Reflection and Remembrance on a Cruise Holiday
TEXT SIZE A + A -

normandy

During 2014, several cruise lines are offering sailings for the recollection and understanding of two of the most significant events that took place in the 20th century. The waterways and seas of Europe are flowing to commemorate 100 years since the start of World War I and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The following cruise lines have added commemorative sailings.

Azamara Club Cruises

The ‘Memories of WWII Voyage’ will last for eleven days, will be held on the ship Azamara Journey and is due to start on June 3rd. Beginning out of Lisbon and finishing in Hamburg, the Azamara Journey will take passengers to see some of the most moving and historic parts of the war such as Cherbourg to see the D-Day Landing Beaches.

Amsterdam is also on the agenda and there is a ‘The North of France WWII’ experience tour offered, that takes visitors through graveyards and museums as well as the landing beaches. In the evening, there will be a D-Day Party complete with fine suits and big band music.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

UK based cruise line Fred. Olsen are honouring the 70th anniversary of D-Day as well. They plan on focusing on the sacrifices made during the war effort. The Braemar is the ship assigned for this once in a lifetime sailing and commences on June 1st. ‘The New Squadronaires’ with their ‘Big Band’ sound and considered the “RAF Number One Dance Band” are the headliners for this sailing. Tony Harris, Official Ambassador for the Help for Heroes charity will also be onboard.

Saling from Harwich, passengers will visit sights such as the Tyne Cot Cemetery and the D-Day Museum. While in Le Havre overnight, passengers get the opportunity to view the Allied Landing Areas the next day, June 6th which is designated as the ‘Day of Remembrance’.

The last port of call is Dunkirk where passengers will visit the Battle of Dunkirk Museum as well as the Town Cemetery which honours those Commonwealth soldiers fallen in both WWI and WWII. There is also a memorial set up to pay homage to the British Expeditionary Force. During the period of 1939 to 1940, there were 4500 casualties here who were left with unmarked graves.

Silversea

The ten day cruise aboard the Silvercloud offered by Silversea in partnership with The National WWII Museum, who have arranged tours to Normandy for years. The ship cruises from Lisbon to Hamburg and begins on May 30th with some of the top historians on-board including Lord David Montgomery, Dr. Donald L. Miller and Rick Atkinson, amongst others.

They will be offering lectures and Q&As. The ship will spend five nights going through the Caen Canal where it will visit the landing bases as well as the Abbey de Caen, the Airborne Museum and Hill 314 where firsthand accounts of D-Day will be told by local citizens and veterans alike. A series of ceremonies honouring the anniversary will be held in the American Cemetery and late night receptions can be found in the Utah Beach Museum and the Memorial de Caen.

Swan Hellenic

Swan Hellenic’s cruise ship, the ‘Minerva’, will mark the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings and the centennial of World War I with a 13-day expedition. Departing from Portsmouth, the Minerva will sail to Dunkirk and Ypres, France to Flanders Fields.

A special 70th Anniversary service of remembrance will be held on the sixth of June on board and in full view of the beaches of Normandy. The Swan Hellenic cruise line has always been known for its lecture series and this ‘Reflections of France’ sailing will have several historians sailing with the guests.

A cruise holiday will provide a tranquil way to reflect on the history during this period. Many passengers may have a personal tie to these events in which they have lost a family member and can now get a chance to pay respect to those lost in either war. For history buffs, they can gain a deeper understanding of what transpired during these volatile times.

Written by

The Inside Passage Cruise Itinerary
TEXT SIZE A + A -

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.

Written by

Want To Charter an Entire Cruise Ship?
TEXT SIZE A + A -

Silver Whisper

Silversea, the ‘ultra-luxury’ cruise line, is offering people the chance to fully charter three of its cruise ships for a series of trips for the first time in 2014.

Silversea announced a collection of three and four day itineraries that are available for wealthy guests or companies to charter an entire ship. These itineraries are based in the United States and in Europe and are available on board Silver Cloud, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit. These ships have capacity for 296, 382 and 540 guests respectively.

Silversea state that when one of their ships is chartered ‘your group is assured total exclusivity in a secure and confidential environment while cruising to the destinations of your choice’. Steve Odell, president of Silversea for Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East said ‘our intimate sized ships, unparalleled service and all-inclusive nature makes planning an event on Silversea so easy’.

Anyone who charters a Silversea ship will be able to enjoy the freedom to be able to customise the itinerary of their trip and visit the ports of call that they want to. They will also have a certain amount of freedom to decide how long the ship will spend it each port of call and the daily scheduling on board the ship.

There is also the opportunity to organise certain special events, create custom made menus including your favourite meals and craft custom made tours whilst ashore. It essentially gives the party who is chartering the vessel the freedom to create an entire cruise holiday to suit their own needs and wants. What could be more luxurious than that?!

Create a custom menu

When chartering a Silversea cruise ship guests will benefit from the all-inclusive amenities on board. All staterooms on board are suites and have complimentary butler service for all guests, world-class dining is included as are gratuities. There is also complimentary 24 hour room service, in-suite movie channels and DVD library and sumptuous Bvlgari toiletries in all bathrooms.

Complimentary drinks are served throughout each ship, including in the mini bars in each suite. These include many different varieties of fine wines, champagnes, premium spirits, bottled water, soft drinks and speciality coffees.

fine wines

The style on board Silversea cruise ships is luxurious and elegant, inspired by the golden age of cruising. Silversea is owned and operated by a single Italian family – the Lefebvres from Rome and they pride themselves on being a family company offering guests a personalised level of service on board their small, intimate cruise ships.

They remain committed to personalised cruising with an exceptional level of service in an age where the majority of other cruise lines are interested in constructing as large cruise ships as possible – the largest cruise ships in the world are currently Allure and Oasis of the Seas which can carry an astounding 6,296 guests and 5,412 crew.

Images courtesy of Silversea

Thanks

Cruise Ship Internet – Some Cost Saving Tips
TEXT SIZE A + A -

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.

Written by

Got any tips for our readers? Please add them below.

2014 Cruises That Coincide With Top Events
TEXT SIZE A + A -

2014 is bound to have an endless amount of activities and events that are perfect to pique the interest of holidaymakers.

However, instead of checking into expensive hotels to see a favourite event and paying too much for dining, there are many holiday cruises available that may just hit upon the special event. The best part is your floating hotel has not only luxury accommodations and fine dining, but also allows one to see an event and travel to new destinations.

Here are some options available for the first half of 2014 available with the comfort of a cruise holiday.

Australian Open in Melbourne, January 13–26: One of the prized Grand Slam tennis events that everyone wants to go to (the others being the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open) is the Australian Open.

Join all the high profile celebrities who come to the ‘down under’ and watch the first leg of the tennis champions grasp their first win for 2014. Cruise line Silversea is offering fans a 3 night pre-cruise package deal to the 109th Australian Open in Melbourne.

The passengers will have the ability to see 3 singles matches on both January 18th and 19th before heading on the small but cosy ship, Silver Shadow for a 15 night voyage that goes everywhere from Melbourne to Bali.

Melbourne

Mardi Gras, February 15–March 4: The world famous New Orleans festival is one of the biggest events of the year on the other side of the pond. This once in a lifetime experience during the first quarter of the year is filled with floats, masks, beads and jazz. Louisiana specialties from spicy Cajun style blacken catfish, Creole gumbo and jambalaya will be flowing in full until ‘Fat Tuesday’ on the 4th of March.

With the festival being so popular, it’s no surprise that a large amount of cruise companies, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line are planning to go there.

New Orleans

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, February 28–March 4: Perhaps the biggest and most spectacular out of all the carnivals in the world, this carnival is certainly not one to miss. Held just before Lent, the carnival attracts over 2 million spectators for every day of the festival and has many interesting sights such as parades, street fairs and costume balls.

The cruise company Holland America is going to be sending their ship Maasdam to Rio for the carnival season for 3 days. This is in junction with their 26 day Amazon tour, a perfect opportunity to see the carnival. Other cruise lines making a visit include MSC Orchestra and Pullmantur’s Sovereign and Zenith.

Rio

70th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, June 6: Celebrity Cruise Line is known for their fine service and since 2010, Celebrity Eclipse has been dazzling its passengers. To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, the ship will dock in Le Havre, France as one port of call on its 14-night Scandinavia & Russia cruise.

Arrangements of shore excursions are available to booked passengers wishing to visit the shorelines along the coast of Normandy during this poignant day in history.

Normandy

FIFA World Cup in Brazil, June 12–July 13: The World Cup is the biggest event of the year for most people around the world and it’s no surprise that the cruise lines are trying to get in on the action. Most notably, departing on 24 May 2014, the MSC Divina has an 18-night cruise from Miami to Rio.

This is the best option to take as it allows visitors to see other areas as well. Before getting into that football fever, experience some Caribbean flavour with other port of calls such as Barbados, Grenada and the Virgin Islands.  Or do it the opposite way after the games on the 14th of July sailing and cruise north to Miami aboard the MSC Divina.

Brazil world cup

There are many more cruises that hit upon major events and festivals. Just pick the event and location and there is bound to be a ship stopping in port.

Written by