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.

Travelling With Medications

For many years we didn’t have to bother about travelling with medicines, but as we have got older we both need to take pills daily.

Usually its not a problem travelling domestically, travelling internationally it can be a little more complicated.

Law Enforcement

Laws on drugs vary considerably between countries, particularly if you are taking a narcotic drug.

Although it’s unlikely you’ll be stopped and questioned about your medications, it is a possibility.

You never know if a search dog may pick you out.

Proof that you have been prescribed the medication will make the situation easier.


The easiest way of providing evidence that you are entitled to the medicine is the original box, or bottle, with the pharmacists label.

In Australia it can sometimes be easier to get some low risk medication without a prescription, but if you are going to be travelling it might be better to make sure you get that sticker!

If you are taking very strong drugs it may be useful to also get a letter from your doctor.

Creams and Lotions

With the restrictions on liquids etc on international travel you need to think very carefully about this.

Only take small containers in your carry-on with larger containers in checked bags.

Losing Medicines

Minimise the risk of losing medicines by always having them in your carry on and taking a couple of weeks extra in case there is a delay in returning home.

Make sure you have a record of the details (such as a photo of the pharmacy tag) so you can get replacements if your carry-on is stolen.

Medical Emergencies

If you have a medical emergency, having the details of your medicines will help a doctor determine the best treatment for you. 

Niagara Falls

Niagara is certainly one of those iconic tourist destinations that doesn’t disappoint.

American Falls

We were very pleased to have allowed a full day for our trip to Niagara, and that we had booked both day and evening tours.

There is lots to see and the tours manage to fit in all the key elements, including many great viewing areas, without feeling too rushed.

The Falls

Horseshoe Falls

I am sure I’m not the only one who didn’t realise there were three waterfalls.

As well as the Horseshoe and American Falls there is the smaller but still impressive Wedding Veil Falls.

A must is a trip on one of the Maid of the Mist boats.

At Night

The falls look different again at night as they are illuminated by coloured floodlights.

There is also an impressive firework display during the main tourist season.

Niagara Travel Hack

Bridal Veil Falls

If you have got a good rain jacket wear that rather than those cheap ponchos that get handed out.

You can spot me in the Bridal Veil photo because I am the one wearing the red raincoat rather than an anonymous poncho.

I also noticed that the poncho wasn’t much use when you got on the Hurricane Deck as the polythene rips easily.

Meanwhile I stayed completely dry.

What Are Your Points Worth

As I know a fair bit about One World Awards, through QANTAS Frequent Flyer points I will concentrate on those.

Based on my experience from other airlines including Star Alliance and Sky Team however I have found most loyalty schemes are very similar.

The points value depends on what you want to buy.

N.B.Values updated to reflect announced changes in June 2019

Worst Value

Buying gifts or gift vouchers is the worst value.

I would get an email every week with offers from the Qantas gift shop to buy luggage, cameras, electrical goods,etc; using my points.

When I check the points against local discount store prices it looks like its around one cent (AU$0.01) for every 2 points.

About the only time I would look at buying something from an airline ‘shop’ would be if the points were set to expire, and I was unable to book a flight,

Better Value

Buying an economy flight with ‘Classic Awards’ is much better value.

Although you will still have to pay Taxes and ‘Carrier Charges’ each point is worth between 1.5 – 2 cents (AU$0.015 – 0.02)

N.B. The points value if using ‘Points plus Pay’ is generally around half the ‘Classic’ award rates (not much better that gifts) although there is better availability of flights.

Best Value

The best value on a strictly points for cash basis is either, buying Higher Class tickets, or asking for an upgrade after buying an economy fare.

The cash equivalent of a point when spent like this can be around 5 cents (AU$0.05)

The problem is that very few Business Class seats are released for Frequent Flyers which makes them fairly hard to get.

When I had higher (Gold Status) it was easier to get upgraded tickets.


Understanding the value of points means you can better compare collecting points compared with other discounts you may be offered.

Driving From The Airport

People worry about the risk of a plane crashing but probably the riskiest part of their travels is driving from the Airport.

Generally the only time I drive from an airport is in places I know well. and when I don’t have to drive more than an hour.


Just got off a long haul flight? . . . . . . Before you rush of to the car rental kiosk think about whether any, or even all of the following will apply to you.

  • Don’t know the roads.
  • Not sure where you are going.
  • Don’t know the road rules.
  • Might be driving on the opposite side of the road.
  • Tired.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster for me.

You might be better checking in a hotel and hiring a car the next morning.

Home Country

Well you may be familiar with the driving but the problem of tiredness isn’t to be underestimated.

Particularly if you live 3 or 4 hours from the airport.

With two of us driving we make sure that we swap drivers more often than we otherwise would.

By myself I stop at least every hour and ‘Power Nap’ at the first sign of drowsiness.

Probably the most dangerous part of the drive is when you are on the most familiar roads.

I have heard a few people say “I was almost home and started to relax, the next thing I remember was waking up as the car ran off the road!”

The Tranz Alpine

Last year we spent a couple of weeks on the South Island of New Zealand.

As a train enthusiast one part of the holiday which was a must was a trip on the Tranz Alpine train.

Kiwi Rail runs a daily return trip across the top of the island from Christchurch on the East Coast, to Greymouth on the West Coast; taking five hours each way.

The train is very comfortable with huge windows, a buffet area, and an open air viewing carriage.

The scenery really lived up to the publicity as one of the worlds great railway journeys; as you can see from the photographs.

Although many people do the return journey in a day we decided to break the trip with an overnight stay in Greymouth as an 11 hour day seemed a bit too long.

Greymouth itself was a little disappointing as it is a port town, well past its heyday.

If you like a beer the Monteith’s Brewhouse in the town is well worth a visit to sample the beers and have a tasty meal.

Travel Hack

My recommendation would be to use the train for one way travel only, and drive back to Christchurch over the mountains, or do some touring on the West Coast.