Cruising for Christmas

 

Christmas Cruise     Christmas Cruise

If getting away for Christmas sounds like a good idea then read on…

The festive season is a special time of the year that comes around in the blink of an eye. It’s a time we can’t avoid or put off, even though some years we might like to!  

If the idea of getting ‘away’ appeals then cruising is a great option. Equally, cruising is ideal for bringing friends and family together at this time of year. Cruising during the festive season can be magical in so many ways!

christmas cruise     Christmas cruise

We love it – here are some insights for you so you can work out if you would love it too…

Pros

  • Ships are big enough that you can always retreat to your own space!
  • No cooking or cleaning, full stop!
  • It makes a great gift to give each other 
  • Santa, eggnog and carols by the poolside
  • Lots of holiday entertainment and activities for the children including visits from Santa, craft-making, carolling and storytelling

Cons

  • Due to their increasing popularity, we recommend booking upwards of a year in advance to be certain to get the cruise and cabins you want including family suites and interconnecting rooms (although closer to the day there are still options)
  • Christmas and New Year can be expensive (so keep an eye out for great deals – we can help you with this)
  • There are generally a lot of children on board Christmas cruises, so if you aren’t a fan… this may not be the best time to cruise for you!
  • Small luxury ships tend to have more mature passengers and fewer children – your Cruise Express travel specialist will be the best person to consult with on this.
      

Other important considerations…

  • While cheaper fares may become available closer to time, there may only be inside cabins available with your family scattered throughout the ship – it really depends on if this is an issue for you or not
  • Look into the onboard activities to ensure they are right for everyone
  • Most ships will have events at this time of the year, so don’t forget to pack special outfits for Christmas Eve/Day and New Year’s Eve
  • It is a busy time of the year so we suggest you try to choose a departure port that doesn’t involve flights and if you do need to fly, ideally arrange to arrive a night early in case there are delays or cancellations
  • Don’t forget the kids (and partner’s/parents) presents!
  • If you really want to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in your cabin, you may want to consider bringing a fold-up Christmas tree, decorations and a special plate for the reindeer treats
  • Be super kind to the staff on the ship who at this special time of year, are away from their much-loved and missed families.Christmas CruiseTo find out your Christmas cruises options, contact one of our travel specialists on 1300 766 537 or email info@cruiseexpress.com.au.

Music Cruises Top the Charts

If a cruise sounds like an appealing holiday, try fully immersing yourself in a music cruise adventure as you sail away with your favourite artists.

Music-themed cruises continue to grow in popularity throughout the world, and Australia is no exception. Since introducing these toe-tapping itineraries to our clients, we have seen overall demand double, with many repeat bookings over the years.

Some of these sell-out music cruises are returning year after year, with one much-loved cruise having launched its eighth consecutive year, one boasting over 40 artists on a mere 7-night cruise!

Why So Popular

An outstanding variety of performers over recent years have included Lee Kernaghan, John Williamson, Status Quo, Jose Carreras, Marina Prior, KC and the Sunshine Band, Boney M, Marcia Hines and Dame Kiri te Kanawa…there really is something for everyone.

A music cruise offers complete immersion in your favourite music, combined with enjoying cruise ship experiences and offerings, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, plus the excitement of traveling to new places. Themes vary but often include country & western, retro 70s and 80s, opera, hard rock, soft rock, rock & roll… the list goes on!

Many of the headline acts are also supported by well-loved bands and artists – a sensory delight for music fans of all walks and ages.  

These journeys can also include artist signings, meet-and-greets with your favourite bands and musical heroes, and endless concerts as you dance and singing to your heart’s content.

Indulge in your favorite onboard or onshore activities, and make friends with like-minded people as you party till the wee hours, the options are yours.

          Music Cruise               Music Cruise   

What Should I Expect?

A ridiculous amount of dancing and singing – bring comfortable shoes!

Some music cruises can be the whole themed festival at sea, and some can be part of the ship’s offering so you’ll mingle with others on the cruise who are not there for the music.

Drinks packages can be purchased pre-sail or once on board and we suggest exploring the option of escorted tours so you can really unwind and leave hassles behind. Depending on the theme of the cruise, you may also have access to VIP performances, workshops, lectures and presentations as well as exclusive onshore exhibitions and tours – all inclusive of your fare.

Most Music Cruise holidays offer daily performances and roving entertainment, port destinations, all meals (excluding specialty restaurants), entertainment, onboard gratuities and port fees. Drink packages are worth exploring and can be fantastic value if you are a ‘thirsty’ passenger.

Before you commit we recommend you take a good look into the package deal and offerings to make sure it’s right for you.

Hot music cruises in 2019?

Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts 2019 departing from Sydney for 7 nights on 12 November 2019 is proving popular as is Cruisin’ Country 2019 departing a month earlier on 19th October 2019. Rock the Boat 2019 has already sold out so don’t miss out on the others!

* Please see all our music cruise deals for more details as every package varies.

Ultimate Cruising Destinations

The Cruising World’s Itch List

Add these to your dream cruise destinations

Around-the-World Cruise from Australia. You earn huge bragging rights in the world of cruising and a lifetime of memories once you’ve circumnavigated the planet by sea. You’ll sail in the wake of Ferdinand Magellan –  the first person to circle the globe by ship, a journey which took three years (1519-1522) in a sailing boat 700 times smaller than the luxurious Princess Cruises superliners which now take around three months to offer the same epic journey every year from Australia.

Circumnavigate Australia. Sailing on a deluxe cruise liner right around our own continent certainly beats dragging a caravan around the country. Unpack once, relax and watch the scenery change as you sip a drink by the pool – by far, the most relaxing way to see Australia!

A-Line Voyage. Experience the nostalgia of a voyage from England to Australia, a journey once made by migrants in the 1950s eager to start a new life in a new land Down Under. Cruise lines, including Cunard, P&O Cruises in the UK and Cruise and Maritime Voyages, regularly offer the chance to sail this historic route, either via South Africa or a shortcut through the Suez Canal.

Trans-Atlantic – Joining a classic voyage between Southampton and New York offers the opportunity to experience an iconic experience. This famous (infamous in the case of the Titanic) route was once the only way to sail from the old world (England) to the new (US) but now you can relive the adventure on a week-long, no-ports cruise with lots of time to relax.  Enjoy the luxury of great ocean liners like the Queen Mary 2 which regularly offers trans-Atlantic crossings, and our tip is to sail westward from Southampton to New York instead of the other way as you will gain an extra hour (and enjoy more sleep) on most days due to the time difference.

Antarctica – The only way travellers can reach the hardest place in the world to get to is by ship. Antarctica is the world’s last unspoiled wilderness, taking the breath away of all cruise passengers who spot the great icy continent for the first time. Cruises typically sail from South America from where you can join more affordable cruises on large, luxury liners that offer spectacular scenic cruising along the Antarctic coast without the opportunity to explore ashore. Or you can join expedition-style voyages on smaller vessels which are equipped with smaller Zodiac boats that do take you onto the ice for a closer view of the scenery and the amazing wildlife. Both options provide experiences you will never forget.

Panama Canal – Although just 77km long, this engineering marvel – one of the biggest and most complex construction projects ever undertaken – offers an unforgettable experience as you sail in your cruise ship along impossibly narrow and dramatic canals and locks between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal was recently upgraded at a cost of just over A$6 billion to cope with increasing traffic and bigger ships.

Alaska – Alaska is one of the most popular overseas cruise destinations for Australians. The typical seven-day cruise from Vancouver or Seattle offers a perfect combination of spectacular scenery – including tumbling glaciers and the famed Inside Passage-  colourful culture, exciting wildlife, and relaxing days at sea. Because so many cruise lines operate here, competition is fierce and fares are usually very affordable – with many week-long cruises available from under $1,000. The Northern Summer cruise season runs from May to September and if you select a sailing around the summer solstice in late June, you can experience the unusual phenomenon of 24-hour daylight.

The Mediterranean – There is so much to see and do in Europe and it can be exhausting to see it all by road, plane or rail with constant packing and unpacking and a different hotel every night. That’s why a cruise is the best, most relaxing and affordable way to explore countries like France, Italy, Greece and Turkey which front the Mediterranean. Wake up to a different destination every day on the many luxury liners, big and small, which ply the Mediterranean Sea. Cruise on your own or join hosted cruise tours like the group trips regularly offered by Cruise Express.

European River Cruise – Record numbers of Australians are flocking to the rivers of Europe and cruise lines are struggling to keep up, building more deluxe river vessels every year to cope with the demand. The appeal is clear – sailing through the heart of Europe, docking in thecentre of historic cities and experiencing a myriad of countries in one journey from the comfort of your moving boutique hotel.  The most popular cruise is along the Rhine, Danube and rivers between Amsterdam and Budapest but you can also enjoy a river cruise through France, Portugal and Italy.

Tahiti – Captains Bligh and Cook and their crews fell in love with this exotic, tropical destination in the South Pacific and so will you when your cruise ship drops anchor off the azure lagoon of breathtaking Bora Bora –billed as the most beautiful island in the world – and the sheer peaks of Moorea. A cruise here offers you the opportunity to experience the magic of many of the islands which make up French Polynesia. French charm, friendly locals, idyllic islands and a warm and relaxed ambiance make Tahiti a dream cruise destination. Cruises are available from Australia or Papeete or several lines offer voyages between Australia and Hawaii/USA via Tahiti.

With years of helping clients reach their dream destinations, Cruise Express is your number one travel partner, first time, every time.

With so many trips to all of these destinations, please all us on 1300 766 537 for a consultation or visit our website.

Top Tips for Planning a Cruise

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…

How to Choose the Right Cruise

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…

Size Matters
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.