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Snowing & Dreaming of Warmer Weather Feb 04

It’s winter & it’s snowing, again.  I’m growing rather impatient for Spring.  It’s been a while since I blogged so what better way to pass the day than to daydream of cruising & warmer weather.

For those that follow certain cruise message boards, you may have caught the amazing deal posted on New Years Day for Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas this summer.  I happened to be checking prices for a friend at work and noticed the amazing deal.  I of course couldn’t pass it up.  I tried to no avail to get others onboard as well but they missed out.  We paid $481 per person in  a balcony cabin for a week long cruise to the Caribbean & I can’t wait!  There was only one week posted at about 50% the normal rate. That’s not the best deal we’ve ever gotten but still pretty amazing. The best deal we ever got was on the Serenade of the Seas in 2010 for a week long Southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan for $214 per person in a balcony cabin. Yup we pretty much freaked out at the price and booked it without hesitation. Were these prices a mistake of some kind? Maybe but I kept waiting for a phone call regarding the mistake and one never came.  At checkin for the cruise, no one said a word.  I jumped up and down with glee once they donged our sea pass cards.  It was an awesome cruise.  I have no doubt this one will be as well.  Our Roll-Call awaked with life when people caught this amazing deal.  So you may be wondering how to catch such a deal for your self.  Well first watch the message boards a couple times a day. People will book their deal and spread the news for others.  Or check prices a couple times a day yourself because you never know.

I realize I haven’t blogged since our last cruise.  In September of 2013 we cruised on the Carnival Magic out of Galveston, Texas to Belize, Roatan & Cozumel.  It was a good cruise & a good ship but overall not great.  Carnival just isn’t what it used to be.  There wasn’t as much entertainment as there used to be – no big shows in main theater every night, there were some but just not every night.  The comedy club is too small for their very popular comedy acts.  We really enjoyed the comedy shows but you had to get there at least 30 minutes early to get a seat and then we had a hard time seeing around all the poles in this venue.  They should just move these to the theater.  Our biggest complaint for this cruise was our cabin temperature.  We complained on day 1 and they came try to fix it a couple times & brought us a box fan.  It was tolerable for me (I’m always cold) but my DH was uncomfortable the entire time.  We came back to our cabin on Roatan day at lunch and our cabin & hallway reeked of paint fumes.  At this point DH was very grumpy so we complained to guest services.  They gave us 4 drink vouchers and a temporary cabin on deck 2 which was a Cove Balcony.  We had a balcony cabin on deck 8 and I was excited to see a Cove Balcony first hand myself.  I must say we wished we would have gotten a Cove Balcony.  These cabins are located on deck 2 under the life boats.  They are higher from the water line than you’d think.  Because they are under the life boats they are more shaded and less warm.  Plus you have a direct line of sight down to the water.  If you’re on any other deck in a Balcony Cabin you will have a view of the public deck called the Lanai and the life boats.  We didn’t find it to be a huge deal however it was pretty cool to have an unobstructed view of the water.  Next time we cruise on Carnival we will for sure book a Cove Balcony.  The other big disappointment was the Main Diningroom.  The food and menu weren’t as good.  Only 1 other couple showed at our 10 person table.  It would have been more fun if we had a full table.  The advantage of fewer people however was quicker service.  We don’t particularly care for long 2 hour meals.  The food on the Lido deck was pretty good though.  We really enjoyed the pizza, the burrito bar & Cucina Del Capitano.  We prefered Cucina Del Capitano for lunch but found the atmosphere odd and the food mediocre at dinner.  I really had hopes to try the Ropes Course however it was never opened any of the times I went to check it out.  I tried out the slides one day and they were fun but not many kids on our sailing to liven up that area.  The best part of the entire cruise for me was definitely the Cloud 9 Spa.  I got the week long Spa pass to enjoy all the different therapy rooms and I so wish I had a place like this at home to enjoy.  All in all we left that cruise disappointed and missing Royal Caribbean.  See below for some videos on the Carnival Magic & Cove Balconies.

Cove Balcony & Carnival Magic

The Navigator of the Seas just came out of dry dock this week and sets sail for the first time post dry dock tomorrow.  I’m very much looking forward to seeing all the changes.  A few things she received in dry dock are a Flower Rider, virtual balcony inside cabins, Royal Babies & Tots Nursery, big screen on the Lido and a new Modern Mexican restaurant a first for Royal Caribbean called Sabor.  When more first hand experience and details are posted regarding this ship & its new amenities I’ll come back here and update you on everything.

Other Recent News – Norovirus/Mysterious Stomach Bug

In recent news you may have seen that the Explorer of the Seas and the Caribbean Princess both to cut short their sailings for a stomach bug that spread quickly.  I received flack from family & friends about it and the media hyped it up of course.  Since the Splendor, Concordia & Triumph mishaps the media latches on to every little thing they can.  That’s ok, the more cruising makes the news the better.  Let me say though that Norovirus or something like it is in no way fun and I can’t imagine the atmosphere onboard a ship with over 600 ill passengers.  I have had Norovirus before.  I caught it from my son who caught it from daycare.  It’s quite common to catch and not just on a cruise.  I try to avoid illness as best I can when we cruise.  I’ve caught a cold and had migraines in past cruises.  I take meds for colds & stomach upset with me just incase.  We also sanitize our cabin when we board, use the hand sanitizer offered onboard, bring our own & wash our hands often.  Take precautions as best you can but don’t let fear of illness keep you from cruising or traveling.

New Ships

Quantum of the Seas: I’ve talked about this ship before and I must say I’m still not excited about it.  Not much else has been released about it but I’ll talk more about her when she goes into service.

Check out the Quantum of the Seas Here

The other new ship that recently went into service is the Norwegian Getaway.  It will be sailing from Miami to the Caribbean.  I’d love to go on this ship someday.

Check ou the NCL Getaway Here

That’s all for today. If you have any questions about traveling or cruising please ask away.

 

 

Cruise Trends Aug 08

I saw this article on the front page of MSN this morning and it got me thinking about how much the cruise industry has changed.

Cruises focusing more on food, family groups

I would say cruising has gotten more casual. It’s not only for the “Newly Wed and Nearly Dead” anymore.

There are more activities, dining options & other amenities that not that long ago you would nver think you would find on a cruise ship.

Most would say that service isn’t what it used to be. With all the added amenities and the staff it takes to run them I guess there has to be give and take.

More dining choices come with a price though. Yes some are included in your cruise fair but a lot of them do cost extra. Has the quality of those that are included declined so that you’re more apt to chose something better which most likely will cost extra? Maybe… I think a lot of that depends on the cruise line and the crew on your voyage.

I know that Royal Caribbean’s Allure & Oasis of the Seas aren’t new ships but they are still extremely innovative compared to their competition. I wish they would have been included in the article. They mix elegance with family friendliness. There’s no other ship that I know of that has an Aquatheature, carrousel and zipline along with central park and inward facing balconies. Allure debuted in 2010, over 2 years ago and still no other ship has come close to comparing to it’s size and vast offerings.

 

 

Current Cruiseline Promotions Feb 06

Current Promotions for the most popular US cruise lines: Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Disney, Celebrity & Holland America

Norwegian

Catch the Upgrade Wave

Free Stateroom Upgrades: Book a cruise 3 days or longer and receive free upgrades on all ships and destinations in 2013 and beyond.

Kids Cruise for 50% Off: Book a cruise to Europe and kids 17 and younger sailing as a 3rd or 4th guest in a stateroom cruise for 50% off.

E-Coupons: Once booked and checked in online, you will be given electronic coupons worth over $300 for some of the most popular amenities at sea.

Air & Cruise Deals: Norwegian offers great air and cruise deals to Europe and Hawaii. Select your departure airport to see package pricing.

Hot & Last Minute Deals

Preferred Programs: WorldPoints Rewards, Latitudes, AARP, American Express, Military & Diamond Resorts Int.

Carnival

Early Saver: If our price drops,  your price drops, guaranteed

3 Day Sale: Up to $250 cash back + Free Upgrades

Special Past Guest Deals

Special Exotic Cruise Deals

Explore Europe: Get cash back + free upgrades + 50% reduced deposits

Search for Exclusive savings for Military, Seniors, VIFP & Resident

Royal Caribbean

Conquer the space between a rock and “I rock.”

Free Beverage Package on select Atlantic crossings

Journey to Middle Earth

Search for exclusive savings for Military, Law Enforcement, Seniors & Residents

Weekly Tuesday Sale

Princess

Denali On Sale

Cruise Deals & Air Steals

Top Cruise Deals

Military Benefit Program

Disney

Fall Perks: Great Rates & Onboard Credit on select Dream sailings

Florida Resident Rates

US Military Rates

Order your free Disney Cruise Planning DVD

Celebrity

123Go! Three big offers. Choose yours and go!

Offer 1: Free Beverage Packages

Offer 2: Free Gratuities

Offer 3: Free onboard credit

Caribbean Shore Excursion Packages

Save on Reflection Specialty Dining Package

Holland America

1 Week Sale Extended: 50% Reduced Deposits

Weekly Top Cruise Deals

Sail & Save

Find all/more pricing for Seniors, Military, EMT, Firefighter, Police, Interline, Past Guest, Singles & Teachers at Vacations To Go

Carnival Sunshine Feb 06

Yesterday I brought you information about the Quantum class by Royal Caribbean. It will for sure be a class of it’s own like the Oasis class.

But Carnival has stepped up it’s game with their newest ships: Magic, Breeze & Sunshine.

The Carnival Sunshine is a little different though. While the Magic & Breeze are new builds Sunshine is a refurb of the Carnival Destiny delivering a lot of the successes of the Magic & Breeze but also bringing some new amenities.

Carnival Sunshine Virtual Tour

Carnival Sunshine @Carnival.com

New amenities include the Speedway Splash Slides, waterfall on the Serenity deck, Havana bar & JiJi Asian Kitchen.

It will surely be a hit as the Magic & Breeze have been. These new amenities along with Carnival’s already diverse itineraries and lower pricing make them a strong contender for most average cruisers.

It will be operating 7 Day Caribbean cruises out of New Orleans starting in November of 2013 for just over $400 per person for an inside stateroom.

7 Day Western Caribbean to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman & Cozumel

7 Day Eastern Caribbean to Key West, Freeport & Nassau

Quantum Class Feb 05

Royal Caribbean’s Sunshine Project is officially the Quantum class featuring 2 new ships: Quantum of the Seas & Anthem of the seas.

Quantum Class Info

I posted this yesterday but wanted to give some more details.

Honestly I don’t like the name Quantum of the Seas. It just doesn’t have the finesse that their other names have.

These ships are supposed to be bigger than the Freedom class ships but smaller than the Oasis class ships.

It will most likely have Neighborhoods like the Oasis class but I wonder if it will have the space or design for inside facing balcony staterooms and the Aqua Theatre.

I wonder what NEW features they will have. Ocean plaza, fireworks, ice bar, ropes course, “Haven”, etc… What will it bring to the industry?

I can’t imagine they’d bring out a new class of ships and not add anything exclusive or innovative so we’ll see.

Maybe it will have a full deck length lazy river? What other new features would you like to see?

So long no sea Feb 05

Ya I know it’s been a while. Our last cruise was our Babymoon before we had our first child. I don’t think I’d recommend cruising while pregnant. I didn’t have morning sickness but I definitely felt the motion of the ship more and had some other uncomfortable moments. Sleeping on the couch for a week watching cruise videos on YouTube would have been nice. Oh well – live and learn.

So here it is 9 months after my sons arrival and no we don’t have any cruises or vacations planned. He’s a daycare kid which means he’s constantly sick. So until his immune system is stronger and he’s had more vaccines we won’t be cruising. I do hope to take him to Disneyland or Disneyworld though. That will require lots of planning which is my favorite part.

This hasn’t stopped me from keep up with Cruise News or watching cruise videos on YouTube. I’ve been asked by several coworkers about how to find a good cruise deal or how to decide which cruise line and/or ship to go on. So here’s an update.

New cruise ships I’m most excited about

1) Carnival Breeze

With it’s new eateries & bars, Waterworks, Comedy Club, Spa & 5-D movie theater it has a great mix of new amenities, less gaudy decor than other Carnival ships, itinerary & price. She sails from Miami on 6 and 8 day cruises to the Caribbean.

6 Day Caribbean to Key West, Grand Turk & Nassau

6 Day Caribbean to Grand Turk, Ocho Rios & Nassau

8 Day Eastern Caribbean to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Maarten & St. Thomas

8 Day Southern Caribbean to Grand Turk, La Romana, Curacao & Aruba.

6 Day sailings start around $400 per person for an inside while an 8 day sailing starts around $500.

These are great itineraries!

2) Norwegian Breakaway

With it’s new eateries & bars, water slides, shows, spa & fireworks it has a great mix of new amenities and activities with contemporary styling. I have yet to cruise on Norwegian but do think we would enjoy Freestyle cruising.

She sails from New York to Bermuda, the Bahamas & the Caribbean.

7 Day Caribbean to Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay & Nassau starting at $500

7 Day Bermuda to King’s Wharf starting at $900

12 Day Southern Caribbean to San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados & St. Kitts starting at $1300 in Jan 2014

If I could take 2 weeks of vacation I would definitely splurge on the 12 day itinerary.

Some of my new favorite cruise videos are below.

I hope you enjoy and add them to your favorites too!

NCL Breakaway: FIREWORKS

NCL Epic: explains Freestyle cruising

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas movies

National Geographic Cruise Ship Diaries Honeymoon Seas onboard Costa Serena

Big Bigger Biggest: Cruise Ship

Relaxing time lapse

Allure of the Seas trip review

Mighty Ships: Oasis of the Seas

Online Research

The only thing I would add to my previous Online Research post is the new website CruiseWise.

Special Pricing (interline, military, past guest, state, teacher) – http://www.vacationstogo.com/

Actual pictures of rooms – http://www.cruiselinerooms.com/

Anything & Everything – http://www.cruisecritic.com/

Everything, ports & roll calls – http://boards.cruisecritic.com/

Deck-on-Deck info & ship tours – http://www.cruisedeckplans.com/DP/Main/virtualtours.php

Travel Insurance – http://www.insuremytrip.com/index.html?linkId=30002

First Time General Info – http://www.cruisecritic.com/ftc

Great overall site: http://www.cruisewise.com/

Tips

1) Read recent reviews of both the ship & itinerary.

2) Get a cabin on a lower deck, between cabin decks (not below or above public spaces) & mid ship.

3) Make a packing list and don’t wait till the night before to pack.

4) Get travel insurance! This will cover over seas medical, evacuation, trip delay, job loss, etc.

5) Extras you might not think of: safety kit, poncho, highlighter, sticky notes, card games, popcorn.

6) Afraid you’ll get seasick? Wear sea bands for a non-medicated remedy – Walmart.

7) Are the beaches rocky? Take water shoes.

8) Don’t over-pack. Take multi-use clothes and coordinate with only a couple pairs of shoes.

9) Going to beach and getting in the water? Get a water proof pouch for your money & credit cards.

10) Know your cruise lines price protection policy and watch for price drops.

11) Carry copies of your PP & DL ashore along with emergency numbers & port authority number.

12) Keep track of the time when ashore. Don’t miss the boat!

13) DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT YOUR PASSPORT AND DL! ALWAYS KNOW WHERE THEY ARE!

Sooooooo happy cruising y’all or in my case happy researching & obsessing!

If you have any questions leave a comment below :-)

Serenade of the Seas Sep 02

We decided on….

Southern Caribbean on Serenade of the Seas again to Aruba, Curacao, St. Kitts & St. Thomas

Serenade Info & Itinerary Info

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We went on the Serenade of the Seas last summer.

We got the best deal EVER! $214 per person in a hump balcony room.

We were hurricane dodging. One had just gone through PR just before we got there and it was quite humid!

We ended up having rather perfect weather though.

**********************************************************************************************

We went to Curacao, Aruba, Dominica & St. Thomas.

We took a trolley tour in Curacao where our trolley broke down and it was HOT!

In Aruba we took the public bus over to the main beach/resort area, used Hyatt’s floats and chairs and relaxed.

It had rained that morning, but after lunch it was perfect.

We met a cute Canadian couple on their honeymoon on the bus too and adventured over to the beach with them.

What’s funny is that we ran into them everywhere. They were even on our flight back to DFW after the cruise.

Neways, we did the boiling lake and falls tour in Dominica.

We got soaked! BUT it was sooooooo worth it!

The roads are SUPER SCARY though. But we made it alive thankfully.

We went to the aquarium & Magens Bay in St. Thomas. We we’re pretty pooped by this time.

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One thing we didn’t like about this itinerary was that there were only 2 sea days and none the last day of the cruise.

You really do need a sea day at the end so that you can recoup and relax.

This time we’ll be sailing to Aruba & Curacao at the end of the week which means our last day will be a sea day.

I found this really cute video, of the other itinerary:

Video of the Solarium pool area:

Can’t Decide Jun 17

Ok so as usual I can’t decide on which cruise to go on later this summer.

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7 Day East Caribbean Freedom of the Seas to St. Thomas, St. Maarten & Nassau @ $2564

7 Day East Caribbean Allure of the Seas St. Thomas, St. Maarten & Coco Cay @ $3395

7 Day South Caribbean Serenade of the Seas to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Curacao & Aruba @ $1914

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We’ve been to St. Thomas, Nassau, Curacao & Aruba.

We actually went on almost the same itinerary on the Serenade last year except for St. Kitts.

We could go to Disney World for a day or two if we went on the Freedom.

There’s a pretty big price difference between the Freedom/Serenade & the Allure.

We’d really like to go back to Curacao & Aruba.

There are so many extra fee/pay restaurants on the Allure.

BUT I really do want to sail on the Allure…

The flights are all about the same price, San Juan is $250 more.

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So you see, I can’t decide!

Can’t seem to get any input from the hubby either.

This will be our last cruise for probably a couple of years since we hope to have some kiddos soon.

So we want to it to be extra special and romantic, well at least I want it to be romantic :-P

We’ve considered land based trips but they are even more expensive when you factor in everything.

Neways, maybe my hubby will read this and help me decide ;)

Carnival Magic Jun 12

The new Carnival Magic will be home-porting out of Galveston, TX starting this winter.

Official Site – WWW.CARNIVALMAGIC.COM

Here’s a quick walking tour of the ship

 

We have been on several Carnival cruises, most recently on the Legend in February out of Tampa. We thought they have really cut back on a lot of things and that left us disappointed and missing Royal Caribbean. Their food, selection, entertainment and service was not as good as it used to be. But if you live in the south and want to drive to port, this is a great option out of Texas especially in the summer when the other cruise lines go to Europe, Austrailia or China to make the big bucks.

We have also sailed on the Conquest and the Fantasy. I would have to say the Fantasy is our favorite out of the Carnival ships we have sailed on. If you want an affordable cruise go on Carnival. They are significantly more affordable but be aware that you get what you pay for. Despite our experience with Carnival in February we ended up having a great time, especially in our ports of call: Roatan (our favorite snorkeling site), Grand Cayman (always a lot of fun) and Cozumel (can’t go wrong). Carnival does have a great selection of itineraries and that alone is what would get us back on one of their ships. If they get their food, service and entertainment back up to par they would again top our list of favorite cruise line, but for now Royal Caribbean does. When we can afford it, we’ll pay more for a better cruising experience.

If you have any questions about Carnival, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer :-)

 

Next Cruise Jun 07

Tonight on Planet Green: watch

Extreme Cruise Ship (Building Oasis OTS) & Ultimate Cruise Ship (Building Freedom OTS)

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I’m currently researching for our next cruise some time late summer.

Right now it looks like we’ll be going on the Allure of the Seas – Eastern Caribbean.

Got a cruise planned? Where are you going & on what ship?