Tips on Booking your Excursions
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We have just published a new article titled Booking your Cruise Excursions. The article covers the different types of land tours available as well as your options when you have made the decision to book.

Booking with your cruiseline onboard or before you travel is often seen as the easiest option as the cruiseline takes care of everything for you and ensures you are back in time to board the ship ready for the next port of call.

Independent online cruise excursion companies have become popular in recent years especially for those wishing to obtain a better price than offered by the cruise lines.

However if you are faced with some unexpected delays and are late getting back the ship may not wait for you! Click here to read the full article

What to Pack for a Cruise to the Fjords
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norwegian fjords

The choice of itinerary and activities on board a ship have never been better or more affordable. The huge numbers of people who head on their annual holiday with a cruise have made a wise choice.

Dressing and what to pack is fairly straightforward and many cruise lines have recognised that casual wear in dress now reigns. For those balmy days at sea, it is smart casual, for dinner depending upon the cruise line it can go up a bit. Dress codes on cruise ships are far more relaxed than in the past and dressing for dinner has become more optional.

There is one type of spring, summer and autumn cruise holiday that a little more change to the norm is in order. The cruise with itineraries that head further north for instance to the Norwegian Fjords.

Before you start packing, make a checklist of everything you need to and should bring.

HERE ARE SOME ESSENTIALS YOU WILL WANT TO INCLUDE

1. A waterproof wind jacket helps protect you from any sudden cold winds and rain that are commonplace in Norway. Use it in conjunction with a waterproof hat or a hood.

2. Inclement weather is not unusual and can surprise you at any time. This calls for an excellent pair of closed toed shoes with soles that offer a good grip, especially for walking on the deck. In addition, bring some sturdy walking boots for those trips to hike in the picturesque countryside, in small villages and stepping onto a glacier. An extra pair of socks should always be on you as they will keep your feet dry if they get wet whilst out.

3. A warm jacket or coat should be brought along as the temperatures in Norway can dip especially during May and October. Even in the midst of summer, the higher elevations will decrease the temperatures by several degrees and you will appreciate the warmth. If weight is a concern, go for a fleece or micro fabric that adds the warmth but not the bulk.

4. In a similar manner, pack clothing that can be layered. Hoodies or pullover jumpers are a few examples. It will be appreciated on those cool days or evenings and if the sun is blasting, and the temps rise; they can easily be peeled off for comfort. T-shirts are a must for extra insulation but are light enough to wear alone if the temperature increases during the day.

5. Try to coordinate basic colours that blend and will interchange easily with each other. Have your primary outfit in monochromatic neutrals such as browns, greys and blacks. Then add the layers in the colour you prefer to look sharp.

queen mary 2 norway

6. If formality is standard on the ship of your choice, bring along dressier dining outfits. Most cruisers like to take a stroll on deck after dinner. For men, a dinner jacket or a sports jacket will do, whereas for women a thick wrap should suffice.

7. Bring some light plastic sheeting or a large cloth to take when you go on shore to cover your belongings. However, better yet, invest in waterproof carry ons such as handbags and backpacks to store your belongings safely from the elements.

8. You may be lucky with the weather as it can happen in Norway as well. However, the best bet is to do as you do at home and place a small umbrella in your day pack.

9. Just as you should for any holiday away, don’t forget to pack the camera. The beauty of Norway is exceptional and you’ll be snapping away from the moment you step onboard.

10. Finally, make sure to pack blister plasters. Walking can cause them to happen especially when wearing a brand new pair of boots or shoes.

Go ahead and bring those sandals and flip flops on your cruise. Most ships have coverings over their pool areas and are temperature controlled for you to take a dip.

As you can see, packing for a cruise to the Norwegian fjords is not all that different from packing for any other cruise holiday. It just takes a bit of organisation. Remember, if you forget something, there are shops onboard the cruise ship and plenty of stores whilst in port to obtain what you need.

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Been on a Norwegian Fjords Cruise? Let us know what we missed!

Keeping your Cruise Holiday Costs Down
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Save money on your next Cruise

One of the best options for your next holiday is the cruising option. A Cruise holiday allows passengers not only the chance to visit new destinations, but to also enjoy the luxury of a floating hotel.

Sometimes though Cruise travellers feel that once they get onboard, they are being inundated with extra costs. This is due to the cruise lines adding more options such as specialty dining and other activities with a separate surcharge if they wish to partake.

Here are the top ten items that will keep your holiday costs down!

1. Expand your Knowledge Not all enrichment classes come with a fee and include more stimulating activities on those days at sea, instead of simply lying by the pool. These interactive classes can range from culinary demonstrations, ice sculpting, how to lose weight safely, learning to use a computer and money saving tips.

2. Eat Eat Eat! The theme restaurants on board might be something to try for one evening, but even the buffet has all kinds of culinary options for one to try. This is the perfect opportunity to sample a fare that one never gets a chance to do so at home. Cruise ship dining menus offer everything from the mundane to the exotic. There will always be something that’s unusual to try for free.

3. Get Physical  A good way to keep off weight and get a workout is by heading to the gym. Don’t think of this as work; think of it as a way to sample that latest state of the art equipment without signing up for a long term contract as one would in their local physical fitness centre. Head to the gym early in the morning, when it’s practically empty.

4. Whether in the cabin, theatre or at dusk poolside, admission to a movie is always free. The best part is snacks are welcomed and many ships supply free popcorn and blankets to snuggle in for watching the big screen on deck.

5. Cruise ships are great places to learn a step or two without costing a quid. The variety of dance genres that the staff teaches can range from the Texas Cotton Eye Joe to the tango to the Electric Slide and everything else in-between.

6. Picture Perfect Don’t bother with photos taken by the ship’s photographer, which tend to be pricey. Instead, carry a camera at all times as photos can be taken anywhere, aboard the ship or in an exotic port.  These photos will serve as a wonderful reminder of the holiday.

7. Putt Away It may not be the 18-hole course that golf enthusiasts are seeking but mini-golf is free. Normally located on the top-deck of many cruise, it is a great opportunity to practice putting and patience under the ship’s swaying at sea.  Mini-golf competitions may also be scheduled.

8. That’s Entertainment Head to the theatre and get a close up view of Vegas-style revues with all the glitz and glamour of showgirls, singers and comedians. But there’s more…some cruise lines kick up West End/Broadway musicals for their guests and there is never a fee for two on the aisle.

9. Tour Take an opportunity in exploring on your own with a good guidebook in hand. There’s no need to go on a prearranged tour at every port of call, especially when many destinations can be easily explored by yourself. Most ports have shuttles for their passengers from the berth directly to the edge of town.

10. Viewing the Sunrise Although you might have to get up early to do this, its well worth going out to the deck as the sights that you will see will be remembered forever. The view of the sun glimmering on the water whilst rising over the horizon may seem like something out of a painting or film.  It is all too real and is an awakening experience to begin a day of adventure.

You don’t need to pull out your wallet at every opportunity on a cruise and as described some of the best things to do and experience on a cruise holiday, as in life, are free.

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How do you save money on your cruise? Tell us below.

Excursions in Casablanca!
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Casablanca mosque

Cruise ships go to all corners of the world and they provide many people with an opportunity to see some of the most interesting cities of all time. One of these cities is Casablanca, Morocco.

Once arriving at the Port of Casablanca, it is easy to manoeuvre into the city and catch all its points of interests with the city centre only being less than ¾’s a mile away. The city of Casablanca provides free shuttle service from the port to the center of town.

POINTS OF INTEREST IN CASABLANCA

Having a modern day, up to date commercialised city together with the bazaars and the mosques can be a strange yet satisfying experience. Examples of outstanding Moorish architecture can be seen near the United Nations Square.

Get your day started with visiting the Hassan II mosque, which is just a short distance away from the port and one of the most beautiful religious buildings in Morocco. This icon is the 2nd largest mosque in the world after Mecca. It was designed by the French architect, Michel Pineau and named after King Hassan the Second. It is one of the few mosques in Morocco opened to non-Muslims.

Hassan II Mosque

If one wants to brag about an authentic experience, they must see the El Bahia Palace & Djemaa-el-F’na in the medina (old town). It looks straight out of a romantic novel with spice vendors and snake charmers as far as the eye can see.

Other things to do include seeing Hassan Tower, Mausoleum of King Mohammed, Chellah & Archeological Museum and many other sites.

One of the other essential areas for any tourist is the Marché Central (Central Market). Not only does this have the appearance of a classic bazaar, it also provides an insight into the daily lives of the inhabitants of the city. Visitors can purchase wonderful spices and unusual and beautiful hand crafted goods.

TOP EXCURSIONS OUTSIDE OF CASABLANCA

There are many great locations to see in Morocco other than just Casablanca. The country contains a huge amount of delights that are just waiting for visitors.

The city of Fez (Fes) is one of the must see cities for any visitor to Morocco and is a popular day excursion from the ship. The most historical and arguably grandest of all of the four ’imperial’ cities, a day trip is the perfect way to see what this city has to offer.

Highlights include the ancient Medina Fés El Bali, a market where each stall is dedicated to a different craft, the Mellah, an ancient Jewish Quarter and the grand Medersa Attarine, which dates back to the 14th Century and has stunning tiles, carvings and mosaics.

The other top excursion is a 3 hour ride from Casablanca but well worth the trip. The 11th Century city of Marrakesh offers some of the most amazing points of interest in the world.  Some of the best known sights include Koutoubia Mosque, which was built in the 12th Century, Tombs of the Saadian Kings, Bahia Palace and the world famous square Jemaa el-Fna. This is one city that everyone should go to.

While many people might think of Casablanca as an exotic getaway straight out of the Hollywood classic, the reality of the city is quite different. It is not only the largest city in all of Morocco; it is also the cornerstone of trade in North Africa and has some of the most moving Islamic art in the world. Many major cruise lines make call at Casablanca including Costa, Fred.Olsen, MSC, NCL and Princess, amongst others.

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China Cruises – Discover the Pearl of the Orient
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China Temple

There are many great travel destinations and one popular area on a lot of people’s bucket list is China. Much of China was closed to the outside world for centuries with tourism steadily increasing since the late 1970s.

The “Pearl of the Orient” is not to be missed. While many people may choose seeing China by land tours, there’s a more interesting way to see even more of the country.

It didn’t take long for the cruise industry to notice the promising potential of China for their passengers. Several cruise ships now venture to China and it is commonplace that your favourite cruise departs from Hong Kong, Singapore or Beijing on an adventure touching upon thousands of years of civilizations.

A cruise holiday in China is often accompanied with a land-based stay, typically in Beijing and Shanghai, making cruising a significant part of China’s growing tourism industry.

Shanghai

Another option that is a once in a lifetime experience is to cruise down the River Yangtze. Many consider the shores along the river banks to be the cradle of ancient Chinese civilization and the river itself its lifeline. The Yangtze River is the longest river in all of Asia, taking up nearly 4000 miles and is the third longest river in the entire world.

ANTICIPATED HIGHLIGHTS

A cruise around this region is unique not only for its path but for the fact that it combines both land and sea experiences to create a truly intriguing trip. One day, you can be enjoying an authentic acrobat routine or shopping in a major metropolis; the next, they’ll be in a secluded rural area that is surrounded by beautiful temples and pagodas. Stunning handmade wooden carvings and fine silk are available for purchase at local markets there.

Authentic cuisine, Chinese opera and many more experiences await you aboard a luxurious ship. The ocean cruise ships have modern amenities such as spacious cabins with balconies and full sized gyms and spas that offer every treatment.

Think of the incredible excursions that take passengers to the mausoleums of the Ming Tomb, the legion army of Terracotta Warriors and the picture perfect opportunities along the monumental structure that has been a symbol of China, the Great Wall.

Great Wall of China

MAKING PLANS

When planning your cruise, the choices are numerous. Apart from world cruises, whose itineraries generally sample key ports in the Orient and the Far East, there are a number of cruise lines that make the most important ports of call in China and other Far Eastern countries.

The months of April, May, September and October are considered the peak season for cruising in China. These months leans towards being warm and mild, thus making it optimum.

SAILINGS

Celebrity, Costa, Crystal and Royal Caribbean have varied itineraries ranging from 4 to 22 days. The influence of these exotic destinations will only merit with an extension of a pre and post cruise land package, making it a totally extensive holiday.

Viking River Cruises is one of the biggest river cruise lines that sails on the Yangtze. Enjoy an adventure in the Three Gorges region which is 150 miles long and provides stunning mountain landscapes, amazing gorges and thick bamboo groves that will create some lasting memories.

Far from home in nearly every sense, China has dazzled and enthralled travellers with its mesmerizing traditions, stunning terrain and rich cultural heritage. There is no better way to experience as much as possible as on a cruise with all amenities along with a pre and post cruise tour.

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