Friday, April 23, 2010

Spending the Holidays at Sea

So, have you thought about what you are doing for the holidays this year? How about a holiday cruise! Although you won’t have a white Christmas on a cruise you will find plenty of good cheer. It’s hard not to get in the holiday spirit when twinkling lights, decorated trees, poinsettias and mistletoe surround you. Carolers stroll the decks singing your favorite holiday songs while kids are busy making ornaments and decorating sugar cookies. There's even a ceremonial tree lighting and plenty of champagne toasts.

All cruise ships get into the holiday spirit but the bigger the ship, the bigger the festivities. So what kind of celebration is right for your you? Here’s a little advice on what you need to know about cruising over Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years:

• Of the four holidays, Christmas is the biggest ordeal.

• Holiday cruises generally offer religious services. Typically, a rabbi, minister and priest sail aboard holiday cruises and hold Catholic, Jewish, Protestant and interdenominational services in the ship's chapel or in a quiet public room.

• All cruise lines decorate for the holidays to some extent, with the larger lines showing more of the holiday spirit. Most ships display at least one Christmas tree decorated from head to toe, a menorah is displayed and lighted each day during the eight-day celebration, and poinsettias, wreathes, mistletoe, and holly are sprinkled about. Decorations generally go up around Thanksgiving and stay up until the New Year.

• The larger family-friendly ships have plenty of holiday activities for the whole family including holiday-themed arts and crafts, caroling by the crew, an appearance by Santa, and sometimes elves too. But Christmas oriented activities are usually kept to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that non-celebrating passengers do not get overwhelmed. On New Year's Eve, a ship-wide countdown is to be expected, as is a champagne toast.

• There is no shortage of food during the holiday celebrations. Naturally, you can expect the traditional turkey and trimmings on Thanksgiving, plus lots of dishes made out of pumpkin. At Menorah lighting services during Hanukkah, you'll likely be offered Kosher wine and challah, while for Christmas look for roast turkey or goose, gingerbread everything, mincemeat pies, chocolate Yule logs, and, of course, holiday cookies.

• The crew gets into the holiday spirit with waiters in Santa hats and cruise staff dressing up like elves, Baby New Year, and other holiday characters.

• To keep up with the loads of holiday activities and full house during the holidays, many lines bring in extra staff to cope.

Planning your holiday cruise just got easier with CruiseOne; offering most major cruise lines, the very best direct prices along with excellent personal service, all at no additional cost to the traveler. Contact Kathy and Eric Freer, your Local Independent Cruise Specialists at 321-735-0202 or toll free at 888-882-5793, or via the web at for more information.

Monday, April 19, 2010

River Cruising

Tired of the same old vacation? Looking for something new and exciting? When you think Europe, you think “been there, done that!” Although you may have sailed the eastern and western Mediterranean, the British Isles and Northern Europe, you haven’t seen anything yet. In Europe, most cruise ships stick to the same old coastal routes showcasing amazing cities like Edinburgh, Istanbul and Seville, but much of Europe’s charm lies in its interior cities.

Although many of Europe’s rivers and canals are too small for most cruise ships, they are not too small for a fleet of specially designed river ships and barges. River and canal voyages are becoming an increasingly popular option amongst travelers who enjoy cruising but want to see more of the country. But river cruising is quite different than typical cruising. For one, river cruise ships rarely hold more than 200-plus passengers, giving the ships a smaller feel. Onboard amenities are limited in comparison to the larger ships, although you will find luxurious staterooms onboard most river ships and some include balconies. Entertainment onboard is limited. These ships carry no casinos and tend to offer nightly entertainment such as a piano player or a local entertainer. Newer ships are starting to add more amenities in the way of fitness centers, swimming pools and Internet access. One big difference between river cruising and ocean cruising is that river cruises typically include shore excursions in the overall cruise fare. Itineraries may incorporate major cities, but your experience will focus more on smaller towns and villages. Days at sea are rare and waterways are much calmer than those on ocean-based trips.

In addition to Europe, river cruises are available in Russia, China and Egypt. Most river and canal ships operate seasonally, during spring, summer and fall months with a break during the winter, although some Asian operators will go year-round. An exception is the Christmas season in Europe, where several river cruise operators offer voyages that stop in towns and cities with Christmas markets.

There are a number of river cruise lines offering a variety of itineraries including Uniworld River Cruises, Viking River Cruises, Peter Deilmann River Cruises and Amadeus Waterways. Each line is different and unique in their own way.

So if you want to spend more time exploring the destination rather than getting to it, a river cruise is just for you. CruiseOne offers a variety of river cruises at exceptional prices along with excellent personal service. Contact Kathy and Eric Freer, your Local Independent Cruise Specialists at 321-735-0202 or toll free at 888-882-5793 or via the web at for more information.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cruises for Families

Cruises are a convenient way for families to vacation. If you have got kids, you will agree that preserving your sanity is a priority, and a cruise vacation fits the bill. They are easy, safe, fun for the kids and relaxing for Mom and Dad. Cruise lines have been going to great lengths to please parents and kids alike, as families become an ever larger and more influential segment of the cruising public. In fact, since 2000, Royal Caribbean, among the most family friendly lines, has seen a more than 50% increase in the number of families cruising with kids under the age of 3. Same story with Carnival, which now carries 300% more children 17 and under than it did in 1995. During school holidays, there can be so many kids on board that playrooms get jam-packed and you will have to wait in line to sign in. Toddlers and teen are taken care of too: Royal Caribbean, for instance, has daily play groups for parents and toddlers (6 months – 3 years), while elaborate teen facilities are all the rage across the industry.

The megaships cater most to families and attract the largest numbers of them, with playrooms, video arcades, and complimentary supervised activities usually provided for children ages 2 or 3 to 17 (generally, young children must be potty-trained to participate), and programs broken down into several age categories. Some lines set a minimum age for children to sail aboard (usually 6 – 12 months), but Disney provides a supervised nursery for ages 3 months and up.

Disney has the most family friendly ships at sea today, followed by Royal Caribbean, whose ships especially the Freedom, Voyager and Radiance class vessels) have huge play areas. The Carnival ships do a pretty good job too (especially the Conquest class), as do the Norwegian, Princess and Celebrity megaships. Even lines traditionally geared towards the older crowd are getting in on the kid craze. Holland America renovated all of its ships kids' facilities over the past few years and the kids’ facility and programs on Cunard’s QM2 are phenomenal.

Babysitting: After the complimentary daylong roster of supervised activities wraps up between about 7:00 – 10:00pm, most mainstream lines provide slumber-party style group babysitting in the playroom. Services are usually from about 10:00pm until 1:00 – 3:00 am and are for ages 3 to 12, costing about $4.00 - $6.00 per hour per child. Some lines do accommodate younger kids, with toys, cribs and nap areas geared to infants and toddlers. Private in-cabin babysitting by a crewmember is also provided by Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and most high-end lines at a steeper $8.00 - $10.00 per hour.

Family friendly cabins: If your travel budget is tight, a family of four can share a cabin and get a good deal in return for all that togetherness: The rates for third and fourth persons sharing a cabin with two full fare (or even heavily discounted) passengers are usually about half of the lowest regular rates. Norwegian Cruise Line allows children 1 and under to sail free with two full fare passengers (though you must pay port charges and government taxes for the kids and MSC Cruises often offers a “kids sail free” promotion for the under 17 set of occupying the same cabin as two parents or adults. Crystal has offered free passage for all children 11 and under for summer sailings in Alaska. Note: Because prices are based on double adult occupancy of cabins, single parents sailing with children usually have to pay adult prices for their kids, though deals for single parents are available every once in a while.

As for how you will all fit, think bunk style third and fourth berths that fold out of the walls just above the regular beds. A few lines such as Carnival and NCL will even accommodate a fifth person on a rollaway bed on certain ships, if space permits, and a baby crib can be brought in if requested in advance. There are no two ways about it though: A standard cabin with four people in it will be cramped, and with one bathroom … well you can imagine. However, when you consider how little time you will spend in the cabin, it’s doable, and many families do take this option. The line that offers the best digs for families is definitely Disney, where the majority of cabins aboard Magic and Wonder boast two bathrooms (one with a bathtub), a mini-fridge, and a sitting area with a sofa bed. (While mini-fridges or minibars are fairly standard these days, tubs are a rarity unless you are splurging on a suite.) The cabins are almost as big as most ships’ mini-suites and comfortably sleep families of three or four, but of course, Disney’s rates are generally higher than those of their mainstream competitors. The ships’ bona fide suites accommodate families of five to seven.

In general, whatever line you choose, families who can afford it should consider booking a suite or a junior suite. Many have a pullout couch in the living room (or better yet, two separate bedrooms) and can accommodate up to three or four children. If you have older kids, it may just be cheaper to book connecting cabins – two separate standard cabins with interconnecting doors. Almost every ship has connecting cabins with the exception of the smallest ships and a small handful of midsize vessels and megaships.

Family Cruising Tips

Here are some suggestions for better sailing and smoother seas on your family cruise:

• Reserve a crib. If you would like a crib brought into your cabin, request one when booking your cruise.
• Bring baby food and diapers. If your infant is still on jar food, you will have to bring your own. You can store milk and snacks in your cabins mini-fridge / minibar, which is standard on most new ships. (Ships more than 5 or 10 years old may provide them only in suites). If yours is prestocked with beer and peanuts, you can ask your steward to clear it out. Royal Caribbean offers a program where you can pre-order Huggies brand diapers, wipes and cream, and Gerber organic baby food to be delivered right to the stateroom. That means you don’t have to pack the gear!
• Keep a tote with you on embarkation day. After boarding a big ship, it may take a few hours before your luggage gets delivered to your cabin, so be sure to hand carry a tote filled with whatever you will need for the afternoon: diapers, baby food, change of clothes, bathing suits and so on.
• Pack some basic first-aid supplies, and even a thermometer. Cruise lines have limited supplies of these items, and charge for them too. If an accident should happen on board, virtually every ship (except for the smallest ones) has its own infirmary staffed by doctors or nurses. Keep in mind that first aid can usually be summoned more readily aboard ship than in port.
• Warn younger children about the danger of falling overboard and make sure they know not to play on the railings.
• Make sure your kids know their cabin number and what deck it is on. The endless corridors and doors on the megaships often look exactly alike, though some are color coded.
• Prepare kids for TV letdown. Though many ships today receive satellite TV programming, you won’t get the range of options you have at home.

CruiseOne is the only thing you’ll need to plan your next family cruise vacation; offering most major cruise lines, the very best direct prices along with excellent personal service, all at no additional cost to the traveler. Contact Kathy & Eric Freer, your Local Independent Cruise Specialists at (321) 735-0202 or toll free at (888)882-5793, or via the web at for more information.

Resource: Frommer's Cruises & Ports of Call 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The CruiseOne Difference

CruiseOne prides itself on providing attention to detail and expert advice to every customer. Each CruiseOne Franchise and Cruise Specialist offer travelers access to the latest technology with old-fashioned customer service.

Expert Advice – We work hard to find the cruise that best suits your needs. We take the time to learn your personal preferences like ship size (small to mega), dining choices (fixed or flexible), onboard dress codes (formal or casual) and onboard style (active or passive). Armed with this criteria, we are able to match you with the best cruise line and ship to fit your needs and lifestyle.

Attention to Detail – Every CruiseOne Cruise Specialist takes pride in the service they provide. Whether you choose a short getaway or an around-the-world voyage, your vacation is important to us. We assist with all aspects of your trip – air travel, transfers, insurance, shore excursions and any special celebrations or arrangements. Our approach ensures your cruise vacation is simply unforgettable.

Innovative Internet Technology – CruiseOne boasts the latest technology to identify which departures and ships offer the best value. Plus, our prices are always the same or better than dealing directly with a cruise line.

Best Fare Search Program – Our automated program not only searches our extensive database for the best rates, but also searches for regional, past passenger, senior or group rates for which you may qualify.

Buying Power – CruiseOne is part of World Travel Holdings (WTH), one of the nation’s largest travel retailers. This means we have a broader reach and better pricing than you can get on your own. Each year, WTH sends millions of clients around the world to warm up, cool off, explore new cultures or just relax.

Relationships With All Major Cruise Lines – We represent all major cruise lines and conduct comparative shopping between each line. Our extensive knowledge of the industry allows us to make unbiased recommendations. We have received numerous awards and a top ranking status by virtually every cruise line. And, we are members of the prestigious Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).

Group Specialists – We are experts in all types of group cruises, ranging from family reunions to corporate meetings, from weddings to incentive groups, and from eight cabins to full ship charters.

Some people mistakenly think that using a cruise agent will increase the cost of their trip. In truth, we save you time and money. For valuable advice, personal service and a long-term relationship, regardless of which cruise line you prefer, chose CruiseOne. After all, it is your vacation and your money … so trust the professionals!

CruiseOne is the only thing you’ll need to plan your next cruise vacation; offering most major cruise lines, the very best direct prices along with excellent personal service, all at no additional cost to the traveler. Contact Kathy & Eric Freer, your Local Independent Cruise Specialists at (321) 735-0202 or toll free at (888)882-5793, or via the web at for more information.