Norwegian Cruise Line today announced and opened for sale its 2015 summer and year-round cruises. The deployment includes the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Getaway sailing to the Caribbean from her year-round homeport of Miami, and continues to offer three ships in Alaska, four in Europe, two in Bermuda, as well as a variety of exciting Canada & New England; Bahamas & Florida; and Repositioning Cruises.

Norwegian will also continue to offer its unique Hawaii cruises year-round on Pride of America from Honolulu and short Bahamas itineraries from Miami year-round on Norwegian Sky. Click on the ship below for the complete story!

The Norwegian Getaway, twin to the Breakaway, will sail year-round from the Port of Miami.

The Norwegian Getaway, twin to the Breakaway, will sail year-round from the Port of Miami.

A Breakaway-Plus ship under construction!

A Breakaway-Plus ship under construction!

Norwegian Cruise Line today launched the “Norwegians Name Their Ships” contest asking fans in five countries to help select the names for the line’s two new Breakaway Plus class ships.

The names include: Bliss, Discovery, Dreamaway, Escape, Journey, Muse, Passion, Sailaway, Treasure and Triton.

You can 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!

Oasis-of-the-SeasStaterooms come in many shapes and sizes, and there are many types, but there are also several factors that should go into choosing a stateroom for your cruise. Whether working with a travel agent or a cruise line passenger specialist, do not be afraid to ask questions or to ask for what you are seeking in a stateroom. Remember, even a fancy suite could lend to a negative experience if it is near a busy venue, or beneath a night club! Here are a few things to consider:

  • Ship’s Features: If a passenger has mobility issues, a cabin near an elevator might be a good thing.  However, if you do not want to hear the noise of a high traffic area, being close to an elevator or a stairwell may not be a good thing!  I like being relatively close to the stairwell that leads up to the buffet area, as people traffic (noises) do not affect my ability to sleep and I enjoy stepping out, hopping a level or two up the stairs, and right to breakfast!
  • Physical Location of Stateroom:  As mentioned above, be careful about your room’s location.  Is it near a club, adjacent to the fitness center, just below a pool or near the Theatre?  In addition, rooms at the extreme forward and aft have the potential for more engine/thruster noises and vibrations
  • A room that is mid-ship, lower deck may offer more stability for those who may be prone to motion sickness
  • Higher rooms (and extreme forward) are more prone to ocean roll and sway
  • If you do not enjoy small, closed-in or tight spaces, a room with a window or balcony may be just what you need for a pleasant cruise experience
  • If your budget is an issue, it may be easier to tolerate some of the nuisances.  Just book the cheapest room you can find!
  • Another possibility which often offers a savings is to book a guarantee.  You do not immediately receive a stateroom number, but you are guaranteed a room within a particular booking category.  You have the potential to be bumped to a higher category, but you are not guaranteed  that your location will be one free of potential nuisances.

Inside the top level of a Tri-Rail, double decker train car!

Inside the top level of a Tri-Rail, double decker train car!

For many airlines, flying into Miami International Airport gives cruisers more options than flying into Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Often, additional options mean cheaper flights.

There is a very economical option for those of you flying into Miami, with a Fort Lauderdale cruise (or stay). It is South Florida’s Tri-Rail system, and you can get to it with a FREE Shuttle from Miami Airport. The bus terminal is located on level one (same as baggage claim), across the street from the terminal, in between the Dolphin and Flamingo Parking Garages.

Once there, you can purchase your ticket before boarding the shuttle, or you may purchase tickets once you arrive at the Tri-Rail Station. Prices are UNDER $5 per person. Take the train to the Fort Lauderdale Airport station, and then it is a very short cab ride into Port Everglades, or a local Fort Lauderdale hotel! For Tri-Rail’s website, click HERE.

CLG0038-606In the past, I’ve written about certain items to pack, gadgets to buy for your cruise, clothing and more.  Most of those were for conveniences and comforts.  This one will save you money!  Purchase and pack an inner tube (deflated, of course!).

If your cruise includes ports of call with a beach, and you plan to visit the beach, water sports rental supplies can run you big bucks…especially if you are traveling as a large family.  An inner tube or an inflatable raft can run between $10-$25…just for a few hours.  This adds up if you are traveling with several people and you do not want to share.  Before your cruise, stop at a local store and buy an adequate amount of inner tubes or rafts for the family.  They pack flat, they are inexpensive, and they are yours for the entire cruise…as well as for future trips!  We purchased four inner tubes before our May Bermuda cruise; the total cost…$16.  It beats beach rental fees and, they are cheap enough that if you decide not to return home with them, it isn’t the end of the world.

We promised to report live from the Norwegian Breakaway all this week, and we are going to deliver. Here are our experiences for Day One, Sunday, May 26th:

1. We arrived at the port via a Sprinter Van. It took 22 minutes and 38 seconds from the first step out of the van to the first step into the Breakaway. Arrival at the port was 11:22 AM. Our time included walking all the way to the BACK of the terminal for even deck check-in, and we were filtered into the Latitudes Rewards line. The entire was painless, from the security checkpoint to receiving our sail and sign cards. You will, however, know you are in New York! Fast, to-the-point instructions and talkers, from the curbside baggage handlers to the staff inside the terminal. Pay attention!

2. We stepped into the ship towards the aft, and the entrance was not grand. It is always nice to be awed, and form terrific memories, when you step inside for the first time, and that did not happen here. As is typical with Day One Boarding, elevators did not arrive quickly…but they did eventually. The elevators seem larger than those on most other ships.

3. Our staterooms were ready, so we dropped our carry-ons and went straight up to the Garden Cafe. The variety of food was incredible. Pastas, brats with kraut, seafood, pizzas, Asian fare…so much to mention. The desserts were awesome, as expected coming from NYC suppliers. It’s gotta be in the water! Speaking of water, The Garden Cafe offers flavored water dispensers, along with the usual iced teas, lemonades, water and coffee. They also had wine machines! You swipe your room key, and choose your wine…it’s that simple!

4. The Muster Drill was organized and quick. Dress lightly, however. The stations are all indoors and it gets warm with all of the bodies around you…especially if your spot is in the area with the big screen. Those lights make it very warm.

5. Sail away was awesome. If you have never sailed out of New York City, put it on the list! The city, the Statue of Liberty and sailing under the Verrazano Bridge…all sights to see and experience from onboard any tall cruise ship. There are excellent photo opportunities and it was fun to hear the entire deck cheer when the ship successfully cleared the Verrazano (watch for our video to soon appear on our YouTube Channel, cruiseCX). After we cleared the bridge, we sampled a “dirty water dog” at the Sabrett hot dog stand!

6. We then had a “snack” at O’Sheehan’s Pub, on Deck 7. Comfort foods galore at O’Sheehans, and it is all included in your fare. We had the wings and cheese sticks, and I ordered a Chef’s Salad. We topped it off with some beers from their selection of 20 different ones.

7. Tonight we had reservations for the Cirque Dreams Dinner Theatre to see “Jungle Fantasy.” We paid the extra $10 for premium seating ($39 pp overall), which is worth it and just about under the “tent” portion of the Theatre….very close to the action. The food was excellent and the show was FANTASTIC. Tremendous athleticism and superb choreography which drew many “oohs’ and “aahs” from the packed house. Without exaggeration, we would see it again!

8. We rounded out our evening at Fat Cat’s Jazz and Blues Club, featuring Slam Allen. Allen has been a part of the NYC blues scene for decades, and he played to a packed room. If you ever have the chance to see Slam Allen, you will be in for a treat. He is a man full of love and soul, he will keep you wanting more, and it will be difficult to find someone who loves what he does more than Slam Allen!

We are looking forward to the week and hope that it doesn’t pass too quickly. We will be back tomorrow with more! Sweet dreams everybody, and thanks for stopping by!

NJ Transit Newark Airport Station

NJ Transit Newark Airport Station

NY Pizza at Penn Station!

NY Pizza at Penn Station!

My wife Cathy and me with Mr. Met!

My wife Cathy and me with Mr. Met!

It is difficult to top New York City when it comes to public transportation.  Upon our arrival into Newark International (Friday from Miami), getting into NY was a snap. We took the airport air train to New Jersey transit Newark train station, where we caught the train to Penn Station in Manhattan, $12 each.  Once in Penn Station (which is beneath Melo’s home, Madison Square Garden), we had our first taste of NYC, a slice of pizza!  It was awesome, and they had quite a system going at the counter; in about a minute, our order was taken, food was served and money paid! From Penn station we took a cab to meet our cruise mates (and family), who then drove us from Manhattan to their home in Queens.

Today, Saturday, we took in a Mets game at Citi Field; the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves.  Before the game, we took the subway into Manhattan to meet more family, so that they would not be alone on the 7-train to Citi Field.  Let’s just say he (we’ll call him “John”) watches too much “Law and Order!”  Citi Field is beautiful (especially compared to old Shea Stadium) and there is a wide variety of food choices.

We took advantage of many of them, prepping our bodies for the onslaught of NCL Breakaway food!  Hopefully, the weather will improve as we board the Breakaway tomorrow and head towards Bermuda.  It’s late May and the temperature dropped to the upper 40’s with 20-30 mph wind gusts.  It felt like late fall, and we left the game in the 6th inning, went to a cafe, and ate some more; desserts with coffee and Bailey’s!

In a few hours, we will be boarding our van to head to the Norwegian Breakaway!  Be sure to check with us daily over the next seven days; we will have lots of information for you!

Contributor, Tore Berger

Contributor, Tore Berger

When a new cruise ship is on its way from a paper drawing to an actual ship, there is literally tons of work to be done besides the physical aspect. Inspection, inspection, inspection!

To be an inspector on a yard, for a cruise company on a big new build, is somewhat of an experience. The yard company is the overall responsible party, and there is probably a two-figured number of construction deliverers working for the yard. Perhaps one company for the buffet restaurant, another for the “American” styled bar, another for the nightclub and so on. Each with their special fields and skills, and, again, additional providers for furniture, electronics, carpets, and so on. Different companies for different bars, for the different areas, restaurants etc.

I repeat, the yard is responsible. The contractors have their duties and work, and the cruise company wants it all to be perfect. And here lies the work for the inspectors. A small delegation of trusted employees, from the cruise company, does the inspections. A Chef or two to inspect the galleys; Bar Manager for the bars; electrician, engineer, headwaiter, boatswain and so on. Every inch of wall is examined: scratches, marks, stains, technical, furniture, painting, and the finish in general. Everything is supposed to be shiny, new, functioning properly, and looking perfect. The inspectors do this utilizing their respective skills, and on behalf of the company and owner. Trust is the key word from the company, and pride is the answer from the handpicked inspectors.

An inspection goes on with a representative from the yard, from the deliverer, from the contractor, and the company inspector. Hours and hours, details, and notes. After as many as 10-12 inspections, the area can be signed and “delivered.” Everybody involved signs, and the inspector does it for the owner. This is always like a small ceremony, and the tension can be high. As a trusted inspector for my company, I have to say it’s a special honour. The trace of a ship is linked to me. To my name. To my job. The flip side of the coin? I am responsible for signings up to millions of dollars. Anyway, it is, and will in the future, be worth it.

Cruise ship inspector, a job to remember for life.

On behalf of the owner: Tore Berger.

“A business that only makes money, is a poor business!”

spa2Our recent poll revealed that “it’s about the ship” for many, which means you may not spend all of your time in the ports (if at all) when docked or anchored.  If you’ve always wanted to take advantage of the luxurious spa amenities aboard, but didn’t want to pony up the dough, port days may be the time to do so! Most cruise lines offer discounts for most (or all) spa activities and treatments on port days!

A couple of other things you can look into:

1. Many lines offer severely discounted specials for several spa amenities upon boarding for the first time.  Sort of an “early-bird” special. But act quickly, because the packages are usually limited.

2. Sometimes you can use the spa’s showers and steam rooms, even if you do not get a treatment!

See you all in the tropical rain forest room…Happy Cruising!!