Monday, October 31, 2011

Cruising to Hawaii with a Stop at the Big Island

"A cruise to the Hawaiian Islands is a cruise to an enchanted land, especially the Island of Hawaii, itself. To avoid confusion with the name of the entire state, the Island of Hawaii is often called the “Big Island,” and what an appropriate name it is. Nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined, cruise ships usually make two stops here; one at Hilo on the east side, and then another in Kona on the west side. The cultural and geographical diversity of the island offers so much to see and do.  Here are my favorites!

One of the most magnificent national parks in the USA, Volcanoes National Park boasts having 2 of the world's most active volcanoes spewing molten lava, and for that fiery sight alone, Hawaii Volcanoes is worth the trip! Hiking is challenging and it makes me think this is what it would be like walking on the moon!  You can explore Crater Rim Drive by car or tour bus with its up-close views of sulphur banks and steam vents.  Along the way be sure to stop at the Jaggar Museum with its active seismographs that record volcanic activity of the islands. You'll learn how and why volcanoes erupt, the history of Hawaii's volcanic origins and how volcanology scientists conduct their research. Another not to be missed site particularly fun for kids is a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube.

A helicopter tour is a great way to get an overview of the island, especially the most current areas of volcanic activity. From an “in the sky” perspective you can view the bright orange lava flows and maybe even catch a glimpse of the lava spewing into the ocean. I have never seen anything so amazing! You’ll also see tropical rain forests and cascading waterfalls; all while the pilot explains the history and culture of Hawaii.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Immersive Europe Wine Cruise with Celebrity Cruise Line

Wine tours are among the trendiest and most popular specialty vacations in the world today. Wine aficionados are venturing far and wide to discover the world of wine, and where better to explore than the European countryside!  In response to their guest’s interest, Celebrity Cruise Line is presenting a series of new and distinct vacations in 2012 that will appeal to all wine enthusiasts. Whether you're a serious wine lover who wants to visit the best wine regions in Europe as well as enjoy professional and technical wine tasting, or just want to make wine a bigger part of your vacation experience, these cruises are worth serious consideration.

With some of the newest and exciting ships in the industry deployed in Europe next year, Celebrity will include a series of wine-themed sailings within their itineraries. From September 7 through November 18, 2012, coinciding with the fall harvest season, the Celebrity Constellation will present seven “Immersive Europe Wine Cruises” embarking from Southampton, England. The twelve-night cruises include three consecutive over-night stays; one each in Paris (Le Havre) and Bordeaux (le Verdon), France and one in Bilbao, Spain, and also feature visits to Vigo, Spain and Porto, Portugal. A cruise such as this allows guests to experience the essence of what makes these wine regions so famous. You will return home with a deep understanding and appreciation of the many great wines, and the beauty of the region. Being there at harvest time gives guests an opportunity to see what happens both in the vineyard and in the cellar during the important season.

Celebrity's onboard experience will echo the flavor of the region. Activities developed in partnership with local wineries, including Rioja tastings, Champagne brunches, Bordeaux samplings featuring up to five wines from well-known Chateaus, Port and food pairing dinners and more enhance the overall experience. Special events are planned in the ship's Cellar Masters bar, complete with its ""Enomatic"" by-the-glass wine serving system. A seasonal wine package featuring special selections from the region also will be added to Celebrity's already popular package offerings.

According to Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan, ""It's a truly one-of-a-kind vacation. No other cruise line offers such an enormous breadth and depth of experiences in this highly-rated region during harvest season, and no other line can deliver it like Celebrity can, with our exceptional wine program, expertly trained sommeliers, Cellar Masters wine bars, and up to 500 selections of wine on every ship.""

For more information or to book an “Immersive Europe Wine Cruise” call Direct Line Cruises at 1 800 352-8088 or visit the Direct Line Cruises website."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cruising to Hawaii and the Port of Kauai

Kauai,  Hawaii’s fourth largest island, is called the “Garden Isle.” That’s some nickname to live up to when you consider that each and every Hawaiian Island is known for its fertile, tropical beauty! Centuries of growth along with water and wind erosion have left the island with lush tropical rainforests, rushing rivers, cascading waterfalls and deep valley gorges. With much splendor to discover, what’s the best way to spend a day in port? These are my favorites, and all can be arranged on your own, or by simply booking the cruise line’s shore excursion.

One of Hawaii’s most amazing natural wonders is Waimea Canyon. Mark Twain dubbed it the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  The canyon was carved thousands of years ago by numerous floods and rivers flowing down from the summit of Mount Waialeale. The panoply of canyon colors transform with the changing light of the sun making it one of the most gorgeous landscapes you’ll ever set eyes upon! Since the canyon can be viewed from a number of lookouts along Waimea Canyon Drive it’s easy to rent a car and explore it on your own.  Or better yet, relax and leave the driving to someone else by checking out a cruise sponsored shore excursion.

In 1870 a series of ditches, tunnels, and flumes was hand-dug by laborers to deliver water from the rainforest to the Old Lihue Sugar Plantation. It worked well but sugar production on the island ceased in 2000. Today you can observe this engineering feat up close and personal in a new way… by Tubing the Ditch! The two-mile trip has you floating along a fern- and fruit-tree lined tropical rainforest and through five manmade tunnels. It runs through some of the most beautiful land on the island with spectacular views of the ocean, coastline and valleys.  This is a great activity for the entire family, and a “kid favorite.” Please note that there is a lot of time spent in dark tunnels so it may not be appropriate for young children or anyone claustrophobic.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Favorite Maui Shore Excursions

Hopefully you’ve had some time to check out our new website,, and now you see how affordable a Hawaii cruise vacation can be.  With that concern out of the way, take some time to review the different cruise lines and their itineraries and book the one that’s perfect for you. On to some excursion planning! Today I’d like to share with you my favorite picks for Maui.  All are easy to arrange on your own, but for those that want to leave the planning to the professionals, they are also available through the cruise line’s shore excursion department.

The Road to Hana is one of those trips that is all about the journey, not final destination.  And what a journey it is! 52 miles of undeveloped road, 56 one-lane bridges and 617 curves!  Yikes! You will pass by the most breath-taking scenery on the face of the earth. Pick up a map with mile marker descriptions that includes the best waterfalls, scenic views, beaches and hikes.  Be sure to look for the truck on the side of the road that sells shaved ice is flavors like guava, coconut cream, or green apple. Delicious! Rent a car to do this on your own.  The cruise lines offer both private van and small bus tours.

Haleakala National Park is home to Maui's highest peak rising 10,023 feet above sea level.  Seeing the sunrise from the summit is a life changing experience and one of the most popular things to do while in Maui.  Sit amid the clouds while the sun comes up and the sky goes from the blackest black to beautiful shades of pink, purple and blue. Wear the warmest clothes you have because it’s quite chilly up there!   Daredevils can choose to bike down the 28 miles from the 6500' elevation, descending to historic Paia at sea level. Adrenaline junkies will appreciate maneuvering the hairpin turns while admiring the extraordinary landscape! Both experiences are offered as shore excursions and that’s the best way to do either.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Norwegian Breakaway to Homeport in NYC

At a conference today in NYC Norwegian Cruise Line announced that their newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, will homeport in New York City when she launches in April of 2013! From May to October she will be cruising a 7-night Bermuda itinerary but there's  no word yet on what will follow. As for the ships rather unusual name, the cruise line explained that it best reflected the innovation of the brand, and would provide a break at sea from the stress of everyday life. We New Yorkers, (as well as everyone in the tri-state area), think that’s pretty exciting news and look forward to giving her a warm welcome when she arrives!

So what do we actually know about the Norwegian Breakaway thus far? It has been said that the 144,017-ton vessel will embody the best features of both the Jewel-class ships and the Norwegian Epic.  One of the most favorable reactions to the Epic is the way the ship is laid out. According to CEO Kevin Sheehan, “Epic is a ship that's really conducive for people to be out very late at night. The location of casino, pub and lounges keeps the ship very active, unlike the old contemporary ships, where it was dinner, show, bed. So we're definitely pushing that idea of the ""action ship"" forward.”

There will be a myriad of cabin designs for passengers to choose from on the Norwegian Breakaway. Based on the particular design groups commissioned to work on this project (the same group that designed the acclaimed studios aboard the Epic), we can expect to see a clean contemporary design that is both beautiful and functional. Mr. Sheehan called it, “modern boutique hotel meets sea.”   And speaking of those studio cabins, we will see them once again on the Breakaway.  There will be 59 of these solo cabins clustered around a key card accessed lounge with bar.

While solo cabins certainly fulfilled a need long neglected on cruise ships, what about the opposite end of the spectrum…those families of five that often had no choice but to book two cabins?  No problem! The Breakaway will have 42 family oceanview cabins that can accommodate up to five guests. That is certain to please many families!