Sunday, October 29, 2017 | 3
THE COURIER | THE GOOD LIFE
What cruise newbies
NEED TO KNOW
F The Lotte New York Palace Hotel, where the Cedar Valley group stayed, is perfectly situated in midtown Manhattan for walks to major attractions. bucket list of about 8 destinations they want to visit in retirement. About 1/3 of boomers surveyed say they’re reluctant to travel because of security concerns and world events. A third of boomers say world events and security concerns make them reluctant to travel. Joining a reputable tour is one way of easing some of those concerns, plus everything has been organized and arranged to create more of a sense of effortless travel. In addition to visiting art museums, galleries and architectural wonders, Kelley’s tour groups have ridden the bullet train to Nice and the French Rivera, explored Roman cathedrals, sampled wine under the Tuscan sun, painted Venetian carnival masks, stayed at the Frank Gehry-designed Marques de Riscal hotel in Elciego, Spain and admired French Impressionist Claude Monet’s extensive gardens at Giverny. Humble Travel is a member of Virtuoso luxury travel service, which has given Humble excellent contacts and connections for locations around the world, and she also has traveled extensively. “These tours have developed a following. Gary does an amazing job. We sit down and discuss what would be a good fit, what people are in-
terested in, and then come up with an itinerary with a piece of artwork that Gary does. We use that artwork as the theme for the whole trip,” Humble explains. The next European trip will be announced in August or September 2018. The next U.S. tour is the “Shades of La-La Land tour” to Santa Monica, the title for the artwork Kelley created. Both Humble and Kelley have developed new social circles through the journeys. “There are groups of people I didn’t know before we traveled together, and now we’ve all become friends. We have a lot of fun on these trips, and at the same time, people have time to take off on their own,” Kelley explains. Although he’s enormously enjoyed the European excursions, his New York trip will “probably go down as my favorite trip. Linda and I have been going there for years, so we knew a lot of places that are off the beaten path. We also took a day trip to the Culinary Institute and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park, then finished the trip on the last night with a group dinner at the Society of Illustrators in New York City,” where Kelley is a hall of fame member. And, of course, the artist always keeps his sketchbook handy.
irst-time cruisers have a lot to wrap their heads around. There are hundreds of cruise lines out there, and sifting through the options — like the themes (“The Walking Dead”) destinations (Caribbean, Alaska, Mediterranean, Asia?) and even ship sizes (travel on the largest cruise ship in the world!) — can be overwhelming. But here’s a little secret: Even cruise experts rely on travel agents to find the right fit. Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-at-large at CruiseCritic.com, estimates that she’s been on more than 300 cruises and she still depends on her travel agent to help book the right one. “I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t, because it takes all the hassle out,” she says. Whether you’re a newbie or an aficionado, Spencer Brown has some useful insights on choosing the right cruise and other issues to consider before you embark.
Always arrive a day early: You don’t want to miss your cruise because of a travel snag, such as weather or a missed flight. Plan ahead so that you’re there well in advance of embarking.
Don’t limit your options at port to the shore excursion menu shared by the cruise, Spencer Brown says. There’s no need to board a giant bus or stick with the crowd. Another idea while at port: Stay on the ship. “You don’t have to wait in line for anything,” Spencer Brown says. “It’s so lovely to be on a ship when there’s nobody else on it.”
is incredible variety to cruises, with transoceanic options, river cruises, luxury lines, expedition cruises and more.
Determine your travel style and what you’re looking for Plan ahead to manage seasickness: If seasickness is a before booking: Spencer Brown says the key is to find a cruise concern, Spencer Brown suggests that’s a good match for your va- starting out with a river cruise, cation expectations. because there’s land on both sides and you’re not dealing with the There are cruises for fitness motion of an open sea. fanatics, partyers, foodies, comic lovers, spring breakers, seniors Know that introverts can and just about anything else you cruise, too: But they should could imagine, so choose wisely. consider their personality when selecting a cabin. Those who will Don’t be fooled by cruise or need quiet time and space may cruiser stereotypes: Regard- want to spend for a larger room less of the perceptions of cruising, and maybe a balcony, so they’re the trip is what you make of it. comfortable when they retreat Cruises have evolved over the and recharge. If you don’t expect years, and you can find gorgeous, to spend much time in your room, spacious cabins (for an additional go ahead and get the least-exfee); balconies are less expensive pensive option. than you might think; excellent cuisine and wine are now part of Take charge of your land (and sea) adventures: the cruising lifestyle; and there
Pack wisely and leave room in the suitcase: Make sure you’ve saved some room in your bags for souvenirs, says Spencer Brown, who adds that she has needed to buy new suitcases on trips to accommodate her new finds. If you’re traveling with kids, visit the kids club right away: For families, a cruise is like a camp where children get the chance to meet friends from around the world.
Use technology to make advance plans: Today, technology allows you to book in advance, so you can reserve a massage and a blowout weeks before and relax when you get on the ship.