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

 

Cruising for Christmas

 

Christmas Cruise     Christmas Cruise

If getting away for Christmas sounds like a good idea 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’ appeals 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, full stop!
  • 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, carolling and storytelling

Cons

  • Due to 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 – we can help you with this)
  • 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 CruiseTo find out your Christmas cruises options, contact one of our travel specialists on 1300 766 537 or email info@cruiseexpress.com.au.