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5 Things I’ve Missed About Cruising

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Confession: This cruise-aholic hasn’t been cruising in over 2 years. For real, two long years going on almost 3 years. So, I’m definitely looking forward to getting back onboard.

5 Things I’ve Missed About Cruising

1. Disconnecting

cruising

We’re such a connected culture today. When I started sailing over 10 years ago, onboard internet was limited, slow, and cost-prohibitive. So, I happily disconnected from all things real life. Today, it’s far easier to connect while on a cruise, but it’s also an option to stay disconnected. There’s not much you can do about a problem at work while you’re in the middle of the ocean.

Cruising gives you the chance to step away from worries, cares, and responsibilities. Cruising lets you recharge you – instead of just your smartphone. Cruising lets you focus on staying in the moment and living life to the fullest.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons Cruises Love Florida

It’s nice that you don’t need your phone or social media or anything online during a cruise. Some vacation destinations almost require you to have it for reservations, dining, and more. That makes it hard to disconnect. Cruising keeps it simple and lets you relax and keep your phone in the cabin safe.

2. The Views

cruising

While oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface – and contain 97 percent of the world’s water – it’s not just one boring endless body of water. It’s so many stunning shades of blue. It sparkles and glows in the sun and moonlight.

And what about the views of the islands sitting surrounded by the ocean, palm trees swaying in the breeze, set in blindingly white sand? Or, the amazing creatures that inhabit the water and land. In all my travels, some of the best views I’ve ever seen come from being on a cruise ship.

3. Seeing New Places

cruising

Saint Augustine once spoke, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Cruising lets you see and explore new places like no other vacation. The more you sail, the more you see. I often liken cruising to a sampler – you experience new places and then you can go back and explore your favorites in more depth.

For my next cruise, we made sure to book a sailing that included a new port, along with some new activities in a familiar one. Thanks to cruising though, I have a long list of places and ports I want to visit again and a shorter list of places I was happy to check the ‘been there, done that’ box.

Extra bonus for cruising: I only have to unpack one time and don’t have to lug my suitcase everywhere to see multiple new locations in one week.

4. The Food

cruising

Another confession: I’m not a foodie, but cruising helped me try new things, new flavors, and now, I’m not nearly as picky as I used to be. Since most food is included in the price of your cruise, it’s the perfect time to try the West Indian Pumpkin Soup, or sushi, or escargot, or a new fish. If you hate it, you can get something else. But… what if you love it?

While most food is included on your cruise, there are some upgrades or specialty options available. With those choices, you can often try foods at a fraction of their land-based cost. On my Carnival Sunshine sailing, I tried duck for the first time at JiJi’s Asian Kitchen. I can’t say that I’ll try it again, but I did love the Hakka noodles and Slow-Braised Wagyu Beef Short Rib – things I would not have tried at my local Asian place.

5. Service and Special Touches

cruising

Photo: Carnival Cruise Line

A room steward for my apartment has been on my Christmas list for almost 10 years now. I don’t like making my bed. Not a fan of the dishes either. Wouldn’t that be one of the best travel souvenirs to bring home?

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I travel a good amount for both work and fun, so I have plenty of interaction with the hospitality industry. There are few places that get it like the cruise ships. It’s the little things they set the service apart: what you want to drink with dinner, asking about your shore excursions, making a towel animal of your favorite creature, and more. Service is personalized, special, and designed to exceed expectations.

When you don’t cruise, what do you miss most? What’s the longest you’ve ever gone between cruises? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

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10 Facts About Working on a Cruise Ship

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By Special Guest Contributor Kabir Bageria, Cruise Director

I started working on a cruise ship because I absolutely loved cruising. The idea of unpacking once and being able to see multiple destinations, all while being aboard a 5-star luxury hotel and making a profit, sounded like sheer perfection! And honestly, it is for most people. Because I had a lot of experience as a guest, becoming a crew member took some getting used to. Like any job, it comes with it’s own set of issues, as well as amazing benefits. Having done 30 cruises (and counting), there were so many things that I learned about cruise ships from being on the inside. Here is just some of what I’ve learned!

1. The food can be interesting.

Back in the early days of cruising, ships divided their crew dining areas depending on rank. On most cruise ships made in the early 2000’s or before, crew can generally find there are 3 main places to eat; Crew Mess (housekeeping, food and beverage, laundry), Staff Mess (entertainment, guest services, mid-level officers), and the Captain’s Dining Room (Senior officers; Chief Engineer, Cruise Director, Hotel Director, Guest Relations Manager, etc.). The food varies from soup, rice and chicken, to having a chef on standby for the Captain’s Dining Room who is ready to cook anything from scratch. But, regardless of rank, all of the crew are well-fed! Some even have access to guest dining rooms, specialty restaurants and the buffet.

2. Crew cabins aren’t all created equal.

crew cabin

Depending on rank, crew cabins can have up to 2 people sharing a room all the way up to large suites for senior officers. The captain’s suite can be 1-2 bedrooms and even have a balcony, while most other senior officer suites are only slightly smaller. As a crew member moves up the ranks, the size of their cabin grows.

3. Safety is no joke.

If you’ve cruised at all, you know that everyone has to participate in the Guest Emergency (or Muster) Drill prior to the beginning of every voyage. Crew also have to do their own drills every week according to maritime law. The safety program on cruise ships is managed by the Safety Officer, who is  usually 3rd in command  of the ship, and next in line to become Staff Captain. Every single crew member has a duty to perform should an emergency situation arise, from the Cruise Director on the bridge with the Captain, to your Cabin Steward, who is responsible for evacuating your hallway and helping passengers board the lifeboats. Crew are highly trained in battling fire, water and even a bomb threat.

4. The crew are educated.

Photo via John Heald

Many of the crew have had some form of post-secondary education. On my cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl, our server in the main dining room, Jay, had his Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering. However, he and his wife, both of whom worked on board, figured they could make more working on ships as servers than they could if they stayed in their native India and labored in their respective fields. Many crew members also provide for their families at home. When including gratuities, onboard salaries become very competitive.

5. The stage-performers are extremely talented.

Photo via Royal Caribbean.

As a Cruise Director, I admit I have a bias here, but it’s important to share. The performers that you see on stage have generally spent their lives practicing their craft, some beginning as toddlers. While on vacation, many performers tour around the world and are involved with performances. The next time you’re watching a show onboard, remember that you could be seeing someone who was once on Broadway or could be headed there on vacation.

6. There is a secret hallway that you’ve probably seen.

cruise crew

Running through every major ship is a hallway that spans the length of the vessel. Generally found on the level that is at the waterline, the I-95 is the ships major artery. This is how the crew can quickly transition from one end of the ship to the other. If you’ve ever gone ashore or used tenders, you may have walked past or even through a part of the I-95.

7. We can go on tours with you.

Most cruise lines have a program which allows crew members to join guests on shore excursions for a small fee…  or even sometimes for free! As long as a crew member can get the designated time off, they can enjoy a number of excursions, including exploring Copenhagen by foot or zip-lining in St. Kitts. This is a welcome reward for some of the crew members who may not have many opportunities to otherwise get off the ship during their contracts. This way, when they do they have an incredible experience.

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8. Work hard, play hard.

Photo via John Heald FB.

The existence of the crew bar has been a myth among guests since the invention of cruising. And I will put it to rest: The crew bar is a real place. Believe it or not, every single cruise I’m asked to reveal it’s location. However for security purposes, nobody can disclose the location of the Crew Bar. The combination of being away from home, long hours, and new friends equals some very fun nights in the crew bar. Drinks are provided at a steep discount, and during crew parties, they can sometimes even be free! Most cruise lines have a full bar for crew members, however some are limited to beer and wine only.

9. Play hard, play safe!

The crew can be a rowdy, fun bunch of people… and sometimes that can lead to some very “dizzying” nights out. Some crew members also have access to guest bars and receive steep discounts. But don’t go and ask a crew member for a drink, because we aren’t allowed to share – in order to get that, you’ll have to come to work onboard! While on the ship crew must adhere to a strict alcohol policy. If team members are caught with too much alcohol in their system, they can be fired immediately.

10. We get sad when you leave us.

The end of a cruise is bittersweet – we have to say goodbye to guests that we have built a connection with, and then have the chance to start over with a new set of guests. A lot of crew members have small children at home, and when they see families it reminds them of their own kids who they are working so hard to provide for. I know I have had a number of guests that stay in touch with me via my Facebook page, some of whom have cruised with me again.

Keep up with Kabir on Facebook and on his website. He has new blog posts every week. cruisedirectorkabir.com and Facebook.com/cruisedirectorkabir.

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Top Yacht Charter Mediterranean Destinations for Summer 2018

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Your summer vacation is one of the most exciting times of the year. A special opportunity to spend precious time with immediate and extended family, catch up with old and new friends, and make memories to last a lifetime.

Each year, Mediterranean yacht charter increases in popularity as a summer vacation option, as word of the truly incredible, one-off experiences that can only be enjoyed on a charter yacht spreads. Offering a level of bespoke service and luxurious comfort incomparable to other vacations, a luxury yacht charter is the ultimate in freedom, privacy, and personalized experiences.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/michele masiero

For years, the Mediterranean has been the preferred summer yacht charter destination, but with a wealth of islands and coastal destinations across the West and East Mediterranean, selecting the perfect cruising ground for your luxury yacht charter is critical! Here the charter team explore some of the most popular Mediterranean yacht charter destinations for 2018. For more personalized yacht charter destination advice, and to explore yachts for charter in the Mediterranean, contact our team of expert charter brokers today.

Whether you are planning your first yacht charter, or are a more seasoned charter guest, 212 Yachts are well positioned to provide an unbeatable yacht charter Mediterranean experience. With a Mediterranean head office, well-travelled and highly experienced charter brokers and a deep-rooted commitment to personal, honest and ‘always-on’ service, we are proud to be the extra degree in yachting.

The Cote D’Azur: French Riviera Yacht Charter

Unsurprisingly, The French Riviera consistently ranks as one of the best luxury yacht charter destinations in the Mediterranean. With so many iconic places to visit and exciting activities to enjoy, the atmosphere along the French Riviera is quite like no other Mediterranean destination, and the coast is perfectly suited to both long charters (one week to several months), and shorter charters. Whether you enjoy refined luxury or the Provencal laid-back lifestyle, the French Riviera delights all Mediterranean yacht charter guests.

Highlights include the glamour of Cannes (visit in May to experience the Cannes Film Festival in all its glory), the stunningly chic Saint Tropez, and a night or two spent at anchor in the Bay of Monaco with frequent tender runs to the Principalities most exclusive casinos, eateries and clubs. With the region’s abundance of picturesque coastal towns, secluded turquoise bays and unspoiled island archipelagos, it is easy to add some diversity and differentiation to a French Riviera yacht charter, ensuring the complete satisfaction of charter parties and all guests onboard. The Cannes based charter team works closely with you to develop the perfect Cote D’Azur yacht charter itinerary to reflect your personal tastes. An added benefit of yacht charters on the French Riviera is the huge selection of yachts based in the region, giving you maximum choice when selecting your luxury yacht.

To learn more about a French Riviera yacht charter, contact our team today.

Amalfi Coast Yacht Charter: Capri to Positano

The Amalfi Coast is another destination that proves to be continually popular with yacht charter Mediterranean guests. With a dramatic natural landscape, rambling hilltop towns splashed with vibrant colour and oozing with charming Italian culture, Amalfi Coast yacht charter is a real treat. Positano, Amalfi and Sorrento offer spectacular anchorages with picture-perfect views, while Spiaggia del Cauco and Spiaggia del Arienzo are some of the best beaches in the region to enjoy a beach BBQ and the toys your charter yacht carries. Of course, the magical island of Capri is a must-see, with waters as clear and bright as the deep blue Italian sky.

Amalfi Coast yacht charters often start from Naples, which is easily accessed through it’s international airport. With a one-week charter, you can really soak in the best of the Amalfi coast, however if you have more time to explore, Sicily and the incredible Aeolian Islands can be worked into your bespoke itinerary.   

To learn more about an Amalfi Coast yacht charter, contact our team today.

Southern Italy: Sample Sicilian Yacht Charter

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On the southern tip of Italy lies Sicily. Not only is it Italy’s largest island, it is also the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Renowned for its stunning coastline, active volcanoes, and fascinating history, Sicily is a fantastic Mediterranean yacht charter destination. Although its mild climate makes it a great destination year-round, June through September see the island in full bloom. With a turbulent history, Sicily encompassed cultural influences from Greeks to the Romans, ensuring a fascinating journey for all of those who visit. Highlights on the island include the Greek Temples at Segesta, the vineyards of Taormina, the Roman villa of Piazza Armerina and the remarkable Turkish steps near Agrigento. The coastline is speckled with petite fishing villages, while the nearby Aeolian Islands, a UNESCO-listed archipelago, offer some of the best-snorkeling sites and wildlife in the Mediterranean. The volcanic island of Stromboli nearby is also worth the short cruise, and if Sicily’s geographical landscape enthralls, the looming Mount Etna is sure to draw a gasp.

Find out more from Sicily yacht charter.

Costa Smeralda: Sardinia Yacht Charters

Sardinia, an autonomous region of Italy, is the second largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily. A short cruise South from the striking Corsican stronghold of Bonifacio, Sardinia offers the complete luxury Summer destination package. The Northern coastline, known as the Costa Smeralda is the most popular charter destination, with the island’s most stunning beaches and suave beach-clubs and resorts. Make sure to check out the golden sands of La Pelosa! The Eastern coastline, easily accessed from popular Sardinia yacht charter starting point Olbia, is dotted with immaculate bays, remote anchorages and exciting land-based attractions. The island’s history and culture are rich, particularly around the Southern city of Alghero, adding real substance to your vacation. Over the last decade, Sardinia has gained a reputation as one of the most sought-after yacht charter destinations, and we believe that this reputation is well-earned!

If like many, you are tempted by a Sardinia yacht charter, our team would love to hear from you.  

The Balearic Islands: Yacht Charter in Ibiza and Mallorca

Spain’s Balearic Islands guarantee sunshine, spectacular scenery, and the allure of Spanish culture, combined with increasingly sophisticated yachting infrastructure and a tantalizing selection of top-class restaurants, beach clubs, and resorts.

As the largest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca is one of Europe’s most popular summer destinations, especially with families. Fly into the lively city of Palma de Mallorca, a major port with a great choice of shopping and restaurants, and home to a great fleet of luxury crewed superyachts. A mixture of long, sandy beaches and secluded bays can be found around the entire coastline, especially in the northeast and south-west corners of the island. There’s so much to see and do, and you’ll also find some of the best snorkeling in the Mediterranean along Mallorca’s shores. Menorca, located east of Mallorca, is much smaller but just as lovely and inviting. It has a similar laid-back atmosphere, consisting of secluded bays and clear, blue waters.

Ibiza, also fondly known as the White Isle, has in recent years exploded in popularity as a summer yacht charter destination. Comprehensively catering to youthful travelers, sophisticated guests with a taste for fine food, drinks and arts, lovers of the calm waters and sports, and those with a penchant for boho-chic vibes, Ibiza is delightfully versatile. The proximity of Formentera is an added bonus for Ibiza yacht charter guests, boasting Playa Illetas named as one of Europe’s top beaches. Formentera can only be accessed by boat, offering a welcome respite from the vibrancy of main-land Ibiza. With the popularity of yacht charter in Ibiza and Mallorca in recent years, yacht charterers are treated in an ever-improving selection of luxury charter yachts ready to host their once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

In one week, yacht charter Mediterranean guests can enjoy either Ibiza or Mallorca, or a 10 day or longer yacht charter in the Balearics can incorporate both of these stunning Spanish jewels. Learn more about the 10 day itinerary for Balearics yacht charter.

Yacht Charter in Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast

trogir, croatia

Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast has risen in popularity as a Mediterranean yacht charter destination in recent years, with 1,200 stunning islands, a rare ‘un-trodden’ feel and a favorable taxation structure enhancing the region’s popularity. The magnificent coastline consisting of hundreds of diverse islands and archipelagos make it a perfectly suited to yacht charter, with a luxury yacht offering unbeatable flexibility and mobility to explore the best of the region, in your own time.

Begin your Croatia yacht charter in the historic and timeless city of Dubrovnik, which recently featured in Game of Thrones, before heading up the Dalmatian coastline to explore the island of Mljet, the boho-chic vibrancy of Hvar that comes to life in the Summer, the island of Brac and the pretty harbour-town of Maslincia on Solta with it’s world-class eateries. Make sure to also visit Croatia’s top tourist attraction, the UNESCO World Heritage site, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Krka National Park which is a short cruise from Split.  

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Port Everglades Cruise Ship Sailaway [PHOTOS]

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Over the weekend I had a chance to watch some cruise ships leave from Port Everglades cruise pier (Fort Lauderdale). Normally I go to Lloyd State Park on the south side of the inlet but because my hotel was on the north side of the inlet, this time I went down to the jetty (rocks) on the north end.

Here are some of the ships I saw leaving port. Do you see any of your favorites?

Port everglades sailaway

1. Carnival Conquest

Carnival conquest

2. Crown Princess

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3. Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam

Nieuw Amsterdam

4.  Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit

Celebrity Summit

5. Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas

6. Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas

Where do you go to watch cruise ships leave?

 

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