Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cruising to the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean

There are many reasons why St. Martin / St. Maarten is a favorite port of call on a Caribbean cruise…pristine beaches, warm crystal clear water, and glorious weather. But did you know that this picturesque island is also considered the culinary capital of the Caribbean? On your next visit, how about heading out for a gourmet lunch?

The most popular types of cuisine in St. Martin are traditional French and spicy West Indian Créole. Traditional French culinary items such as escargot, foie gras and bouillabaisse are as delectable as that served in any served in Parisian restaurant.

Créole cuisine is a mouthwatering medley of European, African and Indian influences. Fresh seafood appears on just about every menu, sometimes prepared in Créole style with spices, sometimes in the classic French manner with herbs. It’s not surprising that Creole spices have infiltrated French dishes, and in many restaurants it’s these creative fusion dishes that guests repeatedly return to devour.

There are over 500 restaurants on this tiny island, though many Caribbean cruise ship passengers looking for an authentic island lunch will hail a cab and head out to Grand Case, on the French side of the island. Its mile-long main street is saturated with more than two dozen delightful eateries. Should you want to stay closer to the port, eateries in Cupecoy, Simpson Bay and Philipsburg are just as good.

So on your next Caribbean cruise, if you need a break from all that fun in that sun consider going out to lunch in St. Martin / St. Maarten. Both the French and Dutch sides offer gastronomic experiences galore and I guarantee the diverse cuisine will delight your taste buds!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Star Wars Invades Disney Cruise Line

Princesses move over…Star Wars is coming to Disney Cruise Line! That’s right! In early 2016, Disney Cruise Line guests can cruise along with the legendary characters of the Star Wars chronicles during a new experience called Stars Wars Day at Sea. What a nice contrast to all the ""Frozen"" madness that's coming to some sailings this summer!

Star Wars Day at Sea features a full day of Star Wars celebrations. The deck party promises to be “out of this world”. Star Wars characters converge on the deck stage for a celebration of the Star Wars saga in a show featuring special effects and guest participation. There will be music, dancing, and games. When the sun sets the deck party concludes in a spectacular display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects, lasers, and Star Wars.

Children can take advantage of the shipboard version of the Jedi Training Academy, which offers the opportunity for kids to enlist with the Jedi Order and become a Jedi padawan (that's a Jedi in training). By learning a series of moves with a light saber, the kids are more than capable of defeating any attack led by Darth Vader!

Then of course there are the meet-and-greets and picture ops with Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers and others. The event will also include screenings of the Star Wars films, and screenings of the Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels.

What about those adults that grew up with Star Wars? My first date with my husband was dinner and going to see the original movie back in 1977! I know we’d get a kick out of the nightclub that will be transformed into the fictional Mos Eisley cantina and serve ""Star Wars""-themed cocktails!

Star Wars Day at Sea will be available only aboard the Disney Fantasy on select Western Caribbean sailings, January through April in 2016.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Why Travel Insurance is a BIG DEAL

I’m surprised at the amount of people that think travel insurance is not a big deal. I just don’t understand that! They think travel insurance is only important if you’re old or maybe have health issues to be concerned about. We at Direct Line Cruises know that couldn’t be further from the truth!

Gone are the days when cruise lines used to be flexible when it came to allowing passengers to rebook a missed cruise. Although it may not make sense to you, the cruise line will not let you move the money you’ve paid to another cruise the following month or next year. If something unfortunate occurs in your life, not going on a cruise shouldn’t cause you additional financial distress.

Trip-cancellation or interruption insurance is the most usable and worthwhile kind of insurance out there! Age is meaningless if you slip on the ice and break a bone while shopping last minute for one more swimsuit (I’ve got first-hand experience on this one), a close relative dies days before you leave and you have to cancel the trip to attend the funeral, an aging parent cannot be left alone or you’re child comes down with a nasty stomach bug the night before departure. Nobody is invincible to the mayhem that can instantly thwart your cruise vacation plans!

Did you ever think about what 24-hour world-wide travel assistance really means? It’s like having a personal concierge service at your fingertips. It can help you find doctors or contact family members if you encounter an emergency while you’re away, provide language interpretation assistance, or help you replace a stolen passport. It can even aid you in getting from Istanbul to Athens after you missed the ship due to lengthy (but successful) haggling at the Grand Bazaar.

If your regular health insurance doesn’t cover you while abroad, you’ll want to consider a policy that includes medical expenses outside the United States. Did you know that if you’re on Medicare and are traveling internationally Medicare doesn’t typically cover situations outside the country? I have tales to tell of many clients that have taken unplanned “shore excursions” to hospitals in the Caribbean and Europe!

Because travel insurance coverage is a BIG DEAL, Direct Line Cruises includes a standard cruise protection plan in our price quotes for cruises 5 nights and longer. In addition, a more comprehensive travel insurance plan that even includes the protection of a Pre-Existing Conditions Exclusion Waiver can be added for a small additional charge.