Saturday, April 25, 2015

Behind the Scenes Seafarers' House

of all Faiths

“To Offer Refuge, Resources, Renewal and Respect to the Maritime Community Through Multi-Faith Service.” 

- Mission of Seafarers’ House

Visit to Seafarers' House

CLIA's Cruise3Sixty Conference continued today with various activities planned for the agents attending.  I decided to take the opportunity to tour Seafarers' House which is located about 10 minutes from Port Everglades.

I had the opportunity to meet two of the instrumental figures at Seafarers' House: Rev. Ronald Perkins, Port Chaplain, and Lesley Warrick, Executive Director.   They explained their mission to us and gave us a behind the scenes tour of their facility.

About Seafarers' House

According to Rev. Perkins, "Seafarers’ House at Port Everglades is open throughout the year as a safe, friendly place where mariners can connect with their communities and families, relax, seek guidance and get emergency help if needed. We provide access to pastoral care and counseling, emergency assistance, local ground transportation and everyday items through our pastoral team and our on shore and on board services.  Every mariner that arrives in Port Everglades is welcome at our center.  Those who may not be able leave their ships due to time constraints or visa restrictions have access to our services from their vessels through our ship-visiting program."

Some of the ways they help mariners:
  • pickup from ship in one of their vans
  • can attend mass and other religious services
  • use of WiFi
  • shop for favorite items to take on board
  • transfer paycheck home to family
Critical Mission

Being away from family, friends, and other loved ones is hard.  If you've ever been away from someone you love for even a couple days, you can probably imagine what it is like to be away for months on end.  Granted, the crew members make new friends, and have their extended families on board the ship, but it just isn't the same.

Crew members on a cruise ship are always expected to have a smile for passengers.  No matter how down they might feel themselves, they need to do so, or their livelihood could be at risk.

This is where Seafarers' House comes in. It could take on many forms, ranging from offering a helping hand, a listening ear, or providing a gift for the holidays.

You Can Help

I promised Rev. Perkins that I'd spread the word about the good work they are doing at Seafarers' House. Until this FAM trip, I wasn't even aware of their organization, and how the things they do behind the scenes helps my clients and I have an enjoyable vacation. The mariners that are helped by their organization are much more likely to make your trip enjoyable if their problems have been resolved.
Your contribution to Seafarers’ House allows them to make a difference, one seafarer at a time.  In 2014 Seafarers’ House provided 1,900 ship visits, served more than 2,100 mariners with personalized pastoral care sessions, and distributed more than 1,400 shoeboxes for Christmas.

By the way, those of us on this behind the scenes tour had the opportunity to make some shoeboxes to be distributed.  I'll be posting more pictures on my Facebook page, so be sure to visit me there as well.

Thank you Father Perkins and everyone at Seafarers' House for what you do for Mariners.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

 Happy Earth Day 2015 

How Green are Cruise Ships?

Cruise ships operate in every ocean worldwide taking thousands of passengers to all parts of the globe.   There is growing concern that these floating resorts are polluting the waterways and air with all the waste that is generated by normal operations.

Polluted discharges (of sewage, grey water and oily bilge water) and air emissions are the chief sources of problems, but they also mark the biggest potential areas for improvement.

Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card

Friends of the Earth’s  annual  Cruise Report Card compares the environmental footprint of 16 major cruise lines and 167 cruise ships. View a PDF of the report card here.

The failures stem from not implementing equipment and procedures which would minimize pollution.  According to their website, the following determined the scores:
  • To determine a cruise line’s Sewage Treatment grade, we compared the number of cruise ships in the cruise line that have installed advanced sewage treatment systems against the total number of ships in the cruise line.
  • To determine the Air Pollution Reduction grade for each ship in a cruise line, only ships that dock at a North American port that currently provides shoreside power hookups were graded.
  • To determine the Water Quality Compliance grade for ships operating in Alaska, we used 2009 notices of violation issued for individual cruise ships to each cruise line by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Ships were given an ‘n/a’ if they traveled to Alaska but avoided Alaska’s strong water quality standards by discharging outside of those protected waters.
  • The grades for each of the criteria were averaged to calculate the Final Grade for each cruise line.
 Protect the Environment for Future Generations

Most people that love to cruise also have an interest in protecting the environment for the future.   We want to continue our quest to see more of the world, but at the same time, want to make sure Mother Earth is around for generations to come.  So, what can we as individuals do?

The FOE suggests letting Congress know that we want them to support the Clean Cruise Ship Act.  For those that are interested (click the following links):  Tell Congress to Cleanup the Cruise Industry.    Learn more about the FOE.

Is There Any Good News in the Report Card?

I have to admit that my initial reaction to the report card was one of shock.   The majority of the cruise lines have announced initiatives to protect the environment.   You'll see signs posted in your cabin encouraging you to reuse towels, just like you see in hotel rooms on land.   I have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they do intend to turn things around.   

When on a cruise ship, do your part by doing the little things:   reuse your towel,  don't throw anything overboard, or pollute in any other way.

We share this information, not to make any cruise line look bad, but rather to call awareness to a growing problem which can seriously impact all living things if left unchecked.  Thank you for reading this article and for doing your part to protect the environment.

Special thanks to the EPA and FOE for their efforts and for publishing the information which was the basis of this article.   See #EarthDayEveryDay on EPA website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

See The World From Your Stateroom Bed 

You take in sweeping views of the leafy shoreline, dotted with castles and centuries-old farm houses, as the cruise ship slowly carries you along the river. You hear horses in the distance. You feel the mellow breeze off the water and breathe in the sweet scent of fresh wildflowers. And then the cabin darkens as the ship moves through a lock. The stone walls so close you can almost reach out and touch them. And yet, you’re not on a balcony. Or sitting on the promenade.

You’ve been simply relaxing in bed the entire time -- watching the scenery through a wall-sized window. 

They include an 11-foot-wide, seven-foot-tall wall of glass that gives you an unobstructed view of whatever you’re cruising past. Slide it open and your entire stateroom is transformed into a spacious balcony. Avalon also turned the bed so it faces this massive window, so you can drift asleep watching the star-speckled sky in the evening and then wake to a brilliant sunrise in the morning. 

And on top of the spellbinding views, Panorama Suites come with plenty of other perks… 

We recommend getting a Panorama Suite on your next cruise. These suites are often booked well in advance because they're so popular. So if you're thinking about a vacation, contact us now to ensure you won't miss a chance to stay in these one-of-a-kind cabins.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Now Trending: River Cruising

Click here for River Cruising Guide
Discover the Beauty of River Cruising

See more than you could ever imagine on a river cruise. Get up-close and personal to destinations larger ships only dream to go and become one with history, culture and refined grace. River cruising is becoming really popular and several cruise lines are ramping up to meet the demand.

Viking River Cruises Adds 12 Longships

Viking River Cruises continues their aggressive new ship building with the christening of 12 new river cruise vessels in March with plans to build an additional 6 ships.   The company named 10 new full-sized, 190-passenger Longships and two scaled-down 96-passenger vessels built in the same style as the Longships.  This brings the total to 60 ships in their fleet.

Adventures by Disney & AMAWaterways 
Introduces Family River Cruising

Up until this announcement river cruising was predominantly a couples-only cruise vacation option. The narrow, long, 3 deck ships have cabins that were designed for double occupancy. There were a few exceptions, such as some single occupancy cabins on some AMAWaterways vessels, made possible when additional stairways had to be added for safety.

Adventures by Disney®
will offer sailings along the Danube River aboard the all-new, 170-passenger AmaViola, a river cruise ship that is being custom built by AmaWaterways with families in mind. New family-friendly design elements include specific room configurations, including six sets of connecting staterooms, as well as some rooms and suites that accommodate three- and four-person families, and other unique details that lend themselves to luxury family vacations.

Onboard activities will offer something for everyone. Adults can enjoy wine tasting, music, dancing and an onboard fitness center, along with some of the finest cuisine and service available, while Junior Adventures can enjoy activity nights, movies, karaoke, relay games, life-size chess lessons, video games and more. Teens will also find activities created specifically for them.

These exclusive Adventures by Disney sailings will take place July 7-14, July 14-21, July 21-28 and July 28 – Aug. 4, 2016. A special holiday themed sailing, departing Dec. 22, 2016, will also include visits to the renowned Christmas markets in Budapest and Vienna, a Vienna Boys Choir Christmas performance in the Hofburg Palace Chapel and a special holiday menu lunch.

Viking River Cruises has advanced public awareness about river cruising and with their unprecedented expansion.  Now, with the partnership of AMAWaterways & Adventures by Disney, river cruising has been taken to yet another level as families can be introduced to this great way to explore Europe.
As with all cruises, you'll want to speak with a professional to determine which cruise is right for your particular vacation situation.   While all the river cruise ships look alike, they all have something different to offer.

Friday, April 10, 2015

More to See at Sea Than Ports

Click images to enlarge
Look Beyond the Destination
Seeing Cruising in a New Light

Exploring the world by cruise ship is a passion that we've had for more than 30 years.  On our first cruises, each destination was a new adventure.  We had not been to the ports of call before, so everything was brand new.

After all those years, we still do have some new ports to explore, but more often than not, we find ourselves visiting some of the same destinations.

Keeping Cruising Exciting

How does one keep cruise vacations exciting? Several ways come to mind, such as cruising to new destinations, booking brand new ships, or trying different shore excursions.

Learning to See at Sea

The image above is the view that the captain has on Caribbean Princess.  What a marvelous view it is, especially on a beautiful day.  In this image, there are some beautiful clouds above the horizon just off the bow of the ship.   There isn't any island in sight - you can look for miles, but all that you'll see is ocean and clouds.   You can become one with nature in these peaceful surroundings.

This week's #FriFotos theme is #SKY and we've posted some of our images from our trips. 

(For those that don't know:  #FriFotos is a weekly Twitter photo forum by . Theme is revealed every Tuesday 12pm ET.)    Recently, @spencerspellman joined the team as a permanent co-host.  We even had the chance to co-host one week late last year.)

Stormy Skies

Sea days are a favorite time during a cruise for us.  It gives us time to really relax and unwind.  When in ports, we tend to be "on" since we have easy access to the internet and our always-connected life style (checking on our guests needs for example).

It is a little more difficult when at sea, we have to go to our cabin and get connected.   Even on stormy days, one can enjoy the view - especially if the storm is in the distance.

Painting the Sky With Color

Our favorite time of day is dusk when Mother Nature puts on a light show for all to see.   This image, captured off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, has the sky on fire.

We highly recommend being on your balcony or up on the open decks when the evening is approaching so that you can experience this magical light and, if you want to, capture your own memorable images.

So Much More Than Ports

@ChrisPappinMCCHopefully this shows you that even if your ship is sailing to familiar ports, there is so much more to See at Sea.   Make some time during your cruise to lay out on deck and watch the clouds go by.

Do you remember trying to figure out what shapes could be seen in the clouds when you were young?  Why not do that again now, or even share that experience with other family members or friends?

If you like Travel & Photography join us each Friday!

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