Hey Ladies! LezCruise!

We're calling this newsletter April/May because it was supposed to go out two weeks ago. But we ran into one problem, and then another, and then...anyway, we're pretending it's still April.  It just makes us feel more productive.

In this issue we tell you about some LezCruise users and their recent Mexican Riviera cruise, profile Star Clippers cruise line, and give you some information on "The S Word" - seasickness.  We also tell you how to cruise for free and ask for some feedback about the newsletter.

Meet Anna and Amy
Anna and Amy plan the perfect family vacation to Mexico

As a non-parent, I always want to spend quality time with my niece and nephews and the children of my friends.  My friends who are parents love to have time away from their children but miss them if they're away too long.  This month's featured LezCruisers, Anna and Amy, figured out the perfect vacation, bringing together parents and non-parents. 
They booked a Princess cruise to Mexico for themselves, their two children, Olivia(3) and Asher(1), and the children's godmother Colleen and grandmother Diana.  Anna and Amy shared an inside stateroom and the Colleen and Diana took one child each.  In total, the group had two inside staterooms and one balcony.
Anna and Amy really liked the inside stateroom.  Anna says, "It was dark and we could sleep.  Nothing to wake you up until someone calls and delivers a child. But it was also really nice to have one room with a balcony where everyone could hang out." 
This cruise to Mexico was round-trip from San Francisco and Anna says that one of the best things about it was being able to drive from Oakland, where they live, to the cruise port in San Francisco.  I asked her how it was being a lesbian family on a non-gay cruise.  Anna says there were 2 other two-mom families and there was a two-dad family.  That's probably another benefit of leaving from San Francisco!  "Everyone was very welcoming and very nice.  There were no issues whatsoever.  All warm exchanges."
With Princess you can choose assigned seating for your dining or "anytime dining."  Anna and Amy chose anytime dining and it worked well for them.  "We'd be in a line, but it would go very fast.  We always had our own table, didn't ever have to share.  15 minutes was the longest we ever had to wait."  Anna adds that the food was great.  Her daughter especially loved the lobster.  She had seconds and woke up the next morning asking for more.
In Puerto Vallarta, they booked a swimming with dolphins shore excursion with a company other than Princess. This is because Princess required a minimum age of 5 and with the other tour operator both kids were able to get in the water with the dolphins.  There were tropical birds and sea lions at the same location and everyone had a great time.
In Alcapulco and Cabo San Lucas they booked, through Princess, beach breaks at resorts.  These were really wonderful.  There were four pools, including a child's pool.  They were also served a really nice lunch and had their own private cabana.
All in all it was a wonderful cruise for everyone involved.  And no wonder!  Anna and Amy definitely know how to plan a vacation! 

Cruising 101 - Sea Sickness
Seasickness?  No thanks!

Sea sickness, according to Wikipedia, is a "form of motion sickness characterized by a feeling of nausea and, in extreme cases, vertigo experienced after spending time on a craft on water." 

Your body maintains its balance through the interaction of signals between your inner ear and your other senses, particularly visual reference to the phyical things around you.  Your body uses this information to determine where it is in space and keep your center of gravity over your feet.  On land, most things around you are in a fixed position.  At sea, they are moving, and this can confuse the signals your body uses for balance, causing motion sickness.
Before our first cruise, I was very worried about sea sickness, as I tend toward motion sickness in cars and on planes.  I did some research before we sailed, and took the following precautions:
  • Booked a room on a lower deck, and near midship.  A ship's center of gravity is low and in the middle, so there is the least amount of movement in this area.
  • Drank lots of ginger ale
  • Took Bonine (an over-the-counter motion sickness medicine) at night
  • Wore Sea-Band wristbands - these are a non-medicinal way to handle sea sickness.  They have a little tab on the inside and work by pressing on an acupressure point that is supposed to relieve nausea.
These measures did the trick for me, especially the Sea-Bands - I find them very helpful and wear them on planes and car trips too.  They can be a little uncomfortable after a while, though, leave big red marks on your wrists when you take them off, and are distinctly unstyling.  I don't care, though, because they work - I wore them with my sparkly formal night dress.
Many people also take Dramamine or scopolamine, and I saw quite a few patches behind ears - these release scopolamine over a 3 day period, and require a prescription.
I had less trouble at sea than I do on a plane or as a passenger in a car (I'm fine when I'm driving) - even with Sea Bands I can't read on a plane, but I could read on ship, and was even able to take the bands off after a few days and still read.  I think it's because the motion of a ship is so rhythmic, as opposed to the jostling uneven motion of a plane or car.
The Wikipedia article from which I got the definition also recommends the following:
  • keep your eyes directed to the fixed shore or horizon, where possible.
  • lie down on your back and close your eyes.
  • drink any substance that is likely to temporarily diminish your senses of sight and touch (I don't really know what this means - it almost sounds like a recommendation to drink yourself senseless, but I can't imagine that is a good idea.  I find 7-Up or ginger ale helpful).
  • move into a position where fresh air is blowing on your face.
  • suck on crystallized ginger, sip ginger tea or take a capsule of ginger.
  • keep near the center of the boat where any rocking motion is least pronounced.
  • taking the helm of a yacht can reduce sickness as the sufferer has something to concentrate on, and can also anticipate the movement of the vessel (good luck with that one).
An interesting corollary to sea sickness is the phenomenon of "sea legs," sometimes also called "land sickness" - a short-term illusion of movement on dry land after spending time in a boat or small ship (Wikipedia again - I do love Wikipedia).
Basically your body gets used to interpreting moving signals to keep your balance, and then has to go through another adjustment period when you return to fixed signals on land.  After our first cruise, we were staying the night at a B&B in Florida before flying home the next day, and we both had the experience of getting up to go potty in the middle of the night and thinking "boy, the seas are really rough tonight" before realizing that we weren't on the ship anymore.  Definitely a weird sensation, but even worse is when your sea legs are gone completely and it's time to start pining for your next cruise.

Star Clippers
Cruises for Sailors

This month we want to introduce you to Star Clippers which sails in the Caribbean, French Polynesia, the Far East, and the Eastern and Western Mediterranean.  Star Clippers has three masted ships - the Star Clipper, the Star Flyer, and the Royal Clipper.  These are small ships - the Royal Clipper carries 227 guests and the Star Clipper and Star Flyer each carry 170 - and they are all about sailing. As their web site says, " If you're a boating enthusiast, you can choose to lend a hand hoisting the sails, you can climb the mast, or you can just lay back and let the crew do all the work."
Since these ships are small they can sail to ports most cruise ships can't get to.  They are also more casual than the average cruise ship.  There is no formal night and no assigned seating at meals.  If you like to snorkel and don't have your own equipment, you can get free equipment on the ship, to keep with you for the entire week.  The Royal Clipper has a marina platform that lowers from the stern for watersports and diving.  Other watersports available include water skiing, scuba diving, windsurfing, and banana boat rides. 
If you compare Star Clippers to other masted cruise lines, they are bigger and more luxurious than Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, and smaller and less luxurious than Windstar.  To give you an idea of pricing, a 7-night French Polynesia cruise starts at $2045 per person for an outside cabin.  The most luxurious cabin, the owner's cabin, goes for $4065 per person during peak season.  Star Clippers often runs last-minute specials.  For example, last July they were offering free airfare from the East Coast for several fall Caribbean cruises, along with outside cabins at $1545 per person.  They also offered two nine-night Far East cruise/tours starting at $2195 per person and free air from Los Angeles or San Francisco.
For a very thorough review of the Star Clipper click here.

In This Month's Newsletter:

Meet Anna and Amy
Have You Been Receiving Our Newsletters?
Please let us know!
A couple of months ago, we learned from a user with an AOL address that she hadn't received our newsletter in a couple of months. We were worried that it was the company we were using to send out our newsletter and switched to another company to see if that was any better. 
Now we're worried that some YAHOO mail users may not have received our last 2 newsletters.  We'd like to pick one company and stay with it and would appreciate any feedback from you. 
If you did not receive our February or March newsletters (and thought you should have) please send us an email to let us know.  Thanks so much.
Did you Know?
We can Book Olivia
Though we started LezCruise in order to provide an alternative to all-women cruises, we're certainly not opposed to all-women cruises. We just think there should be a wider range of options. 
Many people don't know that in addition to mainstream cruises, we can book Olivia, R Family, RSVP and all the gay cruises.  We also can often get you discounts on hotels and rental cars.  We love to talk about travel and help people plan the perfect vacation, and when you book your cruises and travel with us, you help us keep this web site afloat, so don't hesitate to call us at 503-419-6248 or 888-649-2879.
How to Cruise for Free
Free is a Very Good Price
We wrote about this in our September newsletter, but we think it's worth mentioning again.  Most cruise lines offer a free berth (called a tour conductor) when a group gets to be a particular size ("berth" = "bed". Thus, a free berth is one bed in a double occupancy cabin). Usually this ratio is one free berth for every sixteen passengers, but sometimes it can be as low as ten passengers.
What this means is that if you can gather together 10 - 16 people (family reunion? square dance group? lesbian choir? your book club?), you could go for free as the tour conductor!
Here's where we sweeten the deal for you.  Let's say you have 6 people who want to cruise together.  Give us a call and we'll set up the group.  Then we'll post it on LezCruise and hope that other people join you.  If and when the group gets big enough to earn the tour conductor, we'll give you the free berth, even if you didn't personally gather together all the people for the group. At LezCruise we're all about sharing the wealth!
Now, before you scramble out to start gathering your group, make sure you talk to us first, as not all sailings offer tour conductor berths - we'd hate to see you go to all that trouble for nothing:-)