The Inside Passage Cruise Itinerary
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alaska inside passage

Breathtaking scenery, gleaming glaciers, abundant wildlife, and Native American culture are only a few of the spectacular attractions that draw visitors to Alaska. An Alaska Inside Passage cruise makes for a wonderful escape during the warmer months.

Ships tend to leave from either Seattle in the state of Washington or Vancouver on Canada’s west coast. Either departure port holds many points of interest.

Departing from Seattle

Embarking at the Port at Seattle will offer a plethora of opportunities to see and do. The “Emerald City” as it has been called because of its magnificent evergreens, is charming with a small town feel amongst a bustling city filled with glass skyscrapers and turn-of-the-century buildings.

seattle space needle

The world famous Space Needle has been an icon of the city since its introduction at the 1962 World’s Fair. The city is cycle friendly as well and has a large amount of people commuting to work this way. Its creative architecture mixed with its classic buildings creates a pleasure for the eye. The Pike Place Market is the oldest farmer market in the country and attracts millions of visitors every year.

Departing from Vancouver

Vancouver is a vibrant city and ranked as one of the best to visit in the world. One attraction that visitors can see is the Olympic coal caldron that is still intact from the city’s turn of the Winter Olympics in 2010. The Stanley Park is huge, and the lush green space is popular for activities such as biking or taking a relaxing stroll. The nearby seabed also attracts plenty of kayakers and other water sports.

Vancouver

History buffs can enjoy a lovely trip in the old town dating back to the 1800s when Vancouver was known as Gastown and inhabited by sawmill workers and their families. Vancouver contains the second largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco.

Princess, Holland America, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Crystal, Silversea and Celebrity can be seen all summer long doing 7 to 10 nights inside passage cruises. Princess, along with Crystal and Silversea tend to do 10 to 13 night itineraries.

Besides enjoying the fabulous amenities onboard your ship, sit back with a front row seat and view the unspoilt nature.

Some highlights featured on the Inside Passage cruise include several interesting ports featured below

Seward

Seward is the haunt of artists because of the natural and scenic beauty surrounding her. Based at the foot of Mt. Marathon, the snow capped peaks rise above the town, exuding a quaintness of a Kinkaid painting. Kenai Fjords National Park is just one of the many that Seward offers.

Moose in Seward

Experience a close up view of fjords and pristine glaciers. Besides standing in awe, wait until you set your sights on over 35 animals in their natural habitat including whales, mooses, otters, puffins, and seals. Shopping for a piece of art makes a lasting memory of Seward. Many art galleries are located within the historic district. Other items sold include gold jewellery, carvings made from jade and ivory and assorted Alaskan products.

Sitka

There’s a little bit of foreign influence in sea-side community of Sitka. Originally part of Russia, Sitka did not become a United States territory until 1867. However, the culture and products of the Russian people still reign here in it is hard to imagine that one is on U.S. land. Nesting dolls quilt works and other Russian artefacts are sold in many shops.

sitka alaska

There’s a Native American side of Sitka too. The Sheldon Jackson Museum offers Alaska Native artefacts on display. The historical events surrounding Sitka and its people can be viewed at the Sitka Historical Society and Museum. Set in a naturalised environment you will be guaranteed a brown bear viewing at the Fortress of the Bear. Arrange a customised tour with a certified naturalist normally available as a ship excursion.

Ketchikan

There are several options to enjoy a visit in Ketchikan. One possibility is to try an audio tour to discover the key sites around town. Or if adventurous, take a flight tour and investigate the Misty Fjords National Monument, which is accessible by plane or boat. See Misty Fjords in a different vein by sea kayaking under cascading waterfalls and granite cliffs.

Ketchikan alaska

The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary will please any walker and nature lover. You can also gain an overview of the early timber operations that were in Ketchikan after your walk. Authentic Alaska native totem carvings and masks are just a few of the items listed for your shopping journey in Ketchikan.

There is more than enough interest held in the ports of call on an Alaska Inside Passage cruise. There will be something that fits the bill in activities appropriate for each and every passenger regardless of age. Whether single, a family or a senior, there is nothing that surpasses learning new things and seeing new places.

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Cruise Ship Internet – Some Cost Saving Tips
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At one time in history, it was possible to get away from all the stress and worries of everyday life when you went on holiday. However, with today’s get it done yesterday, high technical world, it’s impossible to escape the internet.

This has been seen in all aspects of travel including cruise liners. The internet has had a long history with cruises, with the first internet use set up on a cruise ship in 1999, when the Norwegian Sky opened up a cyber café for users.

cruise ship internet

Costs

Cruise ship internet access is pricey and has known to be as high as £1.60 per minute or more, plus £2.50 or more for activation on a pay-as-you-go plan. Most cruise lines offer packages that are lower than the pay-as-you-go plan even though it still remains a costly option. Internet Plans vary in price to accommodate individual needs and are interchangeable between the private computer terminals available on board ship and your own wireless device.

If you cannot remain internet free during your holiday, purchasing a designated minute plan is probably the best option as it is the most cost efficient way. The more minutes purchased in advance, the lower the minute rate. If you buy an internet package on the day of arrival prior to dinner, some ships will throw in free bonus minutes. But buyer beware, there are no refunds for unused time.

Times Are Changing

Regent Seven Seas Cruises may have just become the innovator for the future of a cruise holiday’s Wi-Fi experience. After publicising this in the media, the line is adding free Wi-Fi access for some of its passengers.

As of the Autumn 2014 season, passengers on the line’s Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Navigator all-suite ships in concierge-level and higher suites will receive up to 500 minutes of free Wi-Fi.

Regent Seven Seas Club.com

Image courtesy of Regent Seven Seas

This is part of a multi-million investment of upgrading their Internet services fleet-wide, which includes increasing their satellite bandwidth by double of what it is used now to speed up connections radically than the normal speed at sea.  Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas, said that the Internet experience for Regent passengers would “significantly” improve.

The number of free Internet minutes will be incremented based on the length of the voyage.  For instance, 200 free minutes will be awarded for those on one- to seven-night voyages, 300 or eight to 10 nights, 400 for 11 to 15 nights and 500 for 16 nights and longer.

Many passengers just can’t leave home without continuing their social networking connections to friends and family. System wide, cruise lines have recognised this and have developed Wi-Fi hot spots throughout their ship, sometimes even within the cabin to handle cell phone service to communication tablets.

Internet cafés at sea are now the norm, not the exception. Even small ships and some new riverboats have one or two computers onboard for guest use and the landscape is changing daily. Award-winning river cruise line AmaWaterways River Cruises is offering a feature of complimentary Wi-Fi service on-board.

If the ship has Wi-Fi is available everywhere onboard, the reception will not be as good in certain locations.  A rule of thumb is the closer you are to the Wi-Fi access point (antenna), the better the connection. If you do not use a BYO laptop or Smartphone, there are designated areas known as Internet cafés or Internet kiosks for use.

Take a look at a selection of Cruise Lines internet facilities

Carnival Cruise Lines

Wi-Fi is obtainable on all Carnival ships including 24-hour cyber cafes. FunHub internet kiosks are located on selected ships and can be used for when you just need a brief connection for sending off a quick message.

Celebrity Cruises

Most ships in Celebrity Cruise’s fleet offer Wi-Fi connectivity in select public areas onboard including cabins. The only exception for cabin service is on board the Century, Xpedition and Constellation.  All ships contain an internet cafe for those who left their device at home.

Celebrity Cruises ilounge

Image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Cunard

Passengers have the convenience of being able to use laptops in the privacy of their staterooms with the addition of in-room wireless connectivity. Mobile phones and handheld devices can now also be used even when the ship is at sea. Those with World Club status will obtain some time plans complimentary.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line ships feature a 24-hour Internet Cafe with high-speed access via the ships on-board satellite system. There are additional Wi-Fi hotspots in several public areas such as the Promenade Lounge during the day and for the teens at the Edge and Vibe.

Holland America Line

Holland America features Wi-Fi in most public areas, but not in cabins. Laptop and Wi-Fi card rental may be available in their 24/7 Explorations Café. Holland America also offers classes for those non techie types.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Public areas for Wi-Fi are covered for all ships in their fleet along with cyber cafes. In the cabin, Wi-Fi Internet is now available on select ships, including Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Sky and Pride of America.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises does not offer Wi-Fi in cabins as of yet, instead in most public areas. The Sun Princess is now the second cruise vessel in the world to provide 3G mobile communication services at sea. Princess’ sister brand AIDA Cruise’s ship, AIDAStella was the first to launch this service.

Royal Caribbean International

Wi-Fi can be accessed on Royal Caribbean in select public areas onboard all ships. Newer ships feature in cabin Wi-Fi internet access. RCCL has increased its internet bandwidth to handle the number of passengers to access the web. There are also Internet Cafes onboard each ship.

Silversea Cruises

Silversea Cruises surveyed its passenger base in 2010 and claim that “65 percent of its guests use some form of onboard Internet access.” They have done a significant upgrade of accessing high-quality wireless Internet connections throughout the ships. Guests can conveniently access the internet with their own laptop and a wireless card in the privacy of their own suite.

Internet on Silversea

Image courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Cost-Saving Tips

Until such time as the internet speed improves system wide and the pricing drops, there are ways to save a little and use the extra cash to take indulge in the spa or specialty dining restaurant on your cruise holiday.

  • Avoid large file downloads, uploads or even watching videos on line, as these tend to slow down the speed considerably. The minutes you purchase will burn out quickly.
  • Try getting on line early in the morning or late in the evening when there are fewer people who are logged-on. The connection will be faster than when everyone is on-line.
  • Pre-write an email message before logging on to the internet. Just cut and paste the message into the body of the email after logging on and send them off.
  • Many terminals that a ship makes port at offer free Wi-Fi access. So take the laptop or tablet ashore.
  • Bring along a wireless Internet card (also called an air card). Use it when near or at a port. This is an especially attractive option for ports of call in your home country, as you will not have to pay international data roaming charges.
  • Once on the open seas, unfortunately there is only one option for accessing the Internet, namely, the ships satellite Internet connection.

Generally speaking, accessing the internet whilst at sea tends to be slower, and accessing cyberspace is expensive. Besides a slower connection than you may not be accustomed to, service can be interrupted or unavailable at times.

Cruise ship internet pricing changes from year to year, it’s a smart move to contact the cruise line prior to sailing to find out about your technical options and the costs of service. These will vary not only by cruise line but by individual ship too.

With the future advancements anticipated for at sea Wi-Fi access, hopefully, the perk that Regent Seven Seas Cruises has scheduled will take off system wide.

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NCL Announces Second Breakaway Ship
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This week has seen the exciting announcement by Norwegian Cruise Line of an order for a second ‘Breakaway Plus’ cruise liner which is currently being scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2017. The first ‘Breakaway Plus’ ship is planned to be delivered in October 2015 and these two liners will be the largest of Norwegian Cruise Lines’ seemingly ever growing fleet.

The cost of the two Breakaway Plus cruise liners is estimated to be around €1.4 billion and the two Breakaway Plus liners will be approximately 163,000 gross tonnes and will have capacity for a whopping 4,200 passengers plus crew.

Whilst this is a very large amount of passengers, it is still far from the 5,400 passengers plus 2,384 crew that the largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas can hold.

The Breakaway Plus liners will be completed by Meyer Werft GMBH in Papenburg, Germany and are the company behind the current Breakaway class of ship. Meyer Werft have already completed a number of other popular Norwegian Cruise Line ships – Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Jewel – all of which have been well received within the cruise industry as well as with passengers.

The First Breakaway ship was Launched in New York earlier this year

The first of the Breakaway class, the aptly named Norwegian Breakaway, was launched in New York in May of 2013 and has proved to be very popular with passengers.

Norwegian Breakaway has capacity for 4,000 passengers and has exciting features such as a teppanyaki restaurant, sushi restaurant, a childrens aqua park, bungee trampolines and even a suspended activity course for both children and adults.

It is expected that the Breakaway Plus class of ship will have many of the same features as Norwegian Breakaway, and its sister ship, Norwegian Getaway, which will be delivered in January of 2014.

Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO stated that ‘with ground breaking elements, yet to be announced, and an additional deck to incorporate future innovations, our two Breakaway Plus ships will provide guests even more ways to experience all that Norwegian has to offer.’

The Breakaway Plus class of liners will incorporate the Studios that can already be found on board Norwegian Breakaway. Studios are Norwegian’s first accommodations designed and priced specifically for solo travellers. Norwegians Studio passengers can enjoy the same cruise experience as people travelling in groups or in couples at the same great prices which is sure to appeal to many potential guests.

So, what do you think of Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest plans? Would you be interested in sailing on board either of their Norwegian Breakaway Plus ships?

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