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Alicante is no longer just seen as an airport town, but now more and more as a tourist attraction in its own right.

Alicante is more than merely a runway

Alicante is more than merely a runwayAlicante is perhaps best known as the gateway to the Costa Blanca, famed more for its airport than for the tourist trapping provided by more familiar neighbours, Benidorm and Denia. Most visitors to Alicante use the town as an arrival and departure point, not stopping long enough to see what the area has to offer. But whilst the bright lights of the aforementioned neighbours beckon for most, Alicante is beginning to garner a reputation for having more to offer than the biggest airport for charter flights in Spain.Alicante offers a more subtle break in the Costa Blanca. The beaches and coastal attractions remains constant in the region, but the area is slightly more laid back than its noisy neighbour. Alicante has moved upmarket in recent years with a multitude of exclusive restaurants and bars popping up around the marina and commercial port area. The boulevard meanders pleasantly past the marina and beachfront area which merges into the charming Old Quarter. From a pleasant base in Alicante, Costa Blanca offers much to the more discerning tourist. The church at Altea is renowned and presents one of the most enduring and symbolic sights in the Costa Blanca. The regions old towns are typically a mix of traditional Christian and Moorish architecture with narrow, cobbled streets and plazas offering a pleasant atmosphere to while away the hours ( http://www.costablanca.org )Further South lie Murcia and Valencia a thriving modern city which has benefited from regeneration in recent years. Valencia is a cosmopolitan city which juxtaposes the traditional and modern features of Spain in miniature form. Alicante provides the ideal base for exploration of the region. The town offers a fine tourism infrastructure itself but the best way to explore the Costa Blanca is by self drive. There are several options for those willing to travel out with Alicante to discover the Costa Blanca on their own terms. The reliable train service meanders up and down the coast, taking in Altea and Denia as well as the bright lights of Benidorm. For a more authentic experience, hire cars are readily available (http://www.easycar.com/aspx/car-hire/location/Alicante.aspx/EN ). Driving in the region has much to offer with pleasant coastal roads allowing you to explore on your own terms. The roads are generally safe, but some of the more mountainous areas should be traversed with some additional caution. When you have clocked up the miles and soaked in all that the region has to offer, Alicante provides a relaxed and pleasant base to unwind in. Unless you fancy a night on the town amid the bright lights of Benidorm, that is.

Been There, Done That Cruising Tips From Seasoned Travelers

Been There, Done That  Cruising Tips From Seasoned Travelers

If you are cruising for the first time congratulations! You are in for a unique, worthwhile experience. As a newbie, though, you probably have questions about some of the dos and donts of traveling aboard a cruise ship. Luckily, there are many die-hard cruisers who are happy to share some tips to make your first time more rewarding. Before You Leave Home: Have a friend or neighbour take in your mail daily. Accumulating mail is a big sign to thieves and other troublemakers that no one is home. You could also have your mail held at the post office until you return. Set your lights on timers so that it appears someone is home to deter troublemakers. Tell your neighborhood community patrol to make a few extra passes by your home while you are away. Preprint labels and stamps if you plan to mail postcards out while you are on your cruise. This saves some time and you wont have to lug around an awkward address book. Money Matters: Stock up on travelers checks since they are replaceable if lost or stolen. To expedite the replacements should your travelers checks be lost or stolen, write down the serial numbers and put them in a safe and separate place. That way, it makes the banks job a little easier and speed up the process for your replacements. Keep a handy supply of small denominational bills, usually ones and fives. Tipping is appreciated for porters and stewards at both the airport and docking pier of the ship. This is especially important in foreign countries. Horror stories abound about stolen or lost bags that never make it to the ship. Sometimes, you have got to grease their palms with cash. Its a small price to pay for having your clothing and toiletries aboard for your cruise. To avoid long lines at the end of your cruise, check out your ending invoice on your account. Check for any errors and resolve them as soon as possible. There is no sense adding the stress of standing in line to pay your final tab after you just had a relaxing vacation. Take a few rubber bands with you to wrap around your wallet. The rubber will grab onto your clothing. This makes it very difficult for a pickpocket to part with your wallet without you feeling it. Kid Stuff: If you are traveling with babies or toddlers, paper throwaway bibs are perfect for protecting your child from stains and messes at meal times, thus prolonging the wear of their clothing. Bring a collapsible stroller for your young child. The cruise ship is a happening place and before long you will hear the strains of Im tired! Carry me! This is exhausting to parents. With a stroller, you can just pop your kid inside and roll on. Pack a few portable, self contained snacks for your child like peanut butter or cheese crackers. These will come in handy and are much cheaper than buying some once you are cruising or at port. Odds and Ends: Throw inside your suitcase a few of those annoying plastic shopping bags that you usually get from the grocery store. These are handy for storing dirty clothing. If you have an inside cabin, take a nightlight with you. Darkness is not fun when you are in a strange room. No sense running into walls or stubbing your toe if you can avoid it. Little maglight keychain flash lights are handy too. Bring a little first aid kits for those minor emergencies. Wet wipes are handy too for those instance were a sink isnt handy. There are literally hundreds of cruise tips that can save the sanity of newbie travelers. Think of those little shortcuts or ideas that you use at home. Decide if they are adaptable to the cruise ship. The less you have to worry about, the more relaxed you will be after your cruise.

There's something for everyone in Alaska

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Alaska has been a cruise lovers' favourite for many years. Many cities and sites are inaccessible by road, and a cruise ship provides passengers with a view of many natural wonders that cannot be seen from land. Over 750,000 cruise passengers will sail Alaskan waters during the short 5 month cruise season, attracted by the prospects of seeing towering glaciers, charming small towns, and all manner of wildlife. The sheer ease of cruise travel is one reason for its popularity. You take in the scenery from your ship, disembarking to visit ports of call or to engage in sports activities. This compares to less than 40,000 who visit Antarctica during its short cruise season. Sixteen major cruise lines will send more than 40 diverse ships to Alaska, ranging in size from 12 passengers to over 2600! Ships sail roundtrip from Vancouver or Seattle to the southeast panhandle of Alaska. Cruises usually include famous Glacier Bay National Park, home of 16 magnificent glaciers. More cruise ships than ever are sailing Alaskan waters. Alaska is one cruise destination that is very high on most cruise lovers' list. Alaska's cruise season generally runs from May through September, although some smaller ships start up in April. May and September are considered the shoulder seasons, when lower rates and more aggressive discounts are offered. Summer is the big vacation season in the northwest, and many non-cruisers also choose to head to this beautiful part of the world. Cruisers go to Alaska to see the magnificent mountains, beautiful bays, and wonderful wildlife.Many cruisers realise that if you love nature, you might be able to appreciate it more on a small ship. There is a wonderful variety of small ships sailing to Alaska, and each has something special to offer cruise lovers. Small or alternative ships are best suited for people who prefer a casual, crowd-free experience that offers passengers a chance to get up close and personal with Alaska's natural surroundings and wildlife.On the other hand, the megaships look and feel like floating resorts. Big on glitz, they offer loads of activities, attract many families and seniors, offer fancy casinos and fully equipped gyms, and provide a wide variety of meal and entertainment options.Over the last few years, the number of Alaska shore excursions and activities available for cruise passengers has doubled. Today, shore options are focusing more than ever on adventure and outdoors activities: Kayaking, bicycling, dog sledding, river rafting and sport fishing are possible in the scenic wilderness of this great state, alongside more traditional tours focusing on culture and history.Juneau, the capital of Alaska, has a great variety of things to see and do. A number of memorials are situated along the waterfront and boardwalk and the famous Red Dog Saloon is nearby; state and city museums and government buildings are a short walk, with shops all along the way. Mendenhall Glacier, a 20 minute drive from downtown, is the most accessible glacier to any town on the Inside Passage. Active adventures abound in Juneau. This is an excellent spot for whale watching, wildlife viewing, kayaking and river rafting. Some whale watching companies actually offer cash refund if you don't see a humpback or orca whale during your tour.Sitka, on Baranof Island, has one of the most picturesque settings of any Alaskan port. Sitka is the former Russian capital of Alaska, which combines native culture, Russian history and Alaskan wilderness.Famous for the Klondike Gold Rush, Skagway is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Skagway is known as the "Garden City of Alaska". Garden enthusiasts should visit Jewell Gardens, which includes a miniature town site and train within the gardens. The gold rush cemetery is a fascinating spot just a short walk from town.Every spring and summer, a spectacle blooms unlike anything else on Earth - Alaska cruising means thundering glaciers, temperate rainforests, rugged coastlines, majestic peaks, untamed wildlife, and so much more.

A Cruise Ship Review Of The New 2006 Cruise Line Offerings For Your Cruise Vacation

A Cruise Ship Review Of The New 2006 Cruise Line Offerings For Your Cruise Vacation

If you are a veteran cruiser or just curious about cruising, the year 2006 will be introducing many new cruise ships for you to consider when planning a cruise vacation. Call your travel agent and ask about the cruise lines and their new "cruise ships" and then book a cruise vacation. Here is a cruise review of the new " "cruise line" " additions.Holland America is introducing the Noordam. This new cruise ship was launched on February 22 and has been getting very good cruise reviews. It will be the last cruise ship of Holland Americas Vista-class series. However, it is the first to be designed for the cruise lines Signature of Excellence program.The Noordam can accommodate 1,848 passengers. For this "new cruise ship" , there have been some design changes to enhance the cruise vacation. The new designs were focused mainly on the public areas and staterooms, the meeting point of many cruise travelers. They have made additions to the very popular Explorations Cafe. As veteran cruise travelers are well aware, it is a coffee bar/Internet cafe, game room, and library. NCL Americas Pride of Hawaii is the newest cruise ship for 2006 by NCL America. It is the sister vessel of the Norwegian Jewel and offers an excellent cruise vacation.For the cruise line, Pride of Hawaii marks the first new build from the hull up. It launched was in June. This cruise ship will accommodate 2,224 passengers. It will be another cruise ship in NCL Americas Freestyle Cruising concept being offered for your cruise vacation. The Pride of Hawaiis interior decor will be, of course, Hawaiian. This cruise ship will be departing weekly on Mondays for your cruise vacation and travel the islands, calling Honolulu home.In December the Norwegian Pearl is set to sail in the Caribbean in the winter months and Alaska in the summer months for your cruise vacations. One of their innovations is the Bar Central concept. It features a martini bar, a champagne bar, wine bar, and a beer and whiskey pub all connected.The Royal Caribbeans Freedom of the Seas was launched in May in time for summer cruise vacations. Cruise reviews call it the most innovative cruise ship for RCCL so far.This 158,000-ton cruise ship has a capacity of 3,600 passengers. It will actually be 10,000 tons larger than Cunards Queen Mary 2. It will be the largest cruise ship to be built so far. The Freedom of the Seas has an added feature that other cruise ships do not. It actually has a place to surf on the top cruise deck. This is a new and unique amenity for RCCLs Freedom of the Seas cruise ship. Other cruise lines have virtual golf or movies under the stars but no one has a surf park. The cruise line has built the largest rock climbing wall ever.Following its launching, the Freedom of the Seas will sail seven-day cruise vacations to the Caribbean from Miami.The Crown Princess, Princess Cruises christened in June. The Crown Princess is expected to accommodate 3,110 cruise travel passengers with 1200 crew. Princess Cruises lines redesigned the Skywalkers Disco, which gained popularity from cruise passengers on their cruise vacations. They also have the Lotus Spa which has been expanded on the Crown Princess.New pastries and snacks will adorn the International Cafe. Crown Princess will have the first ever wine and seafood bar of the entire cruise line. Expansions were made to other popular features like the Wheelhouse Bar, Sabatinis Trattoria, and the Sterling Steakhouse. Crown Princess cruise vacations will sail roundtrip from the Red Hook terminal in New York. This cruise vacation will make stops in the Eastern Caribbean, Bermuda and Turks and Caicos.MSC will launched their new cruise ship MSC Musica on July 01. Musica is an Italian ship that will bring MSC into the ranks of big cruise ships. It is expected to accommodate 2,550 passengers. One of its outstanding features will be that a full 80% of its 1,275 staterooms will be outside rooms. In addition, 65% of these staterooms will have verandas. It will also feature a large spa area. The Musicas cruise passengers will also have several dining options. They will enjoy a three deck high waterfall and many different entertainment venues.Musica will sail the eastern Mediterranean from Venice.The Costa Cruises new ship the Costa Concordia is owned by Carnival Corporation based in Miami, while Costa cruise lines is based in Italy. This will be the largest cruise ship to join the Costa Cruises fleet. It will be launched late this year on July 14. It is expected to accommodate 3,000 passengers. The Costa Concordia will have an European theme for its interior decor. All the rooms names will be European inspired. They will have the Grand Bar Berlin, Cafeteria Helsinki, and the Milan and Rome dining rooms. A unique amenity to the Costa Concordia is a Formula 1 driving simulator for cruise passengers to enjoy on their cruise vacation. This new cruise ship will sail year round in the Western Mediterranean. For those taking their cruise vacation on this ship, they will make ports of call in Spain, France, Italy, Gibraltar, and Malta.So much to choose from! Check out other cruise reviews of these new cruise ships to find out on which cruise ship you will spend your 2006 cruise vacation.Happy Cruising!Copyright Mary Hanna, All Rights Reserved.This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

How To Book Your First Cruise

For those who are thinking about getting on board a cruise ship, here are five considerations for your first cruise. 1. Cruise lines have distinct personalities. It's good to know which crowd each line caters to. Discriminating travelers pay a premium to indulge aboard such luxury lines as Radisson Seven Seas and Silversea. More affordable luxury can be found aboard Crystal. Holland America ships are refined and exude class. Princess is both posh and pioneering. Disney beckons the whole family. Carnival boasts a fleet of "fun ships".2. Timing is everything. The time of year you cruise dictates a lot. Cruises during summer and holiday school breaks will always have more children and families. Booking cruises well in advance of their sailing date can often translate into significant savings. Sailing in a region during its slow season (i.e. the Caribbean in summer) is usually less expensive as well.3. Ship size matters. Smaller ships (500 passengers or less) provide an intimate environment that often features highly personalized service and unique itineraries. Medium-size ships (between 500 and 1,000 passengers) have a fair amount of onboard activity and entertainment without the volume of people found aboard a mega ship. Large ships (1,000 passengers or more) cater to travelers who crave great, diverse amounts of organized entertainment, high-tech facilities and plenty of new friends.4. Different regions have a different focus. Canada/New England cruises are perfect for exploring the historic towns along the east coast. Nature lovers fall in love the first time they cruise Alaska. The Mediterranean is perfect for diving into other cultures. Adventure abounds along the Panama Canal. Fun and sun can always be found in Hawaii and the Caribbean.5. Voyages come in all lengths. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), nearly one-third of all cruises are out to sea for five days or less. Short trips are economical, great for first-time cruisers who want to test the waters and increasingly popular. Most trips last a week or so, but some last as long as a year. More often than not, the shorter the cruise is, the younger the crowd will be.It's not hard to find the best price. Just a little of your time is required. * Determine what cruise line you may be interested in. * Visit a local travel agent and pick up several cruise brochures. * Find the area that you want to cruise. * Often, a good quote that you'll receive will be 50-60% off brochure prices. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, Celebrity, and Princess are the most popular First Time Cruisers choices.Cabins are not all alike. Depending on the ship, they range from just bigger than closet-sized spaces without windows (commonly referred to as inside cabins) to apartment-sized suites with verandahs and hot tubs. And, of course, they are priced accordingly.When you have decided what "cruise line" you would like to go on, * You need to decide what ship to go on.* Decide the type of cabin that you would like to stay in. o Inside cabins (no window) are the least expensive o Outside cabins will have a window. After that, come the o Balcony cabins. These are very desirable and will cost a little more. If you have one, you may never want anything else. * For example you can get breakfast through room service (room service is always free on a cruise) and enjoy it on your own private balcony. o After the balcony cabins come the suites. They always have balconies and are the largest cabins on the ship. They usually come with a larger bath with a tub.Avoid close proximity to possible noisy locations such as the engine room, disco and show lounge. When you decide all the details of your cruise, but before you choose your cabin, tell your Travel Agent you want to book the CATEGORY OR Better which is called an open booking by category. You have a better chance of an upgrade within that type of cabin (Outside, Ocean view, Balcony or Suite) or a jump up in category. You will NEVER be down graded by the Cruise Lines! But, when receiving an upgrade find out where the cabin is located. It might be a higher category but you dont want to under the basketball court.If you must have a specific ship, sailing date or accommodations, book as early as possible to avoid disappointment. What sells out first: Christmas/New Years, Presidents Week in February, Spring Break, Easter Week and July/August sailings when the children are out of school. To get the space you want on the cruise and necessary air arrangements, dont hesitate to book 9 to 10 months in advance if possible. The remainder of February, March and April sailings usually starts to fill up once the weather starts to turn cold in the Northeast and Midwest. You can usually find bargains both in advance and at the last minute. But if you want a specific type of cabin, you may consider booking as early as possible. If youre flexible, consider waiting for a "deal" to show up.Cruise travel agencies will often book blocks of cabins from the cruise lines. An agent that has one of those blocks for your sailing date can give you a better rate than one that does not. Now that you know how to book your cruise, set sail!Copyright 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

Healthy Cruise Travel Tips

Taking the advice of well-traveled cruisers is the best thing for first time cruise passengers to do. After all, why not learn from someone elses mistakes or mishaps? Of course, you will still have a few of your own, but that is what makes your first cruising experience memorable. Youve got your cruise booked and are counting the days until you set sail. However, there are a few things for you to do before you even start to think about packing. Check with the cruise line to see what vaccinations, if any, are needed for your journey. Youll have to make a trip to your doctor to get current on any shots. While you are at the doctor, ask them about tips on staying healthy and avoiding the flu or colds before you depart for your cruise. It is no fun having to travel sick or canceling all together. Also ask about seasickness remedies. Some of these medications are prescription only. Stock up on any other prescription medications just in case they are scheduled to run out during your trip. Often, insurance companies will make exceptions and allow a prescription to be refilled early if you are traveling with no access to a chain pharmacy. One last thing get a letter from your doctor on official letterhead listing your prescriptions and stating that they were all legitimately prescribed for you. If you have to go through customs, a letter will sometimes keep you from being detained while your medication is inspected. If you are on a special diet, let the cruise line be aware of this fact when you book your cruise. Most diets are easily accommodated, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. A few weeks before you depart, check in with the cruise line again to go over your reservations and special needs diet. Pack a small first aid kit for those just in case emergencies. Include antacids and anti-diarrhea medications for those episodes of Montezumas Revenge that seem to strike no matter where you travel. Aspirin, antibiotic cream and aloe vera gel for sunburns also come in handy. Stow away sunscreen, moisturizer and lip balm in your luggage too. When you are having too much fun outdoors, you tend to forget things like sunburn. Be sure to apply the sunscreen lotion before heading outdoors. Moisturizer and lip balm keep your skin soft. Sometimes the temperature changes from the cold air conditioner to the heat outside can wreak havoc on the skin and dry it out. In addition to the sunscreen, protect your skin by wearing hats and sunglasses. When you are on the ships deck gazing at the waves, the suns reflection off the water can be pretty bright. The sunglasses will protect you from harmful UV rays from the sun. Of course, the hats will shield you from the suns rays and possible sunburn on your ears and face, two places that people sometimes forget to apply sunscreen lotion. With the right preparation and precautions, you are well on your way to a healthy and happy first cruise. And when in doubt about something, ask your cruise line. They want to make sure your cruising experience is trouble-free. After all, they want you to sail with them again.

Summary

Alicante is no longer just seen as an airport town, but now more and more as a tourist attraction in its own right.