Jul 13, 2012 10:39 - holly | 1,519 views
Sailing the 7 seas, discovering far-flung lands and basking in brand new cultures is a popular wish for many whilst going about their day-to-day lives. Here we present the figures that will help you to budget for the realization of that dream.
Cruise Market Watch researched the 12 most popular cruise routes and revealed the costs of cruises per region and average on board spending. With this info-graphic the cruise goer will be able to plan their spending according to the places they wish to visit. For instance, it will be useful to know that the price of the ticket represents on average 77.3% of how much you are likely to spend, this is topped by on board expenses which correspond to 22.7%.
According to the research the most exclusive region is Northern Europe where passengers are likely to spend an average $249 per day, with the Middle East and South Pacific close behind. On the economic side of the spectrum, routes through Mexico and Central America, the romantic setting of the Caribbean, and North America cost on average around $100 less each day.
Costs additional to the ticket are split over 3 main areas – the onboard casino and bar, shore excursions, and the spa. It may come as no surprise that the casino and bar sees the majority of this money with 12.5% of the total budget, followed by shore excursions and spa, which together don’t even match half of the spending on letting their hair down.
No two days at sea will be the same, as you never know which species of wildlife may escort you along your way. Depending on which route you take you may see dolphins, seals, or maybe even whales! Families can frolic about the on board swimming pools, newlyweds can indulge in the spa, and adventurers can explore the different stop-off points the ship makes. Whoever you are and whatever your interests, a cruise holiday is guaranteed to please.
Sailing off into the sunset is a great way to enjoy your free time, and different cruise companies and routes are making it increasingly doable for those even on a shoestring allowance. In order to get the most for your money, make sure that before you set sail you take time to surf the internet or speak to a travel advisor so that you can find and choose the best route to suit you.
Jul 9, 2012 12:15 - emilygreen | 1,633 views
Before going on your first cruise, there are a lot of things that you need to do to prepare. Some of these preparations must be done months before departing while others can be done the week of your vacation. Consider the following steps to help prepare you for your first cruise.
Make and Confirm Reservations:
When planning for a cruise, you should purchase your tickets and make any necessary reservations several months in advance. This includes the cruise tickets, any tickets you need for transportation such as airline or bus fares, or any other reservations you need to make when preparing for your trip. Not only will this help you get a better deal, but it can ensure that you receive a spot on the cruise before they are booked. It is a great idea to consult a travel agent at this point as well to get advice, information about deals, and other expert tips.
Make Necessary Arrangements:
Before departing for your cruise, you should make arrangements for someone to take care of your home while you are away. This may include hiring a friend or family member to take care of your pets, water your plants, pick up the mail, or perform similar tasks. This also helps you to arrive home stress-free.
Have Your Passport Ready:
Some cruises may make stops in non-US cities. In this case, they require that you have a passport in order to travel with them, so it is important that you order one several weeks in advance if you don’t already have one. A passport can take up to six weeks to arrive after ordering it, so this matter should be taken care of far ahead of time. In addition, it is also imperative to double-check that you have it when you leave.
Receive Proper Vaccinations if Required:
Similar to having a passport, some cruises may require that you receive certain vaccinations before riding with them. In the event that the cruise ship stops in a city outside of the US, that country may have a law that requires visitors to receive vaccinations before entering. Make sure to check with the particular cruise guidelines to make sure you are following through with these requirements.
Pack Appropriate Items:
The week leading up to your cruise can be a hectic one, but you should not forget to pack appropriate items, including a sufficient amount of clothing, toiletries, tickets, and other crucial items. It is best to put your most important items in your carry on since your main luggage may not arrive at your cabin immediately after check-in. Be sure to have your passport, money, and other important items on your person when you board the cruise ship.
Jun 28, 2012 12:27 - holly | 2,485 views
You have already used up most of your holiday days on a Caribbean cruise, doctor appointments, and annoying last minute errands, but here comes the summer and you are running out of options for how and where to get away on one of your weekends.
The region of Abruzzo in Italy is not only less expensive than other more touristy regions, but it also offers everything from beaches to mountains, artistic treasures, and delicious food. In the three days you’ve managed to set aside, you could potentially fit in all of the above.
Abruzzo is located in the centre of Italy between the Apennines and the Adriatic coast and is famous for the patience and strength of its inhabitants. The “Abruzzesi” people are known to never give up and are always eager to show the best of their province. In fact, Abruzzo is one of the few Italian regions that has experienced an economic growth in the tourism and food sectors.
If all you want is to go to the beach, Abruzzo beaches stretch along 129 km of warm Adriatic coastline. In the north there are seven coast villages called the “Seven Sisters”, and they’ve all been awarded the Blue Flag Status. The best and most idyllic one is Pineto, whose beach is divided from the town by a pine forest. Take a walk along the sand to the Tower of Cerrano, the most elegant sea tower in the region, and experience the beauty of the sunset.
However, if you talk to someone from south Abruzzo, they’d probably tell you that the best beach to watch the sunset from is Mottagrossa, which is tucked well out of the way of the crowds and resorts of the closest town, Pescara.
The National Parks: Trekking, Climbing and Horse Riding
There are 3 National parks where you can experience nature and wildlife at its best any time of the year. ‘Parco del Gran Sasso’ and ‘Monti della Laga’ are both must sees.
There are several trekking routes, but one of the most scenic is the one that starts from the locality of Ceppo, famous for mushrooms. Take the path that crosses the Martese forest and leads you to the enchanting, 40m tall ‘Morricana’ waterfall. Otherwise, from the borough of Padula, you can take the trail to the Cantagalli waterfalls. From here, you can continue on to the Fosso della Cavata and reach the Tordino springs and the Fiumata Refuge, where it is common to meet shepherds with their flocks in the summer.
If you love climbing then you must experience some classic climbs such as the ‘Via Degli Aquilotti’, ‘Gervasutti’, ‘Fiamme di Pietra’, and ‘Vecchiaccio’. If you’re an expert mountaineer and want a challenge, climb 2,500m to the top of Via Janneta, which nearly reaches the almost inaccessible north wall of Monte Camicia.
Horse lovers will feel right at home in Abruzzo. The Gran Sasso horse trail is the longest horseback riding trail in Italy (300km), and takes a couple of days to complete. Along the way there are well-equipped rest areas and places to eat, with signs that indicate the various architectural and gastronomical information of the area. However, you can always rely on one of the several equestrian centers, like the River Ranch in Bellante or the Monte Fanum Equestrian Association, to provide you with good information as well as accommodation.
If you’re tight for time but want to experience a host of sceneries and activities, head to Abruzzo. It will strike you with its natural beauty and hospitality, making your weekend unforgettable.
Jun 26, 2012 12:52 - holly | 1,994 views
The Hungarian capital is the only city in the world where you can access the natural beauty of the underworld by stepping down through a hole in the ground underneath the cobble-stoned streets of the city center, and explore its natural caves.
Budapest, a popular destination for river cruises and a transit city for many of the Europe cruise companies, is not only a city of wonderfully ancient spas but also a city full of caves – around 170 in fact! It is no coincidence that the largest city in east-central Europe is nerved with thermal springs and caves because it is these water-veins that created and formed the caves and treated the air with medicinal qualities.
When the caves were discovered in the limestone mountains underneath Budapest over a thousand years ago, there was no word for “cave” in the Hungarian language, and so they borrowed it from the Slavic “pest” which consequently found its way into the capital’s name.
Out of the almost two hundred caves present, only 3 are open to the public for caving, two of them easily reached by bus straight from the city. The caves, which are only partially viewable and only in the safety of a trained guide, are thought to stretch for more than 100km; the most beautiful of them, named the “Underground Flower Garden” due to its unique mineral formations that resemble bunches of grapes and bouquets, being 18km in length. This cave is a rather demanding maze to explore due to the great differences in height that need to be covered in order to become witness to the stunning dripstone formations like the “Organ Pipes” and “Beehive”, but seeing them will more than make up for the effort of being so physically challenged.
During the 4 hours of constant crawling, climbing and squirming through the claustrophobic and unique setting, you will experience a vast change in temperature. With every meter that you descend into the eternal belly of the beast, the thermometer drops a degree until it settles at a chilly 8 ° Celsius, so make sure that before putting on an oversized caving overall suit and donning a helmet with attached lamp like you are ready to rock a night-shift in the dirty coal-mines, you put warm clothes on.
If you do muster enough courage to embark upon this journey that will place you into the experienced hands of a total stranger, lead you into ancient, unknown terrain formed by the mighty powers of bubbling hot underground rivers, and travel into this multi-level labyrinth system; you are in for the experience of a life time!
Deep below the feet of bustling normality, tomb-like chambers will clutter your way and no external light-source or sound that is not self-produced will reach your sensory system, plunging you into an overly bizarre and surreal experience of unbelievable magnitude and haunting memories of seclusion.
You will really put your physique to test in the cave’s cool, damp air by climbing up walls, crawling along narrow passages through which not even your helmet will fit as long as it stays on your head, and sometimes needing to extend one arm in front of you so that your guide or a strong, fellow caver can pull you through the narrow shafts.
If you decide to take on the Hungarian underworld, be prepared for a physical adventure unlike any other, in the secret, spooky and chillingly dark chambers that lie beneath the residential district of Budapest!
Jun 21, 2012 11:02 - holly | 1,661 views
Along the Thermal Explorer Highway on New Zealand’s north island lies bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers, natural geothermal mineral pools and the life and pastimes of the country’s indigenous Maori.
There are so many sights in this part of the world to cast your awe over that most people can’t decide what to do first or which place to pick for a visit at all.
Like always in life, it really depends on where your interests lie, except that you MUST stop in Waitomo, in the region of Waikato. No matter what you usually like seeing or doing, this is a must-see because it’s exceptionally beautiful!
Waitomo is a district that gained international renown by being home to many caves, of which the three main caves are Waitomo Cave, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave.
Aranui Cave, named after its discoverer, is the smallest of the three and mostly accessed and visited by boat; not a boat like the cruise liners you’re perhaps imagining, but a small and sturdy dinghy which transports you into the heart of the cave where you can admire the delicately-shaped stalactites descending from its ceiling.
Ruakuri Cave (the Cave of the Dogs) is named after the pack of wild dogs allegedly residing in it and is the biggest of the caves. This cave allows you to feel your heart thumping hard in the veins of your neck and forehead whilst trying to control your fear and excitement as you put your life on the line, literally! Because here you have the chance to abseil down into the lost world on a free-hanging 100 meter long rope, the suns rays beaming down on you, surrounding you and the thread your life is hanging on with a shaft of daylight disrupting the overpowering blackness of eternal night. You can’t see where you are, you can’t see where you are going, and you can’t even see what’s beneath you until you carefully and slowly hit the ground.
Before you untangle your security-hook, even before you are touching the ground, try to pause for a moment, settle into your harness to hang comfortably and consciously soak in the fact that you are floating mid-air between the earth’s ground above your head and the soil covering the floor of this hole that was ripped into this planet’s skin millions of years ago by the force of fire and water. A magical, dream-like and surreal moment like no other you will ever experience.
You will abseil down almost 40 meters before embarking upon a thrilling tour of black water rafting, only to climb up hidden waterfalls and “cave crawl” your way to freedom again, squirming through a narrow and unimposing hole in the ground usually barred by a boulder.
But this is not all there is! There are glowworms. Millions, billions, gazillions of them!
They are wormlike creatures, about the size of the ever-so-annoying mosquito, that nest and live in the cracks of the limestone, transforming the pitch-black cave system into an impressive imitation of the star-ridden night sky.
This picture of travelers with their eyes glistening with flashes of excitement and mystery, not wanting to move on and away from these blue-ish, shining, fake-stars spinning a web of illusions around them, is second to none in our magical world.
And that is why you MUST stop in Waitomo when driving down New Zealand’s Thermal Explorer Highway!