date on a calendar and, in fact, is just eight weeks away. Hallelujah! Start the music and let the document dancing commence!
As we still have 60 days to go before our cruise, I have not yet actually printed the documents, but just knowing they are there makes me happy.
Now – on to the packing list!
Photo Credit: alwaysbelieveblog.com
For some, the idea of cruising alone can be a bit scary. Let's face it. The majority of passengers arrive to the ship on embarkation day in pairs, entire families and huge groups. Some people, however, may find themselves cruising alone for a number of reasons. Some may be looking for friendship or romance. Others may have lost a spouse or partner. More often than not, though, a person may just prefer to travel solo. Whatever the reason, traveling solo carries a big price - the dreaded "single supplement". A single passenger in a double-occupancy cabin pays more to make up for the revenue lost by the lack of a second person in the cabin. For example, a superior ocean-view room on a 7-night Alaska cruise on Royal Caribbean carries a price tag of, say, $1,539 per person. A single passenger in that same cabin will pay an additional $1,304, or a whopping $2,843. Sounds more like a punishment than a supplement, doesn't it! While I used RCI as an example, they are not alone. The practice of single supplements is widespread across cruise and land vacations alike, and as any solo traveler will tell you, hardly seems fair.
Are there ways around the single supplement? You'll have to do your homework.
Find a cabin mate. If you can't find a friend or relative to join you, and if you're comfortable rooming with a stranger, some tour operators or on-line cruise communities will assist you in finding a new buddy to room with.
Join a group. Companies like singlecruise.com, singlestravelintl.com and singlesatsea.com organize groups of single travelers — often by demographic (like 20s and 30s, and 50s and older) or theme — and then escort them on larger cruises. Tour operators and travel agents reserve rooms for participants and help match them with roommates if they request one.
Join a cruise community forum. Start chatting up about your cruise and you're bound to find a friend just like you who is looking for a cabin mate.
Look for supplement discounts. Several lines, including Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Regent Seaven Seas, Seabourn and Silversea, have lowered their single supplements to 25% or less, but many other lines still charge supplements of 50% to 100%. Special promotions may waive the supplement altogether, but they are rare.
Seek out cabins for one. Fortunately, there have been positive changes in the industry in cabins designed specifically for solo travelers. While most ships don't have them, Norwegian Cruise Line introduced "The Studios", a whole complex of inside cabins designed for one and with a shared lounge on Norwegian Epic in 2010 and Norwegian Breakaway in 2013. The cabins have proved so popular the line is adding a similar set up on two ships it has under construction. Some river cruise lines also have special cabins with one twin bed for solo travelers.
For more about solo cruising, visit today's article (courtesy of The New York Times): How to Cruise Solo
It’s that time of year again, summer is almost upon us and so come the thoughts of some fun in the sun for 2 weeks.
I have visited the Mediterranean on a cruise several times but I never tired of it. I love the atmosphere in countries like Italy and Spain during the summer months so it’s no surprise that I am once again preparing for a Mediterranean adventure.
The cruise I am due to sail on will also offer me two new ports of call. La Coruna, Spain and Ajaccio, Corsica. I did actually cruise to Ajaccio one before but it is a tender port and sadly the day we arrived the ocean decided to whip up a storm so I never left the ship.
Other ports on the cruise are Valencia, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Monte Carlo and Civitavecchia. I have visited each of these ports several times so I now know them like the back of my hand. Again though when the sun is shining and you are sailing in on an impressive white whale even these never become boring. I like to shop in Gibraltar, watch the rich and sometimes famous stroll by in Monte Carlo and the others, I normally decide what to do when I get there.
It’s been 5 years since I was last in the city of Rome so I think this time I may make a day of it and head back for some good old sightseeing. It was the height of the summer season when I was last there, the temperature got above 100 degrees and the excursion was 10 hours in length. To say I was exhausted by the time I returned to the ship was an under-statement, I barely knew who I was by the time I made it to the gangway. I’m not in a hurry to do that again but it would be nice to go back.
So which ship are you going on I can hear you say, well, I am going back to my beloved, Ventura.
Ventura is one of my favourites and yes I am obviously looking forward to the cruise but I am also looking forward to seeing her, post refurbishment. I am yet to have a bad cruise on this ship, she is fun, full of energy and if there were one thing that ever kept dragging me back it has to be her tiered stern. I am never more content than I am when here watching the sun set on the ship’s wake.
If you are booked on this cruise then let me know! Ventura sailing June 15th 2013. Only 16 days to go!
We were sailing through the Mediterranean Sea, the sun was just starting to set and I had the entire deck to myself, this is the life, I thought. Nothing but ocean for miles around, no noise and nothing spoiling the view. It’s a feeling that never gets old.
On this particular evening it was warm outside and there was only a gentle breeze. I found myself on deck 16 and decided I would use the time to take five minutes for myself and enjoy nothing but the sound of the ocean. I can’t begin to tell you how peaceful it was. The view was amazing. I could see for miles around and I had a pretty good bird’s eye view of the mid-ships section of the Lido deck too. Always great for people watching.
After a few minutes I made my way down to the bar to grab a drink and take it back up with me. When I returned, still there was nobody else to be seen. I made myself comfortable and to be honest I don’t even think I had any thoughts. I was so content at this moment that my entire mind was simplyempty. I only ever get that feeling when I am at sea, I am sure a lot of you can probably relate.
I had sat for quite some time when another ship suddenly appeared on our Starboard side. She looked what I can only describe to you as “pretty”. She was glowing as she sailed, her reflection glistening off the ocean as she made her way slowly to her next port of call. I think the only down side to a cruise is that you can’t see the ship you are on in the same way, without having to involve a search and rescue team of course!
By now I must have been sitting here for at least 90 minutes and aside from one wandering passenger I had not encountered another soul.
When it comes to some things, I admit I am a typical woman (only some things, I must stress) and occasionally things like nail colour needs to be re-touched during a holiday. I decided now would be the perfect time. I could sit in peace in the open air, instead of passing out from the fumes in my cabin, and they would be dry in no time because of the warm night air. I don’t know what happened but as soon as I started painting it felt like the entire ship descended upon my deck. Yes, the deck was now mine, I had been here so long I was demanding squatter’s rights and I wanted these people to get out of my space.
To be honest it had nothing to do with them shattering the peace, they were all relatively quiet and simply just passing through on their post dinner stroll. I was undertaking a work of art here though, I needed to concentrate on the nail and not the finger. Ladies, are you with me? There’s more to nail painting than meets the eye! 😉
Eventually all was silent again and peace was restored to my abode. I had completed my task, finished two drinks and grabbed some pretty incredible photographs. In all it had been a most pleasant evening. The type of evening that sends me back to sea time after time. I spent just over two and a half hours up there on my own and I wasn’t bored or restless for a second, I can’t stand to sit inside and watch shows when I can be outdoors breathing in all of the above!
It may seem like today’s post goes nowhere as such but, quite the contrary. There were approx. 2000 passengers on board and just under 1000 crew, yet for over an hour I only came across one other person. It’s a nice reminder to us experienced cruisers and a document of proof to a non-cruiser that regardless of the ship, you can ALWAYS find space for YOU and remain un-disturbed at least once a day!
By Danielle aka CruiseMiss
I once read a story of a teenager traveling with his family by car to board a cruise ship. When the group arrived at the ship for embarkation, the poor kid was not allowed to board because his passport had been packed in his checked luggage already aboard the ship. Sometimes passports and ID are checked at the outside gate to the terminal, where one could have the opportunity to retrieve their passport before boarding. Apparently, in this case passports were not checked until the family were inside the terminal and the luggage was well on its way to that vast sea of baggage on board. While I don't remember the exact ending to this unfortunate occurrence, I do recall that it was impossible for the cruise line to locate the luggage and passport prior to the ship departing, and the teen was forced to stay behind at embarkation.
Most of us who have some experience traveling know the importance of keeping what's most important close to us - whether it be a vacation by land or by cruise ship. But for some folks not accustomed to traveling, these facts might not be so apparent. It's important, especially, to remind teens and young people who may be traveling with friends, with a school group or even with the family to make sure they have the documents necessary for boarding aircraft and cruise ships and to make sure they have these documents with them at all times.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for your cruise is to make two packing lists: one for your checked luggage and one for your carry-on bag. Do a double-check before you leave home. Valuables, important papers, ID, passport, boarding passes, and medications should always be brought on board in your carry-on bag. To go one step further, your most important piece of paper - your passport - should be kept directly on your person.
For further details on what not to pack in your checked luggage, read the accompanying article: What NOT to Pack in Your Checked Luggage
Hey, everyone! Happy Monday and Memorial Day! To all the service men and women THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! You have helped keep this amazing nation safe and my freedom a humbling privilege. Again, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
Okay, so I was initially planning on talking about my cruise on Carnival Glory this week... but I saw the news just like y'all did this morning. Now you may remember just a few short weeks ago, I was on Grandeur of the Seas. I posted pics and videos from my time aboard and had a BLAST! And I was saddened to see that nearly 3.5 weeks later after I disembarked her, she was now sporting a blackened aft and damages. Just in case you haven't heard, at approximately 2:00am on Monday, May 27, 2013, Grandeur of the Seas had a fire occur in the mooring area of the ship. No one was injured. No one died. You know, these incidents are isolated and has anyone else notice that no one has died in any of the cruise ship headlining stories? Seriously, this is amazing and nothing less than a miracle from God! AND they are all getting flown home, a full refund and a free future cruise!
So I want to just say I will be praying for the passengers and crew of Grandeur of the Seas as well as making sure to lift ALL cruise ships in my prayers! Whew! We've been having a pretty interesting 2 years, wouldn't you say? You know 2012 was Titanic's 100th year anniversary... I guess she's coming back for ALL the ships? LOL jk jk I'll be keeping tabs with what's what on this particular story and know y'all will too! Maybe we'll have even more insight as the week progresses? Do y'all think the media will soften the blow on RCI versus the TKO they gave Carnival earlier this year?
Well, in other cruise news, I am on Carnival Glory this week, so be sure to follow along on Twitter for live updates from me. AND I won't be blogging on The Cruisetacular Weekly while sailing, BUT I will blog from The Ocean Escape! So be sure to stay connected with your boy - you know I Iove interacting with y'all! Thanks for always reading along! Until we talk ship again, keep cruising and grooving!
Come sailing with me on Carnival Glory this week, vicariously! I wanna hear from ya! Send me a tweet, I'll reply back... promise!
It only takes a single episode of almost not making it to the port on time -- or missing the ship altogether -- to risk ruining a vacation. Flight delays are more common these days with unpredictable weather, overpacked planes and tighter security. One missed connection could mean the difference between sailing away with a margarita in your hand and waving goodbye to your ship as it sails without you. Who needs the stress! Whenever possible, fly into your port of embarkation a day or two early. Not only will you be more rested and relaxed, but if you happen to find yourself at a hotel near the cruise port, you could wake before the sun and watch your ship sail in amidst a beautiful sunrise.
A room for a night need not cost a fortune. For hotel recommendations, ask your agent or simply browse the web for deals. For the ultimate convenience, ask your agent or the cruise line to add an air/hotel/ package to your cruise. You may pay a little more, but every travel detail of your cruise will be taken care of, right down to handling of your luggage.
If you're on a tight budget and not very picky about your accommodations, give Priceline or Hotwire a try and bid for a room. While it's true you won't be able to pick your hotel or even the exact location, you can save a bundle on a 4-star hotel room to hang your head for the night.
Even better, if you have extra time and if your budget allows, why not give yourself a bonus mini-vacation and really explore your port of call.
Whether in town for a night or a week, by flying in early, you will arrive to your ship calm, cool and collected - and ready for a great cruise!
For more on flying early vs. flying the day of your cruise, check out the related article: Solutions for a Smooth Flight to Your Port of Embarkation.