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Just Cruising some Expert Advice!

I spent an incredible time in the early 90’s working on cruise ships in the Caribbean. I clearly remember the excitement of flying out to Miami armed with my Seaman Visa, 10 rolls of camera film and a thousand dollars in travellers cheques. Does that age me?

With a continuous struggle to nail down exactly what I wanted to do in life, I kept turning to travel. It’s all changed today, but back then, the casino department were never open in port and so of all the jobs on board a cruise ship, this was perfect for a traveller. As soon as we docked or arrived by tender on to these islands, we were off utilising our ‘’crew passes’’ for discounts in the local restaurants and bars. 5* resorts would welcome us in and at times I would wonder if I was actually working. Ok, it’s not quite as easy as it sounds, long sea days, and late shift finishes at 4am would counterbalance the island life, but going to bed in Jamaica and waking up in the Cayman Islands still sounds as wonderful today as it did then.

One thing I have noticed in the last 25 years or so in the travel industry is how the cruise industry has exploded. New ships are being built all the time and it’s only going to get bigger. Another observation is that many people who cruise for the first time, often book another one soon after returning. Today, you are lucky to have an almost infinite variety of cruise ships and itineraries to choose from. The beauty of visiting 10 places but only unpacking once cannot be understated.

So how do you decide what to book? First and foremost, plan ahead. The earlier you book a cruise, the less you’ll pay. Then you need to look at your budget and where you want to visit. Generally speaking the best value is on the busier routes such as the Med, The Caribbean and South East Asia is growing in popularity. What type of vessel are you looking for, small ship cruising or huge monster ships? Are you travelling with children? Do you want a more adult themed vessel? Do you want all inclusive or a pay as you go structure. Or are you interested in expedition cruising which is growing in popularity and often gives the facility to book well in advance. There are some incredible routes for the adventurer. Sail from Alaska to Japan along the Kamchatka peninsula in far eastern Russia, Antarctica and Arctic regions of Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Greenland, the Northwest Passage. For the wildlife enthusiast you can follow in the footsteps of Darwin and visit the spectacular Galapagos Islands. One of our partners will even take you to the North Pole on an icebreaker from Murmansk in Russia, where you can then take a hot air balloon up over the pole. Once in a lifetime opportunities that you’ll remember forever.

Personally I would never recommend an inside cabin, with the possible exception of a 3 day mini cruise from Southampton to the Channel Islands or Brugge. As you pull into a port or follow a coastline, it’s great to sit on your balcony and take in the views.

For the first time cruiser there are ample opportunities to mix the cruise with some land based stays.

My top six cruise and stay itineraries would be:

1) Travel through the Rockies to Vancouver and then cruise to Alaska

2) Combine Ecuador with the Galapagos Islands

3) Transatlantic cruise to New York, then fly drive in New England

4) Mediterranean cruise followed by a week in a resort.

5) South East Asia cruise, then a week in a resort

6) Combine a tour in South America with an Antarctic cruise

Then what better way to celebrate your retirement than with a round the world cruise.

If you need any inspiration, go on, AsktheTraveller………

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