Ships That Pass In The Night

Over the next years I was drawn into the lives of men who had survived the war’s coffin boats and convoys; many of these sailors had been captured by the armies of the Reich. Lives of many of us were filled with drama. The pugilistic frightfulness of the liner’s boatswain caused even the shipping line’s commodore and his officers to roll their eyes and turn away when he brutally and publicly exacted revenge on a foe during boat drill.

At the ship’s wheel, a 16-year old doesn’t question the course given by the officer of the watch. It was a quiet midsummer dawn as this great ocean liner swept silently along the southern Irish coast. Calmly, the 1st Officer instructed me to steer a course that brought the leviathan at breakneck speed just half a kilometer from the Emerald Isle’s coastline. I could see early risers on land but could only imagine their expressions. I reasoned afterwards that the officer had always desired to carry out the marine equivalent of flying under the Tower Bridge. On that morning the conditions were just right. The same officer put me on a direct collision course with a pod of whales making the way south in the Atlantic. I will never forget his look of quiet satisfaction when our plunging liner separated one of these beautiful creature’s heads from its body.

I never questioned it. Everything to me back then was normal. To save precious time the Spanish skipper of the Ibadan Palm would ram the ship’s bow into the muddy banks of Africa’s jungle creeks. By using this strategy the river’s current swept the stern round to negotiate each bend more quickly than by steering the ship around the bend. The same skipper used his 6-cell torch to publicly beat the living daylights out of an African stowaway. The generation of sailors prior to mine hurled such unfortunates into the Atlantic.

Never to be forgotten was the drowsiness of a day sailing off the Mexican coast. This hapless teenager was on the wheel when, in the distance, taking an interest in our ship, was a U.S. destroyer. Quite incapable of making an independent decision and unable to rouse the ship’s mate I stubbornly steered the course given earlier. I dread to think of the consequences had the American warship’s captain not blinked first and moved smartly out of the way of our careering cargo liner.

Avoiding Sea Sickness on a Cruise Ship

The first and most important tip is to have a window in your cabin to achieve the view of horizon point. Or try to get an outdoor cabin; it will also make background position viewable for you (this tip is very helpful except if you get to face any thunderstorm).

Make sure to visit the deck often; this practice will keep your body balanced and steady.

If your journey is just for pleasure, then make sure to select a cruise which stays near a harbour. Avoid and limit the expedition when the sea is rough and wild.

If the water level is rising roughly, then it’s ordered to stay inside and not come on deck. Don’t let your brain send a bad signal inside you. Keep your inner self intact and get busy in some other indoor activities. The strain from negative thoughts can make one sick quickly. The mind is very influential on the whole body, so stay active.

You can get one of the sea-bands that are very famous these days. These sea-bands help to reduce the feeling of vomit and nausea. It’s worn out on your wrist.

Most commonly used the drug to avoid seasickness is Transderm Scop, it’s a tiny cover patched at the back of the ear. This medicine is applied eight hours before the start of the journey and is helpful for three days. For three days it works efficiently and well. It is a defence system to fight agonist seasickness. Transderm Scop is not available is general stores, a physician’s prescription is required to get it. Its only side effects are a dim vision, sleepiness and thirstiness.

Don’t take any drug to avoid seasickness without doctor’s consultation. Keep in mind that seasickness varies among people. Discover your inner self before starting the journey or voyage.

Avoid large and heavy meals. Divide your food into little portions. Get yourself together to eat salted food items and ginger. You may take ginger in powder form.

Avoid liquor or whisky etc.

Don’t fix your eyes too much on a book or laptop; this may cause seasickness. Avoid using gadgets and enjoy the beautiful ocean.

Cruising To Alaska From Vancouver

Getting to the ship.┬áThere are several ways to do this depending on whether or not you are going to totally disregard tip number one and try to go straight to the ship, or whether you are going to head straight to your hotel. 2015 marks the first season in a long time that only Canada Place will be used for cruise departures and thank God for that! Those of you who may have cruised from “the other” pier known as Ballantyne Pier in the past, will certainly agree with me that it was a disappointing start to your cruise to say the least. Ballantyne Pier is poorly located outside of the downtown core and far from the majority of hotels in the city. Fortunately for you, Canada Place is where your ships departure destination will almost certainly be this year. The cruise terminal is located at Canada Place which is very close to a multitude of hotels, taxis and the Canada Line; Vancouver’s fully automated rapid transit train line. Some cruise lines offer bus transfers to the ship or hotel however my recommendation is to do the math first. A taxi from Vancouver Airport to Canada Place with a 15% tip will run you around $35 to $45 dollars Canadian and takes around 30 minutes. Most ship purchased bus transfers will cost you around the same per person so they may not be the best deal unless you are travelling solo. If you don’t mind dragging all your luggage around and walking a few blocks the Canada Line train costs just under $10 per person and is around a 30 minute trip to the pier- not bad if you have a backpack, but with luggage I’d recommend against it. After you get off the train you have to walk to the ship which is around ten minutes from train to the ship luggage drop off point. My first choice would be to arrange a pick up from a pre cruise tour company or perhaps a private sedan to take you to your hotel. There are plenty of tours and luxury rides available online or at the airport and you should arrange this before you get on the plane. A private sedan or limousine will usually run you around $60-$80 Canadian plus gratuity. If you are coming in early be aware that most hotels check in time is between 3pm and 4pm, however any decent hotel will try to accommodate you early or at the very least offer to store your luggage upon arrival until your room is ready.

When is the best time to arrive at the ship? Well, if you like sitting around, standing in lines or waiting at immigration go first thing in the morning. If you’re like me and would prefer to spend your day enjoying Vancouver or sleeping in a bit you should think carefully about what time you arrive to the cruise terminal at Canada Place to board your ship. The time it takes you to board the ship from getting dropped off at the pier can vary anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours depending on when you arrive and how many ships are in port. Keep in mind that the ship is more than likely dropping off a few thousand guests who have just completed their cruise. It usually takes until at least 10am to clear out the ship from the departing guests, and another hour before they will allow newly arriving guests to start the check in process. If your first port of call is a Canadian port such as Victoria or Prince Rupert you will probably be spared going through United States Immigration at the pier in Canada Place. If your cruise is however like the majority of Alaskan cruises and your first port is in Alaska, you will more than likely go through the US immigration inspection just prior to the ships check in process at Canada Place which is why you need to have your passport handy. The procedure usually runs in this order; luggage drop off, security screening, US immigration processing, cruise line check in, and then, the moment you’ve been waiting all this time for-boarding the ship! Even if you are the first person onboard the ship at 11am, most of the ship including your staterooms won’t be accessible to you until around 1pm when the ships staff have finished cleaning and preparing everything for you. What this means is that the first two to three hours of check in you will be sitting or standing in a huge line, and then when you do get onboard, if it is before 1pm you will be forced to wait in a public area of the ship with your carry on luggage until they announce that your rooms are ready over the ship’s PA. My advice is enjoy Vancouver, and show up a bit later in the early afternoon for check in instead of trying to get to Canada Place at 9am so that you can stand in line with 2000 other guests. Having said that make very sure of course that you check your sail-away time and don’t leave it to the last minute either. You should be at the pier a minimum of 90 minutes before sail-away time at the very latest as the check in process is usually closed at least an hour before sail away.

So there you have it, the first of many tips for this years Alaskan Cruise Season. Don’t miss next time when I will tell you all about what to expect on your first day onboard, from how to get room upgrades, to what needs to be done the first day of the cruise, and what can wait until day two. Until then, thanks for reading and Bon Voyage!

Jeff Potts is the co-founder of Cherry Tours, a luxury boutique tour company in Vancouver, Canada that specializes in pre and post cruise tours and packages.

As a ship’s officer Jeff specialized in Alaska, Hawaii and California cruises and has extensive experience in Australian, South American, Caribbean, Trans Pacific, Trans Atlantic, European and Baltic itineraries.

“Over the years I’ve worked my way through the ranks so to speak and was fortunate enough to hold positions such as Shore Excursions Manager, Guest Relations Manager and Cruise Director. Recently my wife and I (who I proposed to from the bow of our vessel while sailing through the Inside Passage) retired from working on ships to pursue our new careers on land in Vancouver which I was lucky enough to be born and raised in.”

Plan a Cruise Vacation

  • Get in Touch with a Travel Agent. If you are unsure of the route to take or the cruise to choose, get in touch with a travel agent. They will be able to help you out. In fact, they might even be able to guide on the best cruises in the world, while also keeping your budget in mind.
  • Set a Budget Aside. When you are travelling on a cruise, there will be many avenues where you can spend money. Which is why it is important to make sure you have budget and stick within that. Don’t go overboard with your expenses and spend your money wisely. Also, take most of your essentials with you so that you don’t have to spend money on buying them on the ship.
  • Get a Medical Checkup Done. A lot of people catch sea fever when they are travelling by the sea. If you have motion sickness, you have higher chances of falling sick on board. So, before you embark on your trip, get a full check up done and take necessary medications with you. Also, if you are suffering from any illnesses at the moment, take the prescribed medicines with you so that you don’t face any problem on board.

These are some of the ways in which you can book your first cruise holiday. Just remember to book flights to places that want to visit but aren’t covered by the cruise. Keep a close eye on your budget and make sure you have everything you need with you when finally set sail for our destination.

Cruise for Great Adventures

Many tourists consider Alaska as a magical place. The name itself was derived from the native Aleut word, “alyeshka,” meaning “the great land.” Alaska is a huge and incredibly diverse land. It is one of the last unspoiled wildernesses on earth.

Despite its remarkable size, it is still one of the most sparsely populated places on the planet. According to the United States Census Bureau, the population is less than three-quarters of a million. It is also safe to assume there are more animals here than humans.

When it comes to cruises, most travelers are more familiar with tropical destinations. These include the Caribbean, South Pacific, and Mexico. Most of them do not realise that apart from the sunnier regions, there are many northern places worth visiting. The magnificent views and activities to take part in during Alaskan cruises are incomparable. This is probably the best way to see the other side of the planet. While natural forces continue to mold the land, it remains a place mostly untouched by men. Despite recent industrial developments, the wilderness is Alaska’s predominant characteristic.

Travelers and natives also refer to Alaska as the “American Serengeti”. This is because of its rich wildlife. This magical land features some of the largest and most important estuaries and bird breeding grounds in North America. It is also home to mammal species including the largest and most intriguing wild animals that roam in the continent: grizzly and polar bears, herds of pre-Ice age caribou, moose, mountain sheep, wolf packs, beavers, wolverine, and pre-historic musk oxen. You will also witness marine mammals such as whales, sea lions, seals, porpoises, walruses, and many more.

Another thing about Alaska is its historical geography. Examples of these are Ice-Age old glaciers. The glaciers in this part of the planet are among the oldest. Most people think these formations are stationary, but on the contrary, they are so full of life. Along with the mountains, rivers, and fjords, they are perhaps some of the most beautiful natural wonders you will encounter in this lifetime. If you are up for this kind of adventure, you should start looking for Alaska cruise deals.

Take Better Pictures On Cruise

Select The Best Camera For You

Surprisingly, this is one of the least valuable tips for getting good pictures. Everyone nowadays owns a smartphone and all of the phones these days have built-in cameras with good picture capturing capabilities. But if you are pictureacholic, then there is nothing in this world that can compare with the picture quality of a DSLR. Additionally, what’s important is that whatever camera you use you must have full knowledge of it.

Understand Lighting

The word photography is derived from the Greek word that means “drawing with light”. So when you want to take good pictures, you need to understand how light impacts the quality of your photos. For example, you will get the best quality photos outdoor on a cloudy day or under a tree shade on a bright sunny day.

Reduce Blurry Images

One of the biggest problems people have reported with their photos is the blurry pictures. The main reason for blurry pictures is when the camera is moved slightly while taking the picture. Even breathing while taking a picture can cause the camera to move. If you understand what causes a blurry image, you can easily adjust it with your photography techniques.

Choose The Correct Mode

Most cameras, even the pocket digital cameras, allow you to manually select from a variety of different shooting “modes”. Modes are selected by using a Mode Dial on top of the camera, or from a menu on the camera’s screen. These modes adjust the camera setting in your phone based on the type of picture you are trying to shoot.

Cruise Ship Passenger Needs to Know

As with any form of travel, there are certain factors you need to be aware of, ensuring you take the steps needed to protect yourself in the event of an injury or accident which can leave you unable to work, paying a fortune in medical expenses and losing your income.

The first thing you need to pay very close attention to is your ticket. When your ticket arrives it may look daunting, often pages in length. Go through your ticket with a fine tooth comb, read it front and back to ensure you are completely aware of what is entailed in the event of an accident. Remember not all cruise ships come from your country, which means that many of the ships operate under a different cruise law.

Another important factor to take into consideration is the medical assistance you can find on board. If you suffer from an illness or disease, it is imperative that you identify the quality of medical assistance you can find on board. Most cruise ships provide a medical doctor and nurse, though they are only suitable for minor injuries, mainly dealing with sea sickness. One of the most common things these medical professionals deal with is passengers forgetting their prescription medications at home.

Crime is possible on board. Don’t be under the false idea that any crime stays on shore. The fact is that crime can occur anywhere whether it’s robbery or assault. Even on board take care of your personal belongings, lock cash away in the cabin safe and ensure you take steps to ensure your own security at all times.

Something to bear in mind is that while cruise ships do take steps to ensure the safety and security of their passengers, in the event of an injury on board, the ship is going to try and protect themselves. This means if you injure yourself you need to take photographs, get witnesses contact information and ensure the injury is logged in the ships accident log. As soon as you have your feet back on home soil, all cruise ship passengers who have been injured need to seek the assistance of a specialist maritime attorney who can help them manage their claim against the cruise company.

Ensure you find a cruise ship attorney as soon as possible. As you will note from your ticket, each cruise ship company has a different rule on how claims are processed, this means that based on the company you can make your claim anywhere from six to twelve months.

In addition to this, it’s always advisable to have good quality travel insurance when traveling by sea. In the event of illness or a serious injury, the doctor on board has the right to turn the ship to the nearest port to ensure you get the medical attention you need. If this port is off home soil, then having travel insurance can be a blessing, paying for all hospital and medical costs, ensuring you aren’t out of pocket when you return home.

Remember that when traveling with children, you consider all the dangers of being a cruise ship passenger. Ensure the ship caters for children offering entertainment and things to do to keep the children busy and help the whole family have an enjoyable vacation experience to remember for years to come.

Help You Plan A Fulfilling Cruise

Know the number of people cruising with you

If it is just a few of you, then planning should be easy, but you will need a lot more planning and coordination when you plan to travel with more family members and friends. If you are bringing children along, then you need to make sure that the cruise package has plenty of activities for them too. You can plan for a private kind of cruises or you can choose to pay for cruises that accommodate lots of other people headed the same direction you are. The important thing is to choose what works for you and the people you are tagging along.

Choose the best cruise length

Cruise packages differ in length and the vacation time you have available should help you select the length that is most suitable. A cruise can be only a few days or you can choose one that goes for a week and more. A weekend cruise can be a great choice for those with little time to spare. With so many destinations and packages, you should be able to plan a cruise length that you can afford and enjoy to the fullest.

Pick the best stateroom

People have different preferences when it comes to cruises and your stateroom choices should be guided by your vacation preferences. For instance, if what you dream of is lounging in a private balcony as you enjoy the gracious tropical views, then a balcony stateroom is the ideal selection. Couples can cruise in a suite or a penthouse to get the most from the cruise vacation. If you are a little pressed on a budget, then you can always settle for an inside stateroom. Some cruise packages can offer you additions such as 24 hour butler for your luxury experience.

Getting Married On A Cruise

Decide Who Will Perform The Ceremony

The whole idea of getting married at sea sounds fun, getting married by a captain is surely exciting, but it also limits your choices of cruise lines since every ship is registered with a different country having its one legal restrictions. There are not a lot of cruise ships that allow the captains to marry their passengers, so before getting all excited about the marriage on the cruise be sure to check it with the ship if it allows any such thing.

Decided Where You Want To Get Married?

Getting married in a foreign country while your ship is docked at the port can be pretty tricky. Every country has different laws, some prohibit the cruisers from getting married at port unless they are planning a residency there or that their parents or grandparents were married there.

Ask About Any Extra Requirements

Regardless of where you are planning to get married, you will need to register for your marriage beforehand so make sure that you make these arrangements in advance.

Decide Whether You Want To Pay Extra Charges For Peak Season

Getting married on a cruise ship is becoming trendy these days, and since it has gained popularity some cruise lines now charge extra fees for getting married in peak “wedding season” which is normally between mid-April and September, as well as on special days like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. So it’s best that you also consider this factor and plan your wedding accordingly if you can make your wedding dates flexible.

About Cruise Ship Security

On Board the Ship:

  • Keep your doors locked at all times when you are in the room
  • If your room has a safe, use it for your valuables
  • Know who your room steward is, so you can recognize that person
  • Take a walk around the ship so you get comfortable with finding your way around
  • Do not drink so much that you get drunk
  • If you see something suspicious contact the ship’s security
  • Remember that the internet on board the ship is open, this is a public place

On Shore:

It might be better to sign up for shore excursions that are organized by the ship. Yes, they are more expensive than tours you can get with on shore operators but they offer the convenience of signing up in advance and even paying in advance. And the most important thing to remember if you are on a tour organized by the ship and that tour is late getting back, the ship will wait for you. This is not the case with on shore organized tours. If they are late the ship’s captain could depart before you get back to the ship.

If you decide to go into town on your own, then make yourself aware of the local means of transportation. Bring the correct identification with you. Bring a copy of your passport, leave the original in your cabin safe. The most important thing is being aware of your surroundings and where you are. If your gut tells you not to go down that street, listen and find another way.

Taking a cruise is a very easy, and for the most part inexpensive way to see many other countries and experience other cultures. Cruise ship operators take security very serious. There are a lot of things going on out of sight that directly relates to passenger safety.

Just like on land at home your personal security always starts with you.