Cruising

Are you ready for something new in cruising? How about taking it a step further, and start an actual adventure.

I recently experienced something completely unique in the cruising world, at least to me. I spent two exciting weeks aboard Hurtigruten’s Explorer vessel, the MS Fram. This beautiful, small, expedition style ship is specifically designed to take explorers to unique sites. In my time aboard the MS Fram, as they transitioned from the Antarctic to the Arctic Sea, we visited the San Blas Islands, San Lorenzo in Panama, Boca del Toro, Nicaragua’s Corn Islands, Isla de Provencia (Colombia), Cayos Cochinos in Honduras, a couple of days in Belize, and Cozumel.

Even though I’ve been on many Caribbean Cruises, everything about this was new to me. Hutigruten has been around since 1893, mostly in the Norwegian area. They have developed into a line with a highly trained and educated crew that specializes in exploring the unexplored, more difficult to visit, areas of our beautiful planet. Instead of a Cruise Director, they have an Explorer Team. This is made up of Biologists, Geologists, and Zoological Specialists from all over the world. There were daily lectures in both English and German, on the many experiences we were about to have. These included marine life, local birds, plants, geological structures, history and indigenous people of each area to be explored.

Each area was pristine, beautiful, and still full of the flavor of the native people. With only 150-175 passengers, and 85 crew members (total, including room stewards, kitchen and other hotel workers, and the exploration team) there was never an over-crowded feeling. With only a few people in each group, it was easy to feel like I was the first person to explore this island, reef, or cay.

Where Hurtigruten really shines is in exploring the far reaches of our planet. In the Southern Hemisphere’s Summer (Dec-Feb) they take adventurous groups onto Antarctica itself, to wander with the Penguins, and walk on the ice flows. Due its size, it is permitted to make actually landings on the continent itself, something the larger cruise ships are banned from doing. In the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer (Jun-Aug) they cruise the entire Arctic Circle, touching Canada, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, and Norway. They have polar bear and whale spotting competitions and walk out on the icebergs. The cruise itself includes ocean kayaking, snorkeling (for the Caribbean relocation cruises), paddleboards, and motorboat coastal explorations. All of these activities are included in the price of the cruise.

The Chef on board The Fram is very careful to prepare dishes to please every palate. They were composed of organic and high quality produce, seafood, and meats. Though they do not have the 24 hour food availability many other cruise lines offer, I never felt hungry or lacking in meal options.

Hurtigruten is starting to market more and more in the U.S.A. and many of the ships are, or will soon be, undergoing extensive rehabbing, including the MS Fram. They have just launched their premier ship, the MS Roald Amundsen, a green hybrid, which runs mainly on electrical batteries that are charged by small diesel generators. This hybridization makes these wonderful ships the greenest, most earth-friendly ships sailing today.

From the crystal clear turquoise Caribbean waters, to the humid rainforest, this was an expedition I will never forget. It was an experience that has opened up so much of this beautiful planet to explore and love.

Elaine Beckstrom

If I can help plan your next vacation, please contact me:

Street: 101 South 200 East, Suite 100
City: Salt Lake City, UT 84020
Phone: 801.483.6331

Business Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

I had a great opportunity to learn more about the American Cruise Line and enjoy a luxury cruise here in the United States. The American Cruise Line offers 35 itineraries that visit 30 different states. Itineraries range from the Pacific Northwest including the Columbia, the Snake, Puget Sound, the San Juan islands to Southeast Alaska; to the Mississippi River including New Orleans, the Cumberland and the Ohio Rivers; to New England along the Hudson River and the Maine Coast; to the southeast coastline of South Carolina and Georgia. There are numerous themed cruises also such as Lewis and Clark, Civil War, Fall Foliage, Music cruises, and food and wine cruises.

Their amenities include full size bathrooms, spacious staterooms, sliding glass balcony doors, elevator access, wifi, locally sourced ingredients for gourmet meals, breathtaking scenery and wildlife. A pre-cruise hotel was included right alongside the river, with a beautiful view of the American Song. Other inclusions are the tips and gratuities, a daily shore excursion, all meals and drinks. Nightly entertainment was also included with popcorn, ice cream sundaes and hot-out of the oven cookies.

My Columbia and Snake River cruise experience included a Lewis and Clark theme and a certified historian who traveled and shared his extensive knowledge of the area and the journey and the importance to the United States of this historic event. He added so much value to my experience and learning. We traveled along the geologically interesting Columbia River Gorge, saw historic sites of Astoria, Oregon; viewed Mount St Helens, Sacajawea State Park, visited the engineering marvels of the Dalles and the Bonneville Dam, and ascended the river through the locks. The beautiful Multnomah Falls are included in the sightseeing as is the REACH Museum which is in the area so vital to WWII and the development of plutonium and atomic bomb.

My American Cruise Line experience was so comfortable. Having an all-inclusive experience just heightens its attraction. The service was incredible as they would go out of their way to give you your perfect experience. The food was delicious, the scenery delightful, the entertainment for enjoyable and the historian was spectacular. This type of cruise is perfect for those who have travelled long and far, but now desire to stay closer to home yet still have a luxury experience. I would highly recommend this cruise line.

Julie Best

If I can help plan your next cruise or river cruise, please contact me:

Street: 1431 South State Street
City: Orem, UT 84020
Phone: 801.483.5230

Business Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

We often equate September with back to school; a new start for learning. In September, my new learning wasn't going back to school, but rather going back to the Caribbean. Having been to the Caribbean many times both on cruises and destination vacations, I was excited to explore three new ports of call (two in never-before-visited countries) and a return to a port I visited over 20 years ago.

My fall getaway appropriately was on the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship the Getaway. The ship, built in 2014, accommodates almost 4,000 guests, and yet there were plenty of activities, dining options and entertainment to make the ship feel comfortable and not crowded. The ship sails from Miami with stops in Mexico (twice), Belize, and Honduras and allows for a full day at the beginning and end of the cruise to enjoy sailing and relaxing on board the ship. Although shore excursions are offered in every port, I chose to forego the planned tours and enjoyed my time at the beach, poolside and shopping.

October 6

I love visiting Mexico any time an opportunity comes around, I’ll sign up for it, but I’d never cruise the Mexican Riviera and when I received an invitation from Carnival for their educational seminar at seas, I didn’t even think twice about it, I signing up. The itinerary included Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta out of the port of Los Angeles.

On the day of our cruise, I took the first flight out to make sure I arrived to Los Angeles with plenty of time before my embarkation. I had purchased the transfers with Carnival and when I was picking up my luggage I spotted the Carnival Representative dressed up in his uniform and holding a Carnival logo. I walked up to him, told him my name and after a few more guests showed up he escorted us to the Carnival motor coach.

We arrived to the pier at about 11:15 am which I thought it may have been too early to check in, but after a welcome speech from a Carnival staff we were allowed to get off and gather our suit case to then proceed to the check in. I really liked the check in process, being that our shuttle was the second bus to arrive, there were no crowds so our check in process was perhaps 30 – 40 minutes before arriving to the Lido Deck where one can find the buffet. Boy was I happy to be able to sit down and enjoy a meal. A few hours went by, and as I was doing a ship inspection of the top decks, an announcement came on the loud speaker, our cabin was ready and everyone could now go to their cabins. I of course was ready for a small siesta after over eating at the buffet so I headed to my cabin.

I just returned from a “Simple Sophistication” U.S. River Cruise experience from New Orleans up the great Mississippi River. I was on their newest ship the “American Song”. The ship was beautiful and sleek; with lots of windows and spacious cabins. American Cruise LInes delivers culture, history and enlightenment without casinos and buffets. They have personalized exploration, well-designed enrichment programs on board and ashore. There was a good variety of food selections on each daily menu (without black tie and formal gatherings); plus hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza on the top deck. One can enjoy the rich history and culture of the Mississippi River with customized excursions in New Orleans, Oak Alley, Natchez, and Vicksburg just to name a few.