Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
- Best Caribbean Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
- Best Premium Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises
- Best Premium Cruise Ship: Celebrity Solstice
- Best New Cruise Ship: Celebrity Solstice
- Best Overall Cruise Ship: Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
- Best Overall Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
- Best Cruise Line Sales & Service: Royal Caribbean International
Accepting the awards were Dondra Ritzenthaler (Senior Vice President of Sales for Celebrity Cruises), Vicki Freed (Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Royal Caribbean International), Ken Muskat (Vice President of Sales for Royal Caribbean International) and Joanne Schimelman (Vice President of National Accounts for Royal Caribbean International).
Once again, congratulations to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises for being so overwhelmingly recognized by the entire travel agent community (and their clients) two years in a row.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
For those of you that love the slushy colorful concoctions that are synonymous with cruising, the frozen drink package may be to your liking. Starting at $22 per night you can enjoy an unlimited variety of frozen and blended drinks. Strawberry or Piña Coladas Mango Tangos, and Margaritas… oh, I feel the onset of brain freeze! But as much as I enjoy sipping these as I sit by the pool, if I drank $22 worth in a day (I guess that’s about 3 or 4 of them) you’d find me at the bottom of the pool! It’s worthy to note that these drinks can be made with or without the alcohol and on our last cruise my son sampled them all….the non alcoholic version! He’s a gulper, not a sipper, so this would be a good package for him!
Celebrity has also added a beer package at $34.50 per night. Brands served include both domestic and imported brews such as Corona, Heineken, Budweiser, Samuel Adams and many more. Wow, that’s almost $250 per person for a week of drinking beer! Still, I suppose it can really add up if you buy it bottle by bottle. A few bottles by the pool, one while you watch the sunset, a couple with dinner, one with the evening show…
Whether one chooses the Classic ($51.50 per night) or Premium ($76 per night) Liquor Package, guests can take advantage of an unlimited variety of the selection of spirits available onboard Celebrity, per person. Whether in a bar, lounge, or any of the restaurants, your favorite drink is yours for the asking. Worth it? I don’t know, unless this was a family plan, I think I’ll have to forego it!
So those are the details. All beverage package prices include a 15% service charge. For Celebrity to institute such a program there must have been many requests for it. I know as a travel agent I have been asked many times if alcoholic drink packages were available. So what do you think? Deal or no deal?
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Due to a job that includes some wonderful perks I was lucky to find myself aboard the November 19th one night cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. Check in was as quick and efficient as promised in the new and improved Port Everglades, Pier 18 cruise terminal. Despite my numerous cruises on Voyager class and Freedom class ships, I was still not prepared for my first “ahh” moment when I stepped aboard the Oasis and found myself amid the astounding Royal Promenade! The area is wider and more spacious than I imagined it would be, but it is the brightness and airiness that makes the Royal Promenade a truly evolutionary feature of the Oasis. This is due to the Crystal Canopies, giant skylights from Central Park above, that flood the area in natural light. Once again the Royal Promenade will be the heart of the ship featuring guest services, shops, bars, lounges and a variety of spots to get a bite to eat. Several “street parties” take place here, but I’ll have to wait for my summer sailing to experience them.
The area I was most eager to see was Central Park. Could a deck within a ship be transformed into a paradise of greenery and make me forget for just a moment that I am out at sea? The answer is a resounding YES! That’s because during the planning stages of the Genesis project it was determined that the increased width of the ship would allow the design team to open up the “spine” of the ship to the elements. One such area became Central Park, a lovely outdoor space where guests can stroll under blue skies or dine beneath the stars. Paved paths curve around lush and exotic gardens passing by Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Vintages, and the very special 150 Central Park (I had the privilege of dining here and look forward to telling you about it in the near future). The aforementioned Crystal Canopies look like glass sculptures on this level but if you peer down you can check out what’s going on at the Royal Promenade. As pretty as this area is during the day, after dark it becomes a magical and romantic haven. I think that a balcony cabin overlooking this area would be a lovely option for a couple.
The other neighborhood of the ship that takes advantage of the open air above is the Boardwalk. Enter an area that epitomizes the playground-on-pilings boardwalk areas found at Coney Island, Ocean City, or Myrtle Beach. Its complete with the first ever carousel at sea, ice cream parlor, donut shop, candy shop, and family friendly eateries such as Johnny Rockets and The Seafood Shack. In order to give you a tried and true review I rode the carousel even though I was unaccompanied by a child, ate a chocolate donut (I was boring… other varieties, mango glazed for example, were available), browsed in Pinwheels and Candy Beach and licked an ice cream cone as I made my way down to the far end. The only thing missing was the ceaseless cacophony of children squealing in delight…sure to be remedied on the first revenue sailing! At the very end of the Boardwalk, set against the backdrop of the ocean, is the amazing Aquatheater. There will be two different shows performed here, but I was only able to see a sampling of what the talented divers are capable of. Still, the Aquatheater itself does not have a bad seat in the house and I look forward to revisiting! I had the opportunity to check out the balcony cabins that overlook the Boardwalk. Perfect for people watching, a partial ocean view, and fresh air!
I love the whole concept of Entertainment Place! It’s a grouping of “after dark” entertainment venues that give the feel of a night club district. There’s Jazz on 4, Casino Royale and Studio B. A word about the ice show, “Frozen in Time” ….don’t miss it! Sorry, that was three words. When I saw “Spirits of the Seasons” on Explorer in August I thought it was incredible. This new show is even better. It’s an interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen popular children's stories such as “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Mermaid”. The skating is as always, superb, the costumes colorful and the story, creative and imaginative! Blazes, the disco, is also here and I liked the layout of it a lot, as it’s all on one floor. Right across the way is Comedy Live, a stand up comedy club with décor inspired by a New York subway station. Don’t think dark…its not. Lots of oranges and blues with tables scattered about a small stage. My favorite lounge on the ship, although not located in this area, is Dazzles. It’s elegant and glamorous and sexy…can you call a lounge sexy? Yes, the crushed velvet chairs and muted tones of pink and taupe and color changing chandeliers…very sexy! Behind the stage is a floor to ceiling glass wall that looks down onto the Boardwalk. The band was playing Beatle’s music on my one-nighter and the dance floor was packed! You’ve got to stop in for a drink!
Time was of the essence on this one night cruise so I had to forego my favorite spa treatments and did no more than pass through the Fitness Center. For your information, it will boast new spa treatments not before found on Royal Caribbean ships and other new-for-Royal Caribbean options such as Kinesis group classes. The spa area also will have a Thermal Suite at sea with heated tile loungers, saunas and steam rooms; three couples massage suites and seven individual treatment rooms. Kids and teen passengers, meanwhile, will find their own dedicated spa on the ship. The fitness center will have the latest cardio and resistance equipment, and offer spinning classes, kickboxing, pilates and yoga. The treadmills and ellpticals are no longer facing a wall of glass looking out onto the ocean and that is something I will miss.
I quickly walked through the Youth Zone and what I saw was quite impressive. It’s the largest space afloat dedicated to young cruisers. Kids Avenue is a central boulevard with dedicated Adventure Ocean spaces and themed play areas. You will also find a nursery for infants and lots of room for toddlers with plenty of ride on toys! The dedicated science lab will be a hit with school age kids! Now quite honestly, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean program has always been sensational. As a parent I was always pleased with both the facilities and the exceptionally well trained staff. It is the size of the ship that now allows the program to take it to the next level. You’ll find exciting new enhancements, spaces created and equipped for particular activities, and age appropriate enrichment programs. The Teen Zone looked really cool too! It’s a place I could see my son wanting to check out, even if just to initially meet up with others his age. They could then go off to play basketball, eat, play dodge ball, eat, play ping pong, eat, play mini golf, eat, surf, eat zip line, eat….Well, you get the picture!
So, that was my glimpse of Oasis of the Seas. Absolutely incredible and certainly worthy of all the hype! I can’t wait to return with my husband and son this coming summer. I know I skipped over tons of stuff, including info on the restaurants and the shows. There was just too much to see and too little time! You however, wouldn’t have that problem. You can take an entire week to experience all the Oasis has to offer! So that leaves you with a choice. I’ll cruise her again this summer, return to write all about it for you to read, OR, you can book it for yourself! See ya onboard!
Monday, November 30, 2009
Gloria Estefan: world-renowned singer and songwriter. (she was godmother of Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas).
Michelle Kwan: Olympic games medalist and the most decorated figure skater in United States history. She is also an American Public Diplomacy envoy promoting education, positive health practices and respect for diversity
Jane Seymour: a multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winning actress, as well as an Officer of the British Empire, who remains actively involved in the J and J Foundation benefiting children in need.
Dara Torres: twelve-time Olympic medalist and oldest female swimmer to compete in a record five Olympic games (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008)
Keshia Knight Pulliam: film and television actress is best known for her role as Rudy Huxtable on the classic sitcom "The Cosby Show."
Shawn Johnson: four-time medalist at the 2008 Olympic games for women’s gymnastics and cancer philanthropist.
Daisy Fuentes: international television personality and producer, beauty and fitness expert, who is committed to improving children’s health and treatments through St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Starlight Children’s Foundation and the March of Dimes.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
“Howl at the Moon”, a Rock N Roll Dueling Piano Bar, will make Headliners aboard the Epic its newest location. Already in 14 cities nationwide, this high energy show not only entertains guests, but allows them to become part of the show. The audience is encouraged to sing, dance and clap along with music from the 70’s up till today. The show itself is a four hour late night experience that allows people to stop by for a drink or settle in for more of their evening. I’ve been told by people that have experienced this show is that the biggest problem with “Howl at the Moon” is that every time you get up to leave they begin playing another song you forgot how much you loved! Another amazing addition to the entertainment lineup just revealed is “Legends in Concert”, the original and largest celebrity tribute show in the world! “Legends” has earned numerous entertainment industry awards and its no wonder. Their shows appeal to music fans of all ages. The collection of celebrity impersonators include, but is not limited to Elvis, Cher, Madonna, Barry White, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, and Tim McGraw. Three performers will be onboard at a time, with the performers rotated every four months to keep the show fresh and exciting. The free 45 minute concert will be held six times per cruise in the Epic Theater. A cabaret style show spotlighting one of the performers will be held in the Manhattan Room, the NY inspired supper club.
The lineup of entertainment was impressive aboard the new NCL Epic before the new additions were announced. It included Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams and Dinner, Fat Cats (blues and jazz), and the comedy of Second City. Now my only concern would be having enough time during a one week Caribbean cruise to experience everything the Norwegian Epic has to offer!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
The first Ice Hotel was built in the village of Jukkasjarvi Sweden in 1989. Existing each year between December and April, the entire structure is made out of snow and ice blocks. Within the hotel the Absolut Ice Bar is the most popular room in the place, with its vaulted ceiling, plenty of ice block seating (covered in reindeer skins) and see-though bar. The vodka cocktails are even served in chunky ice glasses!
It is this unique experience that is the inspiration behind the Ice Bar aboard the NCL Epic. In this frosty freezy wonderland the walls, tables, bar, stools, glasses and life size sculptures glisten and gleam. The Ice Bar will be kept at a frigid 17 degrees; not too pleasant for most warm blooded species! Although the vodka will certainly help raise body temperatures, faux fur coats are available at the door to assist. The Ice Bar is one of 14 in the world, but it is the first true ice bar at sea.
The Ice Bar is not the only unique after dark hot spot aboard the Epic. There’s Spice H2O, an adults-only, sultry, steamy, Ibiza-inspired beach club. Or Bliss Ultra Lounge, the electrifying high-energy lounge where music videos playing on multiple plasma screens create an electrifying experience. Leave it to NCL to provide the hippest, liveliest nightlife at sea!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I marvel at technological advancements made during my lifetime and admire the genius it takes to develop it. I am appreciative of the ways “gadgets” make my life easier; make it more organized, more simplified, or just more fun. And when I board Oasis of the Seas, I know I will be thanking Royal Caribbean for the technological enhancements that will make my vacation experience all that more remarkable. For example…
Guests can rent something called a WOW Phone on the Oasis. I love my I-Phone, but when onboard Oasis of the Seas, I want one of these! (This phone actually looks like a customized version of an I-Phone) From your WOW Phone you can:
*Call or text another WOW Phone user
*Track your children in Adventure Ocean or elsewhere on the ship
*Receive onboard “real time” GPS that allow you to locate other members of your traveling party
*Call a stateroom
*Pull up a map of the ship
*View your weekly customized calendar
*View the daily “Why Not Today” (formerly known as the Cruise Compass)
There will be Digital Signage that will assist in navigating around the ship with unique state of the art way-finding graphics. It will be especially useful during mustering and departure. Many signs are interactive and guests will be able to view dining menus, check restaurant seating availability, watch videos about spa treatments, and check show times in the various theatres.
Hand Held Technology will expedite service. For example, a bar server enters your order on this gizmo as you sit by the pool. By the time he walks back to the bar, your drink is ready and waiting for him! Now that’s a quick turn around! This devise will also be used in the photo gallery, some retail areas, and by maintenance people to ensure problems are quickly addressed.
High Definition Television Systems in staterooms do a lot more than show movies and music videos! Guests can simplify their ship experience by pre-paying gratuities, or by booking shows and shore excursions. The system allows one to view a personal cruise calendar that includes any reservations that were made for shows, restaurants, the spa, or excursions. Through the T.V. a guest could browse the internet, order room service, and order wine to be delivered at dinner. From the comfort of a stateroom one can view info and hours of operations for onboard bars, activities, the spa, or casino. Guests can even take a look at traffic flow updates for food venues! It is easy to check the charges on a sea pass account, read about the ports of call, and watch a port shopping preview. And if, by the slightest chance, you find yourself with nothing to do on this amazing ship, you can always watch T.V.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Debuting on Oasis of the Seas will be “The Cupcake Cupboard”, the first cupcake shop at sea! You’re not rolling your eyes, are you? This is critical information! In my opinion (for what it's worth), the cupcake is the quintessential dessert. Perfectly portion controlled, it’s like having a scrumptious little cake all to yourself. There’s no guilt in eating the whole thing and not sharing, because that’s how they are meant to be eaten. Then there’s the beauty of these little desserts. Soft and swirly icing piled high in deep dark chocolate, snowy white, or any color of the rainbow, maybe with tinted sugar or little candies sprinkled on top. They offer the perfect high icing to cake ratio! How divine! They’re easy to serve and easy to eat. They’re portable. Cupcakes make people happy. Even big, burly men smile like little boys when they are given a cupcake. Wouldn’t you?
Cupcakes have become a pop culture craze in the culinary world. Over the past few years trendy cupcake bakeries have opened in cities like Chicago, NYC, and LA, with people waiting late at night on lines out the door. The cupcake has gone gourmet and is playful, hip, and oh so cool. And that’s why you’ll find “The Cupcake Cupboard” on the Oasis of the Seas. So sweet!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
One of the things I hate most about cruising is the formal nights! Months before the cruise the feeling of dread overwhelms me as I go shopping for a new dress. There are racks and racks to choose from, but they’re all too big in the chest, too tight in the hips, too short for my chunky legs, and why oh why are they all black???? I hate wearing black! Eventually I find a dress and shoes, but nobody will mistake me for Cinderella. My hair is too short to be glamorous and I wonder if a rhinestone clip would help. My husband does not own a tux. He last bought a suit in 1999 and has gained 10 pounds since. My teenage son is growing by leaps and bounds and I refuse to buy him something that he’ll wear only one evening. Thank goodness the cruise line solves those problems for me. They will rent tuxedos, including shoes, onboard.
“The Night” arrives and my family joins the hundreds of other people that are milling around the public areas of this beautiful ship. I lose my individuality in a sea of black dresses. I glance at my “boys” and feel my heart swell with love. I wanted to bring my camera but my silly little evening bag barely holds my key card and a tissue. I link arms with my husband… because if I don’t I’ll surely fall. My feet are being brutally tortured with every step I take. My son is grumpy, swears he’s being strangled by the bow tie, and cannot deeply inhale because the cummerbund has restricted his diaphragm. To lighten up the mood, my husband begins to waddle and make penguin noises. By the time we take are places in front of the camera any discomfort is forgotten and we are all laughing. The photographer snaps a pretty picture of my perfect family, which I will frame and proudly display when I get home. I love cruise formal nights!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Now in all honesty, cruising, and Royal Caribbean in particular, has always been very family friendly. But still, if your child was not three and potty trained you did not have access to those wonderful kids clubs that allowed you to go off and enjoy some “couple time”, or maybe the chance to take pleasure in a bit of solitude. Having a nursery onboard is like bringing along your babysitter…without having to pay for another cabin! Here’s your chance to have the time to workout in that extraordinary gym, enjoy a spa treatment, or try out the zip line! Maybe you’d like to have a scrumptious dinner at 150 Central Park and afterwards take a romantic stroll through the gardens. Why not catch the evening’s water & light show at the Aquatheater and then have a night cap at the floating Rising Tide Bar? You can feel confident leaving your baby because every member of the nurturing staff has been vigilantly screened and has experience in childcare.
Every year over 25,000 infants and toddlers under the age of three sail on Royal Caribbean ships. It’s nice to know that somebody in the company took notice, saw a need, and did something about it. I bet he or she is also a parent who knows what its like not to have a sitter on a Saturday night!
Monday, September 07, 2009
Cruising is the ultimate “girl’s getaway!” It’s here, in the middle of the ocean and away from the stress of kids, man problems, aging parents, or whatever responsibility is getting you down, that one can truly begin to unwind. It’s a great way to come together to share laughs and tears, to reminisce or strengthen bonds. Chatting poolside, lavish spa treatments, shopping on tropical islands or foreign cities…that’s my idea rejuvenating body and soul! Rainbow colored slushy drinks that make everyone’s stories even funnier, two appetizers at dinner and rich chocolate desserts. These are indulgences to be shared with best friends. Sing-a-longs at the bar, slightly off key, of all you favorite songs; the same ones that you blasted when you all shared that small apartment in your younger days. Dancing the night away like you once did, before you started going to bed at 10pm, because now you have to rouse a cranky teenager at 6am so they won’t miss the school bus! It’s like stopping the world and getting off, for just a short break, to revitalize.
Celebrate, 21, 30, 40, or 50! Re-connect with the women you once shared your hopes and dreams with, when you were in high school or college. Invite your mother, grandmother, and daughter for some generational bonding. Cruising is the ideal “girl’s getaway” for girls of any age!
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Aft: Refers to the rear of the ship
Berth: Your bed on the ship OR the place in port where the ship is
Bow: Refers to the front of the ship
Bridge: The area from where the captain controls the ship
Cabin: Your room
Cabin Steward: The person responsible for cleaning your cabin
Deck: Levels or floors of the ship
Disembarkation: The process of getting off a ship
Embarkation: The process of boarding a ship
Galley: The ships kitchen
Gangway: The entrance or exit area of the ship
Itinerary: The schedule of ports of call
Muster Station: The area you are designated to report to in case of an
Nautical Mile: 6078 feet or 1.15 miles
Port: The left side of the ship
Port of Call: A destination you visit
Purser’s Desk: The guest relations desk
Starboard: The right side of the ship
Stateroom: Another word for your cabin or room
Stern: The rear or aft of the ship
Tender: The vessel that transports you from ship to shore if the ship is
anchored a distance from the port
So there you have it, a primer in cruise ship vocabulary. The lingo you need to know to sound “in the know” on your next cruise.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
To enter the contest, simply CLICK HERE. Good Luck!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Nassau, home the famous Straw Market, is a shoppers Nirvana. Here you can find a plethora of faux designer handbags, shot glasses, t-shirts, beaded jewelry, and all kinds of kitschy tourist souvenirs. Look a bit harder and you can find wonderful baskets, bags, and dolls made from dried palm and sisal plant leaves. There are extraordinarily talented woodcarvers that sell their creations as well; masks, animals, figurines, and statues. All in all, the market should not be missed.
The Golden Age of Piracy lasted from 1690 to 1720 and Nassau was at its heart. A little known attraction, but one of my favorites, is the interactive museum Pirates of Nassau. Located just around the corner from the Straw Market, I found this place quite by accident. Here you can board a replica of the pirate ship "Revenge" and enter the world of the infamous Blackbeard and his blood thirsty cronies. The rooms are dark and it may be a little scary to very young children, but my family really enjoyed our visit here.
Look into the beautiful NCL Jewel or NCL Gem for cruises that leave New York City headed for these exciting ports in 2010. What’s best is that you can cruise this identical itinerary five times and never have the same vacation twice! Whatever you, your friends or your family enjoy doing, they will find it on a Florida / Bahamas cruise vacation!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
NCL offers weekly cruises from New York City year round. However, a question that we are often asked is how come there aren’t more varied 7 day itineraries from New York to choose from. The answer is actually quite simple. Logistically, a ship can only make it so far south and back again within a seven night time frame. That southern port is the Bahamas. Add to that a stop at one of Florida’s fun-filled cities and you have the ingredients for one great cruise.
Port Canaveral offers a multiplicity of activities for cruisers to choose from. The first things that always come to mind are those famous Orlando theme parks! Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World! What family wouldn’t get excited over the choices that are available! Most cruise lines offer shore excursions to the theme parks in the area. If you would rather do it on your own, there are several rental car agencies that serve the area. From there the ride to the major parks is approximately 45 minutes.
Cocoa Beach is just minutes away from the Port Canaveral cruise terminal. Maybe you’d like to spend the day relaxing on the beach or playing in the waves. And speaking of waves, did you know that Cocoa Beach is considered the surfing capital of the East Coast? How about a lesson?
For those that want to a bit more adventure, or are just nature lovers, a fun morning can be spent air boating down the St. John’s River in pursuit of alligators! The marshes are also home to many species of birds so don’t forget binoculars.
When I think of Port Canaveral “I Dream of Jeanne” pops into my mind (okay, I’m showing my age). Although my son was clueless as to the antics of Major Nelson and his side kick, he nevertheless thought the trip to the Kennedy Space Center was one of the coolest places he’d ever been! Actually, so did I…tours offered at Center include viewing the shuttle launch pads, the Rocket Garden, the Apollo Saturn V Center and much more. This is a trip I recommend to everyone.
Part 2 to follow; The Bahamas!
Friday, August 21, 2009
There is no doubt about it. Cruising gives you the best value for your dollar. Our first full day at this beautiful place, we planned to spend the day hanging out at the pool. Not wanting to leave, even for lunch, we decided to eat at the pool side café. We ordered a simple meal…four hamburgers, two bottles of water and two smoothies. When the bill for $94 came, I thought my husband would go into cardiac arrest! Yikes! We will definitely have to make alternate plans for future lunches!!
A visit to the spa is an indulgence I allow myself on every vacation. When I cruise I know that if I make my appointment on a port day, the price will be a lot lower. I can also purchase a package of two or three treatments that can save me quite a bit of money. Here at the resort there are no “specials.” I stopped by for a menu and price list only to find that my favorite oxygen infusing facial will cost $225! They would have to promise me that I will leave the spa looking 29 again, before I spent that kind of money!
Like a cruise ship, this place has a nicely appointed gym. It’s just that the work out is not the same when the ellipticals do not overlook the ocean! Not that it matters much. Due to airline weight restrictions on luggage, I was unable to pack my work out clothes and sneakers.
We are halfway through our time here, but my husband hardly looks rested or relaxed. Each day there is somewhere different to drive to…a beach, town, restaurant, or amusement park. Although our navigation unit gets us everywhere we want to be, he still must contend with traffic, metered parallel parking spots, tolls roads without an “easy pass”, and me yelling, “Pull over…I want to take a picture!” It's so much easier to leave the "driving" to the captain!
As busy as we are during the day, the evenings are another story. The pool area is closed at 11pm, and the lights shut off around the activity patio that has the ping pong tables, pool tables, air hockey tables, etc. There is no teen lounge here like you would find on most cruise ships. With two sixteen year olds with us, this has become a bit of an issue. They’ve met other teens and would like to hang out a bit later, but since I’m not volunteering my villa as a meeting place, it looks like they better be content coming back to our room play a game of family scrabble or Monopoly!
My family cruises so often that when we take any other type of vacation, we can’t help but compare. Sure there are plusses and minuses to whatever type of vacation you take, but it seems that no matter how I look at things, cruising always seems to come out on top.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Fall is a great time to tour Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center and the Betsy Ross House are so inspiring. So much history! Not your thing? Maybe you’d prefer to run up the steps of the Museum of Art like Rocky did! Or seek out the best cheese steak sandwich. Do whatever, remember, freedom was born in Philadelphia! How appropriate that you can then embark on a freestyle cruise aboard the NCL Majesty heading for Bermuda, or Canada / New England. Did you know that our nation’s capitol is just a shuttle ride away from the Baltimore harbor? Washington DC is a great vacation spot whether you 8 or 80! Take a few days to tour the many museums that make up the Smithsonian. The monuments that honor past presidents and our heroic war veterans will bring a tear to the eye of even the most austere visitor. Tour the Capitol or the Supreme Court. Kids love the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Spy Museum. Oh, so much to see and do! Then, soothe those achy feet at the spa once you’re aboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. Or let the crew aboard the Mercury pamper you like only Celebrity knows how.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
“Savor” is all about food and wine. This will include eight new wine events, six spirits and mixology tastings, and seven different interactive programs for guests hosted by the ship’s Executive Chef. Culinary programs feature interactive cooking shows and competitions, as well as guest chefs who will sail with Celebrity. Mixology 101 was developed by world-renowned Master Mixologist Junior Merino. Imagine learning how to create these cocktails and serving them to your own guests back home!
“Discover” gives guests the opportunity to expand their knowledge through partnerships with Rosetta Stone, and Smithsonian Journeys. There will also be astronomy, technology, and dance classes offered. Make the most of your vacation photos by taking a class in Photoshop or blog creation.
“Renew” is a health and wellness program. Look for more options at the spa, seminars on stress management, or get an introduction to alternative healing systems such as Chinese medicine. And if rest and relaxation is not enough to erase those laugh lines, maybe BOTOX and anti-aging facials will do the trick!
The above is just a sampling of what Celebrity plans to offer. Some Celebrity Life programs will have a fee, but many will be at no additional cost. Look for the debut on the new Celebrity Equinox with fleet-wide rollout complete by the end of November.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Mr. T, the towel man, caught us by surprise! It was years ago, but every time we tell the story of finding him, we laugh. Each cruise I look forward to the turtles, snakes, swans, elephants and monkeys that may be waiting for me at the end of the evening! My vacation photo albums have more pictures of towel critters than they have of my husband!
I love it when props are used to enhance the critter. I have been known to leave my sunglasses or hat on the coffee table just in case they are needed. Years ago I remember my nightgown being used. That never happens anymore. Maybe somebody thought it was kinky and filed a complaint! Some cabin stewards have let me keep a weeks worth of these cuties lined up on the couch. Each night my little family grows a bit larger.
On my last cruise the lounge was full, and people were standing 3 deep to watch the towel animal folding demonstration. And that was on a warm and beautiful day when you would expect everyone to be enjoying the sunshine and ocean air! I was among the masses. Why, I ask myself? It’s not like I’m going to start making them at home. Will anybody? Unlikely… they’re not all that quick and simple to make. As a matter of fact, it’s easier to just book another cruise!
It doesn’t matter if your 2 or 82, everyone loves towel critters! And everyone has a favorite. I appreciate the time and effort that it takes for my cabin steward to leave us these special creations. In return, I make sure we leave him something special. Maybe that’s his point, but its ok by me.