Benefits of Cruising with Friends

As the old saying goes, we can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends – and let’s face it, everything’s better with friends – they get us (and forgive us)!

On a cruise holiday, your friends are there to share when you order everything on the main menu, they are on your team for trivia, your dance and silent disco partners, as well as backup singers for karaoke.

Cruising with friends is not just the basis for a wonderful time, they keep us in a holiday mindset and together, you’ll create memories to talk about for decades to come.

The Best of Everything

The best thing about cruising is that it offers something for everyone, and you don’t have to do everything together all the time. On your days at sea, or in port you could go in different directions, and still meet up for a cocktail and dinner in the evening, and then explore the shows and nightlife.

Less Organising

Depending on the type of cruise, duration and number of friends you are travelling with, a cruise holiday overall requires less organising, so no-one has to be the coordinator!

Although specialty dining, dining times, and shore or self-tours are something you may want to consider planning before you go so as to avoid any issues onboard, particularly if you are with a large group, numbers may be tricky to book for at the last minute. Your trusty cruise specialist travel agent (i.e. us!) can help with this.

You have a Security Blanket if Cruising Makes you Nervous

Having a friend to help keep you calm or make you laugh when the waves are rocking the boat a little too much is priceless.

If you are away on a longer trip, having a friend or two can help feelings of being homesick. Not only do they get you, but they’ll also get your ‘Aussieness’, and most importantly, understand why you miss Vegemite!

Your Kids have BYO Friends

If you are traveling with other families, the kids usually know each other and are hopefully on good terms. Depending on the age of the children and your need for a little time-out, there can often be no need for kids clubs when they have friends from home to hang out with.

Ring in the Holiday Festivities

A cruise with friends can be so much more than a relaxing (or partying) trip to the islands. Festivities from across many cultures and continents are celebrated onboard most cruise lines, including Valentine’s Day, Sunday Super Bowl, Dr Suess’ Birthday, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and even Cinco de Mayo.

Don’t forget your fancy dress outfit if you are really planning on getting into it!

Love of Themed Cruising

Increasingly popular are an almost countless number of ‘themed’ cruises being offered on the high seas. If you have friends who have the same interest as you, this may be a great option for you to consider.

Themed cruise holidays range from food and wine appreciation to rock, operatic and country music cruises, holistic/wellness, yoga, astronomy, political, religious, LGBT, golf, history, gardening, poker, crochet, fashion, fitness, and sci-fi themed (to name a few). There are even nude cruises!

Plan Well to Avoid Pitfalls

While travelling with friends (or family) with no one having to cook, clean or think too much, can seem like a great idea, we do recommend a few things so that this isn’t the first or last one you have together. Before you go, please consider:

  • Differences – interests, budgets, travel style, ability and fitness/energy levels.
  • Be True to You – don’t feel you have to do what everyone in your group is doing, it is your holiday so if you want to sleep, dance, be lazy, hit the gym – just do it! Perhaps discuss this up front.
  • Appointing a Leader – it’s great to appoint someone who is happy to wear the co-ordinator hat, research pricing for the cruise and shore tours and basically communicate it all to the group. Use What’s App!
  • Planning Ahead – we mentioned this earlier if it is a large group you will have a hard time getting the ship or cabin you may want, dinner reservations, shore tours etc.
  • Staying an Extra Night – if you are traveling from interstate or overseas, don’t book your flight to or from the ship on the same day as embarkation/disembarkation, anything can and does happen with travel and you may literally miss the boat!

Cruising for Christmas

 

Christmas Cruise     Christmas Cruise

If getting away for Christmas sounds like a good idea right 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’ 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, period
  • 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, caroling and storytelling

Cons

  • Because of 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)
  • 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 Cruise find out your Christmas cruises options, contact one of our travel specialists on 1300 766 537.

Why You Should Add Rail To Your Holiday Journey List

So Many Reasons to Explore the World By Rail

The wise old adage about the journey being more important than the destination, couldn’t be more appropriate for railway journey holidays. While epic odysseys such as the Trans-Siberian Express, the Alaska Railway or The Scottish Highlands are trips of a lifetime for many, there are also many adventures to discover throughout Australia.

Cruise Express has begun introducing rail as an add on to many of our cruising holidays. Many of the rail itineraries are exclusively organised by Cruise Express so are not available elsewhere. Below are a few good reasons Rail Journey Holidays are becoming more popular:

Nostalgic Charm – Restored heritage trains are a wonderful travel alternative, taking you through spectacular landscapes, culture and history. With a touch of romance, rail journey holidays will transport you into a bygone era when rail was a common way to travel.

Rail Journey Holidays - more popular than ever

Exclusive Destinations – Cruise Express is taking iconic trains to destinations that are often untouched by heritage rail tourism. Travel in comfort through majestic alpine scenery, along panoramic coastal routes, or spectacular gorges. Remote destinations can have limited or no access by road or sea, leaving rail the best way to meander through some of the world’s most stunning landscapes.

Immersion – While air travel may be a great way to arrive at your destination faster, there is so much of the sensory experience missed, including stops along the way to really immerse yourself in a local experience. Sit back, relax and watch the scenery, culture and history unfold all around you.

Relaxing Holiday – Rail travel is affordable, comfortable and relaxing with no airport transfers, jet lag or traffic to worry about. You have the choice to mingle with other friendly passengers, sit back and relax, stretch your legs and walk around, eat, drink or sleep – the choice is yours.

Rail Journey Holidays - more popular than ever

Care-free Holidays – Rail journey escorted tours are a perfect balance of inclusions and freedom for singles, friends, couples or families. Organised local tours offer unique insider perspectives, yet we recommend getting off the beaten track to create your own priceless memories.

Keeping Couples Happy – Combining rail and cruise is a great combination for couples that don’t necessarily agree on the best way to travel – be adventurous and try both – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Financially Friendly – Most of the holiday costs are covered in a rail or rail and sail holiday. All inclusions are clearly defined in your itinerary to make budgeting easier. Enjoy the comforts of a premium holiday for exceptional value, and let Cruise Express take care of the rest!

Quality Inclusions – Cruise Express tours are like no other, offering unique experiences including Platinum Class travel, exclusive food and wine tours, private dinners, concierge services, and ship vantage points on Sydney Harbour for one of the world’s most spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Remember, when the whistle sounds and the wheels turn, your adventures begin.

Call Cruise Express today on 1300 766 537 or see our list of rail journeys here to have your own rail experience!

Rail Journey Holidays - more popular than ever

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.