Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crystal has something better than "all inclusive."


With Crystal Cruises' new As You Wish promotion you’ll receive up to $2,000 in shipboard credits to spend anyway you wish. Indulge in spa treatments, fine wines, a Vintage Room experience with your friends, gratuities for your favorite waiter, something special from the boutiques, or even a unique Crystal Adventures® shore excursion.

The choices – all of them – are yours.

Chose to be pampered with an aromatherapy massage in the Crystal Spa followed by a shopping spree in the fine boutiques onboard. In the evening, dine at Prego and try the popular braised beef short ribs paired with your favorite bottle of red wine. You may also wish to spend your $2,000 on fascinating Crystal Adventures ashore. Decide from a long list of excursions and select one that fits your desires.

Choose from 17 Mediterranean and Northern Europe cruises, as well as New England & Canada, Panama Canal, Caribbean, Trans-Atlantic or South America cruises to spend these credits as you wish, and you’ll soon realize that award-winning luxury has never afforded you this much freedom.

Call me to learn more about Crystal Cruises itineraries and this offer. You can also visit Sea Luxury Cruises by Cruises Inc. Luxury - You Deserve It

Monday, March 30, 2009

EXCITING DEALS for Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's hard to believe that one quarter of 2009 is over. There have been many exciting deals all month long. I hope that you have been able to take advantage of them.

If not, it's not too late - here is your final chance.

Some of the EXCITING DEALS for Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Celebrity Cruises 1-Day Sale - New Bookings Only

7-Night Caribbean - Celebrity Solstice
starting from $949*Concierge Class

12-Night Scandinavia/Russia - Celebrity Century
starting from $1099*Inside Stateroom

7-Night Alaska - Celebrity Infinity
starting from $1199*Concierge Class

14-Night Scandinavia/Russia - Celebrity Constellation
starting from $1499*Ocean view stateroom

For more information:
Celebrity Cruises Xceptional Offers for Tuesday, March 31st

Royal Caribberan 1-Day Sale - New Bookings Online

Select from 4, 5, or 7-night Western Caribberan sailing in April.

For more information:
Royal Caribbean Online Booking Offers for Tuesday, March 31st

Oceania and Regent Offers End Today

New Passport Rules Starting June 1st - Are You Ready

For some time now, cruise lines, airlines, and travel professionals have been warning that the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) would impose new rules on travel to foreign countries, even our closest neighbors including Bermuda, most Caribbean countries as well as Mexico and Canada.


The new rules that become effective on June 1st will affect travel from 19 countries in all (see list below), many of which are destinations that millions of Americans have been traveling to and from for years without carrying valid passports. Shortly, new rules mandate that "most" U.S. citizens entering the country by land, sea, or air must establish both identity and citizenship and therefore must possess one of the following: passport, passport card or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

The other travel documents include: Lawful Permanent Resident Cards; certain Native American tribe member cards; North American trusted traveler program cards, such as NEXUS (Northern Border program), SENTRI (Southern Border program), or FAST (Free and Secure Trade program); military ID with official travel orders; U.S. Merchant Mariner Documents; or enhanced driver's licenses (EDLs).


Certain of the above documents have restrictions on their use. For example the wallet-size passport card, which is more convenient and cheaper than the passport book, cannot be used for international air travel. This new travel document can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. Another less known fact is that a U.S. Passport must be valid for up to 6 months after your trip. You’ll need to consult every country that you visit to determine the specific entry / exit requirements for passport expiration.

There are many caveats contained within the new rules, so it is best to consult the following websites to learn more about your specific circumstance. The final responsibility for proper documentation rests with the traveler not the cruise line, airline, cruise specialist, or any other travel professional. You’ve planned for this trip and want to be sure you aren’t denied boarding nor do you want problems when entering or exiting any country during your trip.

State Department - overview of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) - see Travel page
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – see Crossing U.S. Borders page
Canada Border Services Agency - for travel to/from Canada


As a cruise specialist, I have been recommending that all passengers have a valid passport, even when travel with other documents (such as a driver’s license and certified birth certificate would suffice). The rationale behind that recommendation was simple, at least in my mind. Whether you are traveling by air, by sea, by car, or by foot: Once you leave the United States, it doesn’t matter how you left, what matters is that you have the proper identification to get back in. Countries that you visit on your trip will also require you to follow their entry and exit requirements. A passport is the only document that is universally recognized and accepted for entrance, albeit there may be other requirements, such as visas.

Another less obvious reason for my recommendation is based on the unexpected. What happens if you need to interrupt your vacation for any reason? Would you be able to leave each and every country on your itinerary and re-enter the United States with the documentation in your possession?

Keep in mind that your mode of travel could change from cruise ship to airplane. The WHTI rules have been implemented in stages, so depending on the date of travel; you could have a different answer to my question.

According to the State Department, here's a complete list of the 19 countries affected by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative:
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica (except for business travel), Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos


The time to check your documents for expiration date, entry / exit requirements for all countries on your itinerary, required vaccinations, visa requirements, travel advisories, and other country specific information is either before you book your trip or shortly after that. This hopefully gives you adequate time to obtain any documents or vaccinations you might need. Plan early to have a worry-free trip. If you expect the unexpected, you’ll be prepared for any problem that you might face during your trip. We’ve had to interrupt our trip in the past and we have seen many medical emergencies while on cruises, so they do happen. The last thing you want when there is an emergency is complications.

Finally, I recommend that all my clients purchase travel insurance. You may think you are healthy and nothing will happen; the weather may be perfect and not prevent you from arriving on time to your destination; you may not lose your job right after you book your trip; and you will also win the largest jackpot in history next week. Well, maybe the last one is stretching things.

Read more about our exclusive CruiseAssurance program.

Follow me on my Facebook Page

Friday, March 27, 2009

Azamara 2010 Europe Deployment

Azamara Cruises announced the 2010 Europe Deployment schedule earlier this month.

Azamara Journey Mediterranean Cruises

The schedule includes several 7 and 12-Night Mediterranean cruises departing from several different ports of call. Begin your cruise in any of the following cities:
Barcelona, Spain • Venice, Italy • Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • Istanbul, Turkey

Azamara Journey Copenhagen, Denmark

The round-trip itineraries include 12-Night Scandinavia/Russia • 12-Night Norwegian Fjords • 12-Night Iceland & Fjords • 12-Night British Isles. There are two 12-Night Western Europe cruises that sail between Copenhagen, Denmark and Barcelona, Spain. Start or end in Copenhagen, Denmark depending on when you depart.

Azamara Journey Holy Land and Transatlantic

Depart from Athens, Greece on a 12-Night Holy Land cruise that ends in Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy. This itinerary is offered in October and November, 2010. Following the final 12-Night Mediterranean cruise, the Journey will reposition via a 14-Night Transatlantic from Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy to Miami, Florida.

Azamara Quest Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

Depart from Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy on a 12-Night Holy Land which ends in Athens (Piraeus), Greece • 14-Night round-trip Best of Italy • 14-Night Ancient Empires which also ends in Athens.

Azamara Quest Athens (Piraeus), Greece

Depart from Athens (Piraeus), Greece on a 12-Night Holy Land which ends in Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy • 10-Night Greek Isles which ends in Istanbul, Turkey • 12-Night Adriatic & Ionian Coast ending in Venice, Italy • 14-Night Ancient Empires ending in Rom (Civitavecchia), Italy

Azamara Quest Black Sea & Western Mediterranean

Depart from Istanbul, Turkey on a 12-Night Black Sea ending in Athens (Piraeus), Greece. There are three different 12-Night Mediterranean itineraries Venice, Italy to Barcelona, Spain • Barcelona, Spain to Venice, Italy • Venice, Italy to Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy.


Both Journey and Quest offer a number of cruisetours in combination with the cruises. Destinations include Athens & Delphi • Florence and Rome • Cappadocia and Istanbul •
Budapest, Vienna, Prague & Berlin.

More Information about Itineraries

View more details on my Azamara Cruises Itinerary Page. If any of the cruises is of interest to you, let me know and I can provide pricing and additional details.

Read about What's new for Europe in 2010 on my Facebook Page. While you are there, be sure to Become a Fan so that you'll receive my page updates.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Final Sale Days for Several Great Deals

Oceania Cruises Fifth Anniv. Sale
Now Thru March 31st

Oceania Cruises is celebrating their Fifth Anniversary with two fantastic offers:

European Collection

Enjoy $2,000 Price Reduction Off 2 for 1 Cruise Fares with Free Airfare per stateroom on 18 of Oceania's 2009 European Collection Sailings!

Winter Collection

Enjoy Up to $1,500 Price Reduction Off 2 for 1 Cruise Fares with Free Airfare PLUS $500 Shipboard Credit and Free Prepaid Gratuities per stateroom on Most 2009-2010 Winter Collection Sailings (including new itineraries)!

Now is your chance to give Luxury Cruising a try. Click on the links above for a sample of the cruise itineraries. Call me for complete details before the sale ends.

FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions
during select 2009 Cruises
Simply book by March 31, 2009
Yes, you heard me - Free Unlimited Shore Excursions! With this offer from Regent Seven Seas Cruises this is an all-inclusive deal on one of the premier luxury cruise lines afloat. More details about this offer can be found here (or click the banner to the right).
Take the worry out of booking a cruise vacation by taking advantage of our Exclusive CruiseAssurance Job Loss Protection
Use the tools in the right-hand navigation pane to search for a cruise vacation or learn more about these and other exciting offers.
The cruise lines are doing their part to stimulate the economy. The rest is up to you. Call or email me today - I love talking about cruises and helping plan the right vacation for you.

Whodunit? Expect the Unexpected

Do you like a little mystery in your life?

You can add a WHODUNIT MYSTERY CRUISE experience to your Royal Caribbean cruise vacation on one of the following itineraries:

Mariner of the Seas®
7-Night Mexican Riviera
April 19, 2009

Los Angeles, California • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Mazatlan, Mexico • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Los Angeles, California

Explorer of the Seas®
5-Night Bermuda
June 6, 2009

Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey
Kings Wharf, Bermuda • Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey

Liberty of the Seas®
7-Night Eastern Caribbean
August 29, 2009

Miami, Florida • Philipsburg, St. Maarten
San Juan, Puerto Rico • Labadee®, Haiti • Miami, Florida

Radiance of the Seas®
4-Night Mexican Riviera
October 29, 2009 

San Diego, California • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
San Diego, California


Whodunit Comedy Mystery Cruises, Dying to have you join us!!! IF you Dare... Call me Today for more Clues ...
Limited availability exists for this unique onboard experience. They're waiting for you onboard ... don't make them wait too long. Get a group of your friends and family together and get ready for the time of your life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Not Northeast 2010

Close your eyes and think about your 2010 cruise vacation

What images do you see?

Perhaps you see unusual famed pink sand beaches and vibrant pastel homes or nature trails, kayaks and white water rafting or lighthouses and lobsters or people swimming with dolphins, parasailing and relaxing on the beach.

Where might you be? Do you give up? The answer is on a Royal Caribbean cruise somewhere in the Northeast. The 2010 Northeast Deployment schedule was announced today and cruises are available for booking.

Royal Caribbean will have three ships, the Enchantment of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, and the Jewel of the Seas deployed in the Northeast for the 2010 season. The destinations include Bermuda, Bahamas, Canada, New England, and the Eastern Caribbean.

The ships will sail from Baltimore; Boston; Norfolk, VA; and Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ, on 84 cruises. You'll be able to select from five to nine-night cruises. Recognizing that many people want to avoid flying and instead depart from close-to-home ports, Royal Caribbean has launched the first year-round deployment in the Baltimore, Maryland port on the Enchantment of the Seas.

For more information about the Northeast destinations or the itineraries, consult my website or give me a call. I'd be happy to help plan your 2010 cruise vacation to one of these destinations.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Princess Announces 2010 Europe Program

I've just received advance info about Princess Cruises 2010 Europe Program

For 2010, Princess® is offering more of Europe – more unique itineraries and departures than ever before!

Ships grand and small sailing to the Mediterranean, Greek Isles & Holy Land; Scandinavia, Russia & Norway; and the British Isles, Iceland & Greenland

Five new 7-day Interlude cruises on small ship Ocean Princess® with optional hotel packages in London and Rome

Princess signature 2-day Experiences in Europe available on five itineraries visiting Egypt, Israel or St. Petersburg, Russia

Returning favorites like the 12-day Grand Mediterranean, 10-day Scandinavia & Russia and 12-day British Isles cruises

Three cruisetours – providing an in-depth Europe land and sea vacation!

At a glance, the 2010 Europe Program includes:
• 39 Unique Itineraries (9 New)
• 96 Departures• 130 Ports (11 New for the Season)
• 6 Ships

I am now accepting advance reservations for sailings to Europe in 2010. Whether you are planning a get-away for two of you or a large group, now is the time to contact me to secure space on one of these fantastic itineraries. Bring your entire family for an experience of a lifetime in Europe. Bookings will open April 9th, so don't delay.

Fans of my Facebook page will get some additional insider information, so be sure to become a fan today.

Monday, March 23, 2009

NCL One Day Sale - Extended thru March 27th

Have you been in a cave for the winter? Have you missed the entire wave season? It's not too late - the deals just keep on coming. But most of them will be ending March 31st.

My inbox is filling up with offers and I'm posting the information here and on my Facebook Page as soon as I can.

Here is the latest one from Norwegian Cruise Line:

2-for-1 cruises. Save from $450 to $2,000* for a limited time only.

Private Preview Sale

WEDNESDAY, March 25, 2009

Open to the Public

THURSDAY, March 26, 2009 (Extended thru 3/27)

Now is the perfect time to plan that dream vacation to Europe, Hawaii, Alaska or Bermuda at a price you can afford. For one day only, NCL is giving you this special 2-for-1 cruise offer:

• 5- to 14-Day Europe: Insides from $799 NOW $349* per person

• 7-Day Alaska: Insides from $1,329 NOW $379* per person

• 7-Day Bermuda: Insides from $1,399 NOW $499* per person

• 7-Day Hawai‘i: Insides from $2,879 NOW $599* per person

Are you familiar with NCL Freestyle Cruising? If not, check out some of my past blog posts which provide behind the scenes look at the specialty dining, such as Cagney's Steakhouse (my favorite) and the wonderful spa offerings.

*Offer valid through March 26, 2009. Starting from rates listed above are Guarantee rates which apply to 1st-2nd guests only. 3rd-8th guests cannot be booked on Guarantee rates. Reservations booked at regular fares can accommodate 3rd-8th bookings. With all bookings made under Guarantee rates, stateroom assignment is subject to NCL's discretion and can be assigned at any time up to day of sailing. Savings are based on Brochure rates. Fares are cruise only in U.S. dollars, per person, based on double occupancy. Offer is for new individual bookings only. Call me for full details and restrictions.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Celebrity’s Solstice Class Celebration

I've been talking about the great deals to Europe that the cruise lines are offering this year. This latest one from Celebrity Cruises is just too good to pass up.

Book any Celebrity Solstice or Celebrity Equinox 2009 Europe cruise between
March 23 and April 1, 2009
and receive up to a $500 Future Cruise Credit.

Use your Future Cruise Credit for any 2010 Celebrity cruise
(Excluding Celebrity Xpedition®, holidays and cruises shorter than 7-nights in length).

$300 Future Cruise Credit for Inside & Ocean View
$500 Future Cruise Credit for Veranda & Suite

I've posted my review of the Celebrity Solstice in previous blog posts. This is an amazing new ship, one that will set the standards for other cruise lines to follow. That is what makes this offer so amazing - it's not on some old ship, but rather the most innovative Celebrity ship at sea.

This offer is valid on the following:
Celebrity Solstice
10/11-Night Eastern Mediterranean
May 4 through November 20, 2009

Celebrity Equinox
13-Night Ancient Empires
August 18 through October 23, 2009

Celebrity Equinox
10-Night Best of Europe, August 8, 2009

It is very rare for a cruise line to offer specials like these on brand new ships. Definitely consider this offer if you are interested in sailing to Europe.

†Certain restrictions apply - ask me about the details.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why Not Panama Canal 2010

We've talked about Transtatlantic cruises which typically sail in the Spring from Florida to Europe and in the Fall from Europe to New York, Florida, or San Juan. These are known as repositioning cruises because the ship is changing its base of operations from one area of the globe to another.

These not the only repositioning cruises available throughout the year. Royal Caribbean International has just announced its 2010 15-Night Eastbound Panama Canal cruise for Fall 2010. It will be on Radiance of the Seas, September 24, 2010, and stop at the following ports:

San Diego, California • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico • Acapulco, Mexico • Huatulco, Mexico • Puntarenas, Costa Rica • Panama Canal (Cruising) • Cristobal Pier, Panama • Cartagena, Colombia • George Town, Grand Cayman • Tampa, Florida

As you can see, this particular sailing is a full transit of the Panama Canal. The cruise is sailing Eastbound from San Diego to Tampa, Florida. Typically you'll see the reverse itinerary in the Spring. In 2010, Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas has a March 11th sailing doing that itinerary.

Sailing through the Panama Canal is an experience that you will never forget. It is amazing to see the canal in operation. See my previous blog posting, Cruising the Panama Canal, for an account of one of our Panama Canal cruises.

As you plan your 2010-2011 cruise vacations, why not consider Panama Canal. The Radiance of the Seas is only one example of the cruises you can do. If 15 nights is too long for you, there are other possibilities which include a partial transit of the Panama Canal. Let me help you plan your visit to the Panama Canal. It is one of my favorite cruises, so I'd love to share more information with you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls in the middle of the Christian Lenten season, Irish families would go to church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. The Irish would dance, drink and feast on the traditional Irish Bacon and Cabbage. Lenten regulations about not eating meat were waived if necessary so that the traditional meal could be eaten.

Here in the United States, St. Patrick's Day has become a celebration for not only the Irish, but for all. There are parades and celebrations which include green beer. The Chicago River is dyed green each year in honor of the event.

We have cruised to Ireland a couple of times. We've visited Cork, Kinsale, and Belfast. We were scheduled to visit Dublin, but due to a European Summit, the cruise schedule was changed at the last minute.

The Irish countryside is beautiful, the towns are quaint, and the people are very friendly. It is a great place to visit. Cruises to the British Isles stop at one or more Irish ports. June is a great time to visit Ireland. The weather is usually mild and you'll be comfortable in a light jacket on the cooler days.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why Not Europe 2010

Why Not Cruise to Europe in 2010

If you watch television at all, you've probably seen the commercials for Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line (RCCL). They have branded themselves "The Nation of Why Not" in their current ad campaigns.

They are featuring many of the activities that can be done on the Freedom Class ships in their fleet (Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Independence of the Seas).

As of March 12th, you can book your 2010-2011 Europe cruise and cruisetours. Once again, RCCL will have several ships in Europe next year. In fact, they will have 8 ships in Europe to serve that market.

Adventure of the Seas starts off with a 13-night Transatlantic cruise and then does 4 - 7 night Western Mediterranean cruises and ends with 5-night Canary Island cruises.

Brilliance of the Seas will do 12-night cruises to Mediterranean Greek Isles, Mediterranean Venice, and Egypt & Eastern Mediterranean.

Independence of the Seas, the largest ship sailing in Europe, starts with a 14-night Transatlantic cruise and then does 10-night Canary Islands, 4-night Cork Short Break, 3-night Paris Short Break, 14-night Italian Mediterranean, and finally 14-night Mediterranean Treasures.

Jewel of the Seas starts with a 13-night Eastbound Transatlantic cruise and does 12-night Scandinavia and Russia cruise, and ends with a 14-night Westbound Transatlantic cruise.

Navigator of the Seas starts with a 14-night Transatlantic cruise followed by 12-night Eastern Med & Egypt, 7-night Eastern Mediterranean, 7-night Western Mediterranean, and ends with a 14-night Westbound Transatlantic cruise.

Splendour of the Seas starts with a 14-night Eastbound Transatlantic then continues with 6, 7, and 8-night Greek Isles (some include Turkey), and 7-night Mediterranean cruises.

Vision of the Seas features 13-night Northern Europe & Med, 12-night Holy Land, and 9-night Mediterranean cruises.

Voyager of the Seas starts and ends with 14-night Transatlantic cruises and features 7-night Mediterranean cruises throughout the season.

All Royal Caribbean ships have plenty of onboard activities to keep you entertained on the sea days. The largest of the ships sailing in Europe, the Independence of the Seas, has a FlowRider Wave Simulator, Ice Skating Rink, H2O Zone Family Water Park, Boxing Ring, Rock Climbing Wall and more.

Whether you are looking for short or long cruises, big or small ships, Mediterranean to Transtlantic, one or more of these cruises should meet your criteria. So, I ask you, Why Not start planning your European get-away for next year right now? I'd be happy to provide you with more information and help you plan your cruise / cruisetour.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nautical Superstitions & Legends

It's Friday the 13th, the second one this year, and I thought you might enjoy looking at some of the nautical superstitions and legends.

Probably the most popular Nautical Superstition is that women on board a ship equalled bad luck. Some say that having a woman on board a ship when it was at sea would anger the sea gods, bringing on horrible weather and rough water. In some cases women who were on board ship were even tossed over board in order to attempt an appeasement of the gods. It was believed that a figurehead in the form of a naked woman, perched on the bow, calms the sea and her open eyes will guide it to safety.

There were rules against women on board ship (not passenger ships, however) it was more often due to the distracter factor than any superstition. A woman on board a ship full of men on a months-long voyage could bring on all sorts of headaches for the captain, not to mention the woman.

Wine poured upon the deck before a long voyage represents a libation to the gods which will bring good luck. "Christening" a ship by breaking a bottle of champagne across her bow at the time of launching arose from this practice. It is very unlikely that mermaids really exist. The source of this legend may be a plant-eating marine mammal called the manatee. The female manatee floats upright while nursing her young, using her front feet to cradle it. Possibly, from a distance, it might look like a human mother with her baby. Nevertheless, this famous statue of a mermaid can be seen in Copenhagen.

Ships and planes have mysteriously disappeared without a trace when inside the Bermuda Triangle. This is an area of the Atlantic Ocean that stretches between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Florida. I am happy to report that I've been to the Bermuda Triangle and back safely, just last year in fact.

In the 1400`s, people believed that the Earth was flat and that if you sailed too far from land, you would FALL OFF the edge! Fortunately for all of us, not all the sailors believed that or the Americas may have never been discovered.

Fishermen are a superstitious lot, even today. They have some bizarre beliefs. If they see a red-haired person on the way to the boat it’s bad luck. Other bad omens include a black bag, a minister and a cross-eyed or flat-footed person.

Flowers are for funerals, and therefore weren’t welcomed aboard ship. If somebody’s sweetheart brought some aboard as a bon voyage gift, they were quickly thrown overboard. The reason a minister wasn't welcomed either was due to the same connection with funerals, but they weren’t tossed off the ship.

Don’t bring bananas on board, or you won’t catch any fish. And empty your pockets of pennies before boarding or your catch will be small. Don’t eat anything before the first fish is caught, and the first one caught each day must be spit upon and thrown back.

It is unlucky to start a cruise on Friday. This is the day Christ was crucified on the cross.

These are just a sample of the various superstitions and legends, many of which are still respected today. One thing is for certain, Mother Nature and the Sea can be very unforgiving, so it is wise to be careful and follow common sense and safety rules while at sea. Follow these or ignore these superstitions as you see fit.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Keeping Us Safe

September 10, 2001 we sailed out of Southampton (London), England on the inaugural voyage of Norwegian Sun. This 17-night cruise was a Trans-Atlantic crossing which followed the Path of the Vikings. The final port of call was to be New York, NY but as you might expect, that was not possible.

On September 11, 2001, the cruise industry, along with every other travel industry, was changed forever by the events that took place in New York city. While safety had always been a cruise line concern, it was never at a higher level than it was when we returned to the United States.

A few days before our scheduled return to the United States, we learned that we would be diverting to Boston instead of New York. NCL would make arrangements for everyone to get home from there. They even opened up the phone lines free of charge so that everyone could call home and let their loved ones know about the change of plans.

These were extraordinary times during the entire cruise. The majority of the passengers were from New York, and you can just imagine the emotions onboard the ship.

It was shortly after dawn as we entered Boston Harbor. We immediately got our first glimpse of how the world had changed. A U.S. Coast Guard gunboat was alongside our ship escorting us into harbor. In fact, there were several of the gunboats alongside our ship. It was an eerie sight to see the boats, however it was also very comforting.

Travel had changed dramatically from the time we left on this cruise until the time we returned home. We had met people in Canada that had helped to shelter passengers that had been stranded when the airplanes were grounded. We got our first experience with the new security checking at Logan Airport.

Fortunately, the travel industry recovered and resumed operations following the devastating events of 9/11. Security is now a fact of life, both at the airports, and at cruise terminals. You'll look out from the upper decks of your ship and you'll always see U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Homeland Security, and other police agencies present while the ship is in harbor. We have witnessed them chase down supsicious boats and turn them away. Thanks to their presence, we can feel safe onboard the ship while we are in harbor.

Thank you to all the members of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Homeland Security and other agencies that keep the cruise passengers safe. Next time you are on a ship, be sure to wave a thank you to the men and women that keep us safe.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Atrium

Our virtual tour of Celebrity Solstice is drawing to a close. I hope that you have enjoyed the behind the scenes look at Celebrity Cruise's newest ship.

I leave you in the atrium which is where our cruise began. Seeing the attrium as we embarked the Solstice, we knew that Celebrity had really set the bar high for others to follow. The ship is very well designed. You don't get the feeling that it is as large as it is.

As I sat drinking my Chocolate Martini in Crush, I had a big grin on my face. I don't usually like having my picture taken, and rarely will you find me smiling in a photo. I couldn't help myself, since being on the Solstice was such a fantastic experience. I salute Celebrity Cruises, the designers, and Meyer Werft for creating such a fabulous new ship.

I look forward to booking all my clients on this ship and the remaining Solstice class ships when they start sailing. I can recommend this ship with confidence, knowing that my clients will truly love the ship as I did.

This concludes my virtual tour of the Solstice. If you still have questions about the ship, feel free to contact me. Come back again to see where we will journey to next.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Art Works

Celebrity Cruises has a long tradition of including extensive art collections onboard their ships. The Art Collection on Solstice carries on this tradition in spectacular fashion.

International Corporate Art (ICArt), an art consultancy firm based in Miami, London, and Oslo, acted as curators for the collection on Solstice. They either commissioned or acquired over 4600 pieces of artwork for the ship.

When you are on the Solstice, make sure to check out the various artworks. Some of the artists may be emerging while others are well-established. Chances are that over time these artists' works will become popular and you will have seen them first on Solstice.

As is the case on other Celebrity ships, there are several art auctions onboard during the cruise. If you have any interest in art at all, make sure to attend the auctions and also to view the art throughout the vessel.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - That's Entertainment

It's your first night onboard Celebrity Solstice. Now that you've had your dinner and given Lady Luck a try in Fortunes Casino, it's time to check out some of the evening's entertainment options.

The main attraction is the "Welcome Aboard Variety Show" in Solstice Theatre. The theatre, located on Decks 4 & 5, is the main stage onboard Celebrity Solstice. Most evenings you'll find two shows. Tonight the showtimes are at 8:45 and 10:45 PM making it possible for early and late dining guests to join the show. The show includes a singer, juggler, and the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, all backed up by the Celebrity Orchestra.

At the conclusion of the show, you discover that tomorrow night's show entitled "Solstice - The Show" is one you won't want to miss. It is a European-style theatrical circus built around the clash of day and night. It includes vocalists, physical comedy, breathtaking group acrobatic and aerial performances and other specialty acts in a celestial celebration.

Looking at your Celebrity TODAY paper you discover that there is all sorts of entertainment including a pianists, steel pan virtuoso, strings, acapella group, a jazz trio, a guitarist, and even big band music by the Celebrity Orchestra. You can enjoy some late night comedy if you decide to stay up into the wee hours. There certainly are lots of choices to keep you entertained all night long.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Fortunes Casino

Luck be a Lady Tonight

The sun is setting, you've had dinner at Silk Harvest, the show in Solstice Theatre doesn't start for an hour, so you have time to kill. What to do?

Strolling along the Promenade deck, you come to Fortunes Casino. The bright lights and pleasing colors are inviting. You hear people laughing and having a good time. Indeed everyone in the casino seems to be having fun. So, you walk towards the entrance.

It's early yet, so some of the 16 tables aren't open yet. There are people playing Blackjack and others playing Roulette. Scattered throughout the casino people are playing their favorite slot machines. There are 200 machines to choose from, so you should be able to find something to do.

You select a Video Poker machine and put your money in the slot. It comes to life and you hope that luck is on your side. Your mind starts to wander a bit. Here you are in the middle of the ocean and you're playing a game of luck in a casino that looks like it could be in Monte Carlo or inside one of the swankiest casinos in Las Vegas. You press the deal button again. You wait in anticipation for the cards to be dealt. Luck be a Lady Tonight !!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Grand Épernay Dining Room

Grand Épernay Dining Room is the magnificent and luxurious main dining room of Celebrity Solstice. The two story main dining venue is located on the Plaza and Promenade decks.

The highlights of the main dining room are a two-story glass wine tower and dazzling chandeliers. Upon entering the dining room, your eyes are drawn to the magnificient two-story glass wine tower. At first you aren't sure what it is, but as you get closer, you can see the wine bottles.

The color scheme of beige, gold, and white are very elegant. The gorgeous chandeliers rival those you'd see in the finest palaces in Euorope.

As you can see from the menu, typical Celebrity cusine is offered in the dining room. Whether you are dining at a table for two or at one of the larger tables for eight, you will enjoy your meal in this magnificient atmosphere. Bon Appétit!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Quasar

The designers of Celebrity Solstice used color, lighting, and unique decor very effectively to create a modern resort atmosphere .

Quasar perhaps tops the list of unique venues onboard the Solstice. It is a vibrant nightclub designed for those ready to kick back and get down. Upon entering the lounge you might think that you have taken a wrong turn and ended up on some Hollywood space age set. The globe shaped control center, the lighting, and the half-globe chairs hanging from the ceiling all contribute to this feeling coming over you.

Away from the central area is the VIP area where you can escape to a more private setting without leaving the ambience. The lighting and the seating are unlike anything you've seen on other ships in the Celebrity fleet.

Quasar is definitely the place to be for dancing the night away, but it also serves as a fun location during the day. During our cruise, I played a few games of Wii one afternoon. The activities staff was onhand to coordinate the games and provide instruction if necessary.

For groups, Quasar is just one of the locations that can be used for your private party. We were originally scheduled to have a party in Cellar Masters, but we relocated to Quasar for a fun-filled evening of socializing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Belly up to the Bar

I hope you are enjoying the highlights of the Celebrity Solstice. As is customary when you embark on a Celebrity vessel, you'll be greeted by the staff that is there to serve you a glass of champagne and escort you to your cabin. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this should tell you that you are about to embark on a very special experience onboard the ship.

Arriving early like we did, the attendant checked our carry-on bags, showed us where our cabin was, and directed us to the Oceanview Café and Bar for some lunch. I’ve already written about the café so check the blog archive if you’ve not already read that post. This is your second opportunity to get the beverage of your choice onboard the Solstice. The friendly bar waiters are there to offer the drink of the day or whatever beverage you might chose. Of course, this is also your first opportunity to spend money onboard Solstice since beverages (other than coffee, tea, ice tea, fruit punch, lemonade, and tap water) are not included.

Following lunch, it is time to explore the rest of the ship. For this article, I’ll focus on the various bars starting from the top deck of the Solstice working my way down.

Sunset Bar is located at Celebrity’s Solstice’s highest point aft on the Lawn Club Deck. There are breathtaking views of the length of the ship and the entire surroundings. Here you’ll enjoy a relaxed country club atmosphere.

Oceanview Bar on the Lido Deck provides any number of beverages to be enjoyed in a beautiful outdoor venue. Mast Bar is also on the Lido Deck near the jogging track.

Sky Observation Lounge on the Lido Deck offers floor to ceiling windows with breathtaking views looking forward. You can relax in the comfy seating all around.

Pool Bar on the Resort Deck might be one of your first stops on your Celebrity Solstice tour since the sail away party will be occurring on this deck.

The following are all on the Entertainment Deck which is one of the hubs of nightlife activity onboard Celebrity Solstice.

Ensemble Lounge is a great place for some instrumental or vocal sounds along with your favorite nightcap with friends and family.

Galleria Tastings is unique to Celebrity Solstice. Here you’ll be able to enjoy "tastes" of food, drink, fashion and art. Be sure to check out this unique entertainment venue.

Michael's Club is a Celebrity signature staple where you can enjoy a good cigar, jazz music, and your favorite drink.

The following are all on the Promenade Deck which is another hot nightspot onboard the Solstice.

Cellar Masters which is inspired by the vineyards of Napa Valley, brings to life the experience of a global wine tour while you learn about and taste a large variety of wines from around the world. This is a great venue to discover new wines, receive recommendations and enrich your knowledge of the world of wine.

Martini Bar and Crush continues the successful ice bar concept first introduced on Celebrity Century when it was remodeled. Stop by before dinner to have your favorite martini (mine is chocolate) or if you can’t decide, have a flight of martinis where you can sample several of the popular drinks.

Quasar is a nightclub located on this deck. I'll cover this in more detail in another post.

Passport Bar is just off the Grand Foyer on Plaza Deck and is the perfect location to have a cocktail before going to the Solstice Theatre.

There are many venues onboard Celebrity Solstice to enjoy at night or during the day. Consult Celebrity TODAY paper for details about drink specials and entertainment during your cruise.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Poolside

The sun is shining, the temperature is warm, there's a gentle breeze blowing and you have the entire day at sea. This is the formula for a perfect day poolside.

Celebrity Solstice offers several pool choices. On the Resort Deck, the main pool area consists of a Sports Pool, Family Pool, and Wet Zone. The Solarium and Aqua Spa are forward from there on the same deck. Flanking the pool area are the typical lounge chairs you find on any ship.

What distinguishes the Solstice from other ships are the unique lounge chairs poolside. In addition to the typical lounge chairs, you'll find lounge chairs built for two that are secluded inside shaded columns that flank the Family Pool area.

Make sure that you go up the secret staircase to the Solstice Deck where you'll find an assortment of loungers including my favorite the oversized red loungers pictured above. These are perfect for catching some rays or simply relaxing.

Whether you are looking for sun or shade you should be able to find a chair to suit your requirements. Lay back, catch some sun, read a book, talk to friends and family, have your favorite beverage and just relax. The Solstice provides the ingredients for a perfect day at sea, it's up to you to complete the recipe.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Silk Harvest

You've had a relaxing day onboard Celebrity Solstice. The Thai Herbal Poultice Massage started you thinking about the exotic lands of the Far East. As you lay in your lounge chair by the Solarium pool, you start to wonder if there is availability in the Silk Harvest Restaurant for dinner tonight. Wouldn't that be a great way to start your evening?

You decide to go to the restaurant instead of calling. The maitre d' tells you that he has an opening at 6:30 PM if you are willing to join a table with some other passengers. That sounds good to you, so you make the reservation.

Arriving at 6:30 PM, you are escorted to a long table that sits 12 people. Another couple are already sitting at the table so you introduce yourself and sit down next to them.

The waiter takes your drink order and says he'll be back in a few minutes to answer any questions about the menu. Two more people show up while waiting for the waiter to return.

Upon his return he explains the menu. There are four sections: Small Plates, Large Plates, Silk Harvest Sushi, and Desserts. You can order whatever you want from each section of the menu.

During our pre-inaugural sailing on Celebrity Solstice we had dinner in Silk Harvest one night. We had Wonton Soup, Lotus Chicken Wraps, and Chicken Spring Rolls from the Small Plates section of the menu.

All of those were delicious. I especially enjoyed the Lotus Chicken Wraps. The waiter brings a selection of sauces that you can use along with your meal.

We aren't big Sushi fans, so we just ordered Orange Chicken from the Large Plates menu. We had heard that it was one of the specialties, so we decided to give that a try. We weren't disappointed. It was excellent.

Of course, everyone's favorite part of the meal is the dessert. The waiter explained the dessert selections. They all sounded fabulous. We hadn't over-stuffed ourselves, so we decided to try two different selections. We ordered Carmalized Bananas with Coconut Ice Cream and Cheesecake Rainbow Roll which were crisp rice with various tropical fruits.

Besides the quality of the food, presentation and service are very important when dianing in a speicialty restaurant such as Silk Harvest. The dessert pictures will give you an idea about the food presentation. You'll have to take my word on the service which was excellent. For $20 per person, this was a fabulous dinner experience. It is well worth the extra charge. I know some people take issue with the charges for specialty restaurants. Think about the charge as an extra gratuity for great service and exceptional food and you'll agree it is worth it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Celebrity Solstice - Solarium

One of the unique features on larger Celebrity ships is the Solarium which is an adults-only pool area. On the Millinneum class ships, there is a thalasotherapy pool, but Solstice Class ships do not have one.

The Solarium completes the Celebrity Solstice AquaSpa offerings. After working out in the fitness center, you can swim in this indoor lap pool. Relax in one of the hot tubs or lounge in one of the unique chairs that flank the pool while enjoying the dancing waterfalls.

During the day the Solarium is brightly lit by the sun shining through the domed glass ceiling. At night, the Solarium takes on a complely different mood with soft lighting accenting the dancing waters of the waterfalls.

Whether you want to relax or workout, the Solarium is an adult sanctionary from crowded areas of the ship. No matter if its sunny or rainy outside, the Solarium is the perfect location for some relaxation.