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...Read more
Why I think Alaska is the World’s Best Cruise Destination
Cruising to Alaska - Like No Place on Earth We all have our favourite cruise destinations and for me, with over 60 cruises around the world under...Read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cruising to Alaska – Like No Place on Earth
We all have our favourite cruise destinations and for me, with over 60 cruises around the world under my belt, Alaska is the best place on Earth to explore by ship.
Just thinking about the three Alaska cruises I have done with Princess Cruises makes me wistful and wanting to return soon. I even bought an Alaskan CD of nature-infused music on my last visit so I could relive the magic of this amazing place back home.
The Alaska summer cruise season runs from May to September during the warmer months in the northern hemisphere. Over one million people annually visit Alaska by cruise ship, with over a dozen cruise lines touring, including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.
Because so many cruise lines sail to Alaska, competition is fierce, making fares very affordable. Seven-night cruises are often available from under A$1200 per person, twin-share, but the price is not the only reason to cruise to Alaska.
Here are some other reasons why Alaska is an ideal cruise destination:
Best way to see Alaska – Due to the rugged nature of Alaska’s mountainous coastline, cruising is the best and easiest way to explore the USA’s biggest State. In fact, the coastline of Alaska is longer than the coasts of all the other US States combined. The Alaskan capital, Juneau, is so hemmed in by snow-capped peaks and the sea that there are no roads in or out of the city from other centres making cruising the best way togo. Cruising in Alaska is so accessible, simply fly directly from Australia into Vancouver and you’re onboard your cruise to Alaska.
The Scenery – Breathtakingly spectacular sums up Alaska. Abundant pine forests, towering, snow-cloaked mountains, mighty glaciers plummeting into the sea, glistening lakes and frontier gold towns with ‘wild west’ saloons. The famous Inside Passage that almost every Alaskan cruise traces is a maze of beautiful waterways lined by a thick green blanket of pines, cedars, firs and hemlocks. Your cruise ship will stop in front of a massive glacier in Glacier Bay so you can watch the awe-inspiring process of ‘calving’, where giant pillars of ice tumble into the ice-blue water in front of you.
The Wildlife – From the ship or ashore you are bound to see some of Alaska’s rich bounty of wildlife including whales, otters, bears, deer, caribou, moose, bison, eagles and salmon.
The Culture – Alaska boasts a rich fabric of native Indian and Eskimo cultures, showcased in recreated villages and colourful song and dance shows that cruise passengers can visit.
Short Cruises – Most Alaskan cruises are seven nights long, with three ports (such as Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway) and three days at sea (including sailing close to glaciers) so there’s an ideal mix of days ashore and relaxing time at sea – the perfect cruise as it were. You can choose from round-trip cruises from ports such as Vancouver and Seattle or one-way cruises between Vancouver/Seattle and Anchorage (using the ports of Seward or Whittier), with a connecting flight back.
Great Ports – There may be three or more ships docked at the ports but each destination is filled with colour, excitement, wonder – and lots of shopping. A stroll along the restored frontier-era storefronts and saloons of Skagway will take you back to the days of the Klondike Gold Rush. Lofty peaks loom over beautiful Juneau where a stop at the traditional Red Dog Saloon with its straw floor will have you singing along with the guitar player. While in Ketchikan, we recommend visiting the river brimming with Salmon, and take a stroll along historic Creek Street, a former red light district during the Gold Rush.
Great Shore Tours – You are spoilt for choice when it comes to land excursions in Alaska – everything from native Indian cultural parks filled with colourful totem poles, kayaking trips with whales and sled rides on glaciers to salmon bakes at remote lodges, a scenic ride on the historic White Pass Railway, seaplane flights to far-flung fjords, glacier climbing and trips to see wild bears catch jumping salmon.
Land of the Midnight Sun – Because Alaska is so far north, you can enjoy extra long days of sunlight, daylight 24 hours a day during the summer solstice on June 21. Walking around the deck at 11pm after dinner and seeing Alaska in all her glory in muted daylight is a real thrill. Despite what you may think, Alaska is not that cold in summer, with average temperatures up to 18 degrees Celsius.
Add-on Tours – After travelling to North America for a seven-night Alaskan cruise we recommend visiting Canadian Rockies from Vancouver or Seattle. Alternatively, the wild interior of Alaska, including the wildlife-rich Denali National Park, from Anchorage is stunning. You could also bookend your cruise with both destinations! The major cruise lines run their own rail and coach tours through Alaska – and several run their own wilderness lodges. No matter which tour you add on, this is an unforgettable holiday!
Top 10 Alaska Cruise Tips
1. Vancouver is my tip for boarding your Alaskan cruise – spend a day before you board to explore this beautiful harbour city.
2. One of the best itineraries is the seven-day Gulf of Alaska cruise, one-way between Vancouver/Seattle and Anchorage. This cruise takes you further north to the fascinating city of Anchorage as well as the stunning College Fjord, renowned for showcasing the world’s biggest collection of tidewater glaciers.
3. The shoulder seasons of May and September can be colder and wetter but also more affordable but June-August are warmer, with lots more daylight – but also busier.
4. In Juneau, buy your own ticket up the Mt Roberts tramway to the top of the mountain for panoramic views. Enjoy a helicopter flight that lands on the glaciers and before returning to the ship, but make sure you stop off for a pint of local lager at the foot-stomping Red Dog Saloon.
5. When visiting the tourist strips of ports like Ketchikan, take time to stroll along streets back from the main shopping centres so you can get a better, more authentic feel for how Alaskans live.
6. Ride the White Pass Railroad in Skagway up through the mountains and if you can make the take time to walk through the nearby pine forests, dotted with lakes throughout – you won’t be disappointed. Quench your thirst at the fun Red Onion Saloon in town before heading back to your ship.
7. Although you see lots of snow and ice in Alaska, the pools onboard your ship are warm and the jacuzzis are hot. There’s nothing like soaking in a steaming, outdoor spa, drink in hand as you watch the spectacular scenery float by. You might get funny looks from other rugged-up passengers but you’ll be the one having all the fun!
8. Bring some binoculars with you so you can look out for bears and whales from the ship.
9. Highly recommended before or after your cruise is an add-on rail/coach tour through the Canadian Rockies and/or the interior of Alaska to the wonderful Denali National Park – home to North America’s highest mountain, Mt McKinley.
10. Book your Alaska cruise holiday, including your flights, through Cruise Express who can organise all the details and book you the best deal – and take time also to also check our 24/7 self serve ‘look and book’ page on our website.
Call our team on 1300 766 537 or visit our website for more information!
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…
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.