There’s more to it than meets the eye!
Those who have never been on a river cruise may have preset views of what it entails. We are here to bust some myths so it becomes a holiday considered by everyone!
River cruising is for older people only
You probably already know this but cruising (in all its forms) is booming globally. Things are changing too, especially when it comes to river cruising. The average age for cruising is falling and cruise lines are providing more choices and activities including long-walking shore tours, hiking, kayaking, cycling, yoga and gym sessions. River cruising really has a place for everyone – the young and the old, singles, couples or families. There are even river cruise lines that specialise in family travel or travel for the under 45’s. For those content with the non-active kind of holiday, you can still do as little or as much as you like on a river cruise. It’s really all about options.
River cruises are prohibitively expensive
With any holiday (as with pretty much most things in life), some are expensive and some are not. There are so many river cruise companies with some offering budget and others luxurious options. You just need to ask our team of Cruise Travel Specialists to find out the range of holidays available and what’s included. Those on a budget can find great deals that might surprise and many of the more traditionally ‘expensive’ luxury cruises also offer great value packages so don’t dismiss them.
If you compare cruising with a ‘non-cruising’ holiday, we urge you to factor in the actual costs and time taken to arrange flights, transfers, car hire, accommodation, meals, drinks, tours etc. If you really do the maths, you’ll find that river cruises are actually great value, particularly as many include gratuities, entertainment, shore tours, airport transfers, sometimes flights and even drink packages!
If you only think of the Rhine or the Danube when it comes to river cruising – we are here to let you know that there are many, many more options!
River cruising is possible throughout most of the world but if we’re staying in Europe, we suggest considering checking out river cruising in Spain, Hungary, Ukraine, Portugal or the many rivers throughout Russia.
Further afield you could consider these too – the Mississippi, the Nile, the Mekong, the Amazon, the Chobe, the Irrawaddy, the Yangtze and the Ganges – so exciting just thinking about the possibilities!
Similarly to larger ocean cruise ships, no two river ships are the same, no destinations or experience is the same, no history, entertainment, food, culture, flora and fauna… the list goes on. River cruising is so diverse.
The reality of river cruising is that you can do as much or as little as you like. Many passengers find they have more to do than imagined, including onboard immersion and educational seminars. What you won’t be doing is the grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking and cleaning!
While you can certainly stay onboard while docked, many of the river ports you’ll visit will have sights and activities including markets and shopping, museums and monuments, castles and cathedrals, as well as great dining options and watering holes at your ‘boat step’.
Depending on the destination you can immerse yourself in the culture, history and nature on a shore tour – one is sure to tickle your fancy!
River cruising isn’t for families
This may have traditionally been a reality, but the industry has transformed with some river cruise lines offering multi-generational holidays, especially during school holiday peak periods. Catering to all generations, many now have interconnecting cabins and appropriate onboard activities and shore excursions.
This is such a wonderful way for children to experience travel, but keep in mind at the end of the day, the size of river cruise ships. It’s still not for those children who have excessive energy needing vast spaces to climb and run!
Good news though is that if holidaying with children isn’t your ‘cuppa tea’ – there are still a lot of journeys to choose from (and don’t go in school holidays), just ask one of our cruise travel specialists!
You’re always on tour
If you think river cruising is all about large tourist groups being guided around crowded markets, museums and cathedrals sends shivers down your spine, then we have good news! While that can be the case, it isn’t necessarily the norm. Onshore tours are always optional, they don’t run all day for the most part, and small group guided walks are often an alternative.
Remember you never HAVE to join an organised tour, it’s free choice. When river ships are docked, often for the day, you can join part of the tour or explore the town and surrounds by yourself – just don’t miss your transfer and/or ships departure as they won’t wait for you!
So now is the time to investigate river cruising! We’re here to help you with any query or booking. Just call 1300 766 537 or check out our latest river cruise delights!
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.|
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!
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
HALONG BAY, VIETNAM
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.
The California Zephyr – Heritage Rail Journey of a Bygone Era
a soft gentle breeze
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.
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!
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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