Preview cruises: be the first to travel

Previews are not only for the glitterati and influential journalists, from whom operators are seeking exceptional reviews for their ships.  Loyal passengers are sometimes offered the opportunity to test new cruise liners for short stays to gain valuable customer feedback and ensure that they are running a streamlined operation before the formal launch.  An added bonus is that the lucky passengers selected are often able to experience the latest ships for a fraction of the usual cost.

There are a few ways in which passengers can gain an invitation to these special offer previews, but the main one is by being loyal to a particular operator.  This indicates to companies that the feedback received will be considered and knowledgeable.

Preview cruise offers are often short trips for two or three nights, but that is certainly long enough to gain an impression of the ship and its new features.  Many of the new cruise liners coming forward in 2013 are based on older models that have been improved in line with passenger comments and requests.  As such, places are already sought after, particularly for those lucky few to embark first.

Finding an Affordable Cruise Holiday

It is a lot easier than you think to find an affordable cruise holiday, once over cruising was considered a luxury only for the wealthy. However as more cruise companies formed over the last few decades the availability has increased, thus reducing prices. You can easily compare prices on line which makes looking for cheap cruises a lot easier.

If you do some research first you can find the best cruise to suit your needs. Shorter cruises are obviously cheaper as are ones which start off from a UK port rather than flying to a destination. That means for affordability, destinations around Europe will be the cheapest. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a great deal, to some far flung destination either.

Like other types of holiday, the best time to book is either, right when the prices come out (they tend to be lower to initially attract customers) or up to a few days before departure (cruise lines don’t like cabins sitting empty for the duration of a cruise). You can also save a lot on the type of cabin you book, although many are quite basic, some are more so than others. For example:

Interior or inside cabins are the cheapest and generally the smallest and most basic. You won’t want to spend too long in these cabins, but that’s okay when you consider the activities and entertainment on many cruise ships. For some though a windowless room can seem a bit claustrophobic.

Next up is exterior or ocean view cabins, these basic ones are similar in size to the interior cabins, however you will have a porthole window or a similar small window. You do need to be careful when booking some ocean view rooms, as sometimes your view can be blocked by lifeboats and other equipment when on the lower decks.
 
Higher up you go on a cruise ship, the better the rooms you will generally find. Next you will find slightly bigger rooms, the balcony or veranda cabins. These usually have bigger bathroom or a separate seating area or living space. You will also find that prices for these vary because where they are situated or if some are bigger than others, there really is a lot of choice.

Finally if you do want to splash the cash then the suites are for you. Large luxurious rooms, they really can’t be described as cabins. You will find some spread over two levels as well as a couple of on-suite bathrooms you will also find private dining areas and full sized relaxation areas.

Some cruise lines offer seasonal discounts; others offer good rates for families, depending on the type of cruise line. Some such as Disney Cruises cater well for children and adults young at heart. Then you have Royal Caribbean Cruises which take everything to the next level for their passengers perfect for people of all ages. Looking for something affordable across the board, then Costa Cruises fits the bill. And finally for a little old school luxury then you should try Cunard Cruises in their regal ships.

Things to remember when going on a cruise

Going on late cruise deals is one of the best decisions you can ever make.  There are some common misconceptions surrounding cruising, such as the danger of travel sickness. However, in reality, what sets cruising apart is that travelling becomes so much fun.  It is not just the means to an end, but an end in itself.   

When going on a cruise, there are things to remember and here are just three.  Use sun-block lotion.  This is the most obvious reminder since you will be spending day after day beneath the sun with a salty seawater breeze blowing on your face.  There is nothing more refreshing than watching the ocean, but it could burn your face very easily. 

Bring cash.  The biggest cruise lines accept credit card payments and have ATM machines onboard, however, it is best to be prepared and have cash to hand.  Cruise ships spend hours and sometimes days in a local destination and you will need cash to buy souvenirs, eat at local restaurants and do some shopping.

Do not forget your personal safety.  Cruising is fun and the ocean could easily wipe away all your cares, however, do not get carried away because you are still hovering over a vast body of water.  While modern cruise ships are highly equipped in handling any troubles at sea, it is always best to know the layout of the boat and where the lifeboats and life jackets are in the event of an emergency.

Cruising in Alaska

Cruises in Alaska are perfect for people who would like to see the incredible sights found there, such as the glaciers and wild snowy mountains, without having to brave the cold!  Not only will people on cruise trips in Alaska be able to view some of the world’s most spectacular sights, but they will also have a good chance of catching a glimpse of the famous wildlife there, such as whales, polar bears, sea otters and an interesting variety of birds.

Activities

People taking cruises in Alaska who would like to brave the shores can take part in excursions as a regular part of most cruise holidays.  Popular activities include kayaking, mountain hiking and fishing.  One of the great benefits of exploring this region on a cruise ship is that passengers have the option of going back to a nice warm cabin when they no longer feel up for exploring.

Booking a cruise to Alaska

Cruises to Alaska can be booked either on the internet on websites like Imagine Cruising or through a travel agency.  To find the best deals, it is important to book as far in advance as possible.

New ports and places for the 2013 cruise year

So you have sailed the seven seas and then some and have nowhere left to go?  Well, as luck would have it, there are numerous new ports and additional destinations being added for those taking 2013 cruises.

This year you can add places such as New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and Caledonia to your list of cruise destinations.  You can also add Canada, Rio de Janeiro and Texas to that list.  That is right, Texas.  Galveston is already home to a handful of mega-ships on a regular basis so why not make room for cruise ships?  Several cruise line companies have already added this popular route to their regular schedule.

Of course New Orleans is not new when it comes to cruise ship destinations, however it is officially open and working in full force for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.  Honduras is scheduled to open its first cruise ship port this year.  The port, which is set in Trujillo, along the Banana Coast, will be the country’s first and will open up a new destination for cruisers.  Keep your eyes open for cruise companies offering cruises to Honduras.

Jamaica has hopped on board and opened a new port this year as well.  Large cruise ships can now call the port at Falmouth home.  The port at this 18th century town will be the fourth in the country.  The significance of this particular port means that places such as Montego Bay, Falmouth and Ocho Rios, are much easier to reach for travellers.  Each of these places can be reached in about 30 minutes from Falmouth.

Cruise and stay offers plenty of variety

For those who like the idea of going on a cruise but do not want to spend the whole of their holiday on board a ship, then cruise and stay can offer the best option.  Holidaymakers who choose cruise and stay can visit a wonderful location where they can have a relaxing time before embarking on a delightful cruise.

These cruise and stay holidays are quite different from other cruise travel where travellers are only able to visit land-based locations when the ship pulls into a port.  They are an excellent solution for those who want to enjoy the type of luxury normally associated with a cruise, but also want to spend a good part of their holiday on land visiting that extra special location

Cruise and stay also gives that extra dimension to a holiday, making it one to remember.  A tourist may, for example, have dreamt of spending time in New York and also enjoying a cruise.  This type of holiday enables people to enjoy both.  After enjoying the delights of the city what better way can there be to enjoy the rest of the holiday than going on board for a relaxing cruise?

Costa Cruises for a holiday in style

No matter where you are heading Costa Cruises can take you there with elegance and in style.  Cruising is by and large the most relaxing holiday on earth, in addition to offering passengers the unique opportunity to explore some of the most fascinating travel destinations on the planet which may never otherwise be visited.

Travel with Costa Cruises and explore exciting destinations such as Egypt, the Red and Arabian seas, or the islands of the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.  We sail all over the world to take our guests to the most interesting and beautiful locations on earth.

A cruising holiday caters for people of all ages as there are always plenty of activities happening on board both during the day and in the evening.  For example, cruise ships cater for all tastes in music and you will find intimate cocktail bars with softly playing jazz as well as piano bars, nightclubs and children’s discos.  It is because of this diversity that cruises are popular with extended family units.

Costa Cruises will be able to accommodate your requirements at unbeatable prices, whether you are looking to arrange your 2013 cruise or are eager to book a late deal option for this year.

It does not matter if this is your first-ever cruise or you are a seasoned veteran; let us know at the time of booking if your trip is in celebration of a special event, honeymoon, birthday or anniversary and we will do all we can to make your special day even more special.

Affordable cruise holidays for couples

If you are looking for a romantic getaway, to a far flung destination for some much needed R&R then a couple’s cruise might just be up your street. Romance and cruising go hand in hand; it’s the perfect way to see some of the most romantic destinations in the world. Cruising isn’t just for the rich either, you can find some fantastic cheap cruises for couples on the web now, and so there is not excuse not to book your romantic cruise holiday.
 
Smaller cruise ships offer the perfect setting for a couple’s holiday, many cruise lines including the larger companies offer smaller vessels, which are perfect for an intimate holiday. Princess, Celebrity, Norwegian, Azamara and P&O all have smaller vessels which go to destinations around the world. There are some advantages to smaller ships; they can visit some ports larger ships are un-able to. There are fewer passengers, so you won’t feel like you’re in a floating town but there is still plenty of on board activities. And you will find there are more tailor made excursions.

Some on board activities you can enjoy include, relaxing spa days which offer couples massages and treatments, there really is no better way to unwind. Candle lit dinners for two and intimate cocktail hours relaxing to the sound of a jazz band. There are also gyms on board so if you like to keep fit then you can also exercise together on board. Or if you want to learn something new try out a couple of classes which are offered on many cruise ships.

Popular destinations for a romantic couples cruise holiday include:

Caribbean
Bahamas
Hawaii
Alaska
Canada
Mediterranean
Baltic

Yangtze River Cruises

The Yangtze River is the longest river in all of Asia; it starts at the glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau and finishes up emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. Its total length is nearly 4,000 miles; this is why tours and cruises up and down the river are so popular.

The landscape that this river winds through is spectacular; the misty mountains make for stunning holiday snaps. The most amazing part of this river, which is always included in the cruises, is the Three Gorges section.

The Three Gorges are Xiling, Qutang and Wuxia; they are the largest on the river and stretch for 150 miles in total. The Qutang is the shortest and narrowest of the three but it does have some of the most amazing scenery. Wuxia has lush green mountains that regularly have a shrouding of mist around them. The longest is Xiling at 47-miles and it has narrow cliffs on either side making the area seem very imposing. The Three Gorges Dam is a highlight of many cheap cruises that travel the river.

There are many cities that this river flows through where cruises and trips can be booked. Shanghai, Xian, Beijing, The Three Gorges, and Shibaozhai are just some. If you are visiting any city close to the river it is well worth looking into a tour or cruise. The scenery is amazing and it is something not to be missed when on a holiday in this region of China.

Cruise tips and etiquette

While going on a cruise can be an exhilarating experience, those new to the world of cruising should understand that many cruise ships are much like top quality 5-star resorts, and have their own rules of etiquette.  Knowledge of both the stated and the unspoken rules of etiquette on a cruise ship will go a long way towards making the cruise enjoyable and incident-free. 

Dress code

Many cruise ships will have a dress code specified for certain areas of the ship; this can be particularly true for the restaurants and dining rooms.  If in doubt, check with the cruise line as to dress codes when booking your cruise.

Spa and fitness etiquette 

Time spent at the spa or fitness centre is an enjoyable part of any cruise, but it is important to dress appropriately, dispose of personal towels in the designated bins, and above all be punctual for spa appointments or gym slots so as not to inconvenience other passengers.

Saving seats and electronics

While it is important to ensure that friends or family have seats and deck chairs, reserving seats or chairs is considered impolite, and some cruise ships have notices posted prohibiting seat reservation.  The use of noisy cellular phones and other sound-emitting devices should be restricted to cabins. 

Consideration for fellow holidaymakers and common sense is the cornerstone of shipboard etiquette on the cruises 2012 has to offer.