Monday, September 30, 2013

Celebrity Cruise Line Introduces a Casino App

What happens when in the name of togetherness, your traveling companion suggests you both spend the day lounging by the pool, but you’d rather play the slots?  Or you want to head to the dining room for a long, leisurely dinner, but your traveling companion’s palm is itching, and it’s hard to ignore that old superstition that says when your palms itch it means money!  No problem… Celebrity Cruise Line passengers will soon be able to play casino games even when they are not in a ship's casino, by downloading a free application!

Celebrity Cruises has teamed with Las Vegas-based Cantor Gaming for a cruise industry first – mobile gaming you can access ship-wide. After creating a ""virtual wallet"" at the ship's casino desk to activate and fund their accounts, cruisers will be able to choose from games including slots, table games and video poker to play anywhere onboard. The app is only operational when the ship is in international waters.

The Cantor gaming app is compatible with Apple and Android devices. The new technology will be installed on Celebrity's five Solstice-class ships and four Millennium-class ships in coming months, Celebrity officials said.

Monday, September 23, 2013

10 Common Misconceptions About Cruising

I’m always surprised to hear that there are many people that have never experienced a cruise vacation!  How can that be, I wonder! Don’t they know what they’re missing? So, I asked them, “Why don’t you cruise?” After listening to their reasons I have to say, “I’m sorry, but I beg to differ…”

I don’t cruise because I’m afraid I’ll get seasick.                                                                   

A very small percentage of cruisers get seasick. Over the years, ships have gotten so large, that movement is often undectable. Most are built with stabilizers that allow a ship to practically glide across the sea. If however you are still afraid because you are prone to motion sickness, there are things you can do to alleviate or minimize your discomfort.

*Book a midship cabin on a lower deck. The closer you are to the ship's center of gravity, the less you will move around.

*A window or balcony helps because if you start to feel sick, looking out at the horizon helps reorient your sense of balance (and your stomach).

*Bonine, available over-the-counter at most drug stores and pharmacies, works well to relieve seasickness

 I don’t cruise because it’s too expensive.

While there are certainly a few select cruise lines that are very expensive, for the most part, a cruise is quite affordable. Remember, your cruise fare includes your accommodations, meals in main dining venues, activities, entertainment and children’s clubs.  Cruising gives you great value for your money!

I don’t cruise because I’ll gain too much weight.

You can’t blame your lack of self-control on a cruise! Every line offers healthy meal options as well as a gym to rival anything you may belong to on land. Plus, there are many amenities onboard to keep guests active, such as sport courts, jogging tracks, and rock climbing walls.

I don’t cruise because the ship is full of “old people.”

This was once true…about 40 years ago!  Now cruising is a popular vacation option for honeymooners, singles and particularly families!  Different cruise lines attract different demographics so choose wisely.

I don’t cruise because I don’t want to sit with strangers during meals.

Although traditional cruise line dining in which you sit with other passengers is still available on some lines, all lines now offer a flexible dining option that allows you to choose your dining time and a table for just your party.

I don’t cruise because it’s too regimented. 

It’s your vacation and nobody is going to tell you when to eat, when to go to bed,how to spend your day, or anything else.  Cruising offers an abundance of options so every person onboard can have a perfect vacation…perfect for them!

I don’t cruise because it’s not safe.

The cruise lines have been getting a lot of bad press lately, regarding safety. It’s a case of a few incidents that the media has been blown totally out of proportion. Ships have an extraordinary number of rules and regulations in place to protect passengers' safety onboard. The rules also require that within the first 24 hours of sailing a muster drill be held with the objective to familiarize guests where to assemble in the unlikely event of an emergency. During the drill, additional safety information is presented.

I don’t cruise because I’m afraid of getting the stomach virus you always hear about.

Norovirus is a contagious virus that may cause a person to have nausea, diarrhea and to throw up.  Outbreaks are not restricted to cruise ships.  As a matter of fact, Norovirus is second to the common cold in reported illnesses, impacting millions of people around the world each year! You can help prevent norovirus by using ship sanitizer stations, as well as frequently washing your hands, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before eating.

I don’t cruise because I don’t want to get all dressed up.

Lots of people feel that way and the cruise lines are listening!  Norwegian Cruise Line invented “Freestyle Cruising” in response to this, meaning the dress code is relaxed and men never have to wear a suit and tie unless they want to!  Other cruise lines offer alterative dining venues on their “formal nights” giving guests the option of dressing up, or not.

I don’t cruise because I’ll be bored on a ship.

That’s unlikely!  With every new ship cruise lines add more and more amenities.  Today’s cruise ships are floating resorts and there is ALWAYS something happening on board. Rock walls, bowling, surf simulators, bumper cars, movies under the stars, sports courts, mini golf, kids clubs, bingo, ping pong, live entertainment, dancing……the list goes on and on.  I can assure you, you won’t be bored!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Norwegian Cruise Line Update

Pride Of America Update:

Norwegian Cruise Line completed the final elements in a $30 million enhancement project that began in March on the Pride of America. The cruise line added new luxurious suites, studios for solo travelers and some additional inside staterooms.

The 24 new suites on Deck 13 are a gorgeous contemporary design with premium custom furnishings, and ultra-luxurious bathrooms. Two of the 24 suites are 566 square foot Owner’s Suites, featuring a large bedroom, separate living area and a state of the art bathroom with custom mosaic tiles.

The remaining suites are Penthouse Suites. The two Deluxe Penthouse Suites with Large Balcony sleep up to six guests and are perfect for families that don’t want to trade luxury and comfort for space for the kids!

The two Owner’s Suites will have connecting doors to the adjacent Penthouse Suites, sleeping up to 10 guests when combined.  They’re the perfect option for extended families or groups who wish to travel in luxury together.

In addition to all of the incredible features in the suites, guests will enjoy pampering service from dedicated butlers and concierge, plus an array of exclusive amenities such as luxurious Tranquility mattresses from the Bliss Collection by Norwegian, Lavazza Espresso Makers, Elemis bath products, private dining for breakfast and lunch, and more.

Digital Signage:

With ships getting larger and dining and entertainment venues increasing, digital signage makes things a lot easier for Norwegian Cruise Line guests.

“The interactive signage has been such a big hit on Norwegian Breakaway that we decided to expand it to our fleet so that all of our guests can take advantage of this exciting technology,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “With the introduction of these screens, Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising is taken to a whole new level, allowing guests to further customize their vacation on their time. It’s all about freedom and flexibility.”

Each Norwegian ship will have between 30 and 50 touch and static screens located in prominent areas around the vessel. The interactive touch screen signs will allow guests to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining, shore excursions and entertainment simply with a scan of their stateroom key.

The entire Norwegian Cruise Line fleet will be equipped with the digital signage by Summer 2015.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Embarkation Day

You’ve been booked for months and have been eagerly anticipating your first cruise vacation. Finally, the day has arrived. In cruise lingo, we call it “Embarkation Day.”  Obviously you’re excited, but you may be a bit nervous too, not knowing what to expect.  No worries…we’re here to walk you through it!

Whether you’re driving or flying to the port, it’s a good idea to expect to arrive around noontime.  After all, this is officially the first day of your cruise vacation and you don’t want to miss a minute!  When you pull up to the cruise terminal there will be porters out front waiting to take your luggage.  If your bags aren’t yet tagged with your stateroom number, these are the people that will take care of that for you.  It will be several hours before these bags are delivered to your cabin, sometimes not until after dinner.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to take a carry-on with you containing any medications and valuables as well as swimsuits, sunscreen or change of clothes you may need for the day.

With your cruise line boarding pass and identification (passport or birth certificate and government issued id, depending on the cruise itinerary) in hand, enter the terminal and proceed to the security line. Beware if you’re trying to carry on wine or booze.  Each cruise line has limits and restrictions.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Who Wears Short Shorts, Disney Wears Short Shorts!

Disney Cruise Line has announced that they have begun allowing shorts in the main dining rooms of its four ships –a first for ANY cruise line!  The casual dress code applies to the three main restaurants on each Disney ship where the majority of passengers dine in the evening.

Most cruise lines allow shorts in the main dining rooms during breakfast and lunch, but request slacks be worn at dinner (and slacks, skirts or dresses for women).  Of course, there have always been, and will always be passengers that blatantly disregard dress codes, but that is not a topic I want to get into!  Shorts will still be forbidden at Palo, the small extra-charge, adults-only Italian restaurant found on all four Disney ships. Also remaining shorts-free is Remy, the upscale French restaurant on Disney's two newest ships, the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream.

Will this new policy be something that other cruise lines will adopt?  It will be interesting to wait and see.