Smooth Sailing

Our Tips to Consider Before Departure Day

The first day of your holiday sets the foundation for your voyage and can be the make or break for the rest of your time spent on board. Although each cruise line and ship vary with their offerings, over the years we have learnt a few general tricks and tips that will help ensure you set off into the sunset oh so smoothly!

Book Shore Excursions Online – You may miss out if you don’t look into these prior to your cruise, especially the popular tours. Don’t worry, there may be more released for onboard bookings but be warned, this will most likely involve long queues that CAN be avoided with a bit of planning.

Online Cruise Check-in – Most cruise lines will now request you complete this to release final traveling documentation. It helps to ensure the line keeps moving on embarkation day, so a much better experience for everyone involved. Information required will include ID and an emergency contact.

Drinks Package – These can be great value but do your sums to ensure you are going to get maximum value out of this for adults and/or children. Keep in mind that a service charge (approx 15%) is often applied to drinks on board and not all cruises offer this, particularly for the shorter length cruises. Many ships also now allow passengers to bring a limited quantity of wine and soft drinks, your travel specialist will be able to give you more details if this is applicable.

Adaptors – Many ships will have international, primarily US power sockets, often at a lower voltage, so please look into what you may require for an adaptor. Power boards and most electrical appliances including hair straighteners are banned, so don’t bring them. Many of the newer ships have USB points, making bringing power cords is unnecessary. Research into your ship is key here.

Specialty Dining – Many cruise lines offer discounted package deals to make reservations at one of their fine dining ‘specialty’ restaurants. It’s a good idea to purchase these packages and make your booking prior to boarding, although you can wait until you board if you are more flexible on which days and times you’d like to take up the offer.

Tip: You are more likely to get a reservation in one of the specialty restaurants on the first night. Occasionally there is even surprise a perk, gift or discount for doing so!

Register a Credit Card for Onboard Spending – Streamline your spending, in particular seamlessly settling your account upon departure. Throughout your cruise you will be able to monitor your onboard spending, often via in-room technology on your TV. On departure day, by having set up your credit-card payment, you can avoid often long queues of passengers looking to pay with cash to settle their accounts.

Pack a Carry-on Bag – Depending what time you check-in, you may require things such as a swimsuit and sunscreen, medication, books or ipads throughout the day. Access to your room is usually late afternoon or early evening, sometimes after dinner so be prepared.

Pack Appropriately – Research your ship, destination and activities. For example, if you are hunting the Northern Lights, pack warm clothes as you’ll be more than likely standing on deck for a long time.

There are often theme nights or formal nights on board, and activities such as ice skating require thick socks, and rock climbing walls need tennis type shoes.

Where possible, bring clothes that don’t require ironing. Remember also – at some point, you will need to move your own luggage – so pack light!

If you have any questions about preparing for your trip please call one of our Cruise Travel Specialists on 1300 766 537 or visit our website.

 

Cruise, Camera, Action!

Movie set locations around the world are almost always spectacularly interesting to know, especially when you visit them as the memories and familiarity floods in from some of your favourite movies and TV shows.

There are literally tens of thousands to choose from, so we’ve highlighted a few of our favourites in countries, cities and towns where we often journey to, by sea, river, road and rail.  But there are countless more in almost countless locations around the world.

We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we did putting them together….and remember your next destination with Cruise Express has undoubtedly been a film location – and probably will be again, who knows, maybe even while you are there!

SOUTH AFRICA

  • Blood Diamond
  • Monty Python’s: The Meaning of Life
  • Mandela Long Walk to Freedom
  • Invictus
  • The Power of One
  • Zulu Dawn
  • The Gods Must be Crazy (I, II, III)
  • District 9

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

  • The Killing Fields
  • Lara Croft: TombRaider 
  • City of Ghosts
  • Wish You Were Here
  • Two Brothers
  • Poppy Goes to Hollywood

HALONG BAY, VIETNAM

  • Pan
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Indochine

ALASKA

  • The Hunt for Red October
  • The Bourne Legacy
  • The Proposal
  • Pacific Rim
  • Brother Bear I, II
  • The Tony Blair Witch Project
  • Northern Exposure

 

SEATTLE

  • An Officer and a Gentleman
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • 10 Things I Hate About You
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Frasier
  • Homeland
  • Sleepless in Seattle

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

  • Chariots of Fire
  • The DaVinci Code
  • Outlander
  • Trainspotting & T2
  • Churchill
  • The Body Snatchers
  • Castles in the Sky
  • Skyfall
  • Braveheart

OSLO, NORWAY

  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Die Another Day
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Superman II
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Spies Like Us
  • Captain America: Civil War

 

So which is your favourite movie destination?

Click here to find out more about our amazing holiday packages to all of the above destinations and more or call 1300 766 537 and speak with one of our experienced Travel Specialists.

Legendary Rail Nostalgia

The California Zephyr – Heritage Rail Journey of a Bygone Era

zephyrvˈzɛfə/noun
  1. a soft gentle breeze
  2. Zephyrus, the Greek god of the west wind

On 19 March, 1949, outside the Embarcadero in San Francisco, as Soprano Evelyn Corvello sang the Star Spangled Banner, San Francisco Mayor Leland Cutler gave a welcome address and actress Eleanor Parker, stepped up to Western Pacific locomotive 803, smashing a bottle of champagne to launch of the “California Zephyr”. Few attending realised they were witnessing a legend in passenger train history being born. 

California Zephyr

Departing on its inaugural run the following day, every woman on the train was given silver and orange orchids especially flown in from Hilo, Hawaii for the occasion. Soon dubbed “the most talked about train in America” with its glass-domed carriages, the California Zephyr (also known as the Silver Lady) operated along some of the most spectacular scenic routes in the USA.

Run by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) from Chicago to Denver, Colorado, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) between Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah, and the Western Pacific Railroad from Salt Lake City to Oakland, California.

The trains were carefully scheduled to enjoy the breathtaking grandeur of the Feather River and Rocky mountains during the day, while the Nevada deserts and plains states were crossed at night.

The trains were carefully scheduled so passengers could enjoy the breathtaking grandeur of scenery including the Feather River and Rocky mountains during the day, while the Nevada deserts and plains states were crossed at night.

As air travel had air-hostesses, so to did the Zephyr. Affectionately known as “Zephyrettes”, they debuted on the Denver Zephyr in 1936. They were trained to perform a wide variety of roles, including welcoming passengers, making announcements, sending telegrams, making dinner reservations, babysitting, and generally serving as a liaison between the train’s passengers and its crew.

Like many railways, by the mid to late 1960s The California Zephyr was experiencing rapidly falling numbers. Airlines and bus routes had begun to make serious cuts to rail travel by offering faster or cheaper transportation.

The last westbound California Zephyr to the west coast left Chicago on March 22, 1970, and arrived in Oakland two days later. The California Zephyr had operated for 21 years and 2 days.

Although the original train ceased operation in 1970, it continued to operate as a passenger service, as the Rio Grande Zephyr, between Salt Lake City and Denver using the original equipment until 1983. Since 1983 the California Zephyr is used by Amtrak service, which operates daily and is a hybrid of the original route.

For more information on how you can embark on this historic rail experience, please call one of our Travel Specialists today on 1300 766 537 or click here!

Why We Love Alaskan Huskies

More than a working dog

We all know and love a sleigh-pulling cuddly Alaskan Husky, but they are not all the same, very far from it. Below are some interesting facts and figures to enjoy, particularly if you are heading on a trip to Alaska.

The Northern Lights

Did you know…

  • Alaskan mushers bred the dogs they found in Inuit villages with Siberian Huskies, Greyhounds and German Shorthaired Pointers to create the Alaskan Husky.  
  • Because they were bred as working dogs they are classified as a category rather than a breed.
  • There is no standard breed; each breeder selects for the qualities that are most important including speed, stamina, a particular gait, and a particular size or coat type.
  • They have a larger and leaner body than the Siberian Husky.
  • Alaskan have brown eyes, while the Siberian has blue eyes.
  • They Are renown for being one of the fastest dogs in the world: recorded as traveling at 45km per hour!
  • Alaskan Huskies are also known for extreme endurance, with particular breeds able to race for up over 1,500kms.
  • Unsurprisingly, being from Alaska where temperatures can drop as low as -62.2°C, Alaskan Huskies can’t live in very hot climates and shouldn’t be exercised in temperatures above 20°C.

Working Dogs

  • Different types of Alaskan Huskies do different jobs and are bred for different types of sledding.
  • Freighting dogs pull heavy loads. Sprinters go fast for short distances. Other dogs have the stamina to go longer distances. They are used to haul logs, deliver supplies to remote locations, transportation in general, and even competing in races for money.
  • Alaskan Huskies who are top sled racing dogs may be worth US$10,000-$15,000 or more.Alaskan Husky

Just for Fun!

  • The howl of an Alaskan Husky can be heard up to 16kms away and they can be particularly talkative!
  • Their claws help them grip on the ice and they will scoop out holes in the snow for a place to burrow and shelter themselves from the wind.
  • Huskies are NOT all the same – the Alaskan Husky is much more chilled and playful than Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes – many believe making them a wonderful family pet.
  • They are very friendly and love strangers so don’t count on them being a good guard dog.
  • An odd fact but here goes anyway – NEVER shave an Alaskan Husky. It may seem a good idea to help cool down but it will only increase their risk of sunburn and eliminate her ability to regulate temperature.
  • Because Alaskan Huskies are highly intelligent, gentle with people and have a strong pack instinct, they make excellent companion dogs.
  • HOWEVER…like any wild animal if provoked, not disciplined or mistreated, they can become aggressive.

Alaskan Husky

 

For more information on several of our cruise packages for Alaska and the region, please call one our Travel Specialists on 1300 766 537 or visit wwww.cruiseexpress.com.au

 

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.