Rendering of the project in Belize

Rendering of the project in Belize

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it has purchased approximately 75 acres in Southern Belize for the planned development of an eco-friendly cruise destination.

The land, called Harvest Caye, is made up of two adjoining islands in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts that had previously been approved for a resort development with an air strip.  Norwegian plans to invest $50 million in the project.

Read the rest of the article here!

View from the bar area.

View from the bar area.

Stayed at Sheraton Ft. Lauderdale Airport and Cruiseport hotel this weekend. While I WOULD recommend for its shear convenience before or after a Port Everglades cruise, please realize that it is an extremely busy hotel, and they could do a little better at paying attention to detail:
1. At least four ice machines were not functioning
2. Trays of uneaten food were left on (our) hallway floor for over eight (8) hours
3. Our TV remote control was not fully functional
4. A light bulb was out on one of our bedside tables
5. After the first night both room keys expired and had to be refreshed
6. One of the three elevators was out of order, and we read other reviews, stating the same, all the way back into April.

Yes, minor inconveniences, but certainly not up to traditional Sheraton standards. With all of that said, the staff was very friendly, the lobby is impressive, the food was above average, the bar selection excellent, our room was clean and, very important in South Florida…excellent air conditioning.

A couple of notes: 1) Fitness Center is in a separate building, is small, and little selection of equipment, and 2) Parking is $15 per night…you can get around the latter by joining their rewards club when you book. Joining is free, and complimentary parking is one of the perks to choose from when you check in.

A few of our Facebook fans are cruising this weekend and next…Bon Voyage! Have an excellent time!

Sapphire Princess photo: princess.com

Sapphire Princess
photo: princess.com

Today Carnival Corporation & plc announced it is introducing its Princess Cruises brand to China in 2014, naming Shanghai as home port for Sapphire Princess during a four-month season expected to carry 70,000 passengers.

The new round-trip cruises, which begin next May, will bring a brand-new premium cruise experience to the rapidly growing China vacation market. Princess will offer the quality and comfort sought by discerning Chinese travelers, delivered by the largest premium cruise line in the world.

Read the rest of the article HERE!!

The round objects near the smoke stack are part of a ship's satellite communications infrastructure.

The round objects near the smoke stack are part of a ship’s satellite communications infrastructure.

Our smart phones are great tools at home and on the go.  I don’t know about you all, but it cut down our household, desktop computer usage…which is a good thing!  When we purchase a phone, the sales rep will (hopefully) ask if you have any questions about set-up and usage.  When many of us answer this question, we typically want to know about day-to-day operations, and making sure our data and contacts transfer from the old device into the new one.  Rarely do we ask about the choices within the phone’s settings…and not knowing how to change some of these settings can get you into unwanted situations.

My sister-in-law cruised with us on our last trip,  on the NCL Breakaway last May.  When we last spoke, she had me view her last cellphone bill, and asked me to figure out why it was almost $130 higher than normal.  It turned out that she did not deactivate the phone’s 3g/4g/LTE /data services until several days into the cruise.  And, with today’s smart phones, which do so much more than making phone calls, it doesn’t matter that she did not use the phone, answer calls, and check incoming text messages and emails.

The key word in the previous paragraph is “incoming.” Many of us have our smart phones set up in a way that has it automatically retrieving our emails and text messages.  In many other cases, voice mails may download to the phone.  Stock tickers, sports scores, location services, weather apps and other updates which appear on our home pages…yup…they are also culprits!  All of these background activities are receiving data, and the data is coming from the ship’s satellite communication systems.

One fool proof way to keep your phone from using the ship’s satellite system (for cell data) is to keep the phone “off” for the duration of the cruise.  And be careful if you choose to use the phone in port (even off of the ship, yet close-by), as you may not be far enough away from the ship to tie into the port of call’s cell-tower infrastructure!

What if you do not want to turn the phone off on board?  Perhaps you will use it as your camera, or as a communication tool via an on-board network, such as with Norwegian Cruise Line’s “I-Concierge” app (available on iPhone and Android phones).  This is where it comes in handy to know how to go into your phone’s settings and disable the data services.  This way, you won’t receive any data through cell services, and you can still keep the WIFI function active.  Remember, placing the phone in “AIRPLANE MODE” will also keep you from receiving data services, but you WILL NOT be able to connect to the ship’s WIFI.

If you absolutely need to speak with people via telephone while cruising, you can try your FaceTime, Skype or other apps of the sort.  Beware, however, ship board internet rates are still hefty, and speed is not anywhere close to the “high-speed” you are familiar with at home.

Photo: Disney Cruise Line

Photo: Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line is narrowing the options for smokers on its ships with a new rule that bans lighting up on cabin balconies.

The company says the prohibition against cigarettes, cigars and other smoking products on balconies will take effect on Nov. 15, and customers found in violation will face a $250 penalty.

Read the full article HERE.