Monday, September 25, 2006

The Perfect Holiday Memento

Sharing my holiday memories
On my luxurious cruise on the Superstar Virgo I took many digital images. The sights of Phuket, Penang, James Bond Island, and KL were breathtaking and I had no problem snapping off a couple of hundred pictures with my trusty Olympus digital camera. I wanted to share my experience with my family and friends in a better way than just showing them the pictures on the back of the camera, or on a computer screen, or on prints stuck in an album.

I found this wonderful service on the web through a friend, called Although they specialise on wedding pictures, they are happy to work with any still imagery that you may have. What they do is so effective and totally transforms the way you view your holiday snaps. I sorted out what images I wanted included in the presentation and the order in which they are to be presented. They took my digital picutres, and the ones taken by the crew when you go on shore leave, and created a dynamic DVD presentation complete from them, complete with ambient background music. Just pop the disc into my DVD player and away we go! The best thing about it is that they add movement to the presentation. On one slide of my partner and myself standing on James Bond Island, the screen starts zoomed in on the James Bond Island sign, and then zooms out to show the whole frame - absolutely brilliant.

Price is quite reasonable and depends on the number of images to be included (a small additional fee applied for scanning of printed photos). However, unlike other similar services, I am allowed to make as many copies of the DVD that I like so that I can share my memories with my friends and family.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Best Thing about Cruises

A couple of things made me realised that cruising is a superior way to holdiay. Here are just a few reasons that made me like cruises over other kinds of holidays:
  1. The ship more than a floating hotel - it's a complete floating resort.
  2. You only have to unpack and repack your luggage once.
  3. Every day or two you are in a new country or port. You don't need to lug your luggage around.
  4. I've only been on the one ship so far (and planning another on the same for 2007!), but I liked the money-less system they used in which your door card was also your identification and credit card on board.

Just these few factors by far make a cruise the holiday of my choice!


My First Cruise - The Realisation

The Decision
In September 2005 I thought that I would surprise my partner for her birthday and embark on a holiday of a different kind. There seemed to have been a revival of the cruise ship industry, in an advertising sense at the least, and so-called "free style" cruising was popular.

The Apprehension
I was somewhat apprehensive about cruise ships for two reasons. Firstly I simply am not a water person. Although I was brave enough to receive my 15m swimming badge at primary school, my prowess in the water has never been remarkable - actually it is completely disappointing and marked with contradictions. When equipped with a snorkel and mask I can "dead man float" like the best dead man has ever floated and can view the wonders of the shallows with ease. However I find it completely impossible to dive! I manage to submerge by a foot or two before bobbing up to the surface like a cork. Now here's the contradiction. Without a mask and snorkel I find it almost impossible to tread water and tend to sink like a rock! I guess this is psychological and any comments on my mental disorder would be welcomed. I digress. My second apprehension is shipboard life. All of my mental images of cruise ships stemmed from the movies of the '40s and '50s (Doctor at sea, Carry On movies, A Night to Remember, etc.). The images generated was one of stuffiness and formality with everyone talking with a Noel Coward flair and all eagerly trying to make it to the Captain's table where the plates and cutlery slide to and fro with the rocking motion of the boat... you get the idea.

The Superstar Virgo
That's when I saw the advert for a cruise through the Straits of Malacca on the Superstar Virgo. Upon opening the brochure I discovered balcony class. No longer were cabins the size of coffins with a porthole too easily confused with a front-loading washing machine (childhood memory of a Mr Magoo cartoon there folks). In the newfangled ships of the late 20th century you actually had the option of a modest sized cabin complete with full glass windows and a sliding door to your own private little balcony.