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

 

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.

Music Cruises Top the Charts

If a cruise sounds like an appealing holiday, try fully immersing yourself in a music cruise adventure as you sail away with your favourite artists.

Music-themed cruises continue to grow in popularity throughout the world, and Australia is no exception. Since introducing these toe-tapping itineraries to our clients, we have seen overall demand double, with many repeat bookings over the years.

Some of these sell-out music cruises are returning year after year, with one much-loved cruise having launched its eighth consecutive year, one boasting over 40 artists on a mere 7-night cruise!

Why So Popular

An outstanding variety of performers over recent years have included Lee Kernaghan, John Williamson, Status Quo, Jose Carreras, Marina Prior, KC and the Sunshine Band, Boney M, Marcia Hines and Dame Kiri te Kanawa…there really is something for everyone.

A music cruise offers complete immersion in your favourite music, combined with enjoying cruise ship experiences and offerings, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, plus the excitement of traveling to new places. Themes vary but often include country & western, retro 70s and 80s, opera, hard rock, soft rock, rock & roll… the list goes on!

Many of the headline acts are also supported by well-loved bands and artists – a sensory delight for music fans of all walks and ages.  

These journeys can also include artist signings, meet-and-greets with your favourite bands and musical heroes, and endless concerts as you dance and singing to your heart’s content.

Indulge in your favorite onboard or onshore activities, and make friends with like-minded people as you party till the wee hours, the options are yours.

          Music Cruise               Music Cruise   

What Should I Expect?

A ridiculous amount of dancing and singing – bring comfortable shoes!

Some music cruises can be the whole themed festival at sea, and some can be part of the ship’s offering so you’ll mingle with others on the cruise who are not there for the music.

Drinks packages can be purchased pre-sail or once on board and we suggest exploring the option of escorted tours so you can really unwind and leave hassles behind. Depending on the theme of the cruise, you may also have access to VIP performances, workshops, lectures and presentations as well as exclusive onshore exhibitions and tours – all inclusive of your fare.

Most Music Cruise holidays offer daily performances and roving entertainment, port destinations, all meals (excluding specialty restaurants), entertainment, onboard gratuities and port fees. Drink packages are worth exploring and can be fantastic value if you are a ‘thirsty’ passenger.

Before you commit we recommend you take a good look into the package deal and offerings to make sure it’s right for you.

Hot music cruises in 2019?

Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts 2019 departing from Sydney for 7 nights on 12 November 2019 is proving popular as is Cruisin’ Country 2019 departing a month earlier on 19th October 2019. Rock the Boat 2019 has already sold out so don’t miss out on the others!

* Please see all our music cruise deals for more details as every package varies.

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