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International Cruises: What To Expect When You Get Off The Boat

Taking a cruise to a foreign country can be a new and exciting experience if you have never traveled abroad. There are plenty of new sights to see and things to try, but there are also dangers that naïve travelers must be aware of. When traveling internationally there are a number of things to take into consideration that will make your vacation even more enjoyable.

When traveling internationally on a cruise it might be a good idea to invest in travel insurance. Not only does travel insurance protect you from any unexpected cancellations, which can be important since cruises abroad can be more costly than domestic rates, but travel insurance can come in handy in other ways as well. Before leaving check into your medical insurance plan to find out if you are covered in foreign countries. Some insurance plans do not cover medical expenses in foreign countries and in some cases insurance plans are not accepted by foreign hospitals. In case of medical emergency while you are away, travel insurance policies can be purchased to cover any unforeseen medical costs that may occur while you are traveling.

Make sure you get to the boat early. In today’s world, there are a number of security precautions and safety measures that are taken before you are allowed to board any mode of public transportation. This means that you will need plenty of time to check your bags and get through security before your boat leaves. If you end up having a little extra time before you board your cruise, most shipping docks have areas where travelers can wait for their cruises to leave. It is better to have a little extra time than to miss your boat. Also, be sure to have your boarding pass and passport handy so you can get them checked quickly and easily rather than having to search through your bags for them.

If you are traveling abroad for the first time, beware of scams that many international travelers unfortunately fall prey to. There are a number of smalltime thieves that lurk in areas where cruise ships dock, waiting to make unsuspecting passengers their next victims. Make sure to keep your bags in sight at all times, to avoid getting anything stolen. Also, be sure to only keep items you will really need in your wallet during your trip. Try not to carry a lot of unnecessary items with you. It is also a good idea to lock all baggage that you bring with you.

It is a smart idea to make copies of all important documents before your trip. You should make photocopies of your passport, credit cards, medical prescriptions, and your medical insurance information. Photocopying your credit cards will allow you to have images of them if they happen to be lost or stolen during your trip. You will have the numbers, expiration dates and the phone number to call if you do misplace them. By copying medical prescriptions you are able to have the information for any medications you might need during your trip. Medication bottles are small and can easily be misplaced. It is important to always have your medical insurance information with you in case of any medical emergencies. Of course, as previously mentioned, you should make sure that your medical insurance fully covers any medical expenses in other countries before departing on your trip. If it does not cover you, travel insurance might be a smart choice for you.

Make sure you know the currency conversions between American dollars and the currency of the country you are visiting. Make sure you are visiting places that will accept your credit cards or make certain that you have enough local currency on you for any expenses. You will also want to look into places to exchange your currency. Different places offer different rates of conversion. Banks are typically the best bet, as they usually offer the best rates. However, it is smart to look into this and do some research before your trip. Another option is traveler’s checks, which can be purchased from your local bank prior to your trip, and can be used anywhere.

The most important tip for people planning to travel abroad is to have fun and enjoy the trip. For most people it is not everyday that they get to visit a foreign country, so try your best to take in as many sights as possible and don’t forget your camera.

Family Cruising Enjoys Wave Of Popularity

Family cruising is enjoying a wave of popularity. There’s good reason. Cruise lines now feature a cornucopia of family fun, including sports, art activities, planetarium shows, disco parties, pizza fests, ice skating, youth Olympics, rock climbing, scavenger hunts, wildlife exploration and much more.

Family travel is on an upsurge, according to the Travel Industry Association, with one in four household trips-or more than 170.1 million- including children under 18.

The experts at Travelers Advantage offer these tips and trips for the ultimate family cruise:

Family Cruise Tips:

• Be sure the kids’ programs are operating on the dates of your trip.

• Check the size and location of the cabin, and the guardrails on the bunks.

• Some ships have cabins that can sleep five; some have adjoining cabins; some give special rates for a second cabin for teens.

• Check required documentation for your children (ID, etc.).

• You never know when illness might hit your household and change your plans, so check cancellation fees and fees for changing dates. Trip-cancellation insurance may be worth the price.

Family Cruise Trips:

• Royal Caribbean International

There are a number of fun and educational complimentary programs including Adventure Ocean, a program for ages 3 to 12 and teens from 13 to 17 with special meals and play areas. The program has supervised activities for day and night. It includes educational entertainment programs and special menus.

• Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival will host 525,000 kids this year on its “Fun Ships.” These vessels offer parties, special performances by entertainers, ship tours for kids and teen shore excursions, face painting, scavenger hunts, talent shows, photography workshops, art classes and waterslides.

• Disney Cruise Line

As you’d expect, families will find special facilities and activities with Disney Cruise Line, all beautifully executed. There’s an entire deck for kids, with a large staff, age-specific programs, and hands-on activities.

Other family-friendly cruise lines include Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Cruise Into the New Year on a Memorable Yacht with All of Your Friends

The arrival of a new year always inspires optimism and excitement. The struggles or concerns of the previous year can be washed away and hope can be renewed as the calendar turns and all dreams become possible once more. One reason New Year’s Eve is such an endearing holiday is that there is a sense of fellowship and belief in the air, the idea that one journey is over and an exciting new one is set to begin.

Don’t leave such a crucial day of the year to chance: Spend your New Year’s Eve on a beautiful, luxurious yacht, cruising around New York. Leave the music to the experts and get your groove on all night long. Arrange for the catering of sumptuous food and an open bar to keep the party going the right way and say goodbye to the previous year in impressive fashion. Stroll the outside decks under the stars while you check out the Big Apple landmarks that drift past. Cast your worries to the wind as you let fully licensed and accredited captains pilot the yacht with confidence and ease.

Ring in the new year in a memorable, dramatic way. You’ll have a host of great photo opportunities, all the amenities you could ever need, a group of wonderful friends, an inviting dance floor … all you would want to ensure a successful party that you will never want to end.

Marco Polo Cruises has been the premier yacht charter company throughout New York and New Jersey for 15 years. We work with your schedule, group size, preferences, tastes and budget to design a cruise that will match all your expectations. You can set your own cruise time without worrying about the weather; our enclosed boats protect against any type of inclement weather.

Look around our site to familiarize yourself with our offerings. Contact Marco Polo Cruises at 1-212-691-6693 for further information.

Bring a Fraternity and Sorority Together with a Great Formal on a New York Yacht

One of the many highlights of Greek life is the ubiquitous formal, when fraternities and sororities gather to mix, form friendships and share memorable times. Instead of renting out a hall, hiring a caterer, arranging for bar service, finding a DJ or band, and all the other necessities that go along with planning such a huge event, consider letting someone else handle all of the details with a luxurious cruise around New York.

Let fully-licensed and accredited captains-certified by the Coast Guard-handle the driving all night long, while you put your feet up with a drink or stay on your feet all night long on the dance floor. Enjoy some of the finest DJs and bartenders the Big Apple has to offer and just let the night take its own course without any worries or concerns.

Take that special acquaintance out on one of the outdoor decks for a stroll under the stars. Grab her hand and take her for a spin on the dance floor or sit down quietly with a drink from the bar and get to know each other better. However you prefer to pursue new friendships, you’ll have the opportunity to do just that while you cruise around New York.

From Ellis Island to South Street Seaport, from Governor’s Island to Chelsea Piers, from New York Harbor to the East River, you’ll see all the amazing sights that New York has to offer. Make sure your next fraternity/sorority formal is one for the books with an affordable, all-inclusive cruise!

Marco Polo Cruises understand the value of having a courteous, professional crew that will ensure your safety, comfort and enjoyment. We’ll bring you all the incredible views of New York-all you have to do is relax!

Learn more about how to set up a fantastic fraternity and sorority formal by clicking around our Web site. Call us at 1-212-691-6693 to find out more about our services.

Healthy Cruise Travel Tips

Taking the advice of well-traveled cruisers is the best thing for first time cruise passengers to do. After all, why not learn from someone else’s mistakes or mishaps? Of course, you will still have a few of your own, but that is what makes your first cruising experience memorable.

You’ve got your cruise booked and are counting the days until you set sail. However, there are a few things for you to do before you even start to think about packing. Check with the cruise line to see what vaccinations, if any, are needed for your journey. You’ll have to make a trip to your doctor to get current on any shots.

While you are at the doctor, ask them about tips on staying healthy and avoiding the flu or colds before you depart for your cruise. It is no fun having to travel sick or canceling all together. Also ask about seasickness remedies. Some of these medications are prescription only.

Stock up on any other prescription medications just in case they are scheduled to run out during your trip. Often, insurance companies will make exceptions and allow a prescription to be refilled early if you are traveling with no access to a chain pharmacy. One last thing – get a letter from your doctor on official letterhead listing your prescriptions and stating that they were all legitimately prescribed for you. If you have to go through customs, a letter will sometimes keep you from being detained while your medication is inspected.

If you are on a special diet, let the cruise line be aware of this fact when you book your cruise. Most diets are easily accommodated, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. A few weeks before you depart, check in with the cruise line again to go over your reservations and special needs diet.

Pack a small first aid kit for those “just in case” emergencies. Include antacids and anti-diarrhea medications for those episodes of “Montezuma’s Revenge” that seem to strike no matter where you travel. Aspirin, antibiotic cream and aloe vera gel for sunburns also come in handy.

Stow away sunscreen, moisturizer and lip balm in your luggage too. When you are having too much fun outdoors, you tend to forget things like sunburn. Be sure to apply the sunscreen lotion before heading outdoors. Moisturizer and lip balm keep your skin soft. Sometimes the temperature changes from the cold air conditioner to the heat outside can wreak havoc on the skin and dry it out.

In addition to the sunscreen, protect your skin by wearing hats and sunglasses. When you are on the ship’s deck gazing at the waves, the sun’s reflection off the water can be pretty bright. The sunglasses will protect you from harmful UV rays from the sun. Of course, the hats will shield you from the sun’s rays and possible sunburn on your ears and face, two places that people sometimes forget to apply sunscreen lotion.

With the right preparation and precautions, you are well on your way to a healthy and happy first cruise. And when in doubt about something, ask your cruise line. They want to make sure your cruising experience is trouble-free. After all, they want you to sail with them again.

Caribbean Cruise: Choosing The Line That Fits You

A longed for retreat is shared in the bright days of Caribbean. The beaches, the foods and all! What more would you ask?

The Caribbean is among the most in demand tourist spots in the world. So it is not surprising to see millions of vacationers flocking the Caribbean Islands.

Caribbean cruises are very popular as well. Cruising along the islands give vacationers the rare chance of exploring the entire wonders of this top class destination. Added to it are the fun that cruising entails; leisure at ones fingertips and luxury on the other.

Planning to go aboard a Caribbean Cruise is much easier compared to the hassles back then. Most Caribbean cruises have online portals, which make them easier to reach. Tour planners are sure to help you in your schemes with just a click of the button. They provide help that would be more than welcome especially on vacation periods when tourists abound.

While there may be a number of Caribbean cruises available at any time of the year, vacation periods are expected to be booked much earlier than normal. This then can make accommodations a challenge. You can access their web portals online and book instantly. However, you also must be choosy in the Caribbean cruise that you would want to book into.

The competition for taking the most number of passengers seems to be the ultimate motto for all cruise liners. In here, don’t get trapped with the confusion of the game. Evaluate your purpose.

First, are you traveling with the family? Then it wise that you take a Caribbean cruise that will accommodate the youngest member up to the oldest of your party.

Check the facilities available. There are cruises that have equipments for childcare while there are those that does not have any.

Check also their programs for young adults and elders. With this, it would be a great idea to go on deck a Disney Cruise line where especially designed activities are made for both toddlers and teenagers. There are also themed presentations that focus on family.

Traveling on a budget? Caribbean cruises can also accommodate you with lines of medium-priced ships. However for those traveling without their minds on spending money, you will be amazed by the selections of cruises that will give you the best of everything, except only the entire sea! Take note of liners, which give high-end accommodations like the Queen Mary II or the Silversea.

Yet, prior to any decision it is wise to get as much information as you would prefer to really know the differences of each cruise.

Each one in the lines of Caribbean cruises are made to cater individual needs while providing you options for ideal combinations of activities and prices and destination stops. Whether you are traveling on extravagance, touring with your family or simply would want to get away with the one you love, Caribbean cruises are sure to provide you with whatever you require.

There are basically two types of Caribbean cruises: the contemporary or value class and the Supreme or Luxury class.

The most popular among the contemporary class are the Royal Caribbean and Carnival, which cover almost the full section of the industry. These are especially created for the vacationers who are on the budget and for famous holidays.

Premium cruise lines on the other hand, offer superiority of service that is incomparable elsewhere however, they are considerably smaller in size. These include cruise lines such as Cunard and Seabourn that are among the most well known members of the industry.

For people who have the idea of making a Caribbean trip unique, there are cruises that cover especial tours in spots that are not normally reached by other cruise lines.

How To Live On A Cruise Ship Part Time

There has been a lot of buzz lately about living on a Cruise Ship full time as an alternative to living in a retirement home.

However, I don’t think it would be very exciting after about 6 months or so.

Ships, even Cruise Ships, are noisy for at least 2 reasons:

1. Engine Noise.
No matter how new the ship, no matter what new turbine engines the ship may have, the 24 hour engine noise may get to people.

2. Parties, bars and restaurants.
There is always a kind of party atmosphere on a Cruise Ship, people eat and drink too much, nobody tells them when to go to bed, they don’t have to get up the next morning, so, parties make noise.

It gets boring staring at the ocean 2 out of 3 days.

Although ship’s activities are very many these days, after a while you’ll get bored with them.
Cabins in general are very small, so after a while you’re going to miss your large living room on the mainland with its 75″ TV.

However, if 6 months are too long, there are other alternatives; Cruise maybe a couple of months a year.

If you follow that action things become interesting.

Here are some options:

The Monthly $18,000 route:

Residensea, the world’s only floating Condo, a 47,000 ton cruise ship which sails the oceans,
reportedly offers staterooms for rent for as low as $18,000 per month.

This Cruise Ship has designer apartments with original art.

I mean, this is luxury personified.

Great if you can get it.

Around the world in 102 Days.

By small Luxury Cruise Ship

In 2005 a trip around the world lasting 110 days could be had for as low as $15,600 per person.
That is $150 per person per day including food and all facilities. That is $9000 per couple per month.

This same couple would spend a minimum of $4000 a month in an old folks home.

So going on this 3 1/2 month World Cruise would cost them $9000 – $4000 = $5000 per month.

Now let me tell you what this $5000 for 2 people gets them:

The Itinerary:

Southampton ,Tenerife – Canary Islands St Vincent – Cape Verde Islands Fortaleza – Brazil Rio de Janeiro – Brazil Montevideo – Uruguay Buenos Aires – Argentina Puerto Madryn – Argentina Port Stanley – Falkland Islands Cruise around Cape Horn Ushuaia – Argentina Transit Beagle Channel Punta Arenas – Chile Chacabuco – Chile Puerto Montt – Chile Santiago – Chile Cruise by Easter Island Cruise by Pitcairn Island Papeete – Tahiti Bora Bora – Society Islands Pago Pago – American Samoa Lautoka – Fiji Islands Noumea – New Caledonia Brisbane – Australia Sydney – Australia Eden – Australia Philip Island – Australia Melbourne – Australia Hobart -Australia Transit Milford Sound Dunedin – New Zealand Christchurch – New Zealand Transit Marlborough Sound Wellington – New Zealand Auckland – New Zealand Nuku ‘Alofa – Tonga Apia – Western Samoa Christmas Island Honolulu – Oahu, Hawaii Kahalui – Maui, Hawaii Los Angeles – USA Acapulco – Mexico Huatulco – Mexico Transit Panama Canal Curacao – Dutch Antilles Margherita Island – Venezuela Barbados Ponta Delgada

The Luxury:

This is on a very luxurious Cruise Ship that has only outside or balcony cabins.

By Freighter

In 2005 a trip around the world lasting 102 days by various freighting companies could be had for $11,750 per person.
That is $117 per person per day including food and all facilities. That is $7000 per couple per month.

This same couple would spend a minimum of $4000 a month in an old folks home.

So going on this 3 1/2 month World Cruise would cost them $7000 – $4000 = $3000 per month.

For this you get a double suite with double occupancy.
Port Times range from 1 to 2 days.
The advantage seems to be that there is lots of space in four double suites.

The double suites all consist of two rooms, a bedroom with twin beds and a living room.

The cabins have showers.

Each cabin also has its own VCR and TV monitor and refrigerator.

On board facilities are a private passenger lounge and the sharing of the officers’ table

There is also an indoor swimming pool.

Cruise Hopping

This is cheaper yet.
There are lots of 7 day cruises for about $100 per day per passenger.
So you could conceivably take 7 day cruises continuously in the same area, say, the Caribbean, on the same ship, or on different ships until you get sick and tired of the area.

You can then do the same thing from the West Coast.

Logistics would be more difficult because you may need a place to stay every 7th night.

Discount Cruising

Effective in 2005 there is now a discount European Cruise Line operating in the Caribbean that charges $46 per person per night but you have to get your own food.

Maximum time they allow you to cruise is 2 weeks.

Still, can’t get any cheaper than this.

Holland America Completes Signature of Excellence Program

cruising is all about rock-bottom pricing. Bare-bone cruising gets you to the destination of your choice, but that’s about all it does. However, cutting corners is not for everyone. The Holland America Line recognized that many vacationers are still looking for a truly distinctive experience: one that gives them total satisfaction as well as good value. That way of thinking was what sparked the Signature of Excellence program.

Starting in 2003, Holland America chose to implement a $225-million initiative that would allow them to provide unprecedented destinations and services to passengers like no other cruise line before them. It was expected that the Signature of Excellence program would take approximately three years to expand throughout the fleet. Holland America is proud to announce that it’s in the final stages of implementation and will complete its program on schedule at the end of 2006.

What enhancements can be found aboard Holland ships since the execution of the Signature of Excellence program? Extensive improvements throughout every area of the ship.

Accommodations

Providing the most spacious cabins in the premium cruise category, Holland America offers elegantly appointed staterooms complete with Sealy® Euro-Top mattresses, 250-thread count cotton linens, Egyptian cotton towels, massage shower heads, flat-panel televisions and more. In addition, guests staying in suites can take advantage of personal concierge services, special luxury linens, fully stocked minibars and special embarkation and disembarkation privileges.

Kids Activities

Club HAL is Holland’s youth program and was added as part of the Signature of Excellence program. With permanent, full-time directors and staff, parents can feel confident leaving their children to enjoy a full range of fun activities in a safe, age-appropriate environment. Club HAL offers the most elaborate children’s areas of any cruise line. Children will find colorful surroundings, art tables, big-screen TVs, games, supervised Internet access, Sony Playstations, board games and a host of family events, including the Family Olympics.

For Teens Only

Kids aren’t the only ones that can have fun on these retrofitted ships. Teens get their own hangouts as well. The Loft provides a lounge with the feel of a New York artist’s loft. Filled with popular music and videos, Internet access, karaoke and more, teens can have a space all their own. The Oasis is yet another teen getaway with a teens-only sun deck, a nine-foot-high waterfall and cave, snack machines, sound and laser-light show, and more.

Expanded Dining

One of the most anticipated parts of cruising is undoubtedly the food! That’s why the Holland America Line gave special attention to not only the meals themselves, but also to the environment in which guests would dine.

From the addition of fine art and antiques in the main dining room to elegant Rosenthal china and expert wine stewards, no detail was overlooked in the dining experience. Now with two servers per table, guests will experience unparalleled service along with exceptional five-course meals under the consultancy of Master Chef Rudi Sodamin. From reservations-only dining featuring Sterling Silver beef and fresh seafood to healthy alternative meals and complimentary in-room trays, passengers will not be disappointed with any aspect of Holland’s food service.

Private Island

The acquisition of a 55-acre private island, Half Moon Cay, is but one of the many highlights of the Signature of Excellence program. The highest-rated port of call on Holland’s itineraries, Half Moon Cay sits adjacent to an international bird sanctuary in the Bahamas. Repeatedly rated the “Best Private Island” by Porthole Cruise Magazine, guests will find horseback riding, stingray adventures, watercraft adventures, an aqua park and more.

Although the Holland America Line is concluding the implementation of its Signature of Excellence program at the end of this year, the effects of this innovative fleet-wide expansion will continue to impress and thrill guests for years to come.

Cruise the Caribbean for Fun and Relaxation

Ask someone to picture their perfect vacation, and you will usually get an answer that involves the words sun, sand and water. The perfect way to relax is to get far away from your daily routine and relax in the warm sun. If this sounds like the vacation for you, what you need is a Caribbean cruise.

If you truly want to experience the feeling of living on a boat, or, if you are looking for a cost-efficient way to see the Caribbean, you’ll find this aboard a mid-size cruise ship. Mid-size ships offer most of the luxuries of a large ship, but for a more economical price.

If you are nervous at the thought of sailing on the ocean, or, if you want to be pampered, a large cruise ship should be your choice. These ships contain their own swimming pools, spas, restaurants, dance floors, and much more.

No matter which size of cruise ship you choose, you will be sure to have the time of your life! No cruise would be complete without a few stops along the way, and your cruise ship would be stopping at some of the beautiful islands in the Caribbean ocean. You can shop for local hand-made crafts, explore the islands, or go sailing or snorkeling in the tropical waters. Some islands will host a feast or traditional performance – something you don’t want to miss!

If you only have a few days, or are travelling on a small budget, three and four-day cruises are available. Even though you may be away for less than a week, you’ll still come back feeling as refreshed and reenergized as if you’d been gone for a month! Often, all we need is a change of scenery and time to relax, no matter how long or short it is. If you want to get away from it all, splurge on a two-week Caribbean cruise; you’ll see more of the tropics and have time to get used to being waited on hand and foot!

There are numerous cruise lines to choose from, with ships sailing from several different ports at all times of the year. With a bit of research on the Internet or at a local bookstore or travel agent, you can find the Caribbean cruise that is perfect for you!

Freedom of the Seas, the biggest-cruise-ship-ever

The world’s largest and most innovative cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, left Southampton on May 3, 2006 to make her transatlantic voyage to New York.

At 160,000 tons and holding 3,634 guests double-occupancy, Freedom of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world when it debuts in May 2006, according to chairman and CEO Richard Fain. He noted that in choosing the name “Freedom” for the ship, the line was emphasizing how all-inclusive the vessel will be. “Whatever you want to do, you have the freedom to choose” he said.

In addition to the Voyager-class signature features – such as an enhanced rock climbing wall, ice skating rink and Royal Promenade – the 3,600 passenger ship, will feature a number of innovations: oversized sculptures spraying water in all directions, a circular current pool and a swimming pool fed by a waterfall; a full-size boxing ring and a 14-person family suite to an eager American audience.

Freedom of the Seas’ combined pool area is 43% larger than on Voyager-class ships.

At night, the main pool area will be transformed into an open-air nightclub, with a large dance floor situated between the two pools. Passengers will have access to a water park, a promenade and a casino. She will generate 1,800,000 litres of fresh water and require 35 tonnes of ice cubes every day.

Freedom of the Seas will arrive at the Port of Miami on May 25, where she will make a series of short sailings until June 4, when she will begin her regular sailing schedule of 7-night Western Caribbean tour calling at Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica and Royal Caribbean’s private destination, Labadee, Hispaniola.

Freedom of the Seas wrest the biggest-ship-ever title from Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

The QM2 was the largest, longest, tallest, widest, and most expensive ocean vessel ever built until the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas launches in June 2006. While QM2’s passenger capacity is 2,620 passengers, Freedom of the Seas can carry 6,000 passengers.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. commissioned the world’s largest cruise ship, agreeing to pay Europe’s biggest shipbuilder a record 900 million euros ($1.1 billion) for a vessel that will carry 5,400 passengers. Oslo-based Aker Yards ASA will deliver the Project Genesis ship in late 2009. At 222,000 gross register tons, the Royal Caribbean International vessel, codenamed Project Genesis, will be nearly half as big again as the Queen Mary 2, and 43 percent bigger than the largest cruise liner, Freedom of the Seas.

The world’s two largest cruise operators, Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises, are commissioning larger ships as increasing numbers of customers buy on-board package vacations. The number of people taking cruises surged 5.7 percent to 8.35 million in the first nine months of 2005, according to the New York-based Cruise Lines International Association.