Selasa, 06 Maret 2012

Dancing With Whales

We've all heard about whalewatching from boats or shore, and a few companies are now offering the possibility of actually swimming and snorkeling with whales in the wild. Is this a good thing? Some whalewatching operators in the Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific islands, advertise the possibility of swimming and snorkeling with humpback whales during the cetacean's annual migration from July to October. This activity sounds appealing, yet there are a number of things to consider. To drop clients off within snorkeling distance of a whale, the swim boats must come closer than the 30 meters laid down in Tongan government guidelines in 1997. Engine noise from a maneuvering boat can startle a whale, and repeated disturbances can lead to the animals changing their behaviour and even abandoning their traditional habitat. The nursing and resting routines of the pods can be disrupted, potentially threatening the health of the whales. This high-risk activity is not covered by most travel insurance policies. The humpback whales of Tonga are wild animals with powerful fins, and swimming near one always involves some risk. The movements of these huge creatures can be fatal to a human swimmer, either accidentally or if the beast feels threatened, and a nursing mother with calf can be especially unpredictable. Swimming into the path of a whale greatly increases the danger. In Tonga, sharks are known to frequent areas where there are whales, especially calves, and at least one shark attack on a Tongan guide swimming with whales has been recorded. A tragic accident involving tourists seems to be only a matter of time. Most whale encounters occur in deep waters where unperceived currents and wave action can soon tire a snorkeler and possibly lead to panic. For these reasons, responsible whalewatching companies like Whale Discoveries do not offer snorkeling with whales. Of course, the demand is there, and pressure has come to bear on the Tongan Government to revise its guidelines to allow boats to come within 10 meters of a whale. Several new whalewatching licenses have been issued recently, raising the number of commercial operators in this small area to about a dozen, and vessels often have to queue to drop off swimmers. Cases have been observed of boats approaching to within five meters of whale pods, and of mother humpbacks and calves being pursued out to sea. Visitors should be aware that by purchasing such an excursion, they could be adversely affecting the noble creatures they came to see. It's a good idea to discuss these matters with the operator before booking your trip, and to avoid those who seem most interested in maximizing their own profits at the expense of the whales. Even if you decide to book such a tour, be aware that only 10 percent of swim-with attempts are successful and there are no refunds. These concerns only apply to attempts to actually swim with whales, and whalewatching from a boat at a safe distance is no problem.

Senin, 05 Maret 2012

Dangerous travel 101

Adventure, uncertainty and speculation are always associated with traveling and more so when the destination chosen for visit is itself dangerous. Visiting the routine places that provides one with a great change of location and views may be appealing to some but to those seeking more of adventure and uncertainty, criteria for choosing destinations are totally different. There is a craving for excitement beyond ordinary and a lust to experience the increased flow of adrenalin in the body of the traveler. Even the thought of going to such places can make many of us nervous but for the adventurous this excitement is the motive behind choosing such risky destinations. Moving away from one’s homeland and going to unfamiliar places in itself can be risky. At the hometown one is familiar with the customs, traditions, law and order of the ruling government and also the common dangers prevalent in one’s community. But at a foreign land things are different and ignorance about the communal system and laws predominant in there country can lead a person in hazardous situations. To make the situation worse once anyone is in problem there is almost none in a foreign land to help the person trapped in unsafe circumstances. Hence the best rescue from such situations is always to prepare before hand for all the dangers that may arise in due course of traveling. One must gather entire before hand information about the place where he is traveling, the nature of hazards possible like whether the place is prone to political instability, frequent communal riots or about any disease outbreak in that area. Apart from traveling for joy and adventure many people need to travel to dangerous destinations as a part of their business trip. Many a times people at high-profile jobs need to travel to not so secure places, but very less can be done about this as the nature of their job demands such traveling. Employees need to travel long distances to overview and manage the situation at places that are remote from the main working area of the company. Many organizations also provide rating for the degree of threat involved at a particular place based on the political factors, crime rate, terrorism, communal volatility and other similar dangers. Travelers to such destinations practice extra alertness, precaution and prudence. Knowing about the potential risks of the place helps a traveler take precautionary measures beforehand. The best way to avoid conflicts is to stay away form them. One should never indulge in any controversies in a foreign land specially when they relate to any political issues and occur because of rivalry between local leaders. One should always stay away from local demonstration groups formed for protest against any current issues. Apart from political security prevention against diseases at unknown destinations is equally significant. Having carefully planned meal and avoiding raw food helps greatly in preventing illness. Areas with inadequate hygiene and sanitation should always be avoided as an eating-place. Only water that has been properly treated with chlorine and other disinfectants should be consumed and to be on safer side bottled water is highly recommended. Keeping certain guidelines in mind one can definitely make even the dangerous destinations a cool place to travel.

Minggu, 04 Maret 2012

Culturally London

Quite a lot of people have striven to define ‘Englishness’ and failed in fact English culture is really a mixed culture, having assimilated the best from many other cultures. Racially the English are Celts, Romans, Vikings, Saxons, Normans, with a handful of lesser traits thrown in for good measure. The colonial past has made the city more cosmopolitan than any other. Class is still often more important than color, though its boundaries shift with the winds. The English have always admired foreigners, and have imported other cultures, languages and foods, giving them a unique turn. The main distinguishing trait of the English is the aplomb. The stiff upper lip and the seeming endless capacity to put up with the unspeakable was given a boost during the blitz when Londoners faced the might of the Nazi bombing campaign and terrible hardships with a cheerfulness that was almost pathological. London is one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world. Where else can you order breakfast in Farsi, book a taxi in Urdu, ask for afternoon coffee in Arabic and spend the evening chatting with your friends in Cantonese? Over 300 languages are spoken in this very city. London is certainly the capital for multicultural events and festivals, and hosts the biggest celebrations for the Chinese, Sikh, Bengali and Hindu New Years. London also boasts some of the greatest festivals in the world , one can witness anything from Turkish belly dancers to 4 x 4 Bhangra dancers, Bharatanatyam dancers to flamenco dancers and Russian classical ballet to Mexican Folklorico. Students play a crucial role in making London so dynamic and your experience in this city will provide one with a network of friends from all over the world. London offers a fantastic diversity of population and supports a myriad of different lifestyles.People of all ages and backgrounds flock to London for many different reasons. They include improved work prospects, better wages, a higher standard of living and the stimulation of living in a bustling metropolis. The city’s lifestyles vary considerably and the options are endless. From nightlife to sport, shopping to theatre, art to dining there’s always something to do and people to meet. London’s long-standing ethnic diversity is an important factor in its popularity with settlers from overseas. The strong economy of the City draws many people including graduates from around the country and beyond. The presence of large numbers of long- and short-term visitors also adds to London’s vibrancy. As with all big cities, there can be issues with traffic congestion, crowded public transport, long working hours and high costs of living but there are ample compensations and ongoing improvements on many fronts. London is frequently likened to a collection of villages. Clusters of local shops, markets, parks, leisure centers and other venues help foster a feeling of local community within a conurbation of seven million people. Some areas have a particularly strong identities and associations making London a world in one city. The capital continues to draw newcomers all the time and it is a city that is always changing.

Sabtu, 03 Maret 2012

Cruising Through A Hurricane

Planning on a Caribbean destination in the late summer or autumn months? You are in luck! Cruise prices are at its lowest that time of the year. However, there is just one little problem: hurricane season! Cruising all year long is becoming more popular in the Caribbean, so those brave souls who book during the height of hurricane season should be prepared for last minute changes or diversions in their cruise travel plans. Hurricane season is officially from June 1st to November 30th. However, Mother Nature’s fury is often erratic depending on where you are traveling. For instance, mid to late August on through late September tend to be top times for storms on the East Coast of the United States as well as the Eastern Caribbean territories. Other areas of the Caribbean are more storm active in the latter part of the autumn season. Theoretically, your chances of encountering a hurricane on your cruise are small. But, the likelihood is there, so a traveler must keep that in mind when booking a cruise. Be advised that certain destination ports in your cruise may be skipped because of storm risks. So, if you have your heart set on a certain Caribbean stop, perhaps the best recourse is for you to plan your cruise for a different time of year. Safety is of utmost importance to cruise lines. After all, they want your repeat business! Their policy is to steer clear of any storms. Because of years of experience sailing in all types of weather, all cruise lines have emergency plans of action in place in the probability of encountering a storm. They also have sophisticated equipment to continually monitor the weather for any possible changes in the forecast. Since cruise lines make it a point to steer clear of storms, sometimes the cruise ships have to divert to alternate ports of call. This usually happens when their regularly scheduled stops are threatened or bombarded by storms or hurricanes. One problem cruise ships can encounter is that the calmer ports of call may be full with not only the regularly scheduled ships but also other cruises also looking for a temporary safe haven from the storm. In this instance, your cruise ship will just continue to sail, diverting to calmer seas, sometimes adding a few days to your journey. Unfortunately no refunds are given for any deviations to the cruise itinerary. Cruise lines have the discretion to switch ports of call. Be sure to read the microscopic print in your cruise agreement and paperwork. If you feel that you don’t want anything left to chance, you can always buy an insurance policy for your travels that covers interruptions due to weather conditions. Find out what all the fine print means on that policy before you set sail though! So what happens if a hurricane shifts suddenly? Your cruise ship can often elude the storm simply because of its speed. However, that does not mean you won’t experience any turbulent seas. You can bet that the ship’s infirmary will be bombarded with travelers seeking seasickness medications! Basically, when traveling during hurricane season, you have to be flexible. Plan a few extra days of being gone, just in case. Keep track of the weather starting a week or two before you set sail. Pack your Dramamine or whatever seasickness remedies you prefer. Most of all have fun and go with the flow.

Jumat, 02 Maret 2012

Cruising In Hawaii

The islands of Hawaii are a dream destination for many travelers, and a cruise that incorporates all four of the state’s beautiful islands could be just the ticket for your vacation plans. Each island has its own beauty and charm and is not the same as the others. From “Big Island” to Maui, to Oahu, to Kauai, there is something different and special about each local flavor. The best way to get a real taste of Hawaii, is to try the sample platter. Below, here is a little bit of what each individual island has to offer. Kauai is the smallest and furthest from the “Big Island,” but do not count it out in terms of local culture. Nicknamed the “Garden Island” for its rich wildlife and beautiful scenery, the island of Kauai is home to all kinds of different nature-based activities. You can go kayaking, biking, tubing, whale watching, off road sightseeing, picnicking, snorkeling, on eco tours, dinner cruises, or see a little bit of everything from an airplane tour. The best that Hawaii’s nature ha to offer is on the beautiful island of Kauai, and it is often used in Hollywood films for its representation of the natural wildlife of Hawaii, from garden to beach to Waimea Canyon, which you can traverse on a day long tour while visiting the island. Working your way back toward “Big Island,” your cruise boat will stop next at Oahu, the next largest island in the Hawaiian quartet. Home to the famous Waikiki beach resort, Oahu is known as the gathering place, and has been the dominant island in the chain since Honolulu was declared the capital some two hundred years ago. You can find most of the comforts of home on this developed island, but you can also go snorkeling or skydiving along the beautiful coast of the island. You can make a stop at Pearl Harbor for a bit of historical learning, and then go across the island to check out the Polynesian Cultural Center and fin out more about the rich cultural history of the island’s natives. Like the rest of Hawaii’s islands, Maui has a host of outdoor activities, from kayaking, to biking, to ATV tours and more. Learn to parasail or surf off the coast or attend an evening luau. Some of the finest beaches and golf courses in the world are located on this island, and the summit of the Haleakala volcano is truly a sight to behold. Moving on to our final island, your cruise will pull up to “Big Island,” which is also called Hawaii. It is actually larger than the rest of the three islands combined, and so there is a lot more to see and do. While Hawaii boasts much of the same activities as the other islands, including eco tours, island day trips, and surfing, there are things that you can only do on the island of Hawaii, such as touring the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Whatever you decide to do, there is plenty of natural beauty around and lots of outdoor activities to keep everyone engaged and entertained.

Kamis, 01 Maret 2012

Cruising For Special Needs Accommodations

If you are disabled or have certain special needs, you can still have a cruise ship adventure. If you fall into this category, your best bet is to consult with a travel agent to find the best cruise line that will accommodate your needs.

No two cruise lines are quite alike, so comparison shopping is required when choosing your options. Your particular disability could be the deciding factor on which cruise to take. For instance, not all cruise ships can accommodate wheelchairs easily. Cabins are notoriously small, so you must get dimensions to determine if your wheelchair will even fit inside your room.

Luckily, some of the larger cruise lines have specially designated cabins that have wider doorways. The bathrooms are large enough for a wheelchair to roll right inside. The closets are built for a lower reach and the elevators have controls easily accessible for those people sitting in wheelchairs. Some cruise lines will have collapsible wheelchairs available, but it is highly recommended that passengers bring their own. If motorized wheelchairs are in use, you must bring your own charger that is adaptable to a normal 110 volt plug.

Part of going on a cruise is experiencing the various ports of call. Small boats called tenders are used to carry the travelers from the cruise ship to shore. Every effort is made to ensure that wheelchair bound passengers get to experience these ports of call. However, the tenders that take passengers to shore are not always accessible or safe for the disabled. If the wheelchair bound does manage to safely get to shore, certain ports of call may not always be equipped to handle special needs.

Hearing impaired passengers can also request special accommodations. Some cruise lines will offer ADA (American Disabilities Association) compliant rooms. They will have tele-typewriters (TTY) or telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD). These cabins might come with ADA approved kits which include visual smoke alarms, door sensors so you know someone is at your door and even alarms that vibrate.

Travelers with guide dogs or other service animals will have a tougher time finding a suitable cruise. Each port of call has different rules and regulations regarding animals. Your travel agent can check with the Department of Agriculture for each port of call to determine their guidelines. Sometimes the services animals could be denied permission to leave the cruise ship.

Special nutritional needs are also accommodated on many cruise lines. Vegetarians have options as do those passengers who require low fat, low salt or low cholesterol diets. Guests with lung impairments that require oxygen can cruise too, but must ensure that they have a plentiful supply of oxygen for their travels.

One of the caveats for disabled guests or those with special needs is that you should be autonomous and travel with another companion in case any support during the cruise is required. No matter what infirmities you may have, the cruise line should be notified upon booking. However, with special planning for your special needs, you should be able to have an extra special adventure!