No Free Flights

How often do you see a cruise or tour advertised as ‘Fly Free’?

That’s Bulldust! . . . It should really say just say ‘Flights included’

Stay Longer

If we are travelling long haul we would much rather stop longer than the packaged length of the holiday.

If you arrive the day before the tour starts you are probably in a trance for the first day.

If your luggage gets delayed will it ever catch up?

Going to Europe we typically want to visit friends and relatives in Britain before the tour starts.

We may also want to use our frequent flyer points to book business class travel.

Our Experience

We generally find that as soon as we ask for the package without the ‘Free Flights we get a significant discount.

The discount is likely to a little less than the cost of booking the flights yourself, but for us it’s still worthwhile.


If you are booking a “free flight’ you might find the fare class you have been booked on:

  • Doesn’t include airline points!
  • Can’t be upgraded with either points of cash!


The thought of being seasick can put a lot of people of a cruise experience.

Although I am lucky that I am not susceptible to the problem I know a lot of people that are, including my wife, but only in really bad weather.

The Cause

Seasickness is really motion sickness, that occurs on a boat.

It happens because your brain gets confused because your sense of balance and your eyes tell it different things, and with constant motion it doesn’t have time to adjust..

Here are a few thoughts on the problem

Things Are Improving

Modern ships with computer controlled stabilisers roll much less than cruise ships of the past.

Better weather forecasting means ships are more likely to avoid really bad weather

When You Book

There are a few things you can do when you start to plan a cruise holiday

  • Outside cabin are best so you get a good view of a stable horizon, which reduces the brains confusion.
  • The closer to the middle of the ship your cabin is the better, as it will move less.
  • Larger ships will be less affected by the waves.
  • Consider cruises with more port days, rather than days at sea.

On the Ship

There are a number of tips also designed to help you acclimatise yourself to sea life:

  • Spending plenty of time on deck, and look at the horizon not at the waves .
  • When inside try to be close to a window, and again watch the horizon.
  • Stay in bed for a day as lying down can help.

Drug-free Cures

I’m not a fan of taking drugs so here are a some drug-free remedies that many regular cruisers say work including:

  • Sea-Bands These are acupuncture-inspired wristbands, which have a plastic bead that presses against a pressure point on the inside of your wrist.
  • Chewing gum
  • Ginger Either in tablet form or just chewing a stem of fresh ginger.

Finally avoid others who may be suffering: as the sounds and smell of them being sick could set you off.

Medical Cures

Most ships will have range of over the counter drugs that help reduce seasickness including:

  • Scopolamine
  • Meclizine
  • Diphenhydramine

If you’re taking any of these drugs it’s important to check any side effects particularly as you may be drinking alcohol.

River Cruising

I’m currently cruising the European Rivers from Amsterdam to Budapest so here are some travel hacks.


As you can see from the above photo it was a bit of a grey day in Amsterdam when we boarded the boat.

But as our Cruise Director, Roland, says “There is no bad weather: just a bad choice of clothes.”

A good jacket, and every cabin has an umbrella, . . . so no worries.

N.B Generally the further you get from the oceans the better the weather.


With River/ Canal Cruising its likely that there will be some adjustment to schedules.

On the narrower rivers and canals the amount of traffic can make a difference to the timing, especially when there are lots of locks.

Sometimes either too little, or too much, water mean that traffic is prevented from moving on the river.

The best advice I can give is to chill.

The Captain, and the Cruise Director, however will work with other ships and coach operators to ensure that you get the best chance to have a memorable holiday.

On our cruise a damaged lock mean’t that we had to change ships.

The faster coach transfer, across country, meant we were able to spend additional time at two of the ‘ports’.

Cabin Location

For this cruise we had a cabin on the second of three levels on the port (left) side of the ship.

Next time we will probably pay extra to have a cabin on the higher level as the additional 2-3m of height makes it easier to see over the canal/river banks.

We will also aim to choose a cabin on the starboard (right) side as it gives a bit more privacy when the ship is docked. (except when another cruise ship pulls up alongside)

Time on Ship, or Time on Shore?

If you are on a one way river trip the direction can make a difference.

Going upstream the ship will be going slower so you might find yourself on the boat longer.

Going downstream the ship will be able to go faster so the time ashore may be longer.

Explore Instead of Eating

On a river cruise it’s unlikely you will go hungry with three large meals and snacks; so if you really like exploring it might be worth skipping a meal.

A couple of times a meal was served while we were in port, but we got off the ship and had another couple of hours for sight seeing.

Friends or Acquaintances?

Some people like to make friends with other couples early in the cruise and stick with them, eating meals together.

For us we try and meet as many different people by dining with different people at each meal.

It’s really up to you.

Disclaimer I haven’t been paid, or received any benefit from this post.

Wondering About A Cruise?

Lots of people have said to me they wondered about going on a cruise for years before they actually went on one.

Does that describe you?

Trial Cruises

Why not look for a trial cruise of just a couple of nights to see for yourself, before committing to a cruise of a week or more ?

This week we looked on a cruise website and found several two night cruises for sale from our nearest port of Melbourne, Australia.

Some were for a circular voyage returning to Melbourne, others were for a short cruise to Sydney; which would mean you would need to fly back.


Image from Princess Cruises

Costs seemed very reasonable with twin share prices at around:

  • Au$ 350 per Person for an Inside cabin.
  • Au$ 500 per person for a Balcony.
  • Au$ 800 per person for a Suite.

As the price includes 5 meals, plus entertainment I would say it is well worthwhile trying in out.

You could also see if a drinks package suits you.

Avoid On Your Next Cruise

Your Cruise liner may look graceful sailing in a blue sea . . . . . but that doesn’t mean that everything is great.

The ship is really a floating town, and just like a town there are places that are best avoided.

Garbage Handling Area

The days of disposal of garbage at sea are long over.

Disposal of almost all garbage at sea now prohibited apart from specific exemptions.

That means that waste has to be collected, sorted, and either compacted, or incinerated.

All the smells of garbage, but having to do it in an enclosed area in the depths of the ship.

The Morgue

The average age on many of the cruises I have been on would be well over 60.

It’s no surprise therefore that due to natural causes,such as heart attacks there are deaths onboard.

Ships can be at sea for several days. so there is a need for a refrigerated area to preserve the body.

You won’t accidentally find your way there, as it will be is on the lower, crew-only decks.

The Brig

Behaving badly on a ship and you could find yourself confined to their cabin with a guard outside.

Commit a serious crimes however and you might be staying in the ‘Brig’ (Ship’s jail)

The high security brig will be close to the security office.

In will only be a short term stay as you well be removed from the ship at the next port and turned over to the local police.

Crew Bar

The crew work hard for long hours looking after the passengers.

Its only right then that they get a chance to relax so why not in a crew only bar where they can have break from customer service.

The drinks will be much cheaper than in the passenger bars, which is another reason why the owners don’t want to see you there

Why I Don’t Get A Drinks Package

Before we went on our first couple of cruises we spent hours discussing whether or not to have the alcohol drinks packages.

In the end we decided against it and having experienced cruising life we really feel for us it would have been a waste of money.


The cost of the packages vary from cruise line to cruise line but the break even point for the standard packages seems to be around the price of 6 drinks per person per day.

Some cruise lines it may be 6 drinks with gratuities included, others it may be 8 drinks but you may be expected to tip the staff.

How Much Will You Drink?

Well my wife and I are occasional drinkers, so at home we may have a couple of glasses a wine in the evening.

On holiday we may have a beer, or sometimes two, at lunch and perhaps an extra drink at night so that’s only to five drinks.

We certainly aren’t keen on drinking to ensure our moneys worth and getting a hangover every morning.

Cruises, with never ending food, are also bad for the waistline so the extra calories from more drinks are going to make the situation worse.

Packages Are Only For The Ship

An additional point we hadn’t appreciated until we were on the cruise is the fact that most days the ship was in port, so we were off exploring.

That mean’t that we would be having lunch in a local cafe or restaurant and buying a wine or beer with that meal.

With only evenings on the ship we would only have been having around 3 or 4 drinks on the package on most days of the holiday.