Friday, July 27, 2012

Kerala Houseboat Cruises

Kerala is a state in South India. A lot of tourists to India restrict themselves to New Delhi, Agra for the Taj Mahal, Hampi and Goa. Some of them even go to Varanasi and Rajasthan. But if you are after a truly unique experience, then you should head south of Goa, to Kerala.

There are lots of attractions in this Indian state. There are fantastic beaches, hills, virgin forests, and the rich Indian culture. But topping everything is the backwaters. The best way to see the backwaters of Kerala is by going on an extended cruise.

A 3-night/4-day cruise in air-conditioned luxury houseboats along the serene backwaters of Kerala can be the most cherished holiday reverie for tourists visiting India. The backwaters and the palm fringed waterways will give you all the peace and tranquility you want. But there’s a lot to see. You can witness village life up-close in a completely unique way. The boats provide all the comforts of a modern lifestyle.

The Backwaters of Kerala

The largest backwater body (Vembanad Lake) passes through the Alleppey and Kottayam districts of Kerala before opening out into the Arabian Sea near Kochi (Kochin). Numerous lagoons, natural lakes, canals, estuaries and a huge network of rivers make up the 900 kilometer backwater of Kerala, covering many other districts of the state.

Those who intend to take the cruise would be met at the Cochin International Airport by appointed travel agents who will arrange for their transfer to their respective houseboat (this is a 2 hours journey). Most Kerala air-conditioned houseboats are provided with large glass enclosed bedrooms that are fitted with contemporary furniture, while the attached bathrooms have the usual WC, wash basin and shower. Some are equipped with geyser too, although the weather in Kerala remains warm throughout the year. There’s the Kerala Ayurvedic message too for those who want to stay fit on their holidays.

The houseboat crew generally consists of a cook, an oarsman and the captain who oversees all activities relating to the boat.

You will get all principal meals, snacks and tea or coffee. There’s a bar too if you want to enjoy a drink on your cruise. Packed lunches are provided if you want to spend a day on shore, visiting the local inhabitants and interacting with them. Here’s a tip for you. Try one of the churches here. There are some amazing churches along your Kerala cruise vacation.

The food served is mostly organic, made palatable by the use of right condiments and is healthful. Since fresh fish is available aplenty, assorted fish dishes compliment both lunch and dinner routinely.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nile River Cruise

Take a Slow Boat Through the Nile to Meet the Sphinx

Whenever you think of a cruise holiday, it invariably involves visions of the mighty ocean viewed from the high deck of a fabulous five star floating hotel where all your material wishes are fulfilled. But there’s a catch here. The fact is that, till your mammoth cruise ship calls at any port en route to your destination, you are unable to fathom how people at the other end of our lonely planet live. In other words, you don’t have the faintest idea about how the people in the banks live. You can’t really see their culture, way of life or relics that have been left by their ancestors.

However, if you take a river cruise, you may sample most of these. Take, for instance, a cruise through the River Nile in the land of the Pharaohs. But before booking your Nile cruise, you should know that the river cruise ships on the Nile stand nowhere in comparison with the seagoing 1.30,000 ton leviathans. The main reason for this is that, these ships need to be narrow because obviously the river here is narrow. And that’s why they cannot accommodate most of the modern-day facilities and amenities that we have come to expect in larger sea-going cruise liners. But having said this, these Nile river cruises are still fantastic in many ways.

And the best part of the whole thing involves identifying yourself with the world’s famous ancient sites while the enchanting Egyptian scenery passes by. Tourist attractions along the Nile include the incredible Pyramids, the legendary Sphinx, the controversial tomb of Tutenkhamun, temple of Luxor, Valley of the Kings and many other stunning time-worn monuments and obelisks. At times you may feel as if you are travelling in a time-machine that has brought you face to face with Queen Cleopatra’s Egypt. Isn’t that an incredible experience?

As for your creature comforts, most of these vessels boast luxurious cabins and princely suites on both decks. You do not have to make any compromises there. Egyptian and continental cuisine are served to all passengers. Apart from classical furniture adorning most of the cabins and suites, air conditioning is a standard feature for all cabins. But you might not need it in the evenings when you relax on the deck, taking in the river breeze.

You may board the cruise ship in Luxor for a 5-day cruise, touching at Esna, Edfou, KomOmbo and Assouan. You will be able to visit all the prime archaeological sites of Upper Egypt. There are both shorter and longer tours. Most Nile river cruises are between 3 and 7 days. In fact, there are some cruises that go to as far as Sudan. There are guided excursions in almost all of them. Egyptologists will tell you about the history of the place, highlighting on the more interesting tales. There are wonderful leisure activities every evening.

Here are some attractions you will see.
  • Abu Simbel – stunning statues of Rameses II, guarding the entrance to the temples.
  • Karnak – Located at Luxor city, you will definitely not want to miss the Great Hypostyle Hall. It will not just impress you, the hall will actually leave you spellbound.
  • Valley of the Kings – This is where you can see the last resting place of 60 pharaohs. All the tombs are underground. The most famous tomb is of Tutankhamun or King Tut.
  • Edfu – This is the 2nd largest temple in the country after Karnak. It is also the best preserved.
  • Esna – This is a sanctuary from the Ptolomaic era.
  • Hapshepsut – See the tomb of the greatest female pharaoh of Egypt.
  • Kom Ombo – There are two temples here. One for Sobek and the other is for Horus.
  • Luxor – A grand structure beside the Karnak Temple.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cruises from England

Are you thinking of visiting London for the Summer Games or the Olympics? It could certainly be a fantastic experience. But we would recommend that while you are there, you should also plan a cruise vacation. That’s because, there really are plenty of very good cruising options from the UK. You could select from all types of cruises. There are long and short ones. Luxury cruises and more basic options to choose from. Of course, you might like to choose the cruise depending on where the ship is going – the destination. Then there is also the Thames river cruise. But that is a very short one. We recommend that you try one of the longer cruises, a cruise that lasts for at least 3-4 days.

Here are some of the sea ports in the UK – Southampton, Dover, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leith, Harwich, Tilbury, Greenock and Portsmouth.

Before going any further, it is essential to understand here that most England cruises are those that reach different ports of calls in European cities or Northern Africa. Yes, there are a few cruises that will take you to far-off places such as America and even Australia. But those are meant for the more adventurous people. People who have the time to spend up to a month or more on the ship and those who have it in them to spend so much time floating on water.

So where do the cruises from the British ports go? Most British cruises would go to Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Marseilles, Genoa, Naples, and a few North African and East European cities.

Destinations Covered

Cruises from England can certainly take you to some great destinations. You could go to the British Isles, and see the scenery there apart from experiencing British culture. If you love the sun, then you should choose a cruise that is sailing the Adriatic or the Med. Or you can go to the beautiful sand dunes in the Canary Isles.

If you are interested in culture, then what you need is a Baltic cruise. Visit places such as Copenhagen, Stockholm and St. Petersburg. For sunny cities, you should get on board a cruise that is touching at least a few of the following ports – Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice, Genoa, Naples, and Venice among others.

There’s a lot of city life and history to be seen in these cities. These are exciting places with an active night life. You will certainly enjoy the shore excursions. We are sure about it.

Or are you somebody who would rather go on a cruise that shows you awesome scenic beauty? If you are, then a Norwegian cruise is the right choice for you. Select a cruise that travels to the amazing fjords of Norway. But do ensure that it is visiting Svalbard. You do not want to miss this out. A Norwegian cruise is a fantastic experience that you will never forget. You are sure to enjoy the incredible coastline, and places such as Geiranger and Svalbard.

So go ahead. Enjoy the Summer Games at London, and choose a cruise carefully, one that matches your preferences. Do not miss the cruising experience while you are in London. There are some amazing destinations and on-board activities. Some of the world's leading cruise liners touch the British ports. There are indeed some amazing options to choose from. You will definitely enjoy your British cruise or England cruise experience.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Danube River Cruise

Europe’s second-longest river Danube originates from Germany’s Black Forest region and flows through many countries such as Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania before meeting the Black Sea.

The river has been used for transportation for many centuries. In the last few decades, we have seen the emergence and popularity of river cruising holidays. Today, there are many cruise ships that will take you cruising over the Danube. It’s an unique way of traveling through some of the most picturesque parts of Europe. You can relax on deck and see the country changing along the way. There are shore excursions and day trips you can go on. It is certainly a thrilling experience for somebody who wants to see Europe and understand the lives of people living here, particularly on the banks.

Incidentally, the river cruise ships that ply on the Danube now are nothing short of floating five star luxury resorts. So you can expect complete luxury on board. Of course, there are cheaper alternatives too.

For visitors to Europe (either starting or ending the trip) a Vienna to Budapest 3-night/4-day Danube cruise could be perfect. Here is a typical itinerary you could try.

Day 1 – Embarkation and reception on board the ship.

Day 2 – Arrival at the romantic Waachau Valley. Go on a guided tour that covers the famed Benedictine Abbey. Towards evening when the ship sets sail again, you can lounge on the ship’s Sky Deck with a glass of white wine and enjoy the scenery.

Day 3 – Arrival at Bratislava, the dynamic capital of Slovakia. Try a tour to the old town, which is situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains.

Day 4 – Arrival at Budapest and disembarkation. Hire a local guide for visiting the famous bridge/bridges that connect the old Buda on the right bank of the river with Pest on the left.

All meals including Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner as also snacks, tea/coffee is served complimentary on board the ship. Plus, you will also get the best quality wines produced by the finest wine makers of Europe. It is served with dinner every night to the passengers.

Of course, there are bigger itineraries as well that takes you all the way through the Danube. You can try these longer Danube cruises as well.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Amazon River Cruise

Think of exploring the world’s largest tropical Rain Forest aboard the air conditioned luxury boat, Aria. The all-inclusive Amazon cruise filled with adventure, excitement and fun will be a life-time experience for you and your companion. Glide through the mysterious Amazon River to view the native wildlife that includes the Red Howler monkeys and the jaguar. Nevertheless, a brief tour itinerary is given below for your guidance. Book a cruise today and enjoy a holiday like never before. Incidentally, your departure point will be Coronel FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta (Iquitos) International Airport at Peru. 
Day 1: Friday
Upon arrival at the Iquitos International Airport, you'll be met by a representative who will take you by air-conditioned coach to the main wharf in Iquitos. Here, you'll board the Aria and embark on the Amazon journey of a lifetime! 

After you getting settled into your room, go through a brief safety training with the staff . Then, enjoy a delicious onboard dinner prepared with local products, including fruit, fish and wine. Meet your naturalist guides and the cruise director while enjoying the beautiful views of the Amazon Rainforest from the upper deck of the boat.

Day 2: Saturday 
Wake up early and catch a glimpse of the majestic sunrise over the Amazon River. Then, enjoy a healthy breakfast before starting your day.

With your local guide, explore the Yacapana Isles, home to many species of iguanas and other wildlife. As you cruise down the Amazon River, you'll have excellent photo opportunities of the native flora and fauna along the riverbanks. You can also learn how to fish for piranhas in the Amazon with your naturalist guide! 

Enjoy time to rest before lunch on board the Aria. Then, head to the Yarapa River, where you'll have the opportunity to see the famous pink freshwater dolphins. As nightfall approaches, keep an eye out for nocturnal wildlife including frogs and bats before returning to the Aria. 

Back on board, enjoy a pisco sour before dinner on the roof deck. 

Day 3: Sunday 
Early in the morning, go on an optional excursion, if you wish, to see the wildlife along the Ucayali River. Then, enjoy breakfast on board in the dining room before a jungle hike.

Hike through the Amazon Rainforest to the small village of Magdalena. Interact with locals, and then head further into the rainforest with your guide and make your way to a beautiful lake, home to the famous giant water lilies. Then head back to the Aria for lunch and time to rest. 

After lunch, set off on foot along the Ucayali River with your guide to spot pink dolphins, monkeys, birds and other wildlife native to the Amazon. As you walk through the rainforest, keep an eye out for colorful macaws and howler monkeys. 

When you’re back on board the Aria, enjoy the beautiful sunset before dinner. 

Day 4: Monday 
Wake up early for a spectacular visit to the headwaters of the Amazon basin. After breakfast, the Aria will cruise along the edges of the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, the largest protected area in Peru. Hear birds chirp and see other wildlife along the riverbanks as you glide along the Amazon. 

Later, hop in a small boat for a ride to the native village of Puerto Prado, where you'll meet Cocama Indians. Learn about the culture and customs of this village while admiring their native art and crafts. Then, make your way back to the Aria for one last lunch on board before disembarking for the ride to the airport.