Oct 27- Nov 5, 2022      Small Group

“Island Hopping Through the Garden of Eden”


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You deserve to go remote for some Vitamin Sea.  The trips you daydreamed of while quarantining simply pale by comparison on this solo escape to one of the most sought-after and secluded destinations in the world. With its glistening waters, the Seychelles are beloved by AFSers. We did it by land. but now we unpack just once on a cruise to 12 different stunning islands.  Imagine exploring this incomparable archipelago that rivals the Maldives from the luxury of our own private yacht on our all-inclusive cruise voyage. 

This glimmering collection of unique coral islands is truly a world away and filled with adventure.  Each island outshines the next with its own distinctions, offering sugar-sand beaches, emerald tropical forests filled with the rarest species of plants,  birds and animals. The crystal waters are teeming with sea life seen nowhere else on the planet!  Get to know the gentle giant tortoises of Curieuse or swim around giant rock monoliths of le Digue. Be the envy of Instagram with shots from the warm waters of Praslin where you can explore an underwater world with world-class snorkeling and diving. Every day offers an a-ha moment as you unwind away from the crowds in islands like nowhere else on earth.

 Midway between India and Africa, the country of more than 100 islands has virtually closed itself from the world right now, forbidding cruise ships until 2022.  We’re an exception as a private charter.  Smaller is better!   Limited to 24 AFSers.  The twin-hulled Pegasos only allows 40 guests, so think yacht, not a cruise ship. As we sail from island to island, we’ll be pampered by a crew that serves our every need, and our private chef tempting us with local delicacies. Lounge on Upper Deck to savor the salty breeze, enjoy the water sports and the Zen mini spa on the Lower Deck.

 So many vacations were canceled by the pandemic, this is one that will more than make up for vacations lost… and safely!  No visas, no shots, no dress code and no Starbucks.  November’s the perfect time to visit.  No crowds to fight and every day you will wake up in paradise.  Air is so easy on Emirates via Dubai or Air France via Paris.  Add a stop-over or go to Mahe a day early to play. The Seychelles Islands are truly heaven on earth so come join us as we leave the world behind for our own utopia.

 

 

Pegaso

 

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Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

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“After I returned from my 9th trip with you, again I say thank you for all the joy you brought to my life. Not only did I meet my husband on your AFS African Safari, but I also made a family of lifelong friends!” – Laura C.

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Oct 26 0r 27  Depart USA to the Seychelles Islands.  Book Air France on own for flexibility.  You can fly in early to relax to explore fun Mahe – many affordable villas, hotels and guest houses.  Get a taste of the Creole culture, shopping and enjoy the great beaches.

Oct 28 –  Overnight on own at a hotel of your choosing.

Oct 29  Saturday – Mahe to St Anne Island   D

All aboard!  Our trip officially begins today as we board our luxury yacht at the Interisland Marina in the capital of Victoria on the island of Mahe. Mahe is the largest of the Seychelles islands and where all international flights arrive. We will need to be onboard at least an hour ahead of our departure between by 3pm.
We’ll get acquainted with our vessel with a cocktail and safety drill before setting sail to nearby St Anne, famous for its amazing Marine National Park.  We have time for a refreshing swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean at our anchorage near St Anne.  Go to www.seychelles.travel – a great site for full details on every island we visit.

A fabulous welcome dinner awaits, prepared by our very own chefs.

Oct 30   Sunday – St Anne Island – Curieuse      B/L/D

We leave St Anne Island early in the morning to reach the uninhabited island of Curieuse. Once a leper colony, this island is now a refuge for dozens of giant tortoises, complete with a turtle nursery! A park ranger will guide us on a walking excursion through the farm and along the mangrove forests.  It’s a great photo opp here.  Most tours are included.

Our lunch is a beach BBQ beneath the trees followed by an afternoon on the beach with numerous ocean activities including kayaking and snorkeling.

We overnight nearby and dinner is again aboard our vessel.

Oct 31    Monday –  Cousin and Praslin Islands   B/L/D

In the morning, we head ashore on the bird sanctuary of Cousin Island. Our excursion includes learning about the numerous exotic species that call this place home and are cared for by Bird Life International. A quarter-million birds breed on Cousin which also has several nesting beaches for turtles.

Later in the afternoon, we sail to Praslin and Anse Lazio, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With its white sands and coconut trees hanging low over the water, you’ll understand why people travel the world just to come here. The afternoon is ours to lounge on the beach or enjoy water sports and snorkeling in the turquoise waters which are teeming with tropical fish.

We anchor here for the evening.

Nov 1  Tuesday – Aride – St Pierre – Baie St Anne, Praslin    B/L/D

Today is spent island hopping to smaller islands. In the morning, we leave for the nearby granite island known as Aride.  Guides will take us to the island’s peak for an amazing view of the island and the waters which surround it. We should be able to see both the rare Wright’s gardenia, found nowhere else on earth, and the Seychelles warbler, a bird species similar to the Audubon’s shearwater.

Around noon, we sail for St Pierre Island where after lunch we’ll enjoy a 3-hour snorkeling and swimming stop.

As the sun sinks on the horizon, we sail into the harbor of Baie St Anne, Praslin where we will dock for the evening. Tonight is Creole Night, celebrating one of the dominant cultures of the Seychelles.

Nov 2  Wednesday –  Praslin – Felicite or Grand Soeur – La Digue    B/L/D

In the morning, you have the option of exploring the palm forests of Vallee de Mai or venturing around the village. Vallee de Mai is believed to be the original Garden of Eden for its lush forests and rare plant species.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that consists of an old-growth forest of the indigenous coco de mer palms, which has the largest seed on earth. It also offers the chance to see many native animals and birds like the rare black parrot.

After lunch, we sail to either the island of Felicite or its nearby sister island Grand Soeur. Both offer fabulous snorkeling and swimming

We anchor off La Digue for the evening.

Nov 3  Thursday La Digue – Moyenne Island   B/L/D

You’ll feel you stepped back in time in charming La Digue, the most photographed location in the Seychelles. You can easily explore the main village of La Passe on your own by ox cart or bike.  There’s an optional half-day excursion to venture out further.  This tour includes a visit to the colonial coconut plantation known as L’ Union Estate followed by a visit to Anse Source D’ Argent. We floated on warm waves for hours and I couldn’t get our last group out the waters.  This beach is one that truly should not be missed with its massive rock formations. It is absolutely one of the most memorable beaches in the world. There will be time for hunting souvenirs at La Passe before returning to the ship.
Our afternoon will find us on the ocean again, heading to Moyenne island, opposite Mahe, where we will anchor overnight.

Nov 4   Friday  Moyenne Island – Mahe, Inter-Island Quay   B/L/D

In the morning, we take a short guided tour around Moyenne Island, a place known for its protected flora and fauna. You should take advantage of our last opportunity for snorkeling and swimming. In the afternoon, we’ll celebrate with an on-deck BBQ before leaving Moyenne Island for Mahe’s Victoria Port in the afternoon.

We’ll reach the Inter-Island Quay of Mahe by late afternoon and enjoy a Captain’s farewell dinner with live music and dancing. We overnight in the Victoria harbor

Nov 5   Saturday –  Disembarkation     B

Enjoy our final breakfast we say goodbye to a voyage well done and transfer to Mahe airport.  Some may want to add a stopover in Paris on the way home.

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Deposit $500    2nd Payment due May 27  and  Final Payment due July 29

Variety Cruises requires the Covid vaccine to board (booster requested, not required) as of April 15, 2022

 Not included:  Gratuities

Cruise prices  are per person twin share

  • Category C   $2790 +  450 port charge

    SUN DECK- TWIN BEDDED CABINS.

    The Category C cabins are spacious cabins featuring windows. Cabins have bathroom with shower, individually controlled A/C, piped music, flat-screen TV (Satellite channels), telephone for internal use, mini-safe, hairdryer, adapters (220V).

  • Category B –  $3090 + 450 port charges

    MAIN DECK & SUN DECK – DOUBLE OR TWIN BEDDED CABINS.

    The Category B cabins are spacious cabins on the Main Deck and on the Sun Deck with large windows offering unique views of the destinations you visit. Cabins have bathroom with shower, individually controlled A/C, piped music, flat-screen TV (Satellite channels), telephone for internal use, mini-fridge, mini safe, hairdryer, adapters (220V).

  • Category A – $3590 + 450 port charges

    UPPER & MAIN DECKS – DOUBLE OR TWIN BEDDED CABINS.

    The Category A cabins are spacious cabins with large windows offering unique views of the destinations you visit. featuring windows. Cabins have bathroom with shower, individually controlled A/C, piped music, flat-screen TV (Satellite channels), telephone for internal use, mini-fridge, mini safe, hairdryer, adapters (220V).

  •  All prices are per person twin share.  Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies.  Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably.  AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”  
  • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.  
  • Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
  • We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary. 
  • Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!
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Pegaso

Imagine a place far from home that feels just like home, where the borders are delineated by the golden shores of the sea; and home is wherever the anchors drop. Imagine 147 feet of comfort, beauty, and safety classified by the latest International “Safety of Life at Sea” (SOLAS) standards. Imagine your floating home onboard the sleek, classic double-hulled Mega Yacht that sails the seas under the name PEGASOS, waving her flag through the wind. Discover the world by sea at 10 knots per hour, in her un-rushed pace, one island or seashore at a time. Pegasos loves to seduce her select 44 guests with her simple lines and comfortable lounges redefining what yachting was meant to be. A spacious lounge with ample space, dining areas decorated with warm colors, large windows offering pristine views of all destinations, shaded areas and outdoor bar and lounges are just some of the elements that define her essence. 360° views of the unobstructed ocean are your eyes’ canvas painted with ocean blue and deep green mountains. Mingle with like-minded travelers in our public areas, enjoy a moment to yourself in our ample deck space, or retreat to one of our 21 ocean view cabin sanctuaries all offering windows connecting you with Mother Nature’s wonders. Pegasos’ experienced crew of 18 is trained with hospitality at heart to pamper her guests and guarantee the ultimate home away from home experience.

Home at Sea

pegpics

CABIN DESCRIPTION  Priced per person + $450 Port Charge

vibe

  •  All prices are per person twin share.  Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies.  Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably.  AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”  
  • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.  
  • Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
  • We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary. 
  • Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!

Seychelles Trip Tips

On certain journeys, it’s more about the route than the destination. Sailing the seas is the ultimate experience for restoration and feeling fully liberated. Yet each day you dock, you’ll be surrounded in pristine beauty with time for playful exploration. The exotic Seychelles, 1000 miles from anywhere, is the first nation to achieve Covid herd immunity and is now open to visitors. With 115 islands dotted in the Indian ocean, you couldn’t feel more remote.   Smaller is better. Variety’s MS Pegasus carries just 40 passengers and holds the highest help and safety protocols since June 2020. Swim uninhabited islands, see incredible flora, visit quaint villages and much more. Our last group loved the cuisines and excursions.  Vitamin Sea in paradise is the perfect antidote for 2021! 

We have a wonderful small group of just 23AFSers. Space for 1 man and 1 woman, so tell your friends.  After final payments are in, will send you the contact and room lists. For now, connect on your private Facebook group.  A month out, will be sending you full details in the cruise lines docs.  

It is your responsibility to read our important emails and updated notes to these Trip Tips.  Let us sweat the small stuff as we strive to make your trip worry-free. This may well be the best time to go and fully enjoy

IMPORTANT PAYMENT DATES

  • CRUISE REQUIRES A 2ND DEPOSIT – May 27   We will send invoice.
  • FINAL PAYMENT DUE JUL 25.

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Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)   Carol Huntington

GTL CarolCarol has been on 20+ AFS trips over the years and has led many of our solo travel tours. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 92+ countries and all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream, while working for the past 25 years in the banking industry. Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve and keep clients happy. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel world.

During a recent sabbatical, Carol coordinated and lead a once in a lifetime journey around the world, visiting 13 countries! Carol’s excitement to discover new things is complimented by her unique ability to get along with and relate to people of all backgrounds. She has a deep understanding of new and seasoned travelers with a knack to inspire all. Carol is all about the experience: from skydiving to trekking with the gorillas in Rwanda, leading a group to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and always making many new friends along the way.

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Trip Prep:   Seychelles is now open to all visitors. At present, you need to be vaccinated and to present negative PCR test to board ship. By November, we believe these rules will be eliminated! A month out, your cruise docs will come with full details. You’ll need to fill out the Health Travel Authority form sent in October. If an antigen test is still needed to return back to USA, crew will advise procedure. Below are Variety Cruiselines details but understand Covid rules always evolving. Will keep you informed.

  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages.  We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy.
  • Bring your original vaccine card.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.

Fitness level – 2   (No trouble walking.)

Cruise dates – Oct 29- Nov 5             Air dates –  Oct 26 or 27 to Nov 5

Air –  No group air at this time due to small group size. We find few people book our group nowadays as they find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early, rest up or extend to explore more on own.

To be safe for all cruises abroad, we advise you to fly in a day early and overnight at hotel Ocy 28 to board ship the next day Oct 29 by 2 PM. There are countless hotels in Mahe – from affordable airport hotels with free shuttles to fancy resorts. If you have hotel points, like Hilton to Marriott, use them. Google www.tourism.gov.SC or TripAdvisor or “hotels in Mahe.”

Depart USA in time to arrive by Oct 28 then overnight on own.  The ship sails Oct 29 to Nov 5.  Plan your  roundtrip air to SEZ (Seychelles) to match.  You land in Victoria the capital of Mahe island.  Use Googleflights or momondo.com to search. Airlines to consider – Turkish (best rates with free stop over), Qatar, Emirates, Air France, British Airways, Kenya Airways and more. Add a stopover en route in transit city to break up long journey. Connect on your group Facebook page to share ideas. Many of you bought your air! Prices are excellent now. Don’t wait.  If you need help contact Raj raj8travel@gmail.com (if you feel rich and want good rates in first class, contact my friend ali@businessclass.com).

Transfers–  details to come and cruise docs. Mahe is very small. Taxis affordable from hotels to your pier– Inter Island Quay at Victoria Port

Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.   1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lbs .  This weight limit is set for our porterage and luggage vans.  If you overpack by adding side pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. The new hard cases are difficult to fit in coach storage. Be sure to attach ID to both bags. Leave space for great souvenirs.

Packing – Light clothing suitable for Seychelles warm tropical climate is recommended and visitors should prepare themselves for relatively hot, humid atmosphere. Also expect plenty of sun. Bring hat, sunglasses and UV protection. It’s important to remember that even an overcast days the tropical sun is still strong. Wearing a T-shirt for swimming or snorkeling is a good idea. Walking shoes are recommended.  Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS https://www.afstravelers.com/heading-abroad/

Pack your hygiene kit and munchies in clear plastic bags.  Airport and inflight food service may be limited.  This trip is so easy. Simply pack summer clothing with a light jacket for nights and long flights. Think umbrella, daypack, wide-brim hat, sunscreen, comfy sneakers, … swimsuit, beach gear, wet shoes, etc.)

Electric– Seychelles uses British standard three pin plug.  Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. Ship has hairdryers.

See  https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/

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Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $500 in cash should suffice. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card.  Always bring some cash!  Wise to have new crisp bills.)   Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.

Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2013) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money.
Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.  US dollar is excepted as well as other major international currencies. Visitors to the island can use foreign currencies or Seychelles rupees. Exchange rate will be done at the market. Smaller shops will only take rupees. Credit cards are widely accepted.

Gratuities – not included in your cruise fare. Suggested tipping amount is approximately €13 per day for distribution among all crew members. This is added to your onboard bill at the end. If service is stellar, please give more directly.

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Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.  Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.  You can buy a SIM card or another option for affordable data in many countries abroad is Skyroam. All the data you want to use Bluetooth for to access your devices are for just $10 per day for 5 devices. See https://www.skyroam.com for details.

Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation.  Thieves not only want your money but also your data.    Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.

  • In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.

Do’s & Don’t – Resist the urge to collect seashells along the beaches as many are use as habitation for hermit crabs. Collecting shells is prohibited in nature reserves & marine parks. The unique and unusual tropical flora is beautiful and for it to remain so, it’s important that you admire it, but leave it for others to enjoy. Any flora taken as souvenirs must be have a certificate and an official export permit which must be produced, when checking in at the international airport.

Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask.  Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!

Websites of Interest:  Seychelles Travel – Official Tourism Website of the Seychelles

Chewing-  Delicious and fresh!   Seafood, fresh tropical fruit, lobster, shell fish, creole dishes, curry dishes, breadfruit.  Rum, Seybrew beer, Kalou – a fermented wine from coconut trees, South African and French wines.   Also, tea, lemonade, ginger ale.

Roomies – Single supplements have significantly increased and not available on this small ship.  We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   Note, kindness begets kindness.

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  Where can I find the FB link? Ask us for an invite.

(We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors and misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted here in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS Phone 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/  and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle all home for true Emergency.  Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.  3 weeks prior to departure more details on this will be emailed.

Cancellation Penalty – At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Open the following link to review our terms again: https://www.afstravelers.com/terms-and-conditions/

Travel Insurance– If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.) or want to be covered for Covid caused delays, you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.

Add present May 2022, Seychelles requires proof of mandatory health and travel insurance. Consider an annual policy at Allianz.com to cover all trips. Affordable options are Seven Corners, World Nomads or by only “no trip cost” insurance, around $30 (google this.)

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

AFS “How to have a perfect time in port or Suzy’s secret port tips revealed.”

Cruises are a great value as an inclusive vacation but optional shore tours can cost a fortune if you’re not careful.  I do recommend doing a few ship tours, particularly to sites far from port or when the only way to gain access to a place is via the ship.

Here are some tips to make the best of your time and money.

  • Here is a great site to learn everything about the port.  www.whatsinport.com
  • If you really want a guided tour then save money by finding a ship tour you want.  Then check Viator www.viator.com/‎ who often offers the same tour at half the cost!
  • Decide in advance how you want to spend your hours in port.  Do online research before departure on what you most want to see. Google each city.  Find local events or public holidays when sites may be closed.  (For private tours go to viatour.com or shoretrips.com, but maybe expensive.)
  • At most ports, everybody is heading to the same famous sites.  Hire a taxi outside the port fence.  Get several friends to join you.  Negotiate in advance a half-day rate.  Use same taxi driver for drop off and pick up.  Have a set price or ask driver for estimated meter amount.  If all you need is a driver, skip the guide. Sometimes guides can be hired at the sites.
  • Hire a private car and driver at local tour agency or hotel concierge.  I do not recommend renting a car due to strict and different driving laws.  I do rent scooters often.
  • Onboard, read the daily descriptions of the ship tours to get ideas of significant places you can visit independently.  Calculate the travel time from ship to site.  Ask the crew.  They know estimated times needed for transfers in and out at every port. When the ship anchors, you either walk into town or ride small tenders.  Passengers who booked the ship tours are allowed off first to board the tenders.  Be patient. You’ll have plenty of time to explore.
  • Onboard, it’s hard to extract comprehensive information from the Shore Tour Desk  They are trained NOT to give you suggestions for liability sake.
  • Onshore walk into city center.  Use public transit options.  They are cheap, fast and authentic with locals.  Lonely Planet guidebooks have the best logistical information on bus, train and ferry schedules for each city.  Look for local tourist office.  They can assist you with day tours often at ½ the price.
  • Sometimes a ship tour is greater value than doing it alone.  For example, precision timing for visiting Egypt’s pyramids.  Port docks can be far away.  In Italy, it’s a 2-hour drive to Rome.  If a site is too challenging to get to or expensive to enter, book with the ship.
  • Private AFS tours. Sometimes we can offer our own private group tours that are the same or more creative than the ship’s tour.  They are always less expensive, more fun and leads to group unity.  Cruiselines hate this.  Some will even penalize us with fines to prevent it.  If we offer one, please be discreet and follow disembarkation details form your trip leader.
  • If you can afford it, feel free to book all shore excursions with the ship.  Know however some tours may hold you hostage in select stores to push shopping.
  • Wifi prices crazy expensive and slow onboard ship.  Do your surfing on port days.
  • Mind the germs. Wash your hands more on the ship.
  • The crew does not have US Labor Laws at sea, getting low pay while working 13 hour days.  Please tip cabin staff generously.
  • No theft protection.  Leave valuable and expensive jewelry at home as suggested by the cruise line.
  • Google Lonely Planet cruiseline port details.  https://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/cruise-ports-how-to-make-the-most-of-shore-excursions/40625c8c-8a11-5710-a052-1479d2755e97

Whatever you choose, be smart, be bold and use every minute onshore to the fullest.

Cruise food secrets

Unlimited main dining: You are not limited to one of each appetizer, entree and dessert in the main dining room. You can order two entrees or three desserts if you choose. You can also order appetizer-sized portions of entrees as starters or order a few appetizers for your main meal. It’s a great way to try new foods you’re not sure you’ll like (escargot, anyone?).

Cheap or free room service: Room service is generally free, except for service charges on certain lines. Celebrity’s late-night orders bear a $4.95 fee, while all orders on Royal Caribbean (excluding continental breakfast) and Norwegian (excluding morning coffee, continental breakfast and orders placed by Haven Suite passengers) cost $7.95. Meanwhile, Carnival and Holland America offer for-fee room service menus in addition to their complementary menus. It’s recommended you tip your delivery person, but in-room dining is not the splurge it is at a hotel.

Breakfast options: For your morning meal, you might have more options than just the buffet and main dining room. On Norwegian, it’s no secret that O’Sheehan’s offers tasty made-to-order omelets and corned beef hash, yet many cruisers still don’t know about it. Carnival’s BlueIguana Cantina and Royal Caribbean’s Johnny Rockets and El Loco Fresh (on Oasis-class ships) are other alternative breakfast venues. Check your daily newsletter to see which restaurants are open in the morning.

Specialty dining on the first night: Most people dine in the main dining room or buffet on the first night of a cruise, and many haven’t discovered the specialty restaurants yet. If you book an alternative dining venue for the first night of the cruise, you might get a discount on select lines (like Celebrity Cruises) or have an easier time getting a reservation for a popular venue. Carnival Cruise Line passengers who dine in the steakhouse on the first night get a free bottle of wine.

Covid travel rules seem to mutate faster than the virus itself.  To keep all groups up to date with the lasted information, we’ve created a page that’s updated as needed.  Set a reminder for yourself to check the Covid page 7 days before departure.  

Please open and read about traveling and Covid Rules