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.
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!
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.
- 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.
- Introduce yourself to your cabin steward and make any special requests you have.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bring a calculator and work out if the onboard drink packages are good value for you.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Cruise Express Director, Hardy Schneider’s passion is travel and has been fortunate enough to have been doing this for over 40 years. He has a few pearls of wisdom to share…
First, Business or Economy (and why)?
Because I spend up to six months overseas every year hosting and managing our tour groups, I generally travel in Business Class so I can be fresh on arrival and hit the ground running.
Most frequented destination?
Europe, where we host most of our cruise tours, is my main destination with three visits there this year but this year I am also managing tours in the UK, Africa, India, South America and even Antarctica so, yes, I do get around this planet a fair bit!
If I ran my own airline I would…(tell us what you would do differently or better than the way airlines are currently run)
So many airlines are paring back their onboard offerings to cut costs but I think it’s the little touches like a sparkling wine before take-off that passengers really appreciate and miss when it’s taken away which seems to have happened on many airlines recently. Personally, I love carriers that provide passengers with pyjamas so you don’t have to sleep in the clothes you wear on arrival. Little pleasures can make a real difference and I think there is a market segment willing to pay a little more for premium service.
Where’s the worst place you’ve been lost?
I don’t usually get lost but I was once hosting one of our cruise tour groups in Egypt and after I told all our guests, who were heading off for some shopping time in the bustling Grand Bazaar in Cairo, to meet the bus at a designated spot outside the bazaar, I quickly got lost in the bazaar myself. I was hassled by so many hawkers that I lost all sense of direction in the maze of alleyways. I had no idea where I was. It was like a scene from the ‘Life of Brian’, with goats being slaughtered and blacksmiths working on fires all around me. I am very meticulous with time and duty so I was determined to meet our passengers back at the bus on time. Luckily, a local pointed me back to the spot and I arrived just in time but in a lather of sweat although I doubt any of the guests would have known of my preceding panic!
Most memorable overseas dining?
I will never forget the moment a waiter on the five-star Silver Spirit grabbed a huge sword off the wall and swiftly and very spectacularly sliced off the head of our bottle of champagne for an anniversary our party was celebrating. Don’t try that at home! A breakfast on a boat in the Amazon jungle was pretty surreal but another memorable meal was a lunch at Le Train Bleu – the extravagant restaurant inside Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris where English royalty used to dine between trains. It’s the same restaurant featured in the film, ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’, but my experience there was much more refined and relaxed! But my all-time favourite culinary experience can be found at Paul Bocuse’s fine dining restaurant in Lyon, France.
What’s in the suitcase?
There’s always far too much in my suitcase. You would think that after directing so many tours for 15 years I would learn but I often give Imelda Marcos a run for her money with all the shoes I bring. I pack lots of overseas adaptors – to give to our clients who have forgotten theirs – and also our little Cruise Express mascot, ‘Duck’, who travels with us everywhere and insists on being photographed at famous places around the world.
How do you make the most of a spare afternoon in a strange city?
I love to walk so whenever I have a few spare hours I grab a map and advice from the hotel concierge and explore a city on foot. Paris and Vienna are two of my favourite places to wander around.
Any travel tips?
Never leave home without travel insurance and never stop exploring as much of the world as you can. It’s a wonderful planet we live on so travel with open eyes and a positive attitude because life is too short to look for negatives.
What technology do you use?
I bring my iPhone and laptop with me and use free wi-fi to keep in touch with our head office in Sydney.
Best overseas purchase?
If I brought souvenirs from all my trips, my home would be overflowing so I look for special pieces like a rug I bought in Turkey once. It’s in my bedroom so every time I wake up I am reminded of my time there.
Best travelling tale?
We are very passionate about service at Cruise Express but sometimes not everything goes to plan on tour like when a suitcase containing evening formal wear for one of our client couples went missing just before we boarded Queen Mary 2 in Cape Town. I was determined for the bag to turn up so the couple could enjoy the ship’s famous black tie events so I hit the phones, went to the airport cargo area and spent hours tracking the bag from Johannesburg to Cape Town. I was told there was no way the bag could make the ship before we sailed but I spoke to a cargo worker in charge who promised he would have a driver on standby to rush the suitcase to the ship. The ship’s crew were starting to remove the gangways but just as the life boat drill finished I saw the courier car arrive at the wharf. I dashed off the ship and picked up the suitcase. While I was last to board, I had the suitcase finally in my hand. What a relief!
Best thing about travelling?
Visiting new and exciting places and immersing yourself in diverse cultures is a great learning experience but for me the greatest gift of my travels are the amazing friendships you make abroad with locals and also our tour guests. They start as customers and end a tour as family and friends.
Top travel gripe?
Visas are a real hassle to deal with and I don’t like being called an ‘alien’ in airport immigration queues!
If you would like to book a trip with Hardy and his wealth of knowledge, please contact Cruise Express on 1300 766 537.