Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review

As the year draws to a close, we'll take a look at some of the headlines from the past year.  2015 was a relatively quiet year in the news media, at least for the major cruise lines.  There were some bumps and incidents aboard ships, but nothing compared to some of the recent years.

The cruise lines added capacity, but at the same time explored new markets, like China, which helped to stabilize pricing, which was a goal for the industry.   Now more than ever it is important for passengers to plan ahead so that they can take advantage of lead-in pricing.   The lines have vowed not to do "fire sale" pricing close in to the sailing date.  


Anthem of the Seas
Learn More about Anthem of the Seas on our Microsite (Click Image)
 "First New Cruise Ship
for 2015"

Honors went to Royal Caribbean International as it took delivery of the second ship in the Quantum-class, Anthem of the Seas.


Anthem of the Seas features all the spectacular innovations of her sister ship Quantum of the Seas, including North Star, SeaPlex, and circus school complete with flying trapeze. Offering a rich mix of cabin options for couples, families, spa enthusiasts, and solo travelers, accommodations range from luxurious suites to single studios - many with balconies - and interior cabins with virtual views. Relaxation and activities choices abound, and with more bars, dining and entertainment options than can be experienced in a week, this dazzling ship delivers a true resort experience and a blast of a cruise!

"Most Anticipated New Ship for 2015"

“It is our view that in the race to build bigger ships, many cruise lines have lost sight of the destinations to which they sail,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises (May, 2013). “With our new ocean cruises, we are applying the same principles behind our award-winning river cruises to our itinerary and ship design; privileged-access excursions; and onboard experiences to make destinations the true focus.”


With those words above, a new vision was revealed along with the birth of a new cruise line, the first since Disney Cruise Line announced Dis.ney Magic over 17 years ago.  In her debut season Viking Star was awarded with the cruise industry’s highest honors, including being named Best New Ocean Ship and receiving a 5-star rating by the editors of Cruise Critic, receiving the highest rating in the mid-size ship category in Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016, and being heralded by CNN as the “world’s best new cruise ship.”  Two additional ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sea, will be delivered in 2016.



Costa Concordia Captain Sentenced 

As these new ships were preparing to enter service, one ship that had been front and center in the industry news for more than 2 years, had one final appearance in the media as litigation completed.  In February, the Italian court passed sentence on Captain Schetino - this video discusses the ruling.  Costa Concordia which had made its final voyage in 2014 as it was towed to Genoa, Italy to be scrapped, now fades into history.  More info: Captain Schettino Prison Sentence Set

Final Entry for 2015 - Norwegian Escape


Norwegian Cruise Line is known for their innovation and the new Norwegian Escape, which debuts this November is no exception.  Cruise Like a Norwegian - Escape Starting November

Norwegian Escape homeports 
in Miami and sails to the Caribbean year-round.  We've just attended our National Conference on the initial sailing from Miami and are posting articles and pictures in our digital diary.  Well-known maritime artist Guy Harvey designed the hull artwork for the new ship.   There are a number of new dining options introduced on the Norwegian Escape including the first-ever Margaritaville at Sea.

http://cruisewithchris.blogspot.com/2015/12/love-that-new-ship-smell-meet-norwegian.html
Click (here) or Image to the left for more stories and photos from our conference cruise on Norwegian Escape.   Check out this brand new ship from Norwegian Cruise Line.

If you have specific questions about the ship, the itinerary, or cruising in general, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc
 

Industry Changes

Probably the biggest news is in response to passenger demand for improved communications at sea.   Carnival Corporation announced a fleet-wide initiative with new flat-fee offerings and improved bandwidth to meet passenger desires to stay connected to social media while at sea.   Other lines have also followed suit, but not to the same extent.   Keep your eye on this initiative across the industry.

As cruise prices stabilized, many lines have been looking to onboard expenditures as a means to increase revenue.   Items that had once been included, like room service, have started to see additional charges for example.   Some passengers aren't happy with the new trend to "nickle-and-dime" them and may look to cruise lines that have less optional charges.   Luxury lines are becoming an even better value since you know your cost of the entire trip up front.

It will be interesting to see how new players, such as Viking Oceans, impacts the industry as they grow their fleets.  They are bucking the tide to go big and instead opting for smaller ships and more emphasis on the destinations.  Of course, the river cruise industry is booming as the demand soars for this method of exploring the globe.







Monday, December 28, 2015

Travelpics - Best of 2015

#Travelpics Theme - Best of 2015

Please join   with wonderful co-hosts @VibrantIreland and @GapLifeTravel each Monday for #travelpics, the travel photography chat/share on Twitter. It all happens every Monday at 3pm EST/8pm UK time.  While other chats simply talk about travel, #travelpics is all about participants sharing their own travel photos about each theme. Come join us!

This week’s theme is all about the Best of 2015! Come share your best experiences in travel, photography, and storytelling. It’s the last chat of the year, and @ishootandtravel is guest co-hosting!
Questions (with our reponses) for Monday’s “Best of 2015” #travelpics chat: 
(3:00) Intros: Where are you tweeting from for this last #travelpics chat of 2015?
Greetings from TN @AntiTourist @VibrantIreland @GapLifeTravel @ishootandtravel #travelpics
 
(3:05) Q1: What was the highlight of your travel experiences in 2015 and why?
@VibrantIreland @ishootandtravel A1: @AvalonWaterways #RiverCruise - amazing way see #Europe #travelpics

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page.
 
Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

Bernkastel - Wine Country

(3:10) Q2: Of all the travel photos you took in 2015, does one uniquely stand out? Share it!
@ishootandtravel A2: @AvalonWaterways provided front row view #Rhine #Moselle #Travelpics  http://bit.ly/1Iz818W
Do you know where the following picture was taken?  You could find out from our Shutterfly Album.
 Where is Chris

(3:20) Q3: What were the major destinations you visited this year, and which was your favorite?
@ishootandtravel @VibrantIreland A3: #Rhine #Moselle #Switzerland to #Amsterdam - Fav: #Germany #travelpics  

(3:30) Q4: What’s your travel OR photography goal of 2015 that is unique? 

@VibrantIreland @ishootandtravel A4: #photos from different perspectives; iPhone pano like previous pic #Travelpics 

Mount Pilatus Caves

We spent about 30 minutes exploring the caverns taking pictures framed by the openings.  If you get chilled, you might want to bring a light jacket or sweater as it is cooler inside the passages.

Don't miss this part of the excursion.   It is also possible to climb stairways to get even a higher vantage point if you are so inclined.
 
Always look for different perspectives to add interest to your photo diary.
 

 2016 - Norway

(3:40) Q5: What trips are you now booking for 2016, and what are you hoping to photograph there?
@ishootandtravel A5: coastal #Norway #cruise February - hoping for more like this & northern lights #Travelpics 

We love Norway and are looking forward to spending some more time there in 2016.   We will be shooting from various locations along the Norway coast and from our home away from home on Hurtigruten MS Vesteralen.   The image above was taken in Tromso, Norway.
 
(3:50) Q6: Show off a photo from 2015 that you never expected or planned on.
@ishootandtravel A6: this postcard view #Berkastel from our @AvalonWaterways Artistry II Panoramic Suite 

Avalon Artistry II Panorama Suite offers the perfect view of the surrounding countryside right from the comfort of you bed or chair.   Just slide open the wide door to a view that is more than half the width of your cabin.

It doesn't get much better than waking to this view of Bernkastel,  Germany.

Good Morning - Strasbourg


(3:55) Bonus Q7: Share your travel photo from 2015 that will make everyone ooh and aah–it’s THAT good!



It's hard to pick a favorite or "best" from the thousands of images we took in 2015, but this is definitely one that we thought you might enjoy.

We hope that you've added some fantastic travel memories in 2015 and that you will have many more in 2016 and beyond.   If we can ever offer advice or plan your dream trips, we'd be honored to help you capture some travel pics.    Thank you to the #Travelpics hosts for another great year of travel photos.


Also Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc
 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#FriFotos Holiday Themes

Photos on Twitter

For those of you that don't know #FriFotos was a weekly photo forum by   . Theme was revealed every Tuesday 12pm ET.  Recently, @spencerspellman joined the team as a permanent co-host.  We  co-hosted one week late last year and continued to contribute with images from our archives whenever possible.  After five years, the team announced that the final week for #FriFotos would be October 16th.

#FriFotos Returns

On December 4th, the Twitter community was invited to participate in the new #FriFotos weekly photo forum by @alexpublicity. Theme ideas were solicited and #Winter was chosen as the first theme.

We really enjoyed all the years of photo sharing hosted by the original hosts, and wanted to support the new forum, so we've been active participants. Alex invited us to co-host so we joined forces starting with December 18th when the theme was #Holidays.

This Week's Theme: #Christmas
Collage of Ornaments from Christmas Trees Around the World
Picture of giant tree at Museum of Science & Industry - Chicago (2014)
 For this week's theme it couldn't be anything else other than #Christmas! So get sharing your best #FriFotos with us pic.twitter.com/1EE4lVhZyF

We'll be sharing some of our ornaments from #AroundTheWorld which were from our photo collection last year.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays
 to all our #FriFotos Friends & Blog Followers


@ChrisPappinMCCThank you to all that contributed their images.   Photography is a great way to make memories.   We love sharing our images with the world on Twitter and elsewhere and will continue to do so.

We've made a few friends along the way and hopefully that won't end as #FriFotos starts a new chapter. 

If you like Travel & Photography join us online:


Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc

Food Republic a Fun Dining Experience

Norwegian Escape Dining Innovations 

When Norwegian Cruise Line planned the Escape's dining venues, they teamed up with some of the local Florida talent. Food Republic introduces the concept of "Global Fusion" to the Norwegian Freestyle Dining choices. It is the creation of Pubbelly Boys, the culinary team who have reinvented the South Beach dining scene.


The menu consists of small portions which you can share with others dining with you.   That way, you can taste food from all over the globe or just pick your favorites.   You order from the a la carte menu which is presented on a tablet.   Once you have your "shopping cart" of food selections, you complete your order by charging to your cabin.  Food is delivered as it is prepared.  

Here are the favorites we selected on one visit (we liked the food so much we went back another time).   Pictured from left to right and top to bottom are Pork Belly & Scallions with Spicy su-shoyu dipping sauce; Pub Sliders with Lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and 1000 island sauce; and Chicken Teriyaki with Ginger, sesame seeds, and scallions.

We sat at one of the counters where were able to watch the chefs prepare some of the sushi dishes. Service was prompt, the food was some of the best on the cruise, and well worth the service charge.


We highly recommend trying Food Republic during your Norwegian Escape cruise.  We are certain this will become one of the passengers' favorites and will find its way onto more ships in the fleet.  Norwegian Cruise line has hit a home run with this dining option.  Food Republic (photo album)

Norwegian Escape
Visit our Mini-Site for Norwegian Escape
View Itineraries          Click to Learn More about Norwegian Escape



http://cruisewithchris.blogspot.com/2015/12/love-that-new-ship-smell-meet-norwegian.html
Click (here) or Image to the left for more stories and photos from our conference cruise on Norwegian Escape.   Check out this brand new ship from Norwegian Cruise Line.

If you have specific questions about the ship, the itinerary, or cruising in general, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc
 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Margaritaville at Sea

Escape to
Jimmy Buffet's
Restaurant

When Norwegian Escape debuted out of Miami in November, 2015, we were there. One of the highlights we had been anticipating was the first ever Margaritaville at Sea Restaurant. We'll tell you about our experience during that inaugural sailing and also what to expect now when you sail on Norwegian Escape.

Margaritaville at Sea Menu
Cheeseburger in Paradise

If you've eaten at Margaritaville in the states or one of the tropical islands, you are most likely familiar with their menu.  The famous "Cheeseburger in Paradise" is still the headliner on the Norwegian Escape.   For finishing touches, you have to end with a piece of Key Lime Pie.

Our Experience

We were attending our National Conference on Norwegian Escape, which meant that our "free time" on sea days was lunch between morning general sessions and the afternoon breakout sessions.   Needless to say, we didn't have a lot of time for lunch.

Several of the agents in our group decided to try to sit together one lunch. When arriving at the restaurant, we discovered that there was a wait.   Not unexpected due to the popularity of this new dining venue, but unfortunately, we didn't have the luxury of time.   We decided to wait afterall which meant we'd be late to our next session.    We had to experience this dining venue.

When checking in at the restaurant, you are given a pager for your group.  You can roam pretty much anywhere on the ship, so you don't have to stay there waiting to be called.   We actually dined there twice during the cruise and both times we had to wait more than 45 minutes.

click link to see more pictures of Margaritaville at Sea
Margaritaville at Sea  album
 "Solving" the Problem

Since Margaritaville is only open a limited number of hours each day (for lunch) we had opted to wait.  Many people went away disappointed because they didn't have the time.

Norwegian Cruise Line has since "solved" this problem.   Perhaps you are thinking that they extended the hours or increased staff.  You would be wrong.   They decided that they would now charge for dining instead of making it a free option.   If you click on the menu above, you'll see the revised menu with a la carte pricing.  You'll have to decide for yourself whether it is worth having your Cheeseburger, Fries, and Key Lime Pie at Margaritaville or picking a cheaper alternative.

We are disappointed that Norwegian selected this method to "solve" the long wait time problem.   In fact, we aren't alone in the disappointment passengers are expressing having sailed on this otherwise beautiful new ship.   One passenger told us that they were cancelling the three cruises they had booked because they "were not happy with the direction NCL was going.  They are nickel-and-diming passengers" he concluded.  Only time will tell if freestyle dining on Norwegian Escape remains in its current form.



http://cruisewithchris.blogspot.com/2015/12/love-that-new-ship-smell-meet-norwegian.html
Click (here) or Image to the left for more stories and photos from our conference cruise on Norwegian Escape.   Check out this brand new ship from Norwegian Cruise Line.

If you have specific questions about the ship, the itinerary, or cruising in general, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc
 




Monday, December 14, 2015

Norwegian Escape Two Icons


 Guy Harvey & Jimmy Buffet

When Norwegian Cruise Line announced the new ship build, Norwegian Escape, they also announced new business relationships with two icons who are well known in their respective fields.

While some ships have plain hulls, Norwegian's ships start with a blank canvas and come to life thanks to the creative artists that are selected.  Guy Harvey, well known marine artist and conservationist was selected to create the hull art.

In the following article, published earlier this year, Guy Harvey tells about what it was like to see his artwork come to life in the shipbuilders yard.

Norwegian Escape's Hull Art - Guy Harvey


Another First at Sea

Norwegian Cruise Line is well known for their innovation with things like Freestyle Dining and Freestyle Cruising.  When announcing the Norwegian Escape, they revealed another partnership, with Jimmy Buffet. 

Norwegian Escape's Freestyle Dining venues include the first ever Margaritaville at Sea.  There's also a 5 O'clock Somewhere Bar onboard to complete the entire tropical atmosphere well known among Jimmy Buffet fans.

If you've been to one of Jimmy Buffet's restaurants on land, you'll recognize the menu - complete with the signature hamburgers & key lime pie.   Watch for more posts ....


Photo Albums:   Norwegian Escape Hull       Margaritaville at Sea


http://cruisewithchris.blogspot.com/2015/12/love-that-new-ship-smell-meet-norwegian.html
Click (here) or Image to the left for more stories and photos from our conference cruise on Norwegian Escape.   Check out this brand new ship from Norwegian Cruise Line.

If you have specific questions about the ship, the itinerary, or cruising in general, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc
 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Norwegian Escape Embarkation

Welcome Aboard
Norwegian Escape

November 14th we checked out of Key Biscayne Marriott Hotel and boarded the shuttle, our conference committee had arranged, to take us to Port of Miami.  The ride there is so much nicer since Miami built the tunnel that connects to the pier.   It didn't take long before we got our first glimpse of Norwegian Escape.

There was quite a bit of traffic at the pier already, so our driver couldn't get us close to the terminal entrance.   We were met by porters who took our checked luggage and we then had a short walk to the entrance.

Group Boarding

Due to the size of our group, and since we had our opening session early in the afternoon, Norwegian Cruise Line had arranged a separate embarkation area for our group.   After going through security, we checked in at the counter, got our cabin keys and proceeded to a waiting room until our group was called. 

Shortly after that we had our welcome aboard picture taken and proceeded up the gangway to the ship.   Cabins were still being prepared, but we dropped our carry-on bags in our cabin and headed off for some lunch.   We decided to head for the buffet because it would be fastest.

Embarkation seemed to be organized for the rest of the passengers as well.   That's nice to know since there are a few thousand of your new best friends all anxiously waiting to get onboard the ship.

http://cruisewithchris.blogspot.com/2015/12/love-that-new-ship-smell-meet-norwegian.html
Click (here) or Image to the left for more stories and photos from our conference cruise on Norwegian Escape.   Check out this brand new ship from Norwegian Cruise Line.

If you have specific questions about the ship, the itinerary, or cruising in general, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc
 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pearl Harbor 74 Years Later

74th Anniversary of 
Pearl Harbor Attack

"December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The attack caught America by surprise, killing 2,400 Americans, sinking 12 ships and destroying 188 aircraft -- and triggering U.S. entry into World War II. In fact, the U.S. declared war on Japan the following day when FDR made the above quote.

Seventy-one years ago today the United States was drawn into World War II when Pearl Harbor was attacked. While this was before I was born, it is still a date that is impossible for me to forget.

Ceremonies mark the anniversary today.  Among those will be a special tribute to the battleship Arizona, which exploded and sank during the attack, killing more than 1,100 officers and servicemen aboard. The ship's hull remains at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, marked by the USS Arizona Memorial overhead.

These pictures were taken during a visit to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial during a cruise vacation to Hawaii. The background of this image is the oil slick which still rises to the surface of the water around the memorial.

These images remain in my mind several years after our visit. We were so moved by our visit, we went back the next day for a second visit. 

Out of respect to the Sailors and Marines entombed below, visitors are asked to remain silent during their visit. The silence adds to the eerie atmosphere at the memorial.

Visiting Hawaii by cruise ship is a great way to see the islands.  Instead of making your own arrangements to move from one island to another, the cruise itinerary is already planned for you.  All you need to decide is what excursions you want to do on your own or with a group.  You can choose from a 7-night itinerary on Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America or a longer cruise, typically 14 or 15 night Circle Cruise which starts somewhere in California, goes to Hawaii and returns.

Cruise vacations to Hawaii, often start or end in Honolulu, Oahu. I would encourage you to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial during your visit there. It is even more moving when you visit on or around December 7th.

For more information about U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and today's events, see the National Park Service website.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Happy Hanukkah 2015


Happy Hanukkah ! The Holiday Season has arrived. The eight-day Festival of Lights begins tonight December 6th at Sundown and continues through December 14th. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.   More info....

We love cruising around the holiday time because the ships are decorated for the season.  As you know the ship's crew is made up of many nationalities and faiths.  So too are the passengers that board the vessel for each cruise.  The cruise lines try to make the environment fitting for all regardless of their beliefs and also will accommodate special requests to help you celebrate.





Holiday time is a time for families. Regardless of the holiday that you celebrate, there is one common theme ... spending time together as a family to celebrate the holiday. As we walked along the decks of the ship and saw the decorations, we couldn't help but think about the ship's crew. For the most part, the crew will not be spending time with families this holiday season. They will be onboard providing service to passengers just like they do every day of the year.

Many of out troops have missed several holidays.   Unfortunately, not all military will be home for the holidays, so once again let us keep the troops and their families in our thoughts, that they remain safe and can one year safely return in time for the holidays.

Whether you are together for the holidays or separated by many miles, may this be a season filled with joy and happiness. Thank you to those that serve, both on the ships and in the military - our thoughts are with you and your families during this time. Happy Holidays to All.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Love That New Ship Smell - Meet Norwegian Escape


NORWEGIAN ESCAPE - NOV. 14-21, 2015
7 NIGHT CARIBBEAN (R/T MIAMI)


This year's National Conference was held onbord the first revenue sailing of Norwegian Escape from its homeport of Miami, Florida. Ports visited were St. Thomas, USVI, Tortola, BVI, and Nassau, Bahamas. There were more than 800 people in our group. This post serves as an anchor for our mini-series of posts about the conference and the new ship.Please come back often for updates.

The images above highlights our first 24 hours in Miami. We flew from Chicago to Miami, where we had a pre-cruise conference reception at Key Biscayne Marriott Hotel. The next morning we transferred by shuttle bus to the pier, where we got our first glimpse of Norwegian Escape.



Norwegian Escape

Visit our Mini-Site for Norwegian Escape

Topic Blog Posts Photo Albums
1 Conference Pack For a Purpose
National Conference 2015

2 Ship
Norwegian Escape Embarkation
Norwegian Escape Two Icons
Norwegian Escape Hull
Escape Mini-Suite
Escape Haven Cabin
Escape Video Arcade
3 Dining Margaritaville at Sea
Food Republic a Fun Dining Experience
Escape to Garden Cafe
 
Food Republic
Margaritaville at Sea
Escape - Garden Cafe
4 Ports
Dreams Sugar Bay
5 Entertainment

6
Travel 
From Cruise to Winter in One Day

Thursday, December 3, 2015

From Cruise to Winter in One Day


Norwegian Escape Back in Homeport

Cruises Inc., and CruiseOne held their 2015 National Conference onboard the brand new Norwegian Escape from November 14-21, 2015.    We were among the more than 800 people in that group that were lucky to be sailing this new ship for the first 7 Night Caribbean voyage from Miami. 

It was a gorgeous day in Miami as we awoke to the view above, as seen from our mini-suite balcony. Checking the weather forecast back home in Chicago, we learned about a major Winter Storm that was already in progress.    It would make for a very long day, but for now, we enjoyed the view.

 Settling in at MIA Airport

We selected one of the last disembarkation groups from the Escape, which still meant we were off the ship before 10 AM and at the airport about 15 minutes later.   We had a 3:20 PM flight so we had decided to camp out at American Airlines Admirals Club.   That would be the best decision we made that morning.

We kept monitoring our flight and it was still on time, which surprised us since the snow was falling at the rate of an inch an hour back home.  Eventually the flight would be cancelled and we'd need to be re-booked.   Four agents in the Admirals Club worked on getting us re-booked.   Finally, they were able to reroute us via Orlando.  The only problem was that we had to leave right away and race to the gate.  They called for a ride to the gate and we made it in time.    There were many more delays before we'd ultimately get off the flight in Chicago, including just short of 3 hours on the tarmac waiting for a gate.

click images to enlarge
Winter Accommodations ORD

This was the scene at O'Hare International Airport at about 12:30 AM.   We considered ourselves lucky to be at our final destination and not having to spend time at the airport.

We still had another long line to go through - since our flight was cancelled, our luggage wasn't on our re-booked flights.   It took about 30 minutes or so to get an agent to track down our bag, but after that it was off to get our car from off-airport parking and then finally drive home.

The Morning After

We dug our way into the driveway at 2:30 AM - not exactly the way we wanted to end our fantastic cruise.   Finally, 12 hours after getting on a plane in Miami, we were in our house and ready for bed.

The next morning the sun was out and shining brightly on the 12 inches of snow that had fallen the day before.  You can see that it had been a chore digging our way into the driveway, especially in the dark of the night.

We were happy that this winter storm was after our cruise and not when we were flying to Florida.   This was a significant amount of snow this early in the season.   You never know, which is why we build in buffer time for flights to the cruise port and always travel with travel insurance.   There were several potential insurance claims that fortunately we didn't have to make.   Insurance would have covered trip delay, lost luggage, and even a hotel room if we had gotten stranded.   

Watch for more posts about our cruise as well as photos on our Norwegian Escape Shutterfly Page.

#FriFotos is Back !! this Friday

This Friday #FriFotos returns to Twitter hosted by @_frifotos A new theme is featured each week plus #PhotoHour Friday 7pm GMT for photographers to discuss & connect. The theme for the first week is #Winter so we thought this would be a fitting story to share about the theme.

@ChrisPappinMCC#Winter travel can be challenging, but getting away to somewhere warm is worth it. Just be sure to plan for delays and insure your trip so that it can be worry free.
 
If you like Travel & Photography join us online:


Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pack For a Purpose


CONNECTING WITH CHILDREN OF THE BAHAMAS

Our final port of call during our 2015 National Conference cruise on Norwegian Escape was at Nassau, Bahamas.  We were among the more than 75 Independent Cruise and Vacation Specialists who partnered with the Sandals Foundation, the non-profit arm of Sandals Resorts International, to donate school supplies to Bahamian children as part of Pack for a Purpose®


Conference attendees that participated in this fundraiser donated almost 600 pounds of school supplies to underprivileged children in the Bahamas. What a great way to bring  the "Connect" conference theme to life.



The mission of Pack for a Purpose is to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travelers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit through five different initiatives including education, health, child welfare, animal welfare and socioeconomic development. The education initiative supports more than 520 education projects around the world including schools, after-school programs and libraries. 

Since 2011, The Sandals Foundation has been a partner with Pack for a Purpose in the Caribbean to positively impact local communities by assisting visitors who want to take much needed school supplies to support educational initiatives in the region.  Visitors are encouraged to pack up to five pounds of needed supplies in their suitcases, such as school supplies, medical supplies, sports equipment, etc., to meet the needs of people in nearby underdeveloped regions.

Please consider participating in Pack for a Purpose as you travel to areas with PfaP partnerships.  The website is www.PackforaPurpose.org




Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015



HAPPY
THANKSGIVING



Norwegian Escape in St. Thomas USVI

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is here already. Where did 2015 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 my adventures this year.

I 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 worlds with family and friends again this year.

While this has been another tough economic year, it appears that the cruise industry has weathered the storm once again.
The value of cruising has never been stronger. Even in these tough times, more and more families have taken to the seas.  Indications are that the record discounts offered the past two years will be coming to an end.  In the meantime those discounts have made cruising an even better value, and consequently we have seen a surge in first-time cruisers.

Thankful for ... 
Sailing on Brand New Ships

Cruises Inc. and Cruise One held the 2015 National Conference on Norwegian Escape which just started its inaugural season sailing to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami. This state of the art ship is conservation minded including the amazing hull art work of Guy Harvey.

Once again our conference was held in November and we had the opportunity to thank our veteran members.  Thank you to all who have served in our armed forces.

We wonder what the Pilgrims, who came to the New World in Tall Ships, would think about the Norwegian Escape.Their ships measured 110 feet, held 150 passengers at most, and took months to cross the Atlantic.  The Escape is more than 10 times that length (1098 feet), holds almost 4248 passengers and 1731 crew, and took just a couple weeks to cross the Atlantic.

Thank you for making our blog column a part of your lives in 2015.   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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

National Conference 2015


Cruises Inc. & CruiseOne National Conference was held onboard the brand new Norwegian Escape, which is based in Miami starting this month.  Here was our view from our 31st story hotel room at Marriott Key Biscayne Miami.  We had a welcome cocktail party at the hotel on Friday November 13th.  The rain waited until we were done with our party


Port Miami welcomed the Norwegian Escape into its new home port early Saturday morning.  One of our fellow agents captured these images early in the morning.


Norwegian Escape looks beautiful all lit up in Miami, but she looks even more amazing in full sunlight.  The hull art was designed by Guy Harvey, who sailed with us on our cruise.  He hopes that his art will bring awareness to conservation efforts so that generations to come can enjoy the sea.