Take the hassle out of your holiday travel

You have booked a wonderful Mediterranean cruise which is due to depart from Malaga and take in some beautiful places over the next ten days, but there is a snag, your are flying out on a budget airline and of course you inevitably come up against the excess baggage charge, worse still you are over the weight allowance.

This is a nightmare situation that so often causes headaches for travellers, you know that although the dress code on your cruise ship is going to be reasonably relaxed, it still requires smart casual wear for both the men and women, this naturally means that you may have to pack a little more that you might have to on say a beach villa holiday, when shorts and a shirt are all that is needed.

So what is the answer to this dilemma, if fact is there an answer short of packing less than you feel you may need for a ten day holiday? Well it is simpler than you could possibly imagine, you contact Send My Bag and they will resolve the matter quickly and without fuss. They will collect your bag from your home and deliver it safely and securely to the cruise liner, and you can also arrange for it to be collected from the dockside and delivered home to you. No hassle, no excess baggage, no aching back, just a smooth journey to embarkation and ten days of relaxing sailing ahead for you.

Cruise Caribbean

Picture: 16g

What to pack for a cruise?

If it’s your first time booking a cruise holiday, you might have done all your research about what to expect on your destinations, including the weather and culture, but you might not realise that there are certain things that it’s a good idea to pack for the cruising itself, since it’s not the same as normal accommodation.

Unlike a hotel or apartment, a cruise ship is not based in one location or country. Have you considered what kind of plugs the ship will take? Most cruise ships are American style with their sockets, but a number take European plugs and some are even British. Find out beforehand which yours is, then pack the right adaptors for your ship.

Consider the time of year that you’re travelling and where to. Although the cruise might be around the Mediterranean where temperatures are generally mild all year long, during the winter the nights can get pretty chilly. Make sure you’ve packed layers for just in case, and waterproofs for the occasional downpour. Even if the weather isn’t forecast to be particularly sunny during your trip, it’s a good idea to pack sunglasses and sun cream. This is because the sun reflects strongly off the sea, meaning you can end up dazzled and burned!

It’s also a good idea to check your dress codes. Generally cruises are quite relaxed, so you can stroll around in shorts during the day. But some have a particular dress code for the evening which is usually quite strict, and most will have at least one formal evening. Ensure that you’ve packed something appropriate for this!

Picture: kansasphoto

First time cruising tips

First time cruisers are easily confused with the information overload surrounding cruises.  It is difficult to choose cruise lines and itineraries given that more than 1800 ports are covered by the various cruises on offer.  Consider these tips to find the right cruise.

Type of holiday

The type of holiday required, determines the cruise.  Choose island based cruises if you are looking for a holiday by the beach.  Other cruisers may base their decision on shore activities such as exploration, shopping or adventure.

Cruise length

Cruise lengths range from one to five days, weekly cruises or global cruises that last for a few months.  First timer cruisers can opt for shorter weekly cruises to nearby destinations before embarking on longer cruises.

Embarkation ports

Boarding port access is important for first timers.  Some ports are accessible by road whereas others require a flight. Consider home port options and embark from your current location or a port city that is easily accessible.

Ship size and cruise line

The ship type– mega or small is an important factor for first timers.  Choose a reliable, popular cruise line for the first cruising trip.

Picture: Jacrews7

Royal Caribbean announces new features to cruise ships

After hard times for the cruise ship industry with numerous disasters including outbreaks of illness and luxury liner crashes, Royal Caribbean is fighting back against all the odds to draw customers back on board.

They announced yesterday that they will be bringing in a whole new range of features on their line of Quantum ships, including a series of what they are calling ‘firsts at sea’ such as a brand new capsule ride, the North Star, which transports guests more than 300 feet above sea level over the edge of the boat; a skydiving experience for beginners and seasoned skydivers within a simulated environment; and updated staterooms.

Richard D. Fain, the chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises stated that “the unique features on Quantum will boggle our guests’ mind, but the real strength of the design is how our people have integrated all these diverse components to create a comfortable and exciting experience.”

The highly anticipated details of the brand new ships such as the SeaPlex sporting and entertainment venue and Two70 multi-level room with floor to ceiling glass walls were announced alongside changes to the staterooms. Every room, even the internal ones, will have a ‘view’ due to the introduction of the ‘virtual balcony’. This is managed through an 80 inch LED screen that will show views in real time of the world outside. There is also more comfortable accommodation for family and friends travelling together with family-connected staterooms with separate bathrooms and bedrooms that interconnect for time together and apart.

The Quantum ships will span 18 decks and have the capacity to carry more than 4000 guests in their 2090 staterooms. The first ship, Quantum of the Seas, will debut in the fall of 2014, followed closely by the sister ship, Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015.

Picture: Royal Caribbean Cruises

Classical cruises

Three of the most popular classical destinations are Rome, Athens and Ephesus and one of the easiest ways to take in all sites during one holiday is to embark on a Mediterranean cruise. Several cruises departing from the Italian capital also take in Athens and Ephesus.

Rome was the centre of one of the greatest empires and evidence of its triumphs and superiority can still be seen. From its foundation over two thousand years ago, people have flocked to this city. Many buildings are still standing for any visitor keen to soak in the ancient history to see. Built on seven hills, it was the smallest, Capitoline Hill, which was the political and religious centre. The empire was ruled from the Capital and three important temples gave the site its sacred status. The ruins of the Colosseum still have the power to impress and it was in this enormous building that wild animals and Christians were put to death as popular entertainment. The Pantheon, baths of Caracalla and Trajan’s Arch are other fascinating attractions.

Athens, birthplace of democracy, drama and western philosophical thought, is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was also one of the most stunning cities of the ancient world, thanks to the great building programmes of the 5th century BC, many of which were carried out by the statesman, Pericles. Most prominent within the city are the buildings on the acropolis; the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaia and the little temple of Athene Nike. Other ancient sites not to be missed are the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, with its intriguing Tower of the Wind and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

Ephesus, which is located in modern Turkey, was a thriving trade centre and one of the top tourist destinations of the ancient world. Thousands of visitors flocked to the city for business reasons and to pay homage to its principal deity, the goddess Artemis. Today, thousands of modern tourists continue to flock to admire what was the most important city in the eastern part of the Roman Empire.

Cruise Destination – Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a wonderful feat of engineering, which was completed in 1914; it is a popular choice for cruise holidays, it connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean so rather than traveling round South America, you can complete the journey in hours rather than days. Before the Panama Canal was built, you would have to sail round the Cape Horn, which was often very treacherous.

Cruise holidays can navigate the globe, easily going from one continent to the other. You can travel from east to west of America, Florida to San Francisco, from the east coast of American and the Caribbean to the west coast of South America to Chile and Peru. Or how about from the UK to Australia via the Caribbean including South America, and on to the Pacific Ocean, there are so many different possibilities with a Panama Canal Cruise holiday.

There are a number of ports of call along the Panama Canal, which you can explore along the way. But one of the most fascinating parts is moving through the locks themselves. The journey across the Panama Canal makes a change from the high seas, as the vessels float along smoothly from point to point. It also give you time to slow the pace of the whole journey down as you glide majestically down the canal.

There are a number of different itineraries for Panama Cruises on Bonvoyage.co.uk at affordable prices. You can find last minute deal, some for summer and winter 2013 and even onto 2014.

Maldives cruise review

This marvellous trip starts on the ‘airport island’ of Hulule with a direct transfer to a traditional Maldivian ‘dhoni’ sailing ship.  The name dhoni is derived from the Arab word ‘dhow’.  Although these boats have a classical appearance from the exterior, they are well-equipped and the accommodation is luxurious and modern.  In addition, there is ample room on deck for sunbathing, or just relaxing and watching the world go by.  In true Maldives style, the meals are generally planned around whatever is the catch of the day.

The first part of the journey involves a cruise through the Atolls, through South Male and Felidhoo Atolls.  Along this stretch the boat makes several stops at some uninhabited islands or small harbours.  The route may vary and is governed by the weather.  The first major destination is Meemu (Mulaku) Atoll in the south.  This is a group of islands with a few resorts and some small fishing villages.  There are plenty of opportunities for snorkelling and swimming in the azure waters, which serve as home to a fabulous variety of marine life.

This cruise has many features that make it well worth experiencing.  There are the breathtakingly beautiful and uninhabited islands of Kudiboli and Kuda Anbaraa.  At this stop the boat anchors overnight night in a large lagoon teeming with a multitude of vibrant sea creatures.  What sets the cruise apart is certainly the location.  The sheer tranquillity of the environment makes this an ideal holiday for relaxation.  Most of the islands are sparsely populated, or better still, completely uninhabited, creating an even deeper sense of calm.  This is not the type of trip that will suit someone who is accustomed to an event driven cruise since the days tend to amble by without a care in the world, or an item on the agenda.

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.