Holland America Line's Veendam

Holland America Line’s Veendam

Well, news has surfaced that a Holland America ship returned with a NoroVirus outbreak. You know from my post last week that I don’t think it’s news, since Norovirus is an extremely common issue in the United States alone. I know…I know…why am I writing about it if I feel this way?

I reiterate…outbreaks occur on cruises mostly because of an infected person coming on board in the first place. Think about it…you put in for vacation time and save up money to take a cruise vacation with your family. The cruise is drawing near, and finally, the day has come…it’s go time. But, you feel a little something…a tingle in your throat, a nagging cough, or perhaps something else. You hand in your bags and go park the car, and you finally make your way to the first counter, where you have to fill out the Health Declaration Form. What are you going to write? Are you going to disclose that you possibly have the onset of flu, or something else? Are you going to risk being turned away, placing the entire trip (for you and your party) in jeopardy?

I am not condoning an omission…I am merely being realistic!

And, speaking of the mandatory Health Declaration Form, let’s take a look at the signing process. Thousands of people signing an “Okay To Sail” clearance form, using the same (provided) pens! So, if there are passengers hiding something, there is the potential to spread (whatever it is) during the embarkation process alone, regardless of your ship’s CDC Grade for cleanliness! Ah, the irony…potentially becoming ill, while signing that you are not!

MEDIA SPINNING A STORY…AGAIN

The article about the Veendam is quick to mention that the ship received a failing grade (as part of the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program) back in September. What the article does not mention is that there were no reported illnesses at that time, and that this most recent report comes after Holland America’s Veendam received a score 99 (out of 100). Yet, passengers still fell ill.

OK, cue my eye roll.

It’s going to be short and sweet today. I’m just tired of the media making a big deal every time a person (or persons) get sick on a cruise ship. Here are a couple of figures from the CDC:

The average number of people who get Norovirus (annually)  in the United States is 19-21 MILLION.
The number of people (passengers AND crew) who got sick on cruise ships in 2013…2,315.  Once again, 2, 315!

It’s awful, and you feel miserable when it happens…I get it. I understand that! But what about city subway systems? Libraries? Airplanes? Department stores? I could go on. And, it is going to be very difficult to convince me that any of these (and other) places are monitored for cleanliness greater than cruise ships! No matter where, we are having to rely on human beings to stay away from others when sick…and that seldom happens! OK, rant completed…almost…

2,315!

rcclwayfinderNew for some, a review for others, here is a list of terms that can help prepare you for your cruise. We hope this helps!

  • Aft – the back or near the back of the ship
  • Atrium – the central court (or center area) of a cruise ship, usually rising through more than one story of the ship’s interior
  • Berth – a built-in bed or bunk, as in a ship’s cabin or stateroom
  • Bow – the very front of the ship
  • Bridge – the navigational control center
  • Cabin or Stateroom Steward – a person whose work is to take care of the guests aboard a ship.
  • Captain – the person in command of a ship
  • Deck Plan – an overhead diagram of the cabins and the public rooms
  • Disembark – to unload (passengers or goods) from a ship
  • Dock – where your ship ‘parks’ when in port
  • Forward – faces the front of the boat
  • Gangway – allows you access on and off the ship
  • Knot – a nautical mile (see Nautical below)
  • Leeward – the side of the ship that is out of or away from the wind
  • Midship – the middle of the ship
  • Muster – to come together or assemble aboard ship for inspection or roll call
  • Muster Station – a specific location on ship to gather, based on stateroom assignment
  • Nautical – of or having to do with sailors, ships, or navigation. A unit of speed of one nautical mile (6,076.12 feet or 1,852 meters) an hour: abbrev. kn or kt [to average a speed of 10 knots]
  • Pier – a structure built out over the water and supported by pillars or piles: used as a landing place.
  • Port – the left-hand side of a ship as one faces forward: opposed to starboard. Port – so named because the side toward the port (dock), since the steering oar (see starboard) prevented docking to the right.
  • Port of Call – regular stopover(s) on a cruise itinerary.
  • Purser – a ship’s officer in charge of accounts, freight, tickets, etc., esp. on a passenger vessel. Important to you – a Purser takes responsibility for all money, transactions.
  • Port – the left hand side of the ship while facing forward (bow). Easy to remember since “port” and “left” each have four letters.
  • Ship – You always cruise on a “ship,” never a “boat”.
  • Starboard – the right side of the ship while facing forward (bow).
  • Stateroom – your cabin or berth
  • Stern – the very back of the ship
  • Tender – a boat for carrying passengers to or from a ship close to shore.
  • Windward – on the side of the ship from which the wind blows; toward the wind

We have lots of Royal Caribbean 2015 deployment news today, so that you may begin your long range planning. Please find it all listed below, categorized by ship:

Independence_of_the_SeasIndependence of the Seas:

  • April 19 (6-nights) Western Caribbean (Round trip Ft. Lauderdale/Georgetown, Grand Caymen/Falmouth, Jamaica/Labadee, Haiti)
  • April 25 (8-nights) Eastern Caribbean (Round trip Ft. Lauderdale/Philipsburg, St. Maarten/Basseterre, St. Kitts/San Juan, Puerto Rico/Labadee, Haiti)
  • May 3-October 25 (7-nights alternating East/West Caribbean, Round trip from Ft. Lauderdale)
    East: San Juan, Puerto Rico/Philipsburg, St. Maarten/Basseterre, St. Kitts
    West: Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cozumel, Mexico
  • November 1 (6-nights) Western Caribbean (Round trip Ft. Lauderdale/Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman

oasisOasis of the Seas:

  • June 6-October 31 (7-nights alternating East/West Caribbean, Round trip from Ft. Lauderdale)  (except October 17, 2015)
    East: Nassau, Bahamas/Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas/Philipsburg, St. Maarten
    West: Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica/Cozumel, Mexico
  • October 21 (3-night Bahamas Getaway round trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas)

Freedom of the Seas:

  • June 7-October 25 (7-nights alternating East/West Caribbean, Round trip from Port Canaveral, FL.)
    East: CocoCay, Bahamas/Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas/Philipsburg, St. Maarten
    West: Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cozumel, Mexico

Grandeur_of_the_SeasGrandeur of the Seas:

  • 5/8; 5/22; 6/5; 6/19; 7/13; 7/17; 7/31; 8/14: (7-night Bermuda fr. Baltimore with 2-nights at King’s Wharf, Bermuda)
  • 5/15; 5/29; 6/12; 6/26; 7/10; 7/24; 8/7; 8/21 (7-night Bahamas fr. Baltimore/Port Canaveral, FL./Nassau, Bahamas/CocoCay, Bahamas)
  • 8/28; 9/11; 9/25; 10/9 (6-night Bermuda fr. Baltimore/Kings Wharf, Bermuda for 2-nights)
  • 9/3; 9/17; 10/1 (8-night Canada & New England fr. Baltimore/Portland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/St. John, New Brunswick-Bay of Fundy/Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • 10/15 (9-night Canada & New England fr. Baltimore/Portland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/St. John, New Brunswick-Bay of Fundy/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Boston, MA.)

Brilliance of the Seas:

  • 9/18 (9-night Canada & New England fr. Boston, MA/Portland, Maine/Rockland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/Sydney, Nova Scotia)
  • 9/27; 10/4; 10/11; 10/18 (7-night Canada & New England fr. Boston, MA/Portland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/St. John, New Brunswick (Bay of Fundy)/Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Serenade of the Seas:

  • 9/15 (10-night Fall Foliage Northbound fr. Cape Liberty, NJ to Quebec City, Quebec (overnight) stopping in Portland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/Saguenay, Quebec)
  • 9/25 (12-night Fall Foliage Southbound fr. Quebec City, Quebec (overnight) to Cape Liberty, NJ stopping in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/Halifax, Nova Scotia/St. John, New Brunswick (Bay of Fundy)/Bar Harbor, Maine/Rockland, Maine/Portland, Maine)
  • 10/7 (12-night Fall Foliage Northbound fr. Cape Liberty, NJ to Quebec City, Quebec (overnight) stopping in Boston, MA/Portland, Maine/Rockland, Maine/Bar Harbor, Maine/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island)
  • 10/19 (14-night Snowbird Migration fr. Quebec City, Quebec (overnight) to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. stopping in Saguenay, Quebec/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island/Sydney, Nova Scotia/Halifax, Nova Scotia/Bar Harbor, Maine/Portland, Maine/Boston, MA/Charlotte, South Carolina)

Allure of the Seas:

  • 4/18 (12-night Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona, Spain, with one stop in Malaga, Spain)

With these 7-night Western Mediterranean itineraries, Choose Your Embarkation Port: BARCELONA, SPAIN or ROME (Civitavecchia), ITALY

allure-europe

  • 10/22 (3-night Short Western Mediterranean fr. Rome, to Naples/Capri, Italy, ending in Barcelona, Spain)
  • 10/25 (12-night Ocean Voyage from Barcelona, Spain, one stop in Malaga, Spain, ending in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)

As always, we can help! Visit our website at CRUISECX.COM.

 

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As big as the cruise industry is, I am quite surprised with the lack of local advertising, aimed at folks who live within short driving distances of home ports. I’ve lived in South Florida for over 22 years, and I would see at least a dozen commercials a week, from Disney World, promoting deals for Florida residents. Look, I realize the industry’s bread and butter is the extended holiday/vacation, and the short cruise business may be doing well enough, but there are more dollars to be made there.

All across the U.S., particularly in or near port cities, casinos and entertainment venues are popping up. In many cases, they are popping up because people want things to do before and after their cruises. I know I would purposely arrive to ports like New Orleans a day or two early just to enjoy what the city has to offer! But what about the locals? For those who enjoy a night out, like a nice dinner for two, followed by a show and maybe drinks and/or dancing afterwards…this can get pricey!

Some weekend cruises rival the cost of one night out in Miami!

Some weekend cruises rival the cost of one night out in Miami!

Well, if you live near a cruise home port, and can make weekend getaway decisions within a window of one to two weeks (give or take), a weekend cruise can cost you significantly less than ONE night on the town for two people! That’s right, call the babysitter…call the grand parents…you are going to want to get away for the weekend because we are going to do  a comparison!

We recently dined at a well-known steakhouse in Miami, followed by a show with drinks. Here is the breakdown:

  • 1 Pea Soup: $9.50
  • 1 Stone Crab: $24.00
  • 1 Lamb Chops: $46.00
  • 1 Colorado Ribs: $53.00
  • 1 Creamed Spinach: $12.50
  • 2 Glasses House Red Wine: $24.00
  • 2 Import Beers: $19.00
  • 1 German Chocolate Cake: $9.00

Then at the show, a Broadway musical, two tickets were $120 and four drinks cost us $32. The figures above, not including tax and gratuities, total $349.

Just recently, on February 10, Norwegian Cruise Line had several fares, for a 4-nighter, starting at $119 per person.

Weekend cruises were advertised as low as $134 per person. Port charges and fees are a bit extra, but prices for three and four nights certainly rivaled our night out in this case. And for those of you who may be cruise newbies, what was included with the cruise advertised for $119pp? Well, five complimentary dining options, all entertainment in the Theatre and Show Lounge and live music and dancing venues throughout the ship, fitness center/sports court/pools/hot tubs, youth programs (if needed) and of course, excellent service! Oh, and yes…two tropical destinations along the way!

The view from aboard the Allure of the Seas as she departs from Port Everglades, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The view from aboard the Allure of the Seas as she departs from Port Everglades, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Shorter cruises offer many benefits, such as an alternative to land-based casinos (and you don’t have to drive home after drinking) and allowing new cruisers to try it out for a shorter period and a lower cost. It is also a great change from trying to find parking at local entertainment venues and beaches around the U.S. One of our Facebook fans had her own reason…she arrived for her 7-day cruise a few days early, and taking a three night cruise (before her longer cruise) was  much less expensive than staying in a hotel for two nights. Yes, hotel rates on cruise weekends, in port cities are not cheap, and, you better reserve early!

We can help with your cruise wants and needs. We can also answer your questions. Check out our new sister website, CruiseCX.com, and start researching your next cruise or travel escape. Happy Hump Day everybody!

costa2shipsAh, if only every cruise line would do this…

Costa Cruises has announced the launch of “MyCosta Mobile”, a new application for smartphones and tablets that is designed to allow Costa guests to call and text onboard at no cost.

“MyCosta Mobile” is free of charge and user friendly.

Before the start of your cruise, simply download the free application from the App Store or Google Play Store. Once on board, all you need to do is connect to the ship’s WiFi network, register and launch the app, at no cost whatsoever. Once you have registered, “MyCosta Mobile” is ready for use, again free of charge: you can socialize with other cruise guests and get in touch by phoning or texting whenever you like, and you can also use the App to contact a cabin or any of the numerous shipboard amenities such as the restaurants, Spa, tour office and much more besides.

Read the rest here.

Most cruise ship staterooms will provide basic toiletries such as soap and shampoo. But, you may want to make room in your luggage for your favorite brands (I’m not a big fan of the mystery soaps on wall dispensers). The same can be said for hair dryers. Most staterooms come with weak dryers so if you’re picky, pack your own. Be mindful, however, of your ship’s power limitations, per cabin (not really an issue on newer ships).

This travel-sized power strip even has two USB inputs!

This travel-sized power strip even has two USB inputs!

The majority of cruise ship staterooms do not contain alarm clocks. If you do not want to use a telephone wake up call, bring your own. If you choose to use a cell phone, be sure to disable cellular service so you do not incur any roaming charges. Other items you might want to pack because they’re not provided (or costly to purchase aboard) include:extra hangers, O-T-C meds, batteries, camera memory cards, sunscreen, ear plugs, plastic bags (transporting liquids or wet things, or keeping water out of your gear on water-based tours) and power strips to charge all your electronics.

Do you have any other must-have, or easily overlooked, items? Share with your fellow cruisers here!