The art of cruising

Great  expectations for newbie cruisers

First cruise?  Here’s what’s in store:

An exhilarating experience. Fresh sea air, wind in your hair, leaving woes behind in the wake, completely relaxing.

Better way to see new ports without having to catch planes and re-pack often.

Cuisine you may have never tasted before. (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, Oceania).

Diving off the back of a ship into the water (Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream).

Eating as much and whenever you want (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, SeaDream).

Fitness options such as gyms, jogging tracks, paddle all, golf, swimming, exercise classes—on every ship worth its salt.

Great days at sea with never ending activities fro Bingo to disco.

Heavenly spa treatments, for an extra fee on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess.

Islands in the sun (cruises to the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Fiji).

Love it’s not call  the Love Boat (re: popular Princess Cruises TV series) for nothing. It’s all around you on a cruise. You just need to sidle up to the bar, put your lips together and blow.

WiFi to keep you connected, although it doesn’t often move too fast or at all depending on the ship’s position at sea. Sometimes you’ll just have

Pick, plan, put it together on Cruiseable.com

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What makes cruises so appealing — everything fro A to Z

Great expectations

By Patti Pietschmann

 

First cruise?  Here’s what’s in store:

An exhilarating experience. Fresh sea air, wind in your hair, leaving woes behind in the wake,d0e60-decksofasitting in a lounge chair on Crystal Serenity or Symphony.

Better way to see new ports without having to catch planes and re-pack often.b3b88-img_0951

Cuisine you may have never tasted before. (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, Oceania).d0a36-vitello2btonnato2bla2bterraza

Diving off the back of a ship into the water (Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream).

Eating as much and whenever you want (Crystal

 

CruisesSeabournSilverseaRegent Seven  Seas, SeaDream).

Fitness options such as gyms, jogging tracks, paddle all, golf, swimming, exercise classes—on every ship worth its salt.

 

Great days at sea with never ending activities fro Bingo to disco. Heavenly spa treatments, for an extra fee on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess.

Islands in the sun (cruises to the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Fiji).manava hotel

 e0a08-ship2bshot2bserenity
Dining in penthouse suite on Crystal Serenity

Love it’s not call  the Love Boat (re: popular Princess Cruises TV series) for nothing. It’s all around you on a cruise. You just need to sidle up to the bar, put your lips together and blow.

Money matters cash isn’t tendered on ships. A credit card account is set up for you on embarkation day for which you can charge drinks, spas, boutique buys, shore excursions and the like.  If you’re watching your budget, charge carefully, the tab can skyrocket.

Outfits the cruise line web site will advise you of any wardrobe preferences. All ships are casual by day, especially on deck,  evening options vary from sea to port days, but some like Cunard‘s Queens are always dressy at night. Always look presentable.

 

Snorkel excursion
 

Formal wear
 73d94-ruby2bprincess2bin2bgrand2bturk
  The Ruby Princess

WiFi to keep you connected, although it doesn’t often move too fast or at all depending on the ship’s position at sea. Sometimes you’ll just have go ashore and use a cybercafe.  Check with your cruise line to see if Internet is included and if not what packages are available to purchase. By all means pop for  a package, the rates per minute are pretty pricey.

Catching the sites of kitschy Ketchikan from Regent Seven Seas Mariner

arrival Ketichan It was what locals call a bluebird day, a beautiful, sunny day in Ketchikan—one of the rainiest cities in the world with an average yearly downpour of about 14 feet. According to a local, it was the best day in more than two weeks, the sun shining gloriously and the temperature hovering around 70 as passengers disembarked spiffy Regent Seven Seas Mariner. Like Richard and I most of the 700  passengers were taking one of the line’s complimentary shore excursions offered on this all-inclusive seven-day Alaska cruise from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, BC. The voyage lived up to or exceeded expectations.

 Before we even left home we booked our complimentary shore excursions (and made dinner reservations, on Regent Seven Seas web site). We were happy we selected the Rain Forest Expedition tour  in Ketchikan– which proved n easy hike alongside a roaring stream feeding into Ward Lake, about eight miles from the port. It was led by a knowledgeable guide named Carly, who was more naturalist than hiker and explained the glacier-created terrain, the spongy peat bog and identified the spruce, cedar, hemlock and alder trees. She pointed out the broad-leafed skunk cabbage plants that had been nibbled at and uprooted by hungry black bears after their long winter hibernation. In late June the pink salmon endemic to the creek hadn’t yet began their spawning runs, an event the bears no doubt eagerly awaited. But the tour group loved the sight and sound of the pristine water rushing past through dense screens of old growth trees. DSCN1313There was the usual warning that if a bear was spotted one must remain avoid screaming and particularly running, something that signals prey to the poor-sighted blacks, smaller and less aggressive than their brown bear (grizzly) cousins passenger had seen in Sitka, but still dangerous wild animals. No furry animal was sighted, however.

Following the two-hour walk  we strolled around Ketchikan, which is Alaska’s fourth largest city, despite its small population of about 14,000, and stopped for lunch at a local spot called Annabelle’s.  Annabelle's frontThis is a city of water, where even the airport must be reached by ferry and with no land connection to the outside—the only highway ends 10 miles in either direction beyond the center of town. What it is best known for, besides salmon and rain, is the size of its floatplane fleet, the largest in the world. Every day around 1,000 takeoffs and landings occur in the same tight sea lanes used by ships much larger than Mariner and were as easily seen as the curious juvenile bald eagle that flew within feet of the anchored ship.

Annabelle’s  was a bit of a disappointment. The  salmon  was over-cooked, the olive oil had a strange taste but the bread and salad was good. We popped for wine and a beer (which is proffered free on Mariner, but hey one isn’t in a Ketchikan restaurant every day). The typical Alaska eatery was filled with what looked like locals but also passengers from Marina, Holland America’s Voledam and the Coral Princess which were also docked there. After lunch it was back on a launch that took passengers back to the anchored Mariner for a night and one more day at sea before arrival in Vancouver.

Once back in our deluxe veranda suite 805 we sat on the veranda and watch while the captain sailed out of Ketchikan to the final stop  in Vancouver B.C. I love this ship so much that I can’t wait to do another  cruise on her, perhaps in Caribbean or Med next time. But Regent Seven Seas is well-known for getting things right and everything about this seven day journey was ideal.  Remember RSSC fare are truly ALL INCLUSIVE with everything covered from tips to shore excursions, drinks, alternative dining venues Prime7 (that serves kick ass steaks) and Signatures which offers continental cuisine in a romantic setting (most ships charge extra for meals outside the dining room, except this one and Seabourn.brunch buffet ketichan arrivalAbove is a buffet served on the Mariner during arrival in Ketchikan.

A magical Alaska cruise on RSSC Mariner

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The sight and sounds of Southeast Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier Hubbard glacierare transcendental. We encountered the world’s largest tidewater glacier on the second day of a week long cruise aboard  the  country club stylish 700-passengers Regent Seven Seas Mariner following the rugged, fjord-cut coastline of Alaska’s panhandle from Seward to Vancouver, and it was a showstopper. Hubbard winds 76 miles from the massive high-altitude ice field in Canada’s Yukon that feeds it down to Russell Fjord’s Disenchantment Bay in the United States. It moves with surprising speed, at a rate of tens of feet or more per day, not the inches typical of other glaciers. Its 400-foot-high face, or “snout,” is gnarled into abrupt towers and riven with the blue of ice compressed under great pressure until all air has been forced out of it. That vast shelf of sea-level ice is a mile across, and it periodically showers ice falls or calves icebergs into the water, often accompanied by the sharp cracks and deep booms of fracturing ice. Even the biggest cruise ships seem like bathtub toys. In front of it.

Hubbard Glacier, which is estimated to be from 400 to 700 years-old, is a highlight of any Alaska cruise It proves even more so on a stylish ship like Mariner where every suite has a balcony and thus instant access for all passengers to view a humpback whale blowing or a lone brown bear (called grizzly elsewhere) in search of a salmon dinner, and small enough to move quickly from one place to another to appreciate the ever-changing scenery of snow-clad mountains hung with high-altitude glaciers and endless swaths of thick forest packed with spruce, cedar and alder. Even the time of year cooperates, Alaska’s famed “midnight sun’s” lengthened days allowing hours more sightseeing time.

Captain Serena Melani, Regent Seven Seas first female commandant, adeptly navigated her 700-passenger vessel to the imposing glacier while naturalist and story teller Terry Breen regaled passengers with fascinating commentaries. Oohs and aahs were audible as passenger spotted turquoise-colored icebergs falling noisily into the water, a surreal scene and act of nature.

On this cruise the approximately three-hour voyage to the foot of the glacier took place on the day after embarkation in Seward. It is one of the most impressive experiences of the cruise but there are many more exciting sites to be seen until disembarkation in Vancouver on June 29.

Regent Seven Seas is one of the truest all-inclusive fare ships afloat, on this trip passengers were treated to  unlimited WiFi for one device , wines, Champagne, spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, shore excursions (we did four in seven days) and tips paid. The voyage was magical on this recently refurbished luxury liner.

Pick, plan, put it together on Cruiseable.com

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While I hope you will continue reading the Savvyseafarer for all the cruise news, tips and ideas you can use, I write for another site which does that PLUS books and helps you plan your cruise down to the most finite details.

It’s cruiseable.com and you really need to go there before you plan that first or next cruise. The site has everything from articles on packing, preening, picking a ship, choosing destinations, budget tips, family cruises, LGBT cruises, millennial favorites and scores of readable reviews from a team of top writers/experts on the industry.

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A gorgeous well-kempt ship

Bon voyage.