Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thinking About a New Year's Resolution?

The most common New Year's resolution surely must be to lose weight or to become more fit. If there is a cruise vacation on your horizon this New Year, maybe its not such a bad idea. After all, who doesn't want to look great in their swim wear strutting around the cruise ship's pool?


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Cruising With the Kids! Seriously?

Yes, seriously.

There are certainly high-end luxury cruise lines that cater to the more mature crowd or the predominantly adult crowd but there are many other cruise lines which offer family friendly cruises more affordably than their "luxury" peers. Today's cruise ships offer many ammenities and programs that are geared toward youth to engage and entertain them while on board. So absolutely yes, cruising with the kids can be an incredible family vacation...MORE

Monday, October 29, 2012

Preparing For Your Voyage

When it comes to vacationing aboard a cruise ship, many individuals consider preparation to be setting out the luggage that they plan to bring with them and sorting the clothes they will wear. Indeed, packing for your cruise vacation is important; however, it is not the only preparation that should occur. Your cruise vacation preparation should not wait until the week before your trip, rather, it should begin as soon as you book your cruise vacation reservation.

The type of cruise that you will be taking is vital to preparation. A large number of cruise ships travel on international water and many dock at international ports. ...MORE

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cruise All Booked & Paid - Now Save for Extras

Second in a series.

Now that we have saved for months and made final payment on our dream cruise vacation, we should continue our saving efforts to cover some other expenses that exist when taking a cruise. Potentially the largest of these added expenses can be the shore excursions and alcohol drinks....MORE

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Start $aving for Your Next Cruise Vacation

Part One of a Series

Cruise vacations can be the most enjoyable time couples can spend together. You are pampered 24 hours a day with great food, good entertainment, fitness facilities and plenty of beautiful sights to see. Yes, this all sounds fantastic but aren’t cruises very expensive?...MORE

Friday, September 14, 2012

LOOK GREAT by Your Next Cruise

Interested in firming up to look great in that new swim suit on your next cruise? Check out these FITNESS E-BOOKS and get a head start on the perfect cruise body.

Check out the new cruise videos

New cruise videos have been added to the archives. CLICK HERE!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Video Archives

Check out the video library at Chip's Cruise Videos. If you know of any current video to include on this site use the comment section to let us know the link.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

LETTER TO TEEN CRUISERS

Recently we have been sadened by the news of the gang-rape of a 15 year old girl on board a cruise ship. While the full story still remains to be determined, it remains clear that even on a fun vacation, you must remain on guard for your personal safety.

If you are a teen so fortunate to be taken on a cruise vacation, you must still be so aware of your surroundings and of those around you. The size of many of today's cruise ships enable them to carry upwards of 4,000 passengers and unfortunately, within a group that large there may be a few individuals who deep down are just plain bad people. Don't get into a situation that you may regret. It only takes one bad decision to turn your world upside down.

In the challenging years of the teenager, your put out so much effort to assert your independence from parents, so much effort to gain greater levels of freedom. That is what teens have done throughout the centuries and believe it or not, although you may feel your parent's teen years were hundreds of years ago, they too went through many of the same challenges that you feel today. Believe me that to them their teen years also feels to have been hundreds of years ago. So when a parent implements rules or restrictions on the activities of our teen sons and daughters that may seem unfair to the teen, it is done so with love and out of their want to keep you safe. They have plenty of life's lessons from also having been a teen. Please listen. Your parents want for you to have all the fun in the world but they also want more than anything for you to be safe from harm.

One of the biggest rules for teens on a cruise ship is: DO NOT GO INTO SOMEONE ELSE'S CABIN. No way, no how. Surely the new friends you have met may seem cool and you naturally want to appear cool to them too but you do not really know them. Do not go to their cabin. Even in a group that you have just met, do not go into someone's cabin. Do not let peer pressure lead you into a situation that you know would not be approved by your parents. You are smarter than that.

Additionally, if a person of legal drinking age is offering to provide you with alcohol, even if you are with a group of teens, that is a huge red flag of a potentially dangerous situation. Why would someone you don't know offer to provide you drinks? Are you really such an intriguing person that they just want to be your firend? Why would they feel thay had to load you up on alcohol to be a friend if they didn't have suspicious intentions. If you ask yourself one quick question, "what would Mom and Dad think?", you would have your answer if it was a safe, smart thing to do.

Bottom line is, if the actions that you are about to do on a cruise would not be acceptable back at home then it is still unacceptable. Do not let your guard down, stay safe. Do not put yourself in a situation that can change your life forever in a bad way. Listen to your parents. They want you to have fun. They want you to be safe. They want you to have greater independence so show them that you can handle greater independence by doing right and by making smart decisions. Cruise vacations can still be a great, fun filled vacation with parental rules in effect. Don't focus on the rules but instead focus on the safe, fun activities and you will ahve fun. Attitude is everything.

I am not your parent but please listen to yours. They have much more life experiences that you can learn from if you talk to them. Please do at least follow this advice about safety. I am speaking as a parent of a pre-teen and a former teenage boy. Like your parents I know what peer pressure is like and doing the right thing is tough sometimes but in the long is well worth it. Don't let one poor decision turn your life upside down. Cruise safely my young friends.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Pair Cigars and Alcohol

The cigar has long been viewed as a luxury of the rich and powerful. Images of well-to-do men puffing on a stogie and swirling a glass of good brandy have been well documented and memorialized in films and TV. If you are just becoming interested in cigars and would like to relax with a stogie and drink after a long day's work, here are a few tips to get you started.

Traditionally, the cigar has been paired with a strong drink. Popular spirits include rum, brandy, or whiskey. Some argue that a good cigar should always be paired with a strong drink that has a hint of sweetness. Indeed, cigar smokers have long enjoyed these popular pairings. For years, the idea of pairing cigars with beer has gone overlooked. But why overlook good old beer? Recently, the trend has been to pair cigars with various varieties of beer. It seems that as cigars have entered the mainstream, it has been democratized and popularized. What better way to enjoy a puff of this newly popularized treat than to pair it with beer?

Pairing a good cigar with a good beer is not an easy feat, but when accomplished, it is well worth the effort. Much of the pairing has to do with your experience level. If you are a novice, you will probably need help in pairing your specific cigar with an appropriate beer. If you have a more experienced palate, and you know what you like, you can probably make connections between certain types of cigars and beers.

Because cigars are so strong and flavorful, one of the challenges in pairing is to find a beer that complements the intensity of most cigars. Most cigars will pair nicely with a good barley wine or a single malt scotch. If your cigar can be described as woody, spicy, with hints of cedar, try pairing it with a barley wine. The fruity hint of barley wine should complement nicely with the spicy flavor of your cigar. The combination of a spicy cigar with a slightly fruity beer can create an overall creaminess that enhances the flavors of each significantly.

If you have no clue as to what flavor combinations might work, experiment. First, find a cigar that you enjoy. Try to identify the characteristics that you enjoy about it. Then, find a beer whose flavors you think might 'match' or complement the cigar. Many incredible discoveries have been made in much this same way.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sure, the Sales Guy on the Island Says They're Cuban but...

How can you tell a fake Cuban cigar?

Everyone knows that Cuban cigars are the most coveted cigars, renown worldwide for their smoothness and rich flavors. Indeed, Cuban cigars are so prized that many illegitimate dealers have been known to sell fake Cubans to unsuspecting cigar smokers. How do you tell if what you have is a fake or the real thing? First, make certain that you purchase your cigars from a legitimate dealer. Buying from your local tobacconist or a reputable mail order business can protect you from forking your money over for a box of fake cigars.

When cruising, especially in the Caribbean, many ports of call have shops that advertize Cuban cigars. If you have an opportunity to purchase a box of purported Cuban cigars, but have your doubts, take the time to examine the box before purchasing it. Here are a few tips to help you spot the fakes from the real thing:

The most important thing to examine is the box. Authentic Cuban cigars will contain a green and white warranty seal on the left front side of the box. The seal will contain an insignia that has a picture of a shield and a hat. On the upper right hand corner of the box, you should find a white sticker that is placed diagonally with the word 'Habanos' printed on it. The overall appearance of the box should be neat and clean. If the box appears damaged, smudged, frayed, or marked, avoid it. If the color of the box is dull, don't buy it. Even if the cigars are the real things, their quality may have suffered in transport. If you are in the market for Cohiba, Trinidad, or Q'dorsay brand cigars, know that all authentic Cohiba's will contain the green and white warranty seal on the right hand side of the box.

Richmond Walnut Travel Cigar Humidor

On the bottom of the box of cigars, you should find a heat stamp with the words 'Habanos.' The heat stamp should be impressed onto the bottom of the box. Fake Cuban cigar boxes often find other ways to imprint this label, such as using rubber stamps or paper labels. You should also find a factory code stamp at the bottom that is stamped in green, blue or black ink. This stamp will tell you when and where the cigars were rolled.

Visol Sharp Polished Chrome Premium Cigar Cutter

If you can open the box, take the time to smell the tobacco. Cuban cigars will have a deep, rich aroma, unmistakable to dedicated cigar aficionados. If the smell is off, or very weak, chances are you do not have a box of authentic Cuban cigars in your hands. The cigars should be facing the same way, and the top row may appear slightly flattened. The caps on all the cigars should appear identical, and the foot of each cigar should be cut clean. The bands on all the cigars should also be identical, and should be arranged so that they face the same direction. If allowed, test the cigars out by pressing down on them. Feel along the entire length of each cigar, checking for soft or hard spots. The cigars should feel firm yet pliable.

Enjoy shopping for your cigars.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Top Rated St. Thomas Beaches

St. Thomas is a popular vacation destination. Tourists come from all around the world just to vacation in St. Thomas.  One of the many reasons why tourists choose to vacation in St. Thomas is because of the remarkable beaches.  If you are scheduling a vacation to St. Thomas, you may be wondering which beaches you should visit.
 
When scheduling a beach visit in St. Thomas, it is important to take a number of factors into consideration. One of those factors may be where you are staying.  If you staying at a St. Thomas resort, you may have direct access to the beach.  Despite that direct access, you may still want to visit other beaches in the area.  Below is an overview of a few of the most popular St. Thomas beaches.

Coki Point is a popular, yet small beach in St. Thomas.  Coki Point is ideal for a relaxing trip to the beach.  The small beach size and calm waters make Coki Point one of the most popular beach destinations in St. Thomas.  It is an ideal vacation destination for families.  In addition to the beach, there is a nearby marine park.
 
If you are interested in visiting Coki Point, you have a number of fun activities that you can participate in.  In addition to swimming, sunbathing, and playing games on the beach, you may enjoy boating, jet skiing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. On site beach rentals make it possible for your do just about anything at Coki Point.

Magens Bay is classified as the best beach in all of St. Thomas.  You can easily tell that Magens Bay is a popular tourist attraction. Unlike most beaches in St. Thomas, you will be required to pay a small entry fee. Despite that entry fee, many individuals and families enjoy spending the day Magens Bay.
 
If you are interested in enjoying a day at Magens Bay, there are a number of beach side activities that you can participate in. Traditional beach activities include swimming, sunbathing, and playing popular beach games along the shore.  Beach activities with a touch of adventure include, but are not limited to, sailing, snorkeling, and kayaking.
 
Lindquist Beach is another popular beach in St. Thomas. Lindquist Beach is still considered a well-kept secret.  Lindquist Beach is currently an undeveloped area.  This means entertainment, food and drinks, and water rentals are not available.

Despite the fact that Lindquist beach is undeveloped, you can still participate in a number of beach side activities.  These activities include playing beach side sports, swimming, and sunbathing. When swimming in Lindquist Beach it is important to use caution.  Unlike many other popular beaches in St. Thomas, Lindquist Beach is not equipped with lifeguards.

Secret Harbor is another popular beach located in St. Thomas. This beach offers vendors that typically sell food and drinks.  The Secret Harbor is most known for being one of the best beaches to relax at in the area.  You will find hammocks and multiple beach chairs scattered along the coastline.

If you are interested in visiting Secret Harbor, you will find an unlimited number of things to do.  Secret Harbor is an ideal place to go diving.  On site dive rental shops make it possible for you participate in this exciting underwater adventure.  In addition to diving, you can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, popular beach games, or you can just sit by the shoreline and watch the world go by. 

The above mentioned beaches are just a few of the many that you will find in St. Thomas.  If one thing is for sure, there is not a shortage of beaches on the island. All of the beaches mentioned above are not considered resort beaches.  While visiting various St. Thomas beaches, you may find that many beaches are in front of a resort.  Despite being directly in front of private resorts, you should still be able to visit the beaches.

To make the most out of beaching in St. Thomas, you are encouraged to examine what each beach has to offer. By considering the location of beaches and the on site activities that are available, you can easily find the perfect beach or beaches to spend the day.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Staying Safe aboard a Cruise Ship

Every summer, millions of individuals take a cruise.  The majority of those individuals have a memorable experience.  Over the past few years, there have been reports of missing persons and cruise ship crime.  While it may seem like the cruise ship industry has a problem, the reality is that they do not. Cruise ship accidents are few and far between.

Despite the fact that you are safe aboard a cruise ship, you should still take precautions to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings.  There are a number of steps that you can take.  Most of these precautions are simple and can be done with little or no effort.  Despite being simple, these precautions could keep you more safe and your finances in check when you are on a cruise.

Many individuals believe that cruise ship safety should begin once they board the ship; however, it should begin well in advance.  When traveling on a cruise ship, it is likely that you will visit foreign countries.  In the event of a mistake or disaster, you are encouraged to have all of your important documents on hand. These documents should include your passport and driver’s license.  Before boarding your cruise ship, you are encouraged to make copies of all of these documents.  In addition to the originals, you should carry a copy with you and leave the other at home.

When you finally board your cruise ship, there are a number of steps that you should take to ensure your safety.  These steps include familiarizing yourself with the cruise ship.  Today’s most popular cruise ships are large in size.  It may take some time to examine the ship, but you are still encouraged to do so.  In addition to physically seeing the ship, it is advised that you request a map.  This map should be carried with you at all times; it may come in handy if you lose your way.

Familiarizing yourself with your cruise ship is important, but so is familiarizing yourself with other passengers.  You do not have to be outgoing or social to accomplish this. Simply keeping an eye out for individuals that appear to be shady or mysterious is a great way to protect yourself.  If you were on land, it is likely that you would avoid individuals that make you feel uncomfortable.  The same should apply aboard a cruise ship.
 
When walking around a cruise ship, you are advised not to travel alone.  As with land, traveling with others is likely to reduce or eliminate your chances of becoming a crime victim.  If you must move around the ship alone, you need to inform a number of individuals where you will be headed and when you expect to return.  In the event that something does happen, a relative or friend should know exactly where to find you.

When on a cruise ship, your personal safety should be your first concern.  In addition to personal safety, the safety of your belongings should also be important.  If you are traveling with expensive luggage or large sums of money, you may want to take extra precautions.  Before you leave home, you way want to consider leaving your expensive belongings behind.  Most cruise ships will not reimburse their passengers for lost money or belongings; therefore, if you can’t afford to replace it, you might not want to bring it.

When it comes to theft, cash and credit cards are often the most sought after items. Instead of carrying a purse or a wallet, you are encouraged to carry a money pouch.  To offer the utmost protection, you may want to obtain a money pouch that can be worn around your neck and tucked into your shirt.  These pouches often make it impossible for thieves to strike.

In the event that you are unable to use a money pouch or you left yours at home, you are urged to divide up your money.  Keeping your money in multiple locations may provide you with financial protection if a theft does occur.  If you must use a purse, you are encouraged to keep it with you at all times.  Women and men, with wallets, are urged to keep their wallets in their front pockets.
 
Cruise ships are exciting and, for the most part, very safe. With a few simple precautions, you can safely enjoy your vacation aboard a cruise ship without fretting over the safety of yourself and your belongings.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

5,500,000 computers were stolen in the last three years, 68% of these were laptops, 22% were PDAs, IPODs and IPhones*

What would you lose if you were a victim of a similar theft? Personal data? Music? Videos?
The personal technologies have evolved significantly in the past decade. Most cameras today are digital, music and videos are mostly digital, nearly all surrounding us can be in some digital format. In many homes all these personal digital files are stored on the PC or laptop. But what happens to our digital lives if the PC or laptop fails, is stolen or falls victim to natural disaster?

Quite a few years ago my PC’s hard drive failed... read more
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

June 23 Valor Review Part Five, Entertainment

Entertainment:
Full Review
In general the stage shows are OK for a small stage production in my opinion of a quality that would rank somewhere etween a local Community College and a local big city theater production. The Welcome Aboard show the first night was pretty good. The singers were rarely offkey of pitchy and the ship dancers were actually quite good. The dance thing is what my 9yo daughter really enjoys as an aspiring dancer. Through the cruise she took every oportunity to speak with a dancer about how she liked their routines. Each dancer my daughter got to speak with was very welcoming and personable, very nice group.

Night two was a show called Nightclub Express, night three was the Liar's Club and the Marriage games. The other passengers selected to play along were very good, funny. Night four, St Thomas night, the Valor brought onboard an entertainer who performed Live Motown. He was very good and his name was Marcus Anthony. Night five, Antigua was a show "More Than Magic" with Rand Woodburry. This show was quite good but what made it very good was the guests who participated. If I were texting it would be LMAO funny. Night six, Tortola, was the Gravity Defying Comedy of Dana Tison. This was just OK. Night seven was the stage show Far from Over. It was decent Valor band and dancer production, better the the Dane Tison show. Finally on night 8, Nassau, was the Carnival Legends show. Except for Goose and some of his cruise staff cross-dressing parts of the show, the guest participation segments were actually very good. We surelay had some guests that could belt out songs. Over all, considering the small stage production, the entertainment I would give a B- rating to.

Punchliners: Over this 8 night cruise we were entertained by four comedians in the Eagles Nest lounge. The first half of the cruise the comedians were Al Romero and Seth Buckwold. Each did a family friendly show and later in the evening did and adults only show. Al Romero had just an OK family show but his Adult show was much better, his material was more fitting with crude humor and language. Seth Buckwald was better in the family version than the adult only version. The one iritating thing about Seth was that each set he started with the exact first couple jokes. At mid cruise two new comedians were brough on board,Jorge Solano and Jerry Goodspeed. JOrge was traditional stand up and very funny in his routine about marriage and relationships but Jerry kind of stole the show compared to the other three comedians. Jerry is a ventiloquist and honestly I was not too keen on seeing the show having been to Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator shows but in all honesty Jerry was so much more funny. It wasn't the material, but what made is set so much more funny was the guest participation and a minor prop failure which had everyone rolling with laughter. The Punchliners I would give B rating.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

June 23 Valor to Eastern Caribbean Part Four

Camp Carnival
Full Review

Camp Carnival:My son is 11 years old and my daughter is 9 and both had good times with the youth program staff. Each made friends quickly and they would decide which activities they would participate the evening before. The times that did not appeal to my son he would hang with some of his pals at the sports deck and play some hoops then get ice cream, then do a Camp Carnival scavenger hunt and get ice cream, then do some video games and get ice cream. The camp had two special nights for this age group for a fee. One night was a Mardi Gras night which went from 10:00 pm to midnight and the other is a late night party which goes from 10:00pm until 3:00am. Both kids had good times with the youth program. I would say my son attended about 50% of their activities and my daughter about 75%. Each was authorized to sign themselves in and out of the program.

I would give the Camp Carnival a b+ for my 9 year old daughter and a B- for my 11 year old son. Check out the Camp Carnival Activity schedule for 9-11 year olds Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

June 23 Valor to Eastern Caribbean Part Three

The Food
Full Review

Lincoln Dining Room:I cannot say enough good things about the food we sere served in the Lincoln Dining room. The Exec Chef realy has his 'A' game going on. Now I am no foodee and make no claims to be but I enjoy meals that are well prepared and flavored. While nothing arrived to the table pipinig hot, all meals were fine for me. We vacationed in Maine last summer and no disrepect to the Mainers but the Maine lobster that I had on the first elegant night was by far the best lobster that I have had hands down. My wife had the prime rib which was also near perfect. Each dinner was very good.

We book with the Your Time Dining (YTD) and earlier I had mentioned the first night service was rather slow, mostly due to a new wait team not yet in sync with each other. The next night we asked for another section and were seated in Calixto's area. Calixto and his team of Jose and Tsolt (pronounce jolt) were simply excellent. They were all on the same page and the progression of the meal was well orchestrated. We asked for Calixto each night from that point forward and with the exception of two night where his section was booked, we never experienced a wait of moe than 10 minutes. The two nights that we just missed getting into his section we were lucky to be seated in Cornelia's section. She and her team are also very good.

Over all I would give the Lincoln Dining room food an A and the service an A+.


Lido Buffet:With four exceptions, the Lido buffet was just OK. Not bad but not memorable either. The exceptions to that are the Made to order Omellete station, the Burrito Bar, the Mongolian Wok and the Fish and Chips (deck 10 aft behind the Lido buffet). My favorite was the Mongolain Wok, your choice of fresh veggies, meat and sauce that is stir fried right in front of you. Hot, fresh and very flavorful. Number two on my favorite list is the burrito bar where you pick the ingredients and the chef makes your burrito for you served with fresh tortilla chips and choices of salsa. My son hit this station up so frequently that the chef would just ask him how many and set my son up with his fav. The fish and Chips area is a little hidden and you can miss it if you don't know about it. The seared tuna on a slice of watermelon is awesome and their fish and chips are very good, not greasy as in some stateside fast food chains.

I do have one big pet peeve with the Lido buffet though. They have signs at the entrances stating that to enter one should have on dry clothes and not be barefoot. I wish Carnival would enforce this. Each day there were shirless men in just their swin trunks barefoot in the buffet lines and women in only thier bikinis also serving themselves food. Cover up for goodness sake. No one wants to be in the buffet line behind someone still dripping from the pool, bare foot and with no shirt on.

I would grade the Lido buffet as a C becasue it was just ok but the four exceptions all earned an A.


Pool Side Grill and Pizza:The poolside grill was also pretty good and constantly had fresh french fries, hamburgers and hotdogs available and all the accompanyments such as sauteed mushrooms, chili, nacho cheese and sauerkraut. The pizza station had some decent calzones. The pizza was just ok.

June 23 Valor to Eastern Caribbean Part Two

The Ports
Full Review

ST THOMAS, Wednesday June 26:We were scheduled for our first port of call from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. It was a beautiful sunshine filled day with an occasional lone cloud blowing by with temperatures to be in the mid 80's. No worries. There are quite a few shops around the cruise pier and the always popular Senor Frogs at the end of the pier. The Carnival Liberty would join us an hour later and Carnival had the only two ships in harbor this day.

I had booked a shopping, sightseeing amd beach excursion with Sunny Liston Tours for approximately $20 less per person than was offered through the excursion desk and we had more time for the excursion. You must be warned about Sunny Liston Tours. If you are somewhat introverted and do not like to sing along and have fun then this is not the tour for you. All the other tours knew when our group was coming down the road. There were plenty of sing alongs with popular party songs lead by Sunny with lots of hooting and cheering which caused many of the stoic participants in other tours to look at the loud, fun group approaching.

We were picked up promptly at 9:00 am as scheduled by Sunny himself, a popular gentleman who seemed to know most everyone around the pier. We were taken the couple miles into downtown and shown the pickup location for the tour continuation at noon time. There were plenty of shops to browse and they all appeared to have special 'deals' for the Carnival passengers. There are quite a few small alleys the run between the two main streets and there are some hidden shops and bars along the way. The time for shopping was just enough and right on time we found Sunny waiting for our group at the designated spot.

We left the downtown area and began the tour of the island with stops at a lookout point above the harbor, Drakes seat and Montain Top all which provided beatiful views of the sea and neighboring islands. Sunny also provided brief histories at each stop about the islands and the pirates back in the day. From the Mountain Top location we had a great view of Megan's Bay. Beautiful.

Next we were on to Coki Beach for two hours. As expected with two large ships in harbor the beach was pretty crowded and you could see many Carnival towels spread around. My son and I brought his snorkel and mask and my googles and we spent most of the two hours off the beach admiring scores of brilliant color fish. There wasn't any coral to be seen but then we were only about 20 feet deep. Toward the left as you look out toward the water is where we found all the fish. There was too much swim activity around mid beach. The water was swimming pool clear and warm. Great day at the beach, thank you Sunny Liston.

The liberty sailed just a couple minutes before we did and it was a very pretty sail away with a light breeze. Once out of the breakwater the Liberty turned northwest while we headed south.

Check out the St Thomas day Fun Times Cover page, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3


ANTIGUA, Wednesday June 27:The Valor was the only ship in port on this hot and muggy day(mid 80's with 80% humidity). The plan for Antigua was to walk the town shopping. There is an area immeidately outside the gates of the cruise pier that is well maintained, clean and populated by varous jewelry, souvenir and cigar shops as well as an open air bar/snack bar.

After you leave this two block area and enter the public streets thigs change a bit. Off to the right is a swap meet like covered area where many local vendors are crammed together. There were plenty of souvenirs such as t-shirts, womens beach wraps, sea shells, magnets etc. They were not very receptive to price negotiations for their objects except for a small handful. The vendors were quite aggressive trying to gain the attention of their visitors, so much so that two women got into a heated argument about who's customers we were. I thought they were close to striking each other before others separated them.

Exiting the swap meet area we enter the heart of the city where we criss crossed a couple blocks each direction. The infratructure of the city is not in the best of shape and you need to really watch your step to avoid broken curb or drainage grates or missing slats of wood over the sewer run offs. It is a reasonably compact area an easy to navigate from that standpoint but we really found nothing that got our interest along our shopping trek so we found a shop with some shaded seats that sold beers 2 for $5 so we sat for a while to cool off and to watch the locals for a while. I tried a local Anriguan lager which tasted very similar to a Heineken but without the slight skunky after taste. Not too bad and it was ice cold. The second round er tried Carib lager which was similar to Corona.

After cooling off we started to head back to the cruise pier politely passing a few panhandlers (just like back in a US city) and dodging the swap meet vendors. Other than the aggressive vendors in the swap meet area, we found the locals to be very friendly and we felt safe walking around the town but it was our least favorite of the ports I guess mostly because it felt dirty in many ways with the broken sidewalks, open drains etc. If we were to visit again I would look into an excursion which would pick us up at the cruise pier and take us by boat to a beach or snorkel activity.

Check out the Antigua day Fun Times Cover page, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3


Tortola, Thursday June 28:This was my favorite of the four ports that we visited and we were again the only ship in port, another mid 80 degree day. The city is clean and the locals very friendly. We had been to Tortola before so this time we were just going to do the city for shopping and some bar hopping. Interesting though something I found out about the level with which the Carnival Corp controls some of these places. The line offers a Dolphin swim adventure through the excursion desk for $170 per person. The same tour can be had directly from the vendor for $95 per adult and $85 per child under 10 UNLESS YOU ARE A CRUISE PASSENGER with Carnival, Princess and HAL etc. When the website asked which ship you were arriving on I clicked the button and got the message than they were unable to take the reservation for me, that I had to book through the cruise line. I called and spoke to Manuel for the Dolphin adventure vendor ahd he confirmed that they have a contract with Carnvial AND that the cruise line has a representative who come to the site to book any cruise line passengers who walk up. Can you say GREED, COLLUSION. I can't entirely blame Carnival because the dolphin adventure vendor is the only one providing that tour so they did not have to enter into an agreement with Carnival but chose to do so for their benefit. I guess Micky has to gouge extra money wherever he can to pay for the salaries of the players for his Miami Heat. Sure I could have claimed to be a guest at a local hotel and arrive by taxi, leaving anything Carnival (beach towels) behind but the fact the tour vendor plays along with Carnival to that extent turned me off. I am now more determined to never book an excursion through the cruise line.

Before I digressed we were going for a shopping trek in Tortola. It is maybe a mile walk (max) to get from the pier to the edge of town and along the way they do set up a vendor area along the way just outside the secured pieer area. These vendors were very laid back and gladly answered any questions but did not solicit or pitch their ware in any way. It was an easy walk around town, the motorist were all friendly and yielded to the pedestrians at crossings and those on foot mostly said hello. We must have visited every jewelry store and T-shirt store in town and found some good deals but were hot and thirsty so we found a bar just outside the secured cruise pier area that also had beer at 2 for $5. I was disappointed that they did not have a beer that I had not tried before so I settled for a couple Coronas. Once cooled down adequately we made our way back to the ship.

Check out the Tortola day Fun Times Cover page, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3


Nassau, Saturday June 30:The Valor arrived in Nassau slightly before noon and the Fascination and the Imagination were already in port. The Monarch of the Seas joined us about 30 minutes later. With four ships in port we had long ago decided to avoid the excursion scene and were content with window shopping along the town streets and checking out the Straw Market. The streets were clean, the locals very friendly and the vendors in the Straw Market were not aggressive in the least. It was a very nice day for a stroll and we got lucky that there was a brief shower that cooled things off for a while and it did nto get too humid after the clouds cleared again.

After four hours of shopping we headed back to the ship for some lemonade and a calzone. The Fascination was scheduled to sail at 6:00pm and the Valor at 7:00pm. It was interesting watching the pier runners for the Fascination, most appeared to be coming from Senor Frogs based on their balloon animal hats and their staggered walk. The captain held the ship for 15 minutes to get the last three women back on board, balloon hats and all. The Valor sailed right on time with no evidence of pier runners. Most likely one of the differences between a three day party cruise and an 8-day family cruise.

Check out the Nassau day Fun Times Cover page, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

June 23 Valor to Eastern Caribbean Part One

Valor Eastern Caribbean from Miami June 23 through July1 2012, Ports of call: St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortolla and Nassau.

Full Review

PRECRUISE:
Although the cruise departed on June 23 we arrived in Florida a week early to enjoy some down time in the Orlando area. We are not big Disney fans and have done the theme park extravaganza before but instead enjoyed a lot of time around the resort pool and lazy river. Seaworld had a two for one offer that gave two day admissions for one day price AND with my Southwest Airline Rapid Reward card received another 20% off the price. If you are a roller coaster fan, they have one called the Manta which is the best that I have experienced. You are basically suspended face down on the ride and are whisked through corkscrews and loops for a couple minutes. A good case of jelly legs once you put your feet back onto the ground.

After the fun week in Orlando we drove down to Miami on Friday afternoon and stayed at the Doubletree Biscayne Bay. We were given a beautiful mini-suite with a balcony which overlooked the bay and had a good view of the cruise terminal. The Doubletree occupies a few floots of an older, residential highrise. It is clean and comfortable and I found the hotel staff to be very friendly. The only downside to the Doubletree is that the walls are thin and light sleepers could be frustrated by the noise. Also, bayside rooms are above a bar which plays music well into the early morning. Still a good night sleep.

SAIL AWAY DAY, Sunday June 23:
I woke early and watched the Valor Come into the cruise terminal under a threatening sky and nearly an hour later the Liberty also came into port; a double feature. The forecast was for a 60% chance of rain and about ninety minutes after the Valor tied up, the sky opened up with a downpour which lasted at least 30 minutes. Who cares, right? After all a rainy day on a cruise is better than a beautiful day at work.

The rain had stopped and we grabbed a cab from the hotel about 10:20 and were at the cruise pier in 10 minutes for an $11 fare. We left the bags with the porter and went to check in. There were no lines and we walked right up to the counter, got our sign & sail cards and were directed up to the waiting area. The room slowly began to fill but at 11:00 they boarded a couple wedding parties and then at 11:15 the staff began boarding guests in the waiting area. We boarded on deck three into the American Lobby. Beautifully decorated earth tones with rustic red white and blue tiles clustered flag-like in the flooring, an inviting lobby bar and comfortable cushioned chairs. Great first impression.

By 11:40 we were checking out the lunch offerings of the Lido buffet. We settled for the Burrito Bar, a location my son would visit every day of the cruise for a couple beef burritos. Pretty good burritos, made to order that went very well with an ice cold beer. After lunch is when I like to find a good perch and watch the parade of arrivals on the pier. There now is a constant flow of traffic dropping off passengers below and the checkin line snakes out to the street briefly at times. I don't know how but I missed the cabin ready announcement but still went to the cabin shortly after 2:00 and everything was ready.

The muster drill was completed more quickly than I remember my other recent cruises which was a good thing. It gets rather hot and stuffy with five or six rows of people stacked together on a muggy day. Released from the drill off we go to the Panorama deck to get a good rail side location for sail away. It isn't long before the horn blows and the long shoremen begin releasing the lines and the sun begins to peek through the clouds once in a while. As we slowly begin to cruise past the Liberty the bridge crews blow the horns to each other. First the Valor and then the Liberty would answer for a couple rounds. Cool start as it was clear to see that both ship's decks were full of fun people ready to get away. The Liberty followed us out the channel about five minutes behind us. There was no calypso music but there was plenty of reggae music played as we sailed out to sea. It was a very nice sail away and finally, after months of anticipation, the cruise vacation had begun

After freshening up at the cabin, a mid-category aft balcony on deck 7, Empress deck, we went to dinner at the Your Time Dining on deck 3 of the Lincoln Dining Room. There was already a line to check in but we were still seated in less than 10 minutes. The Lincoln decor has a lot of pink tones to it but with very warm inviting feel to it and the chairs were very comfortable. Maybe it was the first night or that the wait team trio were just getting to know each other but dinner this night took a bit longer than it should. The team was very nice but their timing between courses and each other was off leading to a rather slow pace of the meal. My son had been asking me to try Salmon for dinner so my order tonight was the Atlantic Salmon off the every night menu so we would not be wasteful if my son did not like the dish. The Salmon was a hit so we shared his steak and my salmon. I must say that the salmon was cooked perfectly and the portion was just right as it left a little room for desert.

When we finished our 2 1/2 hour long dinner, we took another walk around the ship to get more familiar with it. We ended up at the mid ship pool/seaside theater on the Lido deck and settled for a while aas the kids got a second desert, the soft-serve ice cream. We sailed I think a day before tropical storm Debby blew through Florida and the winds at sea this night were very strong. An interesting event occurred that I never heard what had happened, maybe the strong cross winds or maybe a brief glitch in the stabilizers? For a couple minutes the ship listed a couple degrees toward port, so much of a list that the water from the pool began to run out of the pool across the deck. It was interesting to watch guests scatter as I just lifted my feet. It was an interesting thing to observe but I did not ever find out what caused the list. Either way, it was only a couple minutes and nothing close to that happened again.

Check out the Sail Away Fun Times Cover page, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3


SEA DAYS, Sunday June 24, Monday June 25 and Friday June 29:The sea days were perfect opportunities to sleep late (for me, 7:00 AM) and lazily stroll up to Lido for breakfast. I never go farther than the made to order omelette station at the grill poolside. At the omelette station is also a variety of breakfast items such as a potato dish, oatmeal and grits, either hot cakes or waffles or french toast, bacon and sausage as well as an assortment of danishes. Plenty to fill the tanks for the day.

The cruise staff put on a number of trivia contests, an extra bingo session and activities around the pool for those who wished to participate. The band played over the mid ship pool in the noon to 3:00 pm timeframe and the pool area was very busy. I did not observe any issues with chogs (chair hogs) and had no problem finding a table and chair somewhere around the pool. The waterslide was open until 6:00 pm and the kids, and a number of grown ups, all seemed to enjoy it with no too large of a line. The two bars in this pool area were pumping out the drinks. I was going to try and count for a few minutes how many drinks were sent out from the bar nearest me but quickly lost count with all the distracting activities on deck. I love people watching and get easily distracted by the humanity show.

Check out the Sea Day 1 Fun Times Cover page, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3

Check out the Sea Day 2 Fun Times Cover page, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3

Check out the Sea Day 2 Fun Times Cover page, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PreCruise for June 23 Carnival Valor Sailing

The time is almost here for the next cruise. Once onboard we will try to post daily updates regarding the cruise. Enjoy. June 23 Valor Cruise.

Friday, June 8, 2012

USA Today Travel Cruise Review Site

USA Today Cruise Review Site posts professional reviews of the cruise industry, most recently of the Seabourn Sojourn. These are well written pieces and worth the read but a part of me wonders, do professional reviewers/critics really get the same level of service as the casual cruiser?

It makes business sense that if a cruise line knew that a professional critic with a large publication were to be traveling on one of their ships, they would take extra efforts to ensure a very good cruise experience. Why not, it is free publicity. Nonetheless, it is good to see what the professional thinks and balance that with reviews from other regular cruiser's experiences.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Environmental Awards for Princess

The ports of San Francisco, California and Victoria, BC, Canada have presented environmental awards to Princess Cruises for the 2011 cruise season.

In San Francisco, Princess was recognized for their waste water management, recycling and disposal programs and their reduced emissions while in port. At the San Francisco cruise port, ships can " plug in" and not need their generators to provide power.

In Victoria BC, Princess was honored for their emissions reduction efforts consuming low sulfur diesel fuels. More details about these presentations can be found at cruiseradio.net.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Country Star Blake Shelton & Friend Cruise

This October the Norwegian Pearl will host Blake Shelton and Friends on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise that will feature live entertainment each night. Shelton will perform two nights in the theater and live music will be performed in at least three venues on the ship each night. Travelpulse has the full story. Some of Blake's friends include Trace Atkins, Lee Bryce and Easton Corbin.


For cruise related e-books see our brief >publications listing or our travel gadgets.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cruise Cost vs Land Tour Cost

How does the value of a cruise vacation compare to a traditional land-based vacation? While I was sitting in front of the PC willing the cruise ticker to count down another day, I began thinking what would a vacation similar to the cruise cost if I was crazy enough to attempt. So I began making a very loose comparison. The 8-day Eastern Caribbean trip on the Carnival Valor visits St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola and Nassau and the cruise fare for my family of four totaled $3,117 including taxes. This is a pretty good value considering all that is included for this price.

I could be absolutely insane and island hop by plane and follow the same itinerary as the Valor does but the string of flights alone would far surpass the cruise fare. Hopping from Miami (MIA) to St. Thomas (STT) to Antigua (ANU) to Tortola (TOV) then to Nassau (NAS) and finally back to Miami for four passengers totaled $4,864 based on a search of cheapflights.com on May 29, 2012. A more realistic comparison would be to spend a week at a Caribbean mid-range resort.



We still must get to Nassau from Miami and the best airfare on the ticket discounter site was $862 for four passengers round trip on American Airlines. A similar Google search found that The Wyndham Nassau Resort had a discounted balcony room available for the same 8 nights that the cruise covers. With taxes this room totals $1,191. Just considering air travel and lodging we have come to a total of $2,035 just to get to Nassau and to have a room. There is still dining and entertainment to consider.

It is difficult to get a restaurant breakfast for less than $10 per person once you include the tip, tax and a beverage. Lunch is conservative at $12 per person and dinner each night perhaps $15 per person for only six nights. Remember an 8-day cruise will have two cruise elegant nights and a slightly more special dinner. I am guessing a nice sit down restaurant could tally $25 per person with tip, tax and non-alcoholic beverage. All the basic meals together can easily run a tab of $1,264 for four people over and eight day stay.

Just covering the basics, my comparison shakes out like this:

  • Airfare                 $   862
  • Lodging                $1,191
  • 8 breakfast           $   320
  • 8 lunches              $   384
  • 6 dinners              $   360
  • 2 special dinners   $   200
  • Total                  $3,317


This covers only the basics and does not take into consideration the ability to snack at all hours without additional charges (unless purchasing a specialty desert or coffee) nor does it consider the cost the evening entertainment of a comedy club or a staged variety show each night.

In this conservative example, the cruise pricing was $200 less than staying a week at a modest resort but had the added benefit of visiting three additional islands. Staying at more luxurious resorts can run inflate the costs very fast, for example, a Memorial Day sale package for the least expensive room at Atlantis with the ‘value dining’ option (kids eat free promotion) and airport transfers totaled $3,651 not including airfare for my party of four. The value dining is limited to specific restaurants and dinner only includes one appetizer or soup, 1 entrée and 1 desert.

It should be also noted that the cruise fare did not start out at this low of rate. The booking was made through the ‘Early Saver’ program for $3,900 but by monitoring the pricing during recent sales the pricing was adjusted.

I may be slightly biased toward cruise vacations but this comparison was a very loose, conservative look at the costs involved with cruise versus land vacations and it shows that cruises truly good value for the fare. Oh come on countdown ticker, move faster. Cheers!


For cruise related e-books see our brief >publications listing or our travel gadgets.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Disney Wonder Begins Alaska Season

Today, Monday May 28, the Disney Wonder for the first time begins its summer Alaska sailings from Seattle. Last year Disney sailed from Vancouver BC but choose to make the change this year to save on tax expenditures. See the full story on q13fox.com.

For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing or our travel gadgets.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cruising During Hurricane Season

MSNBC reprinted an article by 'Condé Nast Traveler' writer Carolyn Spencer Brown about cruising during hurricane season which officially runs from June 1 through November 30. This year there is a prediction that the season will be a light year which is good news for cruisers. Many times the ships can navigate around the perimeter of the storms which usually requires ome itinerary changes.


For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing or our travel gadgets.

Nike Packable Golf Rain Suit

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Think The Cruise Line Map of Bargains is a Deal

Nearly every cruise that I have been on, the cruise line thoughtfully has prepared a map of the shopping with the best value. But is it really the best value? Nicole Glass wrote an in depth article about the cruise line's shopping map and the stores that they promote. Can it be true that the "Best Deals" are from stores that have paid an advertising fee to the cruise line? Check out Nicole's article above.


For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing or our travel gadgets.

Chicago Tribune Travel Article

Chicago Tribune Travel reporter Rick Steves wrote a interesting article about cruising Europe you may find interesting at Chicago Tribune. This article her writes about getting out into Europe independently versus booking with the cruise line excursions.


For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing or our travel gadgets.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Computer Backup

You know, I have no idea what inspired me to set up a computer backup account a few months back but I am sure glad now that I did. All our vacations pictures for years are on the hard drive as well as some work projects etc. Well the hard-drive fried yesterday and I am home waiting for the 'nerd squad' to visit and try to salvage if possible. Whether the tech can save the hard drive or not, at least I know all those years of memories are safe as well as our work projects. I now have a new favorite service that, a few months ago I thought was a good idea, and now has proven to be awesome. Do you have your vacation memories saved on your hard drive and, do you back up your computer? Check out this link if you are thinking of protecting your photos:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

CHOGS

Frequently, shortly after the sun rises, the battle for the pool side chairs begins. The placement of towels or books or other personal items to save chairs at times can be out of hand and honestly I do not think it should be the cruise line staff responsibility to monitor or enforce the courtesy (or lack thereof) that cruisers extend toward one another. These chair hogs, CHOGS, selfishly lock up a chair(s), at times for an hour or more, when they are not even planning on sitting by the pool.



If a sun worshiper is out using the chair first thing in the day, fine but to stake claim to the chair then go to the Main Dining Room (MDR)or buffet for breakfast and then come back an hour later is not OK. That is quite simply a lack of courtesy to your fellow cruisers and outright rude. If it is not being used, let it go! Can’t we all just work together on this?

Now it is totally understandable to need a “nature break” during the day, especially after enjoying the special beverages the wait staff pitch. The restroom break really shouldn’t take more than about 10 minutes, right. If out at the pool since morning it is not courteous to disappear for an hour to go to the buffet or MDR for lunch. Sure, run to the buffet for lunch and BRING IT BACK to your chair is no problem but to disappear for an hour is just wrong. Give up the chair and get a new chair when you return. Funny thing is that if everyone complied with this courtesy, there wouldn’t be this perception that no chairs are ever available. Surely there may not be an open chair right away during peak times but find another and soon a pool-side chair may open up.

CHOGS lack common courtesy and feel they are more important that other pool-side sun seekers when they ‘mark’ their spot with towels and such then disappear for long periods of time. Maybe the cruise lines should place a container near the pool where other cruisers can place lost articles of CHOGS that have left their chair unattended for more than 20 minutes. Being in the pool is not considered leaving the chair unattended. It is when the CHOG takes lunch, a visit to the cabin for a nap, a SPA visit or a bingo game and then returns to expect their chair to be waiting for them. No more CHOGS!


For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing or our travel gadgets.

Friday, May 18, 2012

P&O Cruises May Soon Restrict Booking with Mobility Devices

P&O Cruises to Implement Mobility Device Policy Which Requires Booking of Specific Cabins. The new policy as it is currently written, to affect bookings from summer 2013 forward, requires that disabled individuals using motorized scooter book a wheelchair accessible cabin, a mini-suite or a suite. All the P&O ships are registered in Bermuda and therefore are not subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA – U.S.) or the Equality Act (U.K.) which protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. Most cruise lines, at least those that operate out of the U.S., do not require an individual who utilizes a motorized scooter to book a larger cabin as long as the mobility device is not left in the corridor.


Many of the motorized scooter users do not need the mobility device too often on the ship but primarily for visiting the ports on the itinerary. Their motorized scooters are kept in their cabins in accordance with cruise line policies when not used. Even if the scooters were used all the time on board, at the end of the day the scooter occupies a corner in the cabin. If the traveler with the scooter is fine with the added obstacle in the cabin then why propose such a policy that essentially penalizes mobility device users?

P&O cites “legitimate and proven safety concerns” related to new European Union (EU) regulations as the grounds for this new policy. Certainly there are significant challenges to manage a ship evacuation when there are motorized mobility devices, but how often do these evacuations occur? Is that slight chance of an evacuations sufficient reason to restrain the cruise booking opportunities of the disabled traveler? The EU Rights of Passengers Travel by Sea states that the disabled traveler should have the same booking opportunities available to other passengers and the line shall provide embarkation/debarkations assistance. An exception is noted which allows the line to not follow these passenger rights due to “a circumstance in which there is a need to meet safety requirements as established by international, union or national law or in order to meet safety requirements established by the competent authorities”.

Assuming disability consumer groups are unsuccessful in efforts to convince P&O to drop the scooter policy; its implementation will run much deeper than to only affect the scooter users. This new policy will cause greater demand for the accessible cabins likely reducing the cruising opportunities to those disabled individuals who truly need the accessible cabin. This will be interesting to follow.


For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing gadgets.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Carnival Breaks Ground on New Cruise Terminal

Carnival Corp breaks ground on new cruise center in the Dominican Republic. Amber Cove, a $65M project will be able to accomodate two cruise ships up to 8,000 passengers daily and will have some local goods retail shops on the facility. CCL projects approximately 250,000 passengers in the first year in operation.


For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing gadgets.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

AARP has a Cruise Sweepstakes

AARP  has a sweepstakes for a Caribbean Cruise.  Entry deadline is 5/23/12.  If you are over 50, check out AARP.>


For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing gadgets.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cruising With Mobility Devices

Cruisng with Mobility Devices can be challenging at times but the cruise vacation experience is worth a few small headaches along the way. Know before you go.

In the United States and its territories public accomodations for individuals with disabilities are mandated by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Other countries have varying levels of accessibility, none to the extent our ADA regulations provide.

The ship itself has a great deal of accessibilty top to bottom on the public decks but the cabins are small. More...


For cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing gadgets.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Asst Cruise Director Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Possession

Assistant Cruise Director pleads guilty this past week to possession of child pornography. The thought of an individual holding such a visible position on a cruise ship to have such a dark side triggers suspicious views upon the scores of great, law abiding cruise line staffs. Especially that of the Cruise Director staff whose function is to engage the passengers and promote fun times. We have heard the phase in so many other areas of safety and security, “see something, say something”, and this certainly applies to situations as this. Kudos to the crew members of the NCL Star who said something to NCL security when the Asst. Cruise Director (ACD) shared nude and semi-nude pictures of a 16 year old recent passenger.

The ACD met the girl from Minnesota on a late January cruise and toward the end of the cruise the two had a sexual relationship. The teen would later send nude and semi-nude email pictures of herself to the ACD over the subsequent weeks. When the ACD shared some of the pictures with other crew members, NCL security was contacted who then contacted the authorities in Tampa who arrested the ACD in March. The complete story can be found at Tampa Bay Times.

So just how could this happen? More...

For more cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing gadgets.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

It's Your Kids Vacation Too You Know!

Cruise vacations can be fun for chilren. One thing to keep in mind is that the cruise is your children's vacation also. Sure mom and dad need to have some rest and relaxation on their vacation but the level of fun and excitement for the little ones can help increase their parents fun too. Afterall, it is not much fun having to discipline the young ones when we are on vacation.

Some children are shy and reserved while others have already honed their socialization skills. Magically, in most cases these two groups blend well so much that by the end of the cruise vacation your children may have new friends that they find hard to say good bye on that last day. A friend they shared a craft with or a friend they got silly and danced with or one that they found all the items on a scavenger hunt with. Memories that will last them, well, until the next cruise vacation.

more...

For more cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing gadgets.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mobile's Gamble on Cruising Fails

The City of Mobile Alabama cruise terminal has no cruise line calling her home and the city resorts to booking the facility for weddings and proms to help pay the annual costs of the building. The cruise terminal was built in 2004 and Carnival Cruises originally based the Holiday and later the Elation at Mobile. This past year the Elation was redeployed to New Orelans leaving the city with a cruise terminal and no ship calling her home. Gone are all the weekly parking fees which provided the operating revenue to pay for the facility and an additional $1M in revenue to the city.

This is a case that if you build it, they will not come, at least in the numbers that you need to sustain operations. Carnival relocated the Elation primarily due to the lack of revenues from the cruises out of Mobile. While Mobile may be a convenient destination for regionally local cruise passengers, it is likely the city failed to market Mobile as a cruise destination more broadly across the U.S. and Canada. To see the rest of the story, check out The Daily Comet.

For more cruise related e-books see our brief publications listing gadgets.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Year Round Sailings from San Francisco

Princess Cruises announces year-round sailings from San Francisco to itineraries in Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico.

Check out the cruise related e-books on the publications page.

Carnival Breeze Sweepstakes

Carnival Cruises announced today a sweepstakes on their Facebook page. Answer a couple of Mexican food favorites questions to enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win a Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Breeze. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What makes a cruise vacation so appealing?

What makes a cruise vacation so appealing?
There are probably as many opinions on this subject as there are persons who have taken cruises. Could it be the rest and relaxation a cruise can provide or could it be the excitement of visits to new places? There are others who enjoy the spontaneity of just jumping in to the social scene and of course others live for the partying that can occur. When you think about it, the fact that all these reasons to enjoy a cruise vacation can peacefully coexist in these floating cities is in itself quite fascinating. Really, there are so many reasons that cruise vacations are popular. read more

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

And now for something Completely Different

Classic riverboat cruises return to the Mississippi River for the first time since 2008 aboard the recently launched American Queen. The itineraries sail the Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers bringing a bit of nostalgia back to river travel. Check out the full story from AP at ABC News

Monday, April 30, 2012

P&O Changes Gratuity Policy

P&O cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival announced today that they will not only require prepayment of gratuities (as other cruise lines do) but they will also make the amount of gratuity a cruise staff member receives dependent on their rating based on a customer survey. If applied well, this could further improve the customer service levels for most travelers. However, it is possible that a cruise staff member who feels that they have already lost a chunk of tips due to an anticipated low score could really become a jerk.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Just What Shall I Pack?

"We overpacked" is a phrase that I have heard from nearly everyone that Ihave spoken with when they returned from their first cruise. It is a phrase that I too commented after the first cruise with my family and every year undoubtedly scores of other first time cruisers will state the same after their cruises. Now ladies, my intent is not be be sexist but the degree of over packing appears to be more noticeable for the women out there. Maybe it is the "need to color coordinate" gene that is absent in so many of us men out there. read more

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cruise Diva: Meet The Guy Behind Carnival Cruise Lines’ Burger Joint

If you enjoy the Food Channel's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives check out the Cruise Diva article on the Carnival 2.0 burger joint inspired by Guy Fieri.  Wow he knows how to load those burgers!

Cruise Diva: Meet The Guy Behind Carnival Cruise Lines’ Burger Joint

Monday, April 23, 2012

17-Year Old Dies After a Diving Excursion

A 17-year old passed away four days after a scuba diving excursion.
There are still a lot of missing details but a 17-year old American tourist encountered problems while participating in a Carnival Cruise Lines sponsored scuba excursion. The excursion was one to learn scuba and only had 16 participants with four instructors including the dive master. The teen had difficulties and reportedly needed CPR then was treated at a hospital in Grand Turk before getting airlifted to a hospital in Florida where he passed 4 days later. Our most sincere sympathy go out to the family of this young man.

Royal Caribbean Does a Good Deed

Unlike the Princess Cruises ship who sailed past a disabled fishing boat, the Oasis of the Seas came upon a broken down fishing boat in the waters near the Caymans and provided assistance to repair the engine so that the boat could return under its own power. The RC ship provided a fresh battery and some fresh water. Good job!

Passenger Jumps Into the Pacific from Carnival Spirit

What the heck must he be thinking?
On the fourth day into a 15-day Hawaii cruise from San Diego at about the midway point, some nut jumps from the serenity deck into the Pacific. Now I have been on the Spirit twice and did not feel the seafood was bad at all so no need to try and get your own. Or was it a dispute with his significant other or could it possibly be the alcohol? Well, the man was lucky the ship dispatched a tender to rescue him and bring him back on board. Wonder if he will be put off when the ship arrives to the first port of call?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Carnival Corp Missed Opportunity

Missed Opportunity
It recently was reported that a Princess Cruises ship (owned by Carnival Corp) failed to assist a disabled fishing boat in the Pacific off of Panama. The small boat was spotted by passengers and reported to the ship's crew but the crew sailed on. With all the recent negative press received by the Carnival Corp this was a great opportunity to get some great PR. Those chances do not come along too often.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two+ Months to go

With slightly over 2 months to go until my Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Valor, I anxioulsy wait for some price drops to build up some on board credit (OBC). According to www.CruiseFish.net today my ship is still about 50% vacant. Come on Cruise Sales!

My cruise was booked under the Carnival Early Saver program so any price drops which causes the fare for my exact cabin category to fall below what I had paid will be credited to my on board account. I easily check on the fare for my cabin category through www.carnival.com/bookingengine/fareviewer. We shall see.

New for 4-12-12

I was checking out cruise critic this morning and read an interesting segment about three cruises than 'won't eat through your tax refund'. Check it out at www.cruisecritic.com.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cruise Diva: Viator Offers Shore Excursion Savings

Earlier today the Cruise Diva posted great information about a web site that provides a comprehensive listing of shores excursions based on specific cruise itineraries for less than the cost of booking through the cruise line.  Cruise Diva: Viator Offers Shore Excursion Savings Why pay more than you have to when you take these excursions? 

In other news a 17 year old female who was put off the Carnival Sensation last year has filed suit against Carnival accusing the ships security staff of illegally strip searching her.  Carnival issued a response.  Check out the article on the miaminewtimes link below.
http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/04/lawsuit_carnival_cruise_employ.php

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

luv2cruise.blogspot.com

home      So what is up with the Carnival Triumph? US Marshalls temporarily seized the Triumph in Galveston on March 31, 2012 after a law suit was filed against Carnival based on a claim from the estate of a Costa COncordia passenger who died in the grounding. The ship did sail as scheduled after some negotiations between the parties involved in the suit but is this just the first of many to come? As a cruise passenger I would be livid if I was denied a paid for cruise because the ship was seized as part of a legal mess.

     I was looking for cruises for next year and noticed that The Carnival Splendor may be repositioning to New York in 2013 after a January Hawaii itinerary and a Fenruary South America itinerary. It also appears that the Carnival Miracle may be repositioning to Los Angeles for the Alaska and Mexico Riviera itineraries starting in March of 2013.

     There is still nothing I can find regarding the Carnival Spirit after it repositions and ends an itinerary in Tahiti in October 2012. There had originally been plans to operate Australia itineraries but there may be issues with the availability of the pier needed for this size of ship.

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     One of my sources to check on fares and on occupancy of a cruise itinerary has been www.CruiseFish.net
I cruise with Carnival and the link I use to check the current fare for my Early Saver program is www.carnival.com/bookingengine/fareviewer