June 22, 2009

Recently, I have been hearing from a lot of people that they aren’t fans of the cruise vacation.   When I talk to them, their cruise experience has been on one of the big cruise ships with 3,000/4,000/5,000! of their “closest” friends – a veritable anthill at sea.  Yes, I hear you!   Having grown up watching the Love Boat television show in the late 1970’s  and I spent years dreaming about my own cruise vacation.  When I finally did take my first cruise, I came home and cried.   It took me 3 years of working full-time in travel to convince myself to take another cruise.

There is an alternative to those vast cruise ships!  In the last 10 years, there has been many new small-ship/luxury/expedition cruises added to the marketplace.  The focus on these cruises is the destination and the culture and history of the destination.  The ships hold no more than 1000 people, usually less than 700 and in many cases, less than 300.   These cruises are often all-inclusive, meaning that wine, cocktails, soft drinks, mocktails are included in the price of your cruise.  Recently, a luxury cruise line with maximum 700 guests and all oceanview balcony suites has started including shore excursions, 2-for-1 rates, airfare in their cruise rates.  From personal experience on this cruise line, I hardly saw other passengers unless I sought them out. 

Expedition cruises are also extremely popular.  These cruise ships have naturalists, biologists, historians, geologists on the ship (no Broadway-style shows!) and because of the ship’s small size, the ship can go into smaller ports and get close to the nature.  But, gourmet food and wine is served.  You sit with whomever at meal times.    There are no formal nights and no photographers chasing you around the ship.

Finally, river cruises in Europe are great, too.  These are small ships with no more than 200 guests.  They sail the rivers of the world – Rhine, Danube, Douro, Nile, Yangtze, etc.  They cruise at night and dock in the center of town, allowing guests to hop off the ship and be in the center of town.  Again, these cruise fares include gourmet food, fine wines and premium beverages and all shore excursions.

Anyway, do not despair, you are not alone in not enjoying the big ship cruise lines.  Yes, I have now cruised around the world on many different cruise lines, but mostly on small ships/luxury/expedition cruises.


It was great to talk to you today at SavorIdaho at the Idaho Botanical Garden.    There is so much great food and wine in Idaho and it gets better every year.  It was so nice that the rain held off and there was even some sunshine, too.  Weather was very comfortable for eating delicious food and sipping great wines. 

Travel is a great escape and all of our travel suppliers – hotels, tour operators, cruise lines – have really put together some great values for travel.   Europe’s hotels have held their 2008 rates into 2009 (and possibly) beyond.  Cruises and tours (independent, loosely structured and fully-escorted) are an excellent value and allow you to pay in US dollars instead of Euros.   It helps to know what most of your vacation will cost, in many cases. 

In the next few days, this blog will have more information and be regularly updated with some additional information and a few of my favorite travel deals.  If you don’t see the trip that you have in mind, let me know!   There will be a little bit of everything….

Thank you again and have a great day!  Julia