Monday, July 31

The BEST way to see Alaska

Nothing is more fun and exciting than taking a cruise. But why not go one step further and take a cruise in Alaska. It is just a matter of making up your mind that it is time to take an Alaskan cruise and see one of the natural wonders of the world. An Alaskan cruise will be a beautiful memory.
There are various ways to cruise in Alaska; here are a just few of them:
• Alaska Inland Cruise – you will have the chance to visit all the inland wonders of Alaska. You will surely be captivated with icebergs and glaciers. It is truly amazing to see walls of ice that are thousands and thousands of years old. When you see the icebergs “calving” you will be awed. The Alaskan inland cruise is offered by all of the Alaskan cruise ships.
• Alaska Day Cruise is just what it states, a tour on a day cruise. You can have a face to face with a huge wall of ice on an Alaskan day cruise. Or experience the beauty of dancing humpback whales. Of course, this is only practical for people who are doing a land package in Alaska.
• Alaska Celebrity Cruise – this is the so-called first class cruise of Alaskan ships. You will experience more royal treatment with a Celebrity cruise. On the other hand, this is a little more expensive among all the Alaskan cruises.
The usual attractions that passengers love about Alaskan cruises are the humpback whales, deep sea fishing and sailing through the Fjords and glaciers. The sights you will see will amaze you. Nothing can compare to the magic of Alaskan cruises. This is the only place where you will see the mighty glaciers and experience incredible wildlife.
The Alaskan cruise package that you choose will also determine the length of your stay. Usually, most Alaskan cruises are seven-day cruises. This is enough time for you to explore the intriguing ports of Alaska. However, the length of your stay can also be extended to as long as 14 days.
The other option is to book a day or two pre or post-cruise package where you can stay in Anchorage or even Vancouver. Many of the cruise lines run what is called land tours. This is where you take your cruise than you board a train that will take you through Alaska to places like the Denali National Park. It includes first rate accommodations and usually lasts 10-14 days including your Alaskan cruise.
Consider the size of the ship before you book your Alaskan cruise. On a smaller ship you will have less passengers and less competition for the incredible views. The smaller ships can also get into smaller coves that are less traveled.
On the bigger ships with more than a thousand passengers, it is harder for you to get out of the crowd, get a closer look, or even touch one the glaciers. But be aware that on the larger ships you will find more amenities.
Find the best Alaskan cruise that will fit your needs. When taking an Alaskan Cruise be sure to book some of the Alaskan cruise tours offered by the cruise line. Some of the tours offer amazing trips like a helicopter ride where you will land on one the glaciers. If you want to experience a real adventure, book the tour where you go dog sledding. (Book it early –it sells out fast). Go to a salmon hatchery and watch the bears eating the fish.
Nothing will ever compare with an Alaskan cruise; this will be a cruise of lifetime.
What are you waiting for?
Happy Cruising!
Copyright © Mary Hanna, All Rights Reserved.

Mary Hanna has traveled the world by Air and Ship while writing eBooks, Software Reviews and Practical Articles on Internet Marketing, Cruising, Gardening and Cooking. Visit her websites at:,, and

Friday, July 28

Brand spanking new ships!

The cruise industry certainly is booming and with that comes the need for more ships. I keep hearing about ships being ordered here and there and decided to write a list - it was only then i was gobsmacked at how many are due to be built. And imagine this - there are definately more than i know about being planned!
Take a look at the list of Cruise lines, ships and their expected delivery dates:

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Splendor - Spring, 2008
Unnamed - August, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - August, 2008
Celebrity Equinox - Summer, 2009
Unnamed - June, 2010

Costa Cruise Line
Costa Serena - May, 2007
Unnamed - Spring, 2009
Unnamed - Summer, 2009

Queen Victoria - December, 2007

Holland America Line
Unnamed - Summer, 2008

MSC Orchestra - April, 2007
MSC Poesia - March, 2008
MSC Fantasia - May, 2008
MSC Serenata - March, 2009

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Pearl - November, 2006
Norwegian Gem - October, 2007

Ventura - Spring 2008

Princess Cruise Line
Emerald Princess - Spring, 2007
Unnamed - August, 2008

Royal Caribbean
Liberty - April, 2007
Genesis - Spring, 2008
Unnamed - August, 2009

These are anticipated dates and, if British builders were anything to go by, they may be late!

Best Cruise Agency

Congratulations to all at Ideal Cruising for scooping 4 awards at the TTG Agent Awards 2006 last month! They won the coveted 'Best Cruise Agency Award' as well as Best Innovation, Best Manager & Best Salesperson. Read all about it here

Cruises - good option for disabled holidays?

Cruising for Disabled Passengers
For those who are new to cruising, it is certainly an experience you won't want to miss. With a wealth of entertainment options day and night, a variety of dining choices and an opportunity to go shopping or simply relax, you can never be bored. Not many holidays give you the chance to wake up in new destination each day! Most cruise lines have some facilities for disabled passengers, and an increasing number of the larger and more expensive cruise liners are making full provision. However, it is particularly important that anyone contemplating a cruise holiday should contact us at an early stage, both to make known their particular requirements and to be able to discuss any difficulties they may face on board or at ports of call.When selecting a ship, it's important to note that vessels built during the past five years are more likely to have purpose built staterooms, usually in more than one category and conveniently located for easy access to elevators. Please speak to one of our cruise consultants for more information on which ship would be best suited to your personal needs.

Wheelchair Friendly
Disabled adapted cabins are usually placed with better access to all public areas and lifts. They are designed with wider doorways, hand bars, low level controls, low door peephole and specially designed spacious bathrooms. Most cruise companies will also insist that passengers who normally require assistance in their daily living are accompanied by an able-bodied passenger who will take full responsibility for any assistance required during the cruise. Ship crews will help out as much as they can, but you may well prefer the company of someone who understands your specific needs.Accessibility will vary from port to port, but the only difficulty will be getting from ship to shore at the few ports which are too shallow or too small for the cruise ship to dock; you will have to transfer from cruise ship to dockside by tender. Many of these small boats can now carry wheelchair passengers, but it is always best to check beforehand.

Visually Impaired
Braille facilities are quite standard aboard cruise ships. You will find the deck numbers inside lifts and cabin numbers in Braille as well as being able to request a Braille menu at dinner.Guide dogs are permitted on all ships, with required documentation to accompany passengers with vision impairments; however, if your cruise is scheduled to visit foreign ports (as most do), you may not be able to take a guide dog ashore, depending on the country. To avoid potential quarantine, guide dogs should have their shots updated within seven days of sailing, and owners should carry the dog's valid health and rabies certificates. Hawaii is especially strict about importing animals. No dog, not even a guide dog, may step ashore without being quarantined for at least 30 days unless it arrives from an area recognized by the state as rabies-free.

Hearing Impaired
Most cruise lines have an alert kit for guests with hearing impairments which can be fitted to any cabin. These TTY kits include visual notification (flashing light in the cabin) of the door knocker and smoke alarm; also a vibrating alarm, door knocker, bed shaker and phone amplifier.

Dietary Requirements
If informed in advance, cruise lines can cope with specific diets (such as diabetic, gluten-free or fat free). However, while the latest ships are increasingly well-equipped, most cruise lines will only be able to provide the equivalent of a normal GP service whilst at sea; their medical centres are not intended for extensive or continuing treatment of ongoing health conditions, which will remain the responsibility of the passengers concerned.

Feature on Holland America Line's Accessible Cruising policy
Holland America pride themselves on their accessible cruising standards. Wide companionways throughout their ships provide accessible routes to all their onboard facilities. They have spacious elevators with Braille control panels and audible signals. You can also find Infrared systems/Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) in showrooms and theaters for enhanced enjoyment. Whichever restaurant you select to dine in, you can enjoy accessible seating, and, for guests with visual disabilities, large-print or Braille menus are available upon request.

Holland America Line is the first cruise line to offer a specially designed tender lift system that can provide seamless transfer from ship to tender to shore.
At the poolside you will also find transfer lifts for easy pool access.

Tty/tdd machines and kits for the hearing-impaired that include vibrating bed alert, visual door knocker and phone amplifier are available on request.

Holland America also welcomes specially trained service animals such as guide dogs and mobility-assistance dogs inboard. Please note, however, that many of their enticing ports of call have established strict documentation and immunization requirements. If your service animal does not have the proper papers or if there are local quarantine requirements, it may not be permitted to disembark

For further information on their accessibility standards, visit their website

Please let me know YOUR OPINIONS
I'd love to hear what you think about accessible cruising... do you have a particular view, experience or story you'd like to share? If so - please reply to this post!

Friday, July 21

Cruise Ship Sickness Outbreaks

Firstly, i like to point out that it is very uncommon to experience a sickness 'epidemic' whilst enjoying a cruise holiday - but that doesnt mean that it never happens.

We should not be so quick to assume that a cruise ship is pre 'infected' or 'dirty' when an illness affects a group of guests. Cruise ships aren't the only places where large groups of people are likely to get together and outbreaks of "flu" and the "24-hour stomach bug" are common in such places as schools, nursing homes, and even in hospitals. According to Princess Cruises, "Statistics have shown that the chance of contracting Norovirus on land is 1 in 12; and 1 in 4000 on a cruise ship."

Cruising brings together large numbers of people from different parts of the world. In confined quarters, certain diseases can quickly spread from person-to-person contact. It is even quite possible that some passengers who become ill during a cruise were infected prior to boarding and they were actually ill before their symptoms became apparent. While most people are unaware that they have contracted an illness before embarking, others know they are sick but go aboard anyway, not acknowledging their illness for fear of being denied boarding. They might not seek treatment once on board due to the threat of being confined to their staterooms. These passengers can be the beginning of a ship board epidemic! Can this be fair that other passengers and staff should suffer due to their decision to keep quiet? Is it also fair that the cruise line should suffer the tarnish to their reputation and costs too? Well i dont think so! We should all take a little more responsibility for the health and safety of others as well as ourselves. The first thing is to be aware how we can identify, prevent and treat such illnesses.

Two of the most prevalent diseases that spread through cruise ships are Flu and Noroviruses. Norovirus is often termed the "cruise ship virus," even thought the vast majority 60%-80% of outbreaks occur on land. However, it is often just more obvious on cruise ships because all sick passengers and crewmembers are treated by the same doctor, who is required to prepare a special report if an outbreak affects 2% or more of the passengers or crew.

Symptoms of a Norovirus
The symptoms of norovirus infection will begin around 12 to 48 hours after becoming infected. The illness is self-limiting and the symptoms will last for 12 to 60 hours. They will start with the sudden onset of nausea followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people may have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs. Most people make a full recovery within 1-2 days, however some people (usually the very young or elderly) may become very dehydrated and require hospital treatment.

There is no specific treatment for norovirus apart from letting the illness run its course. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Prevention Good hygiene is essential and particularly in the presence of diseased people. The most important thing you can do is to wash your hands regularly. A waterless, sanitizing hand cleaner is also recommended (they are effective and come in travel size bottles). Milton Antibacterial Hand Gel is quite a good one although there are many on the market. In the event of an outbreak, the cruise line will implement basic hygiene and food handling measures and promptly disinfect of contaminated areas.

If you get sick, seek medical treatment immediately and try not to infect other passengers by limiting yourself to your cabin and avoiding public areas. If you havent travelled yet but are planning to and begin to feel unwell, it is best for all that you visit your G.P. and seek thier advice. As long as you have adequate travel insurance, in the event of having to cancel your trip, you should be covered for a refund.
(Exerts taken from the Health Protection Agency website)

Monday, July 10

Packing for your Cruise

Well, packing for a cruise sounds easy doesnt it? Hmmm, not quite! The thing with many cruises is that you face a new day in a new port - each of which may have its own climate, combined with days at sea which can be very hot by day yet very cool at night. So how do you pack to cover every eventuality without bringing your entire wardrobe?

Here are some tips to help you on your way!
  • Pack lightly, especially for warm-weather cruises. Just remember to toss in a sweater, jacket or shawl for cool evenings and hyper-air-conditioned ships.
  • If you are visiting somewhere like Alaska, wearing lots of thin layers rather than one thick one will help with the changeable climate. It may be very chilly but when the sun comes out you'll be too hot otherwise!
  • By day, casual shirts, shorts and beachwear are ideal. For going ashore and walking on deck (which may be slippery at times), flat comfortable shoes with a rubber grip are a must.
  • Although cruising isn’t nearly as formal as it once was, people still love to dress up. Some ships have a variety of Formal, Informal and Smart Casual evenings. On formal evenings, for ladies this is the opportunity to wear something glamorous and dressy such as an evening dress or cocktail outfit. For men a dinner jacket or tuxedo are the norm, otherwise a suit and tie is fine.
  • Don’t forget sun protection cream, a sun hat and sunglasses – the sun is much stronger at sea!
  • Dont forget your swimsuit! Many ships have whirlpools as well as swimming pools.
  • Gym kit - many ships have a state of the art gym, jogging track and sporting facilities so trainers are a must!
  • For hotter climes it would also be advisable to pack some insect repellent to help avoid irritating insect bites.
  • If you are taking any personal medication, please ensure you take enough to last the duration of the cruise.
  • Don't bother packing towels for your cruise - towels are provided for the bathroom. For the swimming pool, towels are usually provided at the poolside.
  • In the event that you do forget anything, on board shops are usually very well stocked with 'ordinary everyday' goods.
  • Check the baggage size and weight limit for the airline you are using. The rules are not the same on all airlines. Make very sure you have underweight luggage when you leave home, because it never seems to be that way on the way home!
  • Check to see if they have a theme night or talent show where you might need some special outfits.
  • Check whether your ship has two pin or three pin sockets and pack an adaptor if necessary.
  • Dont forget to buy fully comprehensive travel insurance and take your documents, your tickets and PASSPORT!!