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Latest New to cruising articles

Book passage to your next Caribbean adventure on Carnival Dream.

Five things to consider before embarking on your first cruise

November 5, 2015

From cruisemiss.com via Scoop.it:

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.

 

The finer things aboard Royal Caribbean

October 20, 2015

From thetravelinggals.com via Scoop.it:

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 and having a memorable dining experience involving steak.

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 our last cruise we did not and found out that it was completely booked.

Chops Grille is also a favorite of ours and usually book as soon as we board the ship. We usually 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 I feel that they are worthy.

 

Independence of the Seas' highlights include the FlowRider surf simulator, a rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, cantilevered whirlpool and mini golf course.

Why you should use a travel agent when booking a cruise: Hint it will save you money!

October 14, 2015

From eatsleepcruise.com via Scoop.it:

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.

 

 

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

Tips for first time cruisers: A newbie's guide to setting sail

October 2, 2015

From www.onepennytourist.com via Scoop.it:

Going on your first cruise can be a little daunting as some things are handled differently from a land vacation. But, being a cruising newbie doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.

Before I took my first cruise I had many worries. Would I feel trapped? What if I didn’t like the food? What if I got bored? (Hah!). I wish I’d seen tips for first time cruisers myself as it would have helped set my mind at ease so much.

Walter Christen's insight:

I really liked the cruise tips presented.  Not only applies to first time cruisers but everyone.  Here is my take on the main points.

Don't miss the boat - Nothing will ruin your vacation more than missing the ship.  If you are flying in to take your cruise, yes, come in the day before and stay at a hotel near the cruise terminal. Living in Florida, many of the cruises I take originate at one of the many cruise ports in Florida.  I Drive in the morning of the cruise leaving a lot of time in case we get delayed due to traffic. I would rather sit in the terminal than wonder if I am going to make it in time.

Also when in the ports of call, Stay on ship time and allow for plenty of time to get back to the ship.  Remember that if you are using your phone, it may reset to local time when in port.

Carry-on luggage - My wife and I each have a backpack we use for our carry on.  Mine has my camera equipment, and my wife carries the passports, cruise documents, and medications.  We do not typically hit the pool when we board the ship but if that is your plan, you should bring your bathing suits in your carry on. We normally wander around the ship checking it out and also go to the dining room to see where our dinner seating is.

Ships are cashless - before you board the ship you will have to either fund your account with cash or what we do is have our credit card attached to the account.  When on the ship, all purchases are made using your ship card

You will also use this card as your room key and to leave the ship when at ports of call. Remember also that at the end of your cruise, you will need it one last time to disembark. Do not pack it away in your suitcase. 

Most cruise lines make it easy for you to track your spending so you do not go into shock at the end of your cruise.  I recommend that you take a look at what you have spend so far on a daily basis.

Dining - One of the best parts about cruising is the dining experiences available. Great time to try something new, and if you do not like it, ask the waiter to bring you something else.  Have a picky eater with you? Most cruise lines also offer a assortment of traditional entrees and when all else fails the children's menu may be the ticket.  You do not need to be a child to order from the children's menu.

Daily newsletters - Each evening you will receive in your stateroom a newsletter that gives a breakdown of all the cruise has to offer for the next day.  We usually go over the newsletter prior to going to bed and refer to it during the day.  You can do as much or as little as you desire. Listed will the times that events are happening, when bars and dining options will be open, the recommended dress code for dinner in the main dining room,  and the drink of the day.

Main thing to remember of your first cruise is that this is your vacation, don't stress it and have fun.

 

 

We like free stuff! Amazing perks you can get on cruises

September 28, 2015

From www.yahoo.com via Scoop.it:

Brand loyalty among cruisers is a funny thing. Each enjoyable cruise you take on one cruise line entrenches you more firmly in your comfort zone. You feel good about your vacation choice, knowing in advance what you are getting. You love that it feels like home when you step onboard. You practically have the menus memorized. What if you switch and Brand X doesn’t have that soufflé you love? Or the right pillows? Once you settle in, it feels like you could sail to the ends of the earth fearlessly with your chosen cruise line.

But you want recognition, too! The cruise line should treat you like royalty for all that loyalty. In some cases they do. Yahoo Travel went in search of the best cruise perks available on the major lines, digging deep into the muddled fine print to find what each loyalty program is best at. Which cruise lines have the best plans for new cruisers looking to begin the loyalty game? And which cater more to serious cruisers whose crowns need a little polishing?

Walter Christen's insight:

Cruise loyalty programs seem to be a no brainer.  It does not cost anything to join, and depending upon how often you cruise and if you seem to frequent the same cruise line, can add up to some nice perks.

On a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, there were a few bottles of water in the room.  I asked the room steward about them and he said that they were free and part of my Crown and Anchor rewards.

We have also received room upgrades, lower deposit requirements and also free drinks and other discounts onboard.

Also not mentioned is that for some cruise lines they have special waiting areas for loyalty members for embarkation and can mean you may be able board the cruise ship earlier. 

 

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

Cruising 101: 4 tips for final disembarkation

September 1, 2015

From familytravelsonabudget.com via Scoop.it:

The hardest part about cruising is leaving the ship… not because it’s difficult, but because it’s hard to leave the fun. But since that final disembarkation is inevitable, knowing what to expect should make it a bit easier.

The final night on board, you’ll get a detailed list of all charges made on the ship during your vacation. If you didn’t keep up with that during the cruise, check that everything is accurate. Mistakes are rare, but they do happen. Remember that gratuities for cabin stewards and wait staff will be added to your account as well. If there’s a problem with your account, go to Guest Services as soon as possible. There’s always a long line to dispute charges (rarely a cruise line error, but it is possible) or to make final settlement if using a debit card. Be patient.

Walter Christen's insight:

No one likes to think about the end of their cruise vacation, but leaving the ship need not be a stressful situation.  The 4 tips presented in this article will help.

Living in Florida we for the most part drive to the  cruise terminal,  and for this reason we carry our own luggage off of the ship.  The main reason is I do not like having to find my luggage in the sea of luggage in the cruise terminal.

Here are a few pointers I have found useful:

  • Remember you will need your cruise card one last time to get off the ship.  Do not pack it away until you are off the ship.
  • Keep your passport/identification handy with the customs declaration form you filled before you left the ship.
  • Do not bring any fruits or vegetables off the ship with you.  Your cruise line will have information on what you cannot bring off the ship.
  • if you plan on one last dip in the pool or Jacuzzi on the last night of the cruise, use a plastic bag or Ziploc bag to keep the bathing suits from getting everything else in your luggage wet.
 

Disney Magic in port in the Caribbean.

First-time cruise tips: Tipping on a cruise

August 9, 2015

From planningformagic.com via Scoop.it:

It can already be difficult to know when to tip while traveling, and tipping on a cruise often has its own rules, which can be confusing for first-time cruisers. Here are a few tips for what to expect about tipping on your cruise.

Gratuities are generally automatic on cruises. Each day of your cruise, a gratuity per person will be charged to your stateroom account. (As an example, Royal Caribbean’s daily gratuity per guest is $12.95.) This gratuity will be distributed amongst your servers and stateroom attendants. Different stateroom categories, such as suites, may have different automatic gratuity amounts if additional services are provided for that category.

Walter Christen's insight:

This article does explain how gratuities works on a cruise ship.  I for one find having the gratuities automatically added to my stateroom account to make it much easier.  If you know how much is being added and you know the length of your cruise, you know how much to budget.

I felt that there are a few other pointers that can be added.

  • it is customary on embarkation and debarkation to tip the baggage handler at the port.  Some say a dollar a bag is sufficient but I feel this is low.  I feel that 2-3 dollars a bag is more reasonable.
  •  I usually bring extra money while on a tour at a port of call to tip the tour guide.  Recently when on a  tour of a local zoo on Aruba, the young man that acted as our tour guide provided such a extraordinary tour, it would have been very hard to leave without showing our gratitude with a tip.
  • Although most cruise lines now do automatic gratuities, it does not mean that you cannot give an extra tip.  Many a time have we had a server, stateroom attendant or other ship personnel that have over and above and made our cruise that more enjoyable.

 What other cases where you would tip over and above the automatic gratuity would you include?  The casino? The Spa?

 

 

 

The world’s most famous bartender invents 'The Isaac' cocktail for Princess Cruises

August 7, 2015

From pursuitist.com via Scoop.it:

Dos Equis beer may lay claim to “the world’s most interesting man in the world,” but Princess Cruises can trump that when it comes to a proper cocktail king.  To help celebrate its 50th anniversary, Princess Cruises welcomed aboard the world’s most famous bartender, popularly known as Isaac Washington from “The Love Boat.”

Everyone’s favorite barkeep was portrayed by actor Ted Lange in the hugely-popular 1970-80s TV series, but few of his fans know that he’s actually an expert mixologist. “I was a licensed bartender when I starred as Isaac in ‘The Love Boat,’” Lange explains, flashing his famously friendly smile. “So Princess Cruises asked me to come back on board to invent a cocktail which I think everyone’s going to love.

Ted’s favorite cruise destination is The Caribbean, so he recently sailed there with Princess Cruises on the Crown Princess to introduce his new tropical rum cocktail that he named “The Isaac” in honor of, well, himself. He showed the Crown Princess beverage crew how it’s done:

Walter Christen's insight:

This new drink, "The Isaac" created by Ted Lange for Princess Cruises sounds line it would be tasty and refreshing.  I am going to have to try this one out at home and the next time I am on a Princess Cruise try it on board to compare.

 

The Piazza della Repubblica in Rome.

Western Mediterranean cruise basics

August 4, 2015

From sixtysomething.co.uk via Scoop.it:

Of all of Europe’s cruise regions, the Western Mediterranean offers the most of the most: arts and culture, surf and sand, cafe hopping and boutique shopping. It encompasses the absolute best variety of sights, attractions and activities.

Itineraries that sail the Western Mediterranean typically emphasize ports of call in SpainFrance and Italy with a few interesting detours along the way. These could also include stops in Portugal (primarily Lisbon, though Porto is occasionally featured), Canary Islands, Morocco (Casablanca and Tangier), Tunis (La Goulette), Monte Carlo and Gibraltar. Within these choices, however, actual ports of call vary wildly and can include everything from France’s oh-so-chic Villefranche to Italy’s open-air museum of Florence.

Because the euro’s value can fluctuate wildly against the U.S. dollar, it can be much cheaper to cruise to Europe than plan a land-based trip. For value-conscious U.S. travelers, a cruise helps to soften the blow of big-ticket items like hotels and restaurants.

Walter Christen's insight:

I read this article with great interest as the Western Mediterranean is on my list of places I would like to visit.  Only recently did my wife also inform me that she would like to go here as well.  Time to start the planning....

This article points out that most cruise lines have ships that sail this region and that the itineraries vary based upon the cruise line and the size of the ship.

 Ports of call mentioned include Barcelona, Florence, Naples/Sorrento, Nice/Monte Carlo/Cannes and Rome.

 

 

The main pool on the Lido Deck of Carnival Valor.

Cruising tips for first timers

August 2, 2015

From chasingcasey.com via Scoop.it:

Taking your first cruise can be both exciting and stressful. You’ve probably been booked for months and as it inches closer and closer your getting more and more excited but at the same time your not sure what to expect. So, here’s a few tips that may come in helpful for you if this is your first time cruising!

Walter Christen's insight:

Your first time going on a cruise need not be stressful.  In this article 7 tips are presented.  Here is my take on each.

  1. Documentation - Make sure you have all your documentation in order well in advance.  Although on some cruises you can use an original birth certificate, I suggest that a passport is still the way to go.  If you are getting a passport, remember to leave enough time from when you apply.  It can take 6+ weeks to receive.
  2. Online check in - The check in process at the cruise terminal can be stressful.  There are many people doing the same thing as you are.  Anything you can do to speed the process such as online check in makes it go all that much faster.
  3. Arrival at the cruise terminal - Living in Florida, I have 4 cruise terminals within driving distance.  I like to arrive early.  I would rather be sitting at the terminal, knowing I will be soon to be on the ship, than still be driving wondering if I will make it on time.  If you are flying to the terminal, it may be a wise option to arrive a day early and spend the night in a hotel.
  4. Shore excursions - Depending upon where you are going, you may want to pre book your shore excursions. When we cruise in the Caribbean, we do not pre book, but when we went to Alaska,  we heeded the warning and pre booked all our shore excursions.  Not all were sold out but a few were even before the ship left port.
  5. Cell phones - Only use your cell phone in an emergency.  it is very expensive and you will not see the damage until you are back from your cruise. If you really need to be connected while away, you may want to investigate the Wi-Fi packages that the cruise lines offer (not cheap either).
  6. Your Bank - Yes it is a good idea to let your credit card company know you will be using their card when out of the country.
  7. Soda and Alcohol - Check with the cruise line you are going on so you understand what you can and cannot bring onboard with you. You may also want to check if one of the beverage packages sold by the cruise line may be cost effective for you.

 

Here is a additional tip from me for when you are on your cruise so you can remain stress free.

 

If you are worried about your spend rate while onboard your cruise,, you can check you shipboard account anytime you would like.  Some ships make it easy as pulling up your account on the in room TV and others have kiosk where you can print a current statement.  If neither of these options are available, the pursers desk can print you a copy of your current shipboard statement.

 

Where does Sea Princess sail to? Where doesn't it?: London, Scotland, New York, Halifax, Iceland, Jordan, Dubai, Tonga, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Samoa,  Ecuador, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and a world cruise or two.

A Look at the Fitness Areas and Gyms on Princess Cruises Ships

July 29, 2015

From www.inthelooptravel.com via Scoop.it:

Princess Cruises, made famous decades ago for having the ship featured in the TV series "Love Boat", now carries more than two million passengers yearly to more destinations than any other major cruise line.  So, how can those passengers stick to their fitness regimens while onboard Princess Cruises' sailings?  Princess Cruises' ships are known for their elegant design and luxury touches, but they don't have the activities onboard that other lines like Carnival Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have been packing into the areas on the top of their ships, like rock climbing, ziplines, ropes courses, waterslides, etc. So, when you are looking to stay fit onboard a Princess cruise, you'll pretty much have to stick to the workout basics: weights, jogging and classes.

Walter Christen's insight:

For some people, being able to continue their fitness regimen while on vacation is important.  Princess Cruises has all of the basics you would need to keep it up.  I especially like the sounds of the swim-against-the-current lap pools offered on many of their ships.

 

Oasis of the Seas sails from its home port of Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean.

A first-timer's guide to cruising

July 21, 2015

From www.foxnews.com via Scoop.it:

We traditionally send off a new cruise ship by smashing a bottle of champagne against its bow.

So why is there no similar tradition to celebrate the launch of a first-time cruise ship passenger? How great would it be if people going on their first cruises received a similar kind of ceremonial sendoff? Granted, smashing champagne bottles over the heads of paying passengers may not go over well. But why not pour a little champagne over their heads or spray a little spritz of bubbly at the cruising virgin? 

Or better yet, just give them the whole darned bottle.

Sadly, there’s no such established tradition for first-time cruisers. All they get is the excitement of being introduced to this unique form of travel — and the stress of not exactly knowing what it entails. We can’t offer you champagne but we can offer you these answers to the questions you first-time cruisers might have about your trip. Drink them in. 

Walter Christen's insight:

For me, cruising is the most enjoyable vacation.  Relaxing, meeting new people, trying new foods, and seeing interesting ports of call.

Take a look at the Cruiseable's travel and port guides to see top things to do and see at ports around the world.

https://cruiseable.com/travel-guides

Also, Cruiseable has a extensive cruise ship guide to help you decide on a ship that is right for you.

https://cruiseable.com/cruise-ships