Monday, August 26, 2013

Norwegian Cruise Line Develops Port in Southern Belize

Norwegian Cruise Line has confirmed its plans to design and develop a $50 Million Eco-Friendly cruise destination in Southern Belize. This new locale, Harvest Caye, will reduce overcrowding at the city port, and give visitors the best first impression a destination can give. The goal is to design an authentic experience grounded in the storyline of nature, ancient culture, art, adventure and music that celebrates Belizean history and culture.

For Belize to grow its tourism, an upgraded experience is necessary. While the master plan for the 75 acres is still under development, the vision is to create a world-class cruise destination, consisting of two locations: an island destination with docking/tendering facilities and a mainland connection point for inland tours. Major components of the project are anticipated to include a floating pier, island village with open-air structures on raised platforms, marina, transportation hub for tours to the mainland, a lagoon for a variety of water sports and a relaxing beach area.

Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan said the line expects to “bring four times as many guests to Belize” once Harvest Caye is complete. “In our quest to continuously look for new and exciting destinations for our guests, we plan to develop a cruise destination focused on sustainable design and eco-friendly principles that will retain the natural beauty and local culture of this tropical paradise,” he said."

Monday, August 19, 2013

When is the Best Time to Book a Cruise?

It’s an age-old question that has been discussed and debated to death…”When is the best time to book a cruise?”  Some swear it is best to capture the cruise lines “early booking” discount when itineraries are first released, while others wait until months or even weeks prior to sailing, hoping to snag the best deal. Lets face it, nobody wants to get onboard and find out the people they’re sitting next to at dinner paid hundreds of dollars less for the same vacation!  So with so much conflicting opinions, how does one determine the optimal time to book a cruise?

Cruise lines begin selling cabins roughly 12 to 18 months before a cruise departs, and there are many good reasons as to why you should consider booking this far in advance.

If you are considering an itinerary with a short sailing season, don’t wait.  For example, Scandinavia / Russia itineraries sell out quickly because there are a small number of ships that cruise to the area, and in addition, it’s a relatively short season.

If you need to cruise when school is out of session: Christmas break, President’s week, and the summer months, you’re best off booking early. And if you need a quad cabin during that time you should be booking as soon as that itinerary is available to book!

If you need an accessible cabin then you know that there is just a couple available in each category. Don’t wait and later be disappointed.

If you have to have connecting cabins, you only want cabin # 7096, or can’t imagine not cruising in an aft balcony, need I say more?

If having “early dining” is a deal breaker for you, and it seems to be so for many people, then you should book early. Don’t assume the Maitre d' will oblige you once you get onboard because it’s just not possible for him to accommodate everyone.

If you’re cruising with a large group and everyone has their own specific needs, or you want all your cabins in a row, save yourself the headaches and plan early.  Who wants to listen to cousin Claire complain for seven straight days because her cabin is on deck two, while everyone else is up on nine!

Of course, there are people that may benefit from playing the waiting game, willing to chance that the cruise line will slash pricing in order to fill the ship.

If you can cruise during shoulder season then sit back and take the “wait and see” attitude.  September, October, November and early December sailings do not fill up as quickly as other months so there may be deals to be had by procrastinating.

If your middle name is “Flexibility” then go ahead and wait.  You’re the type of person that doesn’t care which ship or sail date your book, and are not concerned with cabin location. Your motto is “every cruise is a great cruise…just get me aboard cheap!”"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cruising to the Galapagos Islands on the Celebrity Xpedition

The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador. The islands are quite remote, about 620 miles west of the South American continent. The Galapagos consists of 13 main islands and 6 smaller isles, the principals being Fernandina, Isabela, Baltra, James, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. Appropriately ninety-seven percent is national park.

Made famous by Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands are no less enthralling now than they were a hundred years ago. The islands are home to an extraordinary number of unique species including approximately 29 migrant birds, 56 native birds, 29 land birds, 6 mammals, giant tortoises, 3 types of land iguanas, marine iguanas, several invertebrates, and more.

On a Galapagos Island cruise you can see everything from beloved penguins and boobies with bright blue feet to prehistoric looking marine iguanas and male frigate birds turning their wrinkled throat sacs into extraordinary, fully inflated red balloons. One day you could be snapping photos of giant tortoises, and the next you could be snorkeling with playful sea lions in crystal-clear water. A cruise to the Galapagos Islands is certainly a trip of a lifetime!

A great way to experience the Galapagos Islands is a cruise aboard the Celebrity Xpedition, as all naturalist guides onboard Celebrity Xpedition are certified by the Galapagos National Park. The 92- passenger Xpedition is filled with touches that are luxuriously familiar. The ship is designed to provide guests with many of the amenities they would expect from Celebrity, from gourmet cuisine to comfortable staterooms, to impeccable service. 

Celebrity Xpedition offers an all-inclusive experience in the Galapagos Islands including accommodations, meals, gratuities, all shore excursions, all lectures, alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees, soft drinks, fruit juices, and the use of snorkeling equipment, wet suits, binoculars and much more.

Celebrity Cruises offers 7-night, 10-night, 11-night and 13-night vacation packages in the Galapagos Islands, year round. The 13-night Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos package extends the guests all-inclusive vacation to Peru, including Lima, Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu."

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Cruising to Peggy's Cove

The season of Canada / New England cruises leaving from Northeast ports is underway. A favorite port of call on that particular itinerary is the Canadian city of Halifax.  While there are many wonderful things to do in the Halifax area, a trip to Peggy’s Cove is always a memorable way to spend the day.

Peggy's Cove, a picture postcard fishing village, is located 26 miles southwest of downtown Halifax. According to legend, Peggy's Cove was named after a woman named Margaret, the only survivor of a schooner that ran aground and sank in the year 1800. Local folk called her ""Peggy"" and her home came to be known as Peggy's Cove.

Set on rocky shores, Peggy’s Cove is known for its seasoned fish sheds, brightly painted boats, and colorful homes perched on wave-washed boulders.  It is this charming scene that has fascinated artists, photographers and tourists for years. Yet despite its popularity, the little village has been able maintain the same peaceful atmosphere that has made it famous.

Strolling around the Cove allows visitors a glimpse into maritime life. This is a working fishing community with all that accompanies that activity. Lobster traps and fishnets decorate the wharves and roadside, and fishing boats come and go from the piers. The geology and history of the village is told on storyboards scattered throughout the area.

The many small, locally owned gift stores, galleries and craft shops features the works of Canadian and Nova Scotian artists and crafts people. The restaurants and cafes in the area offer the freshest Nova Scotia seafood. Lobster is the specialty but don't miss a bowl of the famous fish chowder or a meal featuring the wonderful St Margaret's Bay haddock.

The community’s famous lighthouse, built in 1868 marks the eastern entrance of St. Margaret’s Bay. The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove is a hexagonal concrete tower, standing on solid rock above the crashing surf. It is a classic red and white lighthouse, retired from active service by the Canadian Coast Guard. The lighthouse is one of the most recognized, visited and photographed structures in the world.

From June through October you can cruise up to Canada and New England leaving from convenient ports in Baltimore, Bayonne, or Boston. If Halifax is on your chosen cruise itinerary, consider spending the day in the idyllic fishing village of Peggy’s Cove.