How to Book a Cruise on a Budget

Most of us have dreamed of sailing away into the horizon. When the rain is dripping down the window of your office, and the sky outside is grey and gloomy, the thought of sunbathing on deck, a cocktail in one hand and a good book in the other, is undeniably enticing. And these are just some of many different cruise activities. So too is the idea of exploring far flung lands and exotic destinations, sun cream and sunglasses at the ready.

Yet cruising tends to be expensive, and this can throw a real spanner in the works. Many eager travellers struggle to afford it, but it’s not time to give up on your maritime dreams yet.

cruise

Luckily for you, there are plenty of ways to book on a budget, and here are just a few to help you…

1: Shop Around

Holidaying is expensive, but travelling is still a commodity. Businesses have to be competitive if they want to thrive, especially if they’re just getting their foot in the door, and this means that there are some great deals to be found if you’re willing to shop around. Try to approach as many companies as you can, getting quotes from each before you commit to anything. You’ll soon discover that enterprises like Planet Cruise are eminently reasonable, making your seafaring fantasies more affordable than you might think.

2: Book at the Last Minute

Last minute bargains are beloved of many, yet a lot of people find it hard to resist the urge to plan ahead. If you can manage it, however, it really will pay off. It’s a good idea to only start looking a month to a month and a half before you want to sail, as the last call for most cruise lines and itineraries is 60 to 90 days before their departure. If they still have spaces left at this point, most will reduce their fares heavily in order to ensure that they maximise their earnings and sail with a full boatload of passengers.

3: Look at Repositioning Cruises

It might be that you have your dream route already planned out in your head, but if you’re willing to be flexible, then a repositioning cruise can be a clever way to save money. Their itineraries tend to be rather eclectic, as they only occur when vessels change regions for the season and have to travel to their new home port. Although they may mean stopping at an odd collection of places, however, they’re usually reasonably priced, and can actually be a great way to visit a wide variety of locales on your travels.

If you’re booking a cruise on a budget, then follow these top tips today and check out my first cruise ever to get excited.

Turtle Conservation in Montserrat, Caribbean

turtle conservation in Montserrat Caribbean

turtle conservation in Montserrat Caribbean

 

Montserrat is a lush, volcanic island in the Caribbean, situated 27 miles from Antigua and famous for the Soufriere Hills Volcano, which erupted in 1997, destroying the capital, Plymouth. It also has a visiting population of Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles which come every year, starting around May, to nest on its quiet, black sand beaches. Nesting continues until around the end of September and hatchlings emerge from September through to December. They are an endangered species, but much work is being done in Montserrat to protect the turtles, including monitoring and tagging, and eggs are taken to a hatchery. Only 10% of the hatchlings will survive but the hatchery has meant that there has been a 75% increase in the survival rate of the hatchlings.

John Jeffers has been working with the turtles for over 30 years and received an MBE partly for his work with turtle conservation. Turtle Conservation Montserrat was founded in 2012 by photographer and conservationist, Carolyne Coleby, and tries to find volunteers ready to assist John with this important work. Volunteers go to the beach at night to help count the turtles, monitor arrival and nesting, and collect eggs. They can also help with hatchling release. They are able to get involved with educating the public at the beaches when turtles arrive and in general outreach to educate the public about turtles and how to protect them. British universities have been involved in the turtle research on Montserrat and John Jeffers has been able to advise them and help them create reports which will contribute to the future safety of the species.

On a night with a full moon in the peak of the season, you may be lucky enough to see 20 turtles arriving and nesting on the beach, quite a sight.

Volunteer activity is mainly done at night and early in the morning, which leaves volunteers free to explore the island during the day, visit Plymouth, which has been described as a ‘modern day Pompeii’ and its environs, visit the Montserrat Volcano Observatory for volcano viewing and take part in activities such as diving, snorkelling or hiking in the rainforests of the Centre Hills which have an abundance of wildlife and flora.

The beaches are easily accessible and quiet, often with only one or two other people and it’s possible to kayak or hike to Rendezvous Beach in the north of the island, the only white sand beach which is a beautiful cove surrounded by cliffs with stunning coral reefs and multi-coloured fish. You can get PADI qualified here, we have an extremely experience dive outfit on the island. Boat trips can also be arranged including round the island trips or boat rides to view Plymouth.

turtle conservation in Montserrat Caribbean East Coast

East Coast

 

The volcano is still active, but has been quiet since the last eruption in 2010 and residents are hoping it has fallen asleep again. Montserrat is perfectly safe to visit and offers a fantastic opportunity to view and learn about what it is like to live on a live volcanic island. It is called the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean as it was originally settled by Irish and has a green verdant landscape. It is extremely mountainous and there are many opportunities to hike in the rainforest and mountains, either along set trails or with a guide who can tell you more about the flora and fauna.

Scriber, a local guide, was described by the Guardian newspaper as ‘the Dr Doolittle of Montserrat’ as he is able to call down the Oriole, the national bird, with his calls! Mappie, from the National Trust, is able to tell you all about the medicinal qualities of the forest plants. Both guides are extremely knowledgeable and can tell you all about the forest and its inhabitants.

Montserrat is also home to Air Studios, George Martin’s former recording studios, where many famous names came to record. The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and Dire Straits are but a few of the musicians who recorded here. The studio was closed after Hurricane Hugo devastated the island in 1989, but it is still possible to visit it and George Martin and his family maintain a home on island at Olveston House, which for most of the year is open to the public as a restaurant and bar. Linda McCartney’s photographs adorn the walls, as do Gold Disks, and the grounds are a peaceful place to take a stroll or you can sit by the pool with a drink.

Liming’, or shooting the breeze with your friends over a rum or beer is a popular activity at the many rumshops on the island. People’s Place at the top of Fogarthy Hill is a popular spot, with great views of the island and Centre Hills, and John, who is a very convivial host, offers a great lunchtime menu of local dishes and drinks. Next door, the Hilltop Coffeeshop is a great place to stop for a coffee, cake and watch videos about the volcanic eruptions. The owners have many tales to tell. There is a laid back atmosphere on Montserrat and the people are extremely friendly and welcoming to visitors.

Christmas and St Patrick’s (Montserrat was originally an Irish island under British rule) are the main times for Festival here, but these both fall outside the turtle season. However, if you are not able to get involved in turtle conservation, it’s worth visiting the Festivals. St Patrick’s, in particular, is a lot of fun and involves a week long list of events. Salem, the town where the main festivities are held these days, has a sign ‘Salem, Fun and Revelry’ on the outskirts.

Woodlands Beach one of the turtle nesting sites

Woodlands Beach one of the turtle nesting sites

Montserrat really is a unique destination, offering great opportunities for nature lovers and photographers and the annual arrival of the turtles is a very special experience. So, come and join us!

Soufriere Hills Volcano

Soufriere Hills Volcano

For more information, check out Turtle Conservation Montserrat  or call +1664 4967673.

5 reasons to visit Australia

Australia and Antarctica are so far the only contintents I have not been to. Why you wonder? Well, because I want to spend loads of time exploring Australia, at least 3 to 6 months, but until now I have always had some plans pretty much every month.

So I keep postponing my Australia visit year by year and just keep telling myself all the reasons why I do have to go. Maybe before I finally book a flight, I should win some money so I have enough saved for the not so cheap continent… I already that what is important when choosing online casino games – choose a safe casino with reliable banking which at the same time has games that I like to play. It’s necessary to pick a casino where you can cash out your winnings without any trouble, right? And after years of playing, my friends have taught me some tricks I can use.

 

What are my 5 personal reasons to visit Australia?

1. Attractive people

Each Australian person I’ve ever met when traveling was super beautiful. Curly hair, suntanned ripped body, light-coloured eyes and sexy accent? I bet you agree with me that it’s not possible to say no to these very charming people.

 

2. Beaches

Have you ever seen a photo of any Australian beach? If you have, then you know it doesn’t need any more comments. Australia offers a few crowded beaches, e.g. abundant white sandy Sydney beaches, but the majority of the beaches around the country could be find super empty most of the time. Who would not like to have one of the 10,000 beaches just to themselves?

 

Australian beaches

3. Landscapes

Deserted landscapes with very few people, if any, some wild animals, and national parks famous for their waterfalls, mountains, rivers and cliffs sound like a plan. This vaste country is perfect for road trips so get a full car tank and grab a couple of friends to get some unforgettable fun. There’s so many natural wonders all around the country. If you happen to run out of ideas (which I doubt), what about taking one of the top 4 East Coast tours?

 

4. Weather

If you have been following my blogs for some time, then you must know I am not a cold weather person and do not enjoy wearing anything more than bikini with a sarong around. Warm climate for most of the year in many Australian territories makes it ideal for a visit. Escaping Northern hemisphere cold temperatures is definitely on my bucket list.

 

5. Sports

I am personally not much into one of the Australian’s most known sports – surfing, and prefer calm beaches, but it’s definitely worth observing the skilful guys surfing the huge waves. If not surfing, then I would for sure like to try snorkeling and scuba diving in the biggest world coral reef – the Great Barrier Reef where all level divers can enjoy the colorful underwater beauty. Once there, check out other exciting things to do in Queensland territory.

 

As you can see, there’s many benefits of traveling to Australia and staying there for a couple of weeks, if not months or years. Have you visited? If so, do you agree with my reasons or would you add some more?

The Most Beautiful Places in Cuba

Cuba’s beautiful architecture and gorgeous scenery are often ignored on on the global tourist market due to its turbulent political history. However, with trade negotiations with the US now in full swing, many are flocking to this Caribbean island to to explore its more unique points before any ‘Americanization’.

If you haven’t been, you’re missing out on checking out the manmade and natural beauty of this sunny island, from salsa serenades and baroque architecture in Havana to the mountains of Pinar del Rió. Book your trip out with Cuba Holidays to start exploring.

 

Cuba 2

Viñales Valley, Pinar del Río

Cuba’s National Park is undeniably one of the most gorgeous spots in the country, a nature lover’s’ paradise and one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites. The best way to explore the tobacco plantations and world famous mogotes mountains is hiking – and there are plenty of routes for experienced ramblers and softer terrain for newbies. Hunt around for your chance to learn to climb the mogotes with local teachers (though make sure you have travel insurance!), or rent a bicycle for a speedier way to enjoy the stunning scenery and flat terrain. The fun doesn’t stop at the top of the park either – water babies can go caving or swim in a waterfall for a more unique view of the area.

 

Baracoa

A municipality on the Eastern tip of Cuba, Baracoa is a picture perfect tropical paradise. The black beaches are warm and inviting, frequented by locals as well as tourists for a quick dip during the hotter hours of the day, with lovely views as expected from a Caribbean beach. Behind the beach is a hikers’ dream, Yunque mountain: with its steep sides and flat top, it’s a challenging walk up but made bearable thanks to the shade from the beautiful green forest. Its flat top is totally worth the trip for the incredible view below, and there are plenty of freshwater pools and waterfalls to relax in on your way up and down.

 

Habana Vieja

A trip to Cuba without taking in the sights and smells of Old Havana is a trip wasted. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982, this part of town is famous for its stunning baroque and neoclassical architecture housing all sorts of museums, restaurants, and salsa bars. Enjoy a fresh cuba libré while you dance the night away, brush up on history at the military fortresses, check out the ornate Spanish-style cathedral, or head straight up to the Camera Obscura to catch a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole city.

Also check out my post about 41 reasons to visit Cuba 🙂

 

Cuba 3

The trip that made me fall in love with traveling

exploring Barcelona

I remember my days back at the University when one of the very few safe things I could count on were the little money I had and my parents back home. I was intelligent enough to save something and make wonders with a little. The story that follows was one of them.

I was studying at the University in Czech republic, some 500 km from my home town in Slovakia and the summer of 2007 I decided to go to Spain. To Barcelona, the city I had visited once already but hated it. Why I chose the same place if I didn’t like it remains a mystery to me.

Everyone, both my family and friends were telling me I was crazy to go to Barcelona alone for 3 weeks and without having any accommodation booked.

It was my first trip like that and to be honest I still don’t know if it was my stubbornness, the strong will of standing on my feet or just showing them that I could do it and they were wrong.

The reason now does not matter. What matters though is the fact that going to Barcelona against my parents’ decision was the trip that made me fall in love with traveling. I had only around 1,000 euros with me and no plans for the following 3 weeks.

 

exploring Barcelona

exploring Barcelona

 

I found a hostel a 2-minute walk from La Rambla, the main tourist street. If I remember right, it was the first time I ever stayed at a hostel and let me tell you, it was so much fun! Everyone knew me there already, I started giving tips to other tourists about the best things to do in Barcelona and spent nights talking to my new friend – the receptionist from Argentina. It was there when I also fell in love with the Argentinian accent.

 

Quickly, I changed my opinion about Barcelona. It turned from initial disgust to my favorite city. I fell in love with La Boqueria market, exotic fruit and healthy juices I had never seen before, different beaches close to the city centre, great shopping, good discounts and streets full of life. The famous architecture of Gaudi and the amazing views from the surrounding hills added up the glamour to my visit. I even took some tours with locals in Barcelona.

 

the views of Barcelona

the views of Barcelona

 

This trip taught me a lot. I learned to count on something new – myself – even though being very young in the opinion of many. It taught me to enjoy my own company. It taught me that everyone and also everything deserves a second chance because if I chose any other destination, I would probably still hate Barcelona somewhere deep in my heart with no real reason. It also taught me that healthy food is usually more expensive than junk food but on the other hand it gives me more energy.

This trip taught me that strangers can become my best friends (I am still in touch with the Argentine receptionist) and that just a smile in the morning can make up for a beautiful day. But most of all the trip taught me that save some money is always useful and traveling opens not only my eyes but also my heart.

Since this trip, I revisit Barcelona every year at least once … Was it me who gave Barcelona the second chance or it was Barcelona that gave a second chance to me? I would be missing out way too much if I’d never gone back …