Ask Joan about a cruise across the Atlantic, going to Yosemite, Iceland on a budget

An 18 day cruise from Barcelona to Miami, Yosemite in November, Iceland for students

Bridal Vail fall in the spotlight

Bridal Vail fall in the spotlight

 

We are two brothers, early 60s, going on a cruise for the first time. We travel in October with MSC from Barcelona to Miami, over 18 days. We stop off in Malaga, Funchal, Barbados, Martinique, St Maarten, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Miami. Can you give us any advice re the cruise, weather and the beautiful places we will visit? JK, Dublin.

The cruise you are going on is a very special one; as the ship repositions it will take you from Europe to the Caribbean and North America. This trip will combine the fun of visiting lots of destinations with a sea voyage.

When it comes to your cruise wardrobe, shorts, chinos and swimwear for daytime and jacket and slacks for dinner with casual shirts. MSC usually has a gala dinner each week of a cruise, you’ll be told which day which is a little more formal so bring a jacket and tie.

The MSC ships are lovely, like floating four-star hotels with great food, activities and entertainment. Every day on board the ship can be as busy or relaxed as you like. When the ship is in port there will always be the option to take a guided tour. These are arranged by guest services and the prices vary depending on what is planned.

In some ports and smaller places, it is just as easy to get off the ship and stroll into town and explore yourself. In the Caribbean, you will get a flavour of different cultures in places like Martinique (French) and St Maarten (Dutch).

The weather in October will be nice, not too hot, although the Caribbean can get quite humid with a chance of storms. Try some of the local foods in each place you visit to give you a flavour of the destination.

I’m looking to spend three days in Yosemite National Park in November. Just wondering which tour company you would recommend. What are the best things to do there at that time of year? KM, Dublin.

Yosemite is one of the oldest national parks in the United States. It is managed by the National Parks Service and there is an excellent website where you will find all the information about enjoying and staying in Yosemite on nps.gov. The weather can be changeable in November and there may be snow, which could cause the closure of some roads.

If you want to book your complete trip through an operator here, then I would suggest touramerica.ie, americanholidays.ie and flydriveusa.ie. There are also some good driving routes and ideas on discoveramerica.com.

My boyfriend and I are on a very limited budget but would both love to go to Iceland next year. How should we start planning a holiday that won’t eat into our savings/credit cards too much? JS, Dublin.

Planning ahead can mean good savings on a trip to Iceland. Book direct flights with Wowair. com, €167 return in spring. Stay in a hostel; pick one of the top-rated ones from Hostelworld.com. A double room will cost from €80-€110 a night, cheaper in dorm rooms. Make sure to book one where linens are included, otherwise there will be an additional cost. Take the city bus from the airport and it will be about €3, pay on the bus.

Hostels are also great places to find cut-price tours and trips. There are usually student discounts. Consider cooking your meals, Bonus supermarkets are the cheapest. Watch your daily costs – bring a water bottle; buying water is pricey and so is alcohol. Do a walking tour of Reykjavik on citywalk.is for a donation.

Send your queries to jscales@irishtimes.com.