Showing posts with label Sailing the South Pacific. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sailing the South Pacific. Show all posts

Monday, September 21, 2015

Repositioning: Steal-of-a-Deal Cruises

The 34-day spring cruise aboard Oceania’s Nautica that took us from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul, Turkey was a repositioning cruise.

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Oceania Nautica on the Indian Ocean
The four-day fall cruise aboard the Ruby Princess that took us from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, California this week was also a repositioning cruise.

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Ruby Princess on the Pacific Ocean
The two were vastly different cruising experiences: one aboard a small ship with not quite 500 passengers that took us to exotic places we’d probably have otherwise never visited and the other a ship of 3,500 passengers that took us on a long-weekend-like getaway to familiar places.

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Sailing from Vancouver, B.C. - sunny, but cold

What was similar was the fact they were ships being repositioned from one part of the world to another for a new sailing season.  The Princess ship, for example, was moving south from its summer Alaska sailings to California, and warm-weather destinations for the winter season.

Thus, the name “Repositioning” cruises; and offered in the spring and fall when ship’s are being moved. The cruise line offers deals so that they make some money while moving the ship and passengers benefit from the deals they offer to fill the ships. 

After I posted on the TravelnWrite Facebook page about our little cruise, I had so many questions that I thought  it time to highlight them again. They’ve been the subject matter of several posts  in recent years because they are among our favorite cruise types; so much so, that I wrote about them for the Seattle Times.

Short Pacific Northwest Getaway cruises

We’ve taken a number of short getaway cruises on the ships that sail the waters between Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, BC and Alaska during the summer months. They range in length from overnight to four- or five-days.

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Our mini-suite on the Ruby Princess
The most recent, a three-night sailing with no ports of call, took us from  Vancouver, B. C. to Los Angeles. The price had been the enticement – a mini-suite for just over $500. The mini-suite featured a sitting area, two-flat screen televisions, a king-size (and very comfortable) bed, walk-in closet and full bathroom (double the size of our Oceania ship’s bathroom).

We rented a car in the Seattle suburb, Bellevue, WA for $60 and dropped it off in Vancouver, B.C.  We were traveling with another couple, so it was cheaper to rent the car than to pay for four Amtrak train tickets. We returned home to Seattle from LA on Alaska Airlines for $99 per person. We spent a night in Vancouver but could have driven up the day of the cruise, saving the cost of the hotel and meals.

Note:  It is important to factor in these additional costs when considering cruise deals because they do add up. In the case of our Oceania cruise, entry visa costs for various countries added to the cost calculations. India, for example is $369 per person while Turkey is $20 per person.

Exotic Ports of Call and Days At Sea

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Yangon, Myanmar, a port of call on Oceania's Nautica sailing
Repositioning cruises can often take you to out-of-the-way places that would be difficult and expensive to reach otherwise and they offer long days at sea.

The affordable, reduced, price and extremely generous on-board benefits ($1,800 in on-board spending, pre-paid gratuities –a savings of about $800 -- and daily unlimited internet – saving about $900 )-- when coupled with an array of exotic ports of call were what enticed us to take the Oceania Nautica last spring.

We visited 10 countries, unpacking at the beginning of the cruise and packing at the end – no hauling bags, no airports, no muss, no fuss.  We were able to experience a high-end cruise line and visit a number of places that would have been both difficult and expensive to reach had we gone to them on our own. Some we need not return to, but others are now on our list for a return visit and longer stay.

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Celebrity Solstice in Sydney, Australia's harbour
There were long stretches of days at sea on the 23-day repositioning cruise we took aboard the Celebrity Solstice from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia.  The ship was repositioning from Seattle, but we opted for fewer days and flew to Honolulu to board (it also cost less from there). A number of fellow passengers were from Australia having also flown to Hawaii to sail home.

Note: Again we were able to visit multiple places including three South Pacific islands and New Zealand en route to Australia while not having to deal with air travel (and its cost), packing and unpacking at each stop.

Getting to and from Europe

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Canary Islands - a port of call on repositioning cruises

One of our favorite types of repositioning cruises is transiting the Atlantic Ocean, either going to or returning from Europe. Any number of cruise lines offer these sailings; we’ve crossed on Holland America and Celebrity ships. The ports of call usually include one or two stops on the United States side of the Atlantic and three or four on the European side with six or seven days at sea.  One of the best deals we nabbed was a balcony room for $125 per night.

Note: The plus side of these cruises are the stops in places like the Canary Islands and Madeira – destinations that would require expensive and long flights and multiple connections for travelers like us, living in the Western United States.

Long Days At Sea and Weather Considerations

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Repositioning cruises involve long, lovely days at sea
Because ships are being moved from one area of the world to another, repositioning cruises often involve long stretches of days at sea – no land in sight, no ports of call. Even our little cruise from Vancouver was two days at sea with no ports of call.
NOTE: Cruise lines go overboard (pun, intended) in lining up activities, events, classes, lectures, promotions, games, music and dance to keep passengers busy on those days.  Some, like us, prefer to laze away the time with a good book and watching the waves. 
If you are not able to deal with days at sea  and being confined to the ship, you might want to think twice before taking a repositioning cruise, no matter how good the deal.

Weather on these shoulder season cruises can be good, bad, or a bit of both. Our first day out of Vancouver was a blustery rainy and windy day and our second day allowed us to bask and burn in California sunshine. You'll want to check weather sites and pack accordingly.

“The Scout’s” Deal Finder

“The Scout” is credited with finding all the repositioning cruises we’ve taken.  He uses a number of cruise web sites. We booked our three-day cruise using Vacations To Go. They have a link to repositioning cruise deals.  CruCon Cruise Outlet is our usual ‘go to’ site as they’ve often offered benefits that tip the scale in their favor, even if the cruise price has been the same as offered elsewhere.

That’s it for today.  If you have specific questions, ask them in the comment section below or shoot us an email.  Hope it is smooth sailing ahead for you and your family until we see you back here. We’ll return to tales from our repositioning spring cruise with a stop in Mumbai, India.

Linking up with:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sail Away Sunday–See the World (for a lot less!)

Another rain-drenched Sunday morning in the Seattle area has us dreaming of sun-drenched far-away places. . .the South Pacific. . .a luxury cruise ship. . .ahh, (sigh) yes, that’s where we’d be today.

And we are – in a manner of speaking – thanks to a feature article I wrote that appears in today’s Seattle Times Travel Section.

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Tahiti's Black Sand Beaches were as spectacular as the views from them

There’s no better time than now to start shopping for some great cruise deals. I  tell you where to look for them in the package of articles about repositioning cruises I wrote for the Seattle Times today.

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Pape'ete our first port of call as seen from our Celebrity Solstice ship

There are exotic ports of call to be discovered inexpensively from the ease and comfort of a cruise ship on what the industry calls a repositioning cruise; when ships are moved from one part of the world to another for a new season of sailing. 

That was the type of cruise we took last fall on the Celebrity Solstice, a cruise that introduced us to French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia. (In fact the reverse of that cruise, 18 days, is only $2,400 per person on one of the sites I list in the article.)

Solstice2013BFuji 329As part of the package I wrote I’ve provided a list of great money-saving web sites to use when booking (or researching) a cruise.

And a list --that’s designed to tempt  those in the Pacific Northwest in particular -- of some great repositioning cruises – ranging from overnighters to 30+ days that will arrive and in the fall, depart from Seattle or Vancouver, British Columbia

Click this link to the story at Seattle Times Travelthere are great deals out there just waiting to be booked! 

Happy Travels! And a big welcome to our new followers and subscribers – and thanks to you all for the time you spend with us.

We are off to do some winter storm watching on the Washington Coast – how about you? Off exploring this week?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

South Pacific: Mo’orea ~ Island of Love

Since Mo’orea is one of those spectacular places in the South Pacific and sometimes called ‘The Island of Love’ we thought we’d offer it as a bit of a romantic getaway  today in honor of Valentine’s Day.

So whether you are ready for the romance of exploration or the romance of love – hop aboard. We are sailing south. . .

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Can’t you just smell the sweet scent of the blossoms that explode from trees and bushes alike?

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Can you feel the sun’s rays warming your soul as well as your skin? 

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Decisions to be made. . .stretch out on the white sand beach or sun on the private deck of your thatched-roof bure, or bungalow, out over the water?

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Or do the kayaks and paddle boats lure you into that turquoise water that laps gently against the shore?

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Or you could spend a few hours just sittin’ on the dock in the bay. . .

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That’s as far as we will go with suggestions in the PG-rated post.  But let your imaginations soar. . .what would you do if you found yourself on a South Pacific island today?

Note: We took the photos used in this post during a lunch stop we made while driving around the island in our rental car during the one day we had here during on our South Pacific cruise last October.  
This is the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa.  There are 54 bungalows built over the water – each has glass panels in the floor and steps that lead to the waist-deep lagoon.  Another 49 bungalows are clustered together on the resort grounds.

Just in case we’ve tempted you with this post – the resort has no rooms available this Valentine’s weekend.  However, I checked dates for this coming October (the month in which these photos were taken) and you can book one of those garden bungalows at their Best Available Rate of $548 a night or an over-water for $742.  Oh yes, WI-FI is extra!

Rather pricey in our book, but then again, what price romance, right? 

Happy Valentines Day!
We are linking this week with:
Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday.
Travel Photo Discovery on Monday

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pape’ete, Tahiti: A Morning at Le Marche

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we aren’t fans of cruise ship organized tours.  We’ve taken a few but prefer to ‘do our homework’ prior to a trip and set out to explore a port of call on our own. 

That is why our first stop in Pape'ete, Tahiti was its "Le Marche". We'd arrived on an early morning in October, the first of three stops in French Polynesia on board the Celebrity Solstice. 

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Shortly after docking, we set off on foot to find the town’s public market, Le Marche, as part of our own walking tour; one that filled our morning hours. The afternoon was spent on a bus tour – that we booked independently on shore – and we rounded out our day with a fabulous meal on shore before returning for our 9 p.m. departure. (the dinner I told you about a few weeks ago.)

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We wandered the market’s aisles first north and south, then east and west; upstairs and downstairs. There was no doubt, it was a 'real' market for locals – not one filled with tourist trinkets and souvenirs as evidenced by the products for sale.

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From vegetables. . .

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To fruit. . .

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And fish. . .the market was alive with color and smells.  It was just the first of many sensory overloads we were to experience in the South Pacific.

But the sight that made my heart skip a beat, was the overwhelming flower displays. . .those tropical stems that can cost $10 or more each back home in the States. . .

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The towering bouquets above could be had for 2,500 French Polynesian Francs, about $29US.

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Fragrant, colorful bursts. . .

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Flowers, flowers everywhere. . .including halos for the hair.  Again, this wasn’t just for tourists (although a few halos were later spotted on ladies from the ship).  One of the prettiest sights in these tropical islands were the flowers being worn in the hair of local ladies – young and old.

We have more Tahitian tales for you and those will come in future posts.  Remember that local tour I told you we booked on our own?  Well this was the vehicle in which we rode. . .but that story is also for another time. . .

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If You Go:
Le Marche is said to be the island's oldest surviving institution. It is located in the heart of the city, a few short blocks from the port.  It is open Monday to Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays until 9 a.m. (a busy time there when families stock up for their Sunday meals).

We are linking up today at Budget Travelers Sandbox for Travel Photo Thursday 
and with Travel Photo Discovery on Monday
and Sweet Shot Tuesday 
If you like our travels and want to see more photos, start following us on Instagram.
And please don't forget to come back here - soon!
Until then ~ Happy Travels ~ Joel and Jackie

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

South Pacific: A Tender Tale

DSCF0123We think of them as ‘life boats’ during that – thankfully brief, but necessary – drill at the beginning of each cruise.

The safety drill, for you non-cruisers, is that time when passengers gather at their ‘muster stations’ near those small looking craft that dangling like bright orange ornaments from the side of the ship.

Then crew members review with us the steps to be used in the event of an emergency evacuation. We are assigned a specific life boat and that is the one we will head for in the event it should become necessary.

Those bright orange bobbles are actually called the ship’s ‘tenders’ and in a less serious vein are used to transport passengers to and from ships into ports-of-call where either the ship is too large to navigate the harbor, or too large to fit the dock or in some cases, or when there are just too many cruise ships already there (Alaska, in the summer months).

Bay of Islands, New Zealand
We love riding the tiny tenders that bob and bounce up close to the side of the ship as passengers line up for the short rides to and from shore. 

Somehow that tiny looking deck that hangs above the water seems a bit bigger when you are using it, but it does take a bit of balance sometimes to get from it to the tender and back (thank goodness, staff members grab you by the arm to make sure accidents don’t happen.)



We’ve come to so enjoy this mode of transfer, that we keep our fingers crossed that we will be among the first on-board so that we can climb up the ladder and sit on the roof of the tender as we bobble our way to and from a dock.


And while not all cruise ships can accommodate differently-abled passengers, we’ve noticed that on our last couple sailings on the solstice-class Celebrity ships, the portable dock at the side of the ship was equipped so that those with mobility issues could use the tender (but it is always wise to check in advance of booking a cruise). There were no access accommodations for the rooftop seats.


Riding atop a tender we got a close up view of our ship and the surrounding beauty of the island of  Mo’orea.


Maybe we enjoy this part of cruising because it affords us a different perspective on the places we visit and maybe it is because while we are ‘sightseeing’ the crew members are taking the navigation of this short boat trip as seriously as they do the entire cruise.


Sometimes on repositioning cruises, the weather, like the cruise is in shoulder season – it is sometimes too cold to sit on the roof but that’s fine because there are good views from some inside seats as well.  (They close this hatch before taking off – I just got the photo before they did.)


And so our 'tender’ tale from the South Pacific comes to a close.

Thanks for sailing with us today and we hope you’ll be back soon!  You can receive posts in you inbox by signing up on our homepage, TravelnWrite. Or follow along on BlogLovin or Networked Blogs – or become our newest Google Friend and Follower and add your photo to the page as well.

We are linking up with:
Nancie’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday
Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Discovery on Monday

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

That Unforgettable Taste of Tahiti

Our favorite cruises are those in which the ship arrives early into a port and leaves late. . .you can experience much in a 12-hour time period. We had such a stop in Pape’ete, Tahiti and it afforded us a real taste of the town:


Our evening at Place Vaiete Roulottes – in the shadow of our cruise ship -- may have been one of the best experiences we had while sailing across the Pacific Ocean en route to Sydney, Australia from Honolulu last fall.


Place Vaiete Roulottes, is the most amazing collection of mobile food trucks and food stalls we’ve ever experienced (yes, even better than Portland, Oregon for you Northwest foodie fans out there). Roulotte is French for caravan – and what a culinary caravan circled up to serve an array of dishes. 

A couple dozen chefs rolled in as the sun dipped below the horizon (about 6 p.m.) and the once empty lot, known as Vaiete Square, near the cruise ship dock came to life as colorful tables, chairs and plastic stools stretched in every direction.


It was an aromatherapy treatment for foodies as smells from grills mixed with the pungent smells of spicy stir fry and the sweet scents of crepes.


We circled the area several times before we could get focused on just what we would eat – think children in a candy store – because that was what we were as we strolled, our heads swiveling back and forth, competing with each other to find the next temptation.


Even after we had selected the place where we would dine I couldn’t sit still and  had to watch my dinner being hand made by this culinary artist.


While The Scout dined on Steak Frites, I ate those delightful stuffed morsels you see on the right side of the above photo.  We could have been tempted to eat more, to sample the many more flavors that were seducing us with their scents – but it would have been, sadly, shear gluttony.


Now there are probably some of you reading this thinking, “But was it safe to eat at those places?” and the answer is a resounding, ‘YES!’  They are all licensed and everything was as spotlessly clean as it appears in this photo. (Sadly, we watched many fellow cruisers who walked past this culinary haven as they returned to the ship to ‘eat on board’ because they weren’t up to the adventure or they wanted to get that meal that came with the price of the cruise ticket.)

The food was so good and inexpensive that we could have eaten there every night for a week (or longer) and never have tired of it. It is one reason, we agreed, to put a return to Tahiti on our ‘bucket list’.


Should you find yourself in Tahiti – don’t miss this experience.  Do remember to bring cash – they don’t take credit cards.


The Food Fest on shore was still going strong as we pulled away from the dock at 9 p.m.  And they say that often times music plays on weekend nights – we were so on sensor overload that I can’t recall whether we heard music or not. . .I’ll have to ask The Scout what he remembers beyond the food. . .

That is it for today.  We thank you for the time you’ve spent with us and hope you will be back soon to share in our tips and tales.

We are linking up with:
Nancie McKinnon’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday
Marcia Mayne’s Inside Journey’s Foodie Tuesday
Kent Weakley’s Sweet Shot Tuesday

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Travel: It is not about ‘What you saw. . .’

January is that time of year when travel bloggers tend to write of their previous year’s journeys and start verbalizing their plans for upcoming adventures. 

It is a time for us to put into words the daydreams that will ultimately lead to new travel plans. Yet, moving to the next adventure can’t really be done without a backward glance or two. . . and a bit of introspection. 

This last year we were again reminded that travel isn’t so much about ‘what you saw’ but ‘how you’ve changed’ as a result of your experiences. 

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Musician in Pape'eti, Tahiti with traditional Maori body tattoos
Travel can rock your established, comfortable – albeit, routine – world, just by the smallest unforgettable glimpse of a new culture or land as did our brief series of stops in French Polynesia.

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A dining experience not to miss in Pape'ete, Tahiti

Once you’ve experienced the ‘different’ - smells, colors, people, food, music, religion, culture – you find that upon your return home you are different as well . . .

You’ve been reminded of  your insignificance as you sail across vast stretches of ocean. . .

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Setting Sail from Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
Your mind has been exercised.  Stretching just a bit further each time you travel keeps the brain questing for even more adventure and stimulation. . .

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A view of Chora Sfakia, Crete
Your soul has basked in the beauty of remoteness.  . .

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Tahiti, French Polynesia

You’ve experienced worlds that once you had only imagined. . .

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Auckland, New Zealand
And after you’ve been home a few days that unmistakable restlessness starts prickling your senses.  You no longer question whether you travel too much and you know it is time to start putting those daydreams into action. . .

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Tahiti's Black Sand Beaches 

Where will your adventures take you this year?  How has travel changed you?  We look forward to reading your thoughts and plans. Tell us by adding a comment below or send us an email! 

Our wishes for Happy Travels and Happy New Year!

We are linking up with:
Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday
The Tablescrapers’ Oh The Places I have Been


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