How our Bliss Filters work

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

Travel Blog


Latest New to cruising articles

The Bionic Bar is where robots will mix your drinks.

Is going on a cruise the hippest thing in travel now?

June 28, 2016

From travelwith2ofus.com via Scoop.it:

A couple of years ago, when you heard people say they were going on a cruise you would normally picture retirees in straw hats, sandals and brightly colored and flowered shirts.

Nowadays cruise travel passengers include the young, middle aged and, of course the retirees.

But what has changed? Well for beginners, cruise ship companies have made it very attractive for passengers, and the younger, hipper crowds are starting to realize that maybe it makes sense to go on a cruise, see several different countries in one trip and eat, drink and party to their heart's content.In addition to this, cruise companies have done extensive market research and turned out many new destinations, new activities, both on-ship and onshore, as well as created themed cruises, increased the length of cruise trips and are putting water slides, rock climbing and even bars operated with robotic tenders on new ships, all in an effort to facilitate the changing patterns of the cruise ships travel market.

 

Walter Christen's insight:

I firmly believe there is a cruise that would appeal to anyone no matter what age group they happen to be in.  What I would be looking for in a cruise experience many not be what you are looking for. All of the resources on Cruiseable.com and the bliss filters can help you find that perfect cruise for you.

 

The 5 best cruises to take from Seattle

June 20, 2016

From cruisemiss.com via Scoop.it:

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. 

 

 

Horseback riding, hiking and nature walks are as popular as the beaches and snorkeling at Half Moon Cay, one  of about 700 islands that make up the Bahamas.

Half Moon Cay a slice of heaven in the Bahamas

June 16, 2016

From www.gettingstamped.com via Scoop.it:

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 love going to the beach and doing a little snorkeling. 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.

Here's Cruiseable's look at 8 of the cruise lines' private islands.

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 and Amber Cove

Disney Cruise Line- Castaway Cay

Princess Cruises- Princess Cays

Royal Caribbean- Labadee and CoCo Cay

MSC Cruises- Ocean Cay (opening late 2017)

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

 

Chill out after a thermal treatment in the spa in Norwegian Escape's Snow Room. It's being touted as beneficial to blood circulation and the immune system.

The best amenities on cruise ships revealed

May 23, 2016

From www.dailymail.co.uk via Scoop.it:

Cruise ships have come a long way in the last decade as lines push the boundaries when it comes to size, capacity and thrilling amenities to appeal to a new generation of holidaymakers.

These days, passengers can spend time at sea in a lounge where they are served by robotic bartenders, in a spa where artificial snowflakes fall inside a snow room, or in a planetarium where they are taken on a virtual tour of outer space, and still fail to take advantage of everything on board.

From a cycling track suspended above the upper deck to a bar made of ice, these are some of the best amenities on cruise ships.

 

 

Walter Christen's insight:

For some the cruise ship can be a destination in itself. It is easy to see why when cruise ships have these new amenities.

 

SkyRide, Carnival Vista

The Ultimate Abyss, Harmony of the Seas

Snow Grotto, Viking Cruises

F1 Simulator, MSC Cruises

SeaWalk, Princess Cruises

Ice Bar, Norwegian Epic

The Lawn Club, Celebrity Cruises

North Star, Royal Caribbean

Vertigo, MSC Preziosa

Planetarium, Queen Mary 2

Private sauna, Viking Star

Snow Room, Norwegian Escape

Bionic Bar, Royal Caribbean

 

 

Nothing wrong with sending loved ones an email, or keeping abreast of the news, during your Silversea sailing.

Good news for cruisers: Ships' on-board Internet service is improving and prices are falling

May 15, 2016

From www.latimes.com via Scoop.it:

I had been looking forward to an upcoming cruise for weeks. But timing is everything, and mine wasn't good. I had a deadline looming as I boarded the ship. I knew I needed to get busy right away or I'd never make my deadline.

Then the on-board Internet crashed, and the prognosis wasn’t good. A shipboard tech in the computer room suggested I disembark and use land-based Internet. "We aren't scheduled to depart for hours," he said. "You probably can get a lot of work done."

As much as I hated leaving so quickly after I'd just arrived, I did so, made my deadline and re-boarded the ship.

I was disheartened. Would I spend the rest of the cruise worried about the Internet or being forced to live without it? Fortunately, no. The ship's connection soon returned, and there were no more problems.

“In our increasingly connected world, it has become incredibly important for travelers to stay connected,” said Thomas P. Ostebo, president and chief executive of Cruise Lines International Assn.

Walter Christen's insight:

When I started cruising many years ago, on of the attractions was that my employer could not contact me while I was on a cruise.  I worked in a 24X7 environment and the disconnect time was important to me.

Things change and disconnecting entirely is not a option for many (me included).  It is nice to see that the prices for connectivity are coming down.  I can only hope that at some point internet connectivity will be included in the cruise fare.  One less thing to think about.

Later this year I will be on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas with my family.  My children were ecstatic that we would getting Voom Wi-Fi for the entire cruise.  We are Crown and Anchor members and get a nice discount. 

 

Dining options on Royal Caribbean cruises range from formal seating in the main dining room to more casual fare.

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

April 10, 2016

From momandmore.com via Scoop.it:

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. Many of the cruise lines have relaxed the formal dress codes.

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

 

Harvest Caye is the $100 million private island development in Belize.

Norwegian Cruise Line details Harvest Caye features

March 21, 2016

From www.travelpulse.com via Scoop.it:

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).

 

Book a romantic cruise to the Caribbean on Oasis of the Seas.

Tips for cruising

February 17, 2016

From pawsandapassport.com via Scoop.it:

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:

I just returned from a Royal Caribbean cruise on Saturday, so this is still fresh in my memory. Here are some tips for first-time cruisers on Cruiseable:

 

 

 

Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas in port in Miami.

Packing for your cruise

December 16, 2015

From www.fodors.com via Scoop.it:

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. If you do not do self disembarkation, leave room in your carry on for what you slept in on the last night.  Also do not forget to take out clothes to wear home before you put your luggage outside your room.

- 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.

 

 

MSC Divina cruise itineraries include the Mediterranean and Ionian seas.

MSC Divina returns to Miami

December 7, 2015

From www.cruiseandtravellifestyles.com via Scoop.it:

MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line, recently celebrated the arrival of MSC Divina – one of the company’s newest and most ultra-modern ships to Miami, where she will sail year-round to the Caribbean.

MSC Divina spent this past summer in the Mediterranean, following her inaugural Caribbean season sailing from Miami between November 2013 - April 2015. Her return to Miami marks a significant milestone for the company as it increases its focus on the North American market.

In addition, MSC Cruises announced that sales for its next-generation cruise ship MSC Seaside, will open on December 15th, two years ahead of her debut, in December 2017. MSC Seaside, which will join MSC Divina in sailing from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at PortMiami, will be the first MSC Cruises’ ship to head directly to the U.S. from the shipyard, and be the first MSC Cruises’ ship to be christened in the U.S.

Walter Christen's insight:

I have always wanted to cruise on  a MSC cruise ship. I have seen their ships while at ports of call while on other cruises and always wanted to give MSC a try.

MSC is enhancing the MSC Divina to be tailored to the North American market. New shows and musical entertainment are planned among other enhancements. I am intrigued by the snow party with a snow cannon.

One thing my wife and I enjoy on cruises is wine tasting. MSC is adding to their wine blending classes to have "Boutique Winery Tasting" where you will be able to taste rare wines from award-winning boutique wineries.

I have to put MSC higher on my list of cruise ships to sail on.

 

Norwegian Getaway cruises the Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico and other popular destinations in the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

5 things I learned on my first cruise

December 1, 2015

From www.thejanetales.com via Scoop.it:

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.

 What were some of the things you learned on your first cruise?

 

Regal Princess during sea trials.

Princess Cruises presents new web video series to guide first-time cruisers

November 14, 2015

From www.marketwatch.com via Scoop.it:

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: www.princess.com/come-back-new/cat-greenleaf-first-cruise/.

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.