How to Experience Jamaican Culture on Your Cruise

A cruise is perhaps the best way to travel in an area like the Caribbean. Stopping at beautiful islands such as Jamaica or Aruba is a delightful ways to experience new locations and cultures, all while enjoying the comforts of a floating hotel room. Travellers won’t need to unpack daily or rush to make flights and trains, but can instead spend the time between destinations relaxing, enjoying upscale cuisine or having fun! On a cruise to Jamaica, it is important that those on cruise holidays remember to soak in some of the local culture during the time onshore. The island nation boasts friendly locals, delicious authentic cuisine and a rich heritage. Here are some ways to experience the culture of Jamaica on your cruise:

Plan in Advance: Rather than arriving on the shores of Kingston or Montego Bay without any knowledge of the area, spend a little time preparing for what to expect when you arrive. Decide what you want to explore and enjoy, and make a brief itinerary for the highlights you don’t want to miss. This way, you will be sure to get a chance to see the places and sights most important to you.

Savour the Flavour: Jamaicans are proud of the unique and delicious cuisine, so be sure to enjoy it at one of the many authentic restaurants. There are countless dining options, many of which are international fare suitable for tourists. While they are often tasty, try to have at least one meal which offers a more traditional meal. Try the local staple of ackee and salt fish, or perhaps the popular and well known jerk chicken, flavoured with distinct spices. For dessert, have a fresh mango in the summer months, or gnaw on a piece of local sugar cane for a truly unique sweet after your meal. For a local drink, try the Red Stripe Lager or a mixed drink featuring Jamaican rum.

Historical Landmarks: For a chance to better understand the history and heritage of the Jamaican people, a visit to few of the major historical landmarks is a great idea. Depending on where your cruise departs, there are many options to visitors. In Kingston, head to the Bob Marley Museum, 17th century pirate haunt Port Royal, or even the National Gallery of Jamaica. In the popular port of Falmouth, you can can walking tours of the historical districts, better understanding the colonial environment of the island, and admiring the older architecture. While the beaches are a highlight of the island, the colonial heritage is also an important part of what shaped the nation.

Meet the Locals: Whenever possible, brach out and do your best to talk to some of the local Jamaican residents. Not only will it allow you to glimpse into their culture, but it is a great way to realize just how friendly the locals truly are! English is spoken fluently, although some visitors may need to learn to understand the colloquial phrasings used by many. Be sure to introduce yourself to those you meet on your cruise and your time onshore in Jamaica.

Click here for great deals and offers on a Jamaica cruise and cruise deals 2012.

Top 5 cruise destinations in 2012

Cruising is the perfect way to combine the comfort of a hotel with the adventure and tranquility of sailing on the high seas. With cruising more popular than ever and ships getting bigger and better year by year, there really is something to satisfy every taste. Here is a look into the most sought after cruise destinations in 2012.

Norwegian Fjords:

With its stunning scenic views, a Norwegian Fjords cruise is truly one you will not forget in a hurry. A camera is a must to capture the rolling hillsides and glaciers you will witness when cruising through this unspoilt gem.  You will marvel at how serene these natural wonders are as you cruise through the Nordfjord and Sognefjord, the two most spectacular areas in the dense fjord lands of Norway.

Caribbean:

More than likely the most popular cruise destination of all time, the Caribbean delivers the perfect cruise for those seeking sun, sea and island hopping. Waking up in different countries and sampling different food and cultures daily is one of the reason the Caribbean is such a popular cruise destinations. Then combine that with amazing weather, stunning beaches and a variety of itineraries, it’s not hard to see why the region is one of the most popular cruise destinations ever.

Alaska:

Awe inspiring glaciers and amazing scenery all come as standard on an Alaskan cruise. Marvel at the abundant wildlife you will see from the deck of the ship, including bald eagles, Bears and even Whales surfacing for air.  Amazing shore excursions are also available, such as dog sledding and wildlife tours that showcase Alaskan wildlife in all its glory.

Mediterranean:

The med is a stunning destination due to its variety of itineraries and warm climate. Hot spots for culture include Barcelona, Rome and Venice, whilst other itineraries offer the Greek islands, Italy and the south of France. There really is something for everyone in the med and it’s great for those people from the UK who aren’t keen on flying.

Baltics

Cruising the Baltic’s is perfect for those who love exploring different cities. Cruises typically call at Tallinn, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm and St Petersburg, giving cruisers the chance to experience the rich culture of these amazing cities whilst also enjoying the beautiful views the Baltic sea has to offer. Cruises to this region tend to be 9 days and over which is ideal for people seeking a longer cruise experience rather than the typical 7 night itineraries on offer in most other destinations.

Seafarer Introduce Dinghy Instructor Courses In Greece

Beach Club and flotilla specialist Seafarer have introduced a fast track dinghy instructor course at their Nikiana Beach Club, located in the village of the same name on the Greek Island of Lefkas.

Sunset
Sailing Greecejimtsap / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

This five week course is aimed at those seeking to work in the industry as instructors, or those aiming to instruct regularly at club level and offers comprehensive coverage of all the skills required. This includes advanced sailing skills, safety boat and first aid as well as range instruction techniques covering a variety of learner needs.

Pre-requisites or the course are RYA level 1 and 2 Dinghy sailing, though those needing to undertake these courses can do so in an additional week. The first two weeks of the course are dedicated to improving sailing techniques in a variety of conditions including advanced seamanship skills, sailing with spinnakers and performance sailing. Power boat handling and rescue boat techniques are also covered during this period. The next two weeks are focused on developing teaching techniques in a range of situations as well as covering the theory behind these practical methods. The final week of the course is focused on assessment.

Course dates in 2013 are May 5th, June 6th and September 6th. The package includes return flights from the UK, transfers to and from Nikiana, as well as all tuition and course materials. The package also includes accommodation on a half board basis (breakfast and lunch) at the club in twin bedded air conditioned rooms with en suite facilities. The comprehensive 5 week package is priced at £2950 per person.

Nikiana Beach Club is one of Seafarer’s signature ‘small and friendly’ clubs accommodating up to 50 guests in an idyllic beach front location. The centre offers an excellent range of dinghies, windsurfers and catamarans as well as sea kayaks and paddle boards, all for guests’ unlimited use. There is a pool and an excellent family run tavern on site. The club is just a 10 minute drive from Seafarer’s flotilla and yacht charter base at Lefkas marina, offering the possibility of combining a stay with a week either on flotilla or bareboat yacht charter, for that perfect Greek Island Sailing Holiday.

For more info contact Steve Barraclough or Chris Lorenzo at Seafarer on 0308 324 3118 or see: http://www.seafarersailing.co.uk/beach_club/Nikiana/Instructorcourse/

Start Saving Early to Save Lots Toward Your Summer Cruise

summer cruise savings
summer cruise savings

So you want to take a cruise this summer but don’t know if you can afford it? Start saving now, and the cost will be easier to manage later. Use as many of these tips as possible and a few of your own and watch the savings pile up!

 

 

List Expenses

First, make a comprehensive list of everything you spend money on. Include major items, such as rent or mortgage, insurance, food budgets, gas, and utilities.

 

Then list all the incidentals that you rarely think about, such as the cup of gourmet coffee on the way to work, newspapers or magazines, snacks, meals out, movie tickets, and rental fees.

 

Identify those areas in which you spend money that you don’t exactly have to. Stick to the savings plan and don’t spend as much—or any amount—in those convenience areas. When you’re tempted, just picture yourself aboard that luxury liner having a luscious meal in a swank restaurant.

 

Round Up

Use the ‘money in the cookie jar’ routine. When you make a purchase, keep the receipt. When you return home, pay yourself the difference between the receipt amount and the next five- or ten-dollar increment. Put that difference in the ‘cookie jar’ of choice and periodically deposit in your savings account—not your checking account. Label the jar or envelope or box, whatever you choose your ‘cookie jar’ to be, even an actual cookie jar, with a label, ‘Cruise Jar,’ to make it a tangible object, not just an idea.

 

Round up your incidental expenses, grocery tabs, gasoline purchases, dry cleaning, and more. For purchases that you don’t get a receipt, round up to the nearest dollar and ‘penalize’ yourself $5 paid to the Cruise Jar.

 

When you deposit the accrued money, put the deposit slip in its place to help you keep track of your progress and accomplishment.

 

External Possibilities

If you’ve incorporated all the possibilities that originate within the household, try looking outside the door.

 

Carpooling or public transportation to and from work can save a sizable amount each month. Notify your insurance company that you use the vehicle less, and you might save on insurance rates, too. Maintenance costs would also decline. A few dollars per week for carpooling or a bus pass always costs less than gasoline does. If you live or work just off the nearest bus line but find you’d rather not walk, ride a bicycle; most bus systems have bike racks for easy transport.

 

Beyond the Front Door

Look through the basement, attic, closets, storage bin, or spare room. How much of what you find have you carted from place to place or carefully packed away that you actually don’t need? Why not have a yard sale? You can even talk with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Combine ‘clearance sales’ into one, track whose things gets sold and for what, and everyone can earn a little—or a lot.

 

If something is truly unique, try auctioning it online. Even baked goods can sell very quickly, and with express delivery, the buyers can enjoy the cake, cupcakes, cookies, pies or breads, for example, within a few days. The buyer pays shipping, too!

 

Dog-walking, lawn care, grocery shopping or errand-running can also supplement your Cruise Jar funds and can take relatively little time on the weekends.

 

Summary

With imagination and dedication, you can save a little or a lot toward your summer cruise vacation. Start early. Be diligent, and you’ll have it paid for before you know it.

The History of Cruise Holidays

Cruise Holidays

The idea of travelling to warm climates in the winter and cooler climates in the summer is not new; it has actually been around for centuries. Arthur Anderson, one of the founders of Peninsular Steam Navigation Company (now P&O Nedloyd), first suggested the idea of touring Scotland and Iceland in the summer and the Mediterranean in the winter. That was in the 1830’s. For the next seventy years Peninsular would build their company holdings with cargo and mail contracts, making the right decision in conflicts around the world where they had to take sides and building a reputation as an industry leader in the shipping business.

Cruise Holidays

The Dawn of the Twentieth Century

Arthur’s idea didn’t become popular until after the turn of the century, and then only with the rich, but it did eventually catch on. In 1900, the Prinzessin Victoria Luise became the first ship built exclusively as a cruise ship and in 1904 Peninsular offered the first cruise holiday program on a first class only basis. By 1920, despite the loss of the Titanic in 1912, the cruise ship industry was going full steam. Transatlantic cruises were most popular but cruise holidays in the Mediterranean and Caribbean were available.

The Golden Years (1920’s and 30’s)

The roaring twenties and the decade immediately after which preceded World War II were the Golden Years for the luxury cruise industry. The Caribbean and Mediterranean were wide open and ports like Havana, Miami, and Beirut always had a cruise ship in port and passengers taking advantage of “cruise and stay” packages that were being offered by Peninsular, Cunnard and other lines that were coming into existence at the time. Competition was healthy but cruise holidays were still something only the rich could afford.

The Blue Riband Award

In the 1860’s, the transatlantic shipping industry created an award for the ship that could cross the Atlantic in the shortest time. The award became the sole property of the cruise ship industry in the 1930’s when it traded hands between the French ship Normandie and the British Queen Mary. The Queen Mary held it from 1938 to 1952 with a top speed of 31 knots per hour, an amazing accomplishment at the time. Speed was also a necessity for cruise ships, both for protection and because many of the new lines to come into being in the 1930’s doubled as mail carriers.

The 1950’s and Competing with Air Travel

Up until 1950, cruise ships were not only vacation options; they were the primary mode of transportation between continents. After World War II this began to change. The aeroplane had been tested in battle and was accepted by both commercial and private entities that needed a faster way to get to their destination. This growing popularity made aeroplanes a more affordable option also as increasing demand and competition drove prices down. Cruise ships became vacation destinations and the lines that offered cruise holidays became more creative with their vacation packages.

The 1960’s and the Founding of Royal Caribbean

The 1960’s saw two major events in the evolution of the cruise ship industry. The first happened in the middle of the decade when Peninsular Steam Navigation Company absorbed a company called Orient Steam Navigation Company, changing their name to P&O. P&O would later go on to merge with Carnival Cruises in 2003. The 1960’s also saw the founding of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in 1968, the current owners of the world’s largest cruise ship Oasis of the Seas. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), owners of the ill-fated Achille Lauro, and Norwegian Cruise Lines also entered the cruise ship industry in the 1960’s.

Vacation Packages, Mass Media, and Cruise Holidays

After a decade that saw the end of conflict in Southeast Asia, long petrol lines, and economic uncertainty, the 1980’s were welcomed worldwide as a time when the world could change. The internet had just been developed but wasn’t available to the general public, but television was reaching every home and the cruise lines took full advantage. Putting together “vacation packages” and “cruise holidays” that were developed from the old “cruise and stay” deals of the 20’s and 30’s, all of the major players in the industry hit the airwaves with appeals to the common people for the first time.

The Modern Family Vacation

Cruise holidays are now one of the top choices for the modern family vacation. Cruise ships are available in all shapes and sizes and go to destinations around the world. The Caribbean is popular as is the Mediterranean, but cruises up north to Scandinavia and Alaska are also fully booked by passengers who have no fear anymore of ice or water hazards. The technology has improved, the ships are larger and sturdier, and the amenities on board will make anyone not want to go home. Arthur Anderson, if you’re out there somewhere, thanks for the idea. Cruise holidays are finally available to all.

About the author: Sarah Van Rensburg is an avid travel writer. She covers a wide range of travel-related topics but with a focus on cruise holidays.

Cruise Ship Holidays

Riding the waves of the recession with Cruise Ship Holidays

Last Minute Caribbean Cruises
Image by SWIMPHOTO

Perhaps it is because we are an island nation that the Brits are obsessed with the sea.  When it comes down to it, anything that involves water and boats seems to fascinate us.  Whether it’s a trip up Windermere on a wet weekend in August, or a relaxing cruise around the eastern Caribbean, you will be certain to find a large proportion of those on-board are the British doing what they do best – messing about in boats.  Thanks to our national obsession the cruise industry is one that has continued to beat the recessionary trend in the last few years and continued to experience growth.  So what is it about a cruise that appeals to so many of us and what are the hottest destinations?

An obsession with foreign parts

Ancestrally a large proportion of the UK’s not-so-distant ancestors came here in boats.  They were the type of people who allegedly wore silly hats with horns and whose idea of sampling the local culture was a bit of pillaging.  This has been shown to be a historically inaccurate version of our Viking relatives, but the fact remains that since the days of our Nordic ancestors, the British have been partial to sailing off into the sunset in search of new lands.  Today, this is generally a trait that appears in the form of a luxury cruise around the Med – around 43% of British cruise customers still favour the Mediterranean cruise over more far flung destinations.  As a nation we seem to be fascinated by other cultures – in the past this fascination included conquering and incorporating them into our own – but it’s still evident today in our desire to see the world, and see as much of it as possible in one go.  One thing you can’t accuse the British of is being disinterested when it comes to foreign parts.

The art of relaxing

Holidays, of course, should be about relaxing as well as exploring.  This is probably where our love of cruising really kicks in.  Organising your average family holiday can be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to combining relaxation with travel.  Travel involves something of a military operation for even small families, and when you are travelling further a-field the problem is magnified.  Keeping everyone entertained, all of the time, can seem impossible on some holidays while getting out and seeing those sights can take most of the ‘me’ out of ‘me-time’.  On a cruise, however, the sights come to you, with a rather attractive frequency.  The beauty of cruising seems to lie in its variety.  Whether it’s the familiar Mediterranean or the more exotic Caribbean, a cruise offers far more variety than two weeks in a single resort.

Truly all inclusive trips

Cruise ship accommodation and facilities have come a long way in the last few years.  At one time a cruise liner was simply a ship containing a small hotel; today floating resorts can seem to have only the vaguest hint of their maritime nature.  Cruise holidays offer the style and luxury of the best boutique hotels with the sense of adventure that comes from sampling the activities on offer, not only on-board but also at a range of resorts and destinations.  If relaxing on white, palm fringed sandy beaches is more your style – that’s included too.  The standards of accommodation are incredibly high and the service on-board is of the same quality.  Cruise ships today are holiday locations in their own right and many people choose them simply for this fact.  The continued success of the cruise industry throughout the recession also is an indication of the true secret attraction of cruising.  Value for money;  the majority of resort hotels can barely compete on the deals on offer through many cruise operators – with the high quality accommodation and service, the huge variety offered by the nature of a cruise and the on-board entertainment facilities.  Cheap Caribbean cruises have always been available, and the often all-inclusive offers have been part of the cruise industries speciality for many years.  While many resorts around the world continue to battle for survival in the tough economic climate, the cruise industry can expect to continue to ride the wave of recession.

It seems to be part of the British make up to feel the urge to hop into a boat and seek out strange lands – cheap Caribbean cruises make the dream a possibility even today, with the cruise industry keen to maintain its position as one of the hottest tourist options going.

Travel Insurance for Frequent Travelers

Frequent travelers – also known as frequent flyers – take on a variety of forms. Some of them are businessmen and women, jetting from conference to meeting and back home again every month. Others are hard-core adventurers, seeking new places and new cultures as a way to build their own life experiences. Still others are those reaching retirement age, with plenty of money and wanderlust to get them through the best years of their lives.

Travel Insurance for Frequent Travelers
Travel Insurance for Frequent Travelers brizzle born and bred / Foter / CC BY-NC

No matter what kind of frequent traveler you may be, you still need the kinds of coverage offered by a comprehensive insurance policy. Even if you have yet to encounter a medical emergency or deal with the hassle of a cancelled flight, your tendency to hit the skies means that you are at greater risk for needing some sort of financial or medical assistance while overseas.

What Constitutes “Frequent” Travel?

A frequent traveler does not necessarily have to be someone who is on a plane every few weeks. In fact, for insurance purposes, two or three annual international trips is typically enough to make an annual travel insurance policy worthwhile. At the same time, taking several shorter trips every few months – even if you’re only travelling domestically – can also make you an ideal candidate for annual travel insurance.

It also generally doesn’t matter whether you’re going on a holiday or on a business trip. The primary factor to consider when determining if you are a “frequent” traveler is the amount of money you spend each year on your trips. For example, if you only go to two business conferences each year, you might not consider yourself much of a jet-setter in the traditional sense of the word. However, if you have to carry expensive electronics, are bringing along valuable equipment, or are making plans to travel in style to impress a client, the total value of your two journeys might exceed most people’s monthly excursions.

The same is true if you vacation on cruise lines twice a year or visit Paris every spring and autumn to do a little shopping; it all boils down to how much money your trips are worth, since you will want to protect these investments just as you would your personal portfolio.

The Benefits of Annual Travel Insurance

The primary benefit of annual travel insurance is in saving money. When you purchase individual travel insurance policies for each of your trips, the cost can quickly exceed what you would have spent on a single annual policy.

Annual travel insurance also gives you the ability to travel quickly and efficiently. One of the earmarks of a true frequent traveler is the tendency to visit new locations on a moment’s notice (whether it is the whim of your business or of your own inclinations). By taking a single annual precaution for all of your travels, you can always rest assured that you are protected. It’s one small step that can save you tons of time, money, and effort – so you can focus on where the wind takes you.

Busting 10 Myths about Mediterranean Cruises

Too expensive
One of the great misconceptions about cruises is they are out of the price range of the average holidaymaker. This simply is not the case. Yes, it’s definitely not a bargain break, but consider the fact that all meals are inclusive, as well as top live entertainment, five-star living accommodation, first class kids’ clubs, luxurious pools, films, talks… The list is endless.

Mediterranean Cruise 203
Myths about Mediterranean Cruises

Not for kids
Some people suggest children are not welcome on ships and that Mediterranean cruises and little people don’t mix. Wrong! There are certain cruises which are for over-18s only, but the vast majority actively welcome younger passengers. Kids are lavishly catered for, with their own foods and dedicated entertainment.

An 8-Year Old's Paradise at Sea
Cruise for KidsScott Ableman / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

OAPs only
There’s another common idea that cruises are for sedate over-60s only. Now, don’t get me wrong, mature passengers are hugely welcome, with everything laid on, but by no stretch of the imagination are they the only people you’ll find on board. Check out the passenger list of a typical journey taken by Royal Caribbean Cruises and you’ll find a cross section of ages having a majestic time together.

Celebrity Solstice
Royal Caribbean CruisesTom Mascardo 1 / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Trapped on board
I’ve met the odd person who says a cruise would be claustrophobic because you can’t get off the boat; this is baloney! They obviously have never been on board a cruise ship with its beautiful wide open spaces and seemingly endless variety of rooms. You could go on a year’s cruise and not get to every spot on board – another myth to dump in the rejects bin!

Forced formality
Don’t fancy being dressed up to the nines 24/7? No worries! There are ample opportunities to wear your finery on board, but smart casual is the watchword for most of the time, and there are no stuffed shirts on board – unless you count the after-buffet waistlines!

Participation a must
Another myth – you’ll be forced into a whole range of activities you don’t want to do. Not true at all. Passengers do what they want, when they want, and with whomever they want. There are no cruise police forcing you to wear a funny hat or dance a silly dance – unless you want to of course!

Single?
You’re flying solo? Won’t fit in? Not a bit of it, my friend, single passengers are always welcome, and intelligent planning puts them together at mealtimes with other single voyagers – if, of course, that’s what you want. And with so much to do, day and night, you will never feel alone.

Seasickness blues
Modern ships, with ultra-sophisticated balancing techniques, mean you’ll hardly know you’re at sea, except for the magnificent views, that is!

No time to see

Cruises just pass through, and you don’t get to experience anything but the quayside, right? Wrong again! Trips are expertly planned to enable you to experience a real taste of each resort.

Not for you
Myth 10 – cruises are not for you? See parts one to nine to realise how wrong you are! Bon voyage!