Friday, October 24, 2014

Quantum of the Seas sails soon!



I am somewhat obsessed with Quantum of the Seas.  I love the new innovative designs and her clean lines are stunning.  I was perusing the boards at Cruise Critic and found an awesome thread of live reporters who are going to sail on her maiden transatlantic  Southampton (that's the UK to you and me) to Bayonne, NJ which is Quantum's home port.

How exciting to hear all that these (very lucky!) reporters are going to say about this fantastic ship, not to mention all the fun they are going to experience.  SO jealous!!  




This ship has so many firsts, although I've already mentioned that on an earlier blog.  I love her because she's a lean, mean, fighting machine.  She's sleek and a bit smaller than the Oasis class.

Want to follow this thread?  If you're sailing on her or not, it's a great read.

Click here!

Happy sailing,
Mary

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dynamic Dining...say What?

If you're cruising the Quantum of the Seas (I wish....) you would be aware of Royal Caribbean's unveiling of Dynamic Dining.  So what is it?

It's a new way of dining.  Instead of a main dining room and the standard fixed times of 6pm and 8pm, you will be given the option of five complementary dining rooms.  That's free to you and me.  However, there are 18 amazing food venues across the ship. They come with whimsical names like Wonderland, Silk, Chic, Chef's Table and more.  Even those cruising in suites have their own restaurant, Coastal Kitchen.  RCCL's website describes it as " Coastal Kitchen fuses Mediterranean influences with the unmatched riches of California’s bountiful farmlands. This is a destination that exudes pure freshness."   


 Not all venues are free, many have a charge to eat at a specialty restaurant like Chops Grille which has been a favorite among cruisers for ten years.

With the changes of Dynamic Dining, there is a much more casual approach to dressing.  You're welcome.  There is one exception and it's called The Grande.  The Grande is formal wear all the time.  It's a nod to bygone times of cruising when one dressed for dinner.  Somehow I'm typing in an Enlish accent.  That's what it reminds me of.  

What would be amazing dining without celebrity chefs?  Jamie Oliver, Michael Schwartz, Devin Alexander, and Cornelius Gallagher.  I know!

Quantum of the Seas will be the debut ship to offer this but the Oasis class, Allure of the Seas, will be next.  Will it be fleet-wide?  There's a good chance.

Reservations are a must - and you can reserve restaurants through the Royal Caribbean website at www.rccl.com. 

Check it out and see what you think.   

Happy Sailing, Mary

 


 

 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cruising Alone? No Problem!

If you're wanting to cruise but do not want to pay exorbitant "single supplement" rates, try Norwegian. Since the NCL Epic came on the scene, singletons (including those widowed, travel widow (spouse doesn't like to travel or unmarried) have a wonderful option.  They are called Studio cabins and they not only are perfect in size for one but they also include the Studio lounge for meet and greets, drinks and snacks.  

What I love about the rooms are the ambient lighting, compact (but adequate) size and the option to do a solo cruise.  Don't get me wrong, I adore my husband and love cruising with him.  There is an idea brewing,however, and  that would be a lovely little getaway all my myself. There is a window to the hallway that can be opened or closed depending on your need. 

Norwegian Epic, Breakaway and now Getaway all feature these rooms and I think they are BRILLIANT!   I love the cozy size and color scheme. 

 As nice as the cabin is, it comes alive at night. How fun is that?
Not only do you have complete privacy but you have the option to mingle with the other studio cruisers whenever you choose.  

The Studio Lounge is a great option when you want to meet other singletons or if you just want to find someone to talk to or dine with.  It's a great space to have a drink, get to know your neighbors, read a book or play games all rolled into one.


Thank you NCL for having this option.  Otherwise, if you want to cruise by yourself, you have to pay 150% of your cabin, which can be frustrating especially if you can't help that you're alone. 

NCL has gone above and beyond to remedy the situation.  If you're in the market for a single cruise, I hope you will look into this option.  

Happy sailing,
Mary

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thank you Cruise Puppy!

I found an app that I love.  It's called Cruise Puppy and it gives you price drops.  I put in my cruise and it lets me know when the price drops and also prices for the next couple of months for inside, ocean view, balcony and suites.

There are some wonderful deals right now if you can cruise within a week to a two month period.  I happened to share this on Facebook and my girlfriends are jumping on it.  Let's do a girls cruise!  

Looking at an inside room, for a 7 day Caribbean cruise with Carnival Cruise lines - the Carnival Glory, 7 night eastern itinerary leaving November 29th would be $209 (plus port fees of course) for a whole week.  A WEEK! Sign me up!  Screenshot: 
Cruise Puppy App


I'm serious about this.  If I can get my friends on-board, we could have a blast.  Hoping and dreaming this comes true!

You can find Cruise Puppy in your app store today.  See it for yourself!

Happy Sailing,
Mary

PS: I am not affiliated with Cruise Puppy, just a fan. 
 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ways To SAVE On A Cruise

I really want to book a trip before our cruise to the southern Caribbean in Feb. 2016.  I'm looking at Alaska, Caribbean and Bahamas.  My wonderful hubby has always wanted to go to Alaska.  However, it's pretty pricy not to mention flying into either Seattle, Vancouver or Alaska.  I've also looked at the Bahamas, pretty inexpensive and the Caribbean.

I'm trying to watch the prices and see where we can cut down IF we can book another cruise.  First, what's the best deals.  Celebrity has the 4 perks you can choose from  - a big perk when one includes free select drinks!  

I'm a balcony snob.  Can't help it, I love the breeze and ocean view.  That being said, could I book an inside room so I could afford going on another cruise?  ABSOLUTELY!! It would be different and I don't like the boxy feeling of it, but we have a grand suite booked for the southern Caribbean and we could certainly make it work.  

Another way to save - cheap flight.  Perhaps Spirit instead of Delta or American.  I don't like their customer service...heck...what customer service?  But I could do it to save money and be able to get to my destination.

Forego the pictures, souveniers,etc.  UGH!  I don't know if I could do that.  I love the pictures, but if it means cruising vs. not cruising. OK!  I can do that! 

Specialty dining - It's not that expensive but it does add up over time.  Eating only in the dining room and free venues wouldn't be tough at all.  Easy peasy.

Drinks - c'mon now.  Let's not get THAT drastic.  Cutting down on the number of drinks would save money.  We could do that right?  We can do that. Yeah.

So there are ways to afford a cruise even if it's not what you normally prefer.  Stepping on the ship makes all of the above so worth it, so why not economize and still enjoy an awesome cruise?

Happy sailing,
Mary


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stop Teasing ME Celebrity Cruise Lines!

My husband, Mike, serves in Prison Ministry as do I.

He came home on Sunday and said that good friends of ours want us to come with them on an Alaskan cruise.  Well, that's all I had to hear...let's GO!!!

But, I thought I'd take a different tack.  Instead of being the crazed cruise addicted person I am I said, "Well, if you think we can afford it honey."  Hahahah...well played.

I looked up prices and am especially loving a deal on the Celebrity Solstice for a lower end balcony for $1399 per person.  The cruise would hit the major ports in Alaska and would sail from Seattle, which is a place I've always wanted to visit.

Right now Celebrity has a deal where you can choose from 4 free items.  Free drinks, (Yes please!) free gratuity, onboard credit of $300 or money off your cruise depending on the length.  A 7 day cruise would net you $400 off your trip, pretty significant.

It's a pretty enticing offer certainly. Can I talk hubby into it?  I will try my best, it's where he has wanted to cruise for ages.  

Hoping to hit Alaska next August!

Happy sailing,
Mary
 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

To Pay or Not To Pay?

I remember when I first cruised and pretty much everything was included.  (Not alcohol I don't believe.)  Cruising these days brings a myriad of options.  In the past you chose the itinerary and the ship.  You chose what type of cabin you wanted.  Now, the options on the cruise itself is stupefying.

Do you want to save money and eat in the included restaurants like the buffet or the main dining room or do you want to pay a stipend for a more intimate dining experience with attentive service?  (Although, I love the servers in the main dining room, they have been more than attentive to me in the past.) You can choose from Teppanyaki on NCL where they chop and serve you at your table from the built-in grill.  Or Chops on RCCL cruise line where you get melt in your mouth steaks.  There is the Bayou Cafe & Steakhouse on Princess that gives you true "N'orleans" cuisine. See what I mean?

Perhaps you want to buy a drink package prior to your cruise?  There are many offered, so what would you choose?

Photo packages are now offered as well as WiFi packages. Many options available.

The spa...oh the spa.  Would you like to whiten your teeth, or a touch of botox or a massage or facial?  

Do you want to order the Barbie package for a young lady in your party or champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries for your significant other. 

What about the dolphin adventure or Dunn's River Falls?  Shore excursions can cost a few dollars but are so often worth it.  If you think otherwise, enjoy a stroll through the town or take a low fee walking tour.  

No matter what, you have so many choices it can make your head swim.  My advice?  Start small.  Do you want to save money to spend elsewhere?  Dine in the included restaurants on the ship.  Want to splurge? Choose a dining package where you can try all the (for a fee) restaurants on the ship.

Are you someone who has a mimosa or bloody mary at breakfast, a beer or two at lunch, three or four drinks by the pool, one at dinner and then more at night?  Buy the drink package for goodness sake! You will save in the long run.

Remember, if it is something you would enjoy and you can afford, then book that spa visit, eat at a specialty restaurant, book a shore excursion and enjoy every minute.  I know I do!

Happy sailing,
Mary 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Alaskan Cruise - Take a Break from the Sand and Sun!

I admit, I love the sand and sun.  I love cruising to the Caribbean.  It is vacation speak for relaxed.  There is nothing better than flying to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami and walking off the plane to sunshine and balmy breezes.

So why do my thoughts turn to Alaska?  It's on my hubby's bucket list.  No doubt I would love it as much because the ship is my true destination.  (Anyone else feel that way?)  

Cruising from Seattle would be great as I've always wanted to spend a few day there anyway.  Knowing I'd have to bring socks and shoes and a sweater or light jacket?  Not so much.  I live in the north woods of Michigan.  I know cold better than most.  We are here: 
 However, this is a cruise that would make my hubby smile and I know the views would be worth every penny.  Alaska is more expensive that the Caribbean so this would have to be planned in advance and saved for.

My aunt took this cruise last week on Princess Cruise Line and although it was her first cruise...ever...she absolutely loved it.  Of course, she hasn't been to the Caribbean yet. (cough...my favorite...)  

So - it has to be said that this is a viable location to cruise and therefore I will try it out.  If you have already cruised to Alaska, what did you love about it?

Happy Cruising!
Mary

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Welcome to Quantum of the Seas!


Welcome to the newest and most innovative ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet!  Quantum of the Seas recently had her float out of the Meyer Werft ship builders in Papenberg, Germany.  Let me tell you - she is a BEAUTY!

Her hull is a lovely light blue, a change for Royal Caribbean.  (RCCL)  She's just stunning but what's amazing is what's inside.  

RCCL is always known for their cutting edge ships with the most innovative range of ships.  They were the first for the Royal Promenade, the FlowRider, ice skating at sea, etc.  With the Quantum you'll enjoy true smart technology. 


Isn't it amazing?  It's certainly different and truly new.  I really, really, REALLY want to sail on her.  I love the Rip Cord by iFly - being able to sky dive on the ship...and safely.  I mean! Don't forget the North Star.  Want to ride high in the sky and over the edge of the ship.  I know what some of you are thinking.  NO WAY.  Not this kid - YES please!  Then there is Two70°. It's a revolutionary space to gather and enjoy with expansive views in the daytime and at night is transformed into greatness.  This new technology will change the background to match the entertainment that is shown.  Really breathtaking.  

I know - this sounds like a commercial for Royal Caribbean.  It does except that I am just so excited for this ship.  I'm a complete cruise addict but there is something about this ship I just love.  I really enjoyed the float out video.
  


In 82 days you can sail on her.  (I wish I was...meh.) Check out the video's and if you are very lucky, you'll experience this grand lady yourself.

Happy cruising,
Mary



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Norwegian Cruise Line - All Inclusive?

I received a mailer last week from NCL about an all inclusive deal.  WOW.  I looked at their website and found this:


Sailing with Norwegian is easier than ever. Purchase one of our 2015 all-inclusive packages as an add-on to your next cruise and save up to $600 on a complete vacation experience that includes unlimited dining and beverage packages, shore excursions, gratuities and more. That's over $2400 in value!

Discover What's

INCLUDED


Each All-Inclusive Package add-on comes with:


  • Ultimate Dining Package
  • Ultimate Beverage Package
  • Bottles of water for your vacation
  • Gratuities associates with package and Service Charges
  • Shore excursion credit of $200 per person on 6+ day cruises (or $100 per person on 3-5 day cruises)
  • 250 Minute internet package
  • 10% off cruise fare
  • 1 Bottle of wine
  • Bingo session (3 games)
  • 20 Photos, any size
  • Chocolate covered strawberries
 Now you will pay a little bit more for this package but it's a lot of freebies...er..sort of freebies.  It's worth the money.  Here's an example-a 7 day Caribbean cruise on it's new ship, Lady Getaway.  (I call all ships by their feminine moniker of "Lady".)

I searched for a third week of March in  2015 on Getaway. It's an eastern itinerary, 7 day cruise in a mid-ship balcony for two.  ALL inclusive as above.  $2389.  Yes it's a little pricey but remember, it's a BRAND NEW ship and you get all of the above freebies.

IF i could, I'd book it in a minute...but as I'm saving for our February 2016 cruise, that is unlikely.  

Happy cruising, Mary

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I have all the money in the world but don't want to take a cruise...said no one EVER!

Hi Fellow Cruisers!  

Do you have the ability to cruise on a moment's notice?  Why am I asking?  Because there are a wide range of deals on many cruises in late August, September and October.  I know because I've been dreaming of a last minute cruise although I don't have the funds to take it.   (Hence my title.)

I've been to sites on Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Carnival and Holland America.  So many great cruises, so little money.  <---- be="" font="" me.="" that="" would="">

Want an example?  If you're not fussy about the room, and want to cruise in a  interior/inside room for 4 nights to the Bahamas, here is what your money will get you in August.  Port charges and taxes are not included in these quotes. This is based on per person, double occupancy:

RCCL: $129
NCL: $229
Princess: $309
Carnival: $309
Disney: $760
Holland: No 3-4 day Bahamas cruise.

So you see there is a wide variety of prices for a 4 day Bahamas cruise.  BUT, if you have the time and could sail next week, you could take advantage and sail for almost nothing.

I'm always looking, I mean ALWAYS looking for deals.  I'm not a travel agent but I hope that will be my career after retirement from my real job.  

I work to cruise!
Mary

Monday, August 4, 2014

The dog days of Summer

As the summer wanes, my thoughts turn to fall, and naturally, cruising.

August sales bring a deep discount to the Alaskan cruise itinerary. Late August and September are the least expensive times to cruise the Alaskan waters.

September/October means repositioning cruises. When the cruise lines move ships from their summer itinerary to its 
winter one, you can get a great deal to ride from the old to the new location. 
A great example would be from Barcelona (summer season Mediterranean cruise) with a couple stops then to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. Many sea days which is heaven to me!!

Another fun itinerary would be a Halloween cruise. Let your imagination run wild. Love a masquerade? This is the cruise for you ! ( I would love it!)

No matter your cruising wish, talk to those who are knowledgeable about cruising. Knowing what you're looking for and what time of the year is the best, can save you a lot of money. Maybe enough for a Halloween  short cruise!

Happy Cruising, 
Mary