What to Wear on a Cruise

The mention of a cruise, paints a picture of one enjoying a lazy holiday, sunbathing by the side of the pool of a luxurious cruise. However, for those who have actually gone though the brochures of various cruises, with a serious intent of going on one, will realize that a cruise vacation is not all about lying in your swimwear soaking up the sun.

Cruising can be a very glamorous way of holidaying, especially if it is a large liner that you are eying. Whether big or small, every cruise has an evening or two, where one has to be in formal wear. Other than that, one can be casually or formally dressed. Know the dress code for the day, and following it elegantly.

Cruise Wear

After one has gone through the brochures of the various cruises, and finally decided on a cruise that suits the budget and taste, the next daunting task is to decide what to wear. Cruise wear falls under three categories – formal, informal, and casual. Let us understand what each of these categories mean.

  • Formal: Formal evenings can be a treat for the eyes. This calls for both, men and women to flaunt their good taste in dressing. Women could wear an elegant evening gown or cocktail dress. For men, a dark suit and a tie, with formal shoes is the best attire. Women could save the most flattering jewelry and heels for this night.
  • Informal: The dress code for most of the evenings on cruise ships is informal. Men could wear a collared shirt and a jacket, maybe a sports jacket. In some ships, men might have to wear a tie too. It is best to refer to the ship’s document to understand the dress code. Women could dress up nattily in a pant outfit or dressier clothes. Most liners have replaced the term informal with the term ‘resort casual attire’ which is more formal than casual but still does not require men to wear a coat and tie.
  • Casual: Casual wear is meant for comfort. This is the occasion one can be dressed in the most relaxed way. Swimwear is expected when one is by the pool or on the beach during the day. If one is planning to take a tour of the local markets along the shore, or venture further into the mainland, a pair of shorts coupled with polo style shirts or tee shirts and a pair of comfortable sandals is the best attire. In the evenings, men could wear slacks topped with polo or sports shirts, whereas women could wear a comfortable pant outfit, tops and skirts or any sporty dress.

Accessories

If you are on a cruise vacation, you are definitely going to spend a lot of time out in the sun. There is no better occasion than while on a cruise trip to bring out your beautiful wide brimmed hats. Don’t get the plain ones. Pick the ones with beads or flowers.

Cruise trips are also a good time to wear your jewelry. With some clever selection of bangles, necklaces and earrings, women could surely jazz up their light outfits during casual wear, without going overboard with these accessories.

As far as footwear is concerned, while you could pack in a pair of smart heels (for women) and formal shoes (for men) for the formal evening wear, a pair of tennis shoes or walking shoes is a must. When on a cruise, one may have to climb separate decks to access various amenities on the ship. Whether one is just walking on the deck or climbing up the stairs, a pair of walking shoes or tennis shoes are very comfortable.

Sailboat Charter Vacations

A sailboat could be of any dimension. It could be larger than a sail board, and smaller than a sailing ship. However, the distinctions in size are not strictly spelled out, and what constitutes a sailing ship or a sailboat basically varies by region. Sailboats can also be distinguished by hull configuration. There are three basic types: catamaran, monohull, and trimaran. Another distinguishing factor is the keel type, which could be full, fin, centerboard, etc. A sailboat could be used for sport or cruising, and accordingly the configuration of masts and sail plan differ. Interestingly, its terminology has varied greatly across history.

Features

Sailboat charter vacations are holidays taken aboard a sailboat. There are dedicated charter rentals easily accessible today, and the vessels have distinct features that need to be identified and understood. The most common type of sailboat is the sloop, with one mast and two sails. The two sails comprise a main sail and a foresail. This simple design is very efficient for sailing ‘towards’ the wind. Depending on the foresail size and design, it is referred to as genoa, jib, or spimmaker. On a fractional rig sloop design, the forestay connects to some point below the mast. This enables the top of the mast to be raked aft, and this gives a performance advantage under certain conditions due to the flattened sails. While the big mainsail provides most of the drive, the headsail is just right for a small crew to manage.

Other Designs

A catboat can also be considered. This design has a single mast and does not sport a head sail. While most modern designs have one mainsail, the traditional catboats could flaunt multiple sails. Ketches have a second shorter mast to the stern of the mainmast. This feature is called the mizzen mast. A ketch can also be cutter-rigged. A yawl is similar, but with a mizzen mast shorter than the main mast. Generally, the mizzen on a yawl is used more for balance than propulsion. A schooner can have two or more masts. Traditional sailboats are gaining a lot of popularity today. The monohull relies on ballast for stability; however, this gives the monohull great inertia, which also makes it less maneuverable.

Charter Vacations

There are a number of dedicated resources that make detailed information on the different types of sailboats and individual features available 24×7. These resources can be tapped online, or at the various brick-and-mortar travel agents. It is important to choose the right vessel, in accordance to the region and weather conditions. The price tag on quality charter vacations are reasonable, considering the once-in-a-lifetime experience the vacation offers the family. Sailboat charter rentals can be pre-budgeted, and also come with attractive features such as a detailed map, guide, manning facilities, and detailed information on the functionality of the geometry of the chosen vessel.

Most of the sailing vessels on display today are known for their stability. They are designed to be as lightweight as possible, and at the same time offer the cruising family on board structural integrity. Many of the latest designs come with foam-filled flotation chambers that are certified ‘unsinkable’. The hull itself has the needed buoyancy to remain afloat. Most of the sailboats available at charters or rentals for sailing vacations flaunt the absence of ballast for top speed.

Sailboat charters or rentals offer real value for the investment, and a lifetime of fond memories.

Buying Luxury Yachts

Luxury yachts are not for everyone, but, if you can afford one, it can be a wonderful way of ‘getting away from it all’ without actually getting away from it all. You can pull up anchor whenever the wanderlust hits you, and sail off to explore remote corners of the world, all without sacrificing the level of comfort and style you are accustomed to.

Luxury yachts can measure from 100 feet to more than 300 feet, can have 4 or 5 deck levels, and come with a host of special features, which are more often than not customized to meet the owner’s requirements. Some of these features include a swimming pool, guest cabins with en suite facilities, owner’s suite, staff quarters, captain’s cabin, spacious staterooms, study, salons, dining room, well-stocked bar, well-equipped gym, sun deck, Jacuzzi, helipad and helicopter garage, mini submarine, banana boat, catamaran, and much more. All beautifully done up by the best interior designers in the boat business, of course.

If all these sound like essential items to have on your world travels, you might consider getting a yacht of your own. Here is how you go about buying luxury yachts.

Research
Understanding what you are getting into is the first step. Find out how many different kinds of yachts there are, how they operate, and what their special features are. Read magazines and websites. Visit shows and marinas. Talk to owners, crew, builders, brokers, and other professionals in the yacht business. Find out what kind of permissions, certificates, and other legal paperwork are required in order to own a yacht. Find out about current yacht price ranges, salary ranges of the crew, and the cost of fuel and maintenance.

Once you have checked out different kinds of yachts, pare down to the one type that interests you. Find out about its particular features and operational requirements. Find out how many of these are available on the market. Compare prices. Consider if you want a brand-new vessel, which you may have to order from scratch from a shipbuilder, or a pre-owned one. Again, compare prices.

Charter a Luxury Yacht
Reading up on yachts and checking out yachts is fine, but to get an exact idea about how a yacht operates and what life on board is like, you need to be out on one for a few days. You can charter a luxury yacht for a short holiday and see what it feels like.

Contact a Broker
Once you have made up your mind to buy, contact a reputable yacht broker. A yacht broker does with yachts what a real estate agent does with real estate. Your broker will inform you of currently available yachts, arrange for reviews and inspections, and help you find the best deals possible. The broker will act as a go between you and the seller and make sure that the sales agreements and other paperwork are in order. He/she will also help you file ownership registration papers later on, and inform you on which clubs and yacht societies to join in order to socialize within the exclusive world of luxury yacht owners.

Make a Formal Offer
Once you have zeroed onto the luxury yacht you want to buy, your yacht broker will present a formal offer on an industry standard contract to the seller. The formal offer is a sales agreement listing a detailed and photographic inventory of the yacht in question, and specifying when you would like to conduct a sea trial, get a professional survey of the yacht done, and the estimated date of accepting and closing the deal. Along with the formal offer, you must make a 10% deposit on the offer made. This is held in escrow with your yacht broker. Then you wait for the seller to look over your formal offer and accept, reject, or bargain.

Carry out a Survey
If the seller agrees to sell you the yacht, the next step is calling in reputable yacht professionals and carrying out a thorough survey of the yacht. This can take several days, even weeks. The yacht is hauled out of the water and has all its parts and equipment tested. The survey will acquaint you with the yacht’s current condition and whether any repairs are required. If the yacht needs some repairs, the owner may agree to undertake them before selling or may slash the price according to what it would cost you to get them done. The survey will also give you a clear idea about exactly what maintaining the yacht will cost you. You will know it is going to be on the expensive side, starting with the little fact that you will be paying for the survey yourself. Yacht maintenance, in addition to purchase price, fuel price, and crew salaries, will easily set you back in the range of a few million dollars.

Conduct a Sea Trial
Now that you know that the vessel is structurally sound, you need to check its performance out on the sea. For a limited period of up to four hours, which the seller pays for, you can check how slow or fast the yacht can go, how smoothly and noiselessly the yacht works, and how much of the engine noise is audible inside the cabins.

Convey your Acceptance to the Seller
If you are happy with the yacht, you can now give your written acceptance to the seller. If the seller is going to make repairs to the yacht or give you a reduced price for repairs, make sure the acceptance agreement hinges on this point.

Close the Sale
With your yacht broker’s assistance, draw up new registration papers and get yacht insurance. Then close the sale. You and the seller will both sign the sales documents and keep copies each.

Hire a Crew
Now that you are a yacht owner, you can look into hiring a competent and experienced crew for your yacht. You may have to pay high salaries for a good crew, but it will be worth it if you run into problems and rough weather later on.

Do over the interior Décor
Your luxury yacht will come with a well-maintained luxurious interior, but if you want it personalized to your tastes, you can hire a yacht interior designer to do it over for you.

Invite Guests
A luxury yacht is great for inviting friends and business colleagues. Up to 14 people can be accommodated with ease and no doubt will liven up your holiday.

A yacht, though expensive, is seen as a status symbol of the rich these days. If you want to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, then a party aboard a yacht can be the perfect way to inch into their circle. These tips on mentioned above should ensure that you get a good vessel, well worthy of the lifestyle you are accustomed to.

Last Minute Packing Tips for Cruise Vacations

The worst nightmare for any traveler would be the dearth of time available to pack. Imagine receiving the tickets for your dream cruise liner, but at the very last moment. That would leave you enraged and with very little time to think. Cruise travel, especially for newbies, can have loads of surprises in store. And mind you, they may not always be really pleasant. So, how does one prepare himself/herself for these luxurious cruise vacations? Here are a few ideas to enable you to bring some order into your last minute packing.

Packing Tips for Cruise Vacations

The destination of your travel holds weightage when packing for such trips. Keep comfort and practicality in mind, and do proper homework to narrow down the items required.

  • First check the number of days you would probably be at sea. This would determine the number of clothes you would require.
  • If your destination is a cold one, then go in for layered clothing. Pack in some warm parkas, winter sweaters, and hats. Make sure you incorporate long sleeved t-shirts so you can combine and co-ordinate between light and heavy layers of clothing.
  • Warmer weather requires lots of pure materials like breathable cotton. During the warmer months, you can pack some shorts, skirts, and capris for comfort. Sometimes, one can witness a lot of weather changes on the way. Do be prepared for occasional showers. So pack in some rainproof jackets to protect yourself.
  • Some cruise vacations may require you to know about any formal dos slated for the evenings. A quick look at the brochure will help you plan some last minute packing for this vacation. Pull out your formal wear and try to incorporate the basic black in the wardrobe. This would help you mix and match the garment with other clothing and create a whole new look.
  • Medical care is of prime importance, as such cruises may cause the person to feel seasick at any given moment. This is more prominent in rough weather. Keep some medicines handy in your bag. Some luxurious cruise ships have their own medical centers on board. The lesser known ones have doctors or people trained in giving medical assistance. For such cases, do purchase separate travelers insurance to cover the medical expenses. This would also help in recovering items and last minute cancellations.
  • If you always experience seasickness, then remember to have some crackers and water. The idea is to keep your stomach full without really having anything heavy. This would help in stopping you from popping pills every time you feel a little queasy.
  • Snorkel equipment is generally included with shore excursions. You can carry your own gear if you wish to spend some time on your own.
  • When it comes to footwear, one of the must-have items is a pair of black tennis shoes. These work well for all occasions. Heels are generally uncomfortable for such journeys, especially when the ship experiences rough weather. Therefore, comfortable walking shoes are important and prove to be very useful when you want to spend the day on land.
  • Add a bathing suit with a cover up; some of these items are also available on cruise liners, albeit at a higher price.
  • Throw in a hat with a brim that will add protection to your ears.
  • Do not forget your polarized sunglasses.
  • Keep your basic shampoo and conditioner in your tote bag.
  • Always include a dressy outfit in the suitcase as it might just turn out to be useful when you want to explore any happening hangouts on the shore.

Cruise vacations, although fabulous, need a considerable amount of time to plan. I am hoping the tips mentioned above saves you a sizable amount of time, and helps you to have a vacation of a lifetime.

Freighter Cruises: No Buffet or Floor Show, But No Crowds Either!

When most people think of taking a cruise, they picture the Love Boat- a tremendous white ship festooned with flags, decks lined with expensive canvas chairs, bars, shuffleboard courts, and nattily dressed attendants standing at the ready to snap to attention to fulfill every little whim of every passenger. Speaking of passengers, these ships usually carry hundreds of people jammed into tiny little rooms, packed into the onboard swimming pools, standing in long lines at elaborate buffets, and parked at tables in the noisy dining room, right?

Well, if that is your idea of traveling by sea, then you have plenty of cruise lines to pick from, and a huge variety of travel packages to select. However, if you want a true seagoing vacation that will afford you comfort, relaxation, casual dressing, spacious cabins, and a small group of passengers sharing the ship with you, then you need look no further than a freighter cruise.

Conventional Cruises
In the mid-20th century, before the jet age, ocean crossings were very popular, with large ocean liners ferrying passengers back and forth across oceans around the world. However, once people were able to fly to their destinations much more quickly, large ocean liners started losing passengers. So, they retaliated against the decrease in popularity by boosting the amenities offered on board to make traveling by ship a vacation in itself, not just a means of travel.

Today, this industry is booming, and ships are regularly packed with vacationers who enjoy the fancy meals, glitzy celebrity entertainment, scheduled classes and activities, and exotic ports of call. However, for an increasing number of travelers, those fussy extras are more like annoyances than amenities. If you’re that kind of traveler, then maybe a freighter is just what you’re looking for.

Freighter Cruises
Freighter travel offers travelers quiet days at sea in informal surroundings with no formalities. Usually, the only scheduled activities are mealtimes, and passengers eat the same meals as the officers. Although no special diets are accommodated and the menu isn’t fancy or exotic, the meals are well-balanced and the menu is varied, and the food is usually high-quality fare.

Advantages
One can travel to virtually any destination around the world, and on every ship you’ll find spacious, well-furnished cabins with private facilities, larger than on most commercial cruise lines and all located on upper decks. Most of these ships offer a small exercise room, a swimming pool, a lounge with upholstered furniture, a library with a selection of reading materials, a television for viewing a selection of movies, and good deck space for walking, or just sitting in a comfortable deck chair with a good pair of binoculars and watching the ocean and occasional dolphins, whales, and sea birds that may join you for a moment or two.

Passengers can interact with the officers and crew, and may spend time on the bridge enjoying conversations with officers and learning about the ship-special experiences not possible on cruise ships where dozens of passengers visit the bridge in small groups as part of a tour. Most freighters flying under foreign flags allow passengers unrestricted bridge visitation, and with passenger loads of usually less than a dozen people, sometimes lasting friendships are formed between passengers, officers, and ship’s crew personnel.

Duration of Travel
Often you need a long and flexible time period to make the most of your trip. Although some travelers use a transatlantic crossing as a leisurely way of going from one point to another, most passengers book a freighter for its full itinerary, which can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 5 months. Modern container ships offer 1 to 3 week voyages, and various mail and coastal ships have specialty cruises that can last from a week to several weeks in any direction. The choices are limitless.

Cost
The best thing is that traveling by freighter is still the best cruise value to be found anywhere. Fares typically range from USD 90 to USD 130 per day, including all meals-less than half the cost of traditional passenger ships. Most commercial freighter companies charge the actual fares charged by the shipping lines and don’t add any additional margins.

Drawbacks
If there is a drawback to freighter cruising, it is that these are working ships, and therefore the average time in port is usually just a day or sometimes just a matter of hours. However, for general cargo ships and ports without modern cargo facilities, the port time may be longer. Also, the ships usually dock farther away from city centers and tourist attractions, so you’ll have to take a cab to do any sightseeing while the ship is in port.

However, if you are an independent traveler who knows how to plan your own vacation time and you like to organize your own shore visit, your schedule is flexible, and you want to get away from the crowds rather than traveling with them, then this might be just the ticket for you. The largest travel agency in the world dedicated to freighter cruising is Freighter World Cruises, whose motto is “If you have the time to relax and a cruising spirit, a friendly freighter waits for you.”

Cruising… On A Winter Afternoon

When people think of winter vacations, they usually think of Aspen and going skiing. Or going to the mountains to stay in a cabin. Or there are those who believe that there are two separate times of the year for vacation―summer and winter―and for a true winter vacation one has to experience the parkas, the gloves, the bitter cold, the hot chocolate by the warm fire, etc. The idea of a winter cruise never occurs to many people longing for a cold-weather getaway, but they don’t know what they’re missing.

Where does one cruise in the winter? Obviously, it’s cold in Alaska but is it worth cruising there in the winter? Why not? Alaskans don’t go into hibernation. According to the Travel Alaska website, winter is when the fun begins. Contrary to what people believe, in the winter Alaska has 6-13 hours of daylight sandwiched between lots of twilight on one end and lots of dawn on the other. Temperatures average around 20°F, which is similar to what you would experience skiing down those mountain slopes in Colorado.

For those who don’t like cold weather, the winter is the perfect time to take a cruise to the Caribbean, Mexico, and places to the south of the US. Hurricane season is over, the temperatures are milder―usually in the 70s or 80s―and the waters are still warm. Compared to the summer months, the number of tourists is relatively low, so it’s not such a busy time. Many of the cruise line sites, such as Norwegian Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Lines, and Royal Caribbean, give detailed information about the climate and weather according to the time of year you want to travel.

Most, if not all, regions south of the US tend to hover between 65-85 degrees during the winter months. Other countries that have similar temperatures in the winter are the West Indies, the Dominican Republic, the Canary Islands, Australia, India, Malaysia, North Africa, Singapore, and Thailand, to name a few. How about a safari in Africa? Not exactly a cruise, but still something different than sitting in a cabin in 20-degree weather. The winter is an excellent time to go, as the temperatures range between 70-80 degrees during the day.

When you’re in the throes of deciding what to do about a vacation during the winter months, consider things you and your family enjoy. Consider also those things that you have ‘never done in the winter’ and consider cruising to a warmer climate.