Monday, February 27, 2012

Alaska - The Last Frontier

I cruise to Alaska every summer and it has become the highlight of my year.  Some people think once you've been there, done it - why go again?  I can honestly say it is the most relaxing, beautiful and exciting cruise destination I have been to - and I cruise several times a year.

While Alaska has approximately 300 days of rain per year, the summers in this beautiful region are perfect to me.  The weather can change in an instant, from rainy and chilly to sunny and warm.  My best advice?  Dress in layers!

Eagles are plentiful here.  Look at the trees and if you see a golf ball, that's an eagle.  It is so wonderful to see them sitting together in pairs, or protecting their nests.  When they soar past the ship, they are definitely a sight to behold.  I've also seen whales, dolphins, salmon, sea otters, sea lions here.  Sadly, I've not yet seen a bear, although many people have.  I just never seem to be looking in the right direction.

Another amazing thing in Alaska is the glaciers.  I've flown over them, landed on them, walked on them, and seen them from a ship.  No matter how I see them, they are glorious and fantastic.  Hearing the crackling sounds and watching them break off and fall into the waters below.

I will return to Alaska in a few short months, happy to leave the 100 degree temps behind and welcome the beautiful natural scenery of the Pacific Northwest.

If you would like to join me in Alaska, or go on your own, please let me know.

Michelle Jackson - Cruise Holidays
(210) 858-6399

Thursday, February 16, 2012

River Cruising - Another way to travel!

River Cruising is the up and coming way to travel.  There are many great companies out there, each with their own plethora of amenities and benefits.  So, what is so "HOT" about River Cruising?

River Cruising is a much more relaxing and calm atmosphere as opposed to the activity, fun-filled ocean liners.  Both are great vacations and can be enjoyed by everyone.  River ships provide an intimate atmosphere with a huge amount of culture.  Most river cruise passengers have and still do sail on ocean liners.  River cruising provides them the opportunity to cruise on a smaller ship, usually carrying less than 200 passengers, as well as pulling right up into the port of small European towns.

One bonus of river cruising is that shore excursions are most often included in the price, including an experienced tour guide.

River ships are limited in their height due to the locks and low bridges they encounter along their journey.  But, every cabin has a view and in fact, most new ships are offering larger cabins with balconies and suites. 

In comparison to the large ocean liners, which host rock-walls, several swimming pools and whirlpools, etc., river ships have limited public space, but still provide some areas to hang out indoors and out on the sun deck. 

The most popular river cruising is in Europe, especially the Danube and the Rhine.  Other popular destinations include Russia's Volga, China's Yangtzee, and Egypt's Nile.  The Mekong, between Vietnam and Cambodia, is increasing in interest and the Mississippi River Cruises will begin again this year.

The new river ships for 2012 are:

Viking River Cruises:     This cruise line is debuting four innovative, energy-efficient "Longships" beginning in March.  These ships offer suites with separate bedrooms and living rooms; 3/4 of the cabins have full balconies or French balconies, or both.

Uniworld:   The new 60-passenger River Saigon began  operating on the Mekong in January.  This ship features 30 cabins, all with French doors that open onto a spacious promenade, with a pillow menu and massage room.

AmaWaterways:  AmaWaterways will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year with the debut of the 164-passenger AmaCerto in April.  Most cabins will have Twin balconies, which is a combination of a French balcony and a step-out balcony.  This ship also features a pool with "swim-up" bar.

Avalon:  In March, we will see the new 166-passenger Avalon Vista and the 128-passenger Avalon Visionary.  Both are "Suite Ships".  These ships will sail the Danube, Rhine and Main Rivers.

American Cruise Lines:  The new 140-passenger Queen of the Mississippi is currently under construction and will debut in August.  This ship will be a sternwheeler and will take us back to the Victorian splendor of past Mississippi riverboats.  The ship will sail up the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, with fabulous stops in ports such as Memphis, St. Louis, and New Orleans.

If you are interested in more information regarding River Cruising or any other travel related options, please email me at mjackson@cruiseholidays or call me at 210-858-6399.