Luxury Cruising Offers Advantages for Many Celebrations

This new trend taking hold in the elite industry of luxury small ship cruising is being taken up by some big corporate companies as well as individuals who are looking for an event offering something with a difference that will have their guests talking about it for a long time after.

Small intimate motor yachts are now being hired for private functions, such as weddings, honeymoons, birthday parties, family celebrations, anniversaries and company meetings or social events.

These yachts make the perfect venue for a small intimate event as they are equipped with a full friendly professional crew, fully furnished, have an open bar and onboard chef to cater for any event or function.

Yacht charters are available all over the world for the pleasure seekers and there are many fabulous famous vacation islands to choose from.

Having a celebration for your child’s sixteenth birthday on board one of these beautiful floating hotels will be an unforgettable experience for him or her and their guests.

You may choose to party on the boat, or cruise to a specific destination, such as a private island, and drop anchor and start your celebrations there. Either way you and your guests are sure to have a memorable event that they will talk about for years to come.

Couples are choosing to get married on a cruise ship as you can reserve a small, fully crewed, private luxury small ship just for you, your wedding party and your guests. Very intimate and very fabulous!

Some couples are even choosing to stay on and honeymoon with their guests. This is a perfect situation for those couples who would love to have their friends and family join them on their honeymoon. And some couples even arrange to have a double wedding and honeymoon together!

While it can be a lot of fun to have others along you are provided with you own private quarters for your more intimate moments, while choosing to celebrate this momentous occasion with your closest friends as well.

Many companies are beginning to reserve these small yachts for corporate events as well, such as company dinner parties and award banquets for employees.

Consider having your next boardroom meeting on a small luxury cruise ship that offers you absolute privacy away from everything.

With full internet services available and a full suite of technology that includes a large flat screen for presentations it is the most luxurious floating office around. A helipad will easily accommodate an out-of-town executive who wants to join the meeting once the ship has sailed.

After the business is completed it’s time to adjourn to the bar, kick back and enjoy the pleasure of some good team building and serious fun.

These small cruise yachts come equipped with everything you need for your corporate events from an open bar to a fully staffed kitchen. If you want live music to entertain your guests, this can also be arranged.

They also offer glamour and exclusivity as well as a range of adventures such as heli-golf excursions, deep-sea fishing, beach and exercise activities, wine trails, bush and island walks to give different choices to your guests on board.

Whether it’s shopping for souvenirs at the local village markets, swimming or sun bathing on the beautiful island beaches, heading off with the guys for some serious big game fishing or heli-golf, you won’t be disappointed with the style and luxurious offerings on a luxury small ship cruse.

Why Choose a Honeymoon Cruise Vacation?

Planning your dream honeymoon? The world is your oyster – Bali, Barbados, a Greek island or maybe a honeymoon cruise vacation? Cruises are increasingly popular for anniversaries, weddings and they make a dream honeymoon cruise vacation. Here are a few reasons why a honeymoon cruise vacation beats a traditional hotel honeymoon every time.

Easy to Book Booking a honeymoon cruise trip is a very easy process. Simply browse the many destination options for your dates and press BOOK! It really is that easy. Optional pre- and post-cruise packages will include airfares, hotels and transfers. No holding hotel bookings whilst looking for suitable flights, no car hire to arrange and no transfers to worry about. A honeymoon cruise vacation package takes care of everything – cabin, transport and meals all-in-one. If only planning the wedding were so straightforward!

Great Winter Destinations Choices of where to enjoy a honeymoon in the winter can be limited, but cruise ships relocate to offer a honeymoon cruise in the sunshine at any time of year. In the winter, they are mainly based around the Caribbean, Hawaii and the Southern hemisphere. In the summer they cross the Atlantic and cruise the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Alaska. A honeymoon cruise vacation should be about relaxing in the sun, so book with confidence.

Extras Let the cruise company know that it is your honeymoon cruise vacation. Most ships offer a few goodwill extras for those on a honeymoon cruise vacation. Tables for two, complimentary champagne and chocolates and even a honeymooners’ cocktail party may be on offer. Some cruise lines have honeymoon packages for a small supplement which include engraved glasses, flowers, a wedding cake and plenty of other nice surprises.

Privacy You may think that joining 2000 other cruisers will not allow much privacy for your honeymoon cruise vacation but the opposite is actually true. Enjoy room service in your cabin at any time of day or night – without a nasty surcharge. Fruit platters, cheese platters, drinks, light snacks and breakfast in bed are all just a phone call away. Ignore the organized shore excursions, take a taxi into town and explore each port of call hand-in-hand. Alternatively, ask the taxi driver to take you to the nearest quiet beach – and arrange for him to pick you up later! Most cruises have alternative dining for a supplement and these exclusive restaurants offer candlelit dinners, attentive waiter service and a romantic environment to make your honeymoon really special.

Entertainment Life onboard a cruise ship is never dull. Sit in a cozy nook and be serenaded by a professional pianist, dance cheek-to-cheek, enjoy an off-Broadway show, head for the casino and try your luck, or step out in the warm night air and cuddle beneath the stars. Best of all, at the end of the evening your cabin is just a stroll away. No calling a taxi or driving a hire car in a strange place. With a honeymoon cruise vacation, everything is taken care of perfectly.

Cunard Line: The World’s Most Exclusive Cruise Company

Cunard Line sets the standard for exceptional comfort, understated elegance, and over-the-top luxury. It boasts of three magnificent ships: the Queen Elizabeth 2, the Queen Victoria, and the Queen Mary 2, sitting 1,791 passengers, 2,014 passengers, and 2,620 passengers, respectively. Cunard Line has a host of undeniably luxurious ships but its reasonable premium-brand prices give it the edge over its top-shelf competitors.

The Queen Mary 2 of Cunard Line is the world’s biggest ocean liner. Moreover, it is the only ship where you can experience a transatlantic cruise any time of the year. Its rich legacy and opulence is evident in its accommodations, amenities, and restaurants. Its onboard planetarium will astound you as well as the on-board artwork that is worth more than $5 million.

The Queen Victoria mirrors the breathtaking splendour of the Cunard Line’s honoured history, which has been successfully fused with the contemporary ambience of a world-class cruise ship. It is big enough to let you indulge in the finer things in life but also cosy enough to make you appreciate the warmth and intimacy of the surroundings with other people.

The Queen Elizabeth 2 is a reflection of its sister ships in terms of old-fashioned grandeur and excellent service. Nevertheless, its decor and layout is a bit more chic modern, with Art Deco elements. It infuses a lighter ambience all throughout the luxurious public and private areas, making you feel relaxed.

This sophisticated ocean liner gives you the options to explore all the beautiful territories around the world. You can choose from a three-day cruise and a four-day getaway cruise to a 10-day transatlantic tour and a worldwide cruise of 102 days! Of course, Cunard’s itineraries offer moderate offerings that will match your needs, expectations, and budget.

Indulge in supreme luxury while travelling across the Mediterranean’s sunny coasts, the Caribbean’s lush islands, and the exotic territories of the Norwegian Fjords. Each morning is as glorious as the previous one because you can create fabulous memories as you sail across Central America, the Pacific Isles, the Arabian Peninsula, and other far-flung destinations.

While you are aboard, you will be treated with the White Star Service that Cunard Line is esteemed for. Have a sumptuous meal with your loved ones at a private balcony or engage in some retail therapy at exclusive boutiques. Waltz your way around the dance floor or hit the high-tech nightclubs if you want. Enjoy a private screening of your favourite movie or enjoy a leisurely afternoon in a whirlpool.

But there is more to Cunard Line than just leisure and entertainment. Take advantage of the Cunard Insights programme which offers a diverse range of activities and opportunities to widen your horizon and hone your skills. Join the thought-provoking literary discussions at the book club or just listen to the stellar jazz performances by students from the Juilliard School. Listen to a host of speakers from different professional fields or participate in stargazing on deck.

All these and more are what you can expect from Cunard Line. If you want to experience a sophisticated adventure and intellectually enriching travel around the world, there is no way to go than with the world’s most exclusive cruise company.

Review: Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas From Galveston

I had planned this cruise for seven months. A friend and I who had previously cruised with Carnival and Celebrity were eager to try Royal Caribbean after hearing so many positive things about the beauty of the ship, quality of food and service, etc. For the second time, I surprised my retired parents by taking them with us (the previous year I had surprised them with an Alaskan cruise which I will review later), and they were absolutely giddy with excitement when they found out that they would once again be traveling aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, which they claimed was their favorite ship of 13 other cruises they had taken. With the ship fresh out of dry dock for upgrades, were set to go to some brand-new destinations none of us had ever visited: Roatan Island, Honduras and Belize City. Expectations were high.

Then cruise time came. While I am not prepared to say that we had a BAD time on this cruise, I think it is fair to say that our expectations were a bit deflated, pretty much from the minute we arrived at the Port of Galveston. Allow me to take you through the high and low lights of life on the high seas aboard Navigator of the Seas.

The Highs

Our dining experience– Most definitely the best service we received on the ship was in the main Sapphire Dining Room, which is without a doubt the most gorgeous dining room I have seen on a cruise ship. Walking into the dining room is like entering a regal opera house complete with grand stair case and three levels of dining with windows on each side. Our two servers were extremely attentive, noting my step-mother’s preference of making her own ice tea with two glasses of ice, 2 tea bags and some hot water, which was waiting for her every night after night one. I could fault her for being a “tea snob,” but then I’d have to look at myself in the mirror with my Starbucks in hand turning my nose up at Folgers. All of us enjoyed the variety of meal choices and thought the food was of very high quality, with service running like clock work. It was truly a pleasure to dine each evening.

Here we are at dinner. I am the goof-ball in blue.

The Cabin– Inside cabin 7667 (Aft Port) was home sweet home for our week at sea. My parents were right next door in 7669. For an inside cabin, there was plenty of room to stow all of our stuff and have a completely clear space to move in. I would say the bed was a bit hard, but it’s all about your preference as my friend and traveling partner Jay (the guy in purple) said his was just right. Ample closet and drawer space allowed us to each have sufficient space to unpack. Our steward service was also top-notch, re-stocking and tidying up twice daily.

The ship– Navigator is definitely a beautiful ship. Of note is the Royal Promenade, a series of shops, restaurants and bars running aft to forward giving cruisers the feel of strolling down a cobblestone street while at sea. I recommend the Two Poets Pub for some nice ambiance and people-watching. The main atrium is gorgeous, and the various lounges and bars are designed with a very classy yet comfortable feel. The pool deck is also impressive, featuring two main pools flanked by several hot tubs, some of which are shaded. For the most part there are plenty of chairs both in and out of the shade, but if your cruise is full you had better get there early to snag one. We also thought the nightclub overlooking the pool deck with its floor-to-ceiling windows added a nice touch to the ship’s offerings. The ship’s casino is also pretty decent, but since smoking is allowed in there, you may come out smelling like an ash tray.

Overlooking the Royal Promenade

The Grand Atrium

Beverage Package–Three of us on this cruise had the premium package for $55 per day, but since my dad only drinks beer, we got him the basic package. At first glance, this package might seem a bit pricey (Royal Caribbean’s beverage packages are some of the most expensive at sea), but overall we got our money’s worth. What I especially liked was that basically nothing on the drink menu was off limits short of the super premium stuff. You could even opt for Grey Goose vodka at no extra charge. The flip side here is the bar service (see below).

Theatre Entertainment–If you ever find yourself on Navigator of the Seas, don’t miss the ice-skating show. It is fantastic and was much better than I thought it was going to be. We also enjoyed the Elton John impersonator, the bar flair show and the adult game show.

The Lows

Embarkation/Debarkation–The words fiasco, nightmare, eternity and disorganization come to mind for both. This was hands-down the WORST embarkation/debarkation process I have ever experienced, and my parents who had been on 13 previous cruises agreed. We should have expected this when Royal Caribbean sent us out an e-mail prior to the cruise instructing us to arrive at certain times based on the deck on which our cabin was located. As it happened, we had flown into Houston, and our transfer dropped us off right at the time we were supposed to be there, which was 12:30 p.m. We did not step foot on the ship until almost 2 p.m, as we were stuck two different lines, both of which were extremely slow-moving. This is definitely not the way you want to start your vacation, and very few smiles were to be found in the security and check-in lines. Mind you, I totally expect a bit of a wait checking in, but this was just ridiculous. I think the longest wait I have ever experienced prior to this was 30 minutes tops. I definitely expressed my dissatisfaction to the check-in lady.

Debarkation was practically just as bad. Since we had a driver waiting for us, we opted for the self check-out and were given a specific time and place to meet. We have done this on other cruises with minimal waiting, with customs officers boarding the ship to collect forms. In the past, we have basically just walked off the ship. Not this time. When we arrived at the appointed spot we then waited another good 45 minutes just to be allowed to disembark. Once off the ship, guess what? Another line, another 45 minutes to pass through customs. I ended up being a charged an additional wait fee by my driver, thanks to Royal Caribbean and the Port of Galveston.

Bottom line–I will never cruise from Galveston, Texas again as they clearly do not have the ability to handle the volume of people that cruise ships have. Basically, Royal Caribbean left a negative first impression and a negative last impression.

Service–Aside from our servers at dinner, service in the bars and lounges on this ship was average at best and certainly not what I am accustomed to on a cruise. While some bartenders were standouts, it generally took forever to get a drink and often you felt as if you were a bother to the bartender or server. The worst service was probably at the pool bar. Some might say that I am too demanding, but when I spend my hard-earned money on vacation I want decent service. Period. I didn’t really get it on this cruise. My parents also commented that “things just weren’t the same on this cruise” as their previous experience on Navigator of the Seas.

Kids, kids, kids– OK, I am probably going to get some eye-rolls for this, and maybe for some it wouldn’t be a negative, but there were just too many kids taking over the main pool area on this ship. As with anyplace else, parents are partially to blame here, allowing their little monsters to run amuck and splash others in the main pool, but I fault Royal Caribbean for not enforcing pool rules. On past cruises, kids weren’t even allowed in hot tubs, but they were in this one. Granted, there is an adults-only pool and hot tub, but the problem is that there isn’t any entertainment there (not that the entertainment at the main pool was anything to write home about).

We did not participate in any excursions on this cruise, so I can’t speak to their quality. We did hear various comments that the excursions were over-priced and not worth the money. One excursion was even over an hour late and had to be delivered to the ship by boat as it was departing Honduras.

The verdict–If I had to choose between Royal Caribbean and Carnival, I would probably go with Carnival based on past experiences. I am not totally closed to giving Royal Caribbean another chance, but they would have to completely WOW me to keep me coming back.

What to Expect Your First Time on a Cruise

A cruise is very different from any other type of vacation. If you’ve never been on one before, you’ll want to know what to expect and what to be prepared for. With a little knowledge on how to avoid hassles, a cruise can be the getaway of a lifetime.

The most important thing you should familiarize yourself with is every level of expenses. What is included with the basic charge and what isn’t. Some cruise lines will include free room service and other luxuries for free, so make sure you’re not missing out on anything. Also know what isn’t included, so you’ll know how much extra money to bring. All cruises have different policies so be sure to do your homework.

Another big thing to be ready for is sea sickness. This is especially true if you’ve never been on a ship before and don’t know whether or not you’re affected by sea sickness. There are many medicines for this and you can ask your doctor what would be best for you. One of the more popular options is a sea sickness pill, but one of the major side effects is drowsiness so be careful when you take it. Patches are also popular.

The weather will play a huge role in your cruise experience. This will depend entirely on where you cruise is chartered and what time of year it is. Most Caribbean cruises will be fairly warm year-round. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses. But a cruise to Alaska will be cool and sometimes downright cold. So pack accordingly.

Consider what kind of events you will be going to on the cruise when packing your clothing. Some cruises will have formal events, others won’t. You’ll want to know this in advance and be prepared for it.

Remember that cruise ships can be extremely crowded sometimes. Have designated times and locations where you and your group will meet-up later in the event that you get separated. Avoid areas that can become overcrowded easily, like elevators. Some cruise lines will have elevators that you can use to get from one level of the ship to another, but these are often so over-used that they take forever and should be saved for the older passengers.

Some cruise ships can be a pretty intense party experience, especially if you don’t have children in your group. Be sure to pace yourself when drinking. Getting drunk on a rocking ship can be a bad combo. Also, on the subject of drinking, be sure to check to see if your cruise line does automatic tips on the bill. Some cruises charge you a 15% tip automatically with alcoholic drinks, so don’t pay the tip twice by mistake.

Another important expense to note is phone calls. Your best option is to wrap up all your business, both professional and personal before you head off on your cruise, so you’ll have no need to call back and check-up on things very often. Cells phones will not work on some cruise lines. You will likely have a phone in your room, but it can actually cost up to fifteen dollars per minute to talk to someone back on land. If you must make phone calls, make them when the ship stops to make port.

When the cruise is over, have your things packed and ready to go at the specified time. The staff of cruise ships are typically very friendly, but they have to be insistent when it comes to departing guests. They need plenty of time to get the room ready for the next passengers and won’t want to wait on you. Get to bed early and try to avoid hangovers on your last night.

By planning ahead and knowing what’s available on your ship; you can assure that you and your family have the trip of lifetime.