How our Bliss Filters work

Your custom results ({[{ }]}) Return to previous page

Travel Blog

Latest Family travel articles

Carnival Inspiration cruises from Los Angeles to Baja and Ensenada, Mexico.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Inspiration set to receive makeover

January 19, 2016

From via

Even as exciting new cruise ships launch, it’s always pleasant to see lines refurbish their existing fleet, and Carnival Cruise Line is set to enhance its Carnival Inspiration accordingly.

One of eight Fantasy-class ships, the 1996-built, 2,052-guest Carnival Inspiration will receive several Fun Ship 2.0 dining features during a multimillion dollar refit to bring it closer in line with its newer siblings. The three-week dry-dock will take place in Portland, Oregon from Jan. 18 to Feb. 5, 2016.

Walter Christen's insight:

The Carnival Inspiration refurbishment shows that even Carnival's smaller ships can feature many of the same venues as their larger ships.

Additions include, Guy’s Burger Joint, Blue Iguana Cantina, Red Frog Rum Bar, Alchemy Bar, Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, and my favorite, Cherry On Top.

After its 3 week dry dock, the Carnival Inspiration will be based out of Long Beach CA, and do 3-4 day Baja cruises.


Empress of the Seas offers three- to five-night itineraries out of Miami.

Gone for good? Not this Royal Caribbean ship

January 8, 2016

From via

Just when you think it's gone for good, they pull it back in.

With apologies to The Godfather's Michael Corleone (yeah, we know the quote isn't quite right), that's the story for a beloved Royal Caribbean ship that will be returning to the line's fleet this year after an eight-year absence.

The Miami-based line over the holidays confirmed that the 2,020-passenger Empress of the Seas would return to the fold to sail short cruises out of the city starting in April.

Unveiled in 1990, the 48,563-ton vessel left the Royal Caribbean fleet in early 2008 and has been sailing ever since for Spanish line Pullmantur. Pullmantur is owned by Royal Caribbean's parent company.

Walter Christen's insight:

Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas, is a beautiful ship and well suited for the intended short Bahamas/ Caribbean cruises. Sailing out of Miami, it will do 4 and 5 day cruises to Nassau and the Bahamas, Cozumel and Costa Maya, or Grand Cayman and Key West.

These shorter cruises are great when you need a cruise break but do not have the time to take a longer cruise. These itineraries would make for great long weekend getaways.


Disney Cruise Line guests to get first look at new 'Star Wars' movie

December 7, 2015

Do you know where you were on May 25, 1977? I was standing in line for the first “Star Wars” movie. And now, one cultural phenomenon and seven movies later, the first Star Wars film under the Disney umbrella will hit theaters next Friday, December 18.

But if you're on one of four Disney Cruise ships, you'll get to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens" the evening before. 

From the looks of the trailers, it looks to be a good one. I have seen some concern by people online that they will be on a Disney Cruise Line sailing when the Lucasfilm movie premieres. I checked with the cruise line and received this response:

Disney Magic sails to the Caribbean out of San Juan and Galveston, Texas.

Set sail with Disney Cruise Lines for the perfect family vacation

November 29, 2015

From via

There’s a time in life for back road adventures, and a time when you want to kick back in a deck chair, have Olaf from Frozen bring you daiquiris and watch your kids swimming in the pool. I’ve done the backpacking-around-Australia bit and spent six weeks with a sore neck from sleeping in the car every night. Two kids and a decade later, it’s Disney Cruise time! My brothers and sisters in parenting, we’ve earned it.

Disney Cruise Line has four ships in its fleet: Wonder, Magic, Dream and Fantasy, the latest addition. All the ships are designed with families in mind and cater for kids from babies to 17-year-olds. On board you can swim, eat at one of the many buffets and restaurants, drop the kids at kids club and go to the gym, eat, watch live entertainment, eat, hang out with Donald Duck. And did we mention eat? Because there’s lots to eat.

Walter Christen's insight:

Disney Cruise Lines knows how to cater to families with children. My kids, although are now young adults, still remember the cruise we did on the Disney Wonder when they were young.

Although you do pay a premium for the Disney experience, the activities aboard and the stellar service is worth it.


Carnival's new social media Internet packages are now on more than half its ships

November 29, 2015

From via

Carnival Cruise Line's new social media Internet packages – which offer access to a variety of popular Web sites for just $5 a day – are now available on more than half of the line's ships with fleetwide implementation scheduled by the first quarter of 2016.

Additionally, the line's new mobile app – currently available on Carnival Breeze and offering an innovative "chat" feature – has been very well received with a third of the ship's guests actively using the app during their cruise.  The app is expected to be available on five additional ships by the end of the year and be fleetwide by summer 2016.    

"Fast, affordable and reliable social media channels and the Internet have become essential on today's cruise ships," said Gabriela Gonzalez, Carnival's vice president of guest technology.  "We have thoughtfully approached this area to ensure we are providing options that guests sailing throughout our fleet find truly valuable and reliable," she added.

Walter Christen's insight:

This is exciting news for those who need or want to stay connected during their cruise.  The social media package for 5 dollars a day sounds like a deal. There will also be a value package giving more access and a premium package that will even give access to video calling sites such as Skype.

I am also intrigued by the mobile app with a chat feature. It would be nice to be able to find my kids so we could do group activities or have meals together.

 Seems that all the mainstream cruise lines have realized that internet at sea is important to many of their passengers.


The Paul Gauguin introduces young travelers to French Polynesia's natural wonders through a program created by explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society.

6 must-book family cruises

November 20, 2015

From via

It’s not uncommon to book a family cruise one year or more in advance and given the incredible experiences children can have, like learning to juggle, exploring medieval history and creating ocean murals, you’d be wise to book well in advance in order to snap up the best staterooms.


Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean program for kids has long been a favorite, enabling children ages three to 11 to participate in scavenger hunts, dig for fossils and conduct science experiments on-board the ship.

Carnival’s new Carnival Freedom provides children with various opportunities for on-board learning, including Camp Ocean, a sea-themed camp for kids ages two to 11.

Not only does Norwegian Cruise Line offer Splash Academy (for kids) and Entourage (for teens), but the at-sea Cirque du Jour circus school couldn’t be more popular.

Disney Cruise Line is offering cruises along the coast of Norway on the Disney Magic ... giving families the opportunity to explore fjords, cobblestone streets, local flavors and medieval history.

Princess Cruises' on-board Junior Ranger program educates children about the local environment and wildlife as the ship makes its way through Alaska’s Inner Passage. On cruises to most

Paul Gaugin Cruises offers an Ambassadors of the Environment youth program for kids ages nine to 17, which offers children first-hand opportunities to explore coral reefs, volcanic islands and marine life.

Walter Christen's insight:

Detailed in this article are the children and teen programs from the major cruise lines.  I feel that cruising is the ideal vacation for families with children not only because of these programs which are excellent, but also they can learn so much about other places and people. It is also a great place to get your children to try different foods.

My children have been on many cruises with us.  Decisions about tours were made by all of us.  We have been to a few zoos on caribbean islands (the zoo in Aruba was great) and both of my kids learned to snorkel with me.  Alaska was most memorable. Fishing for halibut in Icy Straits with my son and seeing whales while at dinner on the ship.


Disney Dream, launched in 2011, offers a rich variety of family-friendly amenities and nonstop entertainment, including occasional guest appearances by Mickey and friends.

Disney Dream cruise ship gets a Star Wars upgrade and much more

November 2, 2015

From via

A Disney cruise ship is back in the water at Port Canaveral Friday after getting some upgrades.

The Disney Dream had been in dry dock for three weeks for the installation of a new toy box entertainment area.

Disney also added more Star Wars-themed play areas.

The ship is headed to the Bahamas Friday.

"We have go so many different activities for families, for adults, for kids, it's all here," said assistant cruise director Michael Gibbons.

Walter Christen's insight:

The upgrades done to the Disney Dream sound like a lot of fun. Disney Cruise Line did not forget the adults with a new pool area (Satellite Falls) which is just for them.


NorthStar lifts guests 300 feet above sea level to offer stunning views on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Top five coolest things about Anthem of the Seas

October 28, 2015

From via

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas is less than two weeks away from her arrival in the New York City area and many  fans are excited to check out what this brand new ship offers.

Royal Caribbean has packed Anthem of the Seas with innovations, activities and technology that all contribute to give guests that "WOW" factor the company is well known for.

There is a lot of exciting options onboard and in anticipation of Anthem of the Seas' arrival, we are counting down the top five coolest features onboard.

Walter Christen's insight:

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Sea is one of the new ship that I am personally excited about. Here are five of the highly anticipated options:

Virtual Balcony - live outside views on 80 inch LED screens on inside cabins.

Voom high speed internet - For when disconnecting is not an option.  High Speed at a reasonable cost.

Two70 - Looks like a exciting show venue.

Ripcord  - Looks like a lot of fun but I am not sure I am up for the sky diving experience.

North Star - I would love to experience the panoramic views from the North Star.


This is only a small part of the exciting attractions and venues on this new ship.



A trend? New Norwegian cruise ship is the latest with a 'snow room'

October 28, 2015

From via

ON BOARD THE NORWEGIAN ESCAPE -- It's the coolest new attraction at sea. Literally.

The new Norwegian Cruise Line ship debuting this weekend in Europe is home to a super-chilled "snow room" that is the first of its kind on a mass-market cruise ship catering to North Americans.

The frosty spa retreat on the Norwegian Escape is kept at a nippy 14 degrees Fahrenheit and boasts flurries of powdery snow descending from the ceiling. It's part of a sprawling thermal suite within the ship's Mandara Spa.

"It's very good for aches and pains," says Courtney Neumann, the spa manager on the Norwegian Escape, who recommends lounging in the thermal suite's super-heated sauna before entering the snow room. "The idea is to go from hot to cold, which makes your blood vessels constrict and dilate, which is extremely good for your immune system and blood circulation."

Walter Christen's insight:

What a interesting attraction on Norwegian's newest ship the Norwegian Escape

I know my daughter would love this as the last time she saw snow was when she was three years old. I would love to experience this "snow room" as long as they did not expect me to shovel it.


The big question: Can you take kids on a Holland America cruise?

October 19, 2015

From via

This was a common response to the announcement of our cruise to Alaska in September with Holland America Line.

It had long been on my dream list. I yearned to visit Alaska and a cruise seemed like a fabulous way to see it. There were so many choices, but we left things really late and all of a sudden it was the end of the season with only 4 more ships heading to Alaska. Two of those were the Westerdam and Noordam.

So when Holland America suggested we take their final cruise of the season from Vancouver to Alaska aboard the ms Noordam, it fit in perfectly to our schedule. Alaska would be sandwiched between our archery tournament in sunny Spokane, Washington and a housesitting assignment in Kelowna, Canada. 

Walter Christen's insight:

I have not sailed on a Holland America cruise ship and I did not know the answer to this.  When you talk about taking the kids on a cruise you normally think of DisneyRoyal Caribbean, and Carnival.

 Sounds like Holland America has most of the bases covered for family cruises. A kids program, excellent food and service, and first rate entertainment go a long way to providing a memorable vacation.

 I especially liked the description of the room with the curtain between the beds giving a little privacy. 


Cruise smackdown: Disney Fantasy vs. Disney Magic

October 12, 2015

From via

Is newer better when it comes to Disney ships? Readers, we want to hear what you have to say!

In this, the sixth of our new series of Cruise Ship Smackdowns, we're pitting one of Disney Cruise Line's two new vessels, the Disney Fantasy, against one of its original two ships, the Disney Magic.

Click through the photo tours of the two vessels in the carousels above and below, then go the comment area to tell us: Which one would you prefer for a cruise vacation -- and why?

Walter Christen's insight:

Other than the size difference of the ships and what resort-like attractions are available on each, I do not think you could go wrong sailing on either the Disney Fantasy or Disney Magic. Either ship will provide many great memories for the entire family.


The stunning Royal Esplanade, which runs along decks 4 and 5 on Anthem of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean expands impressive array of entertainment on Anthem of the Seas

September 16, 2015

From via

When Anthem of the Seas arrives into the New York harbor in just 50 days it will bring with it a familiar cast of DreamWorks Animation characters. Po of "Kung Fu Panda;" Shrek, Fiona and Puss In Boots of "Shrek;" and Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien and the Penguins from "Madagascar" will be joining Anthem of the Seas when she begins sailing from her homeport of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ.

Guests on Anthem can enjoy events and activities based on DreamWorks Animation's popular feature-film characters, including a DreamWorks Character breakfast in the main dining room, 'meet and greet' experiences throughout the day as well as photo ops that can be shared with family and friends back home thanks to VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. Royal Caribbean's younger guests can enjoy an exhilarating line-up of activities, games and adventures rooted in the popular DreamWorks Animation films at the complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program. Additionally, guests can watch the latest DreamWorks Animation films at the ship's movie theater or on a dedicated DreamWorks TV channel in their stateroom

Walter Christen's insight:

Royal Caribbean's inclusion of the DreamWorks characters and activities on the Anthem of the Seas is a great move.  Definitely will be a hit with the kids. The Royal Esplanade will be the perfect place for the parade.