Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tropical Storm Bertha 2nd in Atlantic Season

Tropical Storm BERTHA

Tropical Storm BERTHA

Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft this afternoon and evening investigated the well-defined low pressure system located about 350 miles east-southeast of Barbados. Surface winds were measured between 40 and 45 MPH prompting Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings for several countries in the immediate path of the storm. Showers and thunderstorms, along with gale-force winds are expected in the area through Friday and additional warnings may be necessary. The storm is expected to track towards the Bahamas by early next week. We will continue to monitor this storm as it may be necessary to alter cruise ship itineraries depending on the strengthening of the storm.


NHC issuing advisories on TS BERTHA and TS JULIO


Full coverage of this, and all tropical storms, can be found on our Hurricane Zone page.   There are RSS feeds from the National Hurricane Center posted there giving you up to the minute information.   For storms that impact cruises, we will bring you information on those details as well.  Please bookmark that page for further reference during the Hurricane Season which runs now through November 30th.

Tropical Storm BERTHA
500 PM EDT TUE AUG 05 2014



No Further Cruise Ship Impact
Storm Archive       Graphics Archive





Historical Notes:

1100 PM AST THU JUL 31 2014

200 AM AST SAT AUG 02 2014

200 PM EDT SUN AUG 03 2014

Carnival Breeze, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Valor 
itineraries were impacted by TS Bertha. 


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Celebration 2014 Recap

Streamwood Summer Celebration
A Success  

 We've just completed our ninth annual appearance at the Streamwood Summer Celebration's Business Expo sponsored by the Streamwood Chamber of Commerce.

The Summer Celebration runs the last weekend of July each year and is well attended.  The weather cooperated with a variety of temperatures but now rain.  Saturday was hot and humid, but that didn't prevent record crowds from attending the event. The fire department had their hose shooting water in the air for those that wanted to cool off.   They were closely monitoring the wind on Sunday, as gusts were as high as 35 MPH.

In addition to show-casing local businesses in the expo tent, there were plenty of activities for families. Local bands performed throughout the weekend, there was a parade on Saturday with over 100 entries this year, rides for the children and young at heart, bingo, face-painting, ice cream eating content for the children and lots more.  Many volunteers from the village make this a special event each and every year.

Lots of Interest in Land & Sea Vacations

We spoke to many couples, families, and individuals that were interested in getting away for a vacation.   As usual, we had a large supply of brochures, which we call "wish books" on hand.  One of the most popular brochures was the Royal Caribbean Quantum-class brochure which highlights this marvelous new cruise ship which will debut in the Fall. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't talk with everyone personally this year because I was splitting my time between my booth and the Streamwood Chamber of Commerce's booth.   As Vice President of the Chamber, I was kept busy getting the businesses setup on Friday, answering questions at our booth, making announcements, and  judging contests.  I'd like to thank my Executive Assistant, Donna Lenhardt, who was invaluable in getting the event setup and assisting me throughout the weekend. Also thank you to my husband Gary, who has as much knowledge about the various vacation options as I do, for manning my booth.

Special Promotion Continues

We had a special Norwegian Free for All Promotion with the 3rd to 8th passenger in the same cabin sailing for free on select sailings now through 2014.  We had other offers including an exclusive Shore Excursion $100 credit which expires on July 31st. For those looking for a Resort Getaway, see our current Resorts & Tours Specials.

To Our New Followers

We'd like to welcome new readers to our Blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, Pinterest, and website, who stopped by to talk with us at the Summer Celebration.   I look forward to talking to you more in the future to help plan a great cruise or land vacation for you and your traveling companions. We've included links here with a brief explanation of some of the resources we offer to our followers.   Please be sure to take advantage of all these opportunities, as that is the best way to stay informed.
Join our eSavers

If you haven’t signed up for our eSavers Newsletter yet, be sure to do so. This is just one of our communication vehicles to keep you informed about industry news and special offers for our loyal followers.

Like Us on Facebook

Be sure to visit our Facebook Fan Page and "Like Us" so that you can be in the inner circle of our Fans. You’ll have the opportunity to be the first to know about specials and other exclusive information, such as updates from cruise lines.

We have several boards on Pinterest which might be of interest to you.


Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas.

Each week we post images from our trips and participate in several travel chats on Twitter.

Take advantage of these resources to assist in you in planning your dream vacations.  Of course, we are always available to answer any questions you might have about travel and the industry.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

That's Alluring Entertainment

Blue Planet
Click on any image for a close up view
#FriFotos Theme

Friday is here again, and we'll be including some of our images in the Twitter photo chat #FriFotos.  It took us a few minutes before we knew exactly what images in our archives would best depict this theme.  Here are just a few...

Cruise Ship Entertainment

In particular, the aerial and acrobatic shows must definitely get the performers adrenaline going.  The feats that these performers accomplish are even more amazing when you think about the fact that their stage and any gear used in the act is moving / rolling with the waves of the seas.

Blue Planet - Jump
Blue Planet

One of our favorite shows was on Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas.  It's a high energy show that uses all sorts of props like the suspended globe above.   Imagine being suspended high above the stage and clinging to a globe while performing several maneuvers such as the ones pictured above.

Blue PlanetAnother segment of the show has the performers bouncing among "rocks" in an elaborate prop that has a trampoline in the center.  It's not too bad when only one person jumps, but imagine several jumping from either end at the same time, again while the ship is moving.

Ice Skating at Sea

Allure - Ice Games
Also on Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas, you'll find ice skating shows that will thrill you.   Just like in an Olympic event, ice skating jumps are an important part of the show. 

There are triples, doubles and quads.  There are Toe Loops, Loops, Flips, Salchows, Axels,  Lutzs and Sequence Jumps.  These maneuvers are hard enough to perform on land, without adding the additional element of ship's motion to the equation.

Allure - Ice Games
Some of the acts feature individual skaters while others have partners or even an entire cast of skaters performing their parts as if acting out a play.

We've only included a couple images here, but we have many more in our album:

Allure OTS - Ice Games 

We'll feature some more of them on Twitter and Pinterest as well.

Allure - Diving
Aqua Theater Shows

Another entertainment feature on the Allure of the Seas is the Aquatic Shows in the Aqua Theater.  The shows feature high diving and other acrobatics.

Once again, we have many more images on Twitter and in our photo album:

Allure OTS - Aqua Show

We really enjoy these high-energy shows on cruise ships.   Royal Caribbean is one of the best cruise lines when it comes to entertainment.   They even have their own production company for Broadway style shows.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas.

Meet Us at Streamwood Summer Celebration

Once a year we participate in our local Chamber of Commerce hosted Summer Celebration.
This will be our 9th appearance at the show.  I am Chairman of the Chamber's Summer Celebration Committee once again and am excited to report that the Business Expo will be even  bigger than last year.  I will be splitting my time between the Chamber Booth and my personal one, and look forward to meeting many of our fans during the three day event.

For those in the area, it is your chance to meet us in person to discuss your vacation plans, pick up some brochures, and take advantage of our exclusive offers.   Here is one of those specials that we will be featuring during the event July 25th - 27th.  We also extend the offers to our readers - ask us for complete details.  (click the link above for times and location)

Norwegian Free for All Offer
Bring the Entire Family - Learn More

Exclusive Offers This Weekend

Even if you aren't able to visit us at our booth, you can still take advantage of our special offers like this one from Celebrity Cruises.

You may be familiar with Celebrity's 123Go promotion where you select from the three amenities.  

Don't know which amenity to select?

You don't have to choose!

We are giving you All 3 Choices for a limited time only.   Click image for details.

We rarely write about our cruise and land offers in our column, but these were too good to pass up.  Don't miss out on these great deals! 

We hope to meet many of our local fans at the Summer Celebration.  This is one of the best parts of the business - being able to have 1-1 conversations in person to help plan your dream vacation.  So where do You want to go?
Click for Schedule of Events


We get several calls for cruise ship and land vacation brochures.   In this day and age, the majority of the suppliers have cut down on printed materials and replaced them with online versions.

We stock brochures that are available from our suppliers on a regular basis and increase our stock in time for this annual event.   If you are in the area, this is a great opportunity for you to browse our "wish books".

Did you know that was how I convinced my husband to take an Alaska cruise?  He had said, "It's cold there.   We live where it's cold.  Why would I go on a vacation to somewhere that is cold?"   Well we've been back to Alaska several times since that initial look at an Alaska brochure.

What's on your wish list?   If we don't have a brochure, we'll be happy to do some research and provide you with all the details.

Come see us if you are in the area this weekend - or call us afterwards to discuss your wish list.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Costa Concordia the Final Journey

Costa Concordia
Giglio to Genoa

Approvals have been given for the salvage team, directed by Titan Micoperi, to commence one of the final stages in the salvage of the Costa Concordia.

Refloating To Begin

Refloating stages

The refloating operation will be divided into 4 separate stages. The refloat will be complete when the greatest possible amount of water has been pumped out of the sponsons and the ship is virtually parallel to sea level.

  • Stage 1: Partial refloating and eastward movement of the wreck 
  • Stage 2: Attachment and tensioning of the chains and cables and final positioning ofthe starboard sponsons
  • Stage 3: Actual refloating - At this stage the actual refloating will commence
  • Stage 4: Final maneuvers and departure of the ship from the island
Salvage experts will conduct the refloating operations from the Remote Operations Center (ROC) located on the Concordia. The monitoring systems will be handling the ballast in the sponsons and guaranteeing vessel stability, trim and the even distribution of the forces acting on the hull.

22 JULY 2014

Today, Costa Concordia departs from Giglio on its final voyage.

A convoy of several tugs and support vessels has begun the slow journey from Giglio to the final port call for Costa Concordia in Genoa, Italy  where it will be dismantled and sold for scrap. We have followed this story since that fateful Friday the 13th in 2012.  This final journey, will take about 4 days as the convoy proceeds at about 2 knots, roughly the speed of walking.  

Here are some images and stories which we have found on the web.   Most interesting may be how Giglio gets back to "normal" whatever that means.   It was a small town that was not very well known until it became center stage with a global audience watching.   

CNN:  How do islanders feel about the Costa Concordia departing? The answer may surprise you:


This video shows the refloating phases of Costa Concordia salvage operations
(limited hours of operation)

Once it is afloat, the wreck will be ready for transportation to its final destination, namely the
Port of Genoa Voltri.  Two possible courses have been selected with the actual course determined by conditions at the time of towing commencement.  The course pictured above, courtesy of Titan Micoperi, would cover 208 nautical miles.  The second course would be slightly shorter.

Costa Concordia Live Web Cam Links:

Re-floating Concordia    Courtesy: Parbuckling Project

UPDATE 03 July 2014:

Costa Crociere: installation of all sponsons completed, ten days to possible refloating

Genoa, Italy has been selected to receive the vessel for salvage

Following installation of the last sponson, we can start the countdown to refloating and final departure of the wreck from Giglio Island,” said Costa Crociere CEO Michael Thamm.Now all our energies are focused on the successful conclusion of this unprecedented engineering challenge to respect a precise commitment: remove the Concordia wreck as soon as possible, in compliance with the highest environmental and safety standards.”

Watch footage from Italian police divers in the sunken ship just before it is scheduled to be towed:  Inside Costa Concordia Now & Before

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Budget Travel by Cruise Ship

Hop-on-Hop-off Bus - Copenhagen
Budget Travel - 
What Comes to Mind

The next #travelpics will take place Monday, July 21st, 2014, from 3-4pm Eastern time (8-9pm UK time). This week’s questions are all about budget travel.

Preparing for this week's Twitter photo chat, we gave that question some serious thought.  Most likely the first thing that comes to mind is backpacking across Europe, traveling by rail, and staying in hostels.  That's fine if you are in your early twenty's but after that, we doubt that would be your preferred method of travel.

Cruising Europe

Baltic Itinerary
We can't argue that backpacking across Europe is the epitome of budget travel, but for those that can no longer travel in that fashion, the next best thing could be seeing Europe by cruise ship.   If you are coming from the United States, the cost of air travel will be your largest component.   Since it is a fixed cost, no matter what you do upon arrival in Europe, we will not factor that into our budget assessment.

We'll use a Baltic cruise for an example on how cruising in Europe can be budget travel.  A typical Baltic itinerary will have about 7 or 8 ports of call.   If you were to visit those same ports by making your own travel arrangements, it would most likely include several flights between the various destinations, which as we've already mentioned could add significant cost to the trip.   Likewise, you would need to have lodging in each destination.

With a cruise, your lodging and transportation between countries is already included in the price.  Meals and entertainment are also included, all of which would have been extras if sight seeing on your own.

Exploring Ports

There are many ways to explore the countries that the ship visits.  There are several options which fall in the budget travel category.  We'll explore some of those which we used during a past cruise to the region.

Under the Bridges of StockholmThe picture above is a "hop-on-hop-off" bus.   With this form of transportation you can typically start the tour when you get off the ship and conclude back at the ship, making a circle around the port city.  For one low price, usually around $20 USD, you have the option to get on and off the bus as many times as you like to see points of interest along the route.  This is how we toured Copenhagen for example.

In several of our ports, there were shuttles from the ship that would take us into town.  In Stockholm, we took the shuttle and then after a short walk, we were able to book a boat excursion "Under the Bridges of Stockholm".  This two hour tour was one of the highlights of the cruise.   We also used the shuttle method to go to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen for an evening at the amusement park.

In many ports of call, it was possible to simply walk to nearby attractions.  Such was the case in Bergen, Norway.   In this picture, we walked to the Fløibanen Funicular, one of Bergen's most popular attractions. Ride the tramway to the top for views of the entire area.

If you decide to have a meal while in port, for example in Bergen,  you have a full range of choices from the choices for the budget minded to expensive.   Perhaps something in the fish market would give you a taste of Bergen on the budget side.

The great thing about cruising is that it is all about choice.   The cruise lines offer excursions, which typically cost more than if you organize the same tour on your own.  The benefit to the ship's tours is that you don't have to plan anything and also, they are responsible for getting you back to the ship on time.  Which ever way you decide to go, you have already saved money by not having to pay for hotels, meals, entertainment and additional transportation during your multi-port visit.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Navigating 5 Types of Signs Onboard Cruise Ship

Signs Signs Everywhere a Sign

For Cruise Rookies:
If you've never been on a cruise, the following information about signs you'll see onboard your ship may come in handy.

For Cruise Veterans:

You may not have even noticed some of these signs the last time you were on a ship.  Perhaps you should pay more attention to the signs  the next time you are on a cruise.

For Every Cruiser:

Please pay attention to the Safety signs - they are there to protect you and make sure everyone enjoys their cruise.

In this article we'll feature signs that we photographed on Carnival Conquest.  You'll find similar signs on the other cruise lines as well.  Knowing about the types of signs onboard will help you make the most of your cruise vacation.

Safety Signs

The sign above is posted on your stateroom door.  It contains the layout of your deck, marks your location, and emergency exits.  It also contains information about what to do in an emergency including how to put on your life jacket.   This is important reading, especially for first-time cruisers.

This next group of signs have important safety and conservation information.  It is everyone's responsibility to help prevent illness by washing their hands.  Everyone on board the ship needs to work together for the comfort and safety of others and to preserve the environment for the future.

Click for Larger Images
Directional Signs 

Here are just a few examples of signs that help you find your way on the ship.  In this modern age there are now electronic signs that provide current information and directions.  Public rooms have a sign on the door similar to this one (note it even has braille lettering).  Lastly, you'll see signs like the one in the middle that direct you to popular locations on the ship.

Food & Beverage Signs 

These signs come in several types.  The first one lists the hours of operation of a very popular bar on Carnival cruise ships.  The second sign instructs you on how to order your custom-made burrito.  Finally there are signs describing drink packages which can be purchased on your first day on the ship, which could possibly save you money over the length of the cruise (depending on how much you'd normally order).  For more information on drink packages, see our previous article Bottomless Bubbles & Cheers.


Activity Signs 

There is a lot happening on the ship each day.   Cruise lines may also use signage to advertise popular events so that you don't miss them.   Here we learn about some casino special events and shore excursions.



Informational Signs 

The remaining signs we'll put in this category.   Typically they tell about special offers, which may be time limited.  Pictured are a sign explaining discounts in the shops, another one suggesting you capture a special image as a souvenir, and lastly how to earn bonus points on the money spent on your cruise.


This Friday on Twitter 

@ChrisPappinMCC is a weekly photo forum by . Theme is revealed every Tues 12pm ET.  If you can't guess, this week's theme is #SIGNS so we thought we'd get a head start with this selection.   Be sure to join us on Friday.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

6 Examples of Texture in Travel Pictures

Mykonos, Greece #TRAVELPICS 
the travel photography chat/share on Twitter

Monday we joined #TRAVELPICS chat on Twitter for a fun packed hour exchanging ideas and travel photos with like-minded posters. The theme was “texture” and participants shared their own travel pics about the theme and answered pre-arranged questions. Here are our replies.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC

Q1: What are elements that add texture to make your travel photos stand out?
ParthenonA1: @AntiTourist #travelpics Cloud sky waves color water rocks buildings streets mountains are all elements that add texture #Mykonos #Greece #ttot

These first two images were captured during our 12-Night Mediterranean & Greek Isles Cruise

Q2: Whether it’s snow in a forest or tiles on a home, show us a travel photo that’s all about texture.
A2: @AntiTourist #travelpics   Acropolis a Journey Into Antiquity #Athens #Greece #cruise #ttot

Q3: Share a photo of yours that shows off texture in a unusual fashion: shadows, birds, abstract patterns…
A3: #travelpics Glacier ice flowing in #Hubbard Bay #Alaska has interesting patterns #ttot #cruise

Photography opportunities abound in Alaska. As our ship cruised through Hubbard Bay, we emerged from our balcony cabin to capture floating chunks of glacier ice like this.

A Man & his Donkey - Mykonos
Q4: Interesting people lead texture to photos, stories, & experiences. Share a photo or tale of a bizarre or memorable encounter!
A4: #travelpics A Man & His Donkey shores #Mykonos #Greece #ttot #cruise #photography

Click on the link above to learn more about this experience in Mykonos.  If you click on these images, you'll see larger versions of them which will help show the #textures we captured.

Q5: Specific or general, what’s something that has added texture to your travels? Get creative!
A5: @AntiTourist #travelpics Add special effects in the digital dark room to enhance your travel #photography #ttot

Fun in Costa Maya

The instructions were to be creative, so we dug into our archives and selected an image where we'd taken one of our photos and using a photo editor turned it into an entirely different image.   Click on the link to learn more about how this and other examples shared in that post could become a part of your travel portfolio.

Building & Streets of Bergen, Norway 

Q6: Textures add interest to landscapes near and far. From your backyard to travels abroad, share a “colorful” photo!
A6: #travelpics Buildings & Streets of #Bergen #Norway composed of many colors & textures #ttot #photography

Our final example has a mixture of color and textures along with people to make a very appealing image.  Bergen is one of our favorite ports in Norway.  It can easily be explored on your own and there are plenty of photo spots to add to your enjoyment.

We only had an hour to share some of our #texture images.  The time passes so quickly during the chat.  Hunting through our archives to prepare for the chat brings back memories of our trips.

We hope that this has sparked your interest in taking your photography to a new level.  Follow the weekly #travelpics chat on Twitter for more ideas on this and other travel topics.   We'd love to hear your ideas as well, or better yet, join us for the next chat.

Thank you to this week's co-hosts: @AntiTourist, @TheTravelCamel, @Sihpromatum, @VibrantIreland, and @travellingmolly.

Have you seen the  recap?

Join us for on Monday's at 3 PM ET every week for a fun-filled hour related to travel and photography. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Food Too Pretty To Eat

Food Creation by Caribbean Princess Chefs
Go Behind the Scenes - Princess Cruise
Galley Tour

That Looks So Good - I Don't Want to Eat It
Have those words ever come out of your mouth?  I suspect that they have - I know I've said them.  We've been cruising for more than 30 years now, and yet I'm always amazed by the talent that goes into food presentation on board cruise ships.   Every plate at dinner is a masterpiece in its own right, with everything placed in the exact spot and all the ingredients working together to make an appealing dish. But that is just the beginning of food presentation on a cruise ship ...

Food Art

The ship above is amazing.  It almost looks like we could sail the seven seas - all we need is a crew. During our behind the scenes Galley Tour we had the opportunity to see how food is prepared and also experience some of these works of art. This is the first in a mini-series about the talented chefs onboard Caribbean Princess.

Here we have a violin that is perched above the buffet counter.  It reminds me of art on a shelf in gift shop or gallery.

All that is missing is the sign: "Pretty to look at, pretty to hold, but if you break it, consider it sold."

Click on any of these images for a closer look.  We simply loved the time and effort that the Princess Cruises staff put into these culinary works of art.   They definitely added to the enjoyment of our cruise.