Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Carnival Triumph - Great Cities Theme

Carnival Triumph - Ship Decor

While on our recent Canada & New England cruise aboard Carnival Triumph, I learned that the theme for the ship is "Great Cities". In looking at the decor throughout the ship, I might have thought it was "Around the Globe" or "The World" since the globe theme appears throughout the public areas.

When you look at the names of the various public spaces, the theme does start to take shape. The two dining rooms are called London and Paris. The main show lounge is the Rome Lounge. Another entertainment venue is Club Rio Lounge. You can enjoy a drink and cigar in the Oxford Bar or perhaps curl up with your favorite book in Washington Library. Those are just a sample of the "Great Cities" represented on Carnival Triumph.

Decor of a ship contributes to the overall atmosphere during your cruise experience. Modern cruise ships are brightly decorated often, with abstract art throughout the vessel. In ages gone by, the ships were decorated with exquisite wood and often times the decor was very dark. Cruise lines spend a large portion of the new ship budget bringing their vision to life.

The next time you are onboard a ship, take a look at the decor and see if you can determine the ship's theme. Take some time, perhaps on one of the sea days, to walk around the ship and enjoy the various art that is displayed throughout the ship. This may open up an entirely new aspect to your cruise experience.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax

TITANIC - Halifax Connection

The RMS Titanic was a British steamliner built by the White Star Line. For her time, she was the largest passenger steamship in the world. It employed the latest technology available at the time and was thought to have been "unsinkable". Unfortunately, as you know, that wasn't the case.

The Titanic left Southampton, UK on April 10, 1912, with 2,200 passengers and crew onboard. This was the maiden voyage of this amazing new steamship. Four days after leaving Southampton, the Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank. Over 1500 people perished making it one of the most deadly peacetime disasters in history. The high casualty rate was later believed to be due to the insufficient number of lifeboats onboard, something that has been corrected in modern day cruise liners.

The White Star Line chartered several ships to assist in recovery efforts following the sinking of the Titanic. Two Halifax-based ships, the MacKay-Bennett and the Minia, were part of that recovery fleet. The ships' crews recovered 328 bodies, with 209 being returned to Halifax. The badly damaged or deteriorated bodies were buried at sea. Of the 119 buried at sea, 60 were unidentified at the time and 49 remain unidentified today. The last survivor of the Titanic sinking, Millvina Dean, died on May 31, 2009, at a nursing home near Southampton, England (not far from where her and her family boarded the ill-fated ship) at the age of 97.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has an extensive exhibit, Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax, which was recently updated. The exhibit has 20 artifacts and dozens of photographs, including many that had never been published or displayed before. Two well known articles in the exhibit are the only intact Titanic deck chair and the shoes of the Titanic unknown child. Consult the museum's Research Page for more Titanic information.

Besides the exhibit at the museum, visitors to Halifax can also visit the graves of the Titanic victims buried there. Read more

It is possible to walk to the Maritime Musuem from the pier. It is just along the boardwalk. There is a Visitor Information Centre right next door to the museum, where you can obtain maps and other information about local attractions. Watch our Cruise Vacations pages for more photos from our cruise.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Silva - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Canadian Tall Ship - Silva
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

This was our second visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia. During our last visit, we visited Peggy's Cove Lighthouse. If this is your first visit to Halifax, I would highly recommend you tour the lighthouse. You can get a special cancellation from the post office there. Peggy's Cove Lighthouse is a bit weathered, but it will get a new paint job in 2009.

We decided to do something different this visit. Carnival offerred the Canadian Tall Ship Sailing Experience tour. We were able to experience the historic seaport from a unique perspective aboard the tall ship Silva for an approximate 1½ - hour sail. We were entertained by the Captain and crew as they shared some interesting anecdotes of Halifax Harbour. It was even possible for some hands on sailing experience.

The weather was overcast with some rain as we pulled out into the harbour. The Silva has a canopy that covers a large portion of the deck, so the rain didn't bother us. As we left the dock we were able to get pictures of our ship and also the Royal Caribbean ship that was docked in Halifax. We passed by the Canadian Naval yard where there were several ships docked. It is actually a NATO port, so you never know what ships might be in the harbour. The captain pointed out several sights along the boardwalk including Casino Nova Scotia.

There are other options to see Halifax from the Harbour. I know it sound strange going from one ship to another, but Halifax is best seen from the water. Following your harbour tour, you can then move inland to visit the various popular attractions. The boardwalk was our destination of choice as the rainy weather kept us from venturing too far from the ship. I'll talk about that more in another post.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bay of Fundy Coastal Photography Tour

Bay of Fundy Coastal Photography Tour
Saint John, NB, Canada

We decided to tour this area with the aide of a local photographer. Carnival offered the Bay of Fundy Coastal Photography tour. We boarded a mini-coach accompanied by our professional photographer guide, Lance Timmons, and headed out to photograph some of the iconic images of New Brunswick, including a Bay of Fundy beach, working fishing wharf, waterfalls, and more.

This excursion took us off the beaten path and along the coast of the Bay of Fundy giving us the opportunity to photograph the breathtaking scenic beauty of this area. We had done a similar tour when in St. Thomas, USVI and enjoyed it very much. That's why we selected this tour.

Our first photo stop was at the Reversing Falls. It was still high tide when we got there, so the water was flowing away from the bridge and towards the two islands across from the power plant.

As you can see from the photos above, the weather was overcast, with some light rain. That didn't put a damper on our photography tour. In fact with these conditions, photography is actually better as colors pop in the softer light. We visited the Bay of Fundy twice, first at high tide and then again at low tide just before returning to our ship. The water was flowing in opposite directions on these visits.

Another stop was at the Lepreau Falls (photo above). While the Rerversing Falls are the most widely known and popular, we enjoyed our visit to Lepreau Falls the most. We have seen many waterfalls in our years of cruising, each with their own character and personality. These falls have unique color due to the tannins in the water. This was an excellent location to try different photography techniques.

At Dipper Harbour we had the opportunity to see an active fishing village. There were boats coming in with their lobster catches which can be purchased locally. We made another photo stop at a very unique beach. This isn't your typically white sand beach. Instead, the terrain is very rocky.

Our tour ended with another stop at our original location - Reversing Falls. We were now at low tide which means the water flow had reversed from our previous visit. The best way to capture this on camera is to take a video from the same vantage point on both visits.

For more pictures from the photography tour, see our Saint John - Coastal Photography album. Also visit our Cruise Vacation site for this cruise (still a work in progress).

Greetings from Saint John, NB

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Our first port of call was Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, not to be confused with St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Saint John is the largest city in the province of New Brunswick. It is situated along the north shore of the Bay of Fundy at the mouth of the Saint John River.

This was the first time we visited this particular port in Atlantic Canada. While doing our research for this cruise, we learned about the Reversing Falls which is the most popular attraction in Saint John. The mighty Bay of Fundy causes the Saint John River to reverse direction twice every day and flow upstream. It is recommended to view the Falls twice - near low tide and near high tide. Tide charts can help you plan your visit.

The pictures above on the left were taken at high tide around noon. The pictures to the right were taken around 3:30 PM at low tide. Notice that the ship was about 14 feet lower in the second set of pictures.

Saint John is a port that you could tour on your own if you liked. There are tours for sale in the cruise terminal. I have to caution you that they could be sold out, however. We were booked on a Bay of Fundy Coastal Photography tour through Carnival, but we did ask about tours that were available. At that time, the only tour that was left was a San Francisco-style trolley tour . That tour is 1 hour and 15 minutes long with photo stops at the Reversing Falls Rapids, Historic Trinitiy Royal, and Fort Howe where you would be able to view your ship.

There are shops in a tented building adjacent to the pier. There is a good selection of merchandise and the prices are reasonable. The nice thing is that they accept U.S. dollars, so you don't need to exchange money. The vendors we bought from provided change in U.S. dollars also.

My husband has uploaded some pictures of the Carnival Triumph in the Port of Saint John. See his Saint John - Arrival / Departure photo album. We'll be posting more pictures as we continue our cruise review.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Greetings from the Atlantic. We are onboard Carnival Triumph for a cruise to Canada and New England. We arrived at New York LGA airport yesterday where we then took a cab to the Manhattan Terminal. We arrived around 1 PM and by 2 PM we were onboard having some lunch.

The weather in New York was gloomy and raining as we sailed out of New York Harbour. It didn't matter - it is still wonderful sailing past the Statue of Liberty.

Today we are enjoying Father's Day at sea. The weather is still gloomy, but it isn't stopping us from having a good time.

One of the first things we did yesterday after getting something to eat was to take the spa tour. We both booked massages including a free hot stone treatment on the back. They were offering specials during the spa tours.

I'll write more later in the week. I hope all the fathers have a great Father's Day today. Hopefully you'll have a cruise vacation as a gift. If you still got the usual tie, you might want to drop a hint for your birthday or next holiday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cunard 2011 World Voyages



I am pleased to give you a sneak preview of Cunard's 2011 World Voyages. Both iconic QUEEN MARY 2 and the gracious new QUEEN ELIZABETH will sail around the globe on two distinct itineraries as part of the youngest luxury fleet at sea. These epic voyages will go on sale to the public on July 1, 2009, at 5:00 a.m. PDT (8:00 a.m. EDT).

QUEEN MARY 2 sets sail on a 103-day journey roundtrip from New York, bringing guests to renowned destinations around the globe in the grandest style imaginable.
  • Explore exciting ports in South America, Africa, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe

  • Voyage concludes with a classic Westbound Transatlantic Crossing from Cunard's home port of Southampton

  • Overnight stays in Cape Town, Sydney and Hong Kong

QUEEN ELIZABETH will define a New Golden Age of Ocean Travel as she embarks on her maiden 103-day World Cruise voyage roundtrip from Southampton.

  • Chart a western course to destinations in Central America, the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe

  • Voyage features full transits of the Panama and Suez canals

  • Experience the fanfare and excitement of maiden-calls in many ports

  • Overnight stays in Sydney, Hong Kong and Dubai


You can discover two views of the world on a special 2-Ship World Voyage option sailing aboard QUEEN ELIZABETH from New York to Sydney, then joining QUEEN MARY 2 on the westbound return journey to New York. On both ships, you will encounter a wide range of inspiring regions and maiden ports.

Book early to take advantage of bonus fares. Early Booking Fares applies to reservations made before February 28, 2010. Contact me for full details and restrictions. It is also possible to book segments of the entire world voyage.

Request More Information on Cunard 2011 World Voyages via email

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Declaration of Indpendence Visits Princess Cruises in Alaska

Exclusive Opportunity for Princess Cruises Passengers
View Historic Document During Juneau Visits
July 1-8, 2009

Princess Cruises just announced a rare opportunity for passengers aboard all Princess ships calling in Juneau, Alaska between July 1-8, 2009. Those fortunate passengers can view a rare, original copy of the United States of America’s Declaration of Independence.

A copy of this founding document will make an exclusive appearance aboard Princess Cruises’ Alaska-based ships the July 4th week, giving passengers the unique opportunity to see the only traveling copy of the Declaration of Independence. The historic exhibit will be showcased aboard all Princess ships calling in Juneau between July 1-8, 2009.

This event is hosted in partnership with Declare Yourself, a non-profit organization founded by television producer Norman Lear. Passengers can be part of a historical first since this marks the first time a copy of the Declaration has visited Alaska, and the first time a cruise line has shown the famous document.

The Declaration will be on display aboard the vessels for about two hours while each ship is docked in Juneau.

The document will be shown aboard Diamond Princess and Star Princess on July 1; Coral Princess on July 2; Island Princess on July 3; Pacific Princess and Golden Princess on July 6, and Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess on July 8. Note: I still have cabins available for all ships except Star Princess, but they are going fast. Click on the links for more details.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our passengers to get a first-hand look at history, which is especially poignant at a time of year when our country celebrates its independence,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “It’s a rare occasion when we can bring such a unique attraction right on board – this document has never been shown on a cruise ship before. It will be a memorable way to mark the week of Independence Day as well as Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood.”

The only touring copy of the Declaration of Independence, Declare Yourself’s historic document is one of an estimated 200 original broadside copies (about the size of a sheet of newspaper) printed by John Dunlap in Philadelphia in 1776 after it was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, to distribute across the colonies and to King George in England. This copy’s current journey began in 1989 when a Pennsylvania shopper bought a frame at a flea market for $4.00. Later, while inspecting a tear in the back of the painting, he discovered a piece of paper wedged between the frame and painting. He pulled it out and uncovered what would soon be authenticated as the 25th remaining copy of the Declaration of Independence. The document changed hands several times and was purchased in 2000 by Lyn and Norman Lear for $8.14 million, with the goal of bringing the document directly to the American people.

Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign that was founded in 2003 to empower and encourage every eligible 18-year-old in America to register to vote.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Celebrity Cruises Exclusive Sale

Celebrity Cruises Beat The Heat Summer Sale
Now thru June 30, 2009

Celebrity Cruises has teamed up with World Travel Holdings (parent company of Cruises Inc.) to offer guests an Exclusive Sale now through the end of this month. I can only share a glimpse of the offer here - you'll have to contact me for full details.

Receive UP to $100 in Onboard Credit, when you book an Ocean View stateroom or higher on any MENTIONED departure.

Select from certain sailings August, 2009, through January, 2010, to destinations such as Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Canada & New England, Mediterannean and other parts of Europe, Panama Canal, South America, and Transatlantic voyages.

Ships include some of the old favorites like Centruy, Constellation, Infinity, Mercury, Millennium, and Summit. The sale also includes select voyages on Equinox and Solstice, their newest ships.

Celebrity Cruises, a premium cruise line, has one of the youngest and most innovative fleets of any major line. Since Celebrity's first sailing in 1990, it has been recognized as an industry leader, praised for providing friendly and engaging service, exotic Elemis Spa facilities, award-winning gourmet cuisine, and an overall atmosphere of easy elegance. Purchased by Royal Caribbean International in the late 1990's, Celebrity has grown its fleet significantly while maintaining its Premium niche. More information about Celebrity Cruises and Itineraries.

Onboard Credit offers ($50 per stateroom – 7 – 10 night itineraries /$100 per stateroom- 11+ night itineraries) are in U.S. dollars and are not redeemable for cash. This offer is valid for NEW individual Ocean view and higher stateroom bookings, made June 1 – 30, 2009 on mentioned departures. Group bookings are not valid. THE OFFER CAN BE USED WITH CERTAIN FARES.

Additional restrictions apply - contact me for full details.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NOW is the Time to Cruise Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line's
NOW Sale Thru June 19th

Book between June 16 and June 19 to take advantage of these amazing offers!

This is a great time to plan a cruise for Dads and Grads. Take the entire family on a cruise vacation to Alaska, Europe, Hawaii, or other destinations that Norwegian Cruise Line sails to.

By booking NOW you can receive up to $250 in on board credits as well as take advantage of reduced deposits. Here is a sampling of NOW offers:

Alaska Sailings from $54 per day

Bahamas & Florida Sailings from $50 per day

Bermuda Sailings from $78 per day

Canada & New England Sailings from $65 per day

Caribbean Sailings from $60 per day

Mexican Riviera Sailings from $48 per day

Repositioning Sailings from $58 per day

South America Sailings from $68 per day
Call or email me to start planning your cruise NOW.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Holland America 3 Day Sale - Alaska & Other Destinations

Holland America 3-Day Sale
June 17-19, 2009
If you missed the Holland America 3-Day Sale in May, it's not too late to cash in on savings to Alaska and other Destinations.
This is a great year to travel to Alaska and what better way to do so than on a Holland America Cruise ship. This sale features new special fares on verandahs and suites as well as upgrades available for as little as $50.
Sample of July / August, 2009
Alaska Sailings Included in this Promotion:
7-Day Alaskan Explorer Cruises — Roundtrip Seattle
ms Zaandam: Friday Departures via Glacier Bay
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside!
7-Day Alaskan Explorer Cruises — Roundtrip Seattle
ms Amsterdam: Saturday Departures via Hubbard Glacier
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside!
7-Day Alaskan Explorer Cruises — Roundtrip Seattle
ms Westerdam: Sunday Departures via Glacier Bay
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside or a verandah stateroom for the price of an ocean-view!
7-Day Glacier Bay Inside Passage — Roundtrip Vancouver
ms Volendam: Wednesday Departures via Glacier Bay
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside!
7-Day Glacier Bay Inside Passage — Roundtrip Vancouver
ms Zuiderdam: Saturday Departures via Glacier Bay
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside or a verandah stateroom for the price of an ocean-view!
7-Day Glacier Discovery — Vancouver to Seward (or reverse)
ms Ryndam: Friday Departures via Hubbard Glacier
ms Statendam: Sunday Departures via Glacier Bay
ms Veendam: Sunday Departures via Glacier Bay
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside!
14-Day Back-to-Back Glacier Discovery— Roundtrip Vancouver
ms Veendam & ms Statendam: Sunday Departures via Glacier Bay
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside!
Alaska CruiseTour
Select July & August Departures
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside!
Other Offers:
Asia & Pacific Rim
Australia & New Zealand
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside or upgrade from only $100 on select sailings!
Canada & New England
Upgrade to an outside stateroom from $100-$200 on select sailings
Mediterranean & Western Europe
Enjoy limited-time savings on Verandah Suites!
Transatlantic Voyages
Upgrade to a Verandah Stateroom from an Ocean View from only $50 on select sailings!
Plus enjoy limited-time savings on Verandah Suites!
Hawaii Cruises
Upgrade to an outside stateroom from only $100 on select sailings!
Mexico Cruises
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside or upgrade from only $50 or $100 on select sailings!
South America & Amazon
Get an outside stateroom for the price of an inside or upgrade from only $100 on select sailings!
Caribbean & Panama Canal
Special savings on select cruises
The list of ships and special cruises are just too numerous to list. Contact me for complete details, but don't wait too long as these deals will go fast. You can also check my web site for a list of Holland America sailings.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Oasis of the Seas Takes to Water

Photos Courtesy STX Europe

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

Begins Sea Trials

Like a "duck to water" Royal Caribbean International's latest ship, Oasis of the Seas, took to the water in Turku, Finland last week as she began the first of her sea trials. Weighing in at 225,000 GT she becomes the largest cruise ship in the world. In fact, when Oasis of the Seas leaves Turku for Miami, Fl. this autumn, it will be the biggest export product of Finland ever.It is quite an accomplishment for shipbuilder STX Europe ASA. Formely known as Aker Yards ASA, the group changed its name to STX Europe in November, 2008.

Oasis of the Seas is 47 metres wide and 360 metres long, i.e. 40 m longer than the height of the Eiffel tower! Height over the water line is 65 m. Building the vessel has been compared to a huge 3-dimensional puzzle. The vessel consists of 180 grand blocks, the biggest with a size of length 22 m, width 30 m and weight 600 tons! The vessel´s weight is 12 times the weight of the Eiffel tower.

It's hard to believe that it was just on November 21, 2008, that the launching ceremony of the Oasis of the Seas took place at STX Europe's shipyard in Turku. Martin Landtman, President of STX Finland Cruise Oy was joined by Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and other executives of the yard and owners to turn the valves releasing water into the drydock and letting the vessel float out to its own element.

According to Royal Caribbean's Chairman & CEO, Richard Fain, who was onhand for the event, "Most of the trials were a terrific success. The ship performed her various tests very well and everyone is very excited." The ship is now back in her construction berth.

There was one surprise, however. They were thinking of adding an aerostat to the ship and were doing a test to see if it was practical/desirable. You can see the blimp in the picture above. However, if you had been there, you would have noticed that it was missing later. In fact, they had to fetch it out of the water. So, I guess it's back to the drawing board for this new innovation. Fain took it light-heartedly saying "This is precisely why we do such tests (and why I don’t take credit until we know whether or not they are successful)".

Oasis of the Seas will be like a floating resort with seven neighbourhoods - themed areas offering experiences for passengers of all ages: the Promenade, a shopping mall with boutiques and restaurants, Boardwalk with the first amfi theatre at sea, Vitality Spa, Pool & Sports Zone with water park activities, Youth Zone with playing possibilities from babies to teens, Entertainment Place with casino and dance hall. And the Central Park with a revolutionary design in which the centre of the ship opens to the sky. With the length of a soccer field, some 110 metres and a width of 19 metres the park will have growing lawn, trees and other vegetation. Sun will be shining to this unique open outdoor space surrounded with restaurants, shops and cafés. Learn more about all the neighbourhoods.

See the Video: Oasis of the Seas Sea Trial

STX Europe is not just building the Oasis of the Seas, but it has also laid the keel for it's sister ship, Allure of the Seas which is due out in 2010.

Perhaps this summarizes it best: "We are not building just ships, we are building experiences" says Martin Landtman, President of STX Finland Cruise Oy. "The world's largest cruise vessels are innovations themselves, and have several innovations inside. Cruise passengers are expecting new unparalleled experiences, and that is what the owners and the yard continuously are creating in good cooperation".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Celebrity Cruises Announces Recent Awards

Celebrity Cruises, a premium cruise line, has one of the youngest and most innovative fleets of any major line. Since Celebrity's first sailing in 1990, it has been recognized as an industry leader, praised for providing friendly and engaging service, exotic Elemis Spa facilities, award-winning gourmet cuisine, and an overall atmosphere of easy elegance. Purchased by Royal Caribbean International in the late 1990's, Celebrity has grown its fleet significantly while maintaining its Premium niche.

Celebrity Cruises is sweeping up a slate of awards in prestigious readers’ polls and publications, most recently being named the cruise line with the highest customer satisfaction in TravelAge West magazine’s annual awards gala June 4.

"We’re elated with the phenomenal response our new Celebrity Solstice and the entire fleet continue to receive for their style and design, but the most meaningful honors are those that recognize the service of our outstanding crew," said Celebrity Cruises President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. "We’re grateful to our guests and travel agent partners around the world who continue to recognize our brand in such a meaningful way."

Among the honors bestowed on Celebrity Cruises thus far this year are:

Cruise line with the Highest Customer Satisfaction among ships with capacity of 1,100+ guests TravelAge West magazine, June

Second on Readers’ Choice Platinum List of Top 5 Large Resort Ships Celebrated Living magazine, Summer edition

Celebrity Solstice awarded for Best Cruise Interiors ShipPax Information (Sweden)

Celebrity Solstice honored for Best Cruise Technology ShipPax Information (Sweden)

"Celebrity’s Solstice Class has become the new benchmark in the industry." International Interior Design Association (IIDA) - New York Chapter

Every Millennium-class ship in the Celebrity fleet ranked among the top 10 in the large-ship category (Celebrity Solstice entered service after the poll was conducted in 2008) Condé Nast Traveler’s annual "Best Cruise Ships" readers’ poll, February

Celebrity Solstice is the only cruise ship named one of the "Best New Hotels for Romance" About.com, Honeymoons/Romantic Travel

Celebrity Solstice is named "Ship of the Year 2008" Presented to Meyer Werft by HANSA International Maritim Journal, March 2009

Celebrity Cruises is named Best Cruise Line in its Category (Premium) Cruise News (Spain), February

More Information about Celebrity Cruises, their ships, and itineraries

For an insider look at Celebrity Solstice, Read my Past Blog Posts

As an Elite Travel Partner with Celebrity Cruises, we can offer you an experience aboard a Celebrity ship where you become a star. Contact me for more information.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Princess Cruises Announces Short Getaway Sailings for 2010-11

Are you looking for a short getaway cruise on the West Coast for 2010-2011? Princess Cruises has the answer with short cruises ranging from an overnight cruise to a week-long journey. These “coastal” getaways offer passengers the chance to sample the Princess experience as they explore the Pacific coastline.

Choose from among 18 sailings, including a special seven-day cruise to coastal wine regions with themed onboard presentations, four- and five-day samplers of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, plus shorter sailings of one to three nights. Princess’ seasonal getaways offer an opportunity to sail on ships that are traveling along the Pacific coast to begin or end a summer of Alaska cruises.
Princess coastal sailings for 2010-11 include:

Wine Country Coastal – A seven-day cruise geared towards wine lovers, this special sailing will offer the chance to explore the California wine regions of Santa Barbara and the San Francisco area – as well as visit the microbreweries of Astoria, Oregon. Themed excursions will be available in many ports to enhance the local wine focus. In addition, onboard presentations from guest experts will showcase the world of food and wine with demonstrations, tastings and special meals. The cruise aboard Sapphire Princess will depart from Los Angeles on May 7, 2011, sailing to Vancouver with calls at Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Astoria, Seattle and Victoria.

California Coastal – Sailing on a five-day journey down to California from Vancouver, Sapphire Princess will call at Victoria and San Francisco before arriving in “the city of angels,” Los Angeles. The sailing will depart on September 20, 2010.

Alaska Sampler – This quick roundtrip sailing from Vancouver will give travelers a taste of the 49th state, with visits to the Alaskan ports of Juneau and Ketchikan. The five-day cruise on Coral Princess will set sail on May 10, 2010.

Northwest Sampler – Royal Princess will take visitors on a four-day trip through the scenic Inside Passage with visits to Vancouver and Victoria. Sailing roundtrip from Seattle, the voyage will depart May 20, 2010.

Pacific Coastal: Los Angeles/Vancouver – Passengers can relax with two full days at sea as they cruise up the Pacific coast on these three-day journeys between Los Angeles and Vancouver. Golden Princess will offer two departures on September 26, 2010 and May 11, 2011, and Coral Princess sails on September 18, 2010.

Pacific Coastal: San Francisco/Vancouver – Several cruises travel between San Francisco’s legendary Golden Gate and picturesque Vancouver. Coral Princess offers a four-day sailing with calls in Astoria, Oregon and Victoria, BC on May 19, 2011. For a two-day option, Island Princess offers sailings on October 4, 2010 and May 14, 2011, while Star Princess sails on May 11, 2011.

Pacific Coastal: Vancouver/Seattle – These convenient overnight sailings between Vancouver and Seattle offer the perfect opportunity for a first taste of Princess hospitality. Sapphire Princess will sail May 15, 2010 and September 19, 2010. Golden Princess will offer departures on September 25, 2010 and May 14, 2011. Royal Princess will cruise on September 13, 2010 and May 18, 2011. And Star Princess will depart on May 13, 2011.

Launch Fares for overnight Coastal sailings start at $99 per person, based on double occupancy. Contact me for additional information.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Around the World in 80 Days... Or Not

Seabourn Odyssey Sets Sail Around the World

Have you ever dreamed about going Around the World in 80 Days? If you have, you might be disappointed to know that you'll need more time than that. It takes 108 days to sail Around the World on Seabourn's new ship, Odyssey.

You can't get away for 108 days you say. No Problem !!

For travelers who long to leave it all behind, these 16- to 33-day World Cruise segment voyages aboard Seabourn Odyssey accommodate beautifully. You'll enjoy an extra note of excitement in the air as each maiden journey is celebrated with special festivities on board and exciting events ashore.

Follow the setting sun through the Panama Canal. Venture to tantalizing edens in the South Pacific and the splendors of New Zealand. Or sail from the wonders down under to Bora Bora, Bali, Borneo and other magnificent islands in the Malay Archipelago. Or from Dubai, cruise though the Red Sea to the wonders of the ancients: Petra in Jordan, the great temples of Luxor and Karnak in Egypt, the Biblical treasures of Israel and the legends that sit atop the Acropolis in Athens.

As of this writing, Seabourn is offering the following special fares and onboard credits. As always, prices are inventory controlled and subject to availability, so if you are interested in these segments, I'd suggest you contact me soon so that I can help you plan your cruise.

JAN 5, 2010 • 16 days Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Los Angeles, California
Special Fares from $6,999

JAN 21, 2010 • 33 days Los Angeles, California to Sydney, Australia
Special Fares from $17,114
Onboard credit of $500 per person

FEB 24, 2010 • 20 days Sydney, Australia to Hong Kong, China
Special Fares from $10,572
Onboard credit of $125 per person

MAR 16, 2010 • 23 days Hong Kong, China to Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Special Fares from $12,378
Onboard credit of $125 per person

APR 8, 2010 • 16 days Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Piraeus (Athens), Greece
Special Fares from $9,054
Onboard credit of $125 per person

Contact me for the most updated information regarding pricing including applicable restrictions and additional charges. All fares are in U.S. dollars, cruise-only, per person, double occupancy, subject to availability. Some suite categories may not be available. Seabourn reserves the right to manage World Cruise segment inventory and availability at its discretion. The above savings are not combinable with any other offer, may vary by sailing date, are capacity controlled, subject to change without notice. Seabourn reserves the right to charge a fuel supplement for all guests, without prior notice, if the NYMEX oil price exceeds $70.00USD per barrel, and may collect such a supplement even if the cruise fare has been paid in full. Ships' registry: Bahamas © 2009 Seabourn.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Really, Really Deserve a Break

You are bombarded with constant news on the economy, the job market, housing and stock prices. Add to that, all that you deal with on a daily basis; work, family and juggling a hectic schedule. Is it any wonder why you may be feeling a little stressed?

You Deserve a Cruise!

It’s a fact, psychologist’s state that a well-timed vacation offers significant benefits for mental health. The relaxation provides a much-needed change of gears in time-starved society, and may be an ideal time to reconnect with loved ones traveling with you. For those traveling alone, vacations may lead to a higher level of self discovery.”

A well-chosen vacation, according to experts, offers significant benefits including:

  • Relaxation, shifting gears and change of scenery are good for one’s health – physical, mental and spiritual

  • There is no better time or setting for reconnecting with family and friends and renewing relationships

  • A vacation is an opportunity to discover or rediscover oneself

  • There’s no better time to recharge and re-energize and to look forward with confidence and enthusiasm

What makes a cruise the perfect vacation therapy? For starters, exceptional ease of planning and the convenience of having a “home away from home” for the length of the trip. And, the diversity of cruise experiences available means that there is a vacation for every taste, interest and budget. Plus, inclusive pricing that means excellent value for money spent. In fact, there are some unbelievable cruise deals available today that simply won’t last forever. And, I will do all the planning for you…

I am a CLIA certified Master Cruise Counselor with over 25 years cruise industry experience. The MCC designation means that I have made a significant investment in training and personal cruise experience that makes me the perfect resource to help plan your cruise. I am associated with Cruises Inc. and also bring the entire resources of that company to bear in assuring you of the perfect cruise vacation. In fact we offer a Best Price & Satisfaction Guarantee.

Cruises, Inc. is part of World Travel Holdings (WTH), one of the nation's largest online and offline leisure travel companies. Each year, we send millions of people around the world to warm up, cool off, explore new cultures, or just relax.

You deserve to get away and save more money on a great vacation than you ever imagined – And I would like to help you find the perfect cruise just for you.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

65th Anniversary of D-Day

6-June-1944 D-Day Normandy, France

I awoke today to a gloomy day which is very fitting. My thoughts immediately went to 65 years ago today when my father, and many other young Americans, were far away from home and their loved ones in Normandy, France. They were not on vacation, but rather they were in the midst of battle. It was a terrible day that many of them would not survive. The allied forces were storming the landing beaches of Omaha, Utah, Gold, and Juno.

Five years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit the very beach where my father had been under attack. His tank was sunk by enemy fire. Fortunately, he was rescued and lived another day to fight on to help liberate the world from the enemy.

My father would not speak about D-Day, or any of the other battles he fought. He did have a chance to go back to Normandy for the 40th Anniversary. He visited the grave of his commanding officer. My father was a strong man, who rarely showed his emotions, but that visit brought tears to his eyes.

With each passing year, there are less survivors alive from D-Day. My father is one that is gone, so the only opportunity that I have to learn more about D-Day and the other battles he was in, is to visit the sites myself with a knowledgeable local guide as well as read about it in books or on the internet.

As I mentioned, we had the opportunity to retrace history in 2004 when our Royal Caribbean cruise called at LeHavre, France. We hired a local guide and toured Normandy stopping at the various cemetaries, the landing beaches, and other points of interest. You can read more about our visit by clicking the "previous posts" link below.

I often talk about the value that a cruise vacation offers. The obvious value comes from having a vacation that includes your accomodations, food, and entertainment in one price. An intangible value comes from the knowledge you can gain by visiting historic sites. When you dock in LeHavre, France, it is quite easy to visit Normandy. I highly suggest you include that port in one of your future cruise vacations.

Some D-Day References on the Web

Normandie Mémoire

National D-Day Mermorial Foundation (65th Anniversary)

Previous D-Day Posts

This year we visited Arnhem, Netherlands where we visited the Canadian Cemetary and the Liberation Museum. Again, this was while on a cruise vacation. See my Arnhem posts for more details.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Oceania 2010 European Collection

Oceania Cruises
Announces the 2010 European Collection

Oceania Cruises announced the launch of its new 2010 European Collection of Sailings in conjunction with its offer of $2,000 Price Reduction off 2 for 1 Cruise Fares with Free Airfare per stateroom on all 2010 sailings to Europe. The 2010 European Collection features 34 unique itineraries sailing to more than 130 ports ranging from 10 to 36 days in length. In addition to offering guests extraordinary value, guests sailing on 2010 European Collection voyages will receive free unlimited soft drinks and bottled water.

Select from sailings on Regatta, Insignia, or Nautica.
Oceania has three intimate and luxurious 684 passenger ships, the Regatta, Insignia and Nautica. All three are formerly Renaissance R class ships, these mid-size ships afford incomparable luxury, including cuisine that is simply the finest at sea. With only 684 guests to pamper, the 400 staff members cater to your every whim, with highly personalized service. There's a sense of warmth and intimacy throughout, so the ambiance resembles that of a private country club - casual, yet elegant.

Your European adventure can begin in one of several enchanting cities like London, Rome, Barcelona, Venice, Athens, Monte Carlo, Stockholm, Istanbul, Amsterdam, or Copenhagen.

Regardless of whether you want to depart in April or December, 2010, Oceania has a European cruise vacation that you will remember for quite some time.

More details about Oceania Cruises itineraries (on my Web site)

More details about the European Collection Promotion (on my Facebook Pages)

This is Luxury you can Afford! Take advantage of this offer before cabins are gone. Just this evening I booked the last inside cabin for a client on one of the sailings aboard Regatta. Contact me for more details - I'd love to help you plan a cruise vacation to Europe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Princess Announces 2010-11 Panama Canal & Coastals Program

2010-2011 Panama Canal & Coastals Program Opens
Princess® Cruises opened the bookings for Panama Canal and Coastals program for 2010-2011 starting today. In this post, I'll focus on the Panama Canal. This is one of the marvels in engineering in our world. If you've not been to the canal yet, you really should put this on your short list of cruise destinations to visit.

Get a Princess® Perspective on the Epic Panama Canal
It’s a modern wonder winding through 51 miles of jungle, mountain and granite to connect the world’s two greatest oceans —The Panama Canal. It’s also one of the most popular destinations for cruising, and is high on most travelers’ lists of the world’s “must-see” landmarks. Which is why Princess offers such a wide variety of ways to experience the Canal. In 2010 and 2011, you can join one of several incredible Princess itineraries to see its mighty locks up close. Choose voyages from10 to 19 days with either partial or full transit — or with a 2-Day Experience.
3 Ships, 5 Unique Itineraries
Princess® showcases mankind's greatest engineering feat on voyages ranging from 10 to 19 days.

Island and Coral Princess®, with over 700 balcony staterooms, are custom-built to traverse the canal, offering guests the chance to see the impressive locks of this modern marvel up close.
Sea Princess® offers over 400 balcony staterooms and features the outdoor big-screen sensation, Movies Under the Stars®. 2-Day Panama Canal Experience

2-day Canal Experience
Experience at the Panama Canal, available on all itineraries of 15 to 19 days. A full transit of the Canal is combined with a full day and overnight stay at Fuerte Amador on the Pacific side — giving you time to partake of such exciting shore excursions as a ride on the Panama Canal Railway, a tour of breathtaking Soberania National Park Rainforest, a visit to an authentic Embera Indian village or a trip into the bustling capital of Panama City. It’s the best way to experience both the Canal in all its engineering glory, and the scenic and cultural attractions of one of Central America’s most intriguing regions.

10-day roundtrip Panama Canal (Partial Transit)
Sailing roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, this is a voyage as convenient and relaxing as it is wondrous. Your host is the lovely Island Princess,® a ship custom built for visiting the canal. Pass through the incredible Gatun Locks, where you’ll see the Canal in operation first-hand, and on to beautiful Gatun Lake. You’ll also enjoy islands in the turquoise Caribbean and a call in Costa Rica.

10-day Panama Canal Adventurer (Full Transit)
Enjoy the Canal as it was meant to be experienced by those who built it — with a full transit between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Sail between Ft. Lauderdale and Acapulco, visiting ports in the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera and Central America including Jamaica’s wonderful Ocho Rios — home to the spectacular Dunn’s River Falls — Costa Rica’s Puntarenas, San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua and Huatulco, Mexico.

15- to 19-day Panama Canal cruises with 2-day Canal Experience
These are the best voyages for those who wish to immerse themselves in the history of the Canal and the natural beauty of the surrounding Central American scenery. Sail from 15 to 19 days between either Los Angeles, San Francisco or Vancouver and Ft. Lauderdale, with two full days in Panama to take in all the sights.


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Monday, June 1, 2009

Royal Caribbean 2010/2011 Europe Winter Sailings

Royal Caribbean Cruises
2010/2011 Europe Winter Sailings now open for sale!
Royal Caribbean International has announced the Winter Europe program details which can be booked as of June 1st. Destinations include Spain & Canary Islands, Ultimate Mediterranean, and Egypt along with the Eastern Meditteranean.

Cruises range in length from 11 nights to 18 nights. Both Independence of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas beginning their Winter Europe programs in December, 2010. Only the Independence of the Seas continues through April, 2011.

The itineraries that have been announced are as follows:

Independence of the Seas
11 Night Spain & Canary Islands Cruise
10-Dec-2010, 03-Mar-2011, 14-Mar-2011, 25-Mar-2011, 05-Apr-2011, 16-Apr-2011

Ports of Call: Southampton, England (R/T) Vigo, Spain Lisbon, Portugal Madeira (Funchal), Portugal Gran Carnaria, Canary Islands Tenerife, Canary Islands La Coruna, Spain (not on 10-Dec sailing)

18 Night Ultimate Mediterranean Cruise
21-Dec-2010, 08-Jan-2011, 26-Jan-2011, 13-Feb-2011

Ports of Call: Southampton, England (R/T) Lisbon, Portugal Palma De Mallorca, Spain Barcelona, Spain Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy Naples (Capri), Italy Caqliari (Sardinia), Italy Gibraltar, United Kingdom Seville (Cadiz), Spain

Brilliance Of The Seas
12 Night Egypt & Eastern Med Cruise
05-Dec-2010, 17-Dec-2010, 29-Dec-2010

Ports of Call: Barcelona, Span (R/T) Sicily (Palermo), Italy Athens (Piraeus), Greece Rhodes, Greece Alexandria, Egypt (Overnight) Valletta, Malta

Why not consider Europe instead of the Caribbean for your Winter 2010/2011 vacation? Perhaps you can do some holiday shopping there in December. Contact me for additional details about these cruise vacations.

Hurricane Season 2009 Begins Today

NOAA Issues Hurricane Season Outlooks & Encourages Preparedness

June 1st is the official start of the 2009 Hurricane season that runs through November. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its outlook for the Atlantic and E. Pacific Hurricane Season. I will present highlights of the outlooks here and include links for your independent research.

The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season outlook is an official product of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), and is produced in collaboration with scientists from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Hurricane Research Division (HRD). The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. More info ...

Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here
The eastern Pacific hurricane season outlook is an official product of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), and is produced in collaboration with scientists from the NOAA National Hurricane Center (NHC). More info ...

Hurricane Season Impact on Cruise Vacations
Every year I get several questions from clients planning a cruise during the months of June through November (ie. typical hurricane season). While NOAA and other forecasters use various scientific measures to predict the number and severity of storms for a given year, only Mother Nature knows for sure.
As you'll learn as you read the rest of this article, preparedness is the key to minimizing the casualties of tropical storms. Rest assured that all CLIA Cruise Lines take every precaution to keep passengers and crew safe in all types of circumstances. The response to the recent H1N1 flu is a testament to the industry concern for health and safety of all guests and crew.
I often tell my clients that I'd rather be on a cruise ship in a tropical storm than be on land. I have in fact been on many cruises during hurricane season, and will continue to do so.
The ship's captains and the cruise line's home offices are in constant communication with various federal agencies, such as the NHC in Miami. In addition, modern ships have state of the art equipment and charts that provide up to the minute information that the crew can use to keep the vessel out of harms way.
One consideration of course is the possibility of some rough seas and itinerary changes if your voyage happens to be in the path of a tropical storm that is forming. The cruise lines do a fantastic job, in my estimation, of dealing with the logistical issues surrounding itinerary changes. As long as you are willing to accept some deviation from your original plans, you should still have a fantastic cruise vacation, even in bad weather.
A Closer Look at the NOAA Hurricane Outlooks

Consult this figure, courtesy of NOAA, for more details about the outlook.

NOAA forecasters say a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year. What does that mean you ask?

Federal Forecasters say there is a 70 percent chance of having nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). There is some uncertainty in any outlook. According to NOAA, global weather patterns are imposing a greater uncertainty in the 2009 hurricane season outlook than in recent years. Updates are published during the hurricane season.

NOAA CPC calls for an 80% chance of a near- to below-normal season in Eastern Pacific

Because of uncertainties in current predictions for El Nino, a near-normal and below-normal season are equally likely at this time. The outlook also indicates a 20% chance of an above-normal season. See NOAA definitions of above, near-, and below-normal seasons.

A lack of hurricane awareness and preparation has in the past lead to major hurricane disasters. By knowing the dangers and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. The 2009 Hurricane Preparedness Week was held May 24th through May 30th.

A Hurricane Preparedness Web site has been launched by NOAA. The goal of this Web site is to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take ACTION. This information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water.

Useful Web Sites for Additional Hurricane Information

If this topic is of interest to you, I encourage you to spend some time online visitng the above Web sites. There are many more links that you can explore, including historical information about hurricane disasters over the years.
It is impossible to predict exactly what the 2009 hurricane season will be like. Scientists have made some great strides in predictions and warnings. As I've already mentioned, cruise lines closely monitor weather conditions and adjust their schedules accordingly.
If June - November is the time you planned on taking a cruise vacation, don't change your plans out of fear. Do watch the weather reports and make sure to check with your travel agent and/or cruise line if a storm is brewing before your scheduled departure date. The cruise line will modify itineraries to keep you safe.
Finally, I strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance, so that you can be covered for any unexpected delays and itinerary deviations that result in out of pocket expenses.