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Can You Really Customize A Cruise Vacation?

A cruise is great value: Free airfare, two-for-one prices, free excursions, prepaid gratuities, free hotel nights, free breakfasts, free transfers, and discount business class air.

You have just booked your dream cruise to the Mediterranean, South America, or perhaps Asia and beyond. So, how do you personalize the cruising experience to make it truly your own?   

There are a lot of extra things you can get like shipboard credits, private car and a driver in port, free shore excursions, prepaid gratuities, two-for-one fares, and heavily discounted business and first-class airfare, as well as free hotel nights. All these items can add substantial value to your cruise experience.  

One of the best ways to enhance your holiday is with a pre- or a post-cruise stay.   Undoubtedly, your cruise begins or ends in one of the world’s greatest cities.  Why rush to your ship, or to the airport after your voyage and miss out on all that the destination has to offer? We can help you create an individualized hotel stay that includes transfers to or from the port as well as sightseeing. If the hotel is part of the Signature Travel Network directory, then we get a free breakfast, early check in or late check out, and a room upgrade which amounts to quite a savings in most of the world.  For example, three days for two people amounts to at least $600 in savings since breakfast in London can be 50 pounds each. Any sightseeing can be a private  experience, with just you and a car and driver.  You don’t have to join a group if you don’t want to.   

If in London, then of course we book theater tickets for you. With 74 theaters, there is always something you want to see. We suggest spending at least two nights before or after a long flight at one of Rio de Janeiro’s famous beaches, or gain perspective on your Asian cruise from atop Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak before flying back home.  

What’s more important, we can personalize your hotel choice according to your interests and budget. So, if you are an architecture buff, and your cruise departs from Barcelona, you might want to stay near the city’s famous “Discord Block” to visit such classics as Gaudi’s Casa Batillo.

Explore even more by going beyond the port to discover treasures that lie inland.  For instance, if your cruise departs from London, you might like to see Stonehenge and the wonderful ancient city of Bath, or take the train to Chester, or Edinburgh, two of my favorite cities, both steeped in history. If you wanted a great overview of a country, consider taking a longer escorted tour. To experience the true taste of a culture, plan your trip around a local event or festival such as the renowned Singapore Food Festival, or one of Spain’s traditional palios or Venice’s  historic regattas.

I had a client ask for my recommendation on a first visit to Europe. I suggested they take one of the fantastic offers, free airfare to Europe, and a two-for-one Mediterranean cruise. Then we arranged for a small villa for  a week so they could tour around Tuscany afterwards, take a cooking class and explore the wine region. This was much better value than booking everything separately.    

Many people don’t like taking an excursion off the ship because they don’t want to be part of a large group on a bus. We can, for practically the same cost, arrange for you to have a private car and driver to take you to whatever destination you want to see.   What is nice about that, is when you are tired, you say, let’s go … and you return to the ship without waiting on someone else’s timetable.   

We have clients who have been on so many cruises that they don’t get off the ship in most ports, since they have done all the excursions. This is a relaxing holiday for them, and the service and comfort is what they want.  A cruise is a great holiday for a person traveling alone. Most of the cruise lines have a great program for individual travelers so you need not be afraid you would be alone. They make a point to see what you have an opportunity to meet people, and are included in a group. I have done many cruises on my own and enjoy the lectures, cooking classes, flower arranging and whatever else is on the program such as computer classes, painting, dancing, and yoga.

Our staff have been on every cruise line and to every destination. One of our staff is hosting a group of 110 people on a cruise next week. She will be giving personal advice to anyone who needs help—where to buy a nice hat in Rome, or where to go and have a flamenco lesson, or where to buy shoes? It’s fun to have your private consultant on board to guide you in the right direction.

One trip which is on my bucket list, is on a coastal steamer up the coast of Norway, stopping to deliver mail and supplies to little out of the way villages, 34 ports in all. I have done the Norwegian fjord cruises many times, but never the coastal route. I want to go from Bergen to Kirkenes on an eight-day voyage since I want to see Trondheim and Tromso, the Arctic Cathedral and the Northern Lights. I will fly back to Oslo, which is one of my favorite cities to visit.   

If you want to do good while getting away, now might be a good time. It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are promoting Cruise for a Cure. Celebrity Cruises, giving $200 of every booking towards breast cancer research on the cruise which is going to the Eastern Caribbean on February l7, 2013, for seven nights. The cost ranges from $1,298 to $1,497. There will be several special events hosted by Celebrity's president, Dan Hanrahan.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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