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Latest Cruise news articles

Sail on Carnival Vista to warm-weather ports in the Mediterranean or  Caribbean.

5 tips for planning a fun cruise with kids

August 15, 2015

From via

After our latest fun and relaxing cruise with our kids, I've come to the realization that I wouldn't mind cruising with them at least once a year. This is our third cruise as a family, my 10th in general, and, I have to say, each year cruising together gets easier. I think it's partially because the kids are getting older and I'm getting wiser. My secret to planning a fun cruise with my boys is to board the ship with a few loose goals that we've discussed as a family before we set sail.


Walter Christen's insight:

My wife and I have taken our 2 children on many of our cruises over the years.  I agree with the author of this article that it is one of the best vacations that can be done together with a little pre planning. Here are some of the tips we used when cruising with our children.

  • Luggage - each person had their own suitcase.  As we mainly drove to the cruise port this was not an issue and kept the suitcases smaller and would fit under the beds while on board.  Each of my children also were allowed to have their own carry on bag to bring what they wanted to keep themselves amused although my wife had final say on what they could bring.
  • Onboard entertainment - realize that what you may think to be fun to do or watch may not be the same for your children. Plan accordingly.  My children loved to play mini golf and also participate in some of the trivia contests.
  • Excursions - while it is great if you can find excursions that everyone wants to do, sometimes it is not possible.  My son and I like to snorkel and my wife and daughter do not.  We have on occasion split up and did different excursions while at a port of call. My daughter loved helping pre cruise to look at the excursion options for where we were going and was usually a topic of discussion at dinner. My daughter has found some very nice excursions for us like a zoo on Aruba.



Silver Galapagos carries 100 passengers, and every suite has an ocean view.

Get ready to sail with the Grand Expeditions of Silversea

August 13, 2015

From via

Luxury expedition cruise line Silversea is thrilled to announce the launch of Grand Expeditions. Sailing from October 2015, Silversea has created five epic, once-in-a-lifetime combined voyages, each offering guests a unique experience from sea, to land, to sea again.

Ranging from 18 to 34 days, the Grand Expeditions will begin with an expedition cruise in the Galapágos Islands, before connecting to a land adventure, and finally ending with a further expedition cruise exploring the coast of Central America, South America, or Antarctica.

The all-inclusive Grand Expeditions package is orchestrated by Silversea and incorporates cruise fares for Silver Galapagos and Silver Explorer at 20% off the individual published rate. Also featured in the package are hotel accommodation, land tours, return air travelbetween Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands, intra-tour air travel and ground transportation, as well as charter flights to Ushuaia, if applicable.

Walter Christen's insight:

Silverseas Grand Expeditions sailings are a very interesting concept, combining two different cruising itineraries with a overland adventure tour in the middle.  Using both their Silver Galapagos and Silver Explorer ships, these 5 different expeditions look to be exciting adventures appealing to both adventure and luxury cruisers.


William Shatner to headline 'Star Trek' cruise (expired)

August 12, 2015

From via

William Shatner will soon be taking fans where they've never gone before, to sea, hosting the first ever officially licensed Star Trek cruise.

Star Trek: The Cruise will embark January 9, 2017, on the Norwegian Pearl from Miami. The six-day cruise is part of the 50th anniversary celebration for the Star Trek franchise, which first hit the airwaves in 1966.

Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk, says on the cruise website that he's excited about the enterprise.

Walter Christen's insight:

Theme cruises are very popular and I suspect that this cruise will be a big hit. Additional stars from other Star Trek series (The Next Generation, Voyager and Deep Space Nine) will also be on hand for the cruise.

The Norwegian Pearl will leave out of Miami and visit  CozumelNassau and Norwegian Cruise Line's private island, Great Stirrup Cay


Celebrity chef and restaurateur Curtis Stone will craft new culinary offerings for all Princess ships.

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone to recharge Princess Cruises' menu

August 11, 2015

Good news for foodies planning to sail on Princess Cruises. The Santa Clarita, California-based operator of megaships has announced an upgrade to its culinary output with the addition of celebrity chef Curtis Stone, who is also an author, TV personality and restaurateur. Stone will definitely bring an upgrade to the fleet’s food. Not that Princess’s kitchens don’t already dish out some tasty cuisine, but it can always improve.

Passengers will be treated to chef Stone’s culinary wizardly with a trio of offerings on all Princess vessels. One will be a special menu called Crafted by Curtis Stone served in all the main dining rooms. Another will be in his new Curtis Stone specialty restaurant and a third at a newly added Curtis Stone's Chef's Table.

World famous for his cuisine, Stone began early, plying his craft at the age of 18 in his homeland of Australia and later honing his skills at Michelin-starred restaurants in London. 

The partnership with Chef Stone goes hand and fork with Princess Cruises' “come back new” promotion, which the company hopes will drive the idea home to future passengers.

Carnival Breeze sails out of Miami on itineraries to Ocho Rios, Grand Turk, the Bahamas, San Juan, St. Maarten, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Curacao, Aruba, Grand Cayman, Antigua and other destinations.

Carnival's enhanced Internet access, including new social media packages, to be rolled out fleetwide by early 2016

August 10, 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.


Disney Magic in port in the Caribbean.

First-time cruise tips: Tipping on a cruise

August 9, 2015

From via

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 via

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.


Royal Caribbean to add first Boomerango water slide at sea to Liberty of the Seas

August 5, 2015

From via

Royal Caribbean are set to add the first Boomerango water slide at sea to Liberty of the Seas.

Liberty of the Seas will be undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation in January 2016, as she settles into her new homeport of Galveston, Texas in 2016. The Sports Deck will be re-imagined and the three new water slides will be a focal point of it.

Liberty of the Seas will have three slides, a Boomerango and double body racer slides.

Walter Christen's insight:

Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas Boomerango water slide looks like a lot of fun.


The Piazza della Repubblica in Rome.

Western Mediterranean cruise basics

August 4, 2015

From via

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.



Carnival continues to Seuss-ify family cruises

August 4, 2015

From via

Carnival Cruise Line and Dr. Seuss Enterprises continue their partnership this year with more Seuss-themed family cruise activities in its Seuss at Sea program.

The cruise line celebrated this year’s release of “What Pet Should I Get?” with celebrity book readings. Story time readers include Tampa Bay Rays all-star Evan Longoria aboard Carnival Paradise in Tampa, and New Orleans journalist and former news anchor Angela Hill aboard Carnival Dream in New Orleans, according to a company press release dated Aug. 3.

Carnival also celebrated the new book’s theme by promising to match Longoria’s $100 donation to Pet Pal Animal Shelter for each home run he hits in 2015. It also made financial donations to the Tampa Bay and Louisiana chapters of the SPCA.

Walter Christen's insight:

The Seuss-themed family cruise activities aboard Carnival Cruise Line ships sounds like great fun for small children.  When my children were young, we always had many different Dr. Seuss books in the house and were read repeatedly.

The donations Carnival Cruise Line has made to animal shelters is also a plus.


The main pool on the Lido Deck of Carnival Valor.

Cruising tips for first timers

August 2, 2015

From via

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.


Norwegian Escape approaches Norwegian's new private island, Harvest Caye.

Norwegian Escape's signature hull art comes to life with Guy Harvey

July 31, 2015

From via

Famed marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey laid eyes upon his largest canvas to date for the first time this week – the hull artwork on the new Norwegian Escape, debuting this November in Miami. 

Currently being built in Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Escape is Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the largest in the company’s history. Norwegian Escape represents an evolution of the line’s innovative history of providing guests with the freedom and flexibility to enjoy their ideal cruise holiday. The ship yard visit took place as Harvey’s artwork is now beginning to take shape, bringing to life his perspective of the spectacular Caribbean marine life on the expansive canvas of Norwegian Escape’s hull. 

Spanning more than 300 metres in length from bow to stern, the custom-designed artwork features a scene of marine wildlife which blends two underwater seas seamlessly together. Featuring Harvey’s signature sailfish, the design also showcases key Caribbean sea life including sting rays, sea turtles, whale sharks and a variety of tropical fish.


Walter Christen's insight:

This latest hull painting design for the Norwegian Escape is stunning. Guy Harvey is not only one of the best wildlife artists, but is also a champion of ocean conservation. 

I also found it very interesting on how they do the hull painting.