Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day 2015

Canada Day, frequently referred to as "Canada's birthday", commemorates the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867.

Canada Day is very similar to the  July 4th holiday in the United States.  Most communities across the country will host organized celebrations for Canada Day, usually outdoor public events, such as parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts.

Learn more:  Official Website for Canada Day

We have had the pleasure of visiting several Canadian cities during our cruise vacations.  These included ports of call on multiple Alaskan cruises,  Canada and New England cruises, and even Transatlantic cruises.  One of the highlights was when we extended our Alaskan cruise with a pre-cruise exploration of the Canadian Rockies.

Have you ever ridden on a glacier?  You can while visiting the Columbia Icefield Glacier in the Canadian Rockies. Specially designed vehicles, Massive Brewster Ice Explorers, take passengers on a remarkable excursion onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier.

Have you smelled flowers or gotten up close to thousands of unique flowers in bloom?  You can at one of Canada's botanical gardens such as the fifty acre Butchart Gardens located near Victoria, British Columbia. You'll see stunning floral show gardens and a National Historic Site of Canada.

British Columbia is known for floral gardens.  Minter Gardens, which has since closed, thrilled us with thousands of flowers and gardens.

Would you like to visit a fishing village, have some fresh lobster, or visit a lighthouse?  Nova Scotia has much to offer including the Bay of Fundy and many beaches where you can build sandcastles, fly kites, take a surf lesson, or just walk barefoot in the sand.

For the maritime lover, visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, where you can visit the Titanic ~ The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax, Nova Scotia exhibit and learn about the role the people of Halifax played that fateful day.

Would you like to walk where birds fly and squirrels hang out?  You can in Vancouver, Canada, at Capilano Suspension Bridge and Treetops Adventure.  I'm afraid of bridges, but I had a great time crossing a series of elevated suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor.

Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of Vancouver, British Columbia's most popular tourist attractions.  Odds are that unless you extended your cruise vacation in Vancouver, you probably didn't visit this attraction during your cruise vacation.

There is so much to see and do in Canada, I hope that you'll plan a visit in the near future and get to know more about this North American country.   We have only scratched the surface in this article.   There are other Canadian destinations featured in past blog posts and also on our Facebook Fan Page.

To all our Canadian friends .... Happy Canada Day 2015.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Traveling to Greece During Crisis

What to Know

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Greece of the possibility of disruptions to banking services – including credit-card processing and servicing of ATMs – throughout Greece in light of developments within the local economy.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry more than one means of payment (cash, debit cards, credit cards), and make sure to have enough cash on hand to cover emergencies and any unexpected delays.   Learn More ...

 Demonstrations & Other Risks

The alert also cautions about being aware of your surroundings at all times.   There might be scheduled and unscheduled political demonstrations as well.  Whenever you are traveling, you should follow this guideline anyway.

It is common knowledge that travelers are being advised to keep extra money with them, which increases the chance of being a target of unsavory individuals or groups looking to take advantage of the situation.    There are various safety methods that you can put in place to keep you and your money safe.

  • Divide the funds among members in your group
  • Only carry enough with you that you will need that day
  • Leave extra money in safe of cruise ship or hotel room
  • Use money belts to hide money on your person
Travel Insurance

Hopefully you purchased travel insurance when you booked your cruise or land vacation to Greece.   In our recent blog post, Insurance Awareness Day 2015, we talked about the value of travel insurance protecting against the unexpected.   You might be tempted to cancel your trip, but be aware that unless you purchased a "cancel for any reason" policy, this would most likely NOT be a covered event.   Even so, there are other benefits of the insurance policy which could come into play during your trip, if you were to lose valuables or be injured for example.

Potential Itinerary Changes

As of this writing, cruise lines with upcoming cruises have not altered their plans but we are certain they are keeping a close watch on developments.   The cruise lines number one priority is the safety of ships, passengers, and crew, so should there be any escalation in the wake of the bank closings, plans could be altered.     In similar situations like this, sea days or alternate ports were substituted, often with very little notice.   Be sure that you have provided contact information to your travel professional or cruise line as appropriate.   Should there be cancellations or changes that we become aware of, we'll share that information with you.

Additional Resources

One of the more important ways that U.S. Citizens can keep informed while traveling abroad is by  enrolling in the U.S. Department of State's STEP service.

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.

STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.

Additional travel information can be found on International Travel (static tab on blog) and Travel Tools (on our website). Topics include: Tips for Traveling Abroad, Travel Warnings, Country Specific Information & Travel Alerts 

We encourage all cruise passengers to be familiar with travel alerts, warnings, tips, and country specific requirements before leaving home.  Make sure that you leave your itinerary with someone at home and that you are adequately protected by travel insurance.

Enjoy Your Cruise to Greece

We were fortunate to travel to Greece a few years ago during our 12-night Mediterranean voyage.   For information about the ports we visited see our blog post:  Diary of Cruise with Chris to Greek Isles

Safe Travels

We highly suggest that you monitor the situation in Greece before and during your visit there.  We wish you safe travels, and for the wonderful people of Greece, we hope that this current financial situation can be resolved quickly.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Insurance Awareness Day 2015

Insurance Awareness Day exists to remind you that things go wrong, and that generally, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan.  If you are like most people, you have health insurance, life insurance, and house or apartment insurance.  We'll talk about Travel Insurance in this post and suggest why it is a good idea to consider it before traveling.

Expect the Unexpected

I'd like to make a few suggestions to anyone planning a cruise vacation.   Similar considerations go for other (land) vacations as well.   As the title suggests, one should plan for the unexpected in advance so that the situations I describe, should they occur to you, would not ruin your vacation or at the very least you would have assistance before, during, and after the vacation.

Situation 1 - Weather Impacting Departure for Cruise

If you've been watching the news lately, I'm sure you've watched in horror as flood waters washed homes away, houses were destroyed in minutes by tornados, and various other disasters that are going on across the world. We always like to think that this can't happen to us and hopefully that is the case. Unfortunately situations like these do occur and no one is exempt from the possibility.

What does this have to do with cruising you might ask? Well, if that were your home, or if you lived in that neighborhood, odds are that you wouldn't be able to depart on schedule for your cruise. Several possibile situations come to mind from roads being blocked, airports being closed, flights delayed, family members injured during the storms. All of these would most likely prevent you from arriving in the cruise departure city prior to the ship sailing.

Suggestion 1 - Leave Early

I've said this many times before, but it bears repeating: Plan to arrive in the embarkation port the day before your cruise (domestic cruises) and at least the day before your cruise (overseas cruises).

Assuming that you are flying to the embarkation city, you can either book airfare with the cruise line or on your own. In most cases, I suggest that my clients book on their own since they have full flexibility and can often save money (perhaps using frequent flier miles, or finding special pricing). I'm more than happy to assist them either way.

That's not to say that you can't use frequent flier miles or get good prices through the cruise line, but you will have to make arrangements through the cruise line's "custom air" department. In some cases, there may be extra fees to tailor your flights to your schedule. The "non-custom" air arrangements typically arrive the day of the cruise which doesn't provide any room for delays.

We've personally had many occasions where we arrived the day before the cruise, so we didn't have any issues. However, our return trip was delayed as many as 4 hours due to weather. Had that been the day of the cruise, we could have missed the ship (assuming it was on the same day as ship departure).

Suggestion 2 - Purchase Trip Insurance

In the above example, depending on the length of the delay and other factors, had you missed the ship your insurance may have provided assistance in rejoining the cruise or reimbursement for unused portion of the trip.

If your house had been damaged or if a family member had ended up in the hospital, due to the storm as described above, the trip cancellation clause of the insurance policy may have come into play providing some financial relief.

Insurance policies vary, so you need to read the policy and compare them to your needs.

Situation 2 - Injury During Cruise

The following situation DID occur to one of the passengers on one of our cruises and we have been on many other cruises where similar situations occured.

The ship sailed on time, we had dinner and had gone to the welcome aboard show. The captain came on the loud speaker system and made an announcement. The ship was turning around and returning to New York because there was a medical emergency onboard. It was necessary to get closer to New York so that the passenger could be transferred to a hospital onshore.

From what we can gather, the injury wasn't life threatening but it required medical attention that could best be provided in a hospital. The passenger was transferred from the ship to a hospital by the U.S. Coast Guard.

A medical evacuation is a very expensive procedure - often costing tens of thousands of dollars. These costs are typically not covered by your personal health insurance policies and could have a very negative impact if you had to bear the cost yourself.

I'm not trying to scare you out of booking a cruise. In fact, these situations I describe could happen any day and on any vacation. I hope that the cruise specialist, or other travel consultant that you work with, recommends insurance to you and that you seriously consider purchasing a policy. Besides the financial protection, there is the intangible benefit of having someone to turn to in the time of crisis. The majority of the policies available offer a 24 hour assistance line.

Top Ten Reasons to travel with the LeisureCare Travel Protection Plan
  1. You have to cancel your trip due to an unexpected event such as bad weather, an illness in the family or the financial default of your airline, cruise line or tour operator.
  2. You have to return home early due to an unexpected emergency such as an illness or death in the family.
  3. Your luggage is lost or delayed, forcing you to purchase necessary essentials, or prescription medications.
  4. Your luggage or personal effects are damaged or stolen.
  5. You become ill or injured and learn that your health care plan doesn't cover you outside the U.S.
  6. You need an emergency medical evacuation due to an accident or sudden illness.
  7. You run into flight delays and miss a portion of your trip or cruise.
  8. Your trip is interrupted due to an unexpected hurricane or storm.
  9. You lose your passport, leaving you stranded abroad.
  10. You need assistance with replacing a prescription or an emergency cash transfer.

Plan for Unexpected - Leave Early, Purchase Travel Insurance, Enjoy Your Cruise

Friday, June 26, 2015

Planning Key West Activities Via Advertising

(click images to enlarge)

#FriFotos Theme: #ADVERTISING

We continue our series of photos depicting the #advertising subject.  In this post we'll look at one popular tourist port of call and the signs that beckon your attention.   They come in all sizes and shapes and on different surfaces.

We arrived in this next destination via cruise ship.  We only had one day to explore the city, so advertising paid a key role in deciding what to do.  So much to see - so little time !

Second in a Series of Posts

For those of you not familiar with the forum, it is hosted by . The theme is revealed every Tuesday 12pm ET.    Recently, @spencerspellman joined the team as a permanent co-host.  We  co-hosted one week late last year and continue to contribute with images from our archives whenever possible.

Key West Florida

The sign above can be seen shortly after you arrive at the main part of town.   There is a major shopping area which also has several of the popular attractions.  The sign also advertises various ways that you can explore the city, such as by trolley.  The #advertising on the right adds another element, a 3D person that helps draw your attention to the sign. 

No Escaping Advertising

I bet you thought you'd just have a relaxing day at the beach at the Southernmost Point of continental U.S. Guess again! Here you might find an advertisement like this with water sports and places to eat or drink while you are there.

Place Ad Here

As you can see in these two images, no surface is immune from advertising.  Advertising doesn't have to be stationary.  In this second image, the trolley becomes the medium of choice for delivering several different advertising messages.
There are several different transportation choices competing for your vacation dollars, so it makes perfect sense for the business to put their contact information on the side of the trolley as well as other offers to compliment their services.

Signs on Buildings

Even the signs on the buildings are #advertising. Their message is brief, usually just the name of the business or attraction. Sometimes, they may contain other elements, all of which are designed to capture your attention.

Historic Buildings

You can have your picture taken by a marker depicting the "Southernmost Point" and then you might want to explore some of the historic buildings, such as this hotel. A picture is worth a thousand words, so why not advertise by showing what you'll see inside.

This is just a sample of the many #advertising images you might see on your day trip to Key West, Florida. It won't be possible to see everything in the time you are there, but through these ads, you should be able to select what interests you the most. Happy exploring !
If you like Travel & Photography join us each Friday!


Follow #FriFotos on Twitter and Facebook

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc

What #advertising have you seen? 

Take a look through your photo archive and see if there are any images that fit this week's theme.  If you don't have any to share at this time, check out what others are posting.   This forum is a great way to explore the world from the comforts of your chair.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Look at Advertising on Cruise Ships

(click images to enlarge)

#FriFotos Theme: #ADVERTISING

We are bombarded by advertising each and every day of our lives.  This week, #FriFotos theme revolves around that topic. Once again we will be sharing images on Twitter and writing posts on our blog that provide the story behind the pics.

First in a Series of Posts

For those of you not familiar with the forum, it is hosted by . The theme is revealed every Tuesday 12pm ET.    Recently, @spencerspellman joined the team as a permanent co-host.  We  co-hosted one week late last year and continue to contribute with images from our archives whenever possible.

OnBoard the Cruise Ship

You would expect to find advertisements when in port, but in this first article, we'll talk about some we found on board our cruise ship. These signs were onboard a Carnival cruise ship, but you might find similar signs regardless of the cruise line.

Advertising Promotions

The first image is advertising services that are performed by the staff on the ship. Throughout your cruise, you'll have the opportunity to have your family portrait taken by the ship's photographers. If you'd like to have a framed remembrance of your cruise, that is possible as well. This sign shows some of the possibilities. The next image is advertising some promotional offers that are available at the casino. 

Many of the ads we see on a regular basis advertise services as opposed to products.  That doesn't stop just because you are on a ship.  You'll see this type of advertising in port as well.

Shopping Savings

If this is your first cruise, you might not be aware that there is shopping onboard the vessel.  Yes folks, you don't have to interrupt your shopping when you are at sea.  As you can see in this advertising sign, the ship matches prices that you might find in port, which means you don't need to give up your exploration time to buy that bottle of liquor to bring home for your self or your friend watching your house while you are away.

Limited Duration

You will find advertising that may offer deals for embarkation day only.  It is definitely to your advantage to pay attention to these signs posted around the ship.  Of course, you can ignore them completely, like you do television ads, if you like.   That's the beauty about cruising - you are complete control of what you want to do.  There will be many choices, but ultimately, you make the final decision on how to spend your time and money throughout the entire cruise vacation.
If you like Travel & Photography join us each Friday!


Follow #FriFotos on Twitter and Facebook

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc

What #advertising have you seen? 

Take a look through your photo archive and see if there are any images that fit this week's theme.  If you don't have any to share at this time, check out what others are posting.   This forum is a great way to explore the world from the comforts of your chair.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Arriving Back in Rome

Post-Cruise Stay - Rome

Upon arriving at Roma Termini train station, we walked a few blocks to our post-cruise hotel, Hotel Giardino.

As you can see in the picture, carrying large suitcases up the steep stairs would be challenging, so we were happy that we had opted for much smaller bags.  We used rolling bags that would fit easily on the train.

After checking in, we asked the hotel staff for some dining recommendations.   We were in the mood for some pizza or pasta, so they gave us a couple of choices nearby.

Spaghetteria L'Archetto

It was a short walk to the restaurant from our hotel.   When we arrived, it was pretty busy, but it was only a short wait for a table outside.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, so that was fine by us.

While we were waiting for a table to open up, we had time to look at the menu.   There were several choices that sounded good, so now all we had to do is wait a bit to be seated.  One thing you need to know about dining in Rome, unlike the United States, if you want water, you have to purchase a bottle, so keep that in mind.

We enjoyed our pastas and pizza, and then resumed our self-guided walking tour of Rome.  The food was good and the atmosphere was as well.  We would recommend this restaurant if you are in the neighborhood and get hungry.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

People Mover from Cruise Terminal

Getting Around
from Cruise Terminal

People Mover between Tronchetto, the Marittima cruise terminal, and the Piazzale Roma in Venice, Italy.

Riding Venice's People Mover is easy: There's only one route, and the fare is €1,30(regardless of where you board or get off).

Affordable Transfer to Venice

Once we had disembarked the ship, it was a short walk along the cruise terminal to the People Mover. We purchased our tickets from the automatic vending machine(it was only €1 when we sailed). As you can see from the sign above, it was only a short wait for the next boarding.

The actual ride only takes a few minutes once the train arrives. The only challenging part of the trip was handling our luggage over the bridge once we arrived in Venice. Not to worry, there's always a good looking Italian gentleman willing to help a lady in distress.

We had checked the train schedule and found that there was an early train which would get us into Rome mid-afternoon.  It is about a 3.5 to 4 hour train ride. Once we arrived in Venice, we made our way to the station purchased our tickets, and waited for departure time.