How To Pay Less For Your Cruise

It used to be the case that the idea of going on a cruise was something that only very rich people would do, and even then, only occasionally as a luxury. Today it is a different story. For some time now it has been the case that cruises are available to the ordinary traveler, and costs have dropped tremendously so that nearly everyone can experience a holiday on the seas, and many people go on cruises as a regular annual holiday.

What is it that has enabled this significant drop in prices, and provided the opportunity of going on a cruise holiday to everyone, even those on a tight budget? As with anything, if the demand is there, the supply increases, and today the demand is so high that new ships are regularly being built, and often the ships being constructed are bigger than ever, with more facilities, more accommodation and a size that rivals the largest hotel on land.

The single most influential factor in this rise to popularity and availability is the internet. Because of the much cheaper, quicker and wider access that cruise line companies have to an audience that likes a bargain, they are able to mass market cruises to a wider and wider audience. People around the world are keen to go on a cruise, and with flights from all over the globe dropping people at the port, or even people being collected from ports along the way, access to a single cruise is no longer something just for residents of one location or even country. The demand for each cruise has gone global, and this has both increased the overall demand, and decreased the overall cost.

Having said that, the lavish and extravagant options are still available for the elite who wish to spend tens of thousands of pounds hiring their own private state room, but for the average holiday maker it often represents a very affordable holiday. With the added benefit – compared to most holidays – that you pay one single price and then everything is included, accommodation, entertainment, food, drink and facilities, it becomes much easier to budget.

The initial price might seem higher than a standard hotel-based holiday on land, but when you take into consideration all the extra costs associated with a holiday, especially the food and drink, this can actually represent very little difference. Of course, the appeal is also that you are rarely limited in this respect, and if you choose you can almost spend the whole day in the restaurants sampling delicious food specially prepared on an almost round the clock taste experience at no extra cost!

The length of cruises has also reduced in some cases to provide these extra bargain cruises, and a short three or four night cruise holiday, which might simply take you across to one or two relatively nearby countries, might well only set you back by a few hundred pounds. I have even seen some weekend cruises advertised for under one hundred pounds per person!

Certainly, using the internet you can search for some fantastic deals, and it is certainly the place to begin to look for such. The best bargains can be those either booked very well ahead, or at the very last minute.

Victor Epand is an expert consultant about luggage, cruises, hotels, and shopping. You will find the best marketplace for luggage, cruises, hotels, and shopping at these sites for bags, luggage, cruises, experience, bargains, luxury, and shopping.

Posted in Uncategorized | 81 Comments

A Unique Mix Called Ceuta

According to the ministry for tourism Ceuta is a multicultural European city in northern Africa. It is an open city, easy and comfortable. It is accessible to the Costa del Sol, either for a day visit or a longer weekend stay, and it offers a unique mix of culture, gastronomy and tax-free shopping.

A 40-minute journey by fast ferry from Algeciras, Ceuta is, for administrative purposes, part of Andalucia (and more specifically Cadiz) but it has special status as an autonomous city in Spain. It is surrounded on both sides by water (with the Mediterranean and Atlantic connected by what is believed to be the only navigable moat in the world) and, together with Gibraltar on the other side of the Straits, dominates the entrance to the Mediterranean – hence its strategic military importance, both historically and currently.

With one of the highest traffic densities in the world, it covers an area of 19 square kilometres plus five square kilometres rescued from the sea but this includes vast, protected, uninhabited green areas, and the 75,000 residents live in apartment blocks around the port and City centre. Agriculture and industry are almost non-existent in Ceuta and maritime and fishing traditions dominate. The city also has a strong military past. General Franco’s nationalist troops set forth for Spain from Ceuta, and many Spaniards of a certain age had to do their obligatory military service in Ceuta. With the mili now defunct, most of the military barracks are empty, and there are plans to turn the navy area into a university cornplex.

With such limited space, Ceuta has had to be creative in its urban planning. Sorne of the land redeveloped from the sea features three expansive saltwater lakes (or pools), the Parque Maritimo Mediteraneo, where residents and visitors can spend their days swimming and sunbathing (a five kilometre pipeline transports clean water from the middle of the Straits). Which brings us to the history of the city. Whenever the issue of Gibraltarian sovereignty is mentioned, those who oppose Spain’s claims to the Rock like to taunt: so what about Ceuta (and Melilla)? It is indisputable that, geographically, Ceuta is in northern Africa and is as physically close to Morocco as Gibraltar is to Spain. But after that the comparisons become irrelevant.

Over 1,500 years Ceuta was variously dorninated by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths and Arabs, before the Portuguese took power in 1415. When Don Sebastian died without heirs in 1581, the Portuguese crown (including Ceuta) passed to the King of Spain, Felipe II. Portugal gained its independence in 1640, but Ceuta voted in a plebiscite to stay loyal to the then Felipe IV. Ceuta subsequently suffered two centuries of war with the Arabs but Spain signed a peace treaty with the Sultan of Fez in 1860, and the Spaniards were not required to demand sovereignty over Ceuta because it had been a part of Spain even before the kingdom of Morocco existed.

Indeed, the ceutis are the only Spanish inhabitants to have chosen voluntarily to be part of the kingdom of Spain – though they stress that Ceuta is much more than sorne anachronistic outpost of Spanish colonialism. It is, they say, an attractive, modern tourist destination in Spain where visitors can discover four different worlds as they have managed to create a community in which four cultures – Christian, Hebrew, Hindu and Arab – live together in relative harmony.

With more than 20 years of experience in the travel industry Rudi van der Zalm is the founder of one of Europe’s most popular websites for rural holiday accommodation in Spain. A wide selection of country houses, fincas, cortijos and lodgings can be found at http://www.rural-tour.com

Posted in Uncategorized | 80 Comments

The One Place Everyone Goes

Extending from Nerja in the east to Sotogrande in the west, the Costa del Sol now enjoys good road communications between the various main towns along the coast. This enables a couple from Marbella, for example, to visit the Cervantes in Malaga and later savour some traditional tapas in the historical city centre. Or a group from Torremolinos to join the carousing along Fuengirola’s promenade.

In theory, that is because generally not everyone likes to venture far from their borne territories – be it because no one in the party is willing to volunteer for driving duties and thus not drink (the Coast’s public transport facilities are ample and efficient during the day and early evening, but non-existent after midnight, except for taxis) or simply because they are happier remaining on familiar ground.

There is, however, one exception: Benalmadena, and specifically the port and Plaza Solymar, which have become the favoured and trendy night-life choices for young people (and young at heart) from along the entire Coast.

Barely 15 years ago, the port was just that: a port, or marina, inhabited by yachts and sailors. Residents and visitors were able to take a leisurely Sunday stroll along the beach from La Carihuela, or down from Arroyo de la Miel, wander among the handsome maritime vessels and dream of pulling up anchor and sailing off to the Caribbean – before waking up, returning to reality, looking for a kiosko for a rejuvenating ice-cream, then moving on up to Benalmadena Costa for more substantial refreshment.

Much has changed. First, the new apartments took shape, then a few bars, restaurants and shops opened. Next came the special attractions such as Sealife – and gradually more apartments (all tastefully designed in commune with the seafaring atmosphere of the area), bars, restaurants, shops and la movida. Benalmadena Port became the in place to go on a Friday and Saturday night – and even on the weekdays in summer. And for those who occasionally wanted a small change of scene (though not location) there was always the Plaza Solymar 24-hour square on the main road through Benalmadena Costa, a popular leisure area that heaved with weekend revelry even before the port came into existence.

If this all sounds a little exhausting for those with less frenetic tastes, it must be said that the port – and Benalmadena Costa in general – is not just about noisy nightclubs and discotheques after-hours. There are piano and flamenco bars for dancing. Live jazz bars and other music bars where you can relive the 60s or 70s. Or terrace bars where you can sip on a beer or cocktail while indulging in that favourite Spanish pastime: watching the world go by. And then, of course, there are the town’s other entertainment amenities a little further afield.

In Arroyo de la Miel, on the way up to Benalmadena Pueblo, the Tivoli World amusement park has become a Costa del Sol institution – and not just for the children. The rides and attractions are unrivalled anywhere on the Coast, but Tivoli offers much more. Live stage performances at the western and Andalucian plazas are held throughout the afternoon and evenings, and many of Spain’s finest singers and groups have performed in the amphitheatre.

Then, for a little more refined entertainment, there is the Torrequebrada Hotel and Casino, back on the coast road towards Fuengirola. This exceptional tourist complex, the only five-star hotel in the area, offers multiple services in the style of Las Vegas grand hotels. The magic of the Sala Fortuna, where you can sample a marvellous dinner while the flamenco and international stage-show bursts with life around you. And the casino itself, with machines that tempt your luck and a variety of other games of chance: roulette, poker, blackjack. In a word, then, in Benalmadena you will find truly everything that you could possibly want to make that evening special and memorable.

Rudi van der Zalm is the founder of one of Europe’s most popular online car hire services to help travellers find cheap car hire in Malaga and other tourist destinations in Spain. Visit www.hispacar.com for a free online car hire quote for Malaga.

Posted in Uncategorized | 110 Comments