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Top cruise destinations 2013

Choosing a cruise itinerary is a daunting task with exotic destinations vying for your attention.  Cruisers, particularly first timers, can play safe by picking a destination from this list of top cruises for 2013.

Caribbean Islands

The islands remain top favourites for most cruisers.  The islands are the best spots for soaking up some sun, tasting local cuisine and shopping for discounted jewellery.  The cruises last a week and some include a beach party at tropical islands owned by the cruise line.
   
Europe

European destinations are increasingly popular.  The one to two week long cruises offer the advantage of traversing an entire continent.  Each European destination is a unique cruising experience given the local culture, history and exploration options, not to mention cuisines and shopping experiences.

Alaska

Alaska, a close contender in the popularity charts, is best experienced through a cruise.  The coastline offers breath taking views and whale watching can be enjoyed while on board the ship.  Alaska is a good getaway in the summer months with week-long cruises.

Bermuda

Bermuda is a fascinating place and cruises are generally shorter involving smaller cruise ships.  The cruises are operated in the spring, summer and autumn seasons.

Hawaii

Hawaii is popular destination with couples, especially honeymooners.  These week-long cruises offer a tranquil atmosphere by a beach front.  Admire the stunning, picturesque views or sample the local cuisine and partake in the activities lined up by the resorts on the shore.

Holiday planners can check out other top destination cruises such as the Panama Canal, the Transatlantic, South Pacific, South America and Maritime Canada and New England in 2013.

North Portugal river cruise

The Douro is one of Europe’s most untouched rivers. Now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it ambles through the Iberian Peninsula, from the Castile region of Spain, out to the ancient Portuguese city of Porto, through spectacular scenery and centuries of heritage.

Experience a landscape a world away from the crowded beaches of the Costas or the Algarve. Leave the crowds behind and witness southern Europe at a slower pace. Follow in the footsteps of explorer Columbus in the picturesque city of Salamanca, Spain’s ancient seat of learning.

Deep in the Douro valley, vineyards have been built into the steep terraces to make the world-renowned port wine that for centuries was transported on rabelos, traditional wooden flat-bottomed boats, down the river to Porto. Visit the quintas, where the grapes are grown, as you sail sedately past the Baroque palaces of Villa Real, where the world famous Mateus Rosé wine originates.

At the mouth of the Douro, Portugal’s second-largest city Porto is an enthralling town that combines Roman ruins, winding medieval alleyways, top-class restaurants and a cutting-edge modern art scene.

The Magic of the Mediterranean

There is no better way to experience the magic of Southern Europe and all that is has to offer, than on a Mediterranean cruise. You can relax in style and enjoy the diverse cultures, stunning scenery and natural grandeur of some of the world’s most fascinating and cosmopolitan cities including; Barcelona, Rome, Florence and Athens and so many more. City breaks can prove to be expensive, especially considering the cost of flying, and even with train travel it can be costly and time consuming.

Cruising is also an affordable way to see some of the most spectacular cities of Southern Europe, there are a wide number of cruise deals available for this summer, exploring the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. You can spend anywhere from 3 or 5 days to 14 or 17 nights exploring this region, on various cruise lines finest ships. Staying in luxury accommodation, with all your on board needs taken care of, and when you’re at sea there are also plenty of on board activities to keep you busy.

When you dock, you get around 9 to 12 hours to explore the port, there are also organised excursions available as well if you don’t want to go it alone. On a Mediterranean cruise holiday you get to explore some fascinating places:

Monte Carlo – Famous as the playground of the rich and famous, the roads around here for the setting for the F1 once a year and if you like high stakes then the Monte Carlo Casino is for you.

Barcelona – Is known for is fantastic Gaudi architectures, world famous football club and fantastic authentic tapas food, plus a hell of a lot more.

Rome – The Vatican City is the main attraction here and easy to explore on you day here, or how about the many museums or stopping off at the Colosseum.

Dubrovnik – Coming into its own as a popular tourist destination Dubrovnik, has a wealth of history to tell you and it is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Santorini – This little Greek Island has one of the best sunsets in the world. Many people travel here just to experience that, plus the quaint white wash villages are a great taste of Greece.

A Med cruise is a great introduction if you have never been on a cruise holiday before. You pretty close to home and don’t spend that many days at sea. The only problem is once you have taken your first cruise holiday, you’ll want to take one again and again.

See James Bond in Phang Nga Bay

Cruising from Bangkok to Phuket is one of the sweetest deals in Thailand for a number of reasons.  One of the most important sites on the island of Phuket is Phang Nga Bay. Other than for its beaches and temples, tourists from all over Europe come to Phuket to see this majestic bay in the idyllic province of Phang Nga.

Which popular Englishman has visited Phang Nga Bay?  None other than the secret service agent, James Bond himself.  In fact, one of the islands is named James Bond Island!

The ninth bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed here in 1974 and catapulted the bay to international fame.  The island’s original name was Koh Ping-gan but the local government was more than willing to give that up for “James Bond Island”.

Visitors to the island will not be disappointed.  It has majestic rocky pinnacles and mysterious rock formations and simply looking at them makes the trip worthwhile, although the island can become crowded with tourists and local hawkers at times.

There are several cruise deals for 2013 to Phuket.  Many of the tour packages include both the cruise and hotel stay.  From the east coast beaches of Phuket, tourists can travel to Phang Nga Bay on board a canoe or speedboat.  From there, several outriggers take tourists to James Bond Island.  Another option is to take a boat trip from the northern tip of Phuket straight to the island.

Other places to visit in Phang Nga Bay are several uninhabited islands, towering limestone formations, prehistoric rock paintings, rich wildlife, sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and Gypsy Island for its rocky mountains and Muslim village on stilts.

Phang Nga Bay is often crowded but it never ceases to wow foreign visitors.  The scenic province of Phang Nga welcomes tourists with its official slogan: “A town with valuable minerals, a water village, fantastic caves, peculiar mountains, the Champion flowering plants, and fertile natural resources.”

Cost Effective Cruise Holidays

Cruising does have the reputation of been very expensive, but you can actually find plenty of affordable cruise holidays. The hardest part of booking a cruise holiday is where to go, a cruise to the Mediterranean, or the Baltic. Fancy a Nile Cruise or how about around the Middle East, even further afield to the Far East. The Caribbean is always a popular option for a Winter Sun holiday, or around South America and the Panama Canal. USA and Canada cruises are also affordable, as is a transatlantic cruise from the UK to New York.

Inside cabins, will often be the most affordable, but you can catch some good deals for rooms on the outside of the ship, with sea views. If you want a balcony cabin, they will be more expensive, but if your visit a warm destination then they are worth it. Cheaper cabins tend to be quite basic, but with so much entertainment going on on-board many cruise ships, plus stops at ports of call you will on find yourselves in your cabin for sleeping.

If you’re worried about spending money whilst abroad, why not have a look at all-inclusive cruise holidays? This means that whilst you’re on-board you won’t have to pay for food and drink. You may still find extra supplements which depend on the cruise line, but at least you won’t have to worry about having enough money for food. Some restaurants may insure extra charges and treatments in spas and beauty salons normally also incur a charge but there will be a number of other on-board activities include.

If you’re not sure about all-inclusive holidays, many travellers enjoy the ease of using a pre-paid card. A bit like your own cruise ship credit card, the only difference is you have to fill the card up with money to spend on board before you go. It does take the hassle away of having to be organised with money whilst you on board, but it does mean you have a bit more freedom.

Comparing prices online is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best deal; you can easily find Med cruise deals or great reductions on cruises to the Caribbean. Booking well in advance can also mean you get great prices, however there may some last minute deals to be found however you may need to be ready to travel within a few days’ notice, plus there may be less choice on rooms. One thing is for sure though, a cruise holiday is a lot more affordable than people realise, so book yours today.

Taking a Mediterranean Cruise Holiday

There are some fantastic stop offs on Med Cruises, no matter which part your cruising. The hardest part is finding a cruise which fits in all the stops you want. Popular calls of port include; French Rivera, Spain (Barcelona, Palma), Italy (Rome,) Greece and Greek Islands (Athens, Mykonos and Santorini) and Turkey (Kusadasi) just to name a few.

For most Mediterranean Cruise holidays, the area is broken up into two. Eastern Mediterranean which covers Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Malta and Turkey and Western Mediterranean which is a bit closer to home and covers Spain, France, Italy and even North Africa.

In the East you get to discover wonders such as Acropolis in Greece, Ayios Neophytos Monastery in Cyprus and Ephesus in Turkey. And in the West you can explore cosmopolitan cities such as Barcelona with its fantastic Gaudi Architecture, Rome where you can see the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain.

If you are new to cruising then a Mediterranean cruise holiday will be a good option. They tend to be shorter in length, include less time at sea and depart from the UK without the need of a flight. However they don’t have to be short, most cruise holidays around the Mediterranean are anywhere between five days and thirty five days in length depending on the number of ports of call.

Bonvoyage.co.uk
has a wide selection of cruise holidays to this region at affordable prices.

Enjoying the delights of Holland America Cruises

There are cruises to suit all tastes.  Offering a wide range of cruises sailing the world’s oceans is the Holland America Line.

For those seeking late cruise deals with Holland America, there are a rich variety of cruises available. The list includes sailings to Alaska, the Mediterranean, cruising the Pacific, journeys to Australia and New Zealand, as well as to Mexico and South America.

The company, founded in 1873, has built up a rich reputation, firstly carrying cargo and passengers across the Atlantic, and latterly as a worldwide leisure cruise operator.  It also operates a ‘Signature of Excellence Programme’ where the line’s ships and facilities are regularly upgraded.

Not only is there a rich selection of destinations, but Holland America cruises can last from just a couple of days to two and a half months.  An example of one of the line’s longer cruises is the ’50 Night Grand Asia and Australia Voyage’.  Those enjoying the delights of this particular cruise will visit locations in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia.

Holland America is able to offer such a wide range of cruises because of its large fleet.  The company boasts 13 liners, all with Dutch names such as ms Amsterdam, ms Rotterdam and ms Veendam.

Before booking a cruise, customers can see exactly what these liners have to offer online.  The company’s website offers a view of each vessel’s deck plans, and offers virtual tours and videos.

The online descriptions also give details of each ship’s staterooms and even their art collections, exemplifying on board luxury.

The wide range of cruises available means there is something for everyone and at a price that can be afforded.  What is more, there are several bargain deals to be found online.

Last minute cruises – getting a great deal

For the adventurous holidaymaker, looking for a cheap getaway, last minute cruises can bring some great deals. Cruise lines want all their cabins full and when a passenger cancels their reservation, the company offers a discount to try and fill the cabin. 

Searching for deals on last minutes cruises takes some time. While cancellations do occur, they are not frequent and plenty of other deal seekers are waiting to snap up a cheap holiday. Finding a good deal on a cruise you want, with the type of cabin you want, takes some time and patience as you dig through lists of last minute cruise availabilities. 

The easiest way to book a last minute cruise is to start checking cruise companies’ websites or travel agent’s websites 30 to 90 days before the cruise is scheduled to leave. Travel agent websites show tickets for numerous cruise lines and are the fastest way to find a deal. Often they have a special page or section of the website dedicated to last minute cruises.

When booking your last minute cruise, be flexible. The choice of destinations whether it be Caribbean Cruises or Indian Ocean cruises and available cabins will be limited and you will not have first pick, like those who booked in advance. If you do not see a good deal, wait for more offers to appear, rather than booking cheap cruises you do not really want. Be sure to check the type of cabin, the length of the cruise and reviews of the cruise line before making your final booking. 

Finding last minute cruises at affordable prices takes some work, but it will pay off when you find your dream cruise on sale. For those who simply want a nice holiday and do not care about staying in a specific cabin or making advanced restaurant reservations, last minute cruise deals can prove very rewarding.

All About Mediterranean Cruises

There really is no cruise holiday comparable to a Mediterranean cruise. Only Mediterranean cruises allow passengers to soak themselves in the rich history of ancient European cities. Sailing the Mediterranean will provide opportunities to sunbathe on the spectacular beaches of Greece or to indulge in the fine wines and food of Italy. Sailing along stunning coastlines and amongst picturesque islands will take passengers to the impressive Turkish ruins.  

One of the best things about choosing a Mediterranean cruise is that they are available all the year round. This means no travel limits or off-seasons that passengers may encounter when sailing to other parts of the world. Most Mediterranean cruises are offered between the months of April and into October, with an average cruise length of 14 days.  

It is possible to stay at sea longer by choosing an itinerary that goes beyond a basic sailing. Ports of call will vary, but most passengers can expect to enjoy stops at places such as Spain, Greece, London, Turkey, Paris, Portugal, France, Croatia and Italy. The combination of stops and countries visited will vary greatly with the different cruise companies.

Popular ports include Barcelona, Lisbon, Bari, Athens, Valencia, Rome, Marseille, Venice, Palma de Mallorca and the Greek Isles. Other Mediterranean destinations include exotic places such as North Africa and the Middle East. These European cruise tours are taken in combination with a Mediterranean cruise and offer passengers an intense and in-depth look at many of the world’s best known cities.  

Some Mediterranean cruises can also be combined with tours through Scandinavia. This will then include Stockholm on your list of port of calls. This combination of Mediterranean and Northern Europe cruises is normally available May through August. While in Scandinavia, enjoy a land tour that can include overnight stays.  

For passengers taking long flights to reach their destination port, it is advisable that they reach their port at least one or two days before their cruise departure. This will allow time to recover from the long flight as well as to get settled.  It will also allow you to go sightseeing in your port town before heading out onto the open waters for the Mediterranean cruise of a lifetime. 

Mediterranean Cruises – a perfect getaway!

If you would like to experience good weather, fantastic food and the culture of Europe, Mediterranean cruises are the best option.  These cruises will take you along the popular tourist spots and coastal cities in Europe.  Of course, the focal point of almost all Mediterranean cruises is Italy.

Mediterranean cruises can be divided into two routes: Western and Eastern.  Western Mediterranean cruises are perfect for those looking for beautiful architecture and art from around the world.  The most common points of departure and return of these cruises are either Barcelona or Rome.  Other Italian ports visited by Mediterranean cruise liners are Sicily, Pompeii, Capri, Florence and Pisa.  In Spain, your cruise ship might stop at Malaga and the Balearic islands.  In France, your cruise might take you to Nice, Cannes, and even Monte Carlo in neighbouring Monaco,

If you are looking to spend time exploring beaches and shorelines, Eastern Mediterranean cruises are the best option.  Venice, Rome and Athens are some of the popular ports of call.
You could explore Bari in Italy, Katakalon in Greece, Dubrovnik in Croatia, Crete and Rhodes.

Mediterranean cruise holidays are available all year around.  However, the peak season is from May to October – so while it is best to travel during this time, it might work out to be quite expensive.  If you are on a limited budget, you might want to take the cruise during the off-peak season: this way, you will be able to save money and get to explore some beautiful locations.