A Travellerspoint blog

February 2011

A Quick Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean

Experiencing the "Star" Treatment on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship

People who know me, know that I love to travel. Cruise travel is my preferred vehicle to see the world. When I go for too long without sailing on the seas, I start to get antsy and wanderlust builds in my being. So, it was no surprise that as I spent time looking over cruise travel opportunities for my clients, I found one for myself too. I'm always ready to try new things, so a great low fare on a 7 day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Celebrity Solstice grabbed my attention. While the itinerary was not at all new to me, the ship and the cruise line was. In no time at all I had made the cruise booking and my husband did not bat an eyelash when I told him we were going on another cruise, in less than 2 weeks. It's a good thing that we both work for ourselves!

The Celebrity "Star Treatment" was something I had never experienced and I was very excited when embarkation day arrived in Ft Lauderdale. Our itinerary included my favorite islands of St Thomas, St Martin and San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was going to be fun visiting those places again on a new (to me) ship. We arrived at the ship dock early and boarded the Solstice. This is when my Celebrity Experience began. My first look at the sleek contemporary design and modern furnishings took me by surprise. The low techno beat music playing in the background left me feeling like I had stepped into the hottest ultra lounge in Hollywood. I immediately wished I had waited to lose 20 pounds before taking this cruise. I felt more than a little overweight and frumpy as we made our way to our cabin. The cabin interior was spacious and comfortable, the balcony a little small. I knew right away that this was going to be a completely new experience for me and I prepared myself to keep an open mind in the days to come.

Celebrity Solstice
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Solstice Promenade Deck
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Solstice Martini Bar
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Solstice cabin
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With sailaway from Ft Lauderdale behind us, my husband and I made our way to the main dining room for dinner. The decor of this room also took me by surprise. Beige chairs, white table linens and chrome fixtures as far as the eye could see. Yes, contemporary was definitely the theme of this ship.

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Our dinner companions were from various parts of the southern United States and included one couple from Ireland. We all immediately became fast friends over good food and wine and great service from our waiters. As with all embarkation days, we ended the evening early and turned in for the night, looking forward to the next day aboard the Celebrity Solstice.

Our first full day on this cruise was spent at sea. A wonderful opportunity to relax and unwind from all the hassles of everyday life. After completely unpacking and having a great breakfast in the Buffet, my husband and I found a nice spot on the pool deck, which was my favorite part of the ship.

Solstice pool deck
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I was extremely content relaxing in my lounge chair, listening to live Caribbean music with my Kindle e-book reader in hand while we sailed the calm waters headed toward San Juan. My husband Reginald was very happy to have discovered the Spa section of the pool deck that was covered and serene with its own lunch counter featuring light salads and wraps. Reggie is always worried about gaining weight on a cruise. I, unfortunately, am not.
The day passed slowly and we had a real chance to rest before the evening dinner and entertainment began. I love sea days, they truly make me feel renewed.

Solstice Spa pool and deck
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The next 3 days were spent in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas and Phillipsburg, St Martin. Having visited all of these islands before, we did not do many excursions, just enjoyed the scenery, the beaches and the shops. I took lots of photos of course, to document the changes year by year. Thankfully, things in the Eastern Caribbean had only changed for the better and the weather was as perfect as always, even in November.

Sailing into San Juan
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San Juan cruise ship dock in Old San Juan
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St Thomas, USVI
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Sapphire Beach on St Thomas
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Sapphire Beach Ducks
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Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas harbor
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Cruising in to St Martin
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Phillipsburg, St Martin
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Leaving St Martin, we spent two more days at sea before arriving back in Ft Lauderdale. We relaxed and enjoyed the food and entertainment on the ship including champagne art gallery tours, production shows, the casino and of course the pool deck. Before we knew it we were back home in Alabama with Fall slowly sliding into Winter. It had been a wonderful trip on the Celebrity Solstice and I would choose this cruise line again.... I will just lose some weight first.

The End (smile)

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner/Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 10:11 Comments (0)

Discovering Alaska Part VI-Skagway Alaska

A Flashback to the Days of the Gold Rush from the Gateway to the Klondike

The last Port of Call on our 7 Day Alaska Cruise was the town of Skagway, Alaska. Skagway sprang up overnight in 1897 as a trading post serving Klondike Gold Rush pioneers about to set off on the five-hundred-mile search for gold. Growing from one cabin to a town of twenty thousand in three months, Skagway, rife with disease and desperado violence, was reported to be "hell on earth." It boasted over seventy bars and hundreds of prostitutes, and was controlled by organized criminals, including Jefferson "Soapy" Smith, notorious for cheating hapless prospectors out of their hard earned gold. By 1899, the Gold Rush was over, but the completion in 1900 of the White Pass and Yukon Route railway from Skagway to Whitehorse, the Yukon capital, ensured Skagway's survival. Today, the town's eight hundred residents have gone to great lengths to maintain the original appearance of their home, much of which lies in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, and in summer as many as five cruise ships a day call in to take a walk back through history.

For more about this fascinating Port of Call, check out this Video on the Scenery and History of Skagway. Just click here:

History of Skagway Alaska

I walked out onto our balcony just after our ship docked in port. It was another gorgeous sunny day and the first thing I noticed was a long railroad track just beneath me near the dock. This track belonged to the White Pass Railroad. The White Pass Summit excursion had been highly recommended to me by a friend as the thing to do in Skagway. The tour was a 3 to 3.5 hour, forty mile round trip ride on a vintage passenger train that climbs from tidewater at Skagway to the summit of the White Pass - a 2,865 foot elevation. The fully narrated tour passes through two tunnels, over sky-high trestles and cascading waterfalls. I had definitely planned to do this trip, but after reading up on the town of Skagway, I decided that I did not want to spend over half the day on a train, I wanted to stretch my legs by walking around the town and getting a feel for the place. I booked a tour called "A Taste of Skagway" for the afternoon that would take my husband and I on a tour of Jewel Gardens and included a Culinary Chef's Demonstration with wine and lots of samples of different dishes prepared by the Gardens chef.

White Pass Train track From our balcony
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We left the ship on foot after breakfast and began a nice long stroll into town. The scenery was beautiful and the storefronts and wood sidewalks of Skagway definitely gave us the feeling of being in the old west during the gold rush.

A ship coming into port as seen from my balcony
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Downtown Skagway
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We walked around the town popping in and out of the various stores until time to return to the ship to catch the transport for our tour. On the way back I stopped in the White Pass railway ticket office and purchased a great black "White Pass Railroad" backpack. It came in handy for carrying stuff home on the plane.

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The "Taste of Skagway" tour took us on a short tour of the town before delivering us at Jewel Gardens. Jewell Gardens is one of the best show gardens in Alaska. In 1996 Charlotte Jewell purchased a portion of what was Henry Clarks’ farm and began to build what was to be the premier show garden in Skagway. The Clark farm was one of several farms in the area that grew produce for the thousands of miners on their way to Dawson City and the Klondike Gold Rush. I was immediately struck by how beautiful and green everything was at the Gardens. Lush flowers and plants were everywhere and you could see snow capped mountains in the background. It was a very peaceful place that Reginald and I enjoyed very much. A guide gave us a complete tour of the gardens and then led us inside the restaurant and tea room where our culinary adventure began.

Jewel Gardens, Skagway, Alaska
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Jewel Gardens Tasting Room
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The rest of the afternoon passed by as a combination of wine, food and fun! The chef was very talented and amusing and prepared several wonderful dishes using food grown in the gardens. We ate and drank and talked to fellow passengers before making our way back to our transport and back to the Diamond Princess for sailaway. Once again I had enjoyed a marvelous day in Alaska that I would never forget.

Finally after seven wonderful days discovering Alaska, our cruise came to an end. We packed our bags and left the ship in Whittier, headed toward Anchorage for our plane ride home. The 2 hour bus ride to Anchorage was relaxing, with lots of beautiful scenery along the way. Anchorage is a lovely city with wonderful restaurants and places to visit. The time we spent there flew by until it was time to catch our flight at the airport nearby.

My Alaska cruise was a true journey of discovery. To think that all that beauty was part of the United States, my home country, right in my backyard. Why had I waited so long to take this voyage? I really have no idea, but I would do it all again tomorrow!

THE END!

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
President/Owner
MEETINGS AND EVENTS UNLIMITED
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 07:35 Comments (0)

Discovering Alaska Part V-Cruising Glacier Bay

Scenic Cruising off the Coast of Alaska

With an great day in Juneau, Alaska behind us, we next enjoyed two days of cruising Glacier Bay and College Fiord off the coast of Alaska. Before leaving home for the cruise, I placed an order for the Princess Cruises special “Ultimate Balcony Breakfast” to enjoy in our cabin during this day at sea. It was absolutely decadent and delicious. Breakfast, delivered to our cabin, included specialty pastries, fresh fruits, quiche, smoked salmon and other special treats served with a half bottle of French champagne, all for just $28.00 per couple.

Ultimate Balcony Breakfast
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We took our time eating breakfast while looking out from our balcony at the glorious scene of a clear sunny sky, snow covered mountains and an ice dotted ocean. Glacier Bay covers an area 1,375 square miles of glaciers and accounts for 27% of the Glacier Bay National Park. It was a large single glacier of solid ice till early 18th century, when it started retreating and evolved over the centuries into the largest protected water area park in the world. Glacier Bay, on the Gulf of Alaska, was known as the Grand Pacific Glacier about 4,000 feet thick and about 20 miles in width which has since then, over more than 200 years, retreated by 65 miles to the head of the bay at Tarr Inlet, and in this process left 20 separate glaciers in its trail. It was first proclaimed a U.S. National Monument on February 25, 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge. The Glacier Bay has many branches, inlets, lagoons, islands, and channels that are a wonder to behold, which is why the area is popular as a cruise ship destination during summer season.

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View of Glacier from inside our cabin
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After taking lots of photos and video from the balcony of our cabin, I decided to go up on deck for a better view and to listen to the National Park Rangers who were on board giving lectures on the history of the area and pointing out things of interest as we cruised along the Bay.

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Later that day we dressed up for the second Formal Night of the cruise. We had a wonderful time talking to our table mates about everything we had seen that day including seals and whales. The food and conversation were delightful, our table was one of the last to leave the dining room because we were having so much fun. My husband and I spent the rest of the evening enjoying the onboard entertainment before retiring for the night.

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Me and Reggie
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The next day began with a bright and clear morning. We were now cruising College Fiord, where each glacier is named after an American college or university. After a filling breakfast in the Horizon Court buffet, I relaxed on our balcony for most of the afternoon and took more photos of the amazing scenary. I was shocked at how warm it was outside considering how close our ship came to the glaciers. All I needed to be comfortable was my Vancouver Olympics jacket and a pair of jeans. We had been truly blessed with wonderful weather.

Me on our cabin balcony
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The Harvard Glacier from our balcony
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The second night of cruising around the glaciers ended with Italian Night in the dining room. Everyone was very happy and relaxed after a second day at sea. The food was rich and delicious. Once again our table was the last to vacate the dining room. There was one more port to explore before the end of the cruise and we were not looking forward to leaving our new friends from the United Kingdom. Over the last few days we had learned a lot about each other and we took lots of photos and exchanged addresses and e-mails, promising to stay in touch. It had been a lovely past five days and we planned to enjoy every minute we had left of our Alaska cruise.

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Next up: Our visit to Skagway, Alaska and the final day of our Alaska Cruise. To be continued.........

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.

Posted by Gerriv 07:09 Comments (4)

Discovering Alaska IV-Juneau, Alaska

Alaska's Capital City is a Beautiful and Unique Place

Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is probably the most scenic capital in the United States. It is often referred to as a 'little San Francisco.' The city center, which hugs the side of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts, has many narrow streets running past a mixture of new structures, old storefronts and slanted houses, all held together by a network of staircases. The bustling waterfront features cruise ships, tankers, fishing boats, a few kayakers and floatplanes buzzing in and out. Overhead are the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Roberts and Mt. Juneau, which provide just a small part of the superb hiking the area is known for.

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The area of Juneau is larger than that of Rhode Island and Delaware individually and almost as large as the two states combined. Juneau, with an estimated population of 30,988, is named after gold prospector Joe Juneau. The town was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneau's co-prospector, Richard Harris). Downtown Juneau sits at sea level, with tides averaging 16 feet, below steep mountains about 3,500 feet to 4,000 feet high. Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenhall Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier, are visible from the local road system. The Mendenhall glacier has been generally retreating and its front face is declining both in width and height.

As Reginald and I left the ship after it docked in Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier was foremost in my thoughts. I had booked an excursion called "Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon Bake" which promised a visit to the glacier, a tour of a salmon hatchery and a late lunch at a outdoor facility where we would experience a real Salmon Bake meal. We boarded the tour bus with other passengers and found ourselves treated to an impromptu concert by our bus driver who played a small guitar and sang to us prior to driving away from the dock. Needless to say, that put everyone in a very good mood.

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After a short tour of the town, we pulled up to the park area near Mendenhall Glacier. Mendenhall Glacier is a glacier about 12 miles long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau. The United States Forest Service administers the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center as part of Tongass National Forest. Forest interpreters offer conservation education programs throughout the year for children and adults. It is the only visitor center in the United States within a half mile of a terminal glacier that calves icebergs into a lake. The center is open year-round and receives close to 500,000 visitors each year, many coming by cruise ship in summer.

Walking up to the Visitor Center from the parking area I was amazed to see the huge glacier right in front of us. It was truly an awesome sight! The day had started out overcast and chilly with a little drizzle of rain here and there, but that did not dampen my spirits at all, getting so close to a natural wonder that I had only seen before in photos. Reginald and I walked down to the edge of the glacier and a fellow cruise passenger took our photo with the glacier behind us. It is one of my favorite photos to this day.

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Mendenhall Glacier
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Reggie & Me
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The Visitors Center was full of information about the glacier and Alaska in general. We walked through the exhibits and stopped by the souvenir shop to buy some postcards on the way out. As we headed toward the parking lot, we stopped to listen to a Park Ranger give a short lecture on the glacier to a group of visitors before we rejoined out tour group and left the park for our next stop.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor's Center
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Park Ranger
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Our next stop was the Salmon Hatchery. The hatchery, was designed to allow visitors to watch the whole process of harvesting and fertilizing eggs from outdoor decks. From mid-June to October, salmon swim up a 450-foot fish ladder, visible through a window, into a sorting mechanism, then are "unzipped" by workers who remove the eggs. Guides and exhibits explained to us what happens. Inside the hatchery building, large saltwater aquariums showed us the area's marine life as it looks in the natural environment. After the tour, I bought some canned salmon made by the hatchery, along with some fresh salmon dip to snack on back at the ship later on.

Leaving the hatchery, our tour took us to the Salmon Bake for lunch. I was good and hungry by then and this meal was well worth the wait! We arrived at a beautiful setting, in a lush rain forest alongside a creek. There were translucent domes set up to protect you from the elements. The rain had stopped by then, but it was nice to be covered in case it returned. I could smell the aroma of wild salmon grilling over a wood fire as we joined a line of diners waiting to get a cup of homemade clam chowder. We found a table and then went to the buffet that had a sumptuous spread of grilled salmon, Cheechako Chicken, Chilkoot Baked Beans, Tongass Wild-Rice Pilaf, White Pass Pasta and a large selection of other sides, salads and beverages. Beer and wine were available for purchase. We helped ourselves to the buffet more than once as a local musician played music while we ate. It was a grand and delicious meal in a wonderful setting.

Juneau Salmon Bake
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Salmon Bake dining area
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Excellent grilled Salmon, YUM!
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Feeling stuffed from a fantastic lunch, Reginald and I chose to be dropped off in town on the way back to the ship to walk off some of the meal. We wandered down the narrow streets and stopped at the Red Dog Saloon to buy a tote bag to haul all of our goodies. We found some great Alaska T-Shirts in a small shop and then walked back to the cruise ship pier to board the Diamond Princess. It had be a fabulous day in Juneau! I got up close and personal with a glacier, gained insight into raising and harvesting salmon and had a great lunch to boot! Who could ask for more than that!

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Downtown Juneau, Alaska
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Next up, cruising Glacier Bay and College Fjord. To be continued......

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 07:15 Comments (0)

Should You take a Cruise Vacation?

Your Top 10 Common Cruise Questions Answered

According to the popular Cruise Critic website "cruising newcomers usually have more excuses as to why they've never sailed than there are ships at sea. Often, these excuses are based on misconceptions of what a cruise vacation is really like. If your mental image of a cruise vacation is based on "Titanic" (snobby rich folks playing shuffleboard and dining each night in gowns and tuxedos) or "The Love Boat" (lots of shameless hooking up between guests and crewmembers), or if it involves the notion of a floating, nonstop smorgasbord, you clearly need to bring your preconceived notions in line with the reality of modern cruising".

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To give you more insight into the contemporary cruise experience, here are Cruise Critics 10 of the most common questions that are asked by travelers who've never sailed.

Is cruising expensive?

The upfront price may come as a shock, but remember that your cruise fare includes your accommodations, meals in main dining venues, activities (including children's programs) and nighttime entertainment -- not to mention transportation from port to port. When you factor in all of the costs you'd incur on a land vacation, as well as the great deals you can currently find on cruise travel, you'll discover that you can actually save money by booking a cruise, as opposed to a land-based vacation.

Are cruises all-inclusive?

No. Your cruise fare includes a lot (see above), but you'll pay extra for a whole host of amenities. Among them? Alternative restaurants, some coffee and ice cream bars, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, shore excursions, spa treatments and gratuities. The luxury lines include more, but even they are never completely all-inclusive. (Drinks and gratuities may be included in fares, but spa treatments and shore excursions won't be.)

Are all cruise ships alike?

Cruise ships come in a variety of sizes and personalities. You'll find a myriad of variations: big ships, small ships, explorer-oriented ships, absolutely decadent luxury ships, family ships, sailing ships ... and on and on!

Is cruising like going to Vegas or to a resort?

Well, yes -- and no. These days, cruise ships do have all the comforts and luxuries that travelers associate with on-land resorts, as well as much of the glitz and glamor of destinations like Vegas (including bustling casinos and lavish production shows). However -- and this may seem obvious, but it needs to be mentioned -- you are on a ship. Rough seas can impact your itinerary, you must debark and reboard the ship at specified times, and your cabin will typically be smaller than a hotel room (unless you book the highest level of suites).

Isn't cruising just for the "newly wed and nearly dead"?

It used to be, but no way is that true anymore. Cruise ships are increasingly targeting families, offering children's programs and facilities that rival those on land. You'll find onboard water parks, teen discos, video games and a variety of crafts projects and interactive play. Singles can enjoy the camaraderie of communal meals and organized shore tours, special singles' meet-and-greets and a host of onboard activities. Hip and urban travelers will be pleased to find gourmet dining, high-tech and modern entertainment and late-night action at onboard bars and clubs. Gay and lesbian cruisers are welcomed onboard with their own meet-ups in ships' lounges. Charter cruises -- catering to gay singles, couples and families -- are also offered.

Health-conscious and active travelers should note that midnight buffets have given way to expansive fitness centers, spa cuisine and an array of active, onboard pursuits like rock-climbing and Pilates classes. And, cruise lines are even offering plenty of shorter-than-usual (three- to six-night) voyages that are marketed to working folks, who simply can't give up two weeks or more.

Will I get sick or seasick?

You may have read news articles about outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships. Norovirus is a stomach bug that spreads easily in contained environments, such as hospitals and schools, as well as ships. You can stay healthy by washing your hands often and using the hand sanitizer lotion found in dining areas and by the ship's gangway.

As for seasickness, most ships are so big and well-stabilized that you can hardly tell you're moving, especially in the calm waters of the Caribbean and Alaska's Inside Passage. Radar helps big ships outrun hurricanes and other bad-weather patches, but if you do happen to pass through some rough water, any queasiness can usually be relieved by an over-the-counter medication like Dramamine or Bonine. If you are very prone to seasickness, ask your doctor before you leave home for the Transderm patch, available by prescription. Alternative remedies include ginger capsules and acupressure wristbands, available at most pharmacies. Also, note that the purser's desks on most ships can provide rations.

Is cruising safe?

Ships must follow an extraordinary number of rules and regulations that assure passengers' (and crewmembers') safety while onboard. The Coast Guard conducts rigorous, quarterly inspections of all ships that operate from U.S. ports, looking to make sure they comply with emergency-response requirements. Rather than sinking (a la Titanic), fire is the biggest concern, and when it comes to fire safety, ships operate under international rules, known as Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The rules require most ships to have smoke detectors, sprinklers and low-level emergency lighting for escape routes.

Within the first 24 hours of sailing, everyone on your ship is required to participate in a safety drill that includes trying on a nifty orange life jacket and locating your assigned lifeboat, on the odd (and rare) chance that you need to use it.

However, cruise ships are like mini-cities, and you should take the same general travel precautions you would on land. Keep any valuables in your cabin's safe (or leave them at home), don't open your cabin door without verifying who's there, and give children strict rules about when they can and cannot roam the ship without adult supervision.

Will I be bored?

No way! You may need a map to navigate around today's big ships, and there's something to do in nearly every corner. For intellectual stimulation, you can listen to guest speakers, participate in Bridge tournaments or attend wine lectures. To get your heart pumping, play some hoops, or visit the ship's gym. There are pools for soaking and swimming, boutiques for shopping and spas for pampering. You can participate in contests, do crafts, watch movies, or simply grab a book and get a tan.

Even on small ships, there's plenty to do during times when the vessels are at sea; most notably, these cruises tend to offer strong enrichment-oriented activities. Plus, remember you're not on the ship all the time -- most itineraries include a variety of different ports of call.

Won't I get fat?

Okay, we know the rumor that the average person gains about five pounds on a one-week cruise. But, for those watching calories, be assured there will be low-fat (and often low-carb) options on the menus and some healthy choices at the buffets. Certain ships actually have onboard spa cafes. And, many have simply done away with midnight buffets -- those longtime paeans of absolute indulgence. (After-dinner revelers can, instead, partake in hors d'oeuvres, served in late-night venues.)

Aside from eating healthy, you can also burn calories by working out in the ship's gym, speed-walking or jogging around the various decks (or ditching elevators in favor of stairs), and mountain-biking, hiking and kayaking in port. Some ships have basketball courts, rock-climbing walls and rollerblading rinks for more onboard athletics.

Can I stay in touch?

On most ships, you'll get CNN or some other cable news network on your in-room TV. A daily news sheet may also be available, combining wire reports with stories from major newspapers. You can make phone calls from the phone in your cabin (though it's prohibitively expensive) and from your cell phone, as well. (Roaming charges apply.) Most ships have Internet centers and shipboard WiFi, so you can read e-mail and surf the Web.

As you can see from the answers to these questions, there is no reason to avoid taking that cruise vacation. In my humble opinion, a cruise vacation is just about the best vacation in there is. Why not try it for yourself?

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner
M & E Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 13:00 Comments (0)

Discovering Alaska III: Ketchikan, Alaska

Exploring Alaska's "First City"

Leaving Canada behind, our first full day on the Diamond Princess was a relaxing day at sea. A Sea Day at the beginning of a cruise is a wonderful opportunity to relax from the stress of traveling to the embarkation port and you have time to explore the ship and participate in onboard activities. The Diamond Princess had tons of thing to do, with covered and uncovered pools, the Lotus Spa, Grand Casino, several bars and restaurants including a 24 hour buffet, Seminars at Sea, television and movie presentations and all kinds of other events all day long. This first day of the cruise also included Formal Night so my husband and I had the entire day to get ready for the evening festivities. We chose Early Seating for dinner, so we would have the same dining room table and table mates for the entire week. Dinner that night was a fun and festive affair that included delicious food and eight wonderful dinner companions who were all from the United Kingdom. After dinner we wandered down the Promenade Deck, in and out of the nightclubs and the casino before the big event of the evening, the Captain's Champagne Waterfall Party that included free champagne and cocktails. Finally retiring to our cabin later that evening, we looked forward to arriving in Ketchikan the next day.

The next morning I was up early and on the balcony to watch the ship docking in Ketchikan. The weather was beautiful! So much warmer than I expected, with a sunny blue sky. Ketchikan was a beautiful picturesque town and we docked right in the middle of it. Ketchikan is located along the shores of Alaska's Inside Passage within the heart of the sixteen million acre Tongass National Forest. The community is comprised of three islands, Revillagigedo, Gravina and Pennock and transportation between them requires a boat or ferry ride across the Tongass Narrows. Home to 13,700 year around residents, Ketchikan is one of "America's Top 100 small arts communities". Ketchikan has an impressive variety of shops and galleries that feature work by many of the island’s resident artists and an assortment of souvenir items and unique gifts that make shopping one of the popular things to do there. I had reserved an excursion for the afternoon, so the morning was free for us to explore the town and buy some gifts to take home.

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We walked off the ship right into town and down the street to a large store to buy some Alaskan gifts and apparel. I found a great hat to wear in case of rain and a couple of Alaska shirts to take home. We spent the rest of the morning sightseeing and window shopping until time to meet back at the ship for our excursion. At noon we met up with other passengers for the short walk to a restaurant for our "Alaskan Chef's Table" excursion. What a wonderful experience that was! Our small group shared a private dining room and sampled fresh Alaska seafood, regional dishes and dessert, all prepared by the Chef while we waited and looked out at the beautiful coastline. Leaving the restaurant 2 hours later, my husband and I slowly walked back to the ship enjoying the fresh sea air and stunning Alaska scenery. It was a fantastic start to our Alaska cruise and I could not wait to see more!

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Coming up, a visit to Juneau, Alaska and my first Glacier up close and personal. To Be Continued......

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.

President/Owner
MEETINGS AND EVENTS UNLIMITED
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 08:39 Comments (0)

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