Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top 10 things to prepare for your cruise

Now that you have booked your cruise, you may be wondering what to do next. Here is a quick guide that will help you through the process of preparing for your cruise.

1) Get or renew your passport. If you are using your passport as your proof of citizenship, make sure it is current. The requirement in most cases is that the expiration date is more than six months away from the date of sailing. Currently, if you are a United States Citizen and traveling on a cruise that departs and arrives back to a U.S. port, you are able to travel on an original or certified copy of your birth certificate and a valid government issued identification (drivers license for example). However, it is recommended that you get a passport. Of course traveling abroad requires a passport. Your travel agent will help you with what is required.

2) Flights and hotels. If you are flying to the city where the cruise departs from, it is recommended that you arrive a day early and stay in a hotel. Speak with your travel agent to discuss flight and hotel options to determine what best fits your schedule. Review flight information for flight times and the correct spelling of names as the airline may deny boarding if the names do not match. Many hotels will offer a shuttle to the cruise terminal; your travel agent will be able to assist you with selecting the best options.

3) Register online. Once your reservation is paid in full, you will need to complete your online registration with the cruise line. This is how you will get your boarding pass, as most cruise lines do not send out paper documents to your home any longer. You will need your cruise reservation number, your passport information and a few other items to complete this process. It should take about 10 – 15 minutes to complete.

4) Make show and dining reservations. Many of the large cruise ships are packed with entertainment and dining options. You are able to reserve show times and dining times online prior to sailing. It is best to do this ahead of time, as you will have more options as to the times that fit your schedule. You can wait until you board, but your selection will most likely be limited.

5) Spa and Salon appointments. As with shows and dining, you can also make your spa and salon appointments before you sail. By booking early, you have more options to choose from. Keep in mind that while the ship is at sea the spa is usually booked, so book sea days early. Also, most cruise lines will run a special for days the ship is in port. So do not rule out port days for your spa visit.

6) Pre-book shore excursions. If you want to do a shore excursion while in port, book it early. Shore excursions have a limited number of spaces and they do sell out. Chances are that if you see a shore excursion that you think is great, others think the same thing. Booking early offers the most choices. Also, if you do book early and need to change your excursion or cancel it, you are able to do so usually outside of 48 hours of the excursion date.

7) Packing. Check your cruise itinerary and cruise line’s attire guide, as this well help tremendously with your packing. Depending on your destination you will want to bring certain things. Be aware of any formal nights and the evening dress code for the dining room. You also want to make sure you bring any necessary items such as medications and toiletries. Keep in mind that when you arrive at the cruise terminal, your luggage will be checked. If there is anything that you want to keep with you, pack it in a carry bag (back packs work great).

8) Make arrangements for the care of your home. Before you leave, you may want to arrange with someone to check on your home a couple of times while you are gone. If you will be away for an extended period of time, have your mail and newspaper delivery held so the outside of your home does not look like it is vacant. Make necessary arrangements for your pets as well.

9) Speak with your travel agent. Travel agents are a great resource and can help with any of these items. They will also think of things that you may have missed.

10) Relax and have a fantastic time!

Looking for a travel agent? Let CruiseOne Freer & Associates help you with your plans. We offer excellent service and a best price guarantee (details on our website). Give us a call, 888-882-5793, or send us an email today at kfreer@cruiseone.com!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cruising on the world’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas

Last week we attended CruiseOne’s National Conference on board the Allure of the Seas. I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about the entire trip simply due to the size of the ship. Would it take four hours to board? Will I feel like I am being herded like cattle? Will there be any breathing room for me on board with 5,700 other passengers? To my surprise and pleasure, everything was wonderful from embarkation to disembarkation.

Arriving in Port Everglades, looking up at this massive structure, all I could say was “wow, that ship is huge!” No doubt about it, this is the largest cruise ship in the world. Well, now it is time to stand in long lines to board the ship. But wait just a minute, where is everybody? No lines to board? How can this be? We were through the terminal and on the ship in less than 15 minutes. The reason it took so long is because there were six of us in three staterooms and we waited for all of us to check in.

Royal Caribbean certainly does everything right with this ship. Everything was amazing from the food in all dining venues to the wide variety of shows and entertainment. There is so much to do for all ages on board. My only complaint is that I did not get to experience everything in my one week on board, so it looks like I will just have to sail the Allure of the Seas again (sailing again is not part of the complaint!).

Our itinerary was the Western Caribbean, making stops in Labadee, Haiti (Royal Caribbean’s private island); Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. The only port we stayed off the ship for any length of time was Falmouth. I know a great local taxi driver there that has taken us around in the past. He was wonderful, and we used him again (there will be a separate blog about our trip with him). The rest of the time was spent on board exploring. Cozumel met us with an all day rain storm, and the seas were quite choppy for our return home. The Allure of the Seas handles choppy seas very nicely. You could hardly feel any movement making her a great choice for a cruiser who might get motion discomfort.

This ship is a definite must sail. It is wonderful for families, singles and people of all ages. There is something to do around every corner whether you are looking for action or relaxation. And, surprisingly, you really do not notice that you are traveling with 5,700 other passengers.

Looking for more detail on this ship? Feel free to send me an email at kfreer@cruiseone.com and I will be more than happy to share! You can also visit us on the web at www.MemorableVoyages.com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Great Savings on Cruises This Week!

Have you been thinking of a cruise? This is THE week to book! National Cruise Vacation Week runs from October 17 – 23, 2011.

National Cruise Vacation Week, an exciting event designed to showcase the incredible choice, diversity and value of cruise vacations. Travel agencies across North America will team up with 26 member companies of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to provide consumers with exceptional offers and information on cruise vacations in every part of the world.

National Cruise Vacation Week (NCVW) is the highlight of October’s National Cruise Vacation Month, the once-a-year period during which travel agencies across North America sponsor exciting events and promotions all focused on cruising – the most enjoyable, satisfying and value-oriented vacation option available in today’s marketplace.

Check out some of the fantastic cruise deals that you can take advantage of this week:

AMA Waterways (River Cruising)
Fly to Europe for $199 per person, including taxes and fuel surcharges. Or, choose a “Triple Savings” offer of $1000 off per stateroom, complimentary one-category upgrade plus a $100 shipboard credit.

Avalon (River Cruising)
National Cruise Vacation Week Exclusive Offer - $2000 Per Couple Savings on Select 2012 European River Cruises!

Azamara Club Cruises
Between $300 and $500 On Board Credit

Fun Select rates + Up to $150 Cash Back per stateroom

Celebrity (Premium Cruising)
Between $50 and $400 On Board Credit for Europe and Non-Europe Sailings Including Both Non-Loyalty and Loyalty Offers

Up to $300 Shipboard credit and Reduced Deposit

Crystal Cruises
$100 per person National Cruise Vacation Week Savings

MSC Cruises
Up to $200 On Board Credit for Select Sailings in the Caribbean & Europe

Oceania (Luxury)
2 for 1 Cruise Fares with Free Airfare plus up to $5,000 Bonus Savings on select voyages.

Royal Caribbean
Up to $200 OBC on Select Sailings Departing After November 15, 2011

Silversea (Luxury)
$200 Savings Certificate Valid on Any 2011 or 2012 Silver Sea Voyage

Give us a call for details. You do not want to miss out on these savings! Deposit your stateroom today! CruiseOne Freer & Associates, 888-882-5793. Visit us on the web at www.MemorableVoyages.com or visit our National Cruise Vacation Week Mini Website at http://ncvw.cruising.org/02052 for information on select cruise lines. We are available 24/7 for your questions. Let us help you bring your dream vacation to life!