Today we have some valuable firsthand recommendations from Georgina Cruz, a freelance writer who has concluded over 213 cruises to all seven continents including four World Cruises. Her experience has helped many of our travelers choose unforgettable vacations around the world.
How often have you said to yourself that it is a shame that it is time to disembark just when you are getting your bearings around a ship? My husband, Humberto, and I have felt that way more than once, particularly after a week-long or shorter voyage. But we recently came up with a solution: just book back-to-back cruises!
The idea came to us while we were sailing in the Southern Caribbean on Holland America’s Koningsdam this past winter. On the last day of the voyage, the ship’s cruise director, Christina Purcell, asked her afternoon team trivia participants how many of them were not disembarking, but staying on for another run. To our surprise, about a dozen hands shot up!
One guest who raised her hand said she and her husband preferred long cruises and making a long voyage out of two shorter ones suited them well. Another one told us she booked back-to-back cruises because it was still too cold back home in New York to return.
For winter, the New Yorker added, they leave their home for Florida, where they embark on back-to-back cruises lasting longer than 20 days. When they return home, spring is just around the corner. “It’s a great feeling!” she said.
It made sense to us. Since we are Floridians, we do not need to escape winter, but we figured we could use a break from Florida’s intense heat and threat of hurricanes in the summer. So, why not go cruising?
We called Bridgett Quinn, our Cruise Specialists Consultant, and she booked two 14-day back-to-back cruises for us on Holland America’s Veendam, calling on New England and Canada ports from Boston. During those 28 days, we would enjoy temperatures in the 70s instead of in the 90s and we’d have to unpack only once and incur travel expenses to meet the ship (flights, transportation to the airport, baggage fees and porter tips) only once.
In the case of those guests on the Koningsdam who were on back-to-back cruises, their two itineraries featured some different ports (many ships do vary their itineraries to encourage passengers to book back-to-back voyages to be able to explore more ports and thus get to know a region more in-depth). In our case, on the Veendam, we would visit the same ports, which we also like as we were able to explore more at each stop. For example, on a typical call in Bar Harbor, Maine, most guests who had only one day there would visit Acadia National Park and not have time to go whale-watching or to explore the quaint town in a leisurely manner, not to mention enjoying such local delights as a cone of lobster ice cream!
On one of our days in Halifax, Nova Scotia, we would be able to opt for a full day tour to the pretty fishing village of Peggy’s Cove — home of arguably the most photographed lighthouse in North America. On another day, we would also be able to enjoy Halifax itself, including its impressive citadel and the city’s wonderful museums and Titanic connections. In Québec, we could take a walking tour to the Historic District of Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; go on the hop-on/hop-off bus to see more sights and enjoy the tea ceremony at the elegant Chateau Frontenac with its many delights including homemade jams, scones and Devonshire cream. On another day, we could take a tour of beautiful Montmorency Falls. We have often said that we would love the chance to return to a port we had really liked — well now we were returning to the ports on our first week’s itinerary, and soon!
In addition to only having to unpack once and having extra time in ports or the opportunity to visit more ports, there are yet other advantages — perhaps less obvious, but nonetheless real — to booking back-to-back cruises. Knowing the answers to repeated trivia questions so you can “dazzle” your new teammates with your prowess. Buying t-shirts in ports that you will revisit. This creates an instant icebreaker as people will ask for your thoughts and recommendations. Also, when passengers find out you are on your second cruise on the same ship, they naturally want to ask you about things such as if you liked the food at the alternative restaurants. Not to mention the comfort you enjoy of familiarity with your cabin, steward (Bridgett booked us the same cabin for both sailings), your surroundings, as well as knowing your way around the ship from Day One on the second voyage.
Keep in mind that there may be discounts, special perks or amenities, such as free air tickets, when you combine back-to-back cruises.
Given all this, we are wondering why it took us so long to book back-to-back cruises! When you are ready to book your Holland America cruise, contact Bridgett Quinn, Cruise Specialists Consultant, to arrange all of your travel for you.