We hope you enjoyed reading last month’s newsletter regarding some of the different river cruise lines available to you. This month’s we are talking about some of the differences between ocean cruises and river cruises. If you’d like to view any of our previous newsletters, please click here and then select what month you would like to read.
Ocean vs. River cruising: Which one is right for you?
When it comes to taking a cruise on a river or the ocean, it’s pretty tough to go wrong. Both offer incredible views, luxurious amenities, and the opportunity to explore interesting ports.
But each one comes with its own unique perks, and depending on your specific needs for your next trip, you might find that one is a slightly better fit than the other. So what are the major differences?
One big difference can be summed up in one word: intimacy. River cruises tend to be much smaller (190 max vs. up to 6,200 on the largest ocean cruises), and as a result, you’re much more likely to be interacting with other passengers and crew members.
That smaller scale translates to all areas of the river cruise. You dine on a regular schedule at tables with other passengers (wine is included in the price of the cruise). Instead of 50 different things to do on board, amenities tend to be more modest with river cruises — think libraries, a workout room, cultural programs, and free Wifi vs. ten kids’ playrooms, glitzy Broadway shows, and a skydiving simulator. There tend to be fewer kids on river cruises, making them popular for couples seeking quiet and relaxed time together.
You stop almost every day at a new port with river cruises, often for walking tours through quaint towns with little tourist traffic, and you’re always in view of land. With ocean cruises, you can go days without seeing land, and ports of call and excursions tend to be more exotic and high-adventure.
Because of their larger size, ocean cruises offer plenty of options for many ages, from young kids to octogenarians, and they are often more able to accommodate a wide variety of special health needs. For this reason, they tend to make the best option for multi-generational family gatherings that include young children. For the traveler who is into high-octane adventure, ocean cruises provide a wide variety of activities on board, as well as exotic and more daring day excursions.
River cruises do tend to be more expensive per person — but that price also includes more things. Ocean cruises have a lower sticker price per person, but you are often charged extra for alcohol and other amenities.
When you’re getting ready to plan your next on-the-water trip, here are a few questions to consider:
- How many people are traveling? What are their ages?
- What time of the year do you want to travel?
- Do you need the amenities of a mega ship — spas, gyms, a dozen restaurants, and many activities? Or are you looking for something calmer, more intimate and easy-paced?
- Are you seeking authentic inter-cultural experiences? Or do you prefer more familiar settings?
As always, I’m here and would love to discuss your next cruise. We can look at all the moving parts of your upcoming trip — what you need, what you want, what your dream is — and together we can come up with a cruise you and your loved ones will remember fondly for the rest of your life.
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Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter, we hope you enjoy it. If you have questions or would like to talk more about travel, please contact us.
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TRAVEL with EASe Newsletter
Today more people are cruising than ever before. However, there are still a lot of people who have never cruised before and wonder how to begin. We are going to explain the terms you need to know for cruising so you can book your cruise sounding like a pro.
Regardless of who you call, the original questions are the same. What type of cabin do you want; suite, inside, outside or balcony? Your cabin/stateroom is your room, similar to that of a hotel room, for the length of your cruise. The category of the cabin is usually based on its size, location, and amenities. An inside cabin does not have a porthole or window. It is similar to a large walk-in closet. An outside cabin will have either a porthole or a window that does not usually open. A veranda/balcony cabin is one where you have a balcony that you can either stand or sit on. Suites are larger than inside, oceanview and veranda cabins; can come with or without balconies and usually includes additional amenities. On some ships, they have what are known as Family Friendly Accommodations. These cabins/staterooms are specially designed to comfortably sleep up to two adults and three children.
Pricing for a cabin is generally based on two people in a room, also known as a double. Three would be a triple and four a quad. If you are looking to cruise alone, you will be charged a Single Supplement – a surcharge for one passenger occupying a cabin that sleeps two. More cruise lines are starting to have single cabins available so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
You will also be asked about being upgraded. Being upgraded is when you are moved from a lower category to a higher one. Beware that there is generally a charge; however, the cruise lines often have specials where you can book a cabin at one level with the possibility of an upgrade. This is up to the cruise line.
Cruise lines offer set times for meals; this is known as Traditional Seating. There are two seatings (or sometimes four, with staggered start times) for each meal, with some flexibility offered for breakfast and lunch. You will need to choose which time you wish to dine. With two dining times, you are generally looking at somewhere around 6 PM or 9 PM for dinner. More cruise lines are now adding “your time” dining. Here no times are established for dining, there is typically a window provided for your dinner meal.
There is always an alternative to the dining room. This can be a more casual evening dining option typically a buffet.
Alternative Restaurants are typically a smaller, more intimate restaurant where passengers may choose to dine for a nominal fee; reservations are usually required.
Yes, most cruise ships offer in-room dining aka room service – often 24 hours a day. Choices are limited unless you are in a suite. The galley (kitchen) does not run fully staffed 24/7.
Ship’s Specific Terms
When you are in port and getting ready to board the ship, you will be walking up the gangway. You generally enter the ship in the middle (midship).
If you face the front of the ship, you are facing the bow; the back of the ship is the aft. This becomes important when you have to know which side of the ship is port side and which side is starboard. My partner was in the US Navy and he says if you remember port and left have the same number of letters you will know which side is the port side. This generally isn’t important however, when you are on a cruise such as Alaska, the side you want to be on is important.
There are a lot of different terms you may hear while onboard. The Captain of the ship will generally make announcements from the bridge. The bridge is where the Captain and his crew manage the ship’s journey. You will hear them refer to the speed and distance the ship travels. The speed is known as “knots”. One knot equals one nautical mile per hour. While distance is measured in nautical miles. One nautical mile is 6,080.2 feet or slightly more than 1.15 land miles.
The tender is a small boat used to transport passengers from the ship to the shore when the harbor is not deep enough for the ship to dock.
There are a few crew members that you need to know. Most important, of course, is the Captain/Master of the ship. This person is in charge of the entire ship.
While you are onboard if you have a problem or concern, go to the Purser’s desk. This area is staffed 24/7 so you will always be able to get an answer.
The Cruise Director heads up the entertainment staff and is usually the emcee for all of the activities and shows onboard.
The one person who will have the most contact with will be your room steward/ess. They are the one who mysteriously cleans your cabin when you are not there.
Embarkation day is sailing day. This is the day you board the ship for your cruise vacation.
One thing that most travelers want to know is their port of calls. These are the destinations on your cruise where the ship docks or anchors so you can disembark (get off the ship) and explore. The cruise line offers shore excursions which can be escorted or unescorted that are sold onboard the cruise ship. One benefit of booking on the ship is that if there is a problem and your excursion is late getting back, the ship will wait for you. This is generally the only reason the ship waits. If you are off on your own and are late getting back to the ship, it is your responsibility to get to the next port of call.
Disembarkation is exiting the ship to explore a port of call. It is also the end of the sailing.
Now you can book your cruise and sound like a pro. You’ll also be able to understand what the crew is saying when they give directions.
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Fort Myers, FL 33905
One destination that is on many individuals’ bucket list is Alaska. Whether you want to do a seven-night cruise or do three to five-day land tour in conjunction with a seven-night cruise, there is a great time for all.
I tell people considering a vacation to Alaska if this is a once in a lifetime trip, do the land tour as well. If you are going all the way to Alaska, you should definitely visit Denali.
The season for Alaska is May thru September. Primetime for visiting is in July and August. By prime time, I mean this is the time you will see more activity in nature. More whales, more eagles, more everything. That’s not to say you won’t see anything if you go at other times. I went once in September and got to see a family of golden bears. This is wildlife you are viewing and no one has control of what will be out and about when you are there.
I feel the best way to see Alaska is to do the tour first. You will see several different areas of Alaska with transportation being done either by motorcoach or train. You will be on the go from early morning until evening. You don’t want to end your tour and then head home because you will be tired. Do the tour then get on the ship and relax and enjoy the rest Alaska has for you.
There are two articles on my blog that talk about my last trip to Alaska. One is about the land; the other is about the cruise. Here are the links – for the land https://wordpress.com/post/travelwithease.blog/98 and for the cruise https://wordpress.com/post/travelwithease.blog/113
When you are booking your cruise, it is important to know which side of the ship you want to be on. I always recommend that you book your cabin on the land side. There will be announcements about wildlife sightings that you can look out and see while in your cabin. For me, I love having a balcony and in Alaska, it is even more fun. When you pull into some ports, you can sit on your balcony and watch people, wildlife and even planes taking off. It is also nice to sit on your balcony and have breakfast in the morning or just coffee. Plus, at night if you want to have a drink before dinner, sitting out and watching the sun go down (it never gets real dark though) is relaxing. If you have a suite, you can arrange to have dinner on your balcony as well. When we were cruising the Inside Passage, a boat came up and cruised with us with a guy playing the saxophone. It was nice sitting on the balcony and listening to music and watching the world as we cruised onward.
There is so much to do here. It is up to you how much you want to do. Here are just a few –
- Salmon fishing
- Pan for gold
- Walk on a glacier
- Wildlife viewing
- Visit Husky Homestead
- Visit Reindeer Ranch
- Totem Bight State Historical Park
- Local brewery tour
Then there are the normal things like visit the spa, go shopping and just relax. The great thing about being on a cruise is you can do as much or as little as you like.
If you would like to join me on an Alaska cruise in 2020, please let me know if you are interested; you are under no obligation. The cruise would originate in Seward, Alaska and sail south to Vancouver, BC. Being in a group does not mean we will be in each others pocket 24/7. Going as a group will get us better pricing. Odds are unless you make time to do something with someone in the group you may only see them in passing.
Alaska, the last frontier. One place that you should consider visiting.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
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Amboseli National Park in Kenya offers some of the best wildlife viewings in the world. There are more than 400 species of birds, free-ranging elephants, cape buffalo, lion, rhino, cheetah, giraffe, and zebra to see within the park. Not to mention the awe-inspiring views of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Our kids were scouts and part of their motto was “Be Prepared”. The saying goes – being prepared is half the challenge. Here are some tips that will help you be prepared for your next vacation.
Write things out. Make a list of your health issues in case of an emergency. Document health conditions, emergency contacts, medications, allergies, your health insurance, and your travel itinerary. Keep it on your phone and print a copy just in case. Plus, if you are traveling outside the United States, know the number to call in the event of an emergency; it isn’t 911 outside the United States.
Coverage. Some credit cards and insurance plans may assist with emergency costs. If you have a preexisting condition or are concerned, consider getting travel insurance. This can assist you if you need to visit the doctor or emergency room in a foreign country or get you home if more intensive treatment is needed. If you have a preexisting condition most companies require you to book the insurance at the same time as you book your trip.
Check things out online. Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers’ Health site (cdc.gov/travel) for information about your destination. Going abroad, sign up for the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (step.state.gov) which will keep you informed about safety conditions and send alerts about the country you are traveling to.
Germs. Traveling will expose you to germs you are not used to. The best thing to do is wash your hands frequently with soap and make sure to dry your hands thoroughly. Make sure you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations. Some countries require shots prior to arrival, so watch the timing. You want to give some shots a few weeks to be effective.
Move. Any time you are sitting for longer than four hours try to get up, stretch, move around.
Eat/Drink Carefully. The most common travel ailment is travelers’ diarrhea. It can happen when you eat or drink contaminated water. If you’re in a country with questionable sanitation, avoid street food, no ice in your drinks and keep bottled water with you for brushing your teeth and washing your face.
If you’re on vacation and you are not feeling well. Take symptoms seriously. For minor illnesses, rest, water and over the counter medication will work. If a bout of diarrhea lasts more than two days, you have a fever over 101° F for more than a couple of days, see a doctor.
If you are in the United States, call the number on your insurance card to find a doctor in your network. If you need to, head to an urgent care clinic for minor issues.
If you are abroad and in a large city, look for a university teaching hospital. It will likely conform to international health standards and there should be English-speaking staff. You can also talk to the person at the front desk of your hotel. They often have a local physician they work with and will contact him/her on your behalf.
Being ill does not have to ruin your vacation. You may have to change your expectations; instead of spending the whole day, who may only spend a few hours doing something. Your vacation is time to spend with your family/friends. Keep a journal about what happens during your trip. It can be fun to read it later. I often look at things that happen that block me from doing something as there is a reason.
Just chill. Sometimes you will have no choice but to give in. Taking naps, ordering room service and reading a book can be a great way to spend a vacation. I can think of worse.
Things to pack for your health when going on vacation –
- Bandages and antibiotic cream
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever, headaches and other pains.
- Diarrhea medication
- Hand sanitizer
- Mosquito repellent
- Anti-itch cream
- Allergy medication
- Prescriptions (Hand carry at least an extra 2-3 days in case of delays.) (Names on prescriptions must match the name on your passport. You must travel with medications in their bottles with the label on them.)
We’ve talked about your health while on vacation, how about what to do before we leave on vacation. If you are going outside the United States, the first thing to do is make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your return date. You can be denied boarding if this is not so. You are responsible for making sure passport requirements, as well as visa requirements, are met. I am telling you this as a heads up. A couple booked a cruise to Japan, Korea, and China and did not have the proper visa for China. They were put off the ship in Korea and had to make their own way home and at their own expense. Travel agents can advise you, cruise lines and tour companies can advise you; however, it is your responsibility to make sure you have proper documentation prior to your departure.
At home, stop your mail. You can go online to usps.com and put your mail on hold. You will be given the option of going to the post office to pick it up once you return or you can have your mail carrier deliver it.
Don’t forget to stop your newspapers. Most newspapers give you the option to stop or you can donate the papers you will miss to a local school. You would still pay for the paper if you donate.
If you are going to be gone for a long period of time, consider contacting your local police department and let them know. They will drive by periodically and check on your home while you are gone. Every department varies so check with yours as to how far in advance you must notify them. Can’t do this last minute.
It is now time to start packing so let’s get the suitcase out.
First, let’s get our information on a luggage tag. On your luggage tag put your name, cell phone number, and email address. Do not put your home address on your luggage. Individuals have been known to check out luggage at the airport and then head to your home knowing you are not going to be back for a while and help themselves to your things.
Put a copy of your itinerary in the outside pocket of your suitcase. You do this in case your luggage is lost and they, usually the airlines, will be able to find you easier.
What to pack.
If you are not a frequent traveler, prior to packing your suitcase, take one day and write down everything you use. It will make it easier when you are ready to pack.
In your suitcase, one outfit for every day. My practice is to pack one or two outfits more than I need in case something happens. If you are going to have to dress up for dinner, bring outfits that are interchangeable or ones that you can wear during the day and then dress up slightly. One pair of comfortable walking shoes is a must. A small flashlight and a small battery-operated clock are two other things you might want to bring. There are websites that can give you ideas of what to pack depending on the type of trip you are going on. Other than medication and documentation, if you forget something, don’t worry. Odds are you can buy it where you are going.
Once you have packed your suitcase, and before you close it, take a picture of it. I will make a list of what is in each suitcase in case it is lost. Also, once you close it, take another picture. Again, in case it is lost. It makes it easier to identify to the baggage agent.
My carry on contains all documentation for the trip, medications, camera, jewelry, change of underwear and lotion. Anything of value should be in your carry on. If flying put a USB charger in as well. Take a picture of the document page of your passport and make a copy of it. Do not put the copy with your passport. In the event you lose your passport for whatever reason, you can visit the local US embassy and get a replacement. I know common sense would tell you not to put the copy with the passport but I have heard of clients losing their passport and saying they weren’t told to not to put the copy with the passport.
Wherever you are headed, you’re going to have a great time! Pack light if you can; it makes it easier to get around. Remember, you are a visitor in someone else’s home/country. Respect the people and places; learn what their customs are, tip accordingly, and try to learn their language (at a minimum hello, goodbye and thank you). Even if you mutilate the words most will appreciate that you tried.
Travel changes us. It gives us an opportunity to learn about another culture. I know from personal experience it can make us appreciate home a lot more. It did for me.
TRAVEL with EASe
Before getting into details about our experiences, here are some basic facts of the Celebrity Edge – A ship designed to leave the future behind.
2,918 passengers based on double occupancy
1,004 feet in length
128 feet in width (beam)
21.8 knots cruising speed
As we approached the Edge, the skies opened up and it began to pour. They have covered walkways but the wind was high and we got wet. There are two separate entrances to the ship for checking in based on your room category booked. On this cruise we are in a suite so I am telling you about our experiences.
Security was a breeze – there were only three people in front of us. We walked in, were greeted and told to take a seat as a representative would be coming over to check us in. Everything took maybe 10 minutes. During that time, we were offered refreshments and they had multiple places to sit and wait. After checking in, we were escorted on board and to our cabin. Even though the cabin wasn’t 100% ready, we were able to drop off our things.
We went up to the Retreat and relaxed and made our reservation for Dinner on the Edge, a one-night event where you have dinner on the Magic Carpet, and then headed to Luminae for lunch.
Celebrity has taken the life boat drill in a different direction. Rather than read the instructions on what to do which most ignore, they made a short film about a spy and your information was in it. It was interesting, and because of that, most people stopped talking and watched the film.
The staff on this ship is amazing. Everyone is friendly, greets you with a smile and goes over and above to meet and exceed your needs/expectations. Here are pictures of Felix and George. Felix was in Luminae and George was our butler.
The ship is beautiful. Things tend to flow from one place to another. There are hidden surprises. One example was the “forest” you walked thru to Eden. Aboard, you’ll feel more connected with the sea and the places you’ll visit. Eden was a beautiful example of this. Lots of plants and natural elements around. Pictures that moved like the wind was blowing thru them. And glass for the stern of the ship so no matter what level you were on in Eden, you could see the ocean.
Currently cruise ships have one main dining room on two levels. On Celebrity Edge, there are four (4) different dining venues. You can eat at the Cosmopolitan Restaurant, Cyprus Restaurant, Tuscan Restaurant and the Normandie Restaurant – all at no additional charge. Also, the Oceanview Cafe and the Mast Grill are available at no charge. Blu; a restaurant for Aqua Class guests only, Luminae at the Retreat for Suite Class guests only, Eden Restaurant, Dinner on the Edge, Fine Cut Steakhouse, Magic Carpet, Le Grand Bistro, Raw on 5, and Rooftop Grill are all at an additional fee. Dinner on the Edge is available only one (1) night while on the cruise, is first come first serve and you can only make reservations once you are on board.
Restaurants that do have a charge include:
We had dinner at the Fine Cut Steakhouse and Dinner on the Edge. Steaks were great and the atmosphere on the Magic Carpet was fun. Service was superb.
Pictures from around the ship
The Solarium – for adults only. A quiet, serene place on the ship. There is also a hot tub in here.
On the left is of the Martini Bar; the right a ship with waves made of pearls.
The Spa has a room that has a wall that is made of amethyst and an amethyst geode in the center.
The Theatre is on two decks and is the most technologically advanced theatre on the high seas. Regardless of where you sit the sound and views are amazing.
Picture of the pool and the cabana. Loved the chairs in the water. Cabanas can be rented for the day.
Like I said earlier, little things that are different are found around the ship. The signs in the hallways by the elevators and in the elevators change throughout the cruise.
The Edge was designed with the Magic Carpet and life boats that allow you to have a steady, even surface to board. They used these boats while in Grand Cayman as tenders. They do make you feel more comfortable getting off the tender onto the ship.
While in Grand Cayman we went to the Turtle Farm. Here turtles are raised and I think it is about 95% are tagged and released. They track where the turtles go. They also had a Cayman crocodile that ate lizards and there were a number of lizards around. We also went to Hell.
This was the maiden voyage and so was everything perfect? NO. However they are aware of the things that need to be fixed and are working on them.
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