Sunday, February 07, 2016

Royal Caribbean’s Eat - Play - Drink

One of the many innovations that made Royal Caribbean Oasis-class cruise ships so revolutionary was the design of the Neighborhood staterooms. These balcony cabins are unique in that the view from the cabin’s veranda is of either the lush, beautiful “Central Park” area or of the colorful, spirited “Boardwalk” area. As if that isn’t reason enough to want to snag one of these cabins on your next cruise, Royal Caribbean has added some nice complimentary amenities!

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Bahamas Without the Beach

So many Caribbean cruise itineraries include Nassau, Bahamas as a port of call.  It’s not surprising, considering its beautiful beaches and great shopping! However, if you’re looking for something a bit different to do on your stop in the Bahamas let me make a few suggestions.

Chocolate Factory:  Graycliff Chocolatier is a tasty destination located on the Graycliff Hotel’s historic property (dates back to the 18th century) in downtown Nassau. From fully interactive experiences to delicious tasting tours to a fun and playful children’s tour with Captain Choco, Graycliff Chocolatier offers a number of ways to experience chocolate like never before! Learn how cacao beans are processed to create the final chocolate product and the importance of fair trade and organic farming. After the short tour, you are assigned a station at the worktable with a cup of liquid chocolate straight from the small vat, and a plate of goodies to choose from to make your own yummy concoctions.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Let Harmony of the Sea’s Entertain You

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas will be the cruise line's third Oasis class cruise ship, launching in the spring of 2016. The first two Oasis class ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, made waves in the cruise industry when they debuted in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and are by far the largest cruise ships currently afloat. But Harmony will measure 227,000 tons, eclipsing its sisters by more than 1,700 tons!  So how do you keep a record 5,400+ passengers entertained for seven days?  Easy!

I love a good musical so I was excited to hear that the Harmony’s Royal Theater is home to two headline shows.  The first I’ve mentioned briefly before, “Grease”.  I love this show, a story about teens in the 50's. Good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fall in love over the summer. But when they unexpectedly discover they're now in the same high school, will they be able to rekindle their romance despite their differences? Well, you know the answer to that! And who doesn’t love singing along to "Summer Nights”?

The second show is a Royal Caribbean original production.Columbus, the Musical!” recounts the imagined history of Marvin Columbus, Christopher's fictional, down on his luck, distant cousin! Royal Caribbean says the story was created in the spirit of "Spamalot”.  If it is half as funny as the Monty Python parody then I’m sure they’ll have a winner on their hands with this!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Things I Love About The Norwegian Escape

There is no denying that one of the best perks of my job is the opportunity it gives me to cruise, particularly the chance to experience many of the new ships! Somebody once asked me if because of that, do they tend to all blur together and lose their uniqueness? Absolutely not!  I was recently aboard the new Norwegian Escape and I can’t stop talking about all her! Here are some things I love about her.

What I love about all the newer Norwegian Cruise Line ships, including the Escape is the Waterfront. The idea behind the Waterfront is to connect the inside area of the ship to the outside by adding open air entry ways and seating areas for bars and restaurants.  What’s more romantic than dining under the stars with the sound of the ocean lapping softly against the side of the ship? Just thinking about how lovely it was to dine al fresco makes me want to immediately book another cruise!

When I cruise I’m all about eating where and when its right for me, and freestyle dining lets me do just that! I love the fact that the Escape had so many choices…all my favorites and some new places that were incredible.  I can’t say enough about Jose Garces’ places. The Iron Chef is one of the leading chefs and restaurateurs in the country and his onboard restaurant, Bayamo, which showcases seafood with a Latin twist did not disappoint. However, Pincho Tapas Bar was the best!  I absolutely loved the yummy small plate dishes that brought back wonderful memories of eating my way through Spain!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

She's Back...Empress of the Seas or should I say Nordic Empress?

I'm going through a bit of nostalgia today as I have learned one of my favorite old-time cruise ships is coming back to the Royal Caribbean fleet.

A bit of background for you: Many moons ago in the late 90's, my family-owned cruise agency focused solely on selling Bermuda cruises seasonally from New York City.  During this time, three cruise ships primarily sailed from New York to Bermuda.  Two of them were Celebrity Cruise ships, which were the Horizon and Zenith.  These Celebrity ships have long been retired.

And, the last ship was the Royal Caribbean Nordic Empress.  We had many great years booking client's dream vacations to Bermuda on the Royal Caribbean Nordic Empress.  A few years later, Royal Caribbean renamed the Nordic Empress to Empress of the Seas.  Eventually as newer Royal Caribbean ships were introduced into the fleet over recent years, the Empress of the Seas was retired in 2008.  My family was always sad to see the Empress of the Seas leave the fleet as so much of our business originated on this great ship.

Well, I was so pleased to hear the recent announcement that Royal Caribbean is bringing the Empress of the Seas back into their fleet.  The Empress of the Seas will go through a significant refurbishment before starting its new cruise schedule from Miami, Florida.  Starting April 2016, the Empress will provide guests the opportunity to enjoy three to five-night Caribbean cruise itineraries round-trip from Miami.

Welcome Back Empress of the Seas (Nordic Empress).  We missed you!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Rainy Day Cruising

When you think of cruising you usually think of abundant sunshine, relaxing by the pool, and fruity, frozen drinks.  However, if you cruise often enough, chances are that one day you may encounter a less than perfect day.  So, what do you do if you wake up to torrential rains? If you choose not to head out in bad weather or it happens to be a sea day, don’t despair… rainy day cruising is not bad at all!

First thing to do is to check out all the onboard ship activities! Aside from all the goings-on that are already scheduled, when bad weather is in the forecast the cruise director and staff rise to the occasion.  Additional events are usually added, from dance lessons to shows to trivia to cooking demonstrations…there’s no way you’ll be bored!

Even if you usually don’t spend time at the spa, you may want to check it out on a rainy day. Many have those heated, tiled loungers in front of floor to ceiling windows…a perfect place to storm watch. Manicures or a foot rub won’t blow your budget and are so relaxing! Or book a series of treatments and make a day of it!

Monday, December 14, 2015

5 Things To Love About Anthem Of The Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas made her North American debut this November and as expected, “Wowed” everyone that was lucky enough to experience her.  Much was made of the innovative design and pioneering technological advancements of this
4,180-passenger floating city, and rightly so! These are the 5 things about the Anthem that I appreciated the most!

I have to start with the check-in method because with a ship that holds 4,180-passengers, one would naturally expect to be standing in line for quite some time.  Well, that just isn’t so! Prior to sail date be sure to complete your online guest registration inputting info like your passport number, emergency contact, etc. Then upload a photograph that can be used as your security image. Yes, anyone, even I can follow the simple instructions. Upon arrival at the pier you are greeted by roaming Royal Caribbean staff armed with iPads who scan your pre-check in form and wave you on to the ship.  You pick up your Sea Pass card at your cabin. Easy peasy!

I love the new flexible dining that is available on Anthem of the Seas. Last year there was so much dissatisfaction with the Dynamic Dining program aboard Quantum of the Seas (sister ship of Anthem) that it overshadowed an otherwise amazing cruise ship experience. Well, thank goodness they cleared that all up! On the Anthem guests can choose from Dynamic Dining (where you can dine when you want, where you want, among 4 included restaurants) or Dynamic Dining Classic, a more traditional fixed seating option but still with access to the four eateries. Each of the complimentary restaurants, American Icon Grill, Chic, The Grande and Silk offers a different cuisine, from contemporary American to pan-Asian. There's also a wide array of extra-charge restaurants onboard.