6 Most Important Things to Consider When Going for a Cruise!

So, you are leaving for a cruise! Or planning the same, or are just going through the detailed booklet of a cruise line and thinking about joining the party soon! This peaceful retreat definitely needs some pre-planning from your side. You certainly don’t want to miss any fun while you are on the cruise, or have some major unforeseen issues when on board, which can spoil your whole tranquil vacation.

There are important things to consider before setting off for a cruise. It will help your trip to go swiftly and smoothly. And you never know if you follow all the guidelines perfectly, you’ll actually be saving loads on your trip too. Whereas, a trip that’s not accurately planned, can lead to wastage of money, time, efforts along with being a game spoiler (God forbid!)!

Always Make Sure to Check Certain Important Points When Setting for a Cruise

A cruise means a holiday away from home amidst the sea for a certain number of days or weeks! You are literally going to be away from basic amenities of the land that you are used to, totally dependent on the cruise staff members for all your needs. Make sure you don’t miss anything that may adversely affect your trip. What could they be? Some of them are:

Legal Documents

Keeping all the legal documents ready before going for a cruise is essential. You will need a passport, your tickets and also your identity proofs for the trip. This is especially essential if you are boarding an international cruise, but also necessary if you are staying in the same country.

Pre-booking of Transport

Its always necessary to reach the boarding area at least two or three hours before the cruise is about to leave. To avoid the last-minute hassles, always pre-book your transportation from London to Southampton from EC Minibus. They provide shared and private cars as per your convenience to drop and pick you up to and from the ports. This will let you arrive in comfort at the port with ease, and then you just have to go through the boarding procedure.

Keep Some Cash

Although a cruise trip is generally all inclusive, and you don’t require anything much while on board; but you may need some cash when you have to tip someone. Or you may never know when there can be an emergency situation. You may need to buy some emergency accessories or just feel like shopping when stopping over at any port. Make sure you have some cash on you to avoid the embarrassment of borrowing it from someone else.

Double Check the Cruise and It’s Offerings

Selecting a cruise is a crucial decision. You are going to spend your days there solely being dependent on their services and amenities. Be very sure that it’s a good and reputed cruise line, has everything you need covered, with no hidden costs. Make sure it is adept with all the safety and security equipment.

Travel Light Yet Perfect

It’s always wise to travel light when you are off for a holiday. But, as you won’t be getting a market to shop for your needs, you have to do the packing accurately too. Remember that it’s a cruise and they provide you with a lot of amenities, from soaps to towels. So, you need not burden your bag with the same. Also, as it’s a sea journey, water sports and swimming are going to be an essential part of it. So don’t forget to pack in your swim gear and suits. Always keep handy your mini first aid box in case you are seasick. (But since a cruise lasts for long, it gradually vanishes away). A pair of sunglasses and sunscreen are surely must too ( you aren’t coming back with only a healthy tan if you are covering tropical areas). Also keep in mind that most ships have a dress code for their meal times. Make sure you are ready for that too.

Connection is Important

On the way to your holiday on the sea, you just can’t miss letting your friends and followers know about the same. Also, you always need to stay connected with your family back home. For this, make sure you have a data plan. Yes, we know roaming can be taxing. And this has a solution too. Most cruises nowadays provide free WiFi access, and you can take advantage of the same (always inquire about it when you are booking the trip). And if this service becomes dicey because of satellite fluctuations on the sea, you can try accessing your data network temporarily during that period (In case of emergency). Connection is not important for those drool-worthy envy-worthy Social Media updates, but also for reaching out to people in case of emergencies. So, don’t neglect this.

Every holiday is precious. And a cruise trip isn’t something less than a treasure of beautiful memories to cherish later. You don’t sail on a cruise every day. Naturally, you would want to make the most of the one that you shall set sail. That’s why it’s best to be informed before starting the journey.

For The Love Of Seas – Wonderful Things That You Can Do With Your Boat

Having a boat on your own is quite an expensive business. It is so much fun to have a boat to yourself. You can go fishing, sailing and sometimes anchor out to the sea and enjoy a beautiful evening with no worry of the world. There are many ways you can use your boat and here are some of them.

Navigate using celestial navigation

Before GPS, celestial navigation was how the voyagers travelled. This is basically the art of determining your path with the position of stars. There are many ways to learn this type of navigation. Sail once without the help of all the electronics and feel yourself travel back in time.

Participate in races

Why hesitate to race when the machine is all yours? There are many boat races conducted yearly by various clubs. They are mostly friendly games which help you to socialize more with people of same interest and goals.

Drive over 100 MPH

One fun activity you can do with your boat is going over 100 MPH. You will experience the thrill in its purest form. It is an unforgettable experience to hit triple digits in a boat. This experience will change the way you feel about speed. If you are not very skilled for this venture get a veteran speedster particularly for this.

Try wakesurfing

Wakesurfing is one of the coolest things you can do with your boat. An appropriate boat for wakesurfing will take you on a surfing experience of a lifetime. Surfing with clean waves with no coast, just you, your boat and the endless stretch of water before you.

Take a slow ride

Take small peaceful rides in your boat sometimes. It will help you enjoy the water and a breezy evening. This has to be done every once just to feel good. It will also give you time to stop everything else for a while and just be in the moment.

Go boat camping

Camping with the boat is somewhat similar to backpacking. It is even more flexible and relaxing according to experienced people. You should be very self-sufficient in order to be camping with a boat. You will need essential camping stuff and emergency backup. Unlike backpacking, you cannot run to the nearby store every time to get supplies. You should carefully plan your meals and should have plenty of fuel, firewood, and ice.

Anchor out overnight

Sleeping in your boat’s ac rooms parked in the marina is one way to spend your evenings in your boat. Anchor out to the open water sometimes. Stay in the waters overnight and feeling the nature around you is one wonderful way to enjoy your life in a boat. A peaceful evening like this is not something everyone in the world gets to experience. Make some unique memories with your time in the boat.

Go whale watching

Take your boat out to watch the largest animal in the planet in its natural habitat. A whale-watching cruise is something everyone should do who owns a boat. It is a good thing to see and understand the nature for it is being damaged beyond repair every day.

Participate in geocoaching

It is a game where other boaters leave clues for hidden rewards. It can be found only through GPS coordinates. This game will not only earn rewards but helps you learn more about your electronics and also gives a feeling of times when there used to be real treasure hunting and related activities.

Sail in winter

Taking your boat out in winter can be very adventurous and also exciting. This needs extensive planning and a need to take a number of safety precautions before the journey. It can give you so many new places which are least explored during winters and a variety of beautiful landscapes. It can be dangerous if you don’t take it very seriously. Take your boat for wonderful experiences like this and make the most out of your life.

Christmas Carols in a Choir

If you happen to be a part of any Choir, Christmas Carols would then appeal you in a different level altogether. Christmas carols have a power to help one forget all negative aspects of his life and fills his heart with new hope cheer and happiness.

Listening to or singing Christmas carols in a choir instill a certain degree of goodness and energy anyway; and if you happen to work with or simply witness children’s choir, Christmas celebration is then spread with a certain charm all over!

Last Christmas Eve; choir carols music in Santa Barbara was a popular choice among all of us and so it was decided that we would be there for Christmas. All siblings put together made a group of nine. It was definitely a challenge for us to be able to master the most popular carols in a month’s time and perform in the most awaited venue of the year.

It was initially a little difficult for all of us to manage time everyday and come over for the rehearsals at nine in the evening. But thanks to the Christmas Sheet Music for choir and piano; we all had the exact notations, chords, scale, bridges and for certain songs – ideas for doing harmony as well.

A search through the internet helped us immensely for two reasons. We found the lyrics of all the numbers on just a click. Secondly, we came across the different versions of each song. I truly had no clue that a simple Christmas carol of just two or three versus could be or was actually sung in so very many ways!!

We began well ahead in time and I have to agree that after a week, we couldn’t wait the whole day to come together and sing our favourite carols.

Since we were nine of us, it was decided that we would practice nine numbers, one a favourite of each of us. So all of us, surfed through our music libraries and racks, checked with old carol books and selected one song each to add on to the final list of carols.

We requested Father Bernard to be our pianist and he happily agreed. It was equally nostalgic for him as we would practice together in our childhood days for the mass on Sundays. He too seemed to re-live good old days!

Finally after rehearsing for a whole month; on Christmas Eve we performed all together. Check out our choir list that we’d prepared:

  • Come all ye faithful
  • We thank Thee
  • I’ll fly away
  • Across the bridge
  • The night watch
  • Silent night
  • Jingle bells
  • By the rivers of Babylon
  • Oh gentle shepherd

We all hope this Christmas is equally eventful!

Christmas Carols Little Donkey

Christmas Carols Little Donkey was our skit last year to be performed on Christmas Eve. We were a group of twelve kids and for all of us it was a big honour to be performing with a donkey!

We initially were quite confused as to how we would be communicating with our team mate. But then Ms. June; our play teacher told us that this little donkey was specially sent by Santa for us and he could speak and understand English. We were glorified and couldn’t thank Santa enough who was so nice to send us such a cute and adorable little donkey.

We were divided into two groups. Group A would sing and recite the poem; and Group B would enact the verses alongside. We all were overjoyed to know that both groups would have their own donkey. Ms. June also promised that if we would be good and performed well, she would take us to Galley’s fair on New Year’s Eve and would treat us with a ride on a real super donkey!!

We all received a separate copy of the poem and were told to memorize the verses fluently in a week’s time. I was in group A and we were to recite the poem.

My mother helped me quite a lot in this endeavor and I mastered the poem in the next five days…you don’t believe me? Okay, I’ll recite for you. Here it goes:

Little Donkey – A Christmas Poem,
By: Eric Boswell

Little donkey, little donkey,
On the dusty road.
Got to keep on plodding onwards,
With your precious load.

Been a long time, little donkey,
Through the winter’s night.
Don’t give up now, little donkey,
Bethlehem’s in sight

Ring out those bells tonight
Bethlehem, Bethlehem.
Follow that star tonight,
Bethlehem, Bethlehem.

Little donkey, little donkey,
Had a heavy day.
Little donkey, carry Mary safely on her way.

Little donkey, little donkey,
On the dusty road.
There are wise men waiting for a
Sign to bring them here.

Do not falter, little donkey,
There’s a star ahead.
It will guide you, little donkey,
To a cattle shed.
Yes I know you are surprised and happy…you could clap a little louder!

Ms. June was also very happy and the next weekend when each of us in the group was supposed to recite the poem, I was appreciated and ‘keep up the good work’, was my compliment for the day. I came back home, threw my arms around mommy; kissed her and gave her the same compliment. After all, she was the one who had helped me learn the verse so well.

In the meanwhile group B kept practicing their act and they too were ready for the show.

The next week group A and B were supposed to practice together. Yes you got it right…we were to sing and enact the whole skit together. It was a big day and so I requested mommy to make me two glasses of chocolate milk shake that morning. It just helped me gain energy for the day!

The practice session was hence the best goal and we were all set for our final stage show.

On Christmas Eve mommy and papa gifted me a book of popular Christmas carols. My happiness knew no bounds and I couldn’t wait to show my team mates and Ms. June my grand gift.

After the show that evening Ms. June congratulated us and told us that the show was one of the best she had ever seen. We knew that her promise awaited our visit to Galley’s fair. Also we were gifted with our own personal donkey! I then showed all of them my gift and everyone seemed to beam with happiness.

Thus Christmas last year was great grand and wonderful. I know it will be equally merry this year as well…wish u all merry Christmas and do have a real good time!!

Joy of Christmas carols

Christmas songs are as diverse and assorted as one can think of. There is an incredible variety of Christmas carol songs that have been created throughout the years. Those who have grown up in snowy regions may recall the sledge rides and caroling around trees.

The arrival of Christmas is reminded by a blend of many factors. For some it is about more specific things, like the change in season, or decorations inside malls and buildings with wreaths, Christmas lights, and red-n-white canes. Mixing the visual laments with audible ones reminds you of beautiful Christmas memories. With Christmas carols sung by pop singers, the releasing of Christmas albums and with the traditional Christmas songs played in the radio or on your favorite video channel, you are sure to experience the initiation of holiday season.

Bing Crosby and sleigh bells are some of the popular carols heard during the white Christmas.

Christmas from early seventies, eighties and nineties through Vietnam, Gulf War, Granada and current wars reflects the true meaning imparted by these Christmas Songs. And no one can forget those wonderful Bing Crosby and Perry Como Christmas specials that are filled with striking Christmas songs.

Many of us would fondly recall an earful of kids songs, ranted by The Chipmunks.“All I Want for Christmas” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus are some other favorite Christmas songs of kids”

Like many other things, Christmas songs still continue to evolve. From the stirring classics like “O Holy Night” and “Little Drummer Boy,” Christmas songs have gone into challenging, bonding, penetrating and spiritually inspiring realms. Just the sounds can inundate many wonderful memories of this special day.

Jingle Bells, The First Noel, Silent Night, Away in a Manger, The Christmas Song and Joy to the World remains amongst the most favorite Christmas songs even today. You may have grown up listening to these old Christmas compilation or you may have sung these choirs yourself, but you cannot ignore the fuzzy feeling that you get when you hear Christmas songs even as you get older. These beautiful Christmas songs communicate joy, peace and love that bring tenderness to everyone’s hearts during the holiday season. They connect friends and family together during moments of singing and helps in recalling some old memories. And most importantly, they remind us about the arrival of new season and the gift-giving.

The resonating sound of keyboard brings our sprits together during the season. And while we all may not be blessed with superior vocals, but we all are blessed with the beautiful gifts of friends and family. So whether or not you plan a small or large intimate holiday party, playing these celebrated Christmas songs will certainly bring back a lot of cherished memories to share with your near and dear ones.

The Truth behind Christmas Celebration Traditions

People all across the world love celebrating Christmas but only few of them know the idea behind celebrating Christmas. Very few people know that the idea of celebrating Christmas dates back to the 4th Century. The festival was started by the Catholic Church because the rival pagan religion was threatening the existence of Christianity. At that time there were different religions who were trying to survive and celebrating a special day was the best way of grabbing the attention of the people.

Have you ever thought why 25th of December was kept as the date of Christ’s birth. The only reason why Christ’s birthday was celebrated on the 25th of December is that the Catholics wanted to compete with the Romans. The Romans used to celebrate the birth of their sun god ‘Mithras’ in order to encounter them the church leaders decided to celebrate the birth of Christ at the same time of the year. The date 25th December was as it collided head on with the rival Pagan religion.

But once Pagans were subsided Christianity spread like wild fire. Soon after people all across the world were seen celebrating 25th December as the birth date of Jesus Christ. But nowadays the Christmas celebrations are quite varied but there is a reason behind each tradition. If you want to understand the secrets behind some major Christmas traditions then you must read the following pointers:

  • Santa Claus is one of the major characters related to Christmas and you will be surprised to know that Santa Claus originated in Turkey. His actual name was St Nicholas who was very pious and devoted his entire life to Christianity and helping the poor.
  • Christmas tree holds a lot of importance in the festival as well. But you will be amazed to know that the Christmas tree originated in Germany. It is also believed that Martin Luther was the first person to light a Christmas tree. But the most amazing thing is that the Christmas tree was not widely used in Britain until the 19 century AD.
  • The hard candies is one of the another very famous Christmas item. It is believed that hard candies have been around for several hundreds of years but the truth is that these were introduced in the early 1900’s. These were initially provided to the children in order to keep them quiet during church services.

Each and every Christmas celebration item has a story behind it which is quite interesting but only very few people know about it.

South American Christmas Traditions

Christmas in South America is vivid and colourful with splendid celebrations that differ from countries to countries. In Bolivia, Christmas is the season of harvest festival, whereas in some other countries unique rituals make Christmas a season of joy and merriment.

To Bolivians, Christmas is a feast of adoration of the Goddess Mother Earth. It is the season in which the people give the account of the past years work and calculate the amount of work to be done for the next year. Christmas in South America varies from the Christmas celebrations of the world in Brazil in certain aspects. The concept of Santa Claus is little heard of in Brazil. In some regions, a concept of Christmas father is heard, but he is called Papa Noel. In Brazil, despite of making Christmas trees, the children used to make Christmas cribs. The Christmas celebrations of Brazilians are almost similar to those of USA and UK. Christmas meal is common in all houses including the rich and the poor.

In Bolivia, the Christmas celebrations centre on the church and the family with many days long prayers and rituals. As Chile features a warm climate, the chimneys are usually short and it is believed that the Christmas Papa (known in Chile by the name Viejito Pascuero) climbs these chimneys to place gifts for the children. The children also make small clay figures to place under the Christmas trees on the Christmas eve.

The children of Ecuador celebrate Christmas in a very different way, by writing letters to infant Jesus. This is not only a unique tradition in the celebrations of Christmas in South America, but also in world, such a custom is little known. Besides, the children place a single shoe on the window sills, so that when Jesus makes an anonymous visit at homes, he can put a toy there as a gift. Noisy toys are a part of the Christmas celebrations in Ecuador.

Christmas in South America has certain common features in all countries. The display of presepio (the Christmas crib) is the most prominent of them all. Usually, in some houses a whole room is designed with the presepio display often featuring sceneries and surroundings of the place where Christ was born.

In Argentina, people go to mass in the church and come back for the Christmas dinner. Dance of the senior members of the family takes place at homes after the dinner, while the youth go outside for watching the fireworks displays. The people of Argentina celebrate Christmas of December 24 and their celebrations are marked with dinners with several dishes like pork, turkey, etc.

In Venezuela the celebrations last from December 16 to January 16. Carol services and firecrackers are a part of the celebrations. A legend in connection with the Ethiopian King Balthazar is also heard among the Christmas traditions in Venezuela.

Christmas Celebrations in Wondrous Venezuela

Christmas in Venezuela is celebrated with a number of religious and traditional customs. Since a majority here follows Roman Catholicism, celebrating the birth of baby Jesus is an important part of the festivities. Christmas is the main holiday during which Venezuelan families get together and celebrate.

The religious celebrations commence more than a week before on 16th of December with masses every morning through to December 24th, when the midnight service (Misa de Gallo) is held. In the capital city of Caracas, it is customary to roller-skate to this service and many neighborhoods close the streets to cars until 8 in the morning

The main celebration begins on Christmas Eve. Families and friends come together to enjoy the traditional holiday meal comprising ‘hallacas’, long breads filled with cooked ham and raisins known as ‘pan de jamón’ and ‘dulce de lechoza’, a dessert made of green papaya and brown sugar, cooked bit by bit for hours and served cold.

Christmas trees are put up and adorned in most homes. The most indisputable Venezuelan convention, however, is the displaying of a nacimiento (Nativity scene). The pesebre is a more refined version of nacimiento, sometimes becoming a real piece of art by its own right. Representing an entire region with mountains, hills, plains and valley, it has a replica of the manger at Bethlehem in the centre.

Children wake up to find their gifts around the Nacimiento or the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. According to the Venezuelan tradition, it is the Child Jesus who brings gifts to the Venezuelan children instead of Santa Claus.

Music is an important part of the celebrations and traditional songs called aguinaldos are played at this time. In the olden days, the aguinaldos singers (called aguinalderos)   would go home to home singing songs and playing traditional instruments.

Some fun facts about Venezuela to know the country better:

  • Venezuela nurtures one of the largest waterfalls in the world, Angel Falls.
  • There are only two seasons in Eastern Venezuela: hot and dry, and hot and wet.
  • Hot showers are difficult to find in Venezuela.
  • The official name of Venezuela is ‘Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’. Venezuela got independence from Spain in 1811 and became an independent republic in 1821.  The main languages spoken here include Spanish and its indigenous dialects.
  • Venezuela is one of the most urbanized countries in Latin America. It is also one of the oldest democracies in South America.
  • This country is immensely rich in biodiversity. Canaima National Park is one of the largest national parks in the world and Lake Maracaibo is regarded as the largest lake in South America. The country’s highest point is at Pico Bolivar (5000 m.).
  • Venezuela was first found by Christopher Columbus.
  • Venezuela literally means ‘Little Venice’. The country was so named by its explorers because of its resemblance to Venice.
  • Slavery was abolished here in 1854.
  • Venezuela was one of the founding members of OPEC. It has the largest proven oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest natural gas reserves.
  • The petroleum industry accounts for half of the revenue of the Venezuelan government.

There is a lot more about this country that you’d like to know as you go visit this beautiful Latin American country inhabited by beautiful people (literally!).

Joyful Christmas Celebrations in Vietnam

“Chúc M?ng Giáng Sinh” (“Merry Christmas” in Vietnamese language)

The way that the Vietnamese people celebrate Christmas is a quotable example of secularism. Though the main religion here is Buddhism and Christians form only a minority, Vietnam celebrates Christmas as one of the four important festivals in the country, the other three being, birthday of Buddha the mid-autumn festival and the New Year.

Christmas in Vietnam is celebrated with vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment. It is the birthday of Jesus Christ, who is known in Vietnamese language by the name ‘Kito’. Coming to the history of Christmas traditions in Vietnam, the Catholics, which form a minority of the country, had celebrated Christmas in the most peaceful way. When the communist power came into existence in 1975, the Christmas celebrations became private affairs. But, from 1980s, as a result of the country embraced western ideas, Christmas regained its status as one of the four major festivals in the country.

In present times, Christmas in Vietnam is being celebrated by not only the Christians, but also the people belonging to other religions as participate in it with liveliness and enthusiasm. The major portion of the celebrations takes place at Ho Chi Minh City, where people of all religions gather and celebrate in the way how the Europeans celebrate it. The youth gather at the cities and the vehicles are prevented from entering into the city circle.

But, as far as Christians in Vietnam are concerned, the most important part of the Christmas celebrations takes place at a city in North Vietnam, known as Phat Diem, which is considered the spiritual centre of seven million catholics. Catholics gather here on the Christmas night with a cheerful spirit and the children present a drama featuring the holy birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas in Vietnam is of much important for devout Catholics in the country. They attend midnight masses in the church and go back to their homes for a Christmas supper, which is the most important meal of Christians in the country. The dinner may consist of different items. But the traditional item for common people is chicken soup, whereas the rich families may have turkey and Christmas pudding.

The concept of Santa Claus is well prevalent in the tradition of Christmas in Vietnam. The children believe that the Christmas father would come on Christmas night to give them gifts. So, as in the Western way, they put one shoe on the windowsill to watch the miracle in the morning that the shoes are filled with presents.

The churches and cathedrals in Vietnam create soul-stirring nativity scenes and cribs during Christmas. The cheerful and joyous nature of Vietnamese people makes them to participate in the celebration without any religious or community-wise distinctions.

Christmas – Highly Religious Festival in Spain

Christmas in Spain is more animated and inspiring than any other countries since there many legends in association with the birth of Jesus Christ, those are perhaps unheard of in the other parts of the world. One such legend says that a cow at the time of the Nativity breathed on the infant Jesus to provide him warmth and thus cows are much revered in the country. A tradition in Spain says that the three wise men from the east visited Jesus Christ on January 16 and thus on this day the children expects the threesome to visit them with gifts.

Usually every house in Spain has a manger, which will be displayed during the Christmas with decorations and the figures memorising the characters present during the holy birth. The elders used to gather around the manger a week prior to the Christmas and sing accompanied by the instruments played by the children of the house.

Christmas in Spain is celebrated in a highly religious mood despite of a huge commercial ambiance. The Christmas stars are usually lit in every place by this time. By the end of the second week, Christmas trees made in every home in addition to the artificial and delicate Nativity scene designed in the background of villages and landscapes creating an ambiance of the surroundings of the holy birth. These nativity scenes are known in the Spanish language by the name Belenes.

Christmas in Spain starts on December 8, which is the day of the Immaculate Conception held in reverence of the Virgin Mary, who is the patron saint of Spain. This feast is observed every year in front of the great Gothic Cathedral in Seville. A ritualistic dance ceremony called the ‘dance of six’, (los Seises in Spanish) is conducted as part of this feast.

The Christmas Eve is known by the name Nochebuena, which means ‘the good night’ in the Spanish language. On 6th January, which is the feast of Epiphany, children in Spain receive gift as in the same European traditions. A curious belief is that the three wise men every year travels through the rustic ways of Spain distributing gifts and re-enacting the centuries old incident. The children used to put single shoes on the windowsills, so that while passing the house, any of the wise men can put a gift within the shoes for the children. In return, the children used to fill in with the shoes with straw, carrots and barley for the horses of the wise men. Among the threesome, the Ethiopian king Balthazar is most revered in the country and the children usually expect gifts from him.

After one month long celebrations in connection with Christmas in Spain, spanning from December 8 to January 6, the offices and schools are open on January 7. On this day, the children go to school and the elders to work place in waiting of yet another Christmas next time.