Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grandeur Tour Deck 4

New WOWs Around Every Corner
Grandeur of the Seas

Here's your chance to see all the amazing WOWs Royal Caribbean added to the Grandeur of the Seas during a recent 30-day revitalization dry-dock.   This is part of  Royal Caribbean's Royal Advantage SM program which enhances the entire fleet. See Royal Advantage Expanded for more information about the project and schedule of ship completions.

What's New on Grandeur of the Seas? 

We were fortunate to be invited to the Revitalization Debut of the Grandeur of the Seas this month.   Explore the New Grandeur of the Seas as we take you along with us on the Grandeur WOW Button Round-Up.


The Centrum has been reinvented as a vertical theater with dazzling aerial performers providing the entertainment.  As with most ships, this is the first thing you'll see after getting onboard the ship.   The Centrum is one of the hubs on the ship.

Aerial Spectacular - Seasons of the Centrum

During the Grandeur Debut event, guests were treated to two performances of a spectacular aerial show entitled "Seasons of the Centrum".  We have posted videos on our YouTube Channel from this show.

In these pictures, you can see that the rigging is on deck 9, 5 decks overhead from the lobby of the Centrum.   You could watch the show several times and have a different experience simply by selecting a different vantage point.

Aerial Spectacular - Grandeur OTS Centrum
View Videos on Our YouTube Channel
We opted to take our videos from Deck 6 between the glass elevators.   This provided spectacular close ups of the performers as they glided past us suspended by the devices you see in these images.

Aerial Spectacular I Grandeur of the Seas Centrum

Aerial Spectacular II  Grandeur of the Seas Centrum

Aerial Spectacular II  Grandeur of the Seas Centrum


Completing the enhancements on Deck 4 is the addition of the R-Bar, a sophisticated new bar with a distinct retro-glamour vibe. This is a great location to meet before dinner or the Aerial Spectacular shows.

Enhanced Technology

You may have noticed the Deck 4 sign above.  These are touchscreen wayfinders that help you navigate the ship.   Did you know that the search mechanism employed has some intelligence built in?   If several people have done a search for directions to a given location, the wayfinder will reroute you to a different route so that you don't have to wait for elevators.   We'll feature more about the new technological improvements in another post.

Congratulations !!  
You have just collected your first Button for Deck 4
Collect all  7 !!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Grandeur Revitalization Debut

Introducing the New
Grandeur of the Seas

We've just returned from Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Revitalization Debut Event which was hosted by Adam Goldstein, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, other executives, and the crew of the Grandeur.

We'll take a closer look at each of the improvements in additional articles, but first we wanted to give you an overview of the changes.

Joining a Totally Upgraded 
Vision Class 
Sailing Around the Globe

No ship goes untouched as Royal Caribbean added favorite dining, entertainment, and family features from the groundbreaking Oasis-class ships to their entire fleet.  You deserve the ultimate Royal Caribbean experience, no matter which ship, ocean, or continent you choose.

More Entertainment
•Reinvented Centrum with dazzling aerial performers
•Outdoor, poolside movie screen

More Dining
R Bar – ‘60s-sophisticated hot spot
•A la carte menu at the new Viking Crown Lounge featuring bite-sized portions of classic dishes
•Park Café, with soups, salads and sandwiches
•Chef’s Table – Five-course menu paired with fine wines
•Chops Grille – Our popular signature steakhouse
•Giovanni’s Table Italian restaurant
•Izumi Asian-fusion cuisine, featuring a la carte sushi selections
Enhanced Technology
Smart new technology – touchscreen wayfinders, digital signs, and shipwide Wi-Fi
Flat-screen televisions
iPads® with activities planner, movies, e-books and more available in each stateroom

New Staterooms
• Refreshed staterooms – new décor, furnishings
• New Family Suite – accommodates up to six guests 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Greetings from Grandeur


It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is here already. Where did 2012 go? As has become my tradition, I'd like to share with you some of the things that I'm thankful for and highlight some of our adventures this year.

We had Thanksgiving breakfast on the Grandeur of the Seas in Miami.  The past two months have been very busy for us with our National Conference, a Bahamas cruise on Carnival Sensation, a trip to Cancun to visit several AMResorts, and finally the Grandeur of the Seas event.  At the same time we were bringing you coverage of National Cruise Vacation Month and the Hurricane Season, including Rafael and Sandy. We are thankful to be able to share our new experiences with all of you.

Grandeur OTS Chops Grille
We hope that you, your family, and friends have plenty to be thankful for this holiday season. I know that I have plenty of things to be thankful for, including my health, family, and friends and the ability to share my love of cruising with all of you. I’m grateful that I've been able to explore new ships and destinations with family and friends again this year.

Grandeur of the Seas Revitalization

Aerial Spectacular - Grandeur OTS Centrum
View Videos on Our YouTube Channel
"Now Our Best Ship is Every Ship" - We were fortunate to be invited to the Revitalization Event which was hosted by Adam Goldstein, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, to unveil the changes that were just completed which will enhance guests experiences. One of the main highlights of that event was the Aerial Spectacular that is performed in the Centrum of the ship. The aerialists are suspended from 5 decks above the lobby.  This was the first time the show was performed inside the United States.  We have posted a few videos on our YouTube Channel and a few images on our Facebook Fan Page as well. Be sure to become a fan on our Facebook page so that you'll get updates on all of these trips.

Disney Dream - Castaway Cay
Disney Dream - Castaway Cay
Cruises Inc. and Cruise One held the 2012 National Conference at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and continued with a three night cruise on Disney Dream to the Bahamas. We have written several articles on the conference and posted many photos on our Facebook Fan Page.

Thank you for making our blog column a part of your lives in 2012. I hope that the information we share helps you to dream about future cruises of your own. I'd be honored to help you plan those trips. I have the best job in the world - helping make dreams come true. For that, I'm truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Become a fan on Facebook

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Diva Like No Other

Introducing MSC Divina

Divinely inspired by Sophia Loren, MSC Divina offers fabulous new features such as The Garden infinity pool with Zen relaxation zone overlooking the ship's wake.

Other diversions include an Italian piazza with live piano music, a gelateria, candy shop, clothing and jewelry stores.

Fall 2013/Winter 2014 marks the inaugural Caribbean season of the spectacular MSC Divina, the 12th ship in the MSC Cruises fleet. Guests can sail between Venice and their newest point of departure, PortMiami, enjoying a romantic Transatlantic cruise in true Mediterranean style. Or once the ship arrives in its winter home, guests can discover some of the brightest gems in the Caribbean on 3-night and 7-night adventures.

Voting Begins Nov. 19th
In honor of their new Diva, whose Godmother is Sophia Loren, MSC held a contest for agents.  I've won once, and now it's my chance to reach for the stars  with their Grand Prize cruise in the glamorous Sophia Loren Royal Suite on MSC Divina


Search for Christine Pappin on the page

Piazza del Doge Italian Square

If you've ever been to Italy, you are familiar with the piazza, or town square.  The are commonly found at the meeting of two or more streets. Most Italian cities have several piazzas with streets radiating from the center. Shops and other small businesses are found on piazzas as it is an ideal place to set up a business.

Imagine strolling along the piazza while on either the Transatlantic or Caribbean cruises onboard MSC Divina.   Should I be fortunate enough to win the Grand Prize in the photo contest, you'll find me here enjoying my favorite gelato.


Guests enjoy European elegance and style throughout MSC Divina, including the 69 luxury suites in the exclusive MSC Yacht Club, available for the first time in the Caribbean. Also debuting in the Caribbean, are new Aurea Suites with select spa amenities.

The majority of guests on MSC Divina enjoy ocean views. We'll feature more about the accommodations in an upcoming post. I think you'll agree that MSC Divina is a Diva that will be sailing in the Caribbean starting next year. Contact us for more information.

Monday, November 12, 2012

American Cemetery Normandy France

American Cemetery & Memorial Normandy France (click for album)

On June 8, 1944, the U.S. First Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II.  This marker is placed at the location of the first cemetery.

After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site. The cemetery is located on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion) and the English Channel.

It covers 172 acres, and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. Included are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942.

Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils.  When you are in the cemetery you are on U.S. soil, just like you would be at an embassy in a foreign land.


We have had the good fortune of cruising to many historic destinations in Europe.  Perhaps none have been as moving as the time we spent in Normandy, France.  My dad was among the troops that attempted to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day.  His tank was sunk and he was rescued so that he could storm the beach again and later fight in other battles, like the Battle of the Bulge.

He never spoke of the war, and the only way that I learned about his bravery in battle was through his brother who also served during the great war.   They are both gone now, but their memory, and memories of so many others, are honored by this sacred ground near a beach in  France.

One of my fondest memories of my dad was a story my mom told me about the time they had the opportunity to return to Normandy.  My dad wasn't one to show his emotions, but when they visited the grave of his commander, he broke down and cried.   Hopefully he met up with his CO in heaven now and they are enjoying a pint of beer on this Veterans Day 2012.

The generation that fought in that war are all but gone now.   If you still have someone you know that lived through that time, and fought for their country, first of all, thank them for what they did and then learn what you can from them.    I encourage you to travel to France, and other parts of Europe, to the great battlefields and visit the various cemeteries and memorials.  For more images, see our Facebook fan page.

Thank You To All the Past and Present Men & Women Serving in the Armed Forces

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cruise Lines Salute Veterans


We could never thank our military men and women enough for their courageous service and sacrifice to our country and its people. Yet today we lift up our voices to express gratefulness and honor to these military troops both from the past and present.


Many cruise lines recognize our troops with special rates.  We've listed a couple offers which you might not be aware of.   Be sure to mention your military service when contacting us so that we can see if there are any rates that you qualify for.  We would be honored to help you plan some R & R.

Cruise Line Veterans Day Offer
Carnival Cruise Line
Promotion Allows Military Personnel to Book Up To Three ‘Fun Ship’ Staterooms at Discounted Rates

Reservations must be made between Nov. 1-30, 2012

Variety of three- to 12-day “Fun Ship” departures through April 30, 2014

Destinations include: Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Alaska
Royal Caribbean
Ongoing promotion allows Military, Police  & Fire personnel special discounts on select sailings

Friday, November 9, 2012

Castaway to Your Island Paradise

 Disney Cruise Line
Welcomes You to
Your Island Paradise

Castaway Cay

Hop on the island tram or set off on foot to explore the tropical paradise that awaits you as you leave your ship behind for the day. Follow in our footsteps or blaze your own trail.

Adventure is a Short Walk Away

Descending the gangway from the ship, you stop for a photo with one of your favorite characters and head along the pier to the entrance of Castaway Cay.   Along the way you get the full view of your ship laying there at anchor next to the pier.  It really looks a lot bigger from this vantage point.

It's not a long walk, so before you know it you have reached the entrance sign.   Our group split up at this point.  Part of us got on the tram and the rest started walking along the paved pathway.

For those that decide to walk, you will have the opportunity to get some iconic ship pictures from various vantage points.  You can see some of those pictures in our full Castaway Cay 2012 photo album on Facebook.

Your Private Paradise

Reserved exclusively for Guests on Disney Cruise Line Bahamian and Caribbean cruise vacations, Castaway Cay is Disney's private port-of-call paradise. On this island, enjoy tropical leisure activities, such as snorkeling, boating, swimming and sunbathing.

Adults Only Fun

As you can see on this map, there is plenty to do on the island.  Much like a Disney theme park, Castaway Cay is divided into various age-specific areas.

Our initial destination for our adventure was Serenity Bay which is reserved for guests 18 years of age and over. Here you'll find a private beach, umbrellas, lounge chairs of various types, and hammocks for you to camp out in for the day.  Refreshments and lunch are nearby, so you don't even have to leave the area for food or drink.

Getting to Serenity Bay

As mentioned earlier, our group split up when we got to the island, so those that took the tram waited for the rest of the group at Pelican Point. Families that want to spend the day together on the beach will most likely stay in this area of the island (more about that later).  

You are heading to the furthest point on the island.  To get there, you can continue walking or transfer to another tram to the "Kargo Handling" stop.  The beach is a short walk along the path from where the tram stops.

If you are seeking peace and quiet - you are now in Paradise

 More Adventure Awaits

There is so much to do here, that we will devote another blog post "Castaway Cay Things To See and Do" to share more details. As you play in the water or on the beach, you have a great view of Disney Dream which is waiting for you after your island adventure is completed.

Currency on Island - Ship Bucks

When you go to a beach, you don't want to worry about losing cash. Disney Cruise Line solves that problem by only accepting your ship cabin key for payment on the island.

There is free soda and water in fountain machines available in the dining areas. For those wanting adult beverages, you can find local bars or wait staff to assist you much like while onboard the ship in the pool area.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We Are Going to Need More Bleach

Cruise Ships & Norovirus ...
Tis the Season

Celebrity Cruises Constellation is the latest ship to need to have a deep clean following an up tick in the gastrointestinal illness, known as Norovirus on it's 12-night wine tasting cruise to France, Spain and Portugal.   

What happened and who is to blame?

Sanitation Delays Departure

When Celebrity Constellation pulled into port in Southampton, England yesterday (Nov. 6th) the Southampton's Port Health Authority confirmed about 350 passengers had fallen ill with the vomiting and diarrhea bug out of the more than two thousand passengers.  Celebrity Cruises delayed the departure until 8 PM to allow the crew to deep clean 200 affected cabins, identified by the health authority, and all public areas of the ship.

The procedures, that Celebrity Cruises followed, adhere to the guidelines set forth by the international cruise industry.  A statement from Celebrity Cruises said: “A small number of guests experienced a gastrointestinal type illness. We therefore conducted extra cleaning and sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal as preventative measures. As a result of the additional cleaning, boarding began at the revised time of 2:00pm yesterday. Our hygiene procedures on-board are comprehensive and always strictly adhered to.”

Who is to Blame

The first inclination when you hear about an outbreak would be to blame the cruise line. Clearly, they have let you down - you expected a healthy cruise, and you got sick.   In fact there's a group of passengers that were on sister cruise line's Independence of the Seas that are suing Royal Caribbean International for £500,000 after contracting norovirus while onboard the ship.

The cruise line is responsible - right?

The cruise line IS responsible  for cleaning the ship and providing the facilities for passengers and crew to maintain proper hygiene onboard the ship.   They do that - you'll notice signs posted in all the rest rooms and crew members pointing out sanitation machines, such as the one in the picture above posted outside the restaurant entrance.  

But, ladies and gentleman - I suspect that YOU are to BLAME.   Did you stop to wash your hands after using the bathroom?   Did you sanitize your hands every time you entered a restaurant onboard the ship.   Did you do so all but one time?   That one time would be enough to kick off this sort of outbreak.

We've just returned from two short cruises on Disney Dream and Carnival Sensation.  On both ships, we noticed the sanitizing materials and signs.  We also noticed many passengers disregarding the signs and avoiding the sanitizing of their hands before entering the restaurant. 

Working together, the cruise lines and passengers could Prevent Norovirus!


Facts About Noroviruses on Cruise Ships  -  gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses can be prevented

Wash hands often. Wash hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.  Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer along with hand washing.

Norovirus outbreaks, when they occur on a cruise ship, always make the news.  The truth is these outbreaks can occur anywhere there are groups of people in a small area such as nursing homes, restaurants, catered events, hotels, and cruise ships.

Vessel Sanitation Program - prevention and control of spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote for Travel Today

Election Day is Finally Here 

According to
" Everyone loves travel - vacationing, reconnecting with family, attending a productive business meeting or event - but not everyone realizes travel’s significant economic impact. Travel contributes $1.9 trillion to our economy and supports 14.4 million American jobs that cannot be outsourced, which is why we need policies that allow the travel industry to thrive.

Travel is a bipartisan industry. In fact, passage of the Travel Promotion Act was among only a few items that both Democrats and Republicans supported. Vote Travel is not an endorsement of any political candidate or a political party; it’s a vote to get America moving."

Personal Benefits of Travel

What would you think if we told you that vacation travel could have a positive impact on your life?  Would you be more apt to take an annual vacation?

U.S. Travel Association has published a report, The Benefits are Everywhere, The Personal Benefits of Travel and Taking a Vacation,which among other benefits, shows how your health can be positively impacted by a vacation.

Think about the last time you took a vacation...  

Before you left for vacation were you stressed over things going on at work, at home, or with the family?   After a couple days of rest and relaxation on the trip, did your stress level decrease?

Do you find yourself eating at irregular times at home because you have other commitments pulling you in different directions?   On your vacation, did you eat on a regular schedule?

Do you mean to exercise while at home, but just don't find the time?   Or are you a couch potato not getting any exercise at all simply because you are too tired to do anything when you get home from the office?   Did you get more exercise, on your trip - while having a good time exploring?

These are just a few items that are covered in this report.   We suggest you read the report to learn more about the personal benefits of vacation travel.

We have been a firm believer of taking time off every year for vacation.   While our son was growing up, we would take a vacation together with him and another one by ourselves each year.   This formula has worked well for us and perhaps it could work for you as well.

As We Head to the Polls Today

There may be local and national candidates that have a positive or negative view on the travel industry.  We encourage you to visit the Vote website to learn more about their efforts to expand this industry which will help to Get America Moving again.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Make-A-Wish Receives $60K from Conference

National Conference Raises More Than $60,000 for Make-A-Wish®

Dreams really do come true at Disney®. And that was the case at this year’s
CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. National Conference as they surpassed their $60,000 fundraising goal for our signature charity, Make-A-Wish.

From Oct. 14-21, our Home Based division held their land/sea National Conference themed “Creating Magical Memories” at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and on the Disney Dream. There were more than 760 attendees at the annual event. The money was raised through a silent auction, 50-50 raffle and generous donations. One anonymous donor gave $25,000 while Celebrity and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines also gave donations.

Conference participants gearing up for the 5K on
Castaway Cay to raise money for Make-A-Wish
During the General Session on Monday, October 15, WTH employee, Allison Daly shared a heartfelt story of how Make-A-Wish helped bring joy to her family over the past couple of years. Allison’s daughter, Caroline, was diagnosed more than two years ago with Leukemia. Today, Caroline is in the final stages of her treatment and is doing well.

“Knowing that the money raised at this year’s National Conference will be able to grant even more wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions is so gratifying,” said Dwain Wall, Senior Vice President of our Home Based division. “It is such a great feeling to see our franchisees and independent agents rally behind our company’s signature charity.”

One of the raffle items was a quilt made out of T-shirts from past National Conferences. Judy Raikes with CruiseOne, the winner of the quilt, so graciously donated the quilt back to the company where it will be proudly displayed in the Ft. Lauderdale office.

Last year’s conference raised $53,000, which helped Make-A-Wish grant 21 wishes.

A huge thank you to Make-A-Wish representative Ashley Gartland and everyone involved in the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. National Conference fundraising efforts for Make-A-Wish.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Go On a Safari in Florida

Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park

"Welcome to a kingdom of animals... real, ancient and imagined: a kingdom ruled by lions, dinosaurs and dragons; a kingdom of balance, harmony and survival; a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at the drama, and learn."

Dedication by Michael D. Eisner,
April 22, 1998

Have You Ever Wanted to Go on Safari But Couldn't Afford To?

Thanks to the imagination of the Walt Disney creative staff, you don't need to leave the country to go on a safari.  One of your highlights of a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, will be the time spent exploring Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, which opened in 1998.

It is the largest of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort.  Here you can experience the attractions, adventures, and entertainment that reflect Walt Disney's dedication to nature and conservation.  The parks is home to more than 1,700 animals from 250 species and sprawls across 500 acres of lush landscape making Disney's Animal Kingdom park the biggest animal-themed park in the world!

Kilimanjaro Safaris® Expedition

Witness the exotic animals of Africa up close as they traverse the savanna as you ride in a rugged open-sided safari vehicle. No two safaris are the same as giraffes, lions, antelope, rhinos, warthogs, zebras and other stunning species roam the land.  This tour is included in your admission price to the park.

Once-In-a-Lifetime Experience

For those that want more than the normal visit to Pangani Forest, join the ultimate animal adventure! Spend 3 hours on a privately guided expedition, featuring close encounters with exotic wildlife species. Get closer than you ever dreamed possible to Nile crocodiles and massive hippos. Venture on to a VIP safari across an open savanna teeming with native African creatures!  A photographer will journey with you and provide a CD that captures your experience upon you return home.

We'd be happy to help you plan a memorable visit to Walt Disney World Resort.  There is something for everyone in the family from fantasy rides to educational experiences, such as those described here. 

Enjoy pictures of our most recent visit to Animal Kingdom 2012
on our Facebook Fan page.