Archive | June 2012

Cruisetour – Alaska (Part 2)

This is a continuation of Part 1 of the Cruisetour in Alaska, which was posted yesterday. In this video, you will see more of Hotel Alyeska, as well as the other three hotels that I stayed in: Talkeetna Lodge, McKinley Village Lodge, and Pikes Waterfront Lodge. Here you will see Mount McKinley in all it’s glory – did you know that I am part of the 30% club? That means only 30% of the people who visit Mount McKinley get to see it, as often it is shrouded in clouds or fog – yet on this occasion, Mount McKinley was clearly visible. Also, you will see Denali Park, and footage of the Grizzly Bear sighting.

Now, I will add further comments about Day 2 through Day 4 of the cruisetour right here, instead of listing all the days out one by one.  As you know, I stayed at the Alyeska Resort & Hotel on Day 1, and when I awoke the next morning, I went on the tram to take a look at where the skiing takes place in this wonderful resort.  I already showed you the pictures in a previous post, and many more are included on the videos than what I can enclose here in this post.  Therefore, I will start with what happened when we left Alyeska.  We went to the Conservation Center, which is where I saw the Black Bear, and other animals.  From there, we went to Anchorage, and the most notable thing about Anchorage from what I remembered was that it is a city with a lot more choices of shopping and restaurants than you will find in other places such as Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Talkeetna, etc.  There was a market that had really good salmon quesadillas, and I would highly recommend trying one of these if you ever get chance to visit.  Here are some of my pictures of Anchorage:

Market in Anchorage, Alaska

Dogs of Alaska – Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska

We then left Anchorage after about three hours or so, and headed for Talkeetna Lodge which overlooks Mount McKinley.

Talkeetna Lodge, Alaska

Talkeetna Lodge

Restaurant at Talkeetna Lodge

Talkeetna Lodge

Weddings at Talkeetna

I am pretty sure that the tour guides or someone told us that Mount McKinley is the tallest mountain from base to the top (the peak) – so it is pretty spectacular.  However, it was sad to hear that just before the day  we were there, someone had a fatal fall from it.  Something so spectacular can also be so dangerous, unfortunately.

Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley

I took the photo below with my I-Phone, and at times it is really hard to distinguish which is Mount McKinley, but it looks as though it’s where the third bump is (more towards the right of the picture).  With my regular camera, I took the other pictures below of sunset in the vicinity, but they weren’t directly over Mount McKinley, but sunset is sunset I guess, and it doesn’t really matter where it is as long as it’s enjoyed.  What is notable to mention is that sunset started at about 11:30 pm, and lasted until 2 am or so.  It stays light until very late in certain parts of Alaska, and this seemed to vary as we traveled from place to place.  Also, it was light very early in the morning too, so there were very few hours of darkness, especially at Talkeetna Lodge.  It was so unusual to see sunset so late at night, and who can go to sleep when you can stay up until 2 am just appreciating the sunset over Mount McKinley?

Sunset over Mount McKinley

   

You can take a flightseeing excursion over Mount McKinley, and you can actually even land on it.  We saw so many flightseeing tours, and here are some pictures of planes flying close by:

      

Leaving Talkeetna, I took this picture:

near Denali

We arrived at our next stop, where we would spend the night prior to visiting Denali National Park

McKinley Village Lodge

McKinley Village Lodge

McKinley Village Lodge

McKinley Village Lodge

That’s me (Davinder) at McKinley Village Lodge

McKinley Village Lodge

Then we set off in the morning really early at 5:30 am or so for Denali National Park.  This meant that I had to wake up at approximately 4am – another early morning!  I barely had time to grab something from the coffee shop in the lobby.  They gave us lunch boxes on the bus as there are no cafes or restaurants in Denali, and you have to be very careful with food.  You even have to make sure that you don’t put anything in the trash cans that has any trace of food, this is for the benefit of the animals – so that they don’t associate food with humans.  All food has to be consumed on the bus, and disposed of in special trash containers within the bus, and then the bus personnel see to the proper disposal of it.  I think our sandwiches were reindeer meat, and there was some type of crackers and raisins, and a bottle of water.

Our tour of Denali, which was a 7 hour tour because it was the upgraded Denali Park Tour, cost an additional $58.25.  The included Denali Park Tour does not go deep into Denali, and I believe it only lasts about two and a half hours.  However, it was highly recommended to get the upgraded tour, and I’m glad that I did.

Here are some pictures, I’m not going to show too many as again, you can see them in my video or a previous post.  The first picture shows you the bus that takes you into Denali National Park.  My most personal prized picture of Denali is that of the Grizzly Bear, and I also got it on video.

The bus – Denali Park

Grizzly Bear

Dall Sheep of Alaska

This is some of the landscape within Denali:

Denali National Park landscape

Denali National Park

near Denali National Park

Now, I should give you a little background on Denali.  This park was put into place after much lobbying to Congress from the efforts of early conservationists such as Charles Sheldon, who fought to preserve Denali.  Did you know that some people refer to Mount McKinley as Denali, while others just wish to call it Mount McKinley?  The native name for it is Denali.  In fact, the park was first named Mount McKinley National Park, but it was renamed Denali National Park and Preserve.    Did you know that cars cannot go deep into the park?  I believe only a certain number are given a permit to enter the park, but they are only allowed to go up to a certain point.  By riding the tour bus, we are all helping to protect Denali’s wilderness ecosystem.  Denali is an important park, because the animals within it are respected, and have a safe area to roam around.   I like bears and appreciate the idea that there is a place for them where they are protected, and won’t be hunted or slaughtered, but I guess the same goes for all the other animals there who are all important to one another’s existence.  Anyway, I didn’t mean to go off into talking about something that I don’t know a lot about, but I do appreciate what they are doing in Denali.

After we finished our tour of Denali, we headed to Fairbanks, and the Pikes Waterfront Lodge.  This was to be our last stop and our last night in Alaska.

Pikes Waterfront Lodge

Pikes Waterfront Lodge

Pikes Waterfront Lodge

Sunset at Pikes Waterfront Lodge

I have finally finished the posts and videos on Alaska.  Well, until next time……I wish you a very pleasant week ahead, and a happy summer!

Cruisetour – Alaska

Join Davinder on her 4 day cruisetour of Alaska, which started in Seward at the end of the 7 day cruise from Vancouver to Alaska.

Day 1 of the Cruisetour was busy and very memorable with visits to the SeaLife Center, a Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise (where Davinder saw a whale, at least a glimpse of a whale), and a wonderful trip on the Wilderness Express train where she saw a Bald Eagle. The day finished with a stay overnight at the beautiful Alyeska Resort and Hotel, which is one of the best ski resorts in Alaska.

How is a cruisetour different to a shore excursion?

A cruisetour is different to a shore excursion, because the latter is available as an optional trip during a cruise ship’s port visit, while a cruisetour, is a trip you can make either prior to your cruise or after.  You can take cruisetours virtually everywhere you embark on your cruise, or disembark, so next time you think of a cruise whether it’s from Venice, Rome, London, Miami, Vancouver, or any other port at all – think about a cruisetour, and you will get to see more of that particular place.  A cruisetour allows you to visit different places, and to see them in greater depth.  Transportation is included, as well as accommodation, and some meals.  Most cruisetours are run by cruise lines, so it makes sense to book them along with your cruise.  You should always book your cruisetours prior to taking your cruise.

I took a post-cruise tour, which started from Seward, which was where the Vancouver to Alaska cruise finished.  Also, just something to note…..I would never have seen bears during my cruise – even on the shore excursions that I took (however, there are some excursions where there is a chance to see bears), and since I love bears, this cruisetour made it worthwhile to me, especially when I saw the Grizzly Bear in Denali Park.  The Black Bear that I saw even though it was in a Conservation Center, was also another highlight of my cruisetour, as was the Wilderness Express train, and my stay at the Hotel Alyeska.  I also enjoyed seeing Mount McKinley.  Therefore, as you can see – you would not be able to experience Denali Park, Mount McKinley, the Wilderness Express train, Mount McKinley, or Hotel Alyeska without going on a cruisetour, unless you fly to Alaska just specifically to experience these places.  I hope this explanation has made it a little clearer to you as to what a cruisetour is, and sometimes it is more difficult to write about it than to show it in a video, so I’ve attempted to explain it in a video that I made – please see the next post, and I will also put a link here:  Cruisetour – Alaska

Anyway, to continue my recount of the cruisetour, I have included some pictures below.  The bus was right outside the cruise ship, waiting to take us on the next adventure.

Cruisetour – Alaska

We then went to the SeaLife Center (I showed you some pictures of the sea lions and seals in a previous post), here are some pictures of the actual Center

SeaLife Center, Seward, Alaska

SeaLife Center, Seward, Alaska

vicinity of SeaLife Center, Seward, Alaska

We then went back by bus to near where the cruise ship was docked to catch a Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise.  This is where I caught a glimpse of a whale, you can see that in my video that I will post at the bottom of this page. Here are pictures of the port of Seward:

The port of Seward, Alaska

Radiance Of The Seas, Seward

Port of Seward, Alaska

Port of Seward, Alaska

Port of Seward, Alaska

Port of Seward, Alaska

Now, for the highlight of the cruisetour, or at least my favorite part – the Wilderness Express train – you just have to experience this train.  It has two levels, and has a glass dome, which makes for excellent viewing.  You can see the wildlife of Alaska as you zoom on by, we saw caribou, and bald eagles (you will see the bald eagle on my video, didn’t get a picture of it, just video footage).

The Wilderness Express

That’s me – Davinder – both outside the train, and on level two of the train in the glass dome portion of it. Everybody else had gone downstairs to eat.

The Wilderness Express

Here I am with a fellow CruiseOne franchise owner and his wife, and another travel agent.

The dining car on the Wilderness Express

Have you ever delved into your food, and then realized you should have taken a picture first?  Well, this halibut was so good, that I could not resist, and I took the picture too late.  I probably should not even include this picture here, but I promise this was just about the best dish of food I had during the whole trip to Alaska – it was delicious!

Food on the Wilderness Express (half-eaten!)

I’m not sure if I showed you this picture of the caribou, but we saw these from the train.

Caribou, Alaska

Well, if they could make a song and sing it to the tune of “Welcome to the Hotel California”, they should do it for the Hotel Alyeska.  Welcome to the Hotel Alyseska, it’s a lovely place.  We arrived at this beautiful hotel way too late, it must have been at about 9pm.  The next day we had to leave at around 11 am, and that certainly was not fair.  I just loved this hotel.  It is simply beautiful, and I could easily stay here for three or four days at least, a visit of one night is not worth it.  It has so much atmosphere, and words cannot describe it – both inside and outside of the hotel, it is exquisite.

It was snowing when we arrived there, and this was on Friday, May 18th.  The Hotel Alyeska is one of the best ski resorts in Alaska.  It is a very popular place, and rightly so.

Hotel Alyeska, Alaska

Hotel Alyeska, Alaska

Hotel Alyeska, Alaska

Hotel Alyeska, Alaska

Hotel Alyeska, Alaska

Hotel Alyeska, Alaska

The next morning, we took a tram up to where all the skiing takes place, and there was so much snow.

Tram at Alyeska Resort and Hotel

Tram, Alyeska Resort and Hotel, Alaska

Hotel Alyeska, Alaska

Out of the four hotels that I stayed in during the four day cruisetour of Alaska, the Alyeska Resort was undoubtedly the best.  It is just magical.

Hotel Alyeska

Goodbye, Hotel Alyeska and the Wilderness Express train.  I wish I’d had more time with both of you – you were both part of my most incredible experiences of the cruisetour, and both occurred on Day One of the four days.  I’m glad that I captured you in photographs and video, as now I will always remember you.

Beaches Negril – A Fantastic All-Inclusive Family Vacation

Jamaica is one of my favorite places to visit.  I have been to Jamaica four times now, once to Montego Bay and three times to Negril.  In 2010, I took my kids and we went to Beaches in Negril.  We were supposed to go to Beaches Boscobel, but found out at the last moment that our booking was going to be transferred to Beaches Negril, and it turned out to be a great vacation.  It was absolutely fantastic – an all-inclusive vacation that can just about parallel any all-inclusive cruise (and you know I love cruises)!  What was nice about this vacation was that the Beaches Negril property overlooks the beach, and some of the water activities such as the Banana Boat are included.  One night there was a beach party where dinner was served out on the beach, on tables that had white table-cloths spread out on them.  It looked really fancy outside, and the buffet was scrumptious, there were even fresh coconuts – everyone lined up for them and were drinking the refreshing juice of the coconuts right out of the shell.    This was a beach paradise.  If you should ever want to book one of the Beaches resorts, I can book it for you, in fact I would be happy to recommend it as a great family resort and vacation.

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

That’s me with my little girl Chandi who was only one and a half then, she’s three and a half years old now.

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

The Banana Boat was so much fun!  I tried it myself, and even have a short video on You Tube on this.  I may add this later into this post.

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Me and my three kids – they got me to go into the Lazy River (you sit there and jet-streams of water push you through the entire pool).

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Swimming Pool – Beaches Negril, Jamaica

If you look past the swimming pool here, you will also see the beach

Swimming Pool at Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Sunset at Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Thanks for reading my post, and remember Jamaica is a great place to vacation, actually one of the very best places.  I love Jamaica, I love the people there, they are so nice and friendly, and  it makes for a great place to vacation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cruising

Frequently Asked Questions About Cruising

Is cruising affordable and a good vacation value?

Cruising is the best vacation value! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget. Your cruise fare includes your accommodations, on board activities and entertainment, most meals, plus transportation from port to port. You’ll know what your vacation will cost you before you go. (Typically, your only extra expenses will be drinks, specialty restaurants, optional shore excursions and personal services such as massages or hairstyling.)

How long are cruises?

As long or short as you want. Most cruise lines offer itineraries from three days to three months.

Where can I go?

Wherever you want! Cruises visit over 500 ports worldwide and practically every destination accessible by water. You can embark on your cruise vacation from a wide variety of over 30 North American ports close to home or exciting and exotic locations around the globe.

How do I book a cruise?

Couple of options: Call Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises (doing business via CruiseOne) at 858-427-4972 or send an email to dkaur@cruiseone.com.  If you prefer to do it yourself, go on Davinder’s website at http://www.likecruises.com, and research cruises, you may even book and pay for a cruise, hotel, or all-inclusive resort yourself!  If you have any problems whatsoever, please give me a call, and I would love to help you.

Are all ships fairly similar?

Far from it. They range from intimate and yacht-like to vessels stretching longer than three football fields. You can sail with fewer than 100 fellow guests or with more than 5,000.

Enjoy atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, contemporary to classic. Enjoy the endless activities offered on a contemporary resort-style cruise, or immerse yourself in the culture of a destination on a special interest cruise.

MSC Musica Cruise Ship

Are there different types of cruises?

There are cruises designed to suit virtually every interest and personal preference.

The choices include: boutique, luxury cruises with globetrotting itineraries; large, contemporary ships with a fantastic array of recreational facilities; classic vessels evoking the time-honored traditions of cruising; special interest, or exploration cruises specializing in unique destinations with an accent on cultural enrichment; river voyages into the heart of a destination.

There are cruise lines that feature soft adventure expeditions to such unique frontiers as Antarctica, the Amazon Rain Forest or the African Serengeti. Or, discover historical legacies closer to home with enlightening itineraries to New England, French Canada, Colonial America, and America’s Rivers.

For experienced travelers, destination-focused cruises specialize in culturally-rich ports of call with itineraries dedicated to illuminating such historic, world-class treasures as the antiquities of classical Greece, the Polynesian paradise of Hawaii, the fabled splendor of Norwegian fjords or the castles and museums of Europe’s rivers.

For many, the perfect vacation includes the non-stop fun and sun of a tropical resort-style cruise to the Caribbean, where you can sample a variety of island cultures and cuisines while relaxing your cares away. Plus, many cruise lines create special “themes” on board, with entertainment ranging from jazz festivals and classical music concerts to golf clinics and murder mysteries at sea!

Are there any special educational programs on-board?

To complement the spirit of discovery that travel evokes, many cruise lines feature an extensive program of on board enrichment programs hosted by distinguished guest experts. In addition to lectures highlighting the history and sights of the ports you will be visiting, there may also be special in-depth presentations ranging from Renaissance art to strategic financial planning to epicurean secrets of classic French cuisine.

What’s an air/sea cruise?

A fly/cruise or an air/sea vacation package includes, along with your cruise fare, free or reduced-cost airfare to and from the ship’s port of embarkation. These convenient money-saving options are available from most major North American cities and include ground transfers between the airport and ship as well as baggage handling.

Do I need a passport?

Cruise Lines International Association, Inc. (CLIA) recommends passports on all cruises. While the U.S. Government may not require a Passport for Sea travel on certain “closed loop cruises” originating in the U.S. and for travel only within the Western Hemisphere, other specified documentation is required. For specific U.S. governmental Passport and Visa regulations visit: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.

Be sure to ask your travel agent what passport requirements apply to your cruise vacation. CLIA strongly recommends that all travelers apply for or renew their passports as soon as possible. Government regulations are continually being modified and it is best to be prepared. Besides, a passport grants you unlimited cruise vacation options around the world!

Further Information on Do I need a passport?

All passengers must provide proof of citizenship when boarding the ship, even if your cruise includes only domestic destinations.  If your cruise is an international sailing, the countries you visit will also require proof of citizenship.  The cruise lines strongly recommend bringing a valid passport as this is the only form of identification accepted by most countries as required by the US Department of State for reentry into the Unites States.

Additionally, some countries require visas.  You will need both a visa and a passport if your cruise departs from or visits a port of call that requires a visa.  You are responsible for acquiring the necessary visas.  If your cruise departs from or visits a port of call that requires a visa you must have a valid passport for your trip.  Non US citizens must present a valid passport and any visas or travel documents required for re-entry into the US.  Contact your consulate for specific requirements.

Are there different classes of service?

The vast majority of today’s cruise ships are “one-class.” Everyone can use all of the ship’s facilities. The price of your cabin is based primarily on its size and location. Regardless of the category you book, you’ll enjoy the same courteous service, menus, activities, and entertainment as everyone else on board.

Will I get bored? Feel confined?

Hardly! Being at sea gives you a feeling of total freedom that no land-based resort can offer. There’s plenty of room and it will probably take you two or three days just to discover everything that’s on board. Plus, you get the added adventure of exploring many exciting ports of call, often a new one every day of the trip!

Cruise ships are floating resorts with all the choices fine resorts have to offer. You can lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the sea air, soak up the sun, read good books, or watch the ever-changing seascape. Smaller ships focus on the treasures and delights of myriad destinations.

If you’re more active, join in exercise or dance classes, or sports contests. Practice your tennis stroke or golf swing, or take in some fresh air on the jogging deck. Or you can swim, stretch out in the sauna or work out in the gym. You can also watch a feature film, attend an enrichment lecture by experts, or play backgammon and bridge. And that’s just when you’re on board!

What can I do in port?

So much that you’ll have a hard time choosing! You can explore on your own or take a guided tour (referred to as shore excursions). Search ancient ruins or hunt for shopping bargains. Ride a raft over river rapids or a horse across miles of hills and beaches. Climb a waterfall or pyramid. Follow the footsteps of history or the wake of a waterskiing boat. If there’s still time, play golf or tennis. Learn how to windsurf. Sun and swim at some of the world’s best beaches. Catch a record marlin. Sail, snorkel or Scuba dive. Take a cable car to the top of a mountain. Explore dark catacombs.

In short, cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of new destinations and try all the things you’ve ever dreamed of doing, while never having to pack and unpack!

Do I have to participate in the activities?

On a cruise, you do what you want, when you want. You can do everything or do absolutely nothing. It’s your vacation!

Do cruise lines welcome families with kids?

More and more cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Twenty-five percent of cruisers sail with children and a majority of cruise lines provide plenty of supervised activities for kids, especially during school holidays. If your children enjoy swimming, sports, games, movies and the adventure of new places, they’ll love a family cruise. You’ll find that children adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won’t have to wonder what they’re up to every minute. Trained youth counselors will help keep them safe, busy and entertained. Ships even offer different types of age-appropriate activities, suitable for toddlers to teens.

What’s there to do at night?

When the stars come out, a cruise ship turns on. There’s dancing, live entertainment, nightclubs and lounges, feature films, and parties with all your new friends. Most ships also have casinos. What’s more, there are many special events like the Captain’s Cocktail Party, Passenger Talent Night, Broadway-style shows and Las Vegas-type revues.

Is there a charge for entertainment?

On a cruise vacation, the entertainment is on the house. There’s no cover, minimum or charge for an admission ticket. The shows are live, films first-rate and all included in your cruise fare.

Will there be people like me?

There’s no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! All kinds of people take cruises now… all ages… from all walks of life… singles, couples and families. Just ask your CLIA-affiliated travel agency for advice on the best ship for you, based on your tastes and lifestyle.

What should I pack?

Pack like you would for any resort. Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you’re on the ship or ashore. In the evening, ships vary as to dress. As on shore, attire is dictated by occasion. At the Captain’s Gala, for example, you’ll probably want to wear something more formal, such as a dark suit, or cocktail dress; perhaps even a dinner jacket or gown.

Will I need a tuxedo?

Reflecting today’s lifestyle trends, many cruise lines now feature a more relaxed and casual approach to dress throughout the cruise – while on others, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun. But don’t buy a tuxedo just for the trip. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are fine for the dressiest occasions. Plus, many ships offer tuxedo rental services.

Can singles have fun on a cruise?

Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone because it’s so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have parties for singles early in the cruise, so you can get to know other guests right away. Some ships even offer gentlemen hosts to be dance partners, dinner companions or a fourth at cards.

Many ships also have single staterooms and others offer single rates for double staterooms. If you ask, many cruise lines will even find you a roommate so you can obtain the per person/double occupancy rate, saving you even more on a great vacation..

Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?

Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms but do check with Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises to be sure. Most ships feature hair-dryers in your stateroom.

What about meal times?

Choices, choices and more choices. During the day, there are many different dining options – in the formal dining room, on deck, in a pizzeria and at an espresso bar, to name just a few. At night, most ships offer several venues. Some ships’ dining rooms can accommodate all guests at one time, called a “seating.” Many ships offer you a choice of several seating times, and others offer multiple restaurants for “anytime” dining. More traditional ships have two seatings in their formal dining rooms, which differ only by time: typically 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

To choose, just decide whether you prefer to dine early or late – then have Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises request your preference when you book your cruise. Frequently, you can choose to enjoy dinner someplace other than the formal dining room, such as in an intimate restaurant that features Italian or Asian cuisine. More and more cruise lines are opening up their informal lido areas to evening dining, where the dress and dishes always are casual, and sometimes, you can even eat out under the stars. And a large number of ships offer romantic in-cabin dinners. The choice is yours!

Is cruise ship dining as good as I’ve been told?

Everything you’ve heard about cruise ship dining is true. At each meal, you’ll find a varied selection of entrees (appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables, and desserts, too), and each day the selection will be different. If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with a cuisine or try a dish, you can feel free to order more than one entrée or appetizer (or dessert!). But, just because your cruise ship offers plenty of delicious food, doesn’t mean you’ll come home out of shape. You can choose low-cal, spa, vegetarian or fitness menu selections that are just as tempting as the regular menu. Best of all, the one thing you’ll never see on a cruise ship menu is a price. Because your meals are included!

Can I get a special diet?

Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, low cholesterol, diabetic, or other diet preferences. This request should be made in advance, so be sure to advise Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises when you book your cruise.

What about dining companions – can I sit with my spouse and friends only, or will I have table-mates?

Experienced cruisers say they prefer sitting at a table with several other diners; some lifelong friendships have been made this way. But the cruise lines are geared to accommodate each guest’s wishes, and it is possible to request a table for two or four. In the unlikely event that you do wish to change tablemates, speak with the maitre d’, who will make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions…discretely and politely.

Are there non-smoking areas?

Virtually all dining rooms are smoke free as are designated areas in other public rooms onboard the ship. Check with Davinder regarding the individual cruise line’s policies.

Can we celebrate a special occasion?

Absolutely! Most cruise lines will even treat you to a complimentary cake and a chorus of “Happy Whatever” to honor the occasion. Your birthday or anniversary can be more festive with champagne, flowers or canapes. You can even arrange for a special private party. All you have to do is advise your Davinder in advance.

Is cruising right for honeymooners?

Without a doubt. Cruising offers an atmosphere that’s just right for romance…cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away (even under the stars). Most lines provide special services – from Sunday or Monday departures to champagne and breakfast in bed.

Also, some ships offer special packages for performing a marriage ceremony or renewing marriage vows.

Can we stay in touch with the outside world?

Maybe too easily! Most staterooms are equipped with televisions and have satellite or cellular telephones. You can even use your own cell phone on some ships, where cellular service is available. Many cruise ships are now Wi- Fi enabled, so you can check your e-mail on your laptop in your stateroom or go to the on board computer café for Internet access. You can also call someone on shore through the ship’s radio officer while at sea. In addition, most ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected stock quotes and sports scores.

What about tipping?

Tipping is a matter of individual preference. A general rule of thumb is $3.50 – $5.00 per person per day for your cabin steward and dining room waiter and about half that for the dining room assistant. Other shipboard personnel can be tipped for special services or at your discretion. Some lines include an automatic gratuity in the price of your cruise and will advise you of that as well as the amount while other lines maintain a no tipping policy. Check with your Luchanik Travel & Cruises regarding the individual cruise line’s policies.

Are there medical services onboard?

While cruise ships are not comprehensive medical facilities, cruise lines understand that some people may have health needs during a cruise. Thus they are committed to providing first response and emergency care to guests until they can be transferred to a shoreside medical facility. Most cruise lines have 24-hour medical services and staff operating under guidelines developed in conjunction with the American College of Emergency Physicians (AECP). Cruise lines and travel agents encourage vacationers to obtain medical insurance, travel with adequate supplies of medical prescriptions and devices and to disclose pre-existing medical conditions before sailing.

Are there laundry services aboard ship?

Almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities and many provide dry-cleaning services. There is, however, an additional charge for professional laundry and dry-cleaning services. Many ships also have self-service launderettes.

Do cruise lines accept group bookings?

Most lines welcome groups – often at special rates, depending on how large the group. Policies vary from company to company and sometimes seasonally. Davinder would love to book your group, and can offer you the very best service for your group by booking you a conference room if needed, meeting space, organizing refreshments, and helping with special requests.

Are there meeting rooms onboard?

Nearly every full-size ship has public rooms or a conference center to offer as meeting space for private or corporate groups. Many feature dedicated meeting facilities. If you’d like to make meeting or incentive travel arrangements, ask Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises to contact the cruise line’s group sales department to coordinate schedules and arrange for any special requirements. Your ship may also be able to offer audio-visual equipment, communications, meeting coordinators, secretarial and printing services and more.

Can I extend my cruise vacation?

Cruise lines feature special pre-or post-hotel packages that allow you to extend your vacation in either your port of embarkation or debarkation.

Is motion discomfort a problem?

Rarely. Popular cruise itineraries ply some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition, stabilizers on modern ships, availability of advance weather information, and development of effective preventative medications have, for the most part, eliminated the incidence of motion discomfort.

How can I stay healthy on board?

Follow your mom’s advice and wash your hands! Cruise ships work very closely with public health agencies such as the CDC to make sure they provide the healthiest shipboard environment for guests. The last thing you want is to be ill while you’re on vacation, so take the simple precaution of washing your hands often with soap and warm water thoroughly. Wash your hands after using the restroom, before eating and avoid touching your face.

It sounds too good to be true! Is it?

The one complaint we hear time and again is that cruises end far too soon! Beyond that, it’s hard to find any negatives. All you have to do is relax and enjoy your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member on board is dedicated to making your cruise the best vacation of your life (until you top it with your next cruise!)

Should I get travel insurance?

Travelers purchasing a cruise also can protect themselves by paying with a major credit card, and/or obtaining low-cost travelers’ insurance that covers trip cancellation for any reason, including supplier default.  The latter is available through Davinder, who through CruiseOne – will insure you with one of the best trip protection plan carriers.

Who should I talk to if I have questions that haven’t been answered?

Ask your travel agent Davinder or email her at dkaur@cruiseone.com.  We look forward to helping you.

Reprinted onto this page, with some modifications, on January 9, 2011 from Cruise Lines International Association, Inc. (CLIA) http://www.cruising.org/vacation

Top Ten Reasons To Choose A Cruise

Top Ten Reasons To Choose A Cruise

A cruise ship is a floating resort, with all the things a fine resort has to offer and more! As a matter of fact, cruise vacations have a higher percentage of satisfied customers than any other vacation experience. What are you waiting for? Here are the Top 10 Reasons why you should choose to cruise.

  1. Choose to cruise for VALUE. One price buys your cabin, entertainment, dining, and more.
  2. Choose to cruise for ROMANCE . Secluded beaches, en suite dining on a balcony overlooking the ocean and spa services for two are just some of the romantic pursuits available.
  3. Choose to cruise for CUISINE. Tantalize your taste buds with gourmet fare that showcases exotic ingredients, old standbys like pizza and ice cream or spa cuisine for a healthy alternative. Depending on your mood, dine in a traditional ballroom setting, a small bistro or a casual eatery.
  4. Choose to cruise for VARIETY. With over 200 distinctive ships, 3000 ports of call and an unbelievable array of places to see and things to do, there is a perfect cruise for you. For even more choice, consider a pre- or post-land tour.
  5. Choose to cruise for ACTIVITIES. Fill your days with sightseeing, sports activities, cultural lectures, educational tours led by naturalists and historians or simply lounge by the pool and relax. At night, enjoy dance extravaganzas, musical revues, gaming or a quiet evening gazing at the stars.
  6. Choose to cruise for SIMPLICITY. Don’t come back from your vacation needing a vacation. Planning a cruise is simple; Call Davinder at 858-427-4972 at Luchanik Travel & Cruises (doing business via CruiseOne) to handle all of the details or book your cruise online at www.likecruises.com   Once you’re on board, nearly all expenses are pre-paid… talk about hassle-free.
  7. Choose to cruise for NEW HORIZONS. Fall asleep in one destination and awake to a new horizon… and you only have to pack and unpack once!
  8. Choose to cruise for FAMILY. Families love cruising. Children’s programs, kid-friendly menus and tours of the ship will keep your children happy, while affording you some well-deserved time alone.
  9. Choose to cruise for PAMPERING. Regardless of your budget, all cruise lines pamper their guests with first-class service around the clock.
  10. Choose to cruise for SATISFACTION . It’s a fact that cruises have a higher percentage of satisfied customers than any other vacation experience.

MSC Musica Cruise Ship

This information was taken from the website of Cruise Lines International Association, Inc. website at http://www.cruising.org/vacation/about-clia and modified slightly by Davinder Kaur of Luchanik Travel & Cruises.

As per their quote for the first-time cruiser, “For value, variety and satisfaction…you haven’t lived until you’ve cruised!”

PS: This is also one of the pages I had on my websites that will not be hosted as of June 30, 2012 and I have decided I will cut and paste the info from time to time, so you can read it here (as per my previous post “Why I Started A Blog In The First Place?”

Incredible Vancouver

Vancouver is so pretty, and if I wasn’t settled here in San Diego, or if my kids weren’t small – I would move to Vancouver – without hesitation. It is easy to get around in this city, in fact I got a train from the airport to my hotel at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver without a problem and for only $8.75 (Canadian) one-way. This video will show you two different sightseeing buses that I took – Hop On Hop Off, which allow you to make the most of your trip, if you are staying for just a short while. Since I stayed for just one day and night on this trip, I had to make the most of my time in this city. This was my second visit to Vancouver, and it certainly won’t be my last.

Here are some of my pictures:

Steam Clock, Gastown – Vancouver

Gastown, Vancouver

Gastown, Vancouver

Hyatt Regency, Vancouver

View from Room 2003 – Hyatt Regency, Vancouver

Hyatt Regency, Vancouver

The Shops at Hyatt Regency, Vancouver

The lobby of the Hyatt Regency, Vancouver

The fries are delicous from this vendor – Bada Bing.  I like my food very hot, and the fries were hot until the last one.   I asked for vinegar to put on my fries, and hot sauce, and the vendor told me it was not necessary.  I listened to him, and was so glad that I did.  They put a special sauce on the fries and some onions too, and these fries did not need anything else at all, they were tasty just the way they were.  These are a must-try!

Best gourmet fries – Bada Bing, Vancouver

Actually, it was a great thing that I took a picture of the menu board.  My fries were the “Animal-Style” made with grilled cheese, and the Bada Bing secret sauce.

Bada Bing Menu

Gastown, Vancouver

View from the Big Bus – Hop On Hop Off – City Tour

Canada Place

Gastown

Robson St. – Vancouver

To view more of my pictures, here is another link that I posted last month Vancouver

I hope you will get a chance to visit Vancouver soon, and you will also see that it is incredible.