Marinas Are The Most Important Choice The Boat Owners Have to Make

Choosing the right marina is one important decision that the boat owners have to take. The services a marina offers matters a lot to the yacht enthusiasts. The main point to be considered here is that the services a marina offers largely differs from the services another marina offers. The construction of the marina has to be proper, efficient, strong and well-managed because that it is the first thing that will attract the customer towards that particular marina. The various offers at the marinas should be considered only after being sure of the fact that your needs are met.

Firstly the location of the marina is what matters to the boat owner the most. For the boat or yacht owner, the marina should be placed such that it is convenient for him to take his water vehicle out whenever required. The marinas which have better accessibility to the other major ports in the locality are the ones that are more preferred by the boat owners. Even during times of tide, the marinas should have consistent water levels for the safety of the water-crafts that are placed there. A marina company which is well established and has centers in different parts of a country or many countries is the one that is preferred by most of the yacht owners.

Some marinas do not offer dry storage facilities. After the boating season, when the boat is not required for a good four to six months, it is better for the boat to be kept in dry storage because the sea water has certain corrosive action on the surface of the boat which reduces the life of the boat. The problem with dry storage is that the boat has to be taken out of the water till the dry storage shed which is quite a task and all marinas are not mechanically that advanced to have all these facilities. Another drawback which some boat owners face is that there are marinas which are constructed in a manner that they cannot accommodate large boats. All these factors have to be checked before the person finalizes the marina for his boat.

The secondary services which the marina offers are also important. This includes everything regarding how well-trained the staff there is, whether it also has other facilities like bars, gas pumps etc. The cost is another thing which the boat owner has to very precisely look at. After considering all these factors and weighing their pros and cons properly, the boat owner should make the best deal for his water vehicle.

Charmed by a Sunset Cruise

The sunset never fails to bring out the poet, philosopher, or the hopeless romantic in us. Wherever we are in the world, the sight of the setting sun always evokes a feeling of nostalgia that is astonishing and heartwarming.

This is true especially when we experience this glorious sight on board a quiet and soothing yacht cruise. As the yacht gracefully glides out to the sea, you can feel yourself gently being prepared for a one-of-a-kind experience that only the sunset in the distant horizon can bring.

A special yacht charter in Dubai can take you on a relaxing sunset cruise. You can get away from the hustle and bustle of the frantic city life. You can savor the soothing sound of the waves and the cool wind rustling through your hair. With your friends, family, or your special someone, you can delight in this intimate moment with the sunset together.

Starting at around dusk from the picturesque Dubai Marina, a sunset cruise takes you out to witness the day’s buzz transform into the vibrant Dubai nightlife. The Cayan Tower, in its swirling-shaped glory, and all the other stunning skyscrapers start lighting up as your yacht glides past them.

From the marina, you will then ride out to the coast of Dubai where you can see a stretch of pristine white sand beach glittering in the waning light of the sun. From this view, the iconic Burj Al Arab looks even more majestic and awe-inspiring amidst the skies that are slowly turning into warm hues of deep orange and purple.

As the yacht takes a cruise around the Palm Jumeirah, you can freshen up with some light drinks on board and wait until the golden sun bids its goodbye for the day. This riveting moment creates the perfect backdrop for a heartfelt wedding proposal or even a passionate wedding kiss.

As your yacht charter cruises by Atlantis The Palm, you can feel the enchantment in the air. Gaze at this landmark resort that is boldly facing the Arabian gulf. Feel it oozing with the mythical aura of its namesake, the Lost City of Atlantis, and the elegance of its Arabian character. Add the charming sunset into that image and you’re in for a magical visual feast.

Obviously, you can’t let the moment pass you by. Capture its beauty and preserve it for all time. Sunset photography famously yields the most breathtaking pictures. This one is no exception whether you have a top-of-the-line DSLR camera or a handy smartphone.

As the day fully turns into night, your yacht cruises back home to the marina and you find yourself sitting there awestruck at the unique pleasure that you have just experienced. As the sun makes way for a charming Arabian night, you can’t help but feel blessed to have witnessed such a wonder that only Dubai can offer.

The Galapagos Islands: Your Luxury Cruise of a Lifetime

For those seeking interaction with a variety of ecosystems, endemic species, and geological and volcanic wonders, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador is a destination both uniquely gorgeous and historical in nature. Distributed around the equator, these islands are part of a national park and biological marine reserve comprised of a complex system of ocean currents that travel through 15 major islands, 3 smaller islands and 107 islets and rock formations.

The best way to experience the Galapagos Islands is with a luxury cruise. Travel experts agree that a cruise offers the convenience of viewing a variety of terrains and small land masses and is a favorite means of transportation for those wishing to photograph or dive in the Galapagos.

What to Expect

For safety reasons and to enhance your cruise experience, avoid the Galapagos area in September as the waters are very rough. Not only will this increase the chance of seasickness, but it also prevents you from being able to dive.

In order to dive in the Galapagos, travelers must be certified and experienced in diving. Currents can make diving dangerous, especially the South Equatorial Current in the eastern and central islands, the North Equatorial Current in the northern islands, and the Cromwell Current in western and central islands. If you are certified and plan to dive, be sure to bring a high-quality underwater camera so you can capture the unique underwater wildlife of the Islands.

Speaking of photography, the area itself is a very casual destination and photographers of all skill levels find themselves thrilled with the extensive photo opportunities. Animals in the Galapagos area are curious and people-friendly, so it is easy to capture incredible photos.

Spanish is the primary language spoken on inhabited Galapagos Islands. While there are no indigenous people, the islands are inhabited primarily by Ecuadorian Mestizos, descendents of Spanish colonists and indigenous Native Americans from Ecuador. The population has increased from around 2,000 in the 1950’s to around 25,000 people located over five islands today.

Galapagos Islands Cruise Itineraries

Cruise itineraries to the Galapagos Islands can vary from 3 – 12 days, depending on your budget and how much you want to see. The islands that appear on your cruise itinerary may depend on the National Park Service, but a tour of the Galapagos Islands often includes:

Bartolome – Bartolome Island is a volcanic islet off the coast of Santiago and boasts mangrove forests and golden sands. This island is one of the few that is home to the Galapagos penguins, the only penguins to live on the equator and is also a great place to snorkel.

Santiago – The first island discovered in the Caribbean by Columbus, Santiago is the home of sea and land turtles, flamingos and many other birds, and sea creatures such as the Galapagos fur seals.

Santa Cruz – Hosting the largest human population, Santa Cruz is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station, and visitors are welcome to view the giant wild tortoises in the mossy highlands.

Isabela – Named in honor of Queen Isabella, this seahorse shaped island offers beautiful beaches, saltwater lagoons, and caves. The equator runs across the island and Puerto Villamil is located at the southeastern tip of the island.

Fernandina – The youngest and westernmost island in the Galapagos, this area offers an iguana haven and views of volcanoes.

Floreana – Enjoy snorkeling with sea lions in crystal waters off Champion Islet and stroll the white sands beaches to see sea turtles, flamingos, and a variety of other shore birds.

Espanola – The oldest island in the Galapagos, Espnola is very remote which means it has a large number of endemic species including the lava lizard, mockingbird, and tortoise.April through December offers the chance to see waved albatross and colorful iguanas. This island is home to Darwin’s finches, sea lions, and blue-footed boobies.

Where ever you go in the Galapagos Islands, this once-in-a-lifetime luxury cruise will surely me one of your most memorable vacations ever.

What Type of Cabin to Buy on Your First River Cruise

River cruising in Europe has become one of the most demanded vacations options for “boomers and pre-boomers” alike. This demand is fueled by both past ocean cruise customers and those who have never enjoyed an ocean cruise before. The reasons for this demand are; the all-inclusive nature of the river cruise experience, the immersive destination experience and overall affordability that every river cruise customer enjoys on their vacation.

While the European river cruise experience is very rewarding and river trips enjoy an extremely high satisfaction level, we know that some elements of planning your first river trip can be a bit daunting. That’s because all cruise lines and all river cruise ships are not created equal and that most certainly applies to the type of cabin you buy.

In talking with thousands of first time buyers, a significant number of those first time buyers commented that choosing the right cabin on their first river trip was one of the most frustrating and challenging things that they faced as new customers.

If you have never enjoyed the wonders of a very affordable European river cruise, you may not understand how to select the best cabin for your trip. Selecting that perfect cabin can be made more confusing by two factors that may impact your decision; the different generations of river ships and the various types of cabins (also called staterooms) on each ship.

In addition to these distinctions, a number of other factors must be considered before selecting your stateroom. But you can take solace in knowing that cabin selection is a pretty logical process and that other than your stateroom selection, almost every other element of a guest’s shipboard and shore side experience is exactly the same, no matter what type of cabin you buy. Why? Because every passenger on a river ship enjoys the same in-depth shore excursions, delightful cuisine and excellent personal service.

At first glance, one might not understand why cabin selection is so important and maybe you will reach the same conclusion. The reason it is very relevant is because of the price difference between a window and balcony stateroom. In general, for a one week cruise, the difference can be between $599 and $1500 per person for the balcony, so if price is important, go window. If your prefer a balcony, but your budget mandates a window, by all means go for the window stateroom versus not going as all other elements of the trip will be exactly the same as if you had bought the balcony.

Traveling with like-minded, like-aged travelers is one of the other very rewarding elements of a river trip. They are geared to those who are 55+ years of age and while there are many active shore excursions, these types of cruises are not suitable for children.

While not suited for children, these river trips are well suited for single or solo travelers looking for a vacation that attracts other such travelers.

Luxury Cruising From San Francisco to Hawaii on Princess Cruise Lines

In a recent article entitled “Three Reasons to Book Your Next Cruise our of San Francisco,” we wrote about the fun of spending part of a vacation in the famous City by the Bay, and part of it cruising to exciting destinations like Hawaii, Alaska, and the South Pacific. This story is about the cruise we selected to follow our own tour of San Francisco.

Selecting a cruise

As Mark Twain often noted, it can be a bit chilly in San Francisco regardless of the time of year, so we thought a cruise to some place warm would be the perfect other-bookend for a vacation.

We did an internet search and explored all the cruise line itineraries sailing out of San Francisco on our travel dates, and Princess Cruise Lines had exactly what we wanted – a roundtrip sailing from San Francisco to the Hawaiian Islands. We made the right choice, and here’s what you can expect if you decide to take the same plunge.

The day before the cruise

We arrived in San Francisco the day before our cruise departure to Hawaii. We toured our favorite sites in the city, had a nice dinner at Scoma’s on Pier 47, and checked into our favorite and always fashionable San Francisco Hyatt Regency. The hotel is directly across from the iconic Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, and a very short distance from the cruise terminal at Pier 35.

Sailing out of the Golden Gate

We settled into our port side stateroom, popped open a bottle of bubbly, and when the ship pulled away from the dock, we proceeded to our patio to watch the San Francisco skyline on slow parade. There was Ghirardelli Square lit up in its entire splendor, and the famous Transamerica Pyramid Building – outstanding among its traditional “square” neighbors.

We could see the Golden Gate Bridge coming up above the bow, and we bid a fond farewell to old Fort Point as we made our way out of San Francisco Bay and into the vast blue Pacific. All we could think at the time was, “What a spectacular way to start a cruise!”

Next stop – Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii. A future article will describe the Hawaiian ports of call in Hilo, Nawiliwili, Lahaina, Honolulu, and our final stop in Ensenada, Mexico, before returning to San Francisco. Why are cruise ships sailing to Hawaii from US ports required to stop in a foreign port like Ensenada? We will explain in the upcoming article.

This story features the many vacation pleasures aboard the Star Princess. Note: The Grand Princess has now replaced the Star Princess on the Hawaiian route out of San Francisco. They are sister ships, so the differences are minimal.

Sweet suites

The Star Princess has several luxury suites positioned throughout the ship. The Grand Suite is 1,314 square feet of pure indulgence, with a walk in closet, large bathrooms, and an oversized balcony. These elegant digs are for the truly fortunate among us.

Besides luxury accommodations, the suites come with supplementary amenities such as an exclusive Suite Breakfast at the Sabatini’s specialty restaurant – where you can start your day with a complimentary “Good Morning Mimosa,” and select other goodies from an extraordinary breakfast menu. We expected the service to be impeccable, and it was.

Did you know that the now famous champagne and orange juice “Mimosa” drink was first created and named at the Paris Ritz in 1925? Its namesake is the mimosa plant, which has bright and frothy yellow flowers.

There are also afternoon and pre-dinner cocktail and private nosh parties where suite passengers get to mingle and mix with the ship’s officers that drop by.

Care for a quiet dinner for two? Having a lavish room service meal served in a ship’s suite is the height of seagoing indulgence and sublime privacy.

Suite passengers are also provided with priority boarding, and disembarkation via the Elite/Suite Disembarkation Lounge. While visiting ports that require taking a launch to shore, suite occupants are furnished Priority Tender Disembarkation Tickets – a nice time-saving touch.

Time for dinner

It was soon time for our initial dinner on board the Star Princess. The first night aboard a cruise ship is a casual affair, so after cleaning up a bit, we made our way down to the Portofino Dining Room on Deck 6.

The Maître d’hôtel was busy orchestrating the process of showing the first diners to their assigned tables. Remember when everyone ate at either an “early” or, “late” sitting? These days you can dine in traditional fashion or decide to eat at any time you choose during dining hours. There are advantages to both practices – it is clearly a matter of personal taste.

That’s entertainment

After a sumptuous dinner, it was time for our opening night of entertainment in the Princess Theatre on Deck 6 and 7. The first show included the entire cast in an extravaganza review. The large two-story theatre was packed, but comfortable, and everyone enjoyed the lavish musical production.

We took a stroll around the Lido deck before returning to our stateroom after the show. Not quite ready for bed, we turned on the TV, and watched our first movie from the library of closed circuit films. It was an oldie,- An Affair to Remember, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr – a quintessential tearjerker with the plot starting on a cruise ship. What could be more apropos for the setting?

Days at sea

It took four days to reach our first port of call in Hilo. We travelled 2,003 nautical miles (2,303 highway miles) from San Francisco. The time passed quickly.

Days at sea can be quiet or exciting – it’s your choice. You can shop endlessly in the myriad Ship’s Boutiques. You can visit the Internet Café to catch up on emails, listen to live Chamber Music, and attend lively Art Auctions. How about a workout in the extensive Gym, a Seminar at Sea, eating pizza, a hot dog, or hamburger, or trying your luck in the Casino?

Having your teeth whitened is another option, as is enjoying sundry Spa indulgences, snoozing by one of the Pools, and chatting it up while enjoying the entertainment at your choice of the many Bars and Lounges. There is also the opportunity to watch Movies outdoors or indoors, peruse the Library, read, and of course – eat.

The ship’s master

On one of our days at sea, we had an opportunity to interview the ship’s captain. At the time of our sailing, the master of the Star Princess was Edward Perrin who hails from Dorset, England. As is usually the case, Captain Perrin was most congenial and very willing to share stories about his ship and experiences at sea.

We always ask sea captains what they like best about their jobs. Captain Perrin revealed that he most enjoyed the ability to have a positive impact on people’s lives – both crew, and passengers. He gave an example of an elderly couple who saved all their lives to take a cruise. They approached him with the problem that they had no more money to spend while on the cruise. Captain Perrin summarily wrote a list of “free” things the couple could do on their cruise vacation. They were elated, and the good Captain was equally gratified – it made his day, and he has never forgotten the feeling of being able to help.

Where passenger services are concerned, an important member of the crew is the Hotel General Manager. On the Star Princess, that was Terri Lynn Cybuliak, and she greatly contributed to our fun discussion.

As we have mentioned in previous cruise articles, ship’s captains are contracted to be masters for months, not years, and therefore transfer from ship to ship quite frequently. Keep an eye out – you may very well find Captain Perrin at the helm of your next Princess cruise.

Attention on the bridge

After our meeting, Captain Perrin invited us to join him on the bridge. The ship’s bridge is always manned 24-hours a day by two officers working four-hour shifts in a three-watch system. It is interesting to witness the vast array of sophisticated systems that run these mega ships in a controlled and quiet atmosphere. We continue to be fascinated by the fact that the traditional ship’s steering wheel has been replaced by a tiny joystick on a desk panel.

Dining in the specialty restaurants

All the food aboard the Star Princess, and most other cruise ships for that matter, is quite delicious. It is amazing that seagoing chefs can prepare thousands of assorted meals daily, and do it with such finesse.

People always ask, “If all the sit down meals are included in the price of the cruise, why would anyone pay extra to eat in a specialty dining room?” The answer is quite simple – intimacy – and a little something extra special for an important occasion.

Each specialty restaurant has its own kitchen, so there is just a touch more attention to detail in the food preparation and presentation. The waiters have fewer tables to attend, and the overall experience is that of eating in a truly fine restaurant. The extra charge is never extravagant, and the experience is worthwhile.

Avoid disappointment, reserve your specialty restaurants early.

Our recommendations

Throughout the years, we have enjoyed many cruises, and Princess Cruises is one of our favorite lines. It provides first time cruisers with an enjoyable introduction to cruise vacationing, and it offers seasoned cruisers a nice selection of accommodations and amenities. Whatever your wallet dictates, a Princess Cruise will provide good value for your vacation dollars.

If you go

San Francisco International Airport is about 20 miles and a $65 taxi ride to the Cruise Terminal or Hyatt Regency. Your travel agent or Princess Cruises can also arrange transfers to and from the airport, but if there are two passengers involved, we recommend taking a cab, it’s a lot less hassle.

A final note

The San Francisco Cruise Terminal is presently located at Pier 35. That will change when the America’s Cup Headquarters pulls up stakes from Pier 27 sometime around September 2013 – after the US (hopefully) wins the Cup.

After a quick facelift and the addition of a new park at the site, the vastly improved cruise terminal at Pier 27 will be capable of handling larger ships, and will come with expansive views of the City including Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, the Ferry Building, and the Bay Bridge.

Happy travels!