Hey Ladies! LezCruise!

In this issue we profile Regent Seven Seas cruise line (our favorite) and give you some information about a Regent Caribbean group cruise in November.  We also tell you about one of our favorite destinations, and give you information about travel insurance.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Pamper yourself

It wasn't until I left the real world that I realized how much time I spend defending myself.  In the real world, when I'm standing in line, there is always someone who cuts in front.  When I'm driving there's always someone who cuts me off or veers into my lane without looking.  At the grocery store there's always someone with 40 items in the 10 items or less line.  That's just life and you learn to deal with these things.  (At the airport, I've become a bit of an expert at strategically turning my suitcase to prevent a line cutter from moving forward.) 
After our first Regent Seven Seas cruise, when we were back on land and defending ourselves in Ft. Lauderdale traffic, I turned to my partner Mary and said, "I just realized I didn't hate anyone the entire week we were on the ship."  It was that relaxing and there was just nothing to worry about.  Regent Seven Seas is a luxury cruise line with 4 ships, plus a chartered ship that sails Antartica.  The Voyager and the Mariner carry 700 guests and are all-balcony, all-suite ships.  The 490 passenger Navigator is all-suite, but not all-balcony.  The 320 guest Paul Gauguin was designed specifically for sailing French Polynesia year-round and is consistently ranked as one of the top cruise ships in the world.
One of the things Regent prides themselves on is two ratios - crew to passenger and passenger to space.  The crew to passenger ratio is the number of passengers on a cruise ship divided by the number of crew members.  In theory, the lower the number, the higher the level of service.  The Mariner's crew to passenger ratio is 1.6.  In comparison, Holland America's Volendam's ratio is 2.5.  The passenger space ratio compares the total public space of a cruise ship to the passenger capacity. A high passenger space ratio indicates a roomy ship.  The Mariner's ratio is 71.4 as opposed to 44 for the Volendam.
My theory is that these two ratios are why our week was so sublime.  The service was so excellent and there was more than enough space and crew to go around, and as a result there was no reason for people to behave badly.  Either that or we were just very, very lucky, which is also a possibility.  I will say, though, that we only had to stand in line 1 time for our entire cruise, and that was a 5 minute wait for an Easter brunch.
Regent is an all-inclusive line, which means that the following items are included in your cruise fare:  gratuities, non-alcoholic beverages, alcoholic beverages, fitness classes, specialty coffee drinks, and ALL your food.  There are specialty restaurants and there is no surcharge for these restaurants.
The smallest stateroom on the Navigator and Mariner is 301 square feet.  The smallest stateroom on the Voyager is 356 square feet and Paul Gaugin's smallest is 200 square feet.  The bathrooms are marble and huge compared to what you usually see on a cruise ship - on the Navigator we had a separate tub and shower and the bathroom was stocked with 4 oz. bottles of Aveda toiletries.   For about six months after the cruise I didn't have to buy any shampoo!
The food was very good on Regent Seven Seas.  They did a fantastic job of handling my dairy-free, sugar-free diet.  Each night I was given the menu for the next day's meals and I circled whatever I wanted and gave it to the maitre'd in the morning.  Even when I circled things like squash soup, which other cruise lines would say they couldn't do without dairy, they did it and it was fantastic.
The entertainment on Regent is nothing to write home about, and, because it is a smaller ship, you're not going to find the rock climbing walls, bowling alleys, mini golf courses, and other diversions of the bigger ships.  You're also not going to find loud pool games.  Regent provides a more quiet vacation, and for me, it was probably the most relaxing week of my life.
LezCruise has group space on the Voyager for a November 30 cruise which sails to Key West, Cozumel, Belize City, Santo Tomas de Castilla, and Costa Maya.  In honor of Gay Pride, Regent is offering a $100 per person cruise credit on this voyage to anyone who books through LezCruise.  If that's not the itinerary for you, they are also offering $100 per person cruise credit on any other cruise that is booked between June 16 and July 2.
To read a (very long) review of our Regent Seven Seas (then Raddison Seven Seas) cruise, click here.

Destination: Victoria
We love Victoria, BC!
Cruises to Alaska are very popular in the summertime, and many Alaskan cruises stop in Victoria, BC.  So we thought we'd do a little write up of our favorite town in the whole world (after Portland, of course).
As any cruiser knows, when a ship goes in to port, the majority of the passengers going ashore wedge themselves in to the main tourist areas, making those areas somewhat less than pleasant at times.  Victoria is no exception to this, but it's also possible to make just a couple little adjustments and avoid the main crowds.
For instance, if you've never been to Victoria, and live far enough away that you probably won't go on your own, you may want to do the tourist walkabout of the Inner Harbour (this is the area in which the bus from your ship will probably drop you).  Most people will begin immediately cramming themselves in to the Empress Hotel, Legislative Buildings, etc.  However, if you head down to the docks and buy a Harbour Tour with the Victoria Harbour Ferry, you'll spend about 45 minutes traveling the Harbour by boat, and you'll be able to get off and explore a ways away from the madding crowd.  There is also a Gorge Waterway Tour which is a bit longer and takes you away from the downtown area (I like this one better).  Each tour is about twenty bucks (they can also be combined), and by the time you're done, much of the initial onslaught of the main Inner Harbour area will have abated some (cross your fingers!), making for a more pleasant stroll of those areas.
And if the madding crowd is still too dense, there is Beacon Hill Park, just behind the Legislative Buildings, accessible by foot, bike or cab (you can probably even get one of those poor guys in the pedicabs to pedal you there).  This is a lovely park and has one of the most awesome petting zoos I've ever been in (we are always going to petting zoos, two middle-aged women among the kids waiting patiently - or sometimes not so - for our turn...).  They don't allow you to feed the animals, so the animals aren't expecting anything from you, so they just hang out.  One time I had an adorable Pygmy goat named Jay actually curl up in my lap and go to sleep.

There are also plenty of cool bike trails that begin right in the downtown area at the Legislative Buildings, and then head off through Beacon Hill Park, along the coast, through residential areas, etc.
Of course, one of the main Victoria attractions, Butchart Gardens, doesn't really have an adjustment - you'll just have to pile on to the tour bus with everyone else and head out.  However, it's a spacious place, and once there you should have plenty of room to roam on your own.
We hope this helps you explore the lovely little burg that is Victoria.

Cruising 101 - Travel Insurance
Protect yourself and your loved ones

If you ever book a cruise with us, we're going to recommend you buy travel insurance.  We'll even have you sign a waiver if you choose not to.  This is because your cruise fare is not refundable after a certain point, and travel insurance is the only way you will get your money back if something happens to prevent you from traveling - your partner gets sick, you have jury duty, etc.  However, paying for cancelled travel is not the only benefit.  Here are some things many people don't know about travel insurance.
  • Travel insurance will cover medical expenses and emergency medical transportation while you are traveling.  To me this is the most important reason to buy travel insurance.  There are all sorts of horror stories - the teenage boy who broke his neck while scuba diving, the woman who had a heart attack on the third day of a world cruise, the man who was hit by a drunk driver while sightseeing in London. Even if your medical insurance does cover your hospitalization and/or doctor's visits while traveling, it rarely covers medical evacuation which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
  • If you travel frequently, you can purchase an annual plan that covers medical expenses and emergency evacuation for an entire year of traveling for under $200.
  • Travel Insurance covers trip interruptions, travel and baggage delays, missed connections, and baggage and personal effects loss. I thought about this recently when we sat at the Jet Blue Terminal at JFK two days after the big April Nor'Easter.  We began chatting with a woman from Seattle who had missed her connecting flight in Boston the day before due to the bad weather.  Jet Blue told her they could not get her a flight from Boston to Seattle until Wednesday.  (It was Monday.)  She couldn't afford a hotel in Boston so she: 
    • flew to JFK at 6 am Tuesday and hung out in the airport all day with her unhappy teenage daughter
    • flew to Portland with us at 8 pm (ET)
    • arrived in Portland at 11:30 pm (PT)
    • set out for Seattle by car at midnight, probably getting home around 3 am on Wednesday
  • If they'd had travel insurance, it would have paid $150 per person towards a hotel in Boston and they could have spent two days sightseeing or sleeping in rather than sitting in the Jet Blue terminal.
  • For refundable travel, you can purchase insurance that doesn't include trip cancellation at a lower cost.  A person age 35-59 can purchase Zero Trip Cost insurance that covers Medical Expenses, Emergency Medical Transportation, as well as all the benefits in the above paragraph for $24.
  • Travel Insurance covers supplier default.  Tour operators, cruise lines, hotels, and airlines can and do go out of business and when they do, if they have your money, you are generally out of luck.  However, if you have booked travel with a company that is not on an Insurer's Do Not Sell list  and they go out of business, you will get your money back (HINT: check the Do Not Sell list before buying travel from a vendor, and don't buy from anyone on it).  Almost every cruise line and tour operator offers their own travel insurance, but their policies won't reimburse you if that vendor goes out of business, and for this reason, we don't recommend it.
LezCruise works with two different travel insurance companies, AIG Travel Guard and CSA.  We chose these companies because we feel they offer excellent coverage at very good rates, but also because their policies cover us as gay people.  Their policies define "domestic Partner" and include "domestic partner" in the definition of "immediate family member".  There's still discrimination there - in order to be domestic partners a couple has to have lived together for at least six months and share finances, whereas the straight people can run to Vegas with someone they just met yesterday and have hundreds more rights than us, but that's another article now, isn't it?
You can purchase travel insurance directly online, but when you purchase it from us, we get commission, which helps support the LezCruise web site.  If you have any questions about travel insurance, please don't hesitate to shoot us an email or give us a call.

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