Don’t Forget to Remove the Chocolates!

 If you’ve never cruised before, this topic will prepare you for the services that are provided by your stateroom host/hostess.  After you board the ship, have some lunch and locate your stateroom – you’ll soon be greeted by your stateroom host/hostess.  These individuals take pride in the quality rooms that they prepare for their guests on each and every cruise.  For the most part, you will never see them doing their work but you will certainly know that they’ve been there.  After you leave your stateroom in the morning, they’ll come by and make your bed(s), vacuum your stateroom, remove dirty dishes, clean the bathroom, provide fresh towels and replenish your ice bucket.  It’s amazing!  Then, in the evening you’ll go out to enjoy a delicious dinner, and a variety of other nightly entertainment and when you return to your stateroom – walla!  Yes, it’s all tidied up again, more fresh towels, the ice bucket is replenished and you’ll be greeted by a menagerie of towel-critter creations as part of the nightly turndown service.  A copy of the next day’s planner and a few chocolate treats will all be placed on your bed.  

This leads me to the title of this post, “Don’t Forget to Remove the Chocolates!” Unconscious warm bodies, chocolates and white sheets can become an embarrassing little mess to explain to your stateroom host/hostess.  Now, if you’re inclined to share the details of this little mishap with your cruising family and friends, it won’t be a story forgotten and they’ll surely thank-you for the warning!     

Norwegian Epic, Sweet Heart Swans, Turndown Service

Note: The number of nights you’ll be greeted with cute towel-critter creations varies depending on the length of cruise and cruise line.

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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Insights


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Norwegian EPIC

In October 2010, we sailed on the Norwegian EPIC and experienced the largest ship in the Norwegian cruise line fleet, thus far. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our week onboard this ship and found that after a day or two, it was fairly easy to find our way around. Another thing worth noting is that this was probably the steadiest ship we’ve ever sailed on. This ship would be a good choice if you’ve never cruised because you’re sensitive to motion. The EPIC provides a great variety of daytime activities, dining and nightly entertainment options for guests. In a week’s time you’ll find that you’re only able to sample a portion of all the choices they have to offer. This is definitely a ship you could consider doing a 2-week back-to-back cruise on – especially when the itineraries offer alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings. Oh, that sounds so good!   

To get the most out of your cruise, you’ll want to take time before your cruise to plan your evenings. There are a variety of shows and show times, but not all shows are scheduled nightly. So, a bit of pre-planning will ensure a hassle-free evening, as you’ll be sure to have reservations for all the headline shows. We enjoyed the EPIC entertainment line-up that included The Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert, The Second City Comedy show, Howl at the Moon – Rock’n Roll Dueling Piano’s and the Fabulous Music of ABBA, and that’s just to name a few!!! 

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Allure of the Seas

On October 9, 2011 we boarded the Allure of the Seas and sailed on her 43rd voyage. This is the largest cruise ship in the industry at 225,282 tons, and it definitely felt like it! You’ll just gaze in amazement at the enormous size of this ship, a real beauty from ashore and onboard as well. The ships public areas are designed in neighborhood themes that provide guests with many interesting venues as they experience their cruise. I’ll highlight some of the tips and tricks we learned onboard the Allure, in hopes that others can take these into account and make the most of their time spent onboard this amazing ship.  

Make a note to avoid the crowds in the Windjammer buffet, and you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of dining options by visiting the several neighborhoods throughout your cruise. Johnny Rockets on the Boardwalk has a table service breakfast and there’s No Cover Charge for breakfast. On your way in or out, stop at the Boardwalk Donut Shop for a fresh donut too. For an afternoon bite try the Boardwalk DogHouse featuring hot dogs, bratwurst and other sausages with all the toppings. Central Park’s Park Cafe’ features made to order salads, sandwiches, and an assortment of deserts or visit the Royal Promenade and Sorrento’s Pizzeria or Cafe’ Promenade for other satisfying alternatives. For healthier choices, checkout the variety of wraps and salads at the Vitality Cafe’ and the Solarium Bistro. And these are just the alternatives to the Windjammer buffet for breakfast and lunch options! Are you getting the picture? You have many, many choices so – be sure to explore the ship to enjoy more snack, specialty and dining options.

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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Reviews and Perspectives


Reasons To Choose A Cruise Vacation


If you haven’t tried a cruise vacation yet and you’ve talked to those who have, they’ll likely mention some or all of the same reasons I have for preferring a cruise over other types of vacations.

It’s a great vacation value! Regardless of your budget, all cruise lines pamper their guests with first-class service around the clock.  The cruise fares include nearly everything you’ll need for a great trip: all your meals onboard, select non-alcoholic beverages, accommodations, daytime and evening entertainment and transportation between travel destinations on your cruise. I generally see fares on most contemporary cruise line brands for under $100 per person/per night! Some promotions offer a ‘kids sail free’ or at discounted rates when sharing a stateroom with two adults. If luxury is what you’re looking for, you’ll find luxury brands offer more inclusive options including alcohol and soft drinks, gratuities, shore excursions and at times they’ll also bundle flights in their package price.  Overall, recent surveys indicate that cruising has a higher percentage of satisfied customers than any other type of vacation experience.  Now, that’s a great vacation value!   

It’s an easy, convenient and comfortable way to visit multiple destinations!  Once onboard your ship, unpack and relax.  Your floating resort takes you from island to island, country to country or city to city while you enjoy the comfort, security and ambience of your ship.  Cruise ships are like floating cities and everything you could possibly want is available onboard.  The ships of today are equipped with Wi-Fi, cell service and satellite TV so you can stay in touch with the real world during your cruise (if you want or need to).  Onboard shops have a selection of toiletries in case you forgot to pack something and medical centers can provide medical services if needed.  Some ships even have laundry facilities you can use.  All-in-all, the simplicity and hassle-free travel that cruising offers is what keeps me coming back!

Cruising is for everyone!  With more than 150 distinctive ships, 1800 ports of call and a variety of places to see and do, there’s a perfect cruise for everyone.  Cruise line brands offer a variety of experiences through a variety of onboard activities and programs for families, children, couples, seniors and singles alike.  Families enjoy cruising with fully staffed Children’s programs offering exciting and entertaining experiences for the kids, while parents are able to have some well-deserved time alone.  There’s also a wide variety of activities for adults including sightseeing, cultural lectures, educational tours led by naturalists and historians.  Or choose from a variety of sports activities, relaxing at the pool, spa services, dancing, musical revues, gaming or, how about a quiet evening enjoying a movie under the stars.  Cruising allows you to meet people from around the world and, if you’d like – it also provides a wonderful opportunity for you to make new friends.  What more could you ask for?!!

Cruise vacations are easy to plan!  Pick your ship, itinerary and cabin, and you’re on your way.  Work with your travel agent to coordinate flights and a pre or post-cruise overnight in your seaport city or choose a departure port within driving distance.  Friends and family groups or organization groups also find cruises an easy option to plan and book.  Work with a travel agent to book enough cabins so your group can get extra value perks.  In some cases group leaders can even sail free when they meet the minimum # of staterooms required in their group.  As much fun as cruising is, it’s even more fun when you cruise with other people you know.

So, what are you waiting for – start planning your cruise vacation today!

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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Insights


Mariner of the Seas

In the Royal Caribbean Voyager-class, the Mariner of the Seas provided a new and exciting experience all around. This ship has a variety of athletic activities available including Royal Caribbean’s signature Rock-Climbing Wall, Full-Court Basketball, Ping Pong, Rollerblading and Miniture Golf too. Now, here’s something new and different! Instead of presenting the Welcome Aboard Show in the theatre, guests were invited to the Royal Promenade to see a Welcome Aboard Parade.

The streets of the Royal Promenade were lined with guests, everyone celebrating the start of the cruise with a festive musical fanfare
including a cast of entertaining characters that would have a part in providing
a week we would always remember!

The Royal Promenade features many shops, pubs with street entertainment and quaint little cafe’ style dining venues. Pull up a table and chair at the “Cafe’ at the Promenade” and enjoy a Seattle’s Best coffee and sweet treat – no charge!

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Crown Princess

If you choose to cruise with Princess Cruise Line, and sail on one of the ships in the Crown class – you’ll enjoy some of the same features we did onboard the Crown Princess.  During our cruise we discovered there are several features that we feel are uniquely Princess.  First impressions WOW!  The beautiful elegance of the Grand Piazza, and its striking visual aesthetics were found throughout the public areas onboard this ship.  On several occasions we found ourselves relaxing in the Piazza’s central atrium area and enjoying a variety of ‘street’ style musical entertainment.    

In 2008, Princess introduced us to the concept of big screen outdoor movies at sea, with their own “Movies Under The Stars” experience.  The nightly transformation of the central pool deck to an outdoor movie theatre was amazing.  The lounge chairs covered in a comfortable pillow cushion, fresh popcorn, the star-filled skies, a soft/gentle and warm sea-breeze – oh, so relaxing.  

Be sure to plan one of your evenings at the movies, under the stars at sea.  

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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Reviews and Perspectives


Holland America, Ms. Zuiderdam

We thoroughly enjoyed sailing on Ms. Zuiderdam, which was our first-hand introduction to sailing on this ‘Premium’ class cruise line.  The public areas of the ship felt classic and elegant, yet with a warm and comfortable ambience.  One of our favorite places to visit was The Crows Nest, which was located at the front of the ship on the Observation Deck.  This is a Holland America signature area that is featured on all their ships.  Here, relaxing in a comfortable lounge recliner we were able to enjoy some of the most breath-taking seascape views of where the ship is heading.  In the same area, we were able to access the internet and check our email accounts, find an interesting book in their extensively stocked library, and just kick-back and enjoy a specialty coffee, tea or other treat from The Explorations Cafe. 

Another area we especially liked was The Greenhouse Spa.  We were able to take advantage of a ‘length of cruise’ (10-nights) spa package that gave us unlimited access to the Hydro-Therapy Pools, the Sauna’s and the Thermal Lounger Suite.  This was –  by far the best, most worthwhile Spa package we’ve ever purchased!  Look for these types of spa packages to get the most for your $$$ !!! 

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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Reviews and Perspectives