BOB'S cruises & tours's Blog

Even though Sydney is one of the most well-known cities in the world, it is in Canberra where the seat of government is located. read more

The Kenya and Tanzania group has been back now for a month and no doubt, what they saw, felt and experienced is sinking in. Our new BOB'S cruises & tours bulletin cover is a photo taken at a school located in the Masai Mara (Kenya)  and Bob's message provides a bit of an insight to what was experienced during this incredible visit. 

It is a beautiful story because so many of the children who experience difficulties almost daily, and who live without the basics we take for granted, embraced our guests with big smiles, laughter and hugs. Heather (Bob's wife) found it all quite emotional as we believe a lot of our guests did. Although the group brought gifts from Canada and graciously donated $500, we think the ones who were really gifted, were our guests.

Ken Cenzura, one of the guests of the tour, has graciously given us permission to use his photos. Not only will the guests re-live a little of their trip, perhaps it will entice others to visit the magical countries of Kenya and Tanzania. 

Take a look at the images in the 'photo' section of our website and feel free to add your own, or any other photos from a BOB'S cruises & tours, trip. 

 

 

 

So many things to remember!

Once you’ve booked your flight or reserved your spot on a cruise, you realize there are still a dozen or so important details to take care of before you leave.

That’s why we put together this handy travel checklist to help you stay organized and stress-free. 

1) Call your Credit Card Company and/or Bank to let them know you’re leaving the country. 

Most have anti-fraud services in place, so if foreign withdraws start popping up in your account a red flag is going to go off and your account might be frozen. Let them know where you’re going and how long you’ll be there.

2) Place a stop or hold on mail and deliveries

A pile of newspapers on your front lawn is a clear message to thieves that you’re away from home.

3) Write down emergency numbers 

… For you and for those back home. Give family, friends, neighbors and/or house sitters a way to reach you should an emergency occur. This includes both your new cell number if you’re using a SIM card and the number and address of the hotel you’re staying at.

For yourself: write down any numbers you might need during your trip. This includes family, friends, Doctor, bank, credit card companies and sitters. If you’re friendly with your neighbors ask them to keep an eye on your place.

4) Prep your home. 

If you have a security system this is the time to use it. Set some lights in and around your place on a timer to make it look like someone is home.

Throw out all garbage and go through your fridge for food that will expire. I also highly recommend cleaning up your place before you go. There’s something to be said about coming home to a clean and tidy home after a long trip.

If you have lawn or pool maintenance, either put the service on hold or let the company know you will be out of town. Turn your thermostat off or set it at a base temperature that will keep your pets and plants alive and healthy.

5) Set up pet care. 

Figure out if a friend can watch your pets from their home, or if they can come over regularly to take care of them. For more info, check out the Lazy Traveler’s Guide to Leaving Pets at Home.

6) If you’re bringing your laptop, back up all data before you go.

Use a cloud backup service like Syncplicity (2GB free) or Dropbox (also 2GB free). You can also save stuff to your Google account in Google Docs.

Clean out the memory card on your camera and save those to your computer or an online program (like our Travel Photos feature!)

7) Learn the basics of the local language. 

8) Pack maps, guides and public transportation schedules.

Do some research beforehand about your destination so you know what you want to see while you’re there. Tentatively plan out the first few days - you don’t need a rigid schedule but rather a loose idea of the sights, restaurants and other local spots you want to check out. Remember - this is something we can help you with if you plan and book with us!

9) Check the weather.

Especially if you’re not familiar with your destination, it’ll help you determine what to pack.

10) Pack only essentials - it will save you stress! 

  • The minimum amount of clothes that can be easily mixed and matched throughout the trip. 
  • Extra contact lenses, lens solution & glasses. 
  • Camera, batteries & recharger. 
  • Voltage converter, small flashlight, cell phone & charger. 
  • Any RX, vitamins & anti-diarrheal medications.

If you have a medical condition that might cause some delay at the airport (like a metal implant or liquid insulin capsules) bring the appropriate doctors note. Meet with your Doctor before your trip and ask for a written or typed, formal note on the Doctor stationary with the Doctor’s signature at the bottom. The note should be as specific as possible.

If you have a disabilty, let the airline know ahead of time. For every official staff member that asks for your ID, show them your paperwork proving your disability or condition.

11) Pack your carry-on. 

Make sure you have your identification, credit card(s), flight tickets and hotel reservation information / confirmation numbers. If you have them, bring your list of frequent flier numbers and any insurance cards. Don’t bring any more credit cards than you need to. Buy quart-size zipped lock bags if you plan to bring any liquids (under 3oz).

12) Get some cash. 

You should bring credit cards too, but always try to have some cash on you for cab fees and other incidentals. Find out what the local currency is and try to bring some if you can.

 

Bookmark this page for your next trip!

The port of Lisbon plays host to more than 250,000 cruise passengers a year and with good reason!!!!

There are so many things for cruise passengers to see and do in Lisbon once you're on dry land.

Given the fact that the port is located on the Tagus estuary in downtown Lisbon, the activites are almost endless. Be sure to also check out the Lisbon Oceanarium, the Jeronimos Monastery and the Maritime Museum.

Of course, there are always excursions to take so make time to check out some of the most popular ones, such as a visit to Fatima in the Calley of Cova da Iria, which is the site of the Virgin Mary's alleged appearance in 1917. Or you can relax on the sunny coast of Estoril and discover why this spot was the inspiration for the movie, "Casino Royale."

There is an abundance of things to do and see in the Port of Lisbon, so don't think - just pack!

Let Bob's Cruises take care of the all the details!!!

 

 

Cultural norms can vary drastically from country to country, and even among different regions within the same country. 

Take Italy for example. The South is a little more laid-back, and has a few particular traditions and superstitions not commonly found in the North. For example, it's considered back luck for four people to shake hands at the same time - forming a cross. Many older Italians will wait until the first party is finished shaking hands before putting forth their hand.

This tip and many others you can find on GotSaga.com - World's Most-Visited Countries - Travel Etiquette. Author Lee goes through 8 popular travel destinations and names some of the most relevant cultural etiquette you'll want to know for your next trip. Check it out!

Tipping on a cruise can be confusing: how much gratuity has been included in the package? Is it evenly distributed among the staff? When do I tip? Here are some tips to tip appropriately while on a cruise.

Most standard cruise packages set up your shipboard account with an extra (usually $10) gratuity fee per person, per day - and thus no tipping is required.

Or is it? Some luxury cruises have a no-tipping policy, but in many the cruise staff heavily depend on tips as part of their income. Automatically included gratuity picked up steam with an influx of European and Asian cruise travelers, unfamiliar with tipping customs in Canada and the States.

This is common on more luxury-type cruises. Some cruises allow passengers to opt out of the automatic service charge, leaving it up to their independent discretion as to who and when to tip. On more commercial cruise lines tipping cash is acceptable and recommended.

The automatic gratuity does help ensire more evenly distributed tips among the crew. Some of the service staff who work in the breakfast or snack areas aren’t tipped and instead depend on tip sharing with other staff and the automatic gratuity charged to passengers.

It is customary to tip cabin stewards, butlers, dining room servers and assistant servers on the last night of the cruise. You also can tip dining staff every night about $5. For cabin stewards you can give $5 a night and bartenders $1 per drink. The maître d’ does not need to be tipped.

A good estimate for your tipping budget is around 10% the cost of the cabin, so something like $15-20 per person, per day. Envelopes are sometimes left in cabins, or can be picked up at the Cruise Information Center.

Ultimately, tip according to what feels right for you. Gratuity can save you some hassle, like having enough cash to tip with on board. But tipping may help to build more personal relationships with the staff that serves you and your family on vacation. 

And if you have any questions - don't hesitate to contact one of our agents! We know the industry inside and out and want to ensure a smooth, worry-free trip for you. 

Jodi Thompson of CruiseCritic.com brought up this concern: Why Late-Comers to the Main Dining Room Leave a Bad Taste

The issue is this: late-comers to mealtime on a cruise delays service for others as well, putting those who arrived on time behind schedule and possibly late for a show they had planned to attend after dinner.

Is this fair? The obvious answer is no, but most cruise lines are reluctant to enforce a cut-off time and turn away late-comers. You can also make the case that those with plans after dinner should simply change tables or skip dessert, but some old-time cruisers believe this does not address the larger problem.

One commenter summer is up quite nicely:

"Rule and guidelines are in place for a reason, and that is because while one issue may seem like nothing to one person it may be a very big deal to somebody else. Therefore, as a courtesy to other travelers and the staff everyone should follow the rules and guidelines that are in place." - CA girl in TX

What do you think? Should cruisers be able to come and go as they please or is there a line to draw for the greater good?

We all love a good cruise, but who can stand getting those itemized bills at the end, full of nickel-and-dime surcharges and fees that almost come out to what you paid in the first place.

I think I’ve actually paid $25 for a misplaced towel. Pretty awful.

It’s time to fight back. Here’s how you avoid those surprises and keep your money where it belongs - with you.  

Firewater

Alcoholic beverages are not included in your cruise fare. So if a $10 highball doesn’t appeal to you, BYOB. Most cruise lines allow one bottle of wine per person. Bring it to dinner and pay a small corkage fee.  

Consider getting a drink voucher. Compare prices first - how much per drink vs. drink pass, and decide accordingly.

The Captain’s Party and the Welcome Back party for return cruisers are exceptions to this, so be sure not to miss out on free cocktails! 

Plan Your Own Excursions

Sure, it’s convenient that the ship sets up day trips onshore, but with some planning, you can put together your own excursion at a fraction of the cost. Sometimes just exploring is better than being herded around en masse (make sure you get back to the ship on time - they will leave without you!).

 

Check prices ahead of time on the cruise line’s website, or consult one of our expert travel consultants for the best deals. 

 

Spare the Spa

If you can’t go without, wait for special promotions to be announced during port days. If you go during the day tours, you can probably get reduced rate treatments. Ask around!

Turn Off Your Cell Phone

Seriously. You'll pay like $3 a minute. Ship-to-shore can be $10 a minute. Holy mackerel!, right? You might as well just pretend your cell phone doesn’t exist.

Also, skip out on the internet package. They can be a few hundred dollars and for what? To check your email? Use the internet cafes instead wherever you dock. 

Casino

Don’t head toward the ship’s casino thinking you’ll win back your cruise fare. Your odds here are worse than in an onshore casino because it’s mostly unregulated. Set aside some money and be okay with losing it.

Watch What You Eat

Food is included, but many cruises now offer separate, fancy dinners for $20-$30 a pop. Not worth it!

However if you do want to try one out, wait a night or two and chat with other passengers for feedback and comparisons.

And take advantage of room service - it’s included FREE of charge. Order up some juice in the morning, or a cheese platter to go with your personal wine bar.

Bonus!

The easiest way to save money on your next cruise is by booking with Bob's Cruises. Not only can we take care of all your travel arrangements, but we can plan and book your trip around your budget and and interests. Just contact us for more information.