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National Plan a Cruise Month

BACK TO OUR ROOTS

 

 

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We pride ourselves as being full-service travel professionals. We continue to educate ourselves and work to understand many aspects of the travel industry, including resort destinations, land tours, independent travel, flights, rail vacations, hotels, car rentals, coach tours and yes, cruises - all types of cruises.

But as our name suggests, we started off as a cruise-only travel agency and as such, worked for and obtained professional certification from the leading cruise organization, CLIA, Cruise Lines International Association. On staff we have a Master Cruise Counsellor and an Accredited Cruise Counsellor. We also have been certified as having completed intensive courses and training by various cruise lines and destinations. And of course, we have learned that the best way to know and understand about the travel industry is by experience, so you can benefit from our personal, hands-on knowledge. In this issue we want to once again focus on the cruise industry, specifically, the various types of cruises and cruise vessels. This edition is going to be devoted to a brief review of the various options for cruising.

                                

TRADITIONAL OCEAN LINERS - This category in itself has so many variations but the common theme is that you travel on a large ocean-going ship to various ports along the coasts of the continents and islands. These ships go from those marketed as yacht-like or "club" cruises to the mega ships. They can be "country club casual" with a sophisticated air to a theme park that floats. They might be targeting families, first-time cruisers, experienced cruisers, the all-inclusive resort set, those who want excitement, those who want to explore or those who want to relax and get pampered. The choice is yours and we are here to help you navigate through the wide range of ships, cruise lines, cabin categories and itineraries to assure you a great vacation experience. The advantage of the "club" cruise ships is that they can sail into smaller ports. The mega ships, on the other hand offer more onboard options and are generally offered at lower fares due to the fact that certain costs are spread among more passengers.

     

SMALL SHIPS - These are ships that go to ports that can't be accessed by the large ships. They are usually sailing to more exotic destinations, like the Galapagos Islands, Antartica or coastal regions, and usually don't cover a lot of area geographically. Instead, they visit several ports in a smaller area and focus on the destination experience rather than the onboard experience. This is not to say that they don't treat you well, however. They take pride in offering great service and exceptional food and usually are more inclusive than the traditional ocean liners. But what they won't have is a casino, waterslides, large swimming pools and lavish entertainment. There will be small bands for evening entertainment or sometimes even local entertainment which is brought on board in a port, they will have lectures on pertanant topics that match the theme of the ships.

                                              

AMERICAN RIVER BOATS - These can be traditional paddlewheelers and many are Americana-themed. They travel the Mississippi, Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries. They are American-flagged vessels with American crews. Dining is casual with cuisine from different regions of the US. The river boats generally have early American or Southern plantation decor and the shows offer a variety of American music. There are lectures and discussions of riverlore and history. Some themes that are offered are baseball, jazz, Civil War and big band, just to name a few. The boats are smaller and therefore more intimate.

EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISES -  These are not considered boats but "long ships" and are all the same size since they are required to pass through the same locks and under the same bridges. The itineraries are usually quite similar as well, but that doesn't mean they are all created equal. There are many innovations in cabin design now from all-suite ships with panoramic views to lavish interiors with crystal, well, crystal everything. These again are generally very inclusive with wine served at dinner along with complimentary shore excursions in most ports of call. If you've seen Europe from a traditional ocean liner, you've seen very little. The river cruises are a great alternative to a coach tour to see much of the interior of Europe.

Of course, ship accomodations are varied as well. There are interior cabins, cabins which have no windows at all or "virtual windows" which are really LCD screens that show you video of what you would see through a window and some with windows overlooking the center of activity of the ship. There are several categories of oceanview cabins, some with windows looking over the ocean and others with private verandas overlooking the ocean. And of course there are suites which offer a wide array of amenities. There are family cabins, cabins that can be combined to form a suite, lofts with 2 levels, cabins designed for single travelers and just about everything in between.

        

As for itineraries, you can choose from 3 and 4-day Bahamas getaways to several months-long around the world cruises. There are Caribbean cruises, European cruises, Panama canal cruises, cruises to Asia, Hawaiian Island cruises, cruises to Alaska, cruises to the islands of the South Pacific, Scandanavian coastal cruises, cruises around Australia and New Zealand, cruises around South America, cruises to Antartica, cruises to the Galapagos Islands, cruises along either coast of North America, American River cruises, European River cruises, river cruises in Asia or Russia, etc.

The world is two-thirds water so you shouldn't have a difficult time finding something you'd like to explore that way. And when you cruise, you don't waste time sleeping. You might fall asleep in one country and wake up in another! And you only unpack once since your hotel is a moving one. And the scenery is ever-changing.

But no, cruises are not for everyone. That is why we offer all types of travel. After all, our mission is to please you and to help you book the vacation of your dreams. We don't book travel. We book memories. We hope you remember us when you are ready to plan your next vacation.

As always, we appreciate the opportunity to work with you and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Happy travels!

~Deanna and the crew:

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Here are just a few tips worth repeating:

1 - If you can, pack as much as possible into a carry on. Try to pack "double-duty" clothing, such as a pants/skirts that can be worn to a casual dinner and then be dressed up for a more formal occassion if it presents itself. Same with shoes. I generally carry a soft pair of dress shoes, a good walking shoe and a casual. low sandal.

2 - Let your "personal" carry-on item also be used for extra items that you will be needing.

3 - If you travel more than just occassionally, it may be worthwhile to enroll in one of the pre-screening programs offered by the government. But beware that you will need to pay for it, provide fingerprints and be interviewed so it probably isn't worthwhile if you don't do enough travelling.

 

4 - Be careful what you pack in your carry-on luggage as you will be delayed and may lose some items if they don't comply with TSA rules.

5 - On smaller, commuter flights, they will probably take your carry-on luggage and gate-check it so you won't need to check it at the ticket counter and therefore, you won't have to pay to check it. Just be sure that you don't leave valuables in it or anything you will need before during your flight. Also, batteries are not to be packed in any checked luggage for safety reasons.

6 - Read the signage while in the security line. If you are prepared when you step up to the x-ray belt, you will get through faster and easier. Also, have your passport open to your photo page and your boarding pass with it. The agents will appreciate it. Oh, and be sure to smile and greet them with a warm "good morning" or "hello" when you approach and follow up with a thank-you.

7 - While packing, be mindful of the weight and girth limits of your luggage, both checked and carry-on. Don't be the person at the ticket counter moving items from one suitcase to another to avoid the hefty extra baggage fee.

8- Most of all, be pleasant and patient. A smile goes a long way at making your life easier!

Happy travels!

    

 

 

             

 

 

 

                    

  

 

       

 

                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

 


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