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Why You Should Use A Travel Agent When Booking A Cruise: Hint it Will Save you Money! -

January 22, 2018

From via

So, you have decided to take a cruise and are ready for the best vacation of your life. All you need to do is actually make a reservation and put a deposit down on this trip.  You decide to go to the cruise line’s website to find an available cabin and book it online or call that nice lady pictured on the company’s website. You will make a reservation and be on your way. Even though they are telling you that you are getting a good deal on the cruise, how can you be sure?

In fact, it is more than likely that you are NOT getting the best possible deal!  Why? Because you are not taking advantage of the best ally you have when trying to score a great cruise deal, a travel agent.  Here, we outline why we use a travel agent and why you should too.

Walter Christen's insight:

I whole heartedly agree that that you should consider using a travel agent to help you book a cruise.  I also have found that the prices the cruise lines show and what a good travel agent can get for the same cruise are vastly different.

I have booked cruises both directly with the cruise line and also with a travel agent.  I know better now and only use a travel agent.  I like saving money and many times the travel agent has additional perks available like onboard credit or free room upgrades.

You should give the travel experts at Cruiseable a try and see what they can do for you.

The finer things aboard Royal Caribbean

January 22, 2018

From via

In the world of cruising, family and budget friendly usually come to mind when thinking of Royal Caribbean cruises, not the finer things.  I want to share with you two experiences I recently had on the Vision of the Seas that were quite grand events and elevated my perception of service and epicurean significance.

Walter Christen's insight:

This article hit upon two of the things my wife and I like to do on a Royal Caribbean cruise (actually on any cruise line).

Wine tasting is a lot fun and informative. I like understanding the different types of wine and why you would select one over another to pair with a meal. My tastes lean more to dry red wines where my wife likes lighter white wines. I recommend that if you do want to do wine tasting that you book it early.  On my last cruise we did not and found out that it was completely booked.

Chops Grille is also a favorite of ours and usually book a seating as soon as we board the ship. We also like to book Chops Grille for our last night on the cruise. The steaks are outstanding and the service is fantastic.

 Be warned that these finer things on Royal Caribbean are at an additional cost and do tend to sell out but if feel that they are worth the extra cost and planning involved.

Five things to consider before embarking on your first cruise

January 22, 2018

From via

There’s nothing quite like a cruise to help you unwind. The scented ocean breeze, calming open water and the chance to see several destinations in one holiday, they all have a unique appeal and a cruise can make it a reality. If you have never cruised before then some aspects can seem a little daunting, but here are five things to help you on your way and to keep in mind before you embark on your first holiday at sea.

Walter Christen's insight:

Five very good points for the first time cruiser.  In fact they are good even for the seasoned cruiser.  Here is my take:

Get there the night before - Unless you live close to the cruise terminal, it is smart to arrive at least the day before your cruise.  In Florida, where I live, many of the hotels near the cruise terminals also offer free transfers to the terminal. 

Don't forget your medications - If you need to take medications on a regular basis, make sure you take a ample supply.  On a 7 night cruise I usually bring at least a 10 day supply. Also remember to pack these medications in your carry on and not in your checked luggage.  They should be with you cruise documents and passport.  If you also take over the counter medications, it is a wise move to pack a supply with you.  Although the ship may have what you need, the prices are usually high.

Take note at the lifeboat drills - Although you may never need to know the information from the muster drill, better safe than sorry.  Also do not think you can duck out of going to the muster drill.  On every cruise I have taken, they do check via roll call or scanning of you sea card to insure that every one attends.

Get the right insurance - On every cruise I have taken I have always included the cost of insurance.  Although I have never had to use it, it does give you piece of mind that you car covered if something does happen.

Know the dress code - If you have a real aversion to dressing up for dinner, there are some cruise lines that would better than others.

Princess Cruises Presents New Web Video Series to Guide First-Time Cruisers

January 22, 2018

From via

Princess Cruises brings the joys of cruising to first-time cruisers with the debut of "Cat's First Cruise", a new web video series featuring Cat Greenleaf, three-time Emmy award winner and host of Talk Stoop with Cat Greenleaf. The video series serves as a useful resource for vacationers interested in taking their first cruise, by following Greenleaf, a busy professional, wife and mother of two young boys, as they plan and embark on their first cruise aboard Regal Princess. 

Viewers can follow the on-the-go Greenleaf and her family in this engaging 20-part short video series highlighting their Princess cruise experience onboard and ashore from start to finish, including:

  • Busy Family, Dream Vacation (Where Do We Begin?)
  • Food, Glorious Food
  • A Sanctuary For Mom
  • Kids Zone
  • Date Night
  • Come Back New

The family also experiences the local culture of the Caribbean. The series is available to view online here:

Walter Christen's insight:

Princess Cruises has come up with a wonderful set of video's about Cat Greenleaf's first cruise experience with her family aboard the Regal Princess.  They have a winner here.

It has been a long time since my first cruise but I did get to see some of the excitement recently as my wife and I just returned from a 5 day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Independence of the Seas.  We went with dear friends of ours who were first time cruisers.  It was a lot of fun and very interesting to see their reactions to everything on the ship.  I doubt it will be their last cruise.

5 Things I Learned On My First Cruise

January 22, 2018

From via

I spend 6 days floating and porting through the western Caribbean on this lovely ship, called the Getaway. Now, I will admit, while I was enthused for this first trip out of the country I was extremely leery of the idea of living at sea for such a long period of time. Will I get seasick? Would I get bored? What if my roommate and I have a disagreement? Will the food be good? Will everything have pork or shellfish in it? Will my allergies be going crazy? Will there be a lot of loud children? Do I have enough books to keep me occupied? Will they play trap music? Will there be cute men on board? Will this be the beginning of a whimsical fairy tale romance? I ended up really enjoying the trip and officially down to attend any and every cruise. I quickly learned that cruising is a lifestyle and picked up some life-saving tips as soon as I landed at the port. Some of these things where ideas that never crossed my mind before boarding or questions I asked but couldn't really find answers for when I searched the interwebs before my trip. I think they'd be really useful to everyone so check out this quick list

Walter Christen's insight:

Considering this was a first cruise (on the Norwegian Getaway), the takeaways are pretty solid.

Negotiate everything - Here is where a good travel agent (like the Cruiseable travel advocates) can help to insure you are getting the right cruise for you at the right price.

 Pack light - In our early cruise days, my wife and I admittedly over packed. It actually was amazing to see what clothes we did not use. I recommend that you try to pack clothes that you can mix and match and re-use. Also travel size toiletries are great.

Also research the cruise line and ship you are going on.  Some ships are more dressy than others (Norwegian is very relaxed dress code wise).

 Don't forget gratuity and bring cash - Make sure you budget for the gratuities as they will be added to your final bill. You can also prepay these on many cruise lines. You can pay you cruise charges in cash prior to the final bill but we usually have the charges for the cruise go to our credit card which gives us points.

Don't buy any drink packages - My wife and I are not big drinkers so we do not even consider the drink packages although when my son comes with us, we get him a soda package as he is a big soda drinker. Even then he has to drink at least 4-5 sodas a day to break even (not hard for him). Cost it out and figure if it makes sense for you.

Buying the "duty and tax-free" liquor on the ship isn't a steal - Maybe years ago the duty free shopping for liquor any have been a deal, but sadly, this is no longer the case.  If you know your prices, you may be able to save a few dollar but it wont be a lot.  Also remember that you will have to lug what you purchase off the ship and you would have to check it if you have to fly home.


Packing for your cruise

January 22, 2018

From via

You don't need to overextend a credit card to fill your suitcases with brand-new cruise duds. Despite any anxiety you may have about what to bring on your trip, you more than likely already have almost everything you need. You will, however, have to know your cruise line's policy on cruise wear, and be considerate by adhering to each evening's dress code (ranging from casual to formal). Making a packing list in advance helps, as does reading up on some key packing strategies. Make the planning and packing stage of cruise preparation a family affair by enlisting everyone's help.

Packing for Adults

Cruise wear falls into three general categories: casual, informal, and formal. Cruise documents should include information indicating how many evenings fall into each of those categories, and the daily newsletter will tell you the dress code for each evening.

Packing for Children

Packing for babies and toddlers will be the parents' responsibility, but kids can help with their own packing. To make things easy, make stacks of clothing for children for every day of the cruise, including underwear and socks. Put each day's stack in a zip-top plastic bag and label them Monday, Tuesday, and so on. Once on board the ship, each child can easily unpack his or her own suitcase and slip the plastic bags into drawers. Every morning they will know what to wear. Obviously, this won't work for older kids and teens, but parents may want to keep an eye on what they've chosen to oversee the appropriateness of their wardrobes.

Packing Your Carry-On

Because you may not have access to your checked bags for a few hours after boarding (or the morning of disembarkation), it's important to pack a carry-on with what you might need both on the plane and on your first and last hours on board your cruise ship. Needless to say, you'll have time to put your last day's clothing aside on the evening before you dock, but it's just as important to have your toiletries and a few other things you might need to freshen up in case your bags don't arrive. It's not a bad idea to include a change of clothing for dinner on the first night.

Walter Christen's insight:

Some really excellent advice here on what to pack for your cruise vacation.  I really liked the description of the difference between formal wear, casual wear, and informal wear.

In the many years of cruising my wife and I have done we have some tricks and hints that we use to minimize the amount of luggage needed.

- If you need to take medications on a regular basis, take more than you will need for the length of your cruise.  On a seven day cruise, I normally take 10 or 11 days worth.  Goes without saying that these should only be placed in your carry-on luggage. We also bring our own supplies of over the counter medications.  Very expensive on the ships and may not be available in the ports of call (besides, who wants to look for a pharmacy while on vacation).

- I always bring an extra belt. On one cruise we were on, the buckle broke on the belt I brought.  What fun it was trying to find a new belt in Roatan.

- Depending upon the cruise line, I have left home the suit for formal night and instead wore a pair of dress slacks and a dress shirt. Occasionally I add a sport jacket.

- Because we live in Florida and drive to most of the cruise ports, our carry-on has a lot less that what is detailed in the article. Cruise documents, passports, camera equipment, jewelry, Kindle, medications are the bare essentials. If we need to fly to the embarkation destination, I am sure the list would expand.

- Because I need to wear glasses, I always bring a extra pair. I also have one of those repair kits that come with a little screw driver and an assortment of screws.

- Travel size toiletries are a must to conserve space. If what we need or use is not available, we use the small airline approved bottles for shampoo and such.

- Plastic bags ( the zipper type) are very useful for many things such as keeping your toiletries organized, and prevent leakage if something breaks in your luggage.  We also take a large black plastic bag to use as a place to put dirty laundry.  We keep in the bottom of the hanging closet in the cabin. I liked the suggestion if you are travelling with small children to organize their clothing for the day and store in individual plastic bags.

- Be aware of the weight and size of your luggage especially if you need to travel by the  airlines.  When our family went on an Alaskan cruise, we were due for new luggage.  Before we bought new we weighed what we were contemplating purchasing (now, most luggage tells you how much they weigh).  We were fine going to the cruise but just barely made the weigh restrictions on the way home because of things that we purchased.  Also be aware that your luggage normally goes under the bed in your stateroom while you are on the cruise.  You may have to leave it open to fit it under.    

- When my children were teenagers and travelled with us more, we let them decide what they would bring in their carry-on (with veto rights). My son always tried to bring a large assortment of electronics to keep himself amused. He cut down what he would bring when he was reminded that he was responsible for carrying it around until we could get in the cabin.

- My wife takes exception to the suggestion that you use the laundry on the ship and wash clothes mid cruise.  It is her vacation also so that will not happen. In dire emergency, I think I would use the ships laundry service and have them clean what is needed for a fee. 


My wife and I are not experts in packing for a cruise and it seems that we still have unworn clothes when we disembark, but we are getting better. Also as indicated in the article, we also cross pack so that if one suitcase is delayed or lost, at least we have some of our clothes. Also remind yourself that you can wear some clothes more than once.  The other passengers will not notice or care if they did.

Tips for Cruising

January 22, 2018

From via

Cruising is an experience no one should miss out on. My family absolutely loves to cruise. It’s something we have done since I was little and although we don’t get to go as often now, I will never forget those memories. It is truly an amazing vacation for couples and families alike. Every cruise line and ship offers something different and unique. Be sure to research every line to make sure you find the ship that is right for you. If it’s your first cruise start smaller then work your way up to the bigger ships, that way you won’t be totally overwhelmed. There are Alaskan cruises, Caribbean cruises, European cruises, and more!

Your first cruise can be a bit intimidating. I have definitely learned some things along the way, and I hope others can learn from my mistakes and discoveries!

Walter Christen's insight:

There are some very valuable tip for anyone going on a cruise (first timers or experienced).  I just returned from a 7 day Caribbean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.  I thought I would weigh in on some of the tips and tricks I use when cruising.

Get on board early - I try to always be on the ship as early as they will let us onboard. If you are flying in to the port, I recommend flying in a day early and staying in a hotel close to the port.  Not only will you insure you get on the ship on time but you will be more relaxed and rested. This is also a great time to do things like find out where your will be seated in the dining room and have it changed if it is not what you want. I usually spend the first hour or two aboard exploring the ship (and taking pictures) when it is not as crowded. Remember, you will not be able to get into your cabin until some time later after you board.

Bring comfortable shoes - There is usually a lot of walking aboard a cruise ship and then more when you are in port.  Comfortable shoes are a must.  Does not mean you need to bring a closet full though.  I usually being a pair of sneakers, a pair of black dress shoes, and a pair of flip flops.  My wife does something similar.

Chargers - I bring two chargers where you can interchange the cable. I then bring two USB cables (for Kindles, some tablets and cell phones) and two lightning cable for IOS devices such as iPhones and iPads.  Nothing worse than having a charge fail or breaking a cable.

Best tip here is to also make sure to put you phone in airplane mode once aboard.  No one like to get a surprise later when their cell phone bill arrives.  Roaming charges can add up.

 Communication - When my children were small we had a pair of two way radios.  I still have them but we do not use them anymore. Lately we have been using the old tried and true method of having a small pad of paper and pen and if someone is going out they can leave a note as to where they are going. On our last cruise we saw a family that placed a small white board on the front of their cabin door. when anyone left they left a message as to where they were going.  Seemed to work great for them.

First day cruise deals - It seems that most of the contemporary cruise lines offer reduced prices at most of their specialty restaurants for the first night. In addition, the spa usually has discounted treatments on the days the ship is in port.

Motion sickness - neither my wife or I seem to suffer from motion sickness.  Modern cruise ships are much more stable and do not rock as much.  If you are prone to motion sickness, try to book a cabin in the middle of the ship and on one of the lower decks. I cannot give much advice on the medications and patches available although I do know most require you use them before you are sick.

Pack for winter - Yes, it can get cool on a cruise ship even in the Caribbean.  A light sweater or sweatshirt should be packed just in case. A few years ago when I was on a Alaska cruise, I forgot to bring a hat and had to purchase one at the first port of call.  Living in Florida, there is not that much call for a knit hat but I do have a nice souvenir to remember the trip.

 Forgotten cruise essentials  - There are so may tips that can be put in here.  Here are a few.  I do not like to shower with the small bar of soap provided and have recently been bringing a full size bar.  At the end of the cruise I dispose of the bar. 

Travel size toiletries are great. my wife and I like to bring our own shampoo and conditioner.  Cannot find your brand in travel size?  Purchase a different brand and empty it out and fill with what you use. 

My wife always packs a small umbrella and swears that helps insure we wont get rained out. Not so sure how accurate this is but...  I do like the tip of bringing the really cheap dollar store ponchos.

I like to bring zip lock bags in quart and gallon sizes.  Great to place you phone in when going to the beach to keep the sand out and the larger size is great to place wet bathing suits for the tip home. We also bring a large trash bag and use it to store dirty laundry in the bottom of the closet.

On the Oasis of the Seas We did not need a night light as the bathroom had one built in. I do bring a small flashlight just in case I need to move about the cabin when my wife is sleeping.

Norwegian Cruise Line details Harvest Caye features

January 22, 2018

From via

For the first time since the project’s announcement in 2014, Norwegian Cruise Line this week issued new details on the $100 million Harvest Caye private island development in Belize. Originally scheduled to open in February, the project’s debut was recently re-scheduled to November.

Scheduled to open in November and located on two adjoining islands off shore from Placencia, a small former fishing village, the development will include Belize’s first cruise ship pier, a marina facility for mainland excursions, a seven-acre beach, restaurants and eco-tourism and adventure activity centers, said Norwegian officials in a statement.

Harvest Caye’s beach area will feature 11 enclosed, air-conditioned villas with lounge and dining areas, restrooms, indoor and outdoor showers, hammocks, and exclusive dining and beverage options. A 15,000-square-foot pool in a landscaped area will feature a swim-up bar with stools and lounge tables and 15 canopy pool cabanas available for rent.

Walter Christen's insight:

I have always liked cruise ports of call to Belize.  It is a beautiful region in the Western Caribbean. The features and ammenities detailed by Norwegian Cruise Lines for Harvest Caye sound fantastic and provide plenty of activities to keep you busy for a day. It is also nice that they will have a cruise pier.  Some people do not like tendering in to port on small boats (I actually like it).

Sailing in style: Understanding dress code do’s and don’ts

January 22, 2018

From via

You’re going on a cruise – Congratulations! It’s about time you got away from it all. However, unlike the movies, and old corny T.V. shows like “The Love Boat,” there is actually a dress code on a cruise line. It’s understandable to be ignorant of it all. After all, you’re on vacation. You don’t think you need anything but some shorts and a t-shirt.

Check The Cruise Line Before You Go

Believe it or not, different cruise lines have different dress codes. And, while there’s no guarantee that you’ll be stopped “at the gate” while you’re out there on the open ocean, it’s best to abide by each cruise line’s code, just in case.

If you’re confused about any particular cruise line company, or you don’t want to jump in before understanding how each company restricts dress, check with your travel agent.

Walter Christen's insight:

My wife and I have been cruising for many years and it is

amazing how the dress code on many of the cruise lines have changed over the years.

In the early years I would rent a tuxedo and my wife would have a few fancy evening dresses to wear. Lately, I have relaxed what I wear on most cruises to a nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt and my wife brings a dress and/or a nice dress pants suit.

I do agree with the author that tuxedo rentals on most cruise ships is an option (check if available) but usually not a great fit.

Most our cruisning has been on the large mainstream cruise lines,  we would have to re-evaluate what to bring on some of the other cruise lines. If you are in doubt it is always a great Idea to discuss dress code with your Cruiseable travel advocate.

SkyRide: The star of Carnival Vista's new family fun offerings

January 22, 2018

From via

After more than 18 months of hype and teaser photos and an inaugural positioning cruise, the Carnival Vista began a summer of European cruising with a 10-day tour beginning in Barcelona and ending in Spain.

One of the signature strengths of Carnival Cruise Line is its entertainment programs and Camp Oceans kids day camps, the best among family-oriented cruise lines in my humble opinion. The former specifically shines during sea days when boredom is near impossible with activities launching at least every half hour.

So my son and I wondered what would fill our time during the nine port days, an oddity for those used to the Caribbean sailings of the cruise line. Yes, we’d explore shore excursions in some and wander on our own in other ports. But the activities schedule is streamlined by about 80 percent during port days, so what would fill our time?

Walter Christen's insight:

This new attraction on the Carnival Vista looks like a lot of fun.  That and the other offerings like the new Twister and Kaleid-O-Slide slides make me want to book a cruise of this new Carnival ship.

Half Moon Cay a slice of heaven in the Bahamas

January 22, 2018

From via

Half Moon Cay is a slice of heaven just floating in the Caribbean. Half Moon Cay is one of the 700 islands that make up the archipelago of the Bahamas. Less than 100 miles from Nassau lies the private island Half Moon Cay, a tropical paradise for those cruising with Holland America Line. Our first taste of the Bahamas was with on our Holland America Line Eastern Caribbean cruise, which included a day at Half Moon Cay.

Holland America purchased the island in 1996 for a steal for only $6 million, and has since invested $15 million to create the private island paradise for passengers on the line’s Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings. Carnival ships sometimes visit as well, as Holland America is part of the Carnival Corp. The island wasn’t always called Half Moon Cay, for most of its existence the island was known as Little San Salvador Island.

Walter Christen's insight:

I enjoy cruises that include a stop at a private Island.  I have been to many of them over the years.  The first being Royal Caribbean's Private island in Haiti called Labadee. It was soon after it opened and at that time there was very little there except some lounge chairs by the beach. Later this year I will be taking a Norwegian Cruise which will be making a stop at their newest Private Island off the coast of Belize called Harvest Caye


Most of the mainstream cruise lines have or soon will have private islands in the Bahamas or the Caribbean.

Holland America/Carnival - Half Moon Cay

Disney Cruise Line - Castaway Cay

Princess Cruise - Princess Cays

Royal Caribbean - Labadee and CoCo Cay

MSC - Ocean Cay (opening late 2017)

Norwegian Cruise Line - Great Stirrup Cay and opening late this year, Harvest Caye

The 5 best cruises to take from Seattle

January 22, 2018

From via

A visit to Seattle often means taking some time to enjoy Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, and the surrounding islands or peninsulas during a day trip. One of the easiest ways to do this is to hop onto one of the numerous ferries that operate in the region. You can walk onto any of them as a passenger, or take your vehicle for an interesting day trip, and spend less than $10 per person, it really is superb value for money. However, if you want to have more time to explore the local waterways of Seattle and take a pretty awesome vacation at the same time, then a cruise is definitely an option for you to consider.

There are quite a few tempting options out there when it comes to Seattle cruise departures, but some stand out more than others. These are our picks on the 5 best cruises to take from Seattle…

American Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line

Victoria Clipper

Princess Cruises

Holland America Line

Walter Christen's insight:

Seattle and the surrounding area is a great place to start or finish a cruise.  I can see spending a few days (or more) exploring this destination.  Quite a few cruise lines that have departures from Seattle to Alaska, the Pacific coastline and even transpacific crossings.