Sep 18, 2012 15:26 - holly | 1,346 views
Cruise vacations are continuing to rise in popularity worldwide, transporting passengers between ports in multiple cities, countries, and even continents in short amounts of time due to their swift sailing of generally anywhere between 21 and 24 knots. In fact, the fastest commercial cruise liners in the world travel at speeds of 30 and 31 knots; that’s equivalent to about 35 miles per hour, making a transatlantic crossing from the United Kingdom to the United States take just 6 days (shaving an entire day off the planned itinerary of the Titanic back in 1912).
It’s quick, but for some adrenaline junkies it’s just not quick enough! Enter the speedboat, the super fast, super exciting alternative to the traditional cruise. Speedboat cruises tend to be much shorter than typical cruises and focused on a smaller region or city, making them a good daytrip option if you’re on a traditional cruise, and also a good option to get a taste of the cruise experience. Passenger speedboat speeds can surpass those of their much bigger relatives by a good 10 knots, providing a truly exhilarating and unforgettable experience. It’s not just about the speed either, as speedboat cruise trips whizz travelers past some of the area’s most well known and most exciting sights.
In New York, take a trip on a self proclaimed ‘water coaster’, sailing around Liberty Island and getting a unique view of the famous New York City skyline away from the hustle and bustle of the city; everything from the World Financial Center to 17 State Street. On the other end of the scale, in Cozumel travelers can hop on a 1000 horsepower speedboat that whisks them off to the secluded and uninhabited island of Isla Pasión, often considered to be Mexico’s most beautiful beach.
Speedboat cruise trips are especially popular in places comprising of many different coastal areas and islands, where the tourism center is sprawling rather than contained. Thailand, for example, has the Phi Phi Islands (famous for being the filming location of ‘The Beach’) and the four islands often collectively referred to as the ‘Krabi Islands’, as well as many others. Access to some of these islands can be challenging, and the choice of which to visit even more so, but with a speedboat cruise encompassing many different islands, you won’t need to be selective.
In addition to all the classic tourist sights, those sailing on a speedboat cruise get an opportunity to take a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous. Many harbors are home to some of its city’s most extravagant properties, with architecture, windows, pools and land that most of us could only dream of. One of the best times for spying on the stars is during a speedboat cruise from Miami, along a particular Miami Beach stretch of sand known as Millionaire’s Row. The name says it all!
A speedboat cruise is a fun, unique, and exciting activity for all daredevils. They are available in most major coastal destinations, particularly around the popular cruise ports as they act as a great shore excursion for day trippers on a visiting cruise ship. They can go where the larger vessels can’t, they sail faster than their more state of the art counterparts, and they provide a wonderful twist on the usual cruise vacation.
Sep 13, 2012 10:05 - holly | 1,204 views
For some people, the term ‘cruise’ is synonymous with gray-haired old ladies, cringe-worthy comedy shows and shore excursions that take travelers through various different historic and cobbled streets that all look exactly the same. This view stems from the history of the cruise, once a luxurious method of transportation for those with too much money and too little personality, but the cruise industry has come a long way since then and this particular view is incredibly old fashioned, outdated and irrelevant.
In fact, a lot of modern cruises would surely be way too much for the peaceful folk to handle. Gone are the days of the after dinner Drawing Room, replaced instead with multiple bars, casinos, and even onboard amusement parks, but one of the biggest changes has been in the choice and variety of shore excursions at each port of call. Of course, the traditional walking tours around historic towns still exist, and trips to some of the biggest tourist attractions in the world will always be popular, but some of the more alternative offerings today are enough to blow even the most experienced thrill seeker’s mind.
Water lovers will have no problem finding an excursion to get the adrenaline pumping. Many ports offer snorkelling or scuba diving, but you’ve been there and done that, right? Well, have you ever tried cave-tubing? It may sound like a new concept, but this particular water-based activity has been the top selling cruise excursion in Belize since it’s introduction in the 1990s. Thrill seekers race through ancient Mayan caves, with just a small inflatable tube separating them from the waters. A half hour hike to the starting point through the Central American rainforest adds to the wonderment.
Nature lovers also have endless choices, but for a truly unforgettable pant-wetting experience, consider a cage diving trip. Divers are lowered into the ocean in a steel cage, while crew members lure sharks towards them with the promise of a delicious fish meal. While cage diving is considered safe, it’s also one of the most extreme water sports out there, and is especially popular in places such as New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. In fact, the village of Gaansbai, close to Cape Town, is considered the best place in the world for this activity, being the only place that sharks call home all year round.
If all that seems too tame, don’t worry, there’s more! Perhaps the most extreme cruise excursion currently on offer takes place from the port of St Petersburg. Ever wanted to see Moscow while flying in a Russian MiG fighter jet? Well now’s your chance. Soaring through the skies at over 1500 miles per hour, this trip isn’t for the faint hearted! The entire trip will take two days out of your vacation due to physical checks, and it’ll also set you back over $13,000! Wow!
So if you like your vacations with a bit of oomph, make sure you consider a cruise. Cruise vacations are whatever you want them to be. If you feel at home with a nice glass of wine while watching the sunset, a cruise can provide that, but if you’re not happy unless you’re partaking in some dangerous activity, then cruises can provide that too! Wake up and discover what modern cruising is all about.
Sep 10, 2012 15:30 - holliegibson | 1,459 views
As the sporting summer continues, many people will be heading to London for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see sportsmen and sportswomen competing at the highest level of their disciplines. As well as rugby, racing and athletics, some of the greatest tussles for the top are taking place in sports you might never have heard of!
Sports which are dominated by disabled athletes include some which for many might fly under the radar, and there’s no better chance than now to put these centre stage. So settle yourself in a central London hotel, hop on the tube and be inspired to try your hand, foot and hearing in one of the games below.
A game played by athletes with visual impairments. Every one of the six players (three on each team) wears a blindfold so they’re relying on touch and sound alone. A pitch is marked out with tape so players can orientate and position themselves and the bouncy, football-sized ball has a bell in.
Goals are the width of the pitch and teams guard their goal while taking shots at the opposing team. Spectators and players must stay absolutely silent during play in case they misdirect or distract the defending team, although when a goal is scored cheering is actively encouraged! Skills that are essential include speed (some players can throw up to 60mph), accuracy and good spatial awareness.
For more information and to see if there’s a team in your area, take a look at the Goalball UK homepage.
Powerlifting does what it says on the tin: athletes with intense core and upper body strength lift well in excess of their bodyweight in order to score in whichever of 20 weight classes they fall in. It’s more like bench pressing than weightlifting, as a player lies on a bench and lifts increasingly heavy barbells. Often straps are used to help secure their lower body, anywhere between the hips and the heels.
As well as sheer power, control is imperative: the bar must be lowered to the chest and held, then the arms full extended and held, and any fouls can result in a disqualification. Expect grunts, shouts and chalky fists pumping the sky. It’s intense, and there’s a lot of adrenaline flying about.
A target game very similar to pétanque or bowls, players of boccia throw, roll or kick heavy leather balls towards a white ‘jack’ that’s tossed onto the pitch before the game starts. Each team plays from a seated position, and has six heavy leather balls. They either take it in turns to throw, or take shots until they’re closest to the jack or out of balls. The side with the ball closest to the jack will score points for how many balls are nearer to the target than their opponents’.
A game of skill and strategy, the players will be constantly watching the angles of the balls on the pitch as the match progresses, planning moves sometimes five or six shots ahead and using played balls to bounce, deflect or slow their opponents plays. As men and women of all ages compete together, it’s one of the only international sports which is truly integrated.
This is one sport you most certainly have not heard of. The comically (but very logically) named ‘dartchery’ became a Paralympic event in 1960. This sport involves skilled archers who use their bows to fire at a target with a dartboard layout, and darts scoring applies. In the first two years it was played every entrant to the discipline received a medal because there were only three in the first year, and of the four that entered in 1964 two tied for bronze!
Aug 30, 2012 10:27 - holly | 2,005 views
Australia is a country famous for its reefs, outback, wildlife, food, and most definitely for its wine. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just fancy exciting your pallet, if you are visiting Australia – especially the New South Wales region – you must try to find the time to fit in a vineyard tour or two!
One area renowned for producing fine wines is the Hunter Valley, located a short, picturesque drive north of Sydney and making it a perfect location for day trips.
Thinking of hiring a car to get there? Think again! Whilst on a tour it is pretty certain that you will taste around 30 varieties of Hunter’s finest, so instead look into the plethora of other options available. Some tours offer return hotel pick-ups and drop-offs from Sydney as an appealing part of the package. If you fancy an even more memorable experience, you could have your breath taken away on a 2-hour return helicopter flight, allowing you to take in some of Sydney’s highlights from the air – or if you’re just looking for a low-cost budget option, you could investigate the public transport options, as trains, buses, and coaches all serve the area from central Sydney.
Once in the Hunter Region, home to over 120 different wines, you will notice that there are many different areas and vineyards to choose from, but for a specifically wine-orientated visit head to the popular areas of Pokolbin, Wollombi Valley, or Broke Fordwich Wine Region, which are said to produce the best wines and where there are many different tours and tastings to pick from.
If you feel that one day is not enough time to experience all that you want to, or if you want to pace yourself, you can opt to book yourself onto a tour lasting a few days, or research the wealth of accommodation Hunter Valley has to offer to find a slightly cheaper or last minute deal. This will also allow you to participate in some of the other attractions the region has to offer, for example sampling the specialist local produce (such as cheese, chocolate, and olives), taking a horse trek through the beautiful countryside, or exploring one of the many National Parks.
All year round the Hunter Region is a stunning place to visit with pleasant temperatures. Spring prickles the landscape with new life, summer weighs heavy with overwhelming amounts of fresh produce, autumn bathes the countryside in reds, oranges, and purples (and ignites the atmosphere with the exciting harvest period), and winter begs for scenic walks, warming food, and a glass of red by the fire.
Do not miss the opportunity to visit the Hunter Valley – just make sure you leave enough room in your bags to take a little bottle of it home with you!
Aug 29, 2012 12:07 - holly | 2,172 views
Eco-friendly refers to every good, policy, product etc. claimed to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment. However, have you noticed how much more expensive it is, for example the eco-friendly dishwasher in comparison with the usual non-bio one? When it comes to travelling there must be a way to do our bit for the environment without having empty pockets!
In the past, people may have used hitchhiking as a form of car share, however the 21st century has invented some much better, and safer, schemes in order to minimize the amount of cars on the road. There are numerous websites that match car drivers with passengers, and allows them to be in contact with each other before travelling. This is a great way to test each other’s compatibility, as well as checking references left by others.
Why should you be bothered to share a car with someone you don’t know?
Well, first of all it’s eco-friendly because it reduces the omission of harmful gasses into the o-zone layer, and furthermore it allows you to split the expensive cost of petrol. Your wallet will thank you and so will the environment.
Sharing Homes: Couch Surfing
The concept of car sharing for daily commuting purposes has expanded, and now couch surfing has been introduced and is popular amongst backpackers on a shoestring budget as they can ‘book’ a place on another participating candidate’s couch. This is also a really great way of learning about other people’s culture, and maybe if they’re really nice, getting a personal, native guide!
Couchsurfing.org is the most common website used to sign up to this experience, and allows people to connect on the Internet before meeting in real life. You would be right to question the safety of going to a complete stranger’s house in another country, possibly on your own, however when signing on to the website, hosts have to pass through three different verification stages. If they pass these successfully they can then create a profile with pictures and files that describe both them and the sort of person they are looking for, as well as the type of accommodation they own. In this way travelers can feel a bit safer about their choice, however you should always air on the side of caution.
Minimizing Your Carbon Foot Print in the Air and at Sea
Many cruise and airplane companies have taken a beating for their excessive damage to the environment, however now you can rest a little easier thanks to new government regulations, who are also doing their bit to go green. Large cruising companies are now spending millions of dollars on cleaner burning fuels and solar panels to generate power, as well as implementing shorter routes. Airplanes are also burning better fuel and creating newer and more efficient fleets of air crafts.
Hopefully these measures are not only going to save us all money, but save our beautiful planet for generations to come.