Canadian Rockies and Alaska – A Winning Combination
A Review on One of the World's Most Desired Destinations I was recently on a cruise tour of the Canadian Rockies and Alaska – and it still...Read more
As the old saying goes, we can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends – and let’s face it, everything’s better with friends – they get us (and forgive us)!
On a cruise holiday, your friends are there to share when you order everything on the main menu, they are on your team for trivia, your dance and silent disco partners, as well as backup singers for karaoke.
Cruising with friends is not just the basis for a wonderful time, they keep us in a holiday mindset and together, you’ll create memories to talk about for decades to come.
The Best of Everything
The best thing about cruising is that it offers something for everyone, and you don’t have to do everything together all the time. On your days at sea, or in port you could go in different directions, and still meet up for a cocktail and dinner in the evening, and then explore the shows and nightlife.
Depending on the type of cruise, duration and number of friends you are travelling with, a cruise holiday overall requires less organising, so no-one has to be the coordinator!
Although specialty dining, dining times, and shore or self-tours are something you may want to consider planning before you go so as to avoid any issues onboard, particularly if you are with a large group, numbers may be tricky to book for at the last minute. Your trusty cruise specialist travel agent (i.e. us!) can help with this.
You have a Security Blanket if Cruising Makes you Nervous
Having a friend to help keep you calm or make you laugh when the waves are rocking the boat a little too much is priceless.
If you are away on a longer trip, having a friend or two can help feelings of being homesick. Not only do they get you, but they’ll also get your ‘Aussieness’, and most importantly, understand why you miss Vegemite!
Your Kids have BYO Friends
If you are traveling with other families, the kids usually know each other and are hopefully on good terms. Depending on the age of the children and your need for a little time-out, there can often be no need for kids clubs when they have friends from home to hang out with.
Ring in the Holiday Festivities
A cruise with friends can be so much more than a relaxing (or partying) trip to the islands. Festivities from across many cultures and continents are celebrated onboard most cruise lines, including Valentine’s Day, Sunday Super Bowl, Dr Suess’ Birthday, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and even Cinco de Mayo.
Don’t forget your fancy dress outfit if you are really planning on getting into it!
Love of Themed Cruising
Increasingly popular are an almost countless number of ‘themed’ cruises being offered on the high seas. If you have friends who have the same interest as you, this may be a great option for you to consider.
Themed cruise holidays range from food and wine appreciation to rock, operatic and country music cruises, holistic/wellness, yoga, astronomy, political, religious, LGBT, golf, history, gardening, poker, crochet, fashion, fitness, and sci-fi themed (to name a few). There are even nude cruises!
Plan Well to Avoid Pitfalls
While travelling with friends (or family) with no one having to cook, clean or think too much, can seem like a great idea, we do recommend a few things so that this isn’t the first or last one you have together. Before you go, please consider:
- Differences – interests, budgets, travel style, ability and fitness/energy levels.
- Be True to You – don’t feel you have to do what everyone in your group is doing, it is your holiday so if you want to sleep, dance, be lazy, hit the gym – just do it! Perhaps discuss this up front.
- Appointing a Leader – it’s great to appoint someone who is happy to wear the co-ordinator hat, research pricing for the cruise and shore tours and basically communicate it all to the group. Use What’s App!
- Planning Ahead – we mentioned this earlier if it is a large group you will have a hard time getting the ship or cabin you may want, dinner reservations, shore tours etc.
- Staying an Extra Night – if you are traveling from interstate or overseas, don’t book your flight to or from the ship on the same day as embarkation/disembarkation, anything can and does happen with travel and you may literally miss the boat!
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!
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 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.
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.
Cruise Express Crochet Cruise Host
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.|
Make the Most of Arrival Day to Ensure A Great Start to Your Holiday!
Here are some tips on what to do on embarkation day…
It’s the big day you’ve been looking forward to for so long – the day you board your cruise ship. We suggest you arrive early (Unless you’ve been given a specific time to board) to maximise your organisational time onboard before sailing. If you come too early you may find you’ve joined what can often be a long queue of early birds keen to get onboard first. Time your arrival at the terminal just after the boarding period starts so the line-up has mostly cleared.
- Unpack your belongings in the cabin as soon as your luggage arrives so you can feel settled as soon as possible. Check the TV channels in your stateroom so you can find relaxing music to play to put you in a cruising mood as soon as possible.
- Introduce yourself to your cabin steward and make any special requests you have.
- In your carry-on bag, pack a change of clothing and swimsuit so you can feel comfortable if it’s warm and take a dip in the ship’s pools and spas when they are crowd-free on embarkation day. You’ll feel like the cruise has already started!
- Enjoy lunch on board the ship – remember that the buffet can often be crowded on embarkation day, so see if the ship’s other restaurants are open. If lunching at the buffet, take your meal outdoors to the pool areas where there is often more room.
- Take a walk around the ship to get your bearings and check on opening and closing times for the gym, pools, kids clubs and shops etc.
- Check out the ship’s schedule of events left in your cabin so you can see what’s on today and familiarise yourself with the layout of the daily bulletin.
- Book gym classes, spa sanctuary sessions and any adult/premium deck areas for the cruise to ensure you secure your spots early. Shore tours can book out very quickly so if you haven’t done so already get onto that today.
- The purser’s desk on boarding day can be very busy – leave any inquiries until the next day if you can or use the phone in your cabin to contact reception.
- Bring a calculator and work out if the onboard drink packages are good value for you.
- See the maitre d’ at the designated times he or she is available as advertised in the ship’s newsletter if you wish to change your allocated dining times.
- The lifts can be very busy on embarkation day as luggage is loaded and passenger explore the ship so take the stairs if you can.
- Take time to stroll onto the open decks to enjoy the excitement of sail away time as your ship officially begins your dream voyage.
We’re here to chat about these suggestions and so much more to make your cruise a holiday of a lifetime. Call us 1300 766 537 or visit our website.
A Review on One of the World’s Most Desired Destinations
I was recently on a cruise tour of the Canadian Rockies and Alaska – and it still rates for me as the second best holiday ever – after my honeymoon!
So when we’re asked at Cruise Express about our favourite cruise destinations, the answer for me is always easy – the Canadian Rockies and Alaska. Why? Just look at any brochure for a combination cruise tour to the Canadian Rockies and Alaska and it’s obvious.
Nature drank a lot of coffee when she designed these two epic destinations. Twice as big as Texas, Alaska is a pristine paradise overflowing with grand glaciers, mighty mountains, fir forests that stretch forever and wondrous wildlife – plus near 24-hour daylight in the northern summer to see it in all its glory.
Whenever stressed, I close my eyes and imagine I am back in Alaska on the deck of a liner, gazing at the wilderness and drinking it all in. For me, Alaska and its unspoiled beauty evoke emotions that make me want to go back. Add a dose of ‘Rocky Mountain High’ vaccine to your Alaska cruise and you have a prescription for one truly breathtaking holiday.
I’ve cruised in Alaska three times and on one of those trips, I had the fortune of preceding my cruise with a rail and coach tour from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies. Wow – what an experience!
We started in Vancouver, one of the world’s prettiest harbour cities, and took the bucket-list Rocky Mountaineer train to Jasper following a picture postcard route snaking through towering peaks. We enjoyed the view from domed glass ceilings on two-storey carriages affording stunning views in all directions. Just don’t drink too much water. Pity the traveller on the Rocky Mountaineer who goes to the restroom and comes back to hear fellow passengers spotted a whole family of brown bears waving at the train! Or so they’ll tell you!
Both the grand Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, with its steaming hot outdoor pool, and the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise with those awesome views, have to be seen to be believed. Many travellers to the Rockies just take pictures of these famous hotels but Cruise Express staff can help you to actually stay there in premium, view rooms.
The best thing about combining the Canadian Rockies and Alaska in the one holiday is that after you return from the Rockies to Vancouver, the adventure is only half over as a luxury, week-long cruise to Alaska is still ahead of you.
It’s hard to find a week-long cruise as perfect as one to Alaska, with an idyllic mix of ports, scenic cruising past glaciers and relaxed days at sea. I love the three main Alaskan ports of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway with their gold rush saloons, frontier spirit, colourful, indigenous Tlingit culture and the majesty of the mountains just a few streets away. The highlight, of course is Glacier Bay where massive glaciers thunder into the fjord. What a thrill! You won’t want to be inside playing bingo on that day!
For a more detailed review of cruising in Alaska click here for another blog post.
Combining the Canadian Rockies and Alaska is a real feast for the senses and having done it myself, I can only say: do yourself a favour and treat yourself to one of the best holidays ever. You’ll be escorted by friendly tour hosts, almost everything is included and everything is looked after from start to finish. You don’t even have to carry your bags between hotels, trains, ships and airports.
Click here for information or call Cruise Express today on 1300 766 537 and speak to one of our travel specialists to find out how you can begin planning your dream trip of a lifetime.