Shermanstravel Blog


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Cruise lines are reaching out to solo travelers like never before, with offerings like studio staterooms designed for one person, policies that lower or waive single supplement fees, and onboard meet-and-greets that facilitate new friendships. Here, the guide to solo cruising that our readers have been asking for:

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Tens of thousands of vacationers have embraced the idea of meandering along a river in ships that carry 200 people — or less — rather than dealing with crowds aboard the mega-cruise ships that accommodate thousands. The cozier atmosphere of river cruises originally attracted an older clientele, one that looking for cruises that deliver them closer to city centers, serve regional cuisines and locally produced wines, and provide small group excursions. But this mode of travel has grown more mainstream in recent years, beyond the niche market it had begun in.

Need proof of river cruising’s popularity? Just take a look at the numbers. The demand for river cruising has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. Viking River Cruises alone added 18 ships in Europe last year and in 2015 will debut another dozen, bringing its fleet to 64 vessels. Other lines such as AMA Waterways, Uniworld, and Avalon Waterways are adding to their fleets as well, albeit at a slower pace. River cruising has also been spreading quickly in Asia and is amping up in the States.

Whether you’ve already booked your cabins or are still contemplating a future trip, here are five river cruise basics you should know:

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River cruising finally seems to be taking off in the States, with sailings along the Mississippi river in the lead. The appeal, once you think about it, isn’t difficult to understand — it’s relatively easy and cheap to get to the various U.S. departure ports, and there’s something romantic and simply American about imagining yourself as a character in a Mark Twain novel. Here, some cruise lines that are reconnecting travelers to the rivers of the nation:

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Disney's Frozen-Themed Parade in OrlandoUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Disney’s animated film Frozen has become a global sensation since its release last year. It’s currently the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and the demand for film merchandise at Disney Stores led to the implementation of a limit of two items per guest. Guests hoping to meet the film’s animated stars, Anna and Elsa, in the Magic Kingdom have reported wait times of three to five hours.

Cashing in on the movie’s success, Disney is bringing more Frozen offerings to its parks this year, and even to its Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney vacation company in 2015. Here’s what’s brewing…

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Of all the vacation trip choices out there, cruising appears to have the greatest need to defend itself. Non-cruisers often are misinformed about shipboard life, landlubbers are anxious about the possibility of seasickness, and those who dislike closed spaces will avoid cruise ship cabins — just to name a few. But we think that these “obstacles” shouldn’t dissuade consumers from booking a vacation at sea. Here are five cruise myths, debunked:

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One of the best parts about taking a river cruise is that your home-away-from-home is docked right in the center of things, giving you the luxury of hopping out and exploring when there’s free time. And there will be plenty. Here’s how to make the most of it and explore a port town solo.

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MS Europa 2: Atrium, Reception.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, which has been operating in Europe since May of 2013, is bringing their luxury ship Europa 2 to the United States this coming December. Accommodating 500 passengers in 251 spacious veranda suites, the ship is billed as one of the most luxurious cruises in the world. It offers the largest space-per-passenger ratio in the industry for a once-in-a-lifetime, intimate cruising experience — no closet-sized cabins or 45-minute lines to get to shore here.

But what does this opulent experience include? Here’s a look at the costs, amenities, perks, and more. And even better, we’ve included some information about a great deal on this ship’s inaugural sailing.

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Sometimes, it seems hardly a week goes by without some negative publicity surrounding a cruise ship. Consumers hear about people falling overboard, getting robbed on an excursion, or experiencing some kind of safety-related incident. But cruise vacations generally are quite safe. Think about it this way: In contemporary cruising, where ships typically carry 3,000 to 5,000 passengers, the vessels are a lot like small cities — where there are thousands of people, there’s bound to be crime, but chances are it won’t happen to you.

Still, we understand where people might be worried, and when traveling it’s always good to have safety be top of mind. Consider these seven guidelines to help make your cruise vacation safe as well as fun.

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breakaway - norwegian cruise line - 620If you’re headed to New York City on your next getaway, why not get out on the water? Manhattan is an island, after all, and the city offers a wealth of boat tours and packages that will give you breathtaking views of the skyline and the harbor. Here are three of our favorites.

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It’s been said that boating is best enjoyed on a vessel that you aren’t responsible for. The good news is that there’s probably a marine ride with your name on it this summer, whether you’re in Maine or California or North Carolina. All aboard!

Maine to Nova Scotia: A few years back, ferry service between Bar Harbor, Maine and Nova Scotia, Canada was halted, forcing folks who wanted to travel between the two destinations drive approximately 12 hours. Now, the luxurious Nova Star has restored a link with much fanfare, from the far more populated hub of Portland in Maine. The journey still takes a good 10 hours, but guests can forget about highway merges and instead enjoy the onboard casino, three restaurants, spas, and 162 cabins (recommended especially for those departing from Maine, since that’s an overnight itinerary). For those who want to get active at the destination, there’s plenty of room for bringing bicycles, automobiles, and even tractor-trailers aboard. The service runs daily through November 2, from $79 all the way up to $139 per person in the height of summer. Onboard cabins accommodate up to four and cost $79-$249.

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tuxedo - steven depoloCruise ticket? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Camera? Check.

Tuxedo… ?

For many cruise passengers, formal nights on cruise ships are festive occasions that call for getting all dressed up, having a portrait taken by a ship photographer, and swirling into the dining room like a celebrity on the red carpet. But others, puzzled about what to wear (or who don’t want to change out of comfy shorts and T-shirts), avoid formal nights altogether.

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Bonnet House via David Warren - 620You’re bound to pass through Fort Lauderdale at some point. Whether you’re laying over on your way to the Caribbean or South America, or using it as your departure point for a cruise, this sprawling beach town has plenty of its own charms. You could easily spend a full week exploring, but it’s also possible to have rich, relaxing experience in just a few hours. Here are itineraries for one, three, and five hours in Fort Lauderdale.

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©2012 Red Square, Inc.

When anyone comes to us looking for a summer deal, we’ll always point them to getaways in the Caribbean. Summer either means high heat or rain showers, and then there are the risks inherent during hurricane season, which lasts from September to November. Of course, this means great deals all around, as long as you’re open-minded to a bit of unpredictability and can schedule your beach outing around the weather. Whether you’re looking for dirt cheap vacations or unbelievable luxury for less, these 10 deals for summer and fall run the gamut:

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Bucharest LacrimiCruise passengers heading to the Black Sea this fall might notice a change in their itineraries: due to the political unrest in Ukraine, Silversea cruises in particular is proposing an alternate route, including a “bonus” excursion in Bucharest. Two hours inland from the Black Sea, the capital is not only a necessary stop for anyone interested in Eastern European culture — it’s also in the midst of a substantial renaissance. Here are four things to do next time you find yourself in the “Paris of the East.”
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wine bottles - Steven Depolo - 620Frangelico liqueur from Italy, dark rum from Barbados, tequila from Mexico. One of the perks of cruising is the ability to buy alcoholic beverages at ports of call close to where the products are made, and at prices much lower than at home. Unfortunately, that’s not a way to save money on alcoholic beverages on board. Most cruise lines require that passengers turn over newly purchased liquor for storage until they disembark. Luckily, there’s a little-known policy that makes it possible for cruisers who do want to enjoy some libations do so without paying a huge premium.

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