Why a Hosted Cruise Tour is Your Express Ticket to a Dream Holiday
Whether you want to sail the seven seas on your own or with a group, Cruise Express can book any holiday for you but the cruise tours we regularly...Read more
Canadian Rockies and Alaska – A Winning Combination
A Review on One of the World's Most Desired Destinations I was recently on a cruise tour of the Canadian Rockies and Alaska – and it still...Read more
Regardless of age, family situation, destination desire or budget, cruising can meet everyone’s requirements and is a terrific way to enjoy your holidays.
Whether you have taken cruise holidays before or are a complete cruise rookie, outlined below are some top tips for planning your cruise to ensure you get the most out of any and every cruise holiday.
What sort of cabin would I like?
The first of our top tips for planning a cruise is that there are essentially four types of cabins to choose from. From cheapest to most expensive they are an inside cabin with no ocean view, an outside cabin with sea views, a balcony cabin and a suite. It’s really a myth that you don’t spend much time in your cabin and that any cabin will do.
You do spend much of the cruise in your cabin and it can define your whole holiday so it’s important to select the accommodation that you will enjoy. If you’re on a tight budget and you’re motivated by the destinations then, yes, an inside cabin is a good choice. But since you’re on a sea holiday we think it’s a good idea, if the budget permits, to see the sea from your bed – waking up to see where you are is a real treat.
A balcony allows you to enjoy the fresh sea air and relax outside in private and if you really want to treat yourself, or if you’re celebrating a special occasion, then a suite will indeed be sweet. We know our ships so ask us at Cruise Express for our advice. We can help you find cabins with the best views and positions and away from noises, and we can often organise free cabin upgrades if they are available so booking through a travel agent like Cruise Express is a good idea.
Do I want to go on a group trip or on my own?
Cruise Express offers its own hosted cruise tours but we can, of course, book you on any cruise so you can enjoy a voyage on your own or with a partner, your family or a group of friends. Regardless of how or who you go with, there are lots of ways to plan for this – some ships cater better for families, some for adults only, and some to the single traveller.
The advantages of a hosted group tour include:
– Group savings/lower fares/many inclusions such as transfers
– VIP/express entry into major attractions
– Assistance at hand if you get sick or lose your passports or money, etc
– Camaraderie with as much or as little group interaction as you want
– Your host looks after all the paperwork, directions and details so you can relax and have fun
You might feel safe and confident holidaying on your own in many places but perhaps destinations such as Egypt, Africa, the Middle East, South America and parts of Asia are best explored as part of a group led by experts in the region.
What is my budget?
Let us know your budget so we can tailor a holiday that suits, with enough money left over for spending along the way. Factor into the budget items like souvenirs, gifts, photos, tips, spa treatments, drinks, snacks, meals ashore local sightseeing and specialty restaurants on your ship.
What is included?
Your Cruise Express consultant can help you find out exactly what is included in your holiday cost so that there are no nasty surprises. Sometimes it can be more affordable and relaxing to sail on a luxury liner that includes drinks and often shore tours in your fare. We can do the sums for you.
Of course, when you join our escorted cruise tours, more is included in the fare with flights, transfers, sightseeing, pre or post cruise accommodation and some shoreside meals often all covered for peace of mind. – decide what works better for you.
Who do I book through?
The cruise line, a website company or a travel agent? Of course, we’re biased, but a travel agency specialising in cruising like Cruise Express can offer you independent advice and the best deals from ALL the cruise lines, not just one. And we feel it’s important when it comes to holidays to speak to a real person, not a website address, for the best personal and friendly advice, and fast answers to all your questions.
Do I book early or should I book closer to the cruise?
For peace of mind, it’s always better to book in advance so you can choose the best cabin for you, lock in your holiday dates, reserve your place on the cruise (which might book up later) and take advantage of early booking fares. Of course, last-minute booking specials do pop up but your choice of cabins and dates can be limited. Booking connecting flights is also cheaper in advance than at the last minute.
Do I have travel insurance and all the right visas/documents?
Cruise Express can advise you on all the documents, visas and vaccinations you need for your trip so that everything goes smoothly. Of course, your passport needs to be up to date (with up to 12 months validity depending on the destination) and travel insurance is always a must because sometimes things in life just don’t go to plan!
What do I bring?
To ensure you are comfortable onboard, it’s important you find out, in advance, what dress codes are expected. Most ships have smart casual and formal nights and some add fancy dress or semi-formal nights as well so do your research to find out what is expected so you can join in the fun and look the part.
Of course, we can assist with all these important matters!
Please call us on 1300 766 537 or visit our website to see all of our great adventures…
Are you plotting and planning to spend a small part of next year on a cruise ship?
With an ocean of cruises now available worldwide, Cruise Express is here to help you navigate your way on how to choose the right cruise.
There are more than 70 ocean-going cruise lines in the world operating over 300 liners on the seven seas – so which cruise line and which ship is best for your dream holiday? Each and every one is subtly different, delivering a distinct experience to match a certain type of passenger.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a cruise, so let’s explore a few of them…
One of the biggest factors in choosing the best ship for you is the size of the vessel. Ships today range in size from small yacht-like vessels carrying less than 100 passengers to mega-liners five times larger than the Titanic, accommodating over 6,000 passengers.
Smaller ships – boast more exclusive and intimate atmospheres. You get to know the crew and fellow passengers very quickly and it’s easy to find your way around, and if you’ve forgotten your sunglasses as you hit the pool deck, it’s a quick stroll back to the cabin. Smaller ships can also dock in smaller ports near the center of town with embarkation/disembarkation usually being quick and crowd-free.
Keep in mind though that smaller ships are less stable than bigger ships – an important consideration if you are prone to seasickness. By economies of scale, cruises on smaller ships are typically more expensive than cruises aboard larger liners.
Larger ships – offer affordable fares and a bigger range of facilities and activities, with more choices for entertainment and dining. However, they tend to be less personal with, for example, boarding and disembarkation being more regimented.
Just like the children’s story about ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, there are also mid-sized ships carrying between around 1,000 passengers that you might find are just right for you!
Classic versus Modern
Would you like to sail aboard the latest and greatest ship with all the mod cons or a classic liner built 30, 40 or 50 years ago? There are some beautiful older ships that offer a traditional cruise experience without the bells and whistles of today’s mega ships. But the latest liners offer lots of affordable balcony cabins, a vast array of gourmet dining venues and lots of activities and attractions to entertain including ice skating, flying foxes and rock climbing.
Sea or Port Days
This issue divides many cruise fans. Some love visiting lots of ports during a cruise while others prefer lots of long and leisurely days at sea. A mix of both is usually ideal. Some seven-day cruises in Alaska, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean offer just two days at sea so it’s best to pick a cruise itinerary wisely.
Port-intensive cruises take you to lots of destinations but you will be busy and you may end up spending more during your many trips ashore. Meanwhile, cruises with fewer ports tend to be more relaxing and ideal if you like nothing more than basking in a deck chair and staring at the boundless ocean.
Style of Ship
Just about everyone loves the idea of a luxury liner but it‘s important to consider how comfortable and relaxed you will be on a five-star ship with black tie balls, dress protocols and fine dining. It suits some discerning cruise fans but not others who may like to sail aboard a more relaxed, fun-focused ship with a broader range of passengers and late-night show lounges and discos.
Some ships and cruises are more suited to older passengers while others are geared to young couples or families with extensive kids clubs so it’s vital you know something about the ship you plan to spend your holiday on.
Typically, the longer the cruise, the older the average passenger. Cruises in peak seasons like Christmas and school holidays attract younger passengers. The style of Ship you cruise on is also influenced by the nationality of the cruise line operator. Many cruise lines are American which suits most Aussie cruisers but others are English, German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian or French.
Of course, there are locally based cruise lines here in Australia tailored just for Australians. If you like your spa treatments or gym workouts, there are some ships that have bigger and better health and beauty facilities than others.
Some ships have traditional, fixed dining times, which certainly have their appeal – while others allow you to dine anytime you like and other ships offer both systems. And then there are ships (mostly older vessels) with mostly twin beds instead of double beds. Some ships have no balcony cabins and a handful of suites while others have all balcony cabins or whole decks of suites. And there are cruise lines which offer enrichment and learning via numerous onboard lectures and workshops while on others bingo and belly flop contests are the go.
So you see there is a LOT to consider when choosing a cruise, especially for novice cruisers. The key is to let the experts help you select the right holiday and at Cruise Express, our experienced staff have collectively experienced hundreds of cruises right around the world. Our team is trained to match each client to the right ship so that you enjoy exactly the type of cruise holiday you want, expect and deserve. Cruising is our passion and we know our ships and all their different personalities and it’s our mission to ensure you end up on the ship and the cruise that provide memories you’ll always cherish.
So when you next choose to cruise, contact us at 1300 766 537 at Cruise Express and let us help you find the cruise just for you.
We can’t recommend enough to do your homework!
Research Research Research…
You’re ready for a cruise holiday and you’ve done your research but the fares you’ve unearthed vary significantly. Should you grab the cheapest deal or is the more expensive cruise fare a better value offer? We help you solve the dilemma so you get a fair deal on your next escape to sea…Is your cruise fare fair?
Australia is now the fastest-growing cruise region in the world and with that has come an ocean of cruise fares with so much choice that selecting the right deal can often be overwhelming and confusing. A common scenario is different prices for the same cruise. The most important advice we have at Cruise Express is to compare apples with apples and to look more closely what each fare includes so you can find the true value of a package.
The lowest fare may not always offer the best deal…
As they say, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And let’s face it, holidays are very emotional purchases and far more important than buying a fridge or a car. As we grow older, we recall the great travel experiences we enjoyed more than what cars we bought during our lifetime. Holidays create life-enduring memories we cherish forever so it’s important you pick the travel deal that delivers the quality holiday you deserve.
The important factors to explore…
The cruise itinerary itself may look the same on two different fare deals but here are some vital questions you should ask yourself before you invest your hard-earned money on your dream cruise holiday…
- Does the fare advertised include return flights to where the cruise starts and ends?
- If the package does include flights, what airline will you be flying – a full-service airline with meals, more seat space, entertainment and a higher baggage allowance or a low-cost airline where you need to pay for extras?
- Are the flights direct, with only one stop and short connections, or longer with multiple stops?
- Is hotel accommodation included in the package before or after your cruise? And where are the hotels located – in the heart of the city close to major attractions and public transport or much further away? And is the hotel of budget or deluxe standard?
- How many meals are included in the holiday package, especially before and after the cruise itself?
- Are transfers included – for example, from the airport to your hotel and from the hotel to the ship and then back to the airport after your cruise? If not, these can be expensive.
- Is the tour hosted, with an escort or Tour Manager looking after all the travel details along the way so you can relax and enjoy the holiday – or will you be travelling on your own?
- How long is each package – how many days does the entire package last for?
- Learn what type of cruise line will you be sailing with and what style of ship – budget, mid-range or luxury?
- Check the inclusions for the cruise itself – beverages, shore tours, exclusive welcome aboard receptions, specialty restaurant dining, stateroom canapes and onboard spending credits?
- What type of cabin is offered for the fare you have found – an Oceanview, Balcony or Interior cabin?
- Is the cruise deal you spotted offered by a travel agency with friendly, helpful staff who will offer you personalised service, security and also help if needed until you return home or is the company just an internet site with little personal contact so that you are just a booking number in the system?
Taking all these factors into account, that low fare option may no longer look like a good deal after all if it doesn’t include direct flights on a premium airline, reputable, centrally located hotels, transfers, hotel meals or the support of a full-service travel agency staffed by experts who really care about you and your holiday.
At Cruise Express, our experienced staff are dedicated to finding the best deal for you. We believe our cruise packages offer excellent value for money. We use full-service airlines offering direct flights, premium cruise lines and centrally located, deluxe hotels in our packages. Transfers, meals and other extras are often included too and, as you know, many of our cruise tours are escorted by our expert team, delivering even more value. We also pride ourselves on friendly and personalised service from your first call to the moment you return home. And even then, we want to know all about your holiday because that’s our passion.
Cruise Express are your experienced professionals with the answers to all your cruise fare enquiries. Let us help you book a great deal for your next cruise holiday. Call today on 1300 766 537.
Whether you want to sail the seven seas on your own or with a group, Cruise Express can book any holiday for you but the cruise tours we regularly host around the world are amongst the most popular holiday options we sell, with many customers enjoying our diverse range of escorted voyages.
From Africa to Antarctica, Europe to America and Great Britain to Asia, Cruise Express is famous for the successful and popular cruise tours we lead to all corners of the globe.
So let’s look at the many reasons that make hosted cruise tours a great holiday option for you to consider on your next journey abroad…
Hosted Cruise Tours are:
1. EASY – Escorted tours are the easiest way to see the world. All the paperwork, transfers and travel details are taken care of so your holiday is hassle-free. All you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy yourself!
2. SAFE – You’re with a group led by experts so safety is heightened, particularly in more exotic destinations like Africa and South America where it makes sense to travel with a tour group. And if you lose anything or have a mishap or problem, we are there to help you.
3. AFFORDABLE – You enjoy the benefits of the group discounts we obtain. Add up all the inclusions and you’ll see our value-for-money group tour fares are hard to beat. One of the best deals are our exclusive shore excursion packages where you travel with fellow Cruise Express passengers from Australia on our own coach to see the highlights of each port we visit. No need to book your own land tours and no need to queue at the shore tours desk!
4. FUN – Yes we have lots of fun on our tours with a great sense of camaraderie and high spirits shared amongst the group. We often host complimentary welcome aboard and farewell cocktail parties at sea too during our tours and they are also lots of fun!
5. FRIENDLY – It’s almost impossible not to forge new friendships with fellow, like-minded guests on our tours. Clients tell us over and over that the friendships they have formed on tour have lasted many years.
6. STYLISH – Well, the cruise tours we host are stylish anyway, with our guests staying at premium hotels, flying with full-service airlines and enjoying blue ribbon experiences all the way.
7. IDEAL FOR SOLO PASSENGERS – If you’re a lone traveller you’ll be part of the family on our group tours, with everything taken care of for you.
8. FLEXIBLE – You can spend time with the group or on your own whenever you want.
9. INSIGHTFUL – In addition to the friendly Cruise Express host leading the group, local guides also join us along the way, showing us special places you would have missed on your own and giving us a local’s insight into the destinations we visit. You’ll learn all the secrets about the ports we visit, the ships we sail on and the best places to shop.
10. TRUSTED – As one of Australia’s leading specialist cruise agencies and the recipient of many awards, Cruise Express has laid out the red carpet on escorted cruise tours since 2001 so you know you’ll be in good hands!
Call us today on 1300 557 031 for more information or visit our website www.cruiseexpress.com.au
A Review on One of the World’s Most Desired Destinations
I was recently on a cruise tour of the Canadian Rockies and Alaska – and it still rates for me as the second best holiday ever – after my honeymoon!
So when we’re asked at Cruise Express about our favourite cruise destinations, the answer for me is always easy – the Canadian Rockies and Alaska. Why? Just look at any brochure for a combination cruise tour to the Canadian Rockies and Alaska and it’s obvious.
Nature drank a lot of coffee when she designed these two epic destinations. Twice as big as Texas, Alaska is a pristine paradise overflowing with grand glaciers, mighty mountains, fir forests that stretch forever and wondrous wildlife – plus near 24-hour daylight in the northern summer to see it in all its glory.
Whenever stressed, I close my eyes and imagine I am back in Alaska on the deck of a liner, gazing at the wilderness and drinking it all in. For me, Alaska and its unspoiled beauty evoke emotions that make me want to go back. Add a dose of ‘Rocky Mountain High’ vaccine to your Alaska cruise and you have a prescription for one truly breathtaking holiday.
I’ve cruised in Alaska three times and on one of those trips, I had the fortune of preceding my cruise with a rail and coach tour from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies. Wow – what an experience!
We started in Vancouver, one of the world’s prettiest harbour cities, and took the bucket-list Rocky Mountaineer train to Jasper following a picture postcard route snaking through towering peaks. We enjoyed the view from domed glass ceilings on two-storey carriages affording stunning views in all directions. Just don’t drink too much water. Pity the traveller on the Rocky Mountaineer who goes to the restroom and comes back to hear fellow passengers spotted a whole family of brown bears waving at the train! Or so they’ll tell you!
Both the grand Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, with its steaming hot outdoor pool, and the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise with those awesome views, have to be seen to be believed. Many travellers to the Rockies just take pictures of these famous hotels but Cruise Express staff can help you to actually stay there in premium, view rooms.
The best thing about combining the Canadian Rockies and Alaska in the one holiday is that after you return from the Rockies to Vancouver, the adventure is only half over as a luxury, week-long cruise to Alaska is still ahead of you.
It’s hard to find a week-long cruise as perfect as one to Alaska, with an idyllic mix of ports, scenic cruising past glaciers and relaxed days at sea. I love the three main Alaskan ports of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway with their gold rush saloons, frontier spirit, colourful, indigenous Tlingit culture and the majesty of the mountains just a few streets away. The highlight, of course is Glacier Bay where massive glaciers thunder into the fjord. What a thrill! You won’t want to be inside playing bingo on that day!
For a more detailed review of cruising in Alaska click here for another blog post.
Combining the Canadian Rockies and Alaska is a real feast for the senses and having done it myself, I can only say: do yourself a favour and treat yourself to one of the best holidays ever. You’ll be escorted by friendly tour hosts, almost everything is included and everything is looked after from start to finish. You don’t even have to carry your bags between hotels, trains, ships and airports.
Click here for information or call Cruise Express today on 1300 766 537 and speak to one of our travel specialists to find out how you can begin planning your dream trip of a lifetime.