Royal Caribbean 14 night European transatlantic cruise

Since me and my best friend will be turning 50 this year, we have decided to go on a cruise vacation together – without our other half!

Not sure how our spouses will react as they have not been informed but I am so looking forward to spending some time with my best friend without any distractions of any kind – no screaming kids or needy hubbies!

We were considering either European Cruises or Canada Cruises but so far have not decided yet. We both decided to go on a cruise after watching Titanic over and over again so we somehow got hooked on the idea of a cruise ship vacation.

I was also contemplating Bermuda Cruises as it has always been a desire of mine to visit the Caribbean and what better way to do this than to combine it with a cruise.

We have been doing some research on luxury cruise lines and we have been quite impressed with what Description Direct Line Cruises has to offer.

Royal Caribbean 14 night European transatlantic cruise

We were absolutely thrilled to find out we could buy tickets online as we are both crazy about buying stuff from the net as it is just absolutely incredibly easy to do and most of all, it saves us loads of time.

In the end we decided to sign up for a cruise in Europe. We booked a Royal Caribbean 14 night European transatlantic cruise and we are so looking forward to our “titanic adventure”!.

Cheap Alaska Cruise

Find out all you need to know about Cheap Alaska Cruises. The cheapest Discount Alaska cruise we found is $599. Hurry: Alaska cruise vacations are only organized from May to September!

Read further to learn:

  • common itineraries
  • which cruise lines offer you a marvelous yet cheap cruise to Alaska
  • what you can see and do in Alaska in which months
  • Alaska weather forecast

Common Alaska Itineraries

Reading through Alaska cruise information, you will surely read about these 2 routes your ship will be sailing:

  • The Inside Passenger Cruise: a roundtrip cruise from Seattle including passage through the islands offshore from British Columbia and Alaska.
  • The Glacier Route Cruise: is a longer cruise that includes more glaciers and usually stops in a couple extra ports.

cheap alaska cruise

Why are Alaska Cruises cheap?

Compared to Antarctica cruises, your Alaska cruise seems to be a bargain. Why?

  • cheap cruises seattle alaskaBecause some of the most spectacular parts of Alaska can best be seen from the sea. Antarctica cruises are costly because they bring you up close on land with the penguins…
  • Because Seattle and Vancouver are the 2 most used harbours to start discount Alaska cruises. Now bear in mind that getting to these 2 cities could cost you more than your Alaska cruise ticket only.

The cruise season for Alaska runs from May to late September. May and September tend to be cheaper months to cruise. Why?

Because :

  • the ports are not as crowded
  • the days are shorter,
  • the temperatures are cooler and…
  • there is less chance of seeing some of the beautiful Alaska wildlife along the way!

Alaska cruise ships

According to your reference, Alaska cruise lines offer you large, mid-sized and small ships. Find below a list of cruise lines ordered by ship size.

  • large and mid-sized Alaska cruise ships carry between 700 to 3000 passengers: they have all the extra amenities you could ever wish for. They are your first bet to offer a cheap Alaska cruise tour.
  • small Alaska cruise ships carry between 12 to 200 passengers: they provide a much more personal Alaska vacation!

Since much of the beauty of Alaska like its mountains, bays and wildlife can be seen from the sea, ships offer:

  • you own private balcony to enjoy it all
  • huge observation lounges for everybody to enjoy

Bigger cruise liners also offer heated indoor or outdoor pools. So it’s all much more a summer feeling compared to when you visit Antarctica.

Large Alaska Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruise

Large and Mid-Sized Cruises to Alaska in 2008

Royal Caribbean cruise ships offer more than 55 large and mid sized cruises to Alaska in 2008:

  • alaska cheap cruisesRadiance of the Seas organizes seven-night North- and Southbound routes between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska.
  • Seattle to Alaska Cruise: Rhapsody of the Seas returns to Seattle cruising on seven-night roundtrip Alaska Fjords and Glaciers.
  • Vancouver to Alaska Cruise: Serenade of the Seas sails a seven-night roundtrip from Vancouver including a visit to Alaska Hubbard Glacier: the largest and most active glacier in the world.

Radiance and Serenade also offer a 14-night Ultimate Alaska voyage for an extensive adventure in Alaska.

http://www.royalcaribbean.com

Princess cruise Alaska

  • Seattle to Alaska cruise: Star Princess and Golden Princess will offer a cheap cruise around Alaska for 7 days sailing the Inside Passage.
  • San Francisco to Alaska Cruise: Dawn Princess offers 10 day cruises of the Inside Passage.
  • Vancouver to Alaska cruise:
    • Diamond, Island, Sapphire, and Coral Princess will be sailing between Vancouver and Whittier on the "Voyage of the Glaciers" itinerary.
    • Tahitian Princess will offer an Alaska cruise package with more ports and sightseeing’s on a longer – 14 days- journey.

http://www.princess.com/

Holland America cruise to Alaska

  • Holland America Alaska cruises sail with mid-sized 1200 to 1800 passenger cruise ships.
  • Seattle to Alaska cruise: Amsterdam, Oosterdam and Westerdam start a 7 day roundtrip to Alaska.
  • San Diego to Alaska cruise: Ryndam and Veendam start from San Diego and will sail longer to reach Alaska.
  • Anchorage to Alaska cruise: Veendam, Volendam and Zaandam
  • Vancouver to Alaska cruise: Ryndam, Statendam, Volendam, Veendam and Zaandam cruise ships offer 7 day Alaska tour cruises.

http://www.hollandamerica.com

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Seattle to Alaska cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line newest ship: Norwegian Pearl will join the Norwegian Star in sailing roundtrip cruises from Seattle.
  • Vancouver to Alaska cruise: The Norwegian Sun will embark from Vancouver on a 7 day roundtrip.

All three Norwegian cruise ships will be sailing "freestyle cruising" to Glacier Bay, Sawyer Glacier, or "Alaska Adventure" itineraries.

http://www.ncl.com/


Alaska Cruise small ships

My preference is visiting Alaska on a small ship. Why?

Because:

  • a small cruise ship allows you a very close look at the beautiful scenery and exotic wildlife Alaska has to offer
  • you can visit places the larger cruises can’t reach like the Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan
  • they offer a more exotic, out-of-the-way itinerary to Alaska.

Logically small cruise ships are usually more expensive, fill up much faster and sometimes have less amenities on board. Then again if you want to get up close to Alaska, you will be more interested in the things outside your ship!

Cruise West Alaska

From a 4-day cruise to a 25-day odyssey no one gives you more Alaska cruise choices than Cruise West.

From routes along the Inside Passage to destinations on the Bering sea, their beautiful small ships explore Alaska the Cruise West way : up-close, casual and personal.

http://www.cruisewest.com/destinations/alaska/

American Safari Cruises

Departing from Seattle or Juneau, American Safari offers luxury alaska cruises. They sail five ships all offering suites: some have real bath tubs, queen-sized beds, and private balconies.

Their Alaska vacations are 8, 9 or 15 days long.

http://www.amsafari.com/alaska.html


Things to see in Alaska

  • historical places,
  • costal attractions,
  • beautiful scenery,
  • evergreen forests,
  • Mount McKinley : North America’s Tallest Peak
  • cheap cruise to alaskaDenali National Park,
  • grizzly bears,
  • otters,
  • seals,
  • Killer and Humpback Whales (during June and July)
  • sometimes a few dolphins along the way.

Things to do in Alaska

  • take helicopter tours,
  • go mountain biking, and challenge yourself with a little
  • kayaking
  • the longer your cruise, the more ports you will discover

Alaska weather

The weather in Alaska is usually between 50 to 80 degrees F or 10 to 27 degrees C between May and September.

June and July offer the longest times of daylight ranging all the way up to 20-21 hours a day. This gives you more opportunities to see glaciers and the wonderful wildlife along the way.

The weather is unpredictable so take multiple layers of clothing, a waterproof warm jacket, rain gear, light gloves, sweaters, sun glasses, and a warm hat.

Don’t forget to bring good walking shoes!

Please leave a comment if you still would like to gather more info about your next cheap Alaska cruise!

Who owns Antarctica

With Antarctica tours being a lucrative business, one wonders who owns Antarctica.

Who has the rights to organize Antarctic tours on land and who do we ask about Antarctica and history?

Not to mention who owns the oil and minerals hidden there? And who is responsible for the South Pole Conservation?

Most likely not the questions you ask yourself before you embark on an Antarctica cruise ship vacation, but if you fall in love with the continent and want to buy a piece of land… since it seems so desolate: land must be cheap and land is limited on this earth with an ever growing population… So who would you contact?

Antarctica and History

First some history before we tackle who really owns Antarctica or who should be owning it by now…

The Indians where the first people to live in the Americas, but since it was discovered by the Spanish, they hardly own anything of the entire continent… So what about the South Pole facts?

who owns antarcticaYou could argue: who lives in Antarctica are the people who own Antarctica. If we all agree on that, than animals in Antarctica are the only owners of the continent as there are no people really loving there from birth to death. True, there are people doing jobs in Antarctica, but employment in Antarctica is only temporarily. Unlike any other part of the earth, no human beings have been living here from generation to generation.

You could argue: who discovered Antarctica should be the owner, much like what the Europeans have been doing during their colonization voyages. The finders-keepers idea… But if you follow this logic, you have to also agree that the America’s are discovered by the Spanish, or depending on which history books you read, by the Chinese. So should we really give Antarctica to the person who was first to reach the South Pole …

An example of how Antarctica should be divided and how that benefits the country that outlines the guidelines is given by Brazilian geostrategist Therezinha de Castro:

  • all non-South American nations withdraw their claims and bases from the South American sector of Antarctica (from 0°W to 90°W),
  • this sector is divided among the South American nations according to "defrontação", signifying the ‘open’ sea access to Antarctica via meridional lines.

Of course this would diminish the Chilean and Argentine sectors, give Uruguay, Peru and Ecuador a slice and would give Brazil the biggest sector

Antarctica claims

The facts on Antarctica are pretty messy. By now you are getting the picture: you can debate endlessly on who should be the owner of the South Pole and why. By now several countries have been claiming pie pieces of Antarctica:

facts on Antarctica

  • France (Terre Adélie, since 1924)
  • Chile (Antárctica, since 1940)
  • Argentina (Antártida Argentina, since 1943) If you ever wondered why you can buy souvenirs with the word Antartida on it in stead of Antarctica… means you went to Antarctica through Argentina, like what I did when I embarked on my Quark Expedition in the south of Argentine.
  • Australia (Australian Antarctic Territory, since 1933)
  • United Kingdom (British Antarctic Territory, since 1908)
  • Norway (Dronning Maud Land, since 1939; Peter I Island, since 1929)
  • New Zealand (Ross Dependency, since 1923)

All claims apply to the areas south of 60°S, which is the northern limit of the Antarctic Treaty.

The area between 90°W and 150°W remains unclaimed, except for Peter I Island, Norway’s claim on this territory being the only one in Antarctica that is not a sector (a ‘slice of the pie’). If not for Norway’s claim: the area between 90°W and 150°W would be the only place on earth not owned nor earned by anybody…

To make things worse, several of these claims do overlap. Australia has the largest territorial claim, claiming 42% of the Antarctic Continent.

Most countries do not recognise those claims

No more claims on Antarctica?

The Antarctic Treaty (signed in 1961) puts all territorial claims on hold for the duration of the treaty. The original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty were the twelve countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year of 1957 – 58.

The main objective of the Antarctic Treaty System is to ensure in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.

The overriding goal of the Treaty is to preserve Antarctica as a continent for the freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation and for peace. The latter shows in Articles I and V.

  • Article I prohibits military activities in Antarctica and
  • Article V prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of radioactive waste.

The overriding goal of the Treaty is to preserve Antarctica as a continent for peace and science. But groups such as Greenpeace have long argued that Antarctica should be protected as the world’s last great wilderness.

And now for the amazing part:

According to a report from Reuters last year: Britain plans to submit a claim to the United Nations to extend its Antarctic territory by a million square kilometers. This claim conflicts completely with the spirit of 1959 Antarctic Treaty and could cause tension between Britain and a few South American countries: Argentina is already working on a proposal to the U.N. which covers the same territory.

May 13, 2009 is supposed to be the deadline for claims that will divide up 7 million square kilometers (the size of Australia). Russia, Australia, France, and Brazil are among the few that have made claims thus far.

Why do you want a piece of Antarctica?

Oil, gas and minerals…

Greed could well make an end of Antarctica as well to the whole planet earth due to the global warming we are all suffering from…

As long as people keep claiming or fighting about who owns Antarctica, it shows that human greed is more important than keeping the earth a healthy place for all humans to live in peace.

Antarctica Weather

In case you don’t know, Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent in the whole world.

It does sound bleak and uninviting to say the least.

That is why its harsh unforgiving weather has kept human travelers away until the 19th century.

You can’t survive there without a warm shelter and extreme winter wear.

In the summer it gets a little better but some times you can occasionally get the snow and wind bearing down as well.

With such harsh weather, it is no wonder that there are no flowering plants in Antarctica .

It is colder than the Arctic where humans have lived since prehistoric times.

Antarctica weather

Antarctica weather is harsh and unforgiving

Cruise Vacation Center

Those of you who have watched the show Titanic would have dreamt of being on a cruise yourself standing on the deck with the wind blowing in your hair, and if you are fortunate enough to also have your loved one with you.

This is more than one can hope for in terms of a stress free and totally relaxing holiday.

So if you have decided to take a cruise as a second honeymoon for yourself and your spouse or as a retirement celebration, you will then have to decide where to look for a suitable cruise.

At cruisevacation.center.com, you will be looked after by professionals who will ensure that you will get the holiday of a life time. May it be Royal Caribbean or Princess Cruises, they will get you to your destination at very competitive prices all totally hassle free.

If you have an eye on Norwegian Cruise Lines to go to Norway for instance to view the fiords, cruisevacationcenter.com will make it all happen for you with unequal customer service and total professionalism.

norway fiord cruise

You will be able to book your cruise vacation online as well and payment can be made securely without any additional fees for online bookings.

So go ahead and make your dreams come true and get online to cruisevacationcenter.com right now!

Antarctica – some things that you should be prepared for

Visiting the frozen continent of Antarctica is a privilege only a few in the entire world could afford but if you do get a chance to go there, it would be a trip of a lifetime.

Antarctica Weather

antarctica clothesHowever, there are a few things you should know about Antarctica . It is cold and again, it can get very cold at times!

You have to make sure that you have good winter clothes to protect yourself or half the time you will be feeling miserable (which I found out the hard way while we were out on an excursion in a tender).

walrusWell, one minute the sun was out, the next there was snow raining down on you so be always prepared for the worse form of weather regardless.

Don’t worry about looking good and all that stuff! Looking like a walrus is better than having yourself half frozen to death.

Quark Expedition showers

antarctica shower cramped like penguinsOk, I know some of you don’t really shower much in winter but for people like me who comes from the tropics, that would be a big no no..So, we have to shower daily regardless of the weather.

While we were in Antarctica on an Russian icebreaker from Quark Expeditions, the shower room was the size of a cubicle.

There was a good reason for that I found out as you can sandwich yourself between the walls while you try to maintain a reasonable balance and tried to “catch” the water while the vessel rocked from side to side!

It was hilarious…

Quark Expedition Cabins

quark expedition kapitan dranitsyn standard cabinWhile the vessel is rocking away while you are trying to sleep, that could get a little tricky as well..Just make sure that you put away all your stuff away in the cupboards or else you will find them rolling from one corner to another making a huge din and at the same time you will be trying to anchor yourself on to your bed to prevent yourself from tumbling out of it.

Getting up to get all your stuff is not an option truly unless you want to find yourself rolling around on the floor!

Other than that, it is a truly magical and wonderful experience to visit Antarctica and if you do have an opportunity to go, don’t pass on it!

Capitan Dranitsyn Antarctica cruise ship: Quark Expedition
Kapitan Dranitsyn Antarctica cruise ship: Quark Expedition

Explorers’ last Antarctica cruise

Read our previous post about the sinking of the Antarctic cruise ship: the Explorer

The Explorer was on a 19-day cruise of Antarctica and the Falkland Islands, near the South Shetland Islands, letting passengers observe penguins, whales and other wildlife.

You could almost say that this Antarctic cruise was really inspired by the Antarctic explorations of ill-fated adventurer Ernest Shackleton, who made repeated forays in the early 1900s and died in 1922 while trying to circumnavigate the south pole by sea.

Last Friday, the Explorer was as ill-fated as Ernest Shackleton on Thursday around midnight off King George Island in Antarctica. The cruise ship hit "something" what at first sight only made a hole of about the size of one fist. But when the cruise-ship started tilting, the captain was smart enough to start evacuation before I would have been too difficult to lower the rescue vessels on the tilted side.

antarctic cruise ship

Antarctic cruise ship Explorer

Luckily the Antarctica weather was quite good that day: although only -5C (23F) degrees : the sea was calm, which is most important when you want to embark and disembark from a big cruise ship. This made that both passengers and crew escaped unhurt after being evacuated by lifeboats from the 38-year-old vessel.

The Explorer, built in 1969 and refitted in 1993, was a "smaller cruise ship" able to enter narrower bays off the South Pole continent and on each expedition: scientists were on board to brief passengers on the region’s geology and climate change.

The abandoned Antarctica Explorer, which offered two-week Antarctica tourism cruises at a cost of only $8,000 (other sources claim to have paid $14,000 for this 19-day Antarctica adventure) per cabin, sank hours after the passengers and crew were evacuated.

life rafts

Explorer life rafts reaching the NordNorge

After spending most of that night in lifeboats they were pick up by the Norwegian Antarctica cruise ship: the Nordnorge which took the passenger to Chile’s Eduardo Frei air base in Antarctica. It still took the Nordnorge 4 and a half hour to reach the Explorer after they picked up the Explorer’s distress signal. Then only on hour was needed to collect the 154 passengers and crew, rounding up their lifeboats and rubber rafts as meanwhile the crippled Explorer listed ever more steeply to starboard.

Winds began picking up after the rescue. After midday, when the Nordnorge reached a Chilean base at King George Island nearby, the winds and waters were so rough the captain had to wait hours to unload the passengers.

Meanwhile on board of the doomed Explorer, an electricity blackout due to water rushing in, stopped the bilge pumps and the Explorer went on his last voyage down under Antarctica…

Explorers’ last Antarctica cruise

antarctica cruises explorer

Antarctica Cruises Explorer

Meanwhile on board of the doomed Explorer, an electricity blackout due to water rushing in, stopped the bilge pumps and the Explorer went on his most likely last voyage down under Antarctica…

The Passengers from the Explorer Antarctica cruise ship

Antarctica airlines

Passengers from the Antarctic Explorer rest inside
the plane taking them to Punta Arenas, Chile

As by today: everybody has been airlifted already out to Chile.

Antarctic environment disaster

As usual the fragile Antarctic environment is paying the biggest price! Chile’s navy said that high seas and strong winds had already dispersed an 80-meter-by-20-meter fuel slick that had leaked from the ship. The crew of the Viel icebreaker is keeping an eye on the environmental situation. It is said that the Explorer was carrying about 48,000 gallons of marine diesel fuel…

Antarctica Explorer track record

Antarctica MapThe Explorer was a true unique Antarctica cruise ship: not your every day Disney cruise, but a ship made to get you as close as possible for an authentic Antarctic experience.

Launched in 1969 under the name Lindblad Explorer, this so called smaller Antarctica cruise ship was actually the first ship built specifically to ferry tourists to Antarctica so tourists could come up close with the Antarctic penguins.

"Small" meant 100 passengers with a crew of about 50. The modern day huge Antarctica ships like the Golden Princess, carries 2,500 passengers and about 1,200 crew members.

Many of the large cruise ships now visiting Antarctica have little or no ice reinforcement in their designs. These humongous cruise ships generally stay well offshore and only come to the Antarctic continent at the height of summer..

Although the Explorer is not a real icebreaker (which is why I preferred to travel with a real icebreaker like the ones from Quark Expedition (read further at my Quark Expedition) !), Finland and Sweden had certified the Explorer at the highest rating given for non-icebreakers.

Now that the Explorer disappeared beneath the polar region’s waters, it sadly became the first commercial passenger Antarctica ship to sink on the South Pole.

Why did the Explorer Antarctica ship sink?

Watertight compartments were supposed to contain the water and allow the Explorer to remain afloat in case of leakage.

But Leif Skog, who captained the ship while it was owned by Lindblad Expeditions of Seattle, said that the Explorer was designed to withstand the flooding of just one compartment. Any leakage of water into adjoining compartments,
he said, would be sufficient to sink the ship.

The compartment must be completely watertight,” said Captain Skog,
Lindblad’s vice president of marine operations. “If you have a crack between two compartments, you have a problem.

On the other hand: nobody owns Antarctica so there is no law enforcement. Although there is some goodwill amongst the nations, the Explorer was registered in a non-treaty country like Liberia…

Why did the M/S Explorer hit an iceberg?

At this very moment, the M/S Explorer Antarctica cruise ship has an about 23-degree list after it hit an iceberg nearby King George Island in Antarctica at 0524 GMT.

The 100 passengers on board are rescued by lifeboats from 2 nearby cruiseships: the Endeavor and the well known Norwegian Nordnorge.

What is intriguing though is that this Antarctica cruise ship, although its small size is a true Antarctica vessel providing Antarctica expeditions in the truest sense of the word: the M/S Explorer used to go "where other cruise ships cannot".

At only 75 meters in length and equipped with an ice hardened double hull and a fleet of robust Zodiacs, the M/S Explorer Antarctica ship used to be a go-anywhere ship for the go-anywhere traveler, much like the Nordnorge or the sturdiest of all: the Russian cruise ships from Quark expeditions.

M/S Explorer Antarctica shipWith a veteran crew of polar mariners and an experienced expedition team of marine and avian biologists, geologists, historians and naturalists, adventures on the M/S Explorer are usually daring voyages of discovery to the far reaches of the globe with a quest for knowledge and authentic cultural and natural experiences as the driving forces.

So it is quite a mystery so far why it hits an iceberg in the first place… (will be continued)

Travel to Antarctica

Planning your Antarctica Travel

Since you don’t take an Antarctica vacation every day, and the Antarctica travel season is only 4 months, you have all the time in the world to prepare yourself for your Antarctica Travel.

Read about my Antarctica Vacation: an Antarctica Cruise on the Antarctica ship "Kapitan Dranitsyn".

Read the Antarctica Travel Tips on this page or read other Antarctica Travel diaries like this Antarctica Cruise on the Norwegian Nordnorge

Antarctica travel tips

George Island

ban ki-moon antarctica tripThe UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concerns about climate change after making a historic visit to Antarctica.

Historic because people like you and me need to fork out our own money if we want to take part in the Antarctica tourism…

ban ki-moon antarctica cruiseAfter seeing first hand the impact of rising temperatures, Mr Ban said that there is evidence that "should alarm us all".

What we actually should be alarmed of is all those politicians making the most expensive Antarctica cruise ever on taxpayers money! Ever wondered why there is never any mention about Antarctica hotels?

I mean: how the heck can Mr Ban see in 1 trip that there is a climate change going on in Antarctica? is it that the Antarctic ocean rose 4 inches due to the melting of the ice in the 4 days of Ban’s Antarctica vacation?

King George Island Map

glaciersHighlighting examples of the impact of climate change, Mr Ban said that the glaciers on King George Island have shrunk by ten per cent and warned that the entire Western Antarctic ice shelf is at risk of disappearing completely.

So if it shrunk 10% in 4 days, that means they will be gone in the next 40 days? Or can you only agree that Mr. Ban is wasting money just for his personal pleasure to go on an Antarctica tour!

The secretary-general added that animals living in Antarctica will suffer more than they have already; the penguin population of Chabrier Rock has fallen by 57 per cent during the last quarter of a century.

during the last quarter of a century

Now we are talking: if you really want to experience climate changes, you need to spend 25 years on Antarctica, not doing a 4 day Antarctica trip like Mr. Ban does…

His visit to Antarctica comes ahead of an international conference on climate change in Bali this December. Bali: another exotic travel destination…

King George Island Map

To understand fully where Mr. Ban has been on Antarctica: have a look at the Antarctica Map below or read more on the detailed King George Island Map page from our Antarctica Cruises website.

george island

King George Island Map