Let’s face it, although we say we go on vacation to get away from it all, this is the world in which we live! Here is the press release from Carnival:

The Carnival Dream!

The Carnival Dream!

MIAMI, Sept. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), the world’s largest travel and leisure company, today announced that it has expanded its innovative hybrid connectivity system to create the cruise industry’s largest Wi-Fi network — and one of the world’s largest satellite mobility networks.

With over 31 advanced satellite systems, the company’s expanded WiFi@Sea connectivity network features the broadest high-bandwidth internet coverage in the industry currently deployed on 30 of its 100 ships — far more than any other cruise line company — with further deployment planned over the next several months. In addition, several of its cruise line brands have introduced new plans and pricing packages that make staying connected on a cruise more convenient and affordable — and are improving the guest experience and increasing the number of guests using Wi-Fi while cruising.

Expected to be extended to nearly 40 percent of the company’s industry-leading fleet across several of its global brands by the end of 2015, the expanded WiFi@Sea service has led to increased guest satisfaction, higher usage rates and greater number of devices connected during voyages. Carnival Corporation’s brands currently using the new features include AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. Building on existing broadband Wi-Fi capabilities already available throughout its fleet of 100 ships, Carnival Corporation is continuing the deployment of its technology solution with plans to expand the new system on the majority of its fleet across its 10 global brands through 2016.

The company’s system represents a first in the cruise industry on this scale — providing the broadest high-speed global coverage across dozens of ships coupled with onboard intelligence to enhance the guest experience — a breakthrough technology innovation for overcoming the challenging circumstances of sailing in the middle of the ocean and still providing fast, reliable and affordable wireless internet access for guests.

Expanding the System

The system is a first-of-its kind solution that integrates a combination of advanced satellite systems, onboard software, networking equipment, land-based antennas and Wi-Fi from port connections. The technology is expected to change how millions of travelers stay in touch during their cruise and generate even greater interest in cruise vacations, especially among tech-savvy millennials and people of all ages who want to stay in touch, research destinations or share their vacation experiences via social media.

With the continued rollout of the enhanced connectivity system across the fleet, guests will be able to access the websites, social networks and apps most important to them at speeds up to 10 times faster than those previously available on the company’s ships.

“As we continue to enhance our WiFi@Sea system, we implement technologies, packages and overall approaches that will create the best experience and value for our guests wherever their cruise vacation takes them,” said Reza Rasoulian, vice president of global connectivity and shipboard technology operations at Carnival Corporation. “We optimize all of our service layers continuously to ensure a great connectivity experience. With this approach, we are giving our guests faster internet speeds without constraining the time they can be online through our packages, which has led to more people than ever using their devices to connect while on our ships and a steady improvement in guest satisfaction ratings as the new plans and pricing are rolled out.”

New Packages and Pricing Structure

With the new pricing models, Wi-Fi packages are based on the types of services guests will be using throughout their trip versus the previous system of charging for the amount of time they will be online. For example, guests who are only interested in using Wi-Fi to post to their social networks can purchase a basic package for a lower fee.

This change gives guests the freedom they prefer for unlimited use of the specific internet services and applications they are interested in without the worry of time constraints — an important offering for a good number of guests who are looking to stay connected, especially as the industry works to increase interest in and demand for cruising across all demographics, especially among younger guests.

Specific package offerings and pricing structures vary by brand, but in all cases the company is working to create more value and a better overall connectivity experience.

System Enhancements Focus on the Guest Experience

Carnival Cruise Line, the company’s largest brand with 24 ships and its 25(th) ship, Carnival Vista, coming in spring of 2016, announced in August it has enhanced internet access including new social media packages. The packages are now available on 19 of its 24 ships with plans for fleet-wide implementation by the first quarter of 2016. In June, the company’s AIDA Cruises brand announced new flat-rate social media and internet packages, along with bandwidth upgrades that have been installed on seven ships, and will be fully deployed on each of the brand’s 10 ships by November 2015.

Added Rasoulian: “We know that each of our guests is looking for something different when they cruise, whether that is being completely or partially unplugged from the internet or staying plugged in. For those who want to stay connected with their life back home or research the next destination on their trip, we are offering faster, more reliable and more affordable options to give our guests what they are looking for.”

The improved onboard connectivity experience will also help crew members across Carnival Corporation’s 10 brands keep in touch with their family and friends at home during the extended amounts of time they spend at sea. This is an important component of each crew member’s quality of life and has a positive impact on helping them maintain their passion for consistently providing exceptional service for guests during the voyage.

About Carnival Corporation & plc

Carnival Corporation & plc is the largest cruise company in the world, with a portfolio of 10 cruise brands in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, comprised of Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises (Australia), P&O Cruises (UK) and Fathom.

Together, these brands will operate 100 ships in 2015 totaling 219,000 lower berths with 17 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2022. Carnival Corporation & plc also operates Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the leading tour companies in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. Traded on both the New York and London Stock Exchanges, Carnival Corporation & plc is the only group in the world to be included in both the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100 indices.

Additional information can be found on www.carnival.com, www.hollandamerica.com, www.princess.com, www.seabourn.com, www.aida.de, www.costacruise.com, www.cunard.com, www.pocruises.com.au, www.pocruises.com and www.fathom.org.

Red Frog Pub

Red Frog Pub

Ice Cream Parlor

Ice Cream Parlor

Seafood Shack

Seafood Shack

Family Harbor example

Family Harbor example

Vista Atrium

Vista Atrium

Carnival Vista

Carnival Vista

SkyRide

SkyRide

Bullet points from today’s Carnival event:

Upon launch in May 2016, Vista will sail a variety of 8 and 10-day sailings from Athens and Barcelona

 

She will also sail a 12-day voyage out of Barcelona

 

After the Euro-summer season, Vista will sail a 13-day voyage into New York City

 

After NYC sailing, she will settle into her new home port, announcement coming later

 

Features to include:
-The first IMAX at sea
-Red Frog Brewery now brewing on board
-Expanded Havana Bar area (now with pool and Havana Cabanas)
-New cabin class called “Family Harbor”, accommodating up to five
-Serenity Deck to have a chopped salad station
-A full ice cream parlor
-Dining on Deck 5 to have indoor and outdoor seating
-The atrium will have a center feature, with LED lighting, that changes colors throughout the day
-The largest Waterworks in the fleet and the largest waterslide at sea (455-feet long)
-A Skyride that goes around Lido Deck

The NCL Sky did have an atrium, but you still couldn't "cross-over" to some areas without going up one deck, then back down.

The NCL Sky did have an atrium, but you still couldn’t “cross-over” to some areas without going up one deck, then back down.

Well, I think it is, if it is used properly. I am speaking of cruise ships, of course, and the ongoing debate on passengers’ preferences with regards to ship size and passenger space.

I’ve maintained mixed feelings about this for years, ever since setting foot on the first 100,000-plus ton cruise ship, the Carnival Destiny. But, this past weekend after sailing onboard the Norwegian Sky, I think I’ve made up my mind.

The newer, larger ships are quite simply easier to navigate, to get to where you want to go. Sure, there is more walking involved, but for the most part the public spaces are accessible without having to master the art of the maze.

This past weekend alone brought back memories to cruising yesteryear, when you had to go up a deck, cross over, and then back down to get to, say, one of the dining rooms. We had to do this on the NCL Sky, a ship built “way back” in 1999. While the ships today are getting larger (a downer for some), a direct shot to all of the public spaces is pretty much the standard.

What do you think?

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.

 

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!

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!

IMG_0338While innovative programs, like Norwegian Cruise Line’s single traveler cabins, are popping up, some lines offer other options for solo travelers. Holland American Line is one such cruise line!

Holland America Line’s Single Partners Program provides a way for a solo guest to share a stateroom with
another same-sex single, so each pay only the per-person, double occupancy rate!

  • If a partner is not available, the guest cruises solo at the agreed-upon double-occupancy fare
  • The program applies to selected staterooms on all ships in the fleet
  • Single guests who prefer not to share a stateroom may book a double stateroom for 150 to 200 percent of the double occupancy fare, depending on the cruise and stateroom category
  • The Single Partners Program is not available on Grand Voyages (Grand World Voyage, South America & Antarctic Voyage and Mediterranean & North Africa Voyage) or Alaska Land+Sea Journeys.

The program lets singles connect with each other through special events and activities onboard and creates a camaraderie that makes it easy to meet other singles. Highlights of Holland America Line’s Single Partners Program include:

  • Solo travelers party for singles to meet each other early during their cruise, hosted on all Holland
    America ships
  • Mixers, cocktail parties and games to let singles connect with each other
  • More than 40 activities to meet other singles such as exercise classes, computer instruction, enriching lectures (select sailings), line dance class, wine tasting, cooking demonstrations, Team Trivia contests, the daily quiz and sports challenges
  • Social Hosts to welcome single women guests to dinner and provide dancing partners on select cruises 40 days or longer, excluding Collector’s Voyages
  • Dinner seating with other singles by advance request
Medium-sized ships once called Philadelphia home, at least for a portion of the year.

Medium-sized ships once called Philadelphia home, at least for a portion of the year.

New ship-builds are being announced and existing ladies are maneuvered around the U.S. and the world on a regular basis.  Philadelphia, the ninth largest East Coast Cruise Home Port in 2006, has experienced passenger declines ever since.  Then, in 2010 (to today), Philadelphia is a major East Coast port city without a cruise ship calling it home.

On our Facebook Page last Saturday, we polled our fans and asked “what city should be home port to the next cruise ship?”  Philadelphia, or as many called it, “Philly”, was the top response. We wanted to know why Philadelphia is left without a cruise ship, so we did a little research, and here is what we found:

  • The Delaware Memorial Bridge

    The Delaware Memorial Bridge

    Medium-size, 2,400-passenger ocean liners have moved to Europe and European cruises because of the better value of the dollar. And the industry is moving to bigger ships that carry 4,500 to 5,000 passengers. Today’s mega-ships cannot get under the Delaware Memorial Bridge

  • Baltimore, Bayonne, N.J., and New York have become much more competitive, increasing the number of cruises they offer, including those to Bermuda
  • Philadelphia’s location 100 miles up the Delaware River has always been a constraint because cruise ships cannot open up their gambling operations until they get out to the ocean
  • It’s faster to get to the ocean from New York, Baltimore and Bayonne.

Reference: The Philadelphia Inquirer