Tips for the Solo Cruiser

An increasing number of cruise lovers are sailing on their own so Cruise Express has some handy tips on how to make solo cruising more enjoyable and affordable…

1. Avoid the Dreaded Double Solo Supplement – by keeping an eye out for low single surcharges or special deals that offer no supplements at all, allowing you to cruise for the twin-share price. These bargains often appear online “Your Solo Zone” or you can ask the Cruise Express team to keep an eye out for you.

2. Reduced or no Single Supplements Solo friendly cruise lines include Crystal Cruises, Azamara Cruises, Compagnie du Ponant, Voyages of Discovery, Saga Holidays, Voyages to Antiquity and Silversea Cruises as well as river cruise lines such as Uniworld, TAUK and Viking. So focus your search when checking our 24/7 Cruise Express ‘look and book’ website.

3. Cabin for One Please – The good news is that it seems dedicated cabins for one are making a return to the seven seas. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic debuted in 2010 with 128 studio cabins designated for single travellers and priced for single occupancy.

The ship also offers a special lounge for studio passengers where you can mingle with other solo cruisers and enjoy a bar, entertainment and a concierge for dinner bookings. P&O Cruises’ UK ship, Azura, also took to the water in 2010 with 18 cabins dedicated to singles and other cruise lines are certain to follow as demand for solo travel increases.

4. Willing to Share a Cabin? – Consider sharing a cabin with another solo traveller to split the cost. The idea may not appeal to everyone but you can save money and you may strike a new lifetime friendship.

5. Small Ships Ahoy! – If you’re alone, choose a smaller ship where the atmosphere is more relaxed and social and where it will be easier to meet other single travellers. You’re also more likely to run into familiar faces on a boutique-style vessel than a superliner with thousands of passengers.

6. Get Amongst it – A great way to meet other travellers is to join onboard activities such as craft classes, skill workshops, dance lessons and language courses. The ships’ shore tours also offer opportunities to have fun with fellow passengers.

7. Keep Cruise Staff Informed – Tell the cruise staff you are alone but keen to meet others and they will no doubt help you do that, assuming that is what you want from your holiday!

8. Get Mingling – Many ships offer singles parties but early in the cruise you can also visit bars and lounges to see who else is onboard and also looking for company.

9. Keeping  Your Holiday Flexible – If you’re not happy with your dining companions at a fixed dinner sitting, ask the maitre d’ for another table or request to sit with other solo passengers. And when offered a flexible dining plan, ask to be seated with others so you don’t end up eating alone.

10. Care to Dance – Some cruise lines such as Cunard Line, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises may offer ‘gentlemen hosts’, usually aged over 55, whose job it is to provide social company in the public areas to single females, especially on the dance floor so you can dance the night away!

Our staff at Cruise Express have helped countless single travellers of all ages book cruise holidays.

Call today on 1300 766 537 or visit our website to find your next perfect holiday.

 

The One Thing you Should Never Travel Without!

 

Your cruise ship leaves tomorrow, your suitcase is packed and you check your list…passport, tickets, money and credit cards, camera, phone and phone card, sunscreen, clothes and travel insurance?

You’d be shocked at how many Australians travel overseas without travel insurance but at Cruise Express we believe it’s just as important as your passport. Let’s be honest…no matter how prepared, organised or healthy you may be, sometimes things in life just don’t go to plan and that can include when you’re on holidays.

Of course, the vast majority of travellers enjoy incident-free vacations but just in case something goes wrong – you may get sick or have an accident, your flight or cruise could be cancelled or delayed or you could lose your luggage, passport or purse – it makes good sense to be prepared and cover yourself if your plans do come undone.

Over the years, Cruise Express has seen many clients benefit from travel insurance while on holidays. It’s important to note that you are not covered by Medicare overseas and if you don’t have travel insurance, you could face hefty bills. Travel insurance is also vital on shorter cruises close to home to destinations such as New Zealand or the South Pacific. ‘

Even if you cruise to ‘nowhere’ on a weekend cruise from Sydney or Perth or sail on a ship on a domestic leg from Sydney to Melbourne, you need travel insurance to cover the cost of international doctors aboard the ship as Medicare does not cover you onboard.

Some credit cards have built-in travel insurance but it’s wise to check the conditions first to ensure the coverage is adequate for your trip and any pre-existing health issues you have. The coverage credit cards offer can sometimes be basic and could leave you short so alternative travel insurance will be necessary. And these days, many of us travel overseas with expensive smartphones, laptops and other electronic and digital devices so you need to ensure these are also adequately protected in your travel insurance. The extended cover may be required for these valuable items.

Cruise Express supports the Government’s motto that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. It’s that important. Of course, Cruise Express can organise travel insurance coverage for you. We can help organise the best policy for you, taking into account your age and pre-existing health conditions. In fact, we can help organise travel insurance that covers more than 3000 pre-existing health conditions. And if you book your travel insurance direct via our website – see the Cruise Tools tab (link) – you can enjoy a 10 percent discount.

We have compiled here a ‘Top 10’ list of tips for travel insurance which we hope helps you when deciding what coverage is best for you and your dream holiday.

Top 10 Travel Insurance Tips

1. Organise your travel insurance when you make the booking and pay a deposit on your trip to ensure you are protected right from the start in case plans change.

2. You should take out travel insurance on all cruises you do – long or short, overseas or around Australia, even weekend cruises to ‘nowhere’ as Medicare does not apply to medical centres onboard.

3. Read the conditions of your policy to ensure your coverage is adequate for the items (including expensive digital devices) and luggage you take with you and buy along the way and any pre-existing health conditions you may have.

4. Take photos and records of valuable items you will take on holiday, including your passport, and email them to a webmail address you can access if required. Also take the photos with you and keep them separate from the goods.

5. Report any stolen property to local police as soon as possible and obtain a police report to help with your insurance claim. The more paperwork you have, the easier it will be to make a claim.

6. Bring your insurance policy with you and also store copies of it on your phone, webmail or laptop.

7. If you need to make a claim, ring your insurer (be sure to carry the phone number with you) while you are still on holidays to see what action is required.

8. Check the Federal Government’s Smart Traveller website for helpful information on travel insurance.

9. Talk to a member of our Cruise Express team about travel insurance. We can help organise and book your travel insurance for you. And if you book your travel insurance direct via our website – you can enjoy a 10 per cent discount.

10. Enjoy your cruise, knowing you have travel insurance if you need it!

We’re here to help because we care about your holiday and we want to ensure you have the vital protection and invaluable peace of mind that travel insurance provides.

Call today on 1300 766 537 or visit our website to find out more!

What to do on Embarkation Day

Make the Most of Arrival Day to Ensure A Great Start to Your Holiday!

Here are some tips on what to do on embarkation day…

It’s the big day you’ve been looking forward to for so long – the day you board your cruise ship.  We suggest you arrive early  (Unless you’ve been given a specific time to board) to maximise your organisational time onboard before sailing. If you come too early you may find you’ve joined what can often be a long queue of early birds keen to get onboard first. Time your arrival at the terminal just after the boarding period starts so the line-up has mostly cleared.

  1. Unpack your belongings in the cabin as soon as your luggage arrives so you can feel settled as soon as possible. Check the TV channels in your stateroom so you can find relaxing music to play to put you in a cruising mood as soon as possible.
  2. Introduce yourself to your cabin steward and make any special requests you have.
  3. In your carry-on bag, pack a change of clothing and swimsuit so you can feel comfortable if it’s warm and take a dip in the ship’s pools and spas when they are crowd-free on embarkation day. You’ll feel like the cruise has already started!
  4. Enjoy lunch on board the ship – remember that the buffet can often be crowded on embarkation day, so see if the ship’s other restaurants are open. If lunching at the buffet, take your meal outdoors to the pool areas where there is often more room.
  5. Take a walk around the ship to get your bearings and check on opening and closing times for the gym, pools, kids clubs and shops etc.
  6. Check out the ship’s schedule of events left in your cabin so you can see what’s on today and familiarise yourself with the layout of the daily bulletin.
  7. Book gym classes, spa sanctuary sessions and any adult/premium deck areas for the cruise to ensure you secure your spots early. Shore tours can book out very quickly so if you haven’t done so already get onto that today.
  8. The purser’s desk on boarding day can be very busy – leave any inquiries until the next day if you can or use the phone in your cabin to contact reception.
  9. Bring a calculator and work out if the onboard drink packages are good value for you.
  10. See the maitre d’ at the designated times he or she is available as advertised in the ship’s newsletter if you wish to change your allocated dining times.
  11. The lifts can be very busy on embarkation day as luggage is loaded and passenger explore the ship so take the stairs if you can.
  12. Take time to stroll onto the open decks to enjoy the excitement of sail away time as your ship officially begins your dream voyage.

We’re here to chat about these suggestions and so much more to make your cruise a holiday of a lifetime. Call us 1300 766 537 or visit our website.

River Cruising Around The World

More Australians than ever are holidaying on the world’s great inland waterways.

The appeal of river cruising is obvious. Unpack your bags once, sit back and your deluxe floating hotel will take you on an enthralling journey through the heart of a destination.

There’s no rushing, no big crowds, no stress and no day where there’s nothing to see. The ever-changing scenery is entrancing – from romantic vineyards, enchanting castles and quaint villages to rugged gorges, ancient ruins, and wild jungle.

Shore tours and drinks are often complimentary, there’s no seasickness and you arrive in the centre of each town or city, immediately immersing you in the local culture.

It’s a perfect and top-value way to travel!

Overwhelming, the majority of Australians who go river cruising head to the M1 motorway of river journeys – the popular route from Amsterdam to Budapest along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. It’s a beautiful cruise but if you’re looking to expand your horizons to other river cruising destinations, almost 200 river ships sail along 30 inland waterways around the world. Here’s a quick overview of river journeys away from the Amsterdam to Budapest river highway.

River Cruise

Europe

The Danube – Beyond Budapest to the Black Sea. Rivers were the trade routes of yesterday so it’s logical that Europe boasts more river cruise options than any other continent. Did you know, though, that you can cruise beyond Budapest all the way to the Black Sea through intriguing countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Croatia?

Holland and Belgium – The maze of the Rhine Delta can be traced on cruises past tulip fields sprinkled with windmills and charming, medieval towns filled with lace and chocolate shops.

The Moselle – Paris to Amsterdam. Another of Europe’s grand rivers can be sailed from France to Holland via Luxembourg through lands of storybook castles and rolling vineyards.

France – The Loire, Seine, Rhone, Saone, Dordogne and Garonne Rivers. From north to south and east to west, France boasts six major rivers you can enjoy a cruise on. Alluringly destinations like Provence, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Normandy are filled with captivating scenery including grand chateaux and castles, rustic wineries, picturesque hamlets and the sanctuaries of great artists like Monet.

Germany – The Elbe, Havel and Oder Rivers. From Dresden to Hamburg, the Elbe River passes through the verdant vineyards of Saxony and the beautiful Saxon Alps. The Havel and Oder Rivers can be traced from the vibrant city of Berlin north to the Baltic near the Polish border.

Russia – The Volga River. Russia’s two great centres, Moscow and St Petersburg, with their breathtaking palaces, museums, and onion-domed churches, can be seen by cruising along the Volga canal system.

Barge cruising in the UK and France. This is river cruising at its most intimate – quaint and cosy barges carrying less than 10 passengers meandering through the canals and rivers of old-world England and medieval France, through picture-postcard scenery and past castles and impossibly cute hamlets.

Portugal and Spain – The Douro River. Threading its way through Portugal’s romantic, castle-speckled scenery is the Douro, which meanders past vineyards and bewitching villages.

Italy – The Po River and Venice Lagoon. Immerse yourself in Italian Renaissance culture as you cruise the fascinating Venetian lagoon and the reflective waters of the Po to the beautiful city of Mantua.

River Cruise

Africa

Egypt – The Nile. One of the oldest river cruise routes in the world is the Nile – the world’s longest river – with its many ancient ruins and of course the great pyramids in Cairo.

Botswana and Namibia – The Chobe River. Take a river safari on the tranquil Chobe as you search for hippos, elephants and other wildlife close to the iconic Victoria Falls.

Asia

Vietnam & Cambodia – The Mekong. The mighty Mekong has become very popular with Australians on exotic river journeys between Vietnam and Cambodia, with rickshaw rides to local markets and villages.

Myanmar (Burma) – The Irrawaddy River. Immerse yourself in the mysterious, once hidden land of Burma as the Irrawaddy takes you deep into lands frozen in time with gilded pagodas, ornate monasteries and villages where friendly locals still follow a traditional way of life centred on farming.

India – The Ganges, Hugli and Brahmaputra Rivers. These holy rivers can be traced on exotic cruises that unveil scenery filled with temples, tea gardens, palaces, bustling bazaars and national parks that protect Indian rhinos. You’ll also see Indians flock to the shores of these mythical waterways to perform rituals performed for eons.

China – The Yangtze River. See China’s heartland from its most famous river and cruise through the jaw-droppingly dramatic Three Gorges with their sheer cliffs.

River Cruising

South America

Peru, Ecuador or Brazil – The Amazon. A true adventure into wild jungles inhabited by isolated tribal villages where little has changed for centuries.

Call your river cruise travel specialists today at Cruise Express on 1300 766 537.