Research the Perfect Cruise Destination

The great thing is that these days there are so many great options to choose from when it comes to cruise lines. You can disembark from popular locations like San Diego, Los Angeles and Miami, and if you want to go a little more high end you can even choose cruises that leave from New York, Puerto Rico, and multiple destinations in Europe and Asia.

So where do you get started in your journey? There are a lot of travel sites out there that can help you choose a trip, but if you’re like me you want a bit more information than a single screen that’s just trying to get you to book a cruise ASAP. That’s why I always opt to request free cruise brochures from all of the different cruise lines I’m interested in. The majority of them offer them at no cost, and the detailed information you get about your possible cruise destination is without rival.

Armed with your new cruise brochure, you can more easily make the choice that will send you on your way. There’s a lot of things to take into account when going on a cruise. You’re going to be on a giant boat moving through the ocean, and because there’s limited space everything will have a cost. Do you not mind a smaller room on the interior of the ship, or are you the type of person who needs to have a view? If you want a view you can be talking about something as simple as a porthole all the way up to a private walk-out balcony on the higher decks of the ship. If you have a little pricier type of flavor, you can also upgrade to many different types of suites that have much more room relative to the standard rooms, with many of them also coming with nuanced perks like a shorter distance to the lido decks and restaurants. No matter what you choose, one thing is almost certain: you’re going to have a great time when you figure out exactly which cruise line, destination, and length of trip you want to take. Lucky you requested those free cruise brochures, right?

River Cruises Are Great for Family Vacations

Not as Crowded

While some may view a river cruise as less engaging due to the smaller boat size and range of on-board activities, it actually offers families a better opportunity to bond as opposed to family members jumping off to different cruise activities.

Thanks to the more intimate setting provided by a riverboat, family members are less likely to get distracted by the usual cruise features and actually enjoy time with each other.

Learning Opportunity

Some of the best options for river cruises aid passengers with on-board guides and lecturers that help improve the touring experience by providing relevant information on the tour sites.

Kosher tours like Kosherica and Kosher River Cruises, for example, include in their European tours several spots significant to Jewish heritage. To further enrich the experience, historians and even people who experienced the significant events themselves are present to provide more in-depth discussion.

Relaxed Luxury

Despite a more simple setting compared to the typical cruise ship, rest assured that your river cruise experience won’t fall short on luxury. Whether it’s with the boat’s amenities or the crew’s service, there definitely won’t be a shortage on quality.

Moreover, there will be a more relaxed atmosphere on cruise boats. With a smaller crowd and less distractions around, guests get to take in different sceneries and attractions as relaxed as possible.

Safety On The Seas

Go To A Travel Medicine Specialist Before Your Trip

If you think a throat trickle or bellyache is unpleasant, then you certainly don’t want to know what dengue fever feels like. A specially trained nurse or doctor in the area of travel will update you regarding the vaccines available in the areas you’re docking and can assist you on what’s recommended and what’s absolutely required.

Pack A Hand Sanitizer With You

While all the reputable cruise lines are highly stringent about their cleanliness, it doesn’t hurt a bit if you be extra cautious about the germ parts of your cabin like the doorknob, the remote or the phone. Even the best scoring ships are vulnerable – all it takes is one highly infectious individual to step on bard and things change in no time.

Avoid Using Common Utensils

Cruise lines often lessen self-serve buffets for at least three to five days of trip, so that sick passengers can be identified and separated before the germs spread. However every time the ship docks, chances are that the passengers are exposed to viral and bacterial infections, the risk of falling sick continues throughout the trip. To be extra safe, avoid self-serve options. If a fellow passenger is in front of you in the buffet line and offers you to pass along a silverware or plate, decline it or just take it and keep it back politely.

No Sharing

Unless you trust whomsoever you are traveling with to be as cautious as you are don’t go around sharing your plates or sampling his/her cocktail. That person can be infectious without showing any signs of infection.

Skip Unpasteurized Foods

Besides noroviruses there are many other viruses that can cause gastro-hell (salmonella, campylobacter and listeria for instance) they are usually found in unpasteurized eggs or dairy. If an egg heavy or flan dish catch’s your attentions, ask if the eggs are pasteurized. Keep a watch out for unpasteurized cheese as well.

Use Your Own Restroom

Public restrooms on reputable ships have frequent cleanings by the ship staff- but if you don’t need to use it urgently, then why take the risk? So it’s better to avoid public restrooms and use your own cabin washroom.

How to Find a Cheap Cruise Deal

As mentioned above, this cruise deals kicks off when the cruise date is approaching because of the availability of some cabins. Cruise lines over extra discounts in order to sell these cabins. By offering the cabins at discounted prices, the ship will still earn minimal profits instead of just leaving it empty. Therefore, people with limited budget but would want to go on a cruise get the chance to travel at discounted rates. You can still book a cruise for your family even if you have a month left before the cruise date.

Following are some tips on how to find these last-minute cruise deals.

  • Check the websites of the different cruise lines via the internet. Sign-in to get a copy of their newsletter, as this will keep you posted on their eleventh-hour cruise deals.
  • Look for vacation sites. Register to get a copy of their news sheet. Last-minute deals for cruises are usually published on their paper.
  • Get the yellow pages and go to the cruise lines section. Call your target ship lines and try to get some information on their offered cruise discounts. It would be better if a friend of yours work in a certain ship line, as you can get more information. You can also ask a friend if they happen to know of anyone working for a cruise company. However, you have to build rapport with that person and regularly check with him of the latest deals.

Once you found the suitable deal, make a booking and transmit it within 30 days. Do this immediately, as these last-minute cruise deals sell like hotcakes. You are not the only one hoping to get big cruising discounts.

Great Unexpected Pleasures of Cruising

Let me begin by telling you about the main A La Carte dining rooms on the ship. On our ship, every passenger, if they desired, was appointed to a table of up to ten people at one of the two sitting for diner. You had the same wait staff for each dinner and you could get to know them and the people at your table well over the journey.

Obviously, the food was first class. There were two menus; the first was the regular one which offered the same meals each night. The second changed each meal offerings to tempt the taste buds. Many of the meals were unknown to us needing us to ask our waiter to explain what was in each course.

With all the choices available, I decided that for every course in every dinner I would chose a different offering. I was able to do this without choosing a course I did not like. There were always four courses. No course was large so that you never felt that you had overeaten. (You could always walk around the promenade deck a few times to wear off the extra weight).

Throughout the cruise, there were many theme nights. There was a French and Italian night to give two examples. The wait staff would dress up in national costumes to add even more flavour to the night. (These also occurred in the buffet restaurant).

Towards the end of the cruise the menu featured lobster and for desert all the waiter and many of the kitchen staff marched in with Bombe Alaska to top things off.

Depending on the duration of the cruise there were dress-up nights in these restaurants. Guests dressed up in their finest. Long flowing gowns were worn by many of the women escorted by their menfolk in tuxedos. While others like myself wore a jacket and tie. On one of these evening the night was begun by the creation of a champagne pyramid in the ship’s atrium. There, if you wished, you could add a bottle of champagne to the pyramid while getting a photograph taken to record the event.

Have you ever been to an “English afternoon tea”? On our ship, at three thirty in the afternoon, such an event was held in one of the main restaurants. The waiters wore white gloves and served tea, scones, little sandwiches, cakes and slices. The scone, in particular, were delicious served with jam and cream and were made to a different recipe to those normally eaten in Australia. At each of these sessions you sat with different people. That was always interesting.

There were many other dining options available to the passenger from the buffet (open from 5am to 11pm) to the pizzeria to the cafĂ© offering burgers and the ice cream parlour. If coffee was your “Thing”, a coffee card was available to reduce the cost of speciality offerings of coffee.

On special occasions during the cruise, the kitchen staff would produce ice carvings and carved animals and other figures out of fruit. It was amazing watching their skills at work.

River Cruising vs Ocean Cruising

On the other hand, the traditional river cruising of Europe means a long plane flight before your cruise states. (It is only recently that areas in South and Eastern Asia has become river cruise destinations).

So the first considerations that must be made by an Australian wishing to cruise are the cost and time involved in both before a decision is made either or both ways.

Let me now discuss the differences and similarities between each type of cruising.

Our first ocean cruise was on a ship with 2000 plus passengers and a thousand plus crew while our first ever river cruise contained only about 180 passengers. That is the first different you notice. Then you go from a ship with fourteen decks to one with only three. The river boat was 135 metres long while the cruise ship might be up to 300 metres long.

Even though there are two or more thousand passengers travelling with you on a cruise ship, on most occasions, there is not a feeling that the ship is crowded. On the other hand, river cruise boats with less than two hundred passengers only feels crowded at the evening meal as there is only one restaurant on board. Ocean cruise ships have many dining choices.

On the river cruise, passengers are off the boat each day on organised tours as part of their cruise. So there are not any planned activities on the boat during the day. On an ocean cruise, there are many activities on the ship in which passengers may indulge, daily.

The ocean cruise provides a greater variety of entertainment from the big musical productions in the theatre to more intimate entertainment in the various bars or in the atrium. On our river cruise, we had a singer entertain us at morning tea, afternoon tea and during the evening providing us with a variety of music types to fit the time of day. As well, traditional entertainers from each country or locality came on board to give us a performance of their music.

Both types of cruising offer off boat tours that can be booked by guests with ocean cruises providing many more tour options. With the river cruise, there is something to see and do each day off the boat. Firstly there is the included, guide led tour of the city followed by a chance to wander around that city at your leisure. Some days you might visit two cities. On most ocean cruises, there will be days at sea where you can just relax or indulge in the activities provided by the ship. On a river cruise, most of the movement of the ship is carried out at night.

On a cruise ship, there are several public areas in which to sit and relax. They include bars, a library, an Internet room, pool decks and a large atrium where light refreshments are served. The river cruise boat has a lounge which includes a bar and this is where the entertainment occurs. The river cruise boat has a sun deck on the top of the boat as well.

Getting on and off the ship/boat is much easier on the river cruise simply because of the numbers of passengers involved. This means getting to do off the boat tours is easy and quick.

River cruising, because of the size of the boat and no lifts, would be extremely difficult for the disabled or elderly who find getting around difficult. The ocean cruise lines are able to do a great job looking after the disabled and elderly.

Info of Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International is the world’s most popular single cruise brand. They own eight biggest ships the world currently has. The latest ship launched by them can accommodate more than 5,000 passengers. With extensive public spaces and amazing deck plans, these ships provide every single passenger with a fascinating experience.

Other than having all kinds of basic amenities one can think of, these gigantic water crafts also has innovations like ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls, surfing stimulators on board. This means, even if you are the most active person in the world, you will never get a chance to get bored while on a ship owned by this cruise line. These ships have activities, amenities and itineraries designed for appealing people of every age group, energy level and taste.

People would enjoy their stay in a Royal Caribbean ship irrespective of the fact whether they are active vacationers or just interested in relaxing for a few days. The cruise line, since the day of its inception, has catered a wide variety of customers including honeymooners, families, singles and retirees.

As mentioned above, ships owned by this cruise line visit a number of ports, all of which have truly breathtaking locations. All the ports of call these ships visit are filled with excitement.

One of the most exciting places you will get to visit as a passenger onboard is Alaska. It’s the land of wildlife and wilderness. There are more natural wonder sin store for you in this locations in form of glaciers.

Royal Caribbean cruise liners will also take you to ports in Bermuda, Bahamas and the Caribbean islands. If you are a true travel enthusiast, you must be aware of the fact what kind of thrills these places have in store for tourists. The ships owned by this famous international cruise line will allow you to experience all.

Planning Family Cruise

Check on the children’s facilities.

Verify if the ship provides essential items that your children will need. If you have a young kid traveling with you, check if they have cribs, high chair, toys and other stuff that children need. You might as well ask if they have a special menu for children.

Ask if they provide babysitting services.

Now this is really important, as you cannot be with your child all the time. The reason you had the cruise is to relax and unwind, hence, you cannot always be with your child. A babysitter can give you the break that you need so you can go to the spa, have a swim or enjoy the dancing. Do not forget how much it cost, by the way.

The activities conducted onboard.

Inquire on the programs they have for the family. Cruise liners have a program of activities for the whole family to enjoy as well as those intended for children depending on their ages.

The cabins.

You can either get a separate cabin for your children or get one that can accommodate the whole family. Whatever your choice is, make sure that everybody will be comfortable and safe for the children. If you are a family of four, I would suggest you get the standard cabin, as it has 4 beds.

Your luggage.

Ensure that everything you need is packed inside your luggage. Traveling with kids would entail to bring more kid’s clothes. Toiletries such as lotion, baby wipes, alcohol, etc. must be included in your luggage. Bring a first-aid kit, and have plaster, seasick pills and other medical items that may be needed during your travel.

Great Cruise Destinations

The Caribbean

Top of the list is the Caribbean, often considered as the epitome of a dream cruise. This popular destination is very much the “traditional” cruise; most people who think of cruising imagine the white sands and warm waters of the Caribbean. Choice wise, the cruises to the Caribbean split off to either cover the eastern or western islands, with the main difference being the islands you visit; both locations allow you to enjoy many opportunities for snorkelling, scuba diving, para-sailing and jet skiing.

The Mediterranean

The second most popular cruise destination; often seen as one for those who enjoy variety. Mediterranean cruises tend to be popular amongst those who enjoy experience many different countries and cultures on one trip. With all the destinations on offer in the Mediterranean, the cruises to this part of the world tend to run for longer periods of time, allowing you to get the most of places such as Rome, Barcelona, Italy, Turkey, Venice and the Greek islands. These far ranging trips really do allow for a wide range of travel experiences.

Alaska

Off to cooler climes with our third destination, Alaska. Cruises usually visit this impressive coastline between May and September to avoid the harsh winters. A cruise to Alaska is a great way to soak up some of the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors, with views of rugged mountain ranges, dense forest and spectacular coast from the deck. The area is also well known for its wildlife, with whales, bald eagles and bears being the most popular sightings. Shore excursions on an Alaskan cruise tend to be fairly active making them a great way to get some exercise and stretch the legs, dog sledding, hiking and wildlife tours all allow you to get the best out of your trip.

Take A Dog With You On A Cruise

  • First, you need to find a ship that allows pets. While many cruise ships accept service dogs, which assist the blind, but the vast majority of ships don’t have the equipment to handle canine passengers. There are some exceptional cruise ships that do allow pets on board, but it’s best that you check with the cruise line or a travel agent to see if the cruise line allows taking pets along.
  • When you are making reservation find out about kennel availability, and reserve it as soon as possible. For example on Queen Mary 2, Kennel space is extremely limited, so if you don’t book it in advance, you might not get any free space.
  • Before you step on that cruise ship, make sure you have proof of the health certifications and vaccinations of your dog from the veterinarian. Especially get the evidence that your canine friend is rabies proof. You probably will need these documentations to get your dog onboard, or you will need them if you are travelling by air.
  • Check with the agriculture department or embassy of any countries you might be visiting on the cruise to be certain that your dog meets their entry requirements.
  • Notify the cruise ship if your dog has any special needs, such as medications or dietary requirements. The cruise kennel staff might be able to accommodate the dietary needs, but you will have to bring sufficient medication to last the entire voyage.
  • Check with any hotel and airline that you will make use of before or after the cruise for pet policies. Most airlines do allow air travel for pets but policies vary from time to time and often it requires advance preparations. Hotels might ask for additional fee for your dog or not allow pets at all.
  • For your pets comfort pack it’s special bedding or toys so that your dog feels comfortable on the cruise line. Check with the cruise line that you can bring personal stuff for your dog. Visit your dog regularly if it’s staying at the ship’s on-board kennel.