Tuesday, October 29, 2013

AquaDunk on Disney Magic

Courtesy Disney Cruise Line (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
Make a Splash on Re-imagineered
Disney Magic

AquaDunk on the Disney Magic is a thrilling new three-story body slide that begins with a surprise launch when the floor beneath guests’ feet opens like a trap door. The drop sends them on an exhilarating, swift and splashy ride in a translucent tube that extends 20 feet over the side of the ship.

Courtesy Disney Cruise Line (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
 The Disney Magic has just emerged from dry dock and is sailing, for the first time ever, from Miami, Florida to tropical locales like Grand Cayman, the Bahamas and beyond!

Know Before You Go

Guests must be at least 48" or taller to ride AquaDunk. Please note that the slide's entry capsule may prohibit Guests of certain body sizes or those weighing more than 300 lbs. from riding. Operating hours are likely to vary, so once you're onboard, check the Personal Navigator—the Disney Cruise Line daily newsletter detailing all there is to see and do—for the most accurate operating times.

Read more about the enhancements planned:

The AquaDunk is just one of the many changes onboard the re-imagined Disney Magic, which has emerged following the completion of its dry-dock in Spain this month.

To learn more about the changes and see an album with the Disney Imagineers renderings as well as some additional images, become a fan on our Facebook Page and click the Disney Link on our Welcome Page.

Click on this image to go there now.

The newly re-imagined Disney Magic is now sailing from Miami. Enjoy 3-, 4- and 5-night Disney Cruise Line sailings to the Bahamas, or 5-night Western Caribbean cruises, all departing from this vibrant South Florida city. Explore the Everglades by airboat, stop by Little Havana, soak up the sun on South Beach and more!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Surviving Cruise Debarkation Day Part 2

Evening Before Debarkation

Most cruise lines now offer an "Easy Walk-off" option for those that don't have a lot of luggage, or for those that have early flight arrangements.  It is important to note that if you plan to use this method, you must be able to handle your entire luggage on your own. The crew will not be allowed to assist you.

For those that want to avail themselves of the normal process, bags must be packed and placed outside your cabin by the stated deadline.   This is usually shortly after late dining is completed.

Plan for What You Need in Morning

If you attended the cruise director's talk, he may have told you stories of passengers forgetting that they would need clothes in the morning and having to walk off the ship in a towel.  This may sound silly, but you do need to think about what items (clothing, toiletries, medicines, etc.) that you'll need in the morning.

We always have at least one carry-on bag with us so that we'll have a place to put our sleepwear, shavers, 3-1-1 bags with all our toiletries, and souvenirs that we don't want to pack in our larger suitcase.  Of course, you'll need your passports and other important travel documents with you as well.  Pack your large suitcase(s) and also have your carry-on packed, or at least know what will go in them, before placing the bags to be picked up outside your cabin.

Cruise Isn't Over Until 
the Paperwork is Done

Before retiring to bed, we suggest that you fill our your U.S. Customs Declaration Form and place it together with your passports.  Only one form is needed per family that are traveling and living together back home.   You'll need to know how much you spent in port and on the ship for things like souvenirs, jewelry, liquor, and clothing.   Anything that you purchased and are bringing off the ship must be counted.  You will have an allowance per family and the good news is that for things like liquor, your children count in determining the allowance.

Since the morning is an early one (usually all guests must be out of their cabins before 8 AM) you'll want to complete this the night before.  Doing so will allow you time for breakfast and a smooth, hassle free departure.
Once Docked, Crew  No Longer in Charge

Disembarkation is controlled by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection.  You'll find that there are several areas of the ship that will be blocked off and traffic patterns are strictly enforced.  You don't want to attempt to enter a controlled area.   It is for this reason that waiting areas are suggested by the crew in the instructions.   Don't proceed to the disembarkation point until your luggage color is called.  This will help keep the process moving for all passengers.

Go have breakfast and try to keep your entire traveling party together.   This way when an announcement is made for your luggage tag group, you will be able to disembark the ship.
There is a definite order of disembarkation and that will be listed in the instructions.  You might want to keep a copy of that handy so that you can tell when it is close to your time to disembark.  That allows you time for that one last bathroom break for example.

Note that the times listed for debark time are only approximate.   It is possible that the process may be halted several times to allow for crowd control.  There are a maximum number of passengers that can be in the terminal at a given time and as we mentioned, this is strictly under the control of the CBP.   Therefore, if there any doubt that you'll need more time, take the earlier tag when picking your luggage tags.

Getting to the Airport

Cruise lines sell "transfers" which can be prepaid or purchased on board the ship up to the stated time.  This is the easiest method for transferring to the ship because the ship's personnel will direct you to waiting buses for the trip to the airport.  You'll be amongst the earlier groups to depart the ship as well (ordered by flight times).  Caution: this could be a higher cost that arranging your own transportation, but it typically be the easiest.

Your travel professional can go over the various options applicable for your pier and airport location and can assist in booking the arrangements with the cruise line or other provider.   Remember, to be sure to allow sufficient time for the debarkation process.

Post-Cruise Tours

In many ports it is possible to book a post-cruise tour through the cruise line.  This is very similar to booking transfers but in addition to the transportation to the airport, you will also see one or more local sites.   This is a great option for those that booked later flights.  Consult the shore excursion sight before your cruise or during to determine your options here.  

Take-A-Ways
  • Pack your luggage early so that you can enjoy your final evening onboard
  • Leave clothing and other essentials for the morning
  • Complete your Customs paperwork before retiring for the evening
  • Pre-book transfers, tours, or know options for transfers to airport in advance
  • Have a nice breakfast and listen for announcements
  • When your luggage group is called, gather your belongings and head for the debark point
  • Planning will help keep the stress levels down
  • Also see Surviving Cruise Debarkation Day (Part 1)



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Surviving Cruise Debarkation Day

Ending Cruise on a High 

The final full day of the cruise has arrived and fortunately it is a sea day.  That means you don't need to rush breakfast and get ready to go into port.   You plan to take full advantage of the ship and let any remaining stress melt away.

Last night you didn't have time to read the daily paper, so you pick it up and start to see what activities are planned by the staff.   Scanning through the list of morning activities, you see one that catches your eye ... "Debarkation Information - hosted by Cruise Director".  There is a note that says, one person from each family should attend.   Wait, what - I'm on vacation - what do you mean?

MUST I ATTEND?

Especially if you are a cruise rookie (first time cruiser) it is highly advisable that you attend any briefing offered by the Cruise Director or staff.   This will make your life much easier, since they will provide all the information you need and answer any questions.   On most ships, this information is disseminated in multiple ways, so if you have some conflict, you can skip the session.

For example, there should also be more information either in the daily paper or as a supplement covering everything you need to disembark the ship.  Often the debarkation talk is recorded and available for viewing on the ship's TV station during the rest of the day.

Flight Times Dictate Departure
Just Say When

When you listen to or read the information about debarkation, you'll soon discover that by mid-morning everyone is expected to be off the ship so that the crew can welcome aboard the new set of passengers.  There is a lot of activity that happens to make this possible.

WHEN TO LEAVE

You may not realize it, but your departure time was determined by you when you booked your trip and made travel arrangements.

How's that you ask?   When you picked your return flights, or made other arrangements for your return home, you determined the time that you needed to be off the ship in order to make your flight on time.   Upon leaving the ship you'll need to collect your bags, process through Customs, and board a taxi, shuttle bus, or other means of transportation to your departure destination (airport, bus, train station, rental car etc.).

How much time do you need?

There are a lot of variances in terms of when the cruise line calls your luggage group and when you are outside with bags in hands.   It may take some time to catch an elevator and actually get to the disembarkation point on the ship.  Once through there, it's usually a walk along a ramp, down the escalator or elevator to the lower level, where you'll find your baggage sorted by color tag.  There are porters to assist you in finding your bags and getting you through Customs.

In most cases, the pier isn't far from the airport, so you may have about 30 minutes to an hour for transfer time from pier to airport.  There are several ways to get to the airport, but for now, let's just assume you need to factor in some travel time.    Since you will be checking bags, and there will be several hundred or more of you arriving at the airport at the same time, you'll need at least 1.5 to 2 hours for checking in and clearing airport security.

The rule of thumb is that for flights before noon, you'll want to be in one of the first groups off the ship but for later flights you can take your time.

Key Take-A-Ways

  • When booking your return flights, be sure to factor in the time it will take to disembark and travel to the airport
  • Ask your travel professional for guidance before making arrangements
  •  It is best to book flights later in the day to avoid having to rush - why add stress to your vacation after you have finally started to relax
  • Be sure to attend any information talks and/or read and follow printed instructions
In Part 2, we'll talk more about preparation the night before debarkation as well as what to expect in the morning.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Memories From Our First Cruise

 Not Exactly the Ritz

We arrived at the pier for our stow away night aboard the Yankee Trader and were shown to our cabin.  As you can see from this picture, our beds were actually twin bunk beds.  

Not shown is the washroom which consisted of a shower, toilet, and sink  "all-in-one".   The one thing that stands out from our memories is that we had a problem one day, when the shower would not turn off, and had to summon someone to resolve the situation.   


Classic Wooden Ship

Notice the beautiful wood above, which is something that we vividly remember about our cabin and public areas of the ship. Here is another example (left) of the beautiful wood on the ship.   
This may be the only time in our 30+ years cruising where we had a cat as a member of the crew. The cat was quite content sleeping on one of the benches on the main deck.

Working With Crew

The Barefoot Windjammer cruises were structured for two different types of passengers - those that wanted to actively participate in the sailing adventure and those that were content to be more passive.

One night, the dinner menu was quite simple - it was the catch of the day.   That meant that the crew, and any passengers that were interested, could fish for our dinner.   Here are some of the fish that were caught.

As mentioned in our previous column about our first cruise, the Captain's dinner consisted of a pig roast with all the trimmings.   Certainly, food was an integral part of the experience even on our first cruise.


The Long Good-bye

One of the benefits and downfalls of cruising on a small ship is that you meet your fellow cruisers and build relationships during the cruise.   It is therefore hard to say good-bye at the end of the voyage.  

As the sun sets on the Fantome, which was sailing the same itinerary with us,  we conclude our story about our first cruise. 

Related:
Our Very First Cruise
Entertainment on Our First Cruise


 Making Memories

The memories from this trip have not faded over the years.  Our love for cruising and the sea began that week.   We love sharing our experiences and knowledge with others. 

If you have not taken a cruise before, consider that sometime in your future.  Perhaps you too can have lasting memories like these.

Thank you to the crew of Yankee Trader - if any of you read this story, we'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Entertainment on Our First Cruise

Windjammer Barefoot Cruise
Yankee Trader

Our first cruise was a 3-day trip to the Bahamas on a small sailing vessel which could travel under mast or by motor.  See our previous article, Our Very First Cruise, for the beginning of the story.

Entertainment

Unlike the modern cruise lines that have all sorts of entertainment from small lounge shows to Broadway-style musicals, nightly entertainment would be provided by the Captain, crew, and passengers.  The "stage" was the upper deck which also served as the main dining room, bar, and meeting area.

In the center image at  the top left is our captain with his magical elephant.   You can't see it in the picture, but there is one of the passengers laying on the ground and about to get a surprise shower from the elephant.   Props for the entertainment was whatever you could find onboard the ship including towels and other supplies.   We had some creative crew and passengers.

Another event was the rowing contest where all the passengers grouped on the wooden platform beneath the main mast (their row boat).   I'm not certain they made much progress "sailing" but the beer that was flowing certainly kept the spirits high as they fought the high waves.

Thanks for Starting Our Amazing Journey

Captain Jon S. Helmick was the skipper on our first cruise.   We owe a great debt of gratitude to him and the rest of the crew for making our first cruise so special.   It is now more than 30 years since that first voyage and we can remember the events as if they happened yesterday.  That certainly says something about the dedication of that crew to providing a great experience for their guests.

We hope that your first cruise is as memorable as ours.   And for those that have been sailing for years, we hope that you have many fond memories like the ones we've shared here.

You haven't lived until you've Cruised ....

Twelfth Tropical Storm of Atlantic Season Forms

        
Tropical Storm Lorenzo


Tropical Storm Lorenzo

Tropical Storm Lorenzo formed in the Central Atlantic.  The storm is expected to weaken in a couple of days and does not pose a threat to land at this time.

Tropical Storm Lorenzo
500 PM AST MON OCT 21 2013

...TWELFTH TROPICAL STORM OF THE SEASON FORMS...
WIND:
NEAR 40 MPH...65 KM/H...
WITH HIGHER GUSTS.
WATCHES/ WARNINGS:
THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT.
SHIP IMPACT:
NONE

 
  
SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...28.9N 54.9W
ABOUT 635 MI...1020 KM ESE OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...40 MPH...65 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 30 DEGREES AT 7 MPH...11 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1008 MB...29.77 INCHES
 
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 40 MPH...65 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
None
 
HISTORICAL DATA:

1100 AM EDT MON OCT 21 2013
 
...TROPICAL DEPRESSION FORMS IN THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our Very First Cruise


Windjammer Barefoot Cruises
Yankee Trader 
Bahamas

As National Cruise Vacation Week begins we thought it would be fun to turn back the clock to our very first cruise.  Looking through our old photos, we selected a few to use in this column.   The image on the left shows several images of the Bahamas, which was the destination of our short cruise.  It also shows the mast of our ship and a sister ship that was sailing with us.The images in the right photo were from the Captain's dinner which included a toga party and entertainment by the passengers and crew, including the Captain.

Yankee Trader

Certificate signed by the captain of Yankee Trader
Windjammer Barefoot cruises operated out of Miami, Florida back in the 80s when we took our first cruise.   It was normal for two ships in the fleet to sail together.  In our case the Yankee Trader, which we were on, was joined by M/S Fantome, the flagship of the fleet.   You can see her in the photos above as well. Yankee Trader was smaller than Fantome with a length of 179 feet and passenger capacity of 70. 

We had no intention of going on a windjammer cruise when I went to a local travel show with a friend.   I filled out entry forms at various booths and to my surprise, got a phone call that we had won a passage on the ship.  All we had to do was get to Florida, and if desired pay for the stowaway night (which cost us $25). 

Toga Party & Captain's Dinner

Unlike other cruises on ocean-going ships, dress code on the Yankee Trader was very casual.  They didn't call them barefoot cruises for nothing.   Dressing up for the Captain's dinner meant putting on your sandals.  The night of the dinner began with a toga party.  The rules were that you needed to make your toga from whatever materials you could find and you must not have anything underneath the toga (and the female Purser checked to be sure).    Some of the people knew about the party in advance and were prepared.  We had not know but still participated.   My husband used a nightshirt for his toga and I used some sheets.   The winner of the event had been on the cruise the week before and had collected vines and other embellishments.

Dinner was a pig roast complete with all the trimmings. The Captain did the honors, carving the pig while the crew finalized the preparation of the other items.  To date we still remember this dinner party and the great time we all had.  This is what a great cruise is made of - memories that last for a lifetime.

It is sad that the current generation will never sail on these beautiful sailing vessels.  The fleet is gone and earlier this year Captain Michael Burke, their founder, passed away closing the book on this chapter forever.

It was by chance that we took this first cruise.  We fell in love with cruising and the sea on this trip and the rest is history.   If you've not cruised before, we hope that you'll find a similar experience in your future.  We are certain once you take that first cruise, you'll fall in love like we did.





Raymond First Major Hurricane in East Pacific

Hurricane Raymond

  Hurricane Raymond
Category 3



  Hurricane Raymond
1100 AM PDT TUE OCT 22 2013

...AIR FORCE HURRICANE HUNTERS FIND RAYMOND WEAKER...
...HEAVY RAINFALL THREAT CONTINUES 
FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTH-CENTRAL MEXICO...
WIND:
DECREASED TO NEAR 90 MPH...150 KM/H...
WITH HIGHER GUSTS.
WATCHES/ WARNINGS:
A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* TECPAN DE GALEANA TO LAZARO CARDENAS

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* ACAPULCO TO TECPAN DE GALEANA

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* ACAPULCO TO TECPAN DE GALEANA
SHIP IMPACT:
Holland America Line Westerdam changes:
10/22 - 23 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico until 1:00 p.m. 
10/24  Huatulco, Mexico cancelled 
 
Storm Archive         Graphics Archive

 
Raymond, the 8th hurricane of the Pacific Hurricane Season and first major hurricane (category 3 or higher), has sustained winds of 125 miles per hour off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico, just south of Puerto Vallarta.


 
 
 
 
SUMMARY OF 500 AM PDT...1200 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...16.5N 102.0W
ABOUT 85 MI...140 KM SSW OF ZIHUATANEJO MEXICO
ABOUT 140 MI...230 KM W OF ACAPULCO MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...115 MPH...185 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...STATIONARY
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...959 MB...28.32 INCHES
 
 
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 125 MPH...205 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. RAYMOND IS A CATEGORY THREE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
HURRICANE WIND SCALE. GRADUAL WEAKENING IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON
TUESDAY.
 
HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 25 MILES...35 KM...FROM
THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 80
MILES...130 KM. 
 
 
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
RAINFALL...RAYMOND IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 5 TO
10 INCHES WITH ISOLATED AMOUNTS OF UP TO 15 INCHES OVER THE MEXICAN
STATES OF GUERRERO AND MICHOACAN. THESE RAINS COULD PRODUCE LIFE-
THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES.

WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BEGIN IN PORTIONS
OF THE WARNING AREA TODAY. HURRICANE CONDITIONS MAY OCCUR IN
PORTIONS OF THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA LATER TODAY IF THE CENTER OF
RAYMOND MOVES CLOSER TO THE COAST THAN CURRENTLY FORECAST.

STORM SURGE...A STORM SURGE IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT
COASTAL FLOODING IN AREAS OF ONSHORE WINDS WITHIN THE WARNING
AREAS. NEAR THE COAST...THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND
DESTRUCTIVE WAVES.

SURF...SWELLS GENERATED BY RAYMOND ARE AFFECTING PORTIONS OF THE
SOUTH-CENTRAL COAST OF MEXICO. THESE SWELLS ARE LIKELY TO CAUSE
LIFE-THREATENING SURF AND RIP CURRENT CONDITIONS. FOR MORE
INFORMATION...PLEASE CONSULT PRODUCTS FROM YOUR NATIONAL
METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.
 
 Historical Data:

800 PM PDT SAT OCT 19 2013
 
...TROPICAL DEPRESSION FORMS SOUTH OF ACAPULCO...
...EXPECTED TO STRENGTHEN AND MOVE SLOWLY TOWARD THE COAST...
 
200 AM PDT SUN OCT 20 2013
 
...ANOTHER TROPICAL STORM SOUTH OF MEXICO...
 
200 PM PDT SUN OCT 20 2013
 
...RAYMOND EXPECTED TO BECOME A HURRICANE VERY SOON...
...HURRICANE WATCH AND TROPICAL STORM WARNING ISSUED FOR PART OF THE
MEXICAN COAST...
 
500 PM PDT SUN OCT 20 2013
 
...RAYMOND BECOMES A HURRICANE...
 
1100 PM PDT SUN OCT 20 2013
 
...RAYMOND HESITATES SOUTH OF THE COAST OF MEXICO...
...ALMOST A MAJOR HURRICANE...
 
500 AM PDT MON OCT 21 2013
 
...MAJOR HURRICANE RAYMOND DRIFTING NORTHWARD...
 
 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

National Cruise Vacation Week October 20-27, 2013

We're joining with member travel agencies from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) across the US and Canada to host the Virtual National Cruise Vacation Week (NCVW) which is an opportunity for travelers like you to learn more about one of the most popular vacations: cruising!



Cruising is all about you

You can find adventure, culture and education or, relax the day away. Dine on fine cuisine. Indulge at the spa. Reconnect with family. Share romantic moments. All this, in the destination of your choice, for a few days, a week or more, on a cruise that's right for you.

 
CLIA member cruise lines have put together some special offers in honor of NCVW.  Here is a sampling from many of the major cruise lines.  Take advantage of these additional savings.

Cruise LineOffer Details
AMA WaterwaysUp to $500 OBC on select 2013 & 2014 Voyages
AvalonSave up to $1300 Per Couple on Select 2014 sailings
Azamara Club CruisesUp to $500 OBC on Select 2014 Europe Voyages
Carnival Cruise LinesUp to $300 OBC on Select Sailings
Celebrity CruisesUp to $200 OBC on Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean or Europe Sailings
Costa CruisesRates from $50* per day/50% Reduced Deposit
Cunard Up to $300 OBC Plus Complimentary Balcony Upgrade on Select Sailings
Holland America LinesUp to $200 OBC combinable with Explore 4 on Select Sailings
MSC CruisesUp to $200 OBC on Select Divina Sailings
Norwegian Cruise LinesUp to $500 OBC Plus Reduced Deposit on Select Sailings
OceaniaUp to $850 OBC On Select Sailings
Paul GauginUp to $200 OBC on 2014 Sailings
Regent Seven Seas Cruises $200 OBC per suite for 2013 and 2014 New Bookings
Princess CruisesSave up to $2000 per stateroom on select sailings
Royal Caribbean InternationalUp to $100 OBC per booking on Caribbean Sailings
Windstar Cruises$100 OBC on Select Sailings


Friday, October 18, 2013

Venice Cruise Terminal to Pizzale Roma


 Inexpensive Transport 
Cruise Terminal
to Airports & 
Train Station

If you've been to Venice on a cruise ship, you know that you are docked far from the center of activities and the main squares of Venice.  Typical transportation is via a water taxi (vaporetto).

While you are sightseeing via ship-provided tours, reaching the heart of Venice isn't a problem, however getting to the airport or train station on your own, when the cruise is completed, can be a daunting and expensive task.

HINT: Take Tram to Piazzale Roma

Piazzale Roma is a square in Venice, Italy which serves as the main bus terminal.  There are bus links to Venice Marco Polo Airport and Treviso Airport. The square is close to the main Santa Lucia (Ferrovia) railway station for Venice, linked by the Ponte della Costituzione, a modern footbridge over the western end of the Grand Canal.

We can tell you from experience this is the way to go as long as you are able to handle your luggage on your own, especially over the footbridge.   If you can't, you might be lucky enough to have a good looking Italian fellow assist you over the bridge (of course he'll be expecting to be rewarded for his good deed).

Short Walk to Tram

Getting to the tram is pretty easy.   Just cut through the cruise terminal and walk along the footpath for about a five-minute walk to the peoplemover tram entrance.  Tickets are vended from the machine on ground level (they’re €1 each, machines take euro coins or cash).  Take the escalator or elevator to the platform where you'll board modern cars that can accommodate you and your luggage in comfort.

Santa Lucia Train Station


The tram is a recent improvement (2010) in Venice and not widely known.  Our destination from the cruise terminal was the train station for our return to Rome (Civitavecchia) for our final post-cruise night before flying back home.  

By taking the train to and from the ship, we were able to purchase round-trip air from Rome instead of one-way tickets to Rome and from Venice, which saved us on overall cost.


Best spent €1  during the entire Mediterranean Cruise - very convenient

Monday, October 14, 2013

What Would Christopher Columbus Think



Columbus First Transatlantic

La Pinta (Spanish for The Painted One or The Spotted One) was the fastest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first transatlantic voyage in 1492

The Pinta was square rigged and smaller than the Santa María. the ship weighed approximately 60 tons with an estimated deck length of 17 meters (56 ft) and a width of 5.36 meters (17.6 ft). The crew size was 26 men under Captain Martín Alonso Pinzón.

On the evening of 3 August 1492, Columbus departed from Spain with three ships, including the Pinta.  He first sailed to the Canary Islands where he stopped for repairs and provisions, staying there until 6 September 1492.

First Person to Sight Land

In the wee hours of 12 October 1492, Columbus claims to have seen the light of land. Columbus called the island (in what is now The Bahamas) San Salvador.  He claimed the lifetime pension promised by Ferdinand and Isabella in connection with the sighting.

How Does Pinta  Compare to Today's Cruise Ships

Oasis of the Seas is 47 meters wide and 360 meters 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. 

 Pinta Definitely Out-Sized

Here you see just one of the 180 grand blocks that comprised the Oasis of the Seas.  Let's assume that it's the largest block.  That would mean that the Pinta was 5m shorter and 1/10th the weight of just that one building block.

Oasis of the Seas First Transatlantic

Just like the Pinta, the Captain of the Oasis of the Seas set sail from Europe destined for Bahamas and points beyond.   The Oasis made the journey from 31 October 2009 until 13 November 2009, arriving two days later than planned due to a tropical storm it encountered during the crossing.   Columbus too had encountered tropical weather during his crossing.

Columbus would probably be amazed if he sailed his ship alongside the Oasis of the Seas.   We'll take a look at more ships as we continue our special series for National Cruise Vacation Month


Tropical Storm Priscilla in East Pacific

Tropcial Storm Priscilla

  Tropical Storm Priscilla



Tropical Storm Octave
200 PM PDT TUE OCT 15 2013

...PRISCILLA WEAKENS TO A DEPRESSION...
WIND:
NEAR 35 MPH...55 KM/H...
WITH HIGHER GUSTS.
WATCHES/ WARNINGS:
THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT.
SHIP IMPACT:
 NO CRUISE SHIPS IMPACTED
 
Storm Archive         Graphics Archive

 
A new tropical storm formed early Monday morning.  There are no coastal warnings posted at this time and it doesn't appear that there will be any threat later in the week.


 
Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here
 
SUMMARY OF 200 PM PDT...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...17.7N 117.5W
ABOUT 610 MI...980 KM SW OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...35 MPH...55 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 300 DEGREES AT 8 MPH...13 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1006 MB...29.71 INCHES
 
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
NONE
 
 Historical Data:

200 AM PDT MON OCT 14 2013
 
...YET ANOTHER TROPICAL STORM FORMS IN THE EASTERN PACIFIC...

Cruise Season to New Zealand Beginning

As National Cruise Vacation Month continues, we are focusing on some of the popular destinations for cruising.   Here in the States most parts of the country are experiencing Autumn weather with Winter just around the corner.    Thoughts of warm destinations come to mind when planning a getaway cruise.   Usually people think about the Caribbean for Fall / Winter cruises, but we'd like to suggest something different - which could be a trip of a lifetime.

Bob McCree (bobandjenni@xtra.co.nz)
Cruise
New Zealand

October - April

It's Summertime in the South Pacific with temperatures averaging between 20-30ºC (70-90°F) in New Zealand.  January and February are the warmest months, while back home they are typically the coldest, especially in the midwest where we live.

Photographer: Rob Suisted (www.naturespic.com)

Milford Sound

One of the most photographed and popular attractions in New Zealand is Milford Sound. This natural fjord has some of the most amazing scenery you can imagine including two permanent waterfalls. You'll have a front row seat for the view from your balcony cabin or one of the open decks of your cruise ship. 

 
Weather Impacting This Year's Schedule

According to New Zealand Herald, the bad weather that is bashing the region, delaying flights, is also impacting the start of the cruise season.   Sea Princess, which was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday won't arrive until 6 AM on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tropical Storm Octave in East Pacific

Tropical Storm Octave
Tropical Storm Octave

Tropical Storm Octave
500 PM PDT MON OCT 14 2013
 
...HEAVY RAINS SPREADING ACROSS 
PORTIONS OF THE SOUTHERN BAJA
CALIFORNIA PENINSULA...

WIND:
NEAR 50 MPH...85 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.
WATCHES/ WARNINGS:
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* SANTA FE TO PUNTA ABREOJOS
SHIP IMPACT:
 NO CRUISE SHIPS IMPACTED
     
Storm Archive       Graphics Archive
 
A new tropical depression, TD 15-E formed Saturday and became Tropical Storm Octave on Sunday.  While there are no tropical storm warnings posted at this time, interests in the southern portion of the Baja California peninsula of Mexico should monitor the storm.

OCTAVE COULD BECOME A TROPICAL DEPRESSION ON TUESDAY BY THE TIME IT NEARS
THE BAJA CALIFORNIA PENINSULA.

 
Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here
 
SUMMARY OF 500 PM PDT...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...24.6N 113.0W
ABOUT 65 MI...105 KM WSW OF CABO SAN LAZARO MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH...85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 25 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...999 MB...29.50 INCHES
 
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
RAINFALL...OCTAVE IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAIN ACCUMULATIONS OF
3 TO 6 INCHES...WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 8 INCHES
POSSIBLE...OVER MUCH OF THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN BAJA CALIFORNIA
PENINSULA...AND THE MAINLAND MEXICO STATE OF SONORA.

STORM SURGE...A STORM SURGE IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE COASTAL FLOODING
NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER MAKES LANDFALL. NEAR THE
COAST...THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND DANGEROUS WAVES.

SURF...SWELLS GENERATED WILL CONTINUE AFFECT THE WEST COAST OF BAJA
CALIFORNIA SUR INTO TUESDAY. THESE SWELLS ARE LIKELY TO CAUSE LIFE-
THREATENING SURF AND RIP CURRENT CONDITIONS.
 
 
 Historical Data:


800 PM PDT SAT OCT 12 2013
 
...NEW TROPICAL DEPRESSION FORMS SOUTH OF THE BAJA CALIFORNIA
PENINSULA...
 
800 AM PDT SUN OCT 13 2013
 
...OCTAVE STRENGTHENS A LITTLE MORE AS IT PASSES TO THE WEST OF 
SOCORRO ISLAND...
 
800 AM PDT MON OCT 14 2013
 
...OCTAVE WEAKENS SLIGHTLY AS IT TURNS NORTHWARD...
...TROPICAL STORM WARNING ISSUED FOR PORTIONS OF THE BAJA CALIFORNIA
PENINSULA...
 
200 PM PDT MON OCT 14 2013
 
...OCTAVE WEAKENS SLIGHTLY AS IT MOVES CLOSER TO BAJA CALIFORNIA...
...OUTER RAIN BANDS PRODUCING HEAVY RAINFALL AND STRONG WINDS...
 
 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Your Cruise is Departing From a Nearby Port



SAVE TIME + MONEY!
Shorter Flights - or None Needed - to the Cruise Terminal

Your dream vacation starts as soon as you walk out the door! No longer do you have to dread the hustle and bustle of the arduous airline experience when planning your next cruise vacation. Now more than ever can you visit some of the world’s most fascinating destinations at the lowest prices and without venturing too far to get there.

Cruises From Nearby Ports
Click Map for Options
 No Need to Fly to Your Next Cruise - Ask Us How
 
With major cruise lines departing from more and more popular port cities like Miami, FL; New York City, NY; Galveston, TX and even San Francisco, CA, you will undoubtedly find an incredible ship that’s the perfect fit.
There are 21 US Cruise Ports Nearby  [Tweet this]
Sail from a Port Near You

To Find a Cruise Nearby simply Click on the Map above or click here to get started.

Next, Select a Departure Port by Clicking on a City or scrolling down on the page to find the region of the country that you wish to depart from.

Finally, Select From Amongst the Fascinating Destinations to look at the various cruise itineraries that you can pick from.

EASY as 1 - 2 - 3

If you found this information helpful, spread the word and subscribe to our blog. 
We are writing a complete series of articles for
You may also be interested in our eSavers Newsletter 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Confused About What Cruise Line To Select

Stop Losing Sleep - Seek Advice of Specialist



STOP LOSING SLEEP!
Seek the advice of a trusted cruise specialist to select a cruise line

Every day we make choices.  Coke or Pepsi?  Coffee or Tea?  Chips or Fries?  The list goes on. Sometimes making these decisions introduces stress into our lives.  One of the benefits of taking a vacation is to get away from daily stress.  We'll guide you through the selection process.

 Look Under the Covers to Narrow Selection
You've seen their commercials; you've heard their slogans.   Even though you've never sailed before, I bet you can name these top selling cruise lines.
In case you can't, they are Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line (top to bottom).
Each cruise line has a different personality and appeals to different demographics.  In most cases, any of these three lines would be an excellent choice for your first cruise.
However, you will definitely need to know differences to set proper expectations.

CLIA has 26 member cruise lines with over 260 ships  [Tweet this]
Determine What is Important to You

As a cruise specialist, the majority of my time is spent asking questions and listening to your responses.  Those answers in turn help to narrow the field of cruise sailings to a manageable short list.  Example:  If you don't want to go on a cruise where there are children, you probably won't want to book a cruise on Carnival during Spring Break.

From there, factors outside our control may further narrow the selection (for example, a particular cabin type could be sold out).

Homework Assignment:  
Read about these three cruise lines - "All Cruise Lines" page.     



Tell a friend about what you've learned and suggest that they read some of our articles as well
You may also be interested in our eSavers Newsletter 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tropical Storm Narda in East Pacific

Tropical Storm Narda
                   

Tropical Storm Narda

Tropical Storm Narda
200 PM PDT MON OCT 07 2013

...NARDA STOPS STRENGTHENING FOR NOW...
...STILL EXPECTED TO BECOME 
A HURRICANE ON TUESDAY...



WIND:
NEAR 65 MPH...100 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.
WATCHES/ WARNINGS:
THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT.
SHIP IMPACT:
 NO CRUISE SHIPS IMPACTED
     
  Storm Archive   Graphics Archive
 
A new tropical depression, TD 14-E formed Sunday and is expected to become Hurricane Narda by Tuesday. 

 
Not the storm you are looking for?  Click Image or Here

SUMMARY OF 800 PM PDT...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...13.2N 119.8W
ABOUT 935 MI...1500 KM SW OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...40 MPH...65 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 280 DEGREES AT 13 MPH...20 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1005 MB...29.68 INCHES
 
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
NONE
 
 Historical Data:

200 PM PDT SUN OCT 06 2013
 
...NEW TROPICAL DEPRESSION FORMS IN THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...
 
800 PM PDT SUN OCT 06 2013
 
...DEPRESSION STRENGTHENS INTO TROPICAL STORM NARDA...
 
 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 2013 is National Cruise Vacation Month

 
October is National Cruise Vacation Month

Explore the World of Cruise Vacationing
October 1 - 31, 2013
 
If you've ever thought about going on your first cruise, October is the time to begin that journey.

We're joining with member travel agencies from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) across the US and Canada to host the Virtual National Cruise Vacation Week (NCVW) which is an opportunity for travelers like you to learn more about one of the most popular vacations: cruising!

Cruising is all about you. You can find adventure, culture and education or, relax the day away. Dine on fine cuisine. Indulge at the spa. Reconnect with family. Share romantic moments. All this, in the destination of your choice, for a few days, a week or more, on a cruise that's right for you.

We have a special page with Cruise Line Videos for you to explore.   Just click the cruise line logo of your choice and watch their video.  We'll also be featuring articles about cruising all month long in addition to our normal blog posts, so be sure to come back often to explore.

There are special offers throughout the month. The highlight will be October 20-27, 2013 which is designated the National Cruise Vacation Week (NCVW). We have a special page (click here) which lists the offers and other information.

Simply click on the cruise line of your choice 
and see what special deals they have to offer! 
Checkout our Facebook Page 
for more Cruising Tips and Offers



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Friday, October 4, 2013

Tropical Storm Karen in Atlantic

TS Karen
Tropical Storm Karen

Tropical Storm Karen formed in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico prompting tropical storm and hurricane warnings for the northern Gulf Coast.  Due to the anticipated arrival of the storm, Port of New Orleans had closed the Mississippi River.

This storm impacted two Carnival Cruise Line sailings:

Port of New Orleans authorities opted to open the Mississippi River earlier than anticipated while keeping a watch on Tropical Storm Karen, allowing both Carnival Elation and Carnival Conquest to return to port sooner than expected. Elation now will return to New Orleans around 2 p.m. Sunday. Conquest is expected to return at 1:30 p.m. Passengers onboard both ships may disembark Sunday or spend one more night onboard and disembark Monday morning.

Passengers scheduled for the next cruise onboard Elation may board between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday; passengers scheduled to sail on Conquest may board between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday.

 "Our top priority was to keep a safe distance from the storm while we waited for the river to re-open," Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO Gerry Cahill said in a news release. "We are pleased to be able to get our ships back into New Orleans earlier than what was originally anticipated as the storm was moving towards the coastline. We apologize to our guests for the inconvenience caused by Tropical Storm Karen and we extend our appreciation to all of the officials and maritime partners in New Orleans who have worked with us throughout to manage the situation as smoothly as possible."

Tropical Storm Karen
1000 AM CDT SUN OCT 06 2013
 
...KAREN DISSIPATES...
...THIS IS THE LAST ADVISORY...

WIND:
NEAR 30 MPH...45 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.
WATCHES/ WARNINGS:
THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT.
 
INTERESTS ALONG THE NORTH-CENTRAL 
GULF COAST SHOULD CONTINUE TO
MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR 
LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
SHIP IMPACT:
CARNIVAL CONQUEST - 10/06/13 DEPARTURE
The Carnival Conquest will operate a 6-day cruise, cancelling Freeport. Check-in will be on Monday from 10:00AM to 2:00PM at the Erato Street Terminal and sailing time is set for 4:00PM.



CARNIVAL ELATION - 10/05/13 DEPARTURE
The Carnival Elation will operate a 3 day Fun Cruise @ Sea. Check-in will be on Monday from 11:00AM to 3:00PM at the Julia Street Terminal (1350 Port of New Orleans Place) and sailing time is set for 4:00PM.

Tropical Storm Karen - Update 

 
  
SUMMARY OF 1000 AM CDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...28.1N 89.9W
ABOUT 85 MI...135 KM SW OF THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...30 MPH...45 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...E OR 90 DEGREES AT 13 MPH...20 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1009 MB...29.80 INCHES
 
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 30 MPH...45 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
STORM SURGE...LOCALIZED COASTAL FLOODING IS POSSIBLE ALONG PORTIONS
OF THE NORTHERN GULF COAST. FOR INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...
PLEASE SEE PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
OFFICE.
 
RAINFALL...THE REMNANTS OF KAREN ARE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE RAINFALL
ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 3 INCHES OVER PORTIONS OF THE CENTRAL GULF
COAST AND SOUTHEASTERN STATES THROUGH MONDAY EVENING.
 
HISTORICAL DATA:
 
800 AM CDT THU OCT 03 2013
 
...TROPICAL STORM FORMS OVER THE SOUTHEASTERN GULF OF MEXICO...
...HURRICANE AND TROPICAL STORM WATCHES ISSUED FOR THE NORTHERN GULF
COAST...
 
700 PM CDT THU OCT 03 2013
 
...TROPICAL STORM KAREN HEADING TOWARD THE CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO...
 
 
400 PM CDT FRI OCT 04 2013
 
...KAREN DISORGANIZED...
...HURRICANE WATCH DISCONTINUED... 
 
1000 AM CDT SAT OCT 05 2013
 
...KAREN EXPECTED TO MOVE OVER SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA TONIGHT AND
EARLY SUNDAY... 
 
 
700 PM CDT SAT OCT 05 2013
 
...KAREN STATIONARY SOUTH OF LOUISIANA......
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* GRAND ISLE LOUISIANA TO THE MOUTH OF THE PEARL RIVER
 
400 AM CDT SUN OCT 06 2013
 
...KAREN EXPECTED TO BECOME A REMNANT LOW LATER TODAY...