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How To Find Port Information

Sunday, September 20, 2009

If you would like to find out information for specific ship ports, then please use the drop down menu that says "Choose A Location" at the top of the sidebar. I have listed each port title so that it reads.."Port Information for...".  Also, remember that you need to know the name of the port, because many ports are not in the cities to which you are going. For instance, Laem Chabang, is the name of the port for Bangkok, but it's not in Bangkok. The port for Christchurch, New Zealand is in Lyttelton. So make sure you look at your cruise itinerary for the proper name of the port. 

There are many ports that I  haven't had a chance to write about yet, and there are some ports that I wrote about, but I haven't had a chance to do a full blog post with photos yet. So, if there is a place that you want to know about that's not on the list, email me at and I might be able to find out for you, even if I haven't been there. One last thing. Keep in mind that not all ships (due to varying size) go to the same port. Sometimes, for instance, a small ship (say 1200 passengers) might dock in the city in Shanghai, whereas a 2000 passenger ship might dock outside of the city at a much further distance. Please make sure that you check your ship information first.

Hong Kong Port Information

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hong Kong has more than one port, but many ships just use one. The best port, Ocean Terminal, will dock you right on Kowloon island, just across from the best view in Hong Kong. If you are at this port, you can walk right off the boat and into the Ocean Terminal Mall, which is air conditioned and has a place to stop for coffee if you need it. You will have to walk through the mall to the exit, which isn't too far from where you get off of the ship. Anyone call help you find the exit. 

Once you leave the mall, you can walk to the underground train, which is just a few blocks down the only street that you will see once you exit the mall. Keep in mind that the word "Subway" means something different in Hong Kong. "Subway" is an underground walkway to help you cross the street. You will need to walk to the "Tsim Sha Tsui"station (there is a map you can click on to download a large pdf version)  to board the train . The people working in the booths are very helpful and speak english. You can read more about the subway system in my other posts on Hong Kong (which you can access with the drop down menu on the blogger sidebar that says "Choose a Location". 

If you don't want to take the subway, you can catch the ferry, just outside of the Ocean Terminal Mall.

Luther Bailey Travel Blog

Friday, September 4, 2009

 Mykonos, Greece, 2005
Hello! I had originally decided to create this travel blog for the purpose of journaling an extended trip, which took me through many parts of Asia (mainly), Australia and New Zealand.  I have seen many parts of the world over the years and, and I would like to add those places to this site as I get time.

For the most part, I was doing this for friends and family, but I've met many people from around the world through email about my various posts and would certainly be happy to have anyone follow along.  I enjoy sharing these fun "adventures". I will try to update as often as possible with a mixture of writing about cities, people and cultures... both the good and the bad. If I had to pick one thing that I love to do while traveling, it would be taking photographs. I am a published photographer, but I decided when I started this last trip and blog, that I would start taking photos of what the casual eye sees when walking down the street in these countries. I am generally frustrated when I look at photos on the internet of other cities and countries, because it's always just the perfect shots, not necessarily the reality. When people read travel blogs, they want to feel like they are actually there, so, I am going to do my best to make that happen. I may post the occasional video clip, but it will be short and simple. It's sometimes nice to get a glimpse of a place that way. Sometimes when I travel, I am only in a city/country for a short period of time and it's not possible to write a comprehensive review on everything there is to do and see in that place. I simply write about my impressions of what I saw and experienced in the time period that I am there.

All of my photo albums are going be on Flickr. The link to my Flickr albums is on the sidebar and on the Link bar at the top... or you'll see links at the end of most posts for those specific places. Please always feel free to post comments or ask questions. It's also quite possible that I need help naming photos of animals, statues, buildings etc, so again, feel free to comment. Thank you for following along and I hope you enjoy. I occasionally license or sell my photos for various uses. If you have a "For Profit" need, please feel free to contact me. I also occasionally allow people to freely use my photos on their websites and in magazine for credit, but I ask that you contact me first, if this is the case. Thank you!

Hong Kong

Oia, Santorini-Greek magic at it's best! (Archive)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oia, Santorini Greece

It's been three times now that I've stepped foot onto the seemingly storybook island of Santorini. This amazing volcanic island sits high up in the sky and even from the vantage point of a cruise ship or ferry boat, it seems to almost touch the clouds. It's circular shape can only be appreciated from the very top. Getting to Santorini is accessible by ferry boats from various islands, but many people come from Athens. It's about 120 miles southeast of mainland Greece and very much worth the trip.

Santorini Greece

When you approach Santorini from your boat or ship, you will notice that it is simply straight up. High cliffs support  the main town and the visible town of Oia which rests just around the bend. There are 600 steps that have been built which will allow you to gradually walk all the way to the top, or you can even have a slow donkey take you up there. I never took the donkeys for various reasons. One, I feel sorry for the donkeys, two, they have fleas, three, there's lots and lots of donkey poo on the trail...and I think that's it. So, for lazy and conscientious people like me, there is a steep tram which won't set you back too much, and it's quite a bit faster...unless you're in a long line and it's hot outside. You know how that works.

Oia Greece

Out of all the islands in Greece that I've been to, I would have to say that Santorini is the most beautiful. This is an island that has been in many movies, and recently "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (Don't tell anyone I saw that). All of my pictures that you see here, and most that you will see online, are actually from the town of Oia (pronounced "Ia"). Oia, is about 11 miles of sheer terror by bus from the bus station in the main town. In other words, when you get off of the tram (or donkey ride if you're adventurous...and immune to strange smells) you will be in the main town, Fira, and you can ask anyone where the bus station is. It's only a few minutes walk from the tram.

Oia Greece

Now, here's where it gets tricky. You approach the ticket booth you ask for a ticket,  you might get mumbles, gestures or polite information. You might get a ticket..or they might collect the money on the bus (about 1.20 Euros to Oia) or whatever they feel like at the time. Don't get me wrong, I love the Greeks, but they do what they want, when they want and it's their with it. You will eventually get on the bus and it has air conditioning. Believe me, this is a good thing. Next comes the ride of death...okay, I'm exaggerating. I'm sure it's very safe to ride, I was just scared of the driver who decided to speed very quickly around very steep cliffs, which had no railings. Maybe it's just me, but it just doesn't seem natural. If I'm going to die, I want it to cost more than 1.20 Euros.

Oia Greece

Finally we make it to Oia.....alive. Worth every second!! As you can see in my photos, this place is beyond amazing. There is a trail that you can walk, which will take you around this town on a cliff. There are so many nooks and crannies, along with vistas from every turn. The white buildings seem to be electric against the occasional bloom of neon pink flowers. The odd door will be panted various shades of the rainbow, along with the odd door which seems to go to nowhere. There are a number of shops and cafes along the path, and the townspeople are amazingly friendly and helpful. I would suggest stopping and relaxing with a cup of tea or coffee. Take your time and really enjoy this town. Take lots of photos and don't worry, the bus does come around again. By the way, I have lots of photos of Oia in my "Flickr" photo album, which you can click here to see.

Oia Greece

I won't go into the whole history of Santorini, and there is certainly much, much more to do than just my suggestion here. You can also click on this link to find out more about it's history and this link to go to Travel Advisor with some reviews of different options on Santorini.

Oia Greece

Anyway, if you ever plan on going to Greece, make sure Santorini is on your list. I will post more archives about other Greek areas soon.

Bighorn Sheep-A bit of local wildlife

Wild Bighorn Sheep, Lake Mead Area, Nevada

Although my profile says I live in Los Angeles, I have been in the Las Vegas area for the past couple of years with work and academics, and will return to CA after my overseas adventure. I have been working with the National Park Service during this time and part of my function was to be a photographer for various publications and needs. Most people don't realize that outside of the Las Vegas strip, lies the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA), Red Rock National Conservation Area, Desert National Wildlife Refuges, Mount Charleston, City of Henderson, Boulder City, Hoover dam and a whopping 3 million people living in the area. Most people living here never even consider hanging out on "The Strip."

Lake Mead, Nevada

Lake Mead is beautiful, and surrounded by various mountains and scenic areas. I could go on and on about how many recreation things there are to do in the area, but you may clink on this link to find out. Lake Mead connects to Hoover dam and of course the Colorado river runs through the area. Boulder City is a small town that lies in the gateway to Lake Mead (at least on one side of it) and is usually the way people drive to the lake or Hoover Dam. It has very small town feel and everyone tends to know everyone. This is where our Lake Mead NPS headquarters sits in an old, historic building.

Lake Mead, Nevada-Bighorn Sheep

Wild Bighorn Sheep,  Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

One of the popular draws for those who like wildlife, are the Bighorn sheep. They live throughout the rocky, mountainous terrain. Most of them are skittish around people but do come down into certain areas where you can view them on occasion. If you hike through any of the canyons or on the mountain trails, you can often spot them standing on cliffs high up above. We don't usually use the term "Ram" anymore for the male, but these are the sheep with the curved horns that you often see in nature shows or photographs. I was quite lucky to get these shots of the male Bighorn in his natural environment with a telephoto lens. I have hiked through various areas over the past couple of years and generally they are perched too far away on a mountain ledge to capture. Typically, they won't bother you, but it's advised not to squat down and bend your head down, as they might take this as a challenge.

Bighorns are beautiful creatures and at times, you  may see 60 or 70 of them together on the mountain areas. Occasionally, they wonder down into Hemenway Park (outside of Boulder City), which is a small grassy area they like to graze on. I often see tours company bring their groups to see them there.

Lake Mead Area, Nevada

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

As a side note: during the spring, in addition to the wonderful cactus life, we also have many types of wildflowers that grow in the desert areas. If you enjoy nature photography or just looking there is certainly enough to see. The River Mountain loop trail runs 35 miles around the River mountains (which is next to Lake Mead) and many people like to bike ride or hike around portions of it. It's a great place to see wildlife and nature. If you'd like to see a few more photos of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you may click on this link to see some pictures in my Flickr photo album.

Lake Mead Area, Nevada

River Mountain Loop Trail,  Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Port Information for Sanya Hainan China

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Port for Sanya, is a new and modern setup. It sets out on Phoenix Island, which is a peninsula from the mainland. It is possible to walk to town from the Pier, but it really depends on how much walking you want to do. I took a bus into the town, which let me off further down into the shopping area. I walked quite a bit through town and eventually made it back to the Pier. If you are older and have a hard time walking far, then certainly take a bus or taxi. The weather is hot and humid on Hainan, so walking can make  you work up a sweat. Keep in mind that Immigration on Hainan is pretty strict, so the rules may change as to what you can and can not do from the Pier. You should read my blog posts about Hainan, there are a few and they have photos.

You can access my posts by click on the drop down menu in the sidebar that says "Choose A Location", and then selecting "China-Hainan".

Port Information for Naples, Italy

The port for Naples, is pretty much right in town. HOWEVER, Naples is, well, dirty, scary and not the kind of place you just want to wander around in. That may offend some Italians, but most people will agree with me. I have been to Naples, five times, so I speak from experience. It is easy to walk from the cruise terminal to where the Ferries for Capri leave, and you can buy your overpriced tickets there. Be warned though, the people working in these ticket booths are not nice. 

Pompeii is accessible by train, but it's a long walk to the train station, and again, if you're not very comfortable in uncomfortable environments, then I would book a tour from the boat. It's easy, very easy to get lost in Naples if you get off at the wrong train station. I am sure that many people, including myself, have walked around Naples and have been fine, but even I have been approached for nefarious means and it's not fun. Just be safe and take a tour. That being said, you were with a large group of people and want to walk to a cafe someone, then you'd probably be okay. Naples has a high crime rate, and frankly, I have never met a warm and friendly Naples local. 

I haven't written a blog post about Naples yet, but I will soon, with pictures, I hope this helps for now. 

Port Information for Livorno, Florence or Pisa, Italy

The port for both Florence and Pisa is about 90 minutes away in Livorno. Livorni, is a beautiful little town, but most people don't venture there since Florence and Pisa awaits. I would suggest taking a tour from the ship, to Florence, it's just easier than trying to do it on your own. At least you'll be in a safe, comfortable bus and the ship won't leave you if you get stuck in traffic. Florence is by far a better choice than Pisa. More to see and do. No offense to Pisa, but it's not the same experience. Florence, is easy to walk around in and just beautiful. It's safe and make sure you take your camera. I haven't written a blog post on Florence yet, but I will soon, with photos. I hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Juno, Alaska

The port for Juno is literally right in town. You can step off the boat and you're right there on main street. There are many tours that you can buy on the pier. Nothing is ever cheap, but it's probably cheaper than what the ship would charge. Juno is small, but safe and comfortable. I haven't written about Alaska yet, but I will soon, with photos. Hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Xiamen (Gulangyu) China

The Port for Xiamen China is far enough away from the center of town, that you can not walk. The Chinese authorities there will make you take a bus from the port. Depending on how you get to the port, the ship may provide a bus or the city might. More than likely, you will have to take a bus that the cruise ship provides. I don't know if you will be allowed to take Taxi's from the port, but more than likely not. Many ports (especially in China) have high security and they don't allow people to walk out of the Port gates to catch a cab. Xiamen is safe and comfortable. You should read more about Xiamen in my other blog post. You can access it by clicking on the drop down menu (on the sidebar) that says "Choose A Location).

Port Information for Sitka, Alaska

The port for Sitka, Alaska is a tender port. It doesn't take long to get to the pier from the ship. It is easy to walk into town from the pier. Sitka is safe and comfortable. I haven't written about Alaska yet, but I will soon, with photos. I hope this helps for now. 

Port Information for Ketchikan, Alaska

The port for ketchikan, Alaska is a tender port. The town is quaint, safe and easy to walk around. The trip from the boat to the pier is a pretty short one, but the water can be a little bumpy (although generally not bad). 

Port Information for Okinawa Japan

The Port for Okinawa is pretty much in town. You can easily walk from the Port to the shopping areas. It is about six blocks to the shopping area, once you are out of the port gates. Okinawa looks a bit run down when you initially leave the port area, but it cleans up once you get into the nicer part of town. Okinawa is safe, but can feel gritty and humid, depending on the weather. I didn't particularly like Okinawa, but that was just personal taste, you may love it. You should read more about Okinawa in my other blog post. You can access it by looking on the sidebar of my blog and clicking on the drop down menu that says "Choose A Location". 

Port Information for Vancouver, Canada

The port for Vancouver is right in town and easy to walk to and from. If you have a lot of luggage, then you might want to take a taxi. Vancouver is safe and comfortable to walk around, not to mention beautiful. I have not written a blog post about Vancouver, but I will soon, with photos. I hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Nagasaki Japan

The Port for Nagasaki Japan is right in town. It is easy to walk into town from the port, and there is a Tram stop there also. If you are planning on going to see some of the famous sites, such as "Peace Park", then you have to take the Tram or Taxi. Generally, you can buy an all day pass for the Tram at the Pier in the tourist information booth. I don't remember the cost, but it was reasonable, maybe $8 U.S. 

Nagasaki is a very walkable city in general and there are plenty of things to see that are in walking distance from the Pier. Make sure you have a map, and realize that the city street layout can be a little confusing. Although the Japanese are wonderful people, many of them will be too shy to answer questions. This is not them being rude, it's just their nature at times. The city is extremely safe and comfortable. You should read more about Nagasaki in my other blog post, which has pictures. You can find it by clicking on the drop down menu on the sidebar of the blog that says "Choose A Location". 

Port Information for Villafranche, France

The port for Villafranche is a tender port. The shops are too big to pull up to the pier. However, it is a short ride from the boat to the pier. The pier itself, it right in town and you can walk all over from there. The train station is a short walk from the pier (you can see it from there) and you can take the train to other areas in the south of france. I haven't posted anything about the south of France yet, but I will soon. I hope this helps for now. 

Port Information for Mykonos Greece

The Cruise port for Mykonos has been moved in the past few years to slightly a slight further place from town than what it used to be. It's possible, but really too far to walk to town from there. Generally, there will be free shuttles provided by the ship that you can take advantage of. If you are taking a Ferry from somewhere else in Greece, then that port is much closer to town and easy to walk from. Mykonos is very safe and comfortable to walk around. 

Port Information for Dalian, China

The Port for Dalian China, is close to town and pretty much walkable. Generally, if there is a bus offered into town from the port, then it's best to take the bus. However, if you want to walk back, then that is possible. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but let me explain.

Dalian, is somewhat of a big city. If would be easy to get lost if you just wandered around on your own and didn't have a good sense of direction. If you have a good map and know what you're doing, then it's plenty feasible to walk into town and back to the port. The best option though is to let the bus or cruise company drop you off in the main part of town and then you get your bearings from there. At that point, you can look at your map and decide where you want to walk and then decide if you want to walk back to the Pier later. It can take a while to walk from town to the Pier, and you have to know where to access the Pier on the map.

Also, it's possible that you may not be allowed to walk from the Pier to town, but they will allow you back in the gates if you walk back to the Pier. Chinese Immigration can be funny. Dalian is safe and comfortable, so there is generally no safety concerns. You should read my posts about Dalian by clicking on the drop down menu on the blog sidebar that says "Choose A Location".

Port Information for Rhodes, Greece

The port for Rhodes is right at the beginning of town. You can walk off the boat and up through the stone gates to the first of the shopping area. Rhodes is safe and easy to walk around. I haven't written a blog post on Rhodes yet, but I will soon, with photos.

Port Information for Crete, Heraklion, Greece

The port for Heraklion,Crete in Greece in right in town. You can easily and comfortably walk from the port to the shopping areas. The town of Heraklion feels a little bit like a maze, so you will have to walk up some side streets to get to the main shopping area. It is safe there, but a little gritty. Watch out for traffic, crazy drivers and motorcycles. I haven't written a blog post on Crete yet, but I will soon. Hope this helps for now.

Travel Visa Information for China

If you are an American and planning on going to China, then you are required to obtain a Travel Visa. It is highly recommended that you plan this well in advance. I obtained my Visa two months in advance through a Visa service. It can take weeks to process.

What you MUST know:

1. You CAN NOT get into China without a Travel Visa (as an American). Period

2. Decide if you are going to need a Single or Multiple entry Visa. This is extremely important. A single entry Visa is only if you are going to China, and staying in China for the duration of your vacation. If you are leaving China for any reason and returning then you need a multiple entry Visa. For instance, if you are on a cruise ship that goes to Shanghai, then to Taiwan, then up to Beijing, you HAVE to have a multiple entry Visa. I stress this because I have seen people confined to the ship for this. They will NOT let you off the boat in China, if you have used up your single entry visa. So err on the side of caution and always get a multiple entry visa. 

3. Multiple and Single entry Visas are the same price. They are not cheap and can run $100 to $200 per person, depending on where you get it. For instance, if you live in San Francisco where there is a Chinese Consulate,  then you can walk in and get the Visa Processed yourself. If you live in a state that does not have a Chinese Consulate, then you have to hire a service to do it for you. You can not mail your Visa application to the Consulate, someone has to literally walk in and process it on your behalf. This is why there are Visa services. 

A Visa service will generally charge you $70-$100 per person in addition to the cost of the Visa, when all is said and done. This is how I obtained my Visa.

4. There are multiple forms that you have to fill out in order to apply for a Visa. The Visa Service or the Consulate will give you this paperwork. If you are using a Visa Service online, then you can generally download the pdf versions. You will need to get two passport photos and mail them along with your application. You can get more detailed information from the Visa Service or Consulate. 

5. A Visa takes up an entire page on your passport and the Chinese Immigration officials will stamp on additional pages. In other words, make sure you have plenty of blank pages in your passport, as well as having at least six months remaining on your passport. They won't let you into the country or process your paperwork if your passport expires sooner than six months.

6. Chinese Immigration seems to be different every time you go to a new part of China. So Immigration in Beijing doesn't always have the same methods as Immigration in Hainan. Be prepared to deal with this  at times. Chinese Immigration is generally nice and helpful, but take care not to be rude or argumentative. Remember, you're in someone else's country.

I know this is a lot of information, but it's important, please do your research. 

Port Information for civitavecchia (Rome)

The port of Civitavecchia is a long, long ways from Rome. I would recommend taking the ship transfer to the city, or taking a tour. It takes anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic. There is a train that you can make your way to via taxi, but it's a little more work and can be worrisome if you have to  be back on the boat that evening. If you are going to a hotel in rome, then the train takes about 1.5 hours and isn't too expensive. The train can be delayed at times, so that's why it's best to not use it if you are on a schedule coming back to the boat. That being said, people do take the train at times, but they also miss the boat at times.

I would say for your safety, it's best to just swallow your pride and pay for the transfer. At least then you're on a nice, air-conditioned bus, rather than a crowded train. I haven't written about Rome yet. I have been there many times by plane and boat, but I will write on it soon with photos. I hope this helps for now.

Port Information for "Lyttelton" Christchurch New Zealand

The port for Christchurch is a long ways from the city. The port is in a town called "Lyttelton". Lyttelton, is a nice little spot which sits on the mountain side. There are options to get to Christchurch, such as bus services offered by the city and you can generally buy tickets out at the pier for about $7 U.S. The cruise line won't tell you this, but it's there if you need it. There are usually people on the pier in neon jackets that can sell you the ticket. Keep in mind that a lot of people do this, so it can be a little crowded at first.

There is also a free shuttle which runs back and forth to Lyttelton. You can't just walk out of the port, as far as I remember. It's not safe to walk around the equipment, etc... I would say that it is easy to walk around Christchurch. If you're there early in the morning, not much will be open. Some people go in around 9 or 10 am for when the shops open. If you just want to see the city, itself, then there is no need to book a tour. I haven't written about Christchurch yet, but I will soon, with photos. Hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Dunedin New Zealand

The port for Dunedin is too far out of town to walk. There is a tiny town that is at the port area, but it's not Dunedin. It was easy to hire a taxi to Dunedin, and it cost about $40 U.S dollars. There is not a lot to do by foot in Dunedin, but it's a nice little town and would be fine to walk around for a while. I was with some friends from Australia who rented a car and we drove all over the area. There are some amazing things to see and do if you have that option. They drive on the english side of the road, so it's not good for Americans to rent cars. I would suggest taking a tour from the ship if you want to get out and see something. Dunedin is safe and clean. I haven't post about it yet, but I will soon, with photos. I hope that helps for now.

Port Information for Hobart Tasmania

The port for Hobart, Tasmania is right in town and you can easily walk it. The town is safe and not too big. You won't need hours to walk it. There are plenty of nice little shops and cafes to sit in. If you get there early in the morning, you may have to wait for things to open. It's has more of a small town feel to it. I haven't written on Hobart yet, but I will soon with photos. Hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Barcelona Spain

The sea port for Barcelona is pretty close to town. In fact, if you had a LOT of energy and hardly any luggage, it is possible to walk. HOWEVER, I don't recommend it. I have been to Barcelona by plane and boat a number of times, and have walked from the pier to town, but without luggage. For instance, if you fly into Barcelona and your ship leaves late in the day, you can take a cab to the pier, usually check in your luggage, and then walk to town. Walking is up and over a large overpass type bridge, so if it's hot, then it's not fun.

Taking a taxi from your hotel to the Pier costs about $20-35 U.S., depending on where your hotel is. The cab drivers are generally honest and won't wind you through streets that go out of your way. Going from the Pier to town is the same cost and there are always lines of taxis that come through. However, catching a taxi if you disembark the ship in Barcelona... is going to be a wait. There are typically hundreds of people getting in line waiting for one, so be patient.  There is also a bus that you can catch from the Pier that will take you into town. You should have some Euros in small bills for that though.

Taking a taxi to the Pier from the airport costs about $35-45 dollars (but in Euros). The ride is maybe 20 minutes. To go straight into town is only another five to ten minutes, but traffic in town can be rough.
I haven't posted on Barcelona yet, but I will soon. I hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Melbourne Australia

The port for Melbourne is a way out of the city. There is a short walk to catch the train into town. You will basically need to walk to the little grocery store by the tracks (you can't miss it) and buy an all day pass. It's not too expensive at about $6.50 U.S. The train into town takes about 20 minutes or so and is pretty comfortable. You can walk all over Melbourne and safely. I even walked to the tennis center with not too much sweating. I would highly recommend walking along the river, it's beautiful. Do NOT try to catch the last tram back, bad idea. They are pretty small and will be very crowded. You don't want to miss your boat, so come back with enough time so you don't have to worry. I haven't posted on Melbourne yet, but I will soon with pictures. I hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Sydney Australia

The port for Sydney (if it's not already booked) is literally right next to the Opera House. The best sail in ever. Be sure you're up early to see it. Sydney is safe, fun to walk around, and wonderful. The people are kind and helpful. Sydney is huge though, so you can't walk it all in one or twenty days. The taxis are reasonable and worth using. I paid about $16 U.S to go all the way to Paddington, which is on the far end of Oxford street. So, it's not too bad. There is a subway system, but I don't think there is a stop right at the port. You would have to walk a little ways, so it's best to use a taxi with luggage.  Enjoy Sydney and spends days there, you still won't see it all. I haven't posted yet on Sydney, but I will soon with photos. Hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Cairns, Australia

The port for Cairns is literally right in town. Within mere feet, you can be in downtown Cairns. Most people take tours out to ride the train or go to one of the islands to snorkel in the reef. There is good and bad news. It is much cheaper to buy tours at the tour office in town. The bad news, is that you will be lucky to get off the boat in time, get to the office and grab a ticket to anywhere in the midsts of hundreds of other people trying to do the same thing. It's possible, but not easy. Also, then you'll end up paying to much to scalpers who offer there services to the tourist office. 

The ship will probably charge too much, but if you really, really want to ride the train or take a tour, you're probably better off buying it from the ship in advance. Cairns is pretty and quite safe if you just want to walk around on your own. I haven't written a blog post about Cairns yet, but I will soon. I hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Hamilton Island (Whitsunday) Australia

Hamilton Island (Whitsunday Islands)  is a tender port. It takes a little while on the tender, but it's not too bad. Hamilton island is fantastic and well worth the day. You don't need to buy an excursion there at all. In fact, once you are on the island, you can walk just over the hill to the resort, and use the facilities for free. Yes, free (except for hired water sports equipment). So that means you can use the pools, the beach chairs, showers, no charge. Hamilton is one big resort. Trust me, spend most of the day lounging on that beautiful beach. Take plenty of money for food though, food is not cheap on this island. I haven't written a post about Hamilton yet, but I will soon, with photos. Hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Darwin Australia

The port for Darwin is pretty much right in town. It won't look like it and the ship will try to scam you into buying a transfer ticket, but don't fall for it. If you are older and have a hard time walking, then you might want to take the transfer. However, when you get off of the ship and exit the last building, there will be a sea-walk to your right. You will see a long concrete path that will take you half way, until you see a nice building on your left. Follow that path and then there is a glass elevator in the last building. The elevator is outside, so you can hop right in. It will take you to the next floor up and then you simply walk across a small bridge and there you are. 

Darwin is small. Darwin is hot and humid. You can safely walk anywhere, BUT wear lots of sunblock and take bottled water. If you have energy and a good map, you can even walk to the botanical gardens...but you WILL sweat if it's hot out. I haven't written a blog post yet on Darwin, but I will soon. Hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Komodo Island Indonesia

Komodo island is a tender port. You CAN NOT get off of the boat and on a tender if you do not have a tour. This is the law there. Komodo is a national park and not a recreation island. You have to have a tour scheduled with a ranger in order to go anywhere on the island. Otherwise, it wouldn't be safe. You would get eaten. 

You have an option of buying a private tour online before you leave on your trip to asia, but you have to have proof to show the ship. Otherwise, you have to buy an excursion from the ship. Komodo island is HOT. Your tours will be scheduled throughout the day, so you can't go onto the island until it's time for your tour. Take bottled water and realize that if you go later during the day, the tender ride will be hot also. Komodo is dry and not humid. When you walk through the woods to see the dragons (with your guide) you will sweat profusely. There is no breeze in the woods. That being said, it's worth it. Keep in mind that Komodo island is not cheap. If you want to eat or buy T-Shirts, you won't get those cheap Indonesia prices, and they may or may not bargain with you. They have a good thing going there.

It is certainly worth going to see the dragons, but just keep in mind the things that I mentioned. I haven't posted a blog post or photos yet, but I will soon. Check back in the "Choose A Location" drop down menu.

Port Information for Padang Bai on Bali Indonesia

Padang Bai is a tender port. The ride isn't too bad, but it can be quite hot and humid, so try to sit by the window in the tender. Be prepared to be bombarded at the pier by vendors. I haven't posted on Bali yet, but I will be adding posts and pictures soon. Also, don't take the last tender back. Be smart and come back early. Trust me. 

Port Information for Semarang, Indonesia (Java)

The port of Semarang is somewhat close to town, but you don't want to walk there. Repeat, you don't want to walk there. Semarang is a tiny, dirty little town and there is nothing to see there. I would highly suggest a tour to other parts of Java. Do NOT hire a taxi. There are clear reasons. The traffic on Java is slow. The only exciting thing to go see is the Borobudure temple, and it's a long, long ways from the port. Here's the deal, if you hire a taxi, sure it's cheaper, but you will get stuck in regular traffic and likely miss your boat. If you go on a tour, you will have police escorts and they will get you through the many, many small towns much faster. The bus ride to Borodudure is very long and can be a bit curvy. Take some bottled water with you, but they generally have some on the bus. 

The temple is amazing and well worth the trip, but be prepared for a long and tiring day. I enjoyed Java, but there is a lot of poverty and you will be safer with a tour guide. I will write about Java and post pictures soon. Please check back for blog posts. Hope this helps for now. 

Port Information for Koh Samui, Thailand

The port for Koh Samui can only be gotten to by a tender boat. The ride to the shore is easy and generally calm as long as it's not storming. If you are taking a ferry boat from Bangkok, then you can dock at the pier, but large ships can't. There are many small "towns" on Koh Samui, so you will be dropped off in a small town. There will be plenty of opportunities to hire a taxi, small truck or van at the pier to tour you around. I have written a lot about Koh Samui in my blog posts. You can access them by using the drop down menu on the sidebar. There are 8 posts so far with pictures. Remember to bargain with the drivers. DON"T pay $100 for a taxi tour. You can do way better if you read my posts. Hope this helps.

Port Information for Da Nang, Vietnam

The port for Da Nang is a considerable distance outside of town. There is nothing to walk to from the port. Da Nang (as with a lot of Vietnam) is a bit rough around the edges. It is best to either take a tour from the ship (and be prepared for factory stops for shopping "Opportunities"), or at least take the transport bus offered by the ship. I have written a lot about Da Nang and Hoi An in other blog posts on here. You can get to them with my drop down menu on the side bar.

I chose to do most of my traveling, not on a tour, but with just a friend. If you are at all timid or uncomfortable in crowded, awkward situations, then you might do better on a guided tour. Be prepared to realize that Vietnam is not the place that you've been lead to believe it is by the tour industry, it's...well, just read the blog posts and you'll see. Although, you may love it, some people do.

Port Information for sihanoukville, Cambodia

The port for Sihanoukville, Cambodia is outside of town. It is not possible to walk and they wouldn't let  you if you tried. The area around the port contains some houses on the water that seem interesting, but you can't go there. You should know that Sihanoukville is nothing like Siem Reap. It's not pretty, not interesting and a bit hectic. You will have to take the bus (that is provided by the ship) to town. I don't think they will let you take a taxi, but I wouldn't recommend it even if you could get by with it.

When you arrive in Sihanoukville, it will be chaotic at the place they drop you off. In fact, some people won't even get off of the bus. The local people are harmless, but very, very aggressive with "Tuk TuK" rides, items for sale, etc.. and it will be like making your way through an elvis sighting. Have a thick skin in Sihanoukville. You can use american dollars. Be wise. There is a bank and atms there also, but you don't need much money to eat or buy a nick-nack here and there. I will write blog posts with pictures on Sihanoukville here soon. Hope this helps for now.

Port Information for Singapore

The port of Singapore is beautiful and nestled in the middle of many miles of cranes, buildings and trees. The great thing about the port is that it is connected to the subway train. Once you exit the ship, you will go down a long hallway and then through Immigration. PLEASE know that you can NOT carry anything off of the ship that is even remotely suspicious (such as prescription pills without the bottle or Dr's note). Don't get me wrong, they are very, very nice in Singapore and Singapore is very safe. However, the laws there are quite strict. In fact, if you get caught with illegal drugs, it's the death penalty. They are not playing around. Don't litter, spit on the ground, damage or vandalize anything.  I wouldn't suggest wearing tube tops, short-shorts or shirts with inappropriate language on them. There is a large Muslim and Indian population in Singapore, so there is some cultural diversity in belief systems.

That being said, I always felt comfortable there. People were friendly and helpful and the city is immaculately clean. The train station from the port takes about 25-35 minutes to get into town. You have to buy a card from the machines. It's a little confusing, but you put in money and they give you a hard plastic card that you refill (generally). The train into the city was about $6 or so (if I remember correctly). You buy your train card amount by the section that you will be traveling in. There will be a map showing you the different zones. 

Some times, the cards will not refill and you will have to refund them at the ticket booth and get another one. I have no idea why. It is important to have a map with you and realize that distances on the map can be skewed once you get outside of the city center. I went to the Bird Sanctuary and it took a while to get there, in addition to a bus ride. It wasn't difficult, but it does take time.

The trains can be crowded and it's best to go the the city center first. Keep in mind that Singapore is a big city and the day will go by fast. Leave yourself a good hour or so to get back to the port, because you will have to go through customs/immigration again.

Kobe, Japan- Airport Transportation and Port Information

Getting from the KIX (Kainsai international Airport) to your local destination in Japan can be a daunting and confusing task for those who are not used to traveling overseas or have not been to Japan. Don't get me wrong, Japan is efficient, clean and you can get from point A to B on their public transportation system. However, if you are staying in Kobe, Osaka or Kyoto, taking the mass transit system can take considerable time navigating if you're inexperienced and often means transferring from one type of train to another, or a long bus ride... in addition to dragging your luggage along for the ride.

Having lived in the San Francisco area for years, I was spoiled by the "Super Shuttle" company which would take you from the airport to the destination of your choice and visa-versa...for a reasonable fee. I was  quite excited to find that the Kobe/Osaka area has a similar company "MK Skygateshuttle". This service was recommended to me by the "Crowne Plaza Hotel" as being reputable and affordable. After doing some research, I found that their prices were the same as what it would cost me on the trains to downtown Kobe (about $25-$35 U.S.) and would take about the same amount of time on a good day. Keep in mind that these type of shuttle services generally carry a few passengers at a time and may mean that you have to stop at a few other hotels first. Being picked up at the airport and dropped off in front of my hotel, however, seems much more appealing after a long, 12-hour flight than trying to figure out train signs. By the way, MK Taxi also operates from other airports in the area.

If you are coming in or going out by ship, then this is for you. There are a number of port stops in Kobe, Japan, but all are within town. It is very easy to catch a cab from any of the ports in Kobe, to your hotel in Kobe. Keep in mind though, that even though a cab ride from the port of Kobe to the center of town in Kobe is cheap, a cab ride to Osaka or Kyoto would be relatively expensive due to the distance. If you don't have a lot of luggage, you can take a cab from the port to the nearest subway station and catch your train to Osaka or Kyoto there. The trains are not always cheap either for a short ride, and can be crowded, depending on the time you are there. I have used the trains quite a bit, and have never had a problem with people being rude or pushy, but the crowd can make it impossible to carry luggage during rush hour.

My cab ride from the Crowne Plaza in Kobe to the port was only about $10 U.S., so not bad. Osaka is about a 30 minute train ride from Kobe, so you can guess on the distance for a cab. I would always recommend staying in Kobe if you are going out of Kobe on a ship.

Busan Korea Port Information

The port for Busan, Korea is located a bit far from the center of town. It is not a great distance, but there is no way you could walk it. Also, it is generally the case that you will be required to take a bus that is offered by the cruise company, rather than try to find a taxi. It took about 20 minutes to get to the shopping area of Busan, by bus, but I am not sure what a Taxi would cost. Again, I don't remember if you are even allowed to take a Taxi from the port, and the area around the port is kind of run-down. Busan was extremely safe and although people don't seem to smile much, they were generally helpful and kind. There are more posts  and photos of Korea in my blog, which you can access by clicking on the "Korea-Busan" link in the "Topics" section on the side bar. There are plenty of photos that you can link to also.
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