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Copyright © September 2003

Table of Contents
  • Day One of Your Cruise—
    What Can You Expect?
  • Oh...We Sail the Ocean Blue...
    and our Saucy Ship's a Beauty...
  • Ireland: Emerald Ireland
  • Exploring Is A Caribbean Heritage
  • Relax Your Way To Wellness
    Grotta Guisti Terme Spa
  • "Cruise in Luxury—Dive in Paradise"

Welcome! to Psssss.....t!—Your Flight To Quality webZine—Your One-Stop Information Center. Here is everything you need!—"Click" on most resources mentioned in the following articles...

Day One of Your Cruise—
What Can You Expect?

Marilyn King

Planning and packing are over. You anticipate embarking on your first cruise. Is this exhilarating—or intimidating? What exactly can you expect?

Keep in mind your embarkation day cannot really begin until the departing cruise guests and their luggage are cleared from the ship. Their debarkation process can be drawn-out—like a large traffic jam. While last week's passengers make their way reluctantly down the gangway, staff and crew ready the ship for your sailing. By the time the last straggler departs, trucks are arriving at the dock with provisions. Much heavy work goes on behind the scenes. Staterooms and public lounges are thoroughly cleaned and straightened. A steady stream of supplies and luggage are brought aboard. There can even be an exchange of crew members—some leave while others arrive.

This turn-around procedure is carefully choreographed—like the most intricate ballet.

Arriving from the airport, or your hotel—by bus transfer, taxi or car—you will first encounter baggage handlers. These are not cruise line employees and they do expect a tip—a couple of dollars per suitcase is sufficient. Show them your cruise ticket and picture ID for verification and security purposes. Be sure your ship's luggage tags are securely fastened to your suitcases before you hand them over.

Cruise line shoreside staff mill about and point you in the right direction—easily recognizable wearing official looking uniforms with name tags. Often, they carry a clipboard. Once inside the terminal, you might encounter a check-in line. Actual boarding time is usually scheduled for noon but some cruise lines begin processing early arrivals...and then direct them to a "holding" area. During check-in, you are asked to produce your cruise documents, any forms you were sent to complete ahead of time, proof of citizenship, and a credit card (to pay for your on board charges). Then you are issued a boarding card which often doubles as your stateroom "key" and shipboard charge card.

At some point—either before you enter the check-in area or before proceeding to the ship—you and your hand luggage will pass through a security procedure, similar to airports.

You are anxious to get on board and begin your vacation. This is not the time and place to get cranky if you have to wait. Keep in mind, you cannot board until the ship is ready for you.

Once boarding begins, you will probably have your first experience with the ship's photographer. You will be asked to pose for an embarkation picture. It only takes a smile. You are under no obligation to purchase any photos taken during the cruise—but they are a nice souvenir.

Congratulations! You are On Board! Your cruise has begun. Procedures vary somewhat once you are greeted by the staff lined up just inside the ship's hull. Once again you have to produce your picture ID and boarding card for the security officer. Depending on your cruise line, you may be directed to your cabin—or a steward will take your carry on luggage and accompany you. Stewards on deluxe cruise lines not only show you the way, but hand you a glass of champagne as a welcome aboard gesture.

Check out your stateroom and make sure everything is in order. You should find life jackets on the bed (ready for the muster drill later). There is a copy of the ship's daily schedule. Take a few moments to look over the schedule—you'll want to know what time the muster drill takes place. The placard on the back of your cabin door indicates directions to your emergency station. You will want to know the meal hours and schedule for various activities and entertainment.

Rented tuxedos are either hanging in the closet or will be delivered sometime during the afternoon. Bon Voyage gifts sent by your friends or travel agent usually appear as well. Be patient if you expect deliveries, particularly on large ships. Stewards participate in the ship's turn-around and are extremely busy. Yours will no doubt introduce himself at the first available opportunity. It will be awhile before your checked luggage arrives. So...go and enjoy the welcome aboard buffet. Bring along your daily schedule to look at while you eat.

On your way to the buffet, you may notice bar waiters offering trays of colorful and exotic "Bon Voyage" drinks—often in souvenir glasses you can keep. Beware!—they are not complimentary! If you choose one, you'll be asked to sign for it. Again, like the photos, you're under no obligation to purchase. However, the glasses are fun souvenirs.

Do your plans include going on shore excursions and indulging in spa treatments? The most popular tours sometimes sell out and spas can be very busy during sea days. So your next stop should be the Shore Excursion Desk to book tours...and the Spa to make appointments—unless of course you have had the foresight to reserve these in advance.

Your dining room seating assignment is another matter. Check the main dining room and see where your table is located. If it's not to your liking, or if you requested a large table and find yourself assigned to a small one, you need to see the Head Waiter. He will be stationed in a lounge with his charts handy to make changes—the daily schedule will indicate where and when you can find him.

For the rest of the afternoon into early evening—enjoy other introductory activities—tours of Spa and Fitness Center, port and shopping gaming lessons are available. Of course, there is the compulsory Muster Drill—followed by sailaway festivities on the pool deck.

Late afternoon or early evening, your luggage will arrive. Now you can unpack, settle into your cabin and prepare for dinner. A word of advice—just in case your luggage doesn't arrive before dinner, have your toiletries and appropriate attire in your carry-on so you can freshen up and change. The dress code is always casual on your first evening of a cruise.

A highlight of embarkation day is your first dinner in the main restaurant where you meet your waitstaff and tablemates. Order whatever you like from the menu of appetizers, salads, soups, and entrees, but save room for dessert! Other than iced tea, coffee, hot tea, and water, beverages in the dining room are not complimentary.

After dinner the entire ship becomes alive with action. The casino, shops, and lounges are all open to greet you. The Cruise Director introduces his staff at the Welcome Aboard show in the main theater—shows are scheduled to coordinate with dining seatings.

Back in your stateroom for the night. Your steward has straightened things up during your absence. The ice bucket is filled, there are fresh linens in the bathroom, the bed is turned down. Your next day's activities schedule is on the bed. And your steward has placed a chocolate on your pillow. Sweet dreams...



Oh...We Sail the Ocean Blue...
and our Saucy Ship's a Beauty...

Adventures at Sea!...Where does your imagination take you when you daydream of your ideal vacation? Do you visit the sunny beaches of the Caribbean? The emerald islands of Hawaii? The storied and colorful cities of Europe? The style and glamour of the Mediterranean? Whichever your pleasure, a cruise can fulfill your dreams like no other vacation. Visit port after port, island after island, city after city. Take a cruise—pour all your adventures into one great trip...and only unpack once!

Buy one get your second voyage FREE—Wow!
7–14 nights from $3595 (USD)
—Spend not one but two weeks exploring the world's most famous playground. Experience Europe the way it ought to be seen. Travel in the company of a few hundred instead of thousands—visit small hideaways and island resorts big ships must pass by. What an opportunity? Come explore from your own personal perspective aboard the unique 350-guest Radisson Diamond.

Lisbon to Miami Cruise
14 nights from $895 (USD)
—Experience an incredible 14 day journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Explore historic ports of call—just like the early navigators. Oceania Cruises offers you a more intimate cruise vacation featuring the finest cuisine at sea, one of the industry's highest staff-to-guest ratios and a sophisticated yet non-stuffy ambiance. Book before September 30, 2003 and receive 2 for 1 air and cruise fares on this special transatlantic voyage.

Serenade of the Seas
Canada and New England Cruise
5 nights, Balcony stateroom, from $679 (USD)
—Visit a land brimming over with history. Set sail on a 5-night vacation aboard the Serenade of the Seas from New York. You will visit the amazing ports of Bar Harbor, Maine and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Before and after your spectacular cruise, explore the world's most fascinating city—New York. Catch a show, sample some of the finest cuisine or just see the sights. It's all up to you. In Bar Harbor, experience the magnificence of Acadia National Park and the breathtaking scenery of the Park Loop Road. Walk along the rocks in Halifax. View the craggy coastline with its bold glacier-formed outcroppings of granite and its impressive lighthouse.

7 Night Hawaii Cruise
7 nights, Balcony stateroom, from $1099 (USD)
—Discover the diverse beauty of remote islands anchored in the sun-drenched Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is a study of contrasts—fiery volcanoes, black-lava deserts and white snowcapped mountains. Oahu has a climate renowned as the best on the planet. Maui boasts magnificent dormant volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, miles of golden sand beaches and sensational snorkeling and diving. Kauai, with its moist tropical air, profusion of exotic birds and flowers and fairy-tale rainbows, lures with man-made delights including beautiful and challenging golf courses.

Sea of Cortez Cruise
7 nights, Verandah stateroom, from $999 (USD)
—Jubilant trumpets of a mariachi band—a culture as warm and colorful as its sunsets—the whisper of waves lapping secluded sandy beaches. Mexico is calling! Answer with this festive 7-day cruise from San Diego. Visit the popular seaside resorts of the Mexican Riviera aboard a luxurious, five-star Holland America ship.

Behind the Scenes — Premium Wine Country Experience
4 nights from $999 (USD)
—Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of California wine. Experience a leisurely cruise that takes you deep into the famed Napa and Sonoma wine valleys. You will enjoy tastings and interactive discussions about the history, mystery and delicacies of wine. Your cruise includes visits to the wineries of Artesa, Benziger, St. Supéry, Schramsberg, Markham, and Viansa.

Southern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan
7 nights, Veranda stateroom, from $900 (USD)
—It's twilight on the islands. The setting sun reflects off the ocean in a blaze of orange and scarlet. The sound of steel drums echoes through cobblestone streets. You walk along a sparkling beach. Palm fronds whisper in the silken breeze. You stroll velvety sands, wander through an emerald rain forest. and snorkel in crystal-clear waters. Experience the intoxicating spell of the Caribbean.

Wind Spirit
7-Night Caribbean Cruise
7 nights from $1295 (USD)
—Each beautiful day unfurls like the crisp white sails of your spectacular yacht. You can sleep late and enjoy breakfast in bed. Warm breezes beckon and you eye a deserted cove nearby. Teak decking, rich wood interiors, an attentive service staff, intimate surroundings, eclectic artwork. Exceptional signature cuisine features both light and vegetarian menu selections and an extensive wine list. Extraordinary elements—synonymous with Windstar.

Convince your "significant other" to take a cruise with you!—

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Chauffeur Drive or Self-Drive
When the Normans came to Ireland the 12th century, they built thousands of castles. Many have been transformed into some of Europe's finest hotels. Emerald Ireland features a selection of Ireland's most deluxe historic Castles, Grand Manor Houses and Hotels. The elegance and history you will experience at these luxurious properties will provide the perfect backdrop for your Emerald Isle experience.

DAY 1  Merrion Hotel
DAY 2  Merrion Hotel
DAY 3  Merrion Hotel
DAY 4  Mount Juliet House
DAY 5  Caragh Lodge
DAY 6  Caragh Lodge
DAY 7  Caragh Lodge
DAY 8  Dromoland Castle
DAY 9  Dromoland Castle
DAY 10  Ashford Castle
DAY 11  Ashford Castle
DAY 12  Ashford Castle
DAY 13  Depart
Driver guide
Tour Length: 10-Day Tour
Number of Passengers: 4
Transportation: Luxury Mini-Coach & Driver
First Class Hotels Land Only Nov - April : $1759
Deluxe Hotels Land Only Nov - April : $2999
First Class Hotels Land Only May - Oct : $1799
Deluxe Hotels Land Only May - Oct : $3359
*Air inclusive rates subject to availability at time of booking

Self Drive
Tour Length: 10-Day Tour
Number of Passengers: 2
Transportation: Clio or Similar
First Class Hotels Land Only Nov - April : $999
Deluxe Hotels Land Only Nov - April : $2259
First Class Hotels Land Only May - Oct : $1099
Deluxe Hotels Land Only May - Oct : $2659
*Air inclusive rates subject to availability at time of booking

Detailed Day By Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Ireland
Enjoy a Private Car transfer to your down town Dublin hotel. Relax after your journey. Perhaps enjoy a Horse and Carriage ride through some of Dublin's historic Georgian Squares or Walk through the Temple Bar area, which is fast becoming Dublin's Left Bank!

Day 2: Dublin
Today explore Dublin City. Highlights include Trinity College and Dublin Castle. Stroll down Grafton Street, Dublin's premier shopping area. All the side streets off Grafton St. team with fashionable restaurants so you may sample cuisine from around the world. Visit St. Stephen's Green, Europe's oldest and most beautiful Georgian Square. Maybe fit in a visit to the Guinness Brewery at St. James’ Gate. Walk through the Temple Bar area, which is fast becoming Dublin’s Left Bank.

Day 3: Wicklow
Full day tour to Wicklow, the "Garden of Ireland". Explore one of the most famous and enchanting places in Ireland, Glendalough (the valley of the two lakes) which is home to some of Ireland's oldest and most interesting monastic ruins. The spectacular hidden mountains and barren boglands at Sally Gap will leave you breathless.

Day 4: Dublin City
Today visit the Guinness Hop Store, which is almost a pilgrimage for many. The home of Ireland's national beer welcomes visitors with a museum, video, and drink. Arthur Guinness began brewing the famous stout here in 1759. By 1868 it was the biggest brewery in the world. Today the sprawling brewery fills several city blocks. Around the world Guinness brews over 10 million glasses a day. You can learn as much or as little about the brewing process as you like. And on the way out, don't forget to turn in your coupon for a half-pint of the real thing.

Day 5: Waterford
This morning visit Kilkenny, Ireland's best example of a medieval town. It is beautifully situated on the river Nore, which forms the moat of its magnificently restored castle. Arrive at Waterford and visit the famous Crystal Factory to see how the renowned pieces of glass are created. Each piece is hand blown and carefully sculpted.

Day 6: Cork - Killarney
Tour Cork City and include a visit to the Shandon Bells, the gothic style University College, St Finbarr's Cathedral, City Market and the Crawford Art Gallery. Perhaps head to Blarney to see the castle and kiss the famous stone. Shop at the Blarney Woolen Mills. Perhaps take in a cookery demonstration in the afternoon.

Day 7: Kerry, Killarney
Today tour the world famous Ring of Kerry. For centuries artists and writers have celebrated this kingdom of Kerry, where the contrasting mountain, lake, and coastal scenery is at its most spectacular. This trip promises some of the most celebrated, scenic attractions in Ireland, rugged landscapes, antiquities and attractive villages. From Waterville you can see the Skellig Islands, once raided by the Vikings in 810 AD, this former monastery is now home to one of the biggest gannet colonies in the world.

Day 8: Gap of Dunloe, Killarney
Drive to the Gap of Dunloe, see Kate Kearney's Cottage and Muckross House. Visit the lakes of Killarney situated in Killarney National Park. Lough Leane, the largest of the Lakes of Killarney has approximately 30 islands nestled in its waters. Perhaps the best general view of the lake may be had from Aghadoe.

Day 9: Bunratty, Adare
Stop at Bunratty Castle, built in 1425, carefully restored with authentic furniture, stained glass and tapestries. Bunratty Folk Park is a recreation of a typical 19th century Irish Village including thatched cottages. Continue onto Adare, Ireland's theme village. This lovely village has many original thatched cottages, interesting monastic ruins, riverside walks and craft shops.

Day 10: Cliffs of Moher & Galway / Optional Add-on Tour
Transfer to Shannon Airport for your flight back to the U.S, or continue your tour of Ireland. Optional Add-on Tour: En route visit the Cliffs of Moher which stretch dramatically 700 feet above the Atlantic. We recommend a stop at Ailwee Cave to see the underground river and waterfall. Explore Co. Clare to the lunar-like Burren region, famous for its unique flora and fauna, geology, and archaeology.

Day 11: Connemera
Tour wonderful Connemara, the western region of County Galway, and one of Ireland's gaeltacht (Irish speaking) regions. The area around Leenane and Cong is where the movie 'The Quiet Man' was made with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. There are a number of charming fishing villages dotted along the coast where you may wish to stop for lunch. Visit Kylemore Abbey.

Day 12: Aran Islands
This morning, visit the Aran Islands. Take a ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. The island is dissected by winding, hilly lanes that meander between mazes of stone walls, enclosing fields of pasture or potatoes. The island houses the ruins of four prehistoric forts, and its north side is liberally dotted with the ruins of monastic sites and old churches.

Day 13: Shannon
After Breakfast, transfer to Shannon Airport for your flight back to the U.S.




Local sights include

Local sights include The Cliffs of Moher extend along the majority of county Clare's coastline. There are towers at either end, from which you will get excellent panoramic views. With the luck of the Irish, you may even see as far as the Aran Islands. You will also see some of Ireland's most spectacular scenery on the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula.


Reserve your Emerald Ireland Tour now—
Tour Include

  • Luxury accommodation at Castles and
    Manor Houses for 8 or 11 nights
  • Full Irish Breakfast
  • Full day Motorcoach Excursion to Co. Wicklow
  • Self-Drive Car, unlimited mileage, tax, CDW & theft insurance
    - OR - Services of a Professional Driver/guide,
    luxury car or van, including all expenses
  • All accommodation taxes and service charges
  • Touring Map of Ireland
  • Concierge service in Ireland while travelling
  • Complimentary Heritage Pass offering
  • Complimentary tour of Waterford Crystal
  • Travel Documents including Personalized Itinerary
  • Copyright


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    Grotta Guisti Terme Hotel

    Relax Your Way To Wellness
    Grotta Guisti Terme Spa

    Surrounded by a cultivated park in the Tuscan countryside, the Grotta Guisti Terme Hotel sits at the foot of a craggy mountain in Monsummano, Italy. The nineteenth-century restored villa, which houses the hotel, restaurant and spa, is oriented around a natural cave. Its underground lake is renowned for restorative healing powers.

    This legendary cave is the heart of the Grotta Guisti experience. Discovered over 150 years ago, it is divided into three sections—Paradise, Purgatory and Inferno—each name based upon the warmth of the air's temperature. The area called Limbo holds a picturesque lake, with restorative mineral waters which maintains a constant 36oC temperature both in summer and winter. With 70 beautiful rooms, traditional Mediterranean cuisine and stunning decor, this resort spa exudes perfection.

    Grotta Guisti Lake Lounge in a comfortable beach chair alongside a lake while reading a book or just let warm air lull you to sleep? This is a typical experience at Grotta Guisti... If you want to focus on more than simply the surreal environment, sign up for several week-long programs with goal-oriented treatments, such as stress-reduction, weight loss, or anti-aging. Spa specialists include several physicians trained in dermatology and general medicine who consult with and help you achieve your health and beauty ideals. Try a thermal hydro-massage, aqua gymnastics or a cool mud treatment in one of several treatment rooms.

    There are 67 rooms at the Grotta Guisti, each with a beautiful view of the surrounding park and landscaping. Furnished in a distinctly elegant European style, the rooms offer unexpected elements such as white marble bathrooms with thermal water, a television connected to the Internet and fluffy, white robes. You will also enjoy the Giusti room, a common room in the hotel with an enchanting frescoed ceiling and antique furniture. It is the perfect setting to relax, chat with other guests, or listen to music.

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    Soft Scuba

    Soft Scuba
    "The Soft Scuba Adventurer"


    Diving Two-by-Two

    Very Special Announcement—We have re-hosted
    Soft Scuba

    We are re-doing all webpages there—at this date the Homepage, Bay Islands page, Bonaire page, Dominica page, Puerto Rico page and Tobago page have been re-written in a new for more improvements.

    We are considering sometime this fall publishing again our "The Soft Scuba Adventurer" as a stand-alone this one. We used to do this a few years back...before we started re-evaluating our efforts and our marketplace(s). Email us and let us know what you think. There may be some of you who are only interested in dive adventures. There may be some of you who are only interested in special, quality travel options. And there may be some of you who are interested in both dive adventures...and...special, quality travel options. Much to our dismay...not everybody is a diver...yet...

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    Blue Lagoon Cruises

    "Cruise in Luxury—Dive in Paradise"

    Enjoy your complete Fijian experience with sensational diving to match. Fabulous and awesome, true and total relaxation. Cruise, islands, and the underwater world dance with you in harmony—totally different from what you find on other liveaboard vessels.

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    30 years combined diving experience and 6 years diving within the Yasawa's. Two custom built dive boats transport you quickly and comfortably from your cruise vessel to your stunning sites within the Island group.

    • Location: Yasawa Islands Fiji Cruise
    • Duration: 7 days/6nights
    • No. of vessels: One luxury cruise ship 42 or 52 passengers/ Two Purpose built Naiad dive boats
    • Depart: The first Monday of every month at 12pm to meet at the Blue Lagoon Cruises office, departs from port of Lautoka (25 mins from Nadi Airport)
    • Return: The following Sunday 12pm
    • Max number of divers: 20 divers
    • Max number of dives: 3 dives per day
    • Type of diving: Wall, current, drop-offs, Coral gardens, Sharks(natural), Pelagics, Night, Photography, Drift dives and wreck dives
    What and where is the "Blue Lagoon"?—Many people ask about the reference to Blue Lagoon. The company, Blue Lagoon Cruises was named after the original Hollywood movie of the same name starring Jean Simonds and Lloyd Bridges.

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    Be sure to fin on over to Soft Scuba.
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    We offer you more Dive Adventure Destinations.
    Visit us now!— Soft Scuba

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