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Archive for the ‘Cruise Talk’ Category

 

Business has been steady this time of year and there have been a lot of questions lately on documentation for travel – particularly for cruises.  So I thought I would share a few tips and requirements for taking a cruise. 

 This is the kind of information that is not always clear to even the most experienced cruisers, who may have sailed with different documents in the past.  So as a quick reminder – all U.S. citizens must bring one of the following WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) compliant documents in order to sail on a cruise that departs and ends from the same U.S. port:

  • Valid U.S. Passport
  • Passport Card
  • Original or legible copy of a Birth Certificate (issued by the Department of Vital Statistics)
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Trusted Traveler Program Membership Card (i.e. Nexus Card, Sentri Card or Fast Card)
  • A Consular Report of Birth Abroad

Copies of the following will NOT be allowed by a cruise line:

  • US Passports
  • Naturalization Papers

Originals, or copies will NOT be allowed by a cruise line:

  • Baptismal Certificates
  • Hospital issued “Certificate of Birth”

It is always recommended that all guests travel with a passport (valid for at least six months beyond completion of travel). Although a passport is not required for U.S. citizens taking cruises that begin and end in the same U.S. port, traveling with a passport facilitates your disembarkation experience. It also makes it easier for you to fly from the U.S. to a foreign port should you miss your scheduled embarkation or need to fly back to the U.S. for an emergency.

By taking the time to familiarize yourself with these requirements and asking your travel planner questions, your overall cruise experience will be that much more enjoyable!

Happy Travels!

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A good question lately!  Once there was a rather large dust-up when it was disclosed that a major cruise line had given away some free cruises to a core group of its fans who posted regularly on a large cruise community site.  There were many cries of “foul” and “reverse censorship”.  While this may have been blown a bit out of proportion, it does open the door to a question lots of novice cruisers ask.  And the question is “Should I trust the reviews I read on sites like Cruise Critic?”  The answer is Yes and No.

Why the ambiguity?  Because the most important thing to remember that what you are reading is just one person (or couple’s) opinion about a particular ship, cruise line or service amenity.  Have you ever gone to a shore side restaurant that a friend raves about and found it to be very disappointing?  I think we all have.  And what about that fabulous plumber who was recommended strongly?  The one who broke the pipe and flooded your new carpet?  Oops.

So, it is best to consider these reviews with a note of caution.  They are good for general trends and recommendations and certainly provide some insider tips.  Generally, if there are a large number of reviews and all or most of them are negative on a topic, there is likely to be some underlying cause. 

The fact that 80% of all people who cruise indicate they will sail again points out that if you work with a knowledgeable travel agent and he or she matches your needs with the most suitable ship, it is almost inevitable that you will have a great vacation!

How relevant to you find cruise reviews to be?

Happy Travels!

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Outstanding deals on Celebrity Cruises for August, September and October with rates starting at $799 per person plus taxes for an outside cabin.   Upgrade to an Aqua Spa Suite for total pampering!

It’s the perfect time to plan your Fall getaway today!

For more details visit our Travel Tuesday Deals Tab.

Happy Travels

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It’s time to talk Holland America!   Set sail on one of their ships and get special discounts during our 3-day sale!

For more details visit our Travel Tuesday Deals Tab.

Happy Travels!

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I know I haven’t posted in over a week but last week I had a great excuse! I celebrated my birthday onboard the fabulous Freedom of the Seas! This is Royal Caribbean’s and the World’s second largest ship with all of the bells and whistles.  During the week, just to name a few, I:

  • Ice skated (there is an ice skating rink onboard!)
  • Swam with sting rays in Grand Cayman
  • Attended star-studded shows and productions
  • Shopped in the various ports of call such as Ocho Rios and Cozumel
  • Basked in the tropical sun (with plenty of sunscreen)
  • Relaxed on our large stateroom balcony
  • Played in the splash pool with my son
  • And ate way too much delicious food

All these activities and more made for a perfect vacation for me and my family.   My birthday was Saturday and what a way to spend it while sailing back to Port Canaveral.  The day was capped off by the harmonious singing of the wait staff at dinner and the presentation of a slice of yummy key lime pie!  I love a great celebration!

This will rank in my top 10 cruises over the years and reaffirmed once again why we love to cruise!  Nothing like sunny skies, family and fun to make for a great vacation and birthday celebration! 

Now if the laundry fairy could visit my home….

Have you taken a trip for your birthday? Share your stories!

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Balcony cabin on the Carnival Freedom

Location, Location, Location.

As I prepare for an upcomimg family cruise vacation soon, I look back as to what lead me to choose the location of our cabins.   Location is important in business, real estate and even on cruise ships.  How can you make sure that you pick the best location in your chosen stateroom category?  A good answer for this question is to view the ship’s deck plans in the cruise line brochure or on the web.  While the plans are often not exactly to scale and cabin size is not always in proportion to the drawings there are a few things that are very helpful. 

First, when a client and I locate their recommended cabin on the deck plan, we then look up, down, left, right, and forward of the cabin.  What’s there?   And knowing what to look for can help you avoid a less-than-ideal stateroom.

Ok, so here’s the short list when I help a client select a cabin:

Look for elevators and staircase exits near your stateroom. (Some people love to be close to everything so this might be a positive feature but with activity comes noise)

Look up.  Oops!  A basketball court, jogging track or day pantry might result in the wakeup call you did not ask for.  I prefer to have passenger decks above and below a cabin.

Look down.  Is the bandstand for one of the show lounges right below your room?  Even with good sound proofing there is a chance for ambient noise.

Look across the hall.  Is there a room service pantry shown or other service area.  A potentially busy area to avoid.

Look right and left.  If you are at the end of a hallway, make sure that the disco or other high energy lounge is not adjacent.  Avoid hallways that lead to these lounges unless you are a night owl.  Late night revelers sometimes carry on with the partying outside your door.

The good news is that modern cruise ships have been designed with passenger comfort in mind and the architects strive to develop a deck plan that confines public rooms and lounges to areas far from the staterooms. 

A little advance review of the deck plans and the advice of a good cruise specialist can help deliver an extra measure of peace and quiet in your stateroom.

Having a great stateroom is one of the key components of a great cruise vacation!

What type of cruise cabin location do you prefer?

Happy Travels!

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Our ship the Norwegian Spirit in Costa Maya, Mexico

This past week brought back some wonderful travel memories!   My husband Jerry and I have been on over 25 cruises in the many years we’ve been married. None could have prepared us for the adventure of cruising for the first time last year with our seven and half month old son on the Norwegian Spirit out of New Orleans!

Our first concern was what to pack.  To say that we packed all but the kitchen sink for our son was an understatement. But we just weren’t sure if he would need something and worried that it would be the one thing we forgot. He didn’t wear half of what we packed but that was okay. My advice – make sure to pack a few small, portable toys like the rings that hook onto the stroller and extra diapers. Diapers and other baby sundries are very hard to find onboard. In port, you may be able to find a few supplies but it is best to plan ahead especially if you need specific brands or styles.

I packed a separate duffel bag with baby food, toys and books as well as an extra blanket. One of us sat in the back seat with him to keep him entertained and make sure he was doing okay in his car seat.  This was his first big trip in his new car seat too! A few stops to stretch our legs and eat and we were in Mississippi by mid afternoon to pick up my mother-in-law and her sister.  Our son did manage to sleep well in the car so that was great! He found it quite entertaining to be able to see out the windows and was quite amused every time a large truck went by!

The next day we headed for the pier in New Orleans. Even with a baby in tow, it was a breeze getting to the pier and everything was very well-organized.  Because we were returning passengers with Norwegian Cruise Lines, we didn’t have to wait long to check in. By mid-afternoon we were checked-in and settled into our balcony, connecting cabins and ready to set sail.   

During the week we visited Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize.  When in Cozumel we took our son off the ship for a little while and it was his first adventure on international soil!   Most of the time we alternated staying onboard with him as it was too hot and he was too young for a shore excursion.  He loved riding in the glass elevators onboard the ship!

Needless to say, I could go on and on about how wonderful the trip was and what great memories we have.  I was so glad that our son loves to travel as much as we do.   The vacation more than exceeded our expectations – both as new parents and as vacationers.

Traveling with an infant when you plan ahead was easier than we had anticipated. Since this cruise we have been on two other cruises with our son, including a Disney Cruise for his first birthday, and he is quite the traveler!  We look forward to our next adventure this Spring!  

What adventures have you experienced with your family when traveling?  Any travel tips?

Happy Travels!

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