Hook up with Moira!

Are you a ‘happy hooker’?

Below is a blog written by Moira, our crochet cruise host, for those who are lovers of cruising and crochet (French for ‘hook’). You may not realise what a sensational combo these activities make! We have now made it a reality – all aboard the Cruise Express Crochet Cruise!

Cruising

I believe everyone deserves to cruise at least once in their life and when they do, they are bound to get ‘hooked’, resulting in a lifelong love affair of the cruise experience. So this is how it was for me! I can’t tell you which cruise line or ship I love the most as all cruise lines have something unique to offer, though I am quite partial to a wrap-around, teak promenade deck.

With more than 35 cruises under my belt, I once took some cross-stitch with me and it was then that I realised this was my favourite kind of holiday – guilt-free craft time as I was sailing to sunny destinations – bliss!

Crochet

Crochet is a wonderfully fulfilling and forgiving craft and, with its global resurgence in the last couple of years, has certainly evolved from the daggy granny squares associated with crochet to what is now known as ‘the yoga of craft’, with practical artworks created.

Youtube was my reintroduction to crochet, with many wonderful tutorials there to help guide me. I go into my own little world of mindfulness the moment I have a crochet hook in my hands. Even so, as my WIPs (“work in progress”) became beautiful creations and I enjoyed the zen of something growing in my hands, I craved community, a ‘hook and natter’ so to speak. And that’s where crochet cruising comes into its element.  

Reflecting on our first two  Cruise Express crochet cruises last year,  I am left smiling. To craft solo is lovely, to be in a room with a sea view and brimming with fellow crafters is just splendid.

Crochet Cruising with Cruise Express in October 2019

The cruise package is unique with ALL workshops available to ALL crocheters. Everything is supplied and some coveted hooker tools are included as part of the package.

All our crocheters (hookers) have to do is pack a bag, bring a friend or hubby and come aboard – EVERYTHING plus more is supplied.

Hookers are a hoot of course! Always generous with their time and knowledge, kind and with a delicious, self-deprecating sense of humour.

 A Day at Sea

On our recent crochet cruises, the daily rhythm was quickly established with a morning welcome from with myself, morning workshops and afternoon workshops run by our crochet teachers (including Emily Littlefair of The Loopy Stitch) and lots of social, hooking time.

Our room was set up for both workshops, retail therapy and social hooking and was utilised for about 14 hours a day – stormy day shawls, crossover vests and broom stitch bags were created as new friendships were forged.

It was not all hooking though. We enjoyed spa centre massages, hairdressing appointments, shopping, dining, hot tubbing, swimming, strolling, world-class shows, cocktail hour and shore tours, to name a few activities.

Crochet Cruise

A Day in Port

Shore tours were quickly followed by social hookups as, like homing pigeons, our hookers found their way back to our workshop room at the top of the ship. Much laughter, conversation and show and tell was then followed by a good time before pre-dinner cocktails, dinner and of course a show.

Ahhhhh the life of a cruiser!! Cruising and crochet are a match made in heaven!

I look forward to hookin’ the high seas with you soon – click here to enquire about securing your cabin today on our October 2019 cruise or call a cruise crocheting specialist on 1300 766 537.

Moira Mevissen

Cruise Express Crochet Cruise Host

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.

 

Top 10 Reasons Women Love Cruising More than Men

Enjoy this fun but true compilation of why women love cruising!

1. No cooking.
2. No cleaning.
3. No grocery shopping to do – just shopping for jewellery and perfume in the ship’s shops!
4. You get served by waiters, barmen, butlers and cabin stewards.
5. Bingo every day.
6. It’s totally relaxing, with non-stop pampering and nothing to do but have fun.
7. There are lots of cocktails to try and no-one bats an eyelid if you start sampling before noon!
8. There’s lots onboard the ship for the male partner to do on his own and for the woman to do by herself and lots to do together so everyone’s happy.
9. Your adult children can’t turn up with their kids for you to look after!
10. There’s a spa sanctuary onboard that you can use every day.

The One Thing you Should Never Travel Without!

 

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!

Interview with our Director

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.