Thursday, July 16, 2015

Long Term Cruising

Long Term Cruising


Having recently gotten an email from Holland America, I'm amazed at the savings by choosing a long term cruise. It goes to exotic locations and you save by spending more time at sea. Crazy! Here's an example:

32-DAY INCA DISCOVERY & SOUTH AMERICA with an inside stateroom is $2699. You'll pay more for a Vista Suite with balcony but it's still affordable at $5399. That's 32 days at SEA!!!


50-DAY ATLANTIC ADVENTURER Sail all over Europe and the caribbean for the lower cost - remember 50 nights at sea - for $5499 for an inside stateroom.


25-DAY SOUTH PACIFIC CROSSING now here's one I'd LOVE. Australia and the south Pacific. Very affordable at $1799 for an inside room.


These longer cruise voyages give me heart palpitations. I'd love to sail for a month or so at sea. Wouldn't you? Now these examples are solely Holland America's and there are many more with other cruise lines.


I recently signed up with www.cruisesinc.com to be a part-time cruise consultant. I'm SUPER excited and can't wait to learn and train.  Once I retire in 3 years (feel too young to retire!) then I'll go full time.

Happy Cruising,
Mary

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Cruisin' - Take the family and actually have a GREAT vacation!

We've all had those family vacation nightmares.  All of us piled into the car, endless driving with little breaks.  "Moooom, Chris stuck his finger in his mouth and is putting it on my face" type of rants.  One of us was always car sick and another barely out of diapers.  Struggling with 8 kids in the Ford Country Squire station wagon, how did my parents do it? They didn't have ipods, or ipads or cell phones then. My parents being the saints they are didn't have much of a choice for a family vacation but you do!

Instead of piling into the family truckster and taking a xanax every 3 hours to deal with the stress, why not book a cruise.  Not only would you have the undying admiration of your kids, but your wife will thank you as well. When your kids are firmly ensconced in the youth clubs meeting new best friends for life, you and your spouse can enjoy dinner ALONE...sans enfants...no juice boxes but real wine glasses.  Get the picture?

There are cruise ports all over the U.S. and the world.  Choose one closest to you or fly or take the train to one.  This can be educational as well as fun.   Cruise ships have more to do in any given day that you can dream of.  Here's a sampling:

How about Royal Caribbean's Quantum or Anthem of the Seas where you can enjoy Rip Cord - where you can try sky diving safely, or take the family bumper car driving without ever leaving the ship.  You can all jump in the North Star which takes you up and over the ship in a giant glass enclosed bubble and that's only the start.  Quantum and Anthem have more activities in any given day that you could dream of.  Let's talk food.  There's a new concept that began on these ships called Dynamic Dining where you can eat at a different restaurant each evening.  Need a drink?  There are many  bars & pubs but none so well known as the Bionic Bar where two robotic arms will mix your drink - a first at sea!

Carnival Cruise Lines has a new ship coming out called the Vista. It has many features including Sky Ride which is a bike ride high above the ship, the first IMAX at sea, a ropes course and so much more.  Dining venues take you anywhere from Guy's Burger Joint to Farenheit 555 Steakhouse, as well as many restaurants and one just for foodies, Chef's Table.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a new ship called the Getaway which offers the Waterfront which is an open air area promenade with many venues, 5 water slides and many more fun ways to entertain yourself in the sports complex plus 28 dining options and great entertainment, including seven time Tony award nominated musical, Legally Blonde.  The Getaway is aptly named for a fun week at sea!

I can't list ever cruise line or this blog would turn into a book.  However, I hope you can imagine the many, many fun activities that could captivate both the klingons (kids) as well as the adults in your family. 

Cruising meets the unique needs of every family member Don't just take my word for it, try it out for yourself.  You'll thank me!

Happy Cruising, Mary

Monday, February 23, 2015

Why it's Great to Cruise when it's Below Zero?

Just a few tidbits to "warm me up" so to speak as we freeze here in the sub-zero north.  It was -25 on my ride in to work. Some thoughts on why to take a cruise this time of year:


  1. Packing all that warm weather clothing just takes your inner temperature up about 5 degrees.  
  2. Knowing that you'll have to endure the plane and all things MOOOO! (as flying indicates...) Soon you'll be in balmy weather.
  3. Green plants, blooming flowers, green grass.  I have to say that I'm so sick of WHITE! 
  4. Blue ocean, ocean breezes and yummy fruity drinks.
  5. Sunglasses...'nuff said.
  6. Take a cruise, leave from the warmth of Florida (an option) and cruise to the even warmer Caribbean, Bermuda, etc.
  7. Throw away the vitamin D and get some sun.  Sun deprived skin turns to (safely now people, use sunscreen)  golden brown.
  8. Swimming, not only is it cardio but it's so wonderful to swim in warm salt water or even a pool.
  9. You can walk outdoors at night without hunching your shoulders against the cold.
  10. BEST of all - you're not in MICHIGAN, or BOSTON, or MAINE.  
It's just nice to dream of warm climates.  My desktop picture is Miami, when you're sailing away and  you see the people climb out of their cars and wave at you.  SO heavenly.  At least that gives me a little relief.

Happy Sailing,
Mary 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Unsure about a cruise-Read a Cruise a Review

I love reading cruise reviews. It doesn't matter if I'm taking that ship or going to that destination, it's so interesting to see the writers reaction to the ship.  For me, it's almost...almost...ALMOST like being on the ship.

I have some favorite cruise reviewer's like Gambee, Middle Aged Drama Queen, too many to name. 

If you are new to cruising, go to cruise Critic and choose the cruise line you're considering and read what others have to  say. 

Remember that one person's worst cruise is someone else's best!  Don't let that sway you.  

It's a joy to "try out" other cruise ships or cruise lines in this way.

Happy Cruising!
Mary

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Live Out Your Years on a Cruise Ship

There was an article today in Fox News Online and a number of other newspapers that an elderly woman is spending $164, 000 a year to live on the Crystal Cruises Serenity ship.  I think it's a brilliant way to retire in your later years.  Her husband had died, according to the article, and she sold her 5 bedroom Ft. Lauderdale home (which included 10 acres) and continued her cruising life.  Lee Wachtstetter and her husband had cruised many times over there 50 year marriage.  89 cruises to be exact before he passed away.  He told her to continue to cruise and so she now resides on cruise ships.  

With the high cost of assisted living, wouldn't it make sense to wake up to the sea and the breezes?  To go into port or not, but to be waited on constantly, dine like a queen and be in permanent residence on a ship? Think of the entertainment at your disposal!  And the food! 

I'd like to know what you think?  I, for one, would do it in a heartbeat IF I could afford it.  Think about it though, no property tax, no need to pay for garbage removal or satellite telly.  No grocery bill or phone bill.  However, you would have a high cost of living, many port charges, etc. I'm assuming she phones her family while in port but otherwise that would be extremely expensive. 

Still, I wouldn't blink.  I hope someday that will be my life.  I know it's not for many people but I could totally live my life on a cruise ship.

What do you think?  See the article here. 

Happy Cruising,
Mary

Monday, January 5, 2015

While it's snowing and cold, why not take a cruise?


One of the best months to take a cruise in January.  The prices are down and it's not overly hot if you're going to the Caribbean or Bermuda.  It's also a great month to try and get an upgrade or an upsell.

What's an upsell?  It's an opportunity to trade up to a better room for a fee.  Make sure you let your TA (Travel Agent) know you would like the opportunity. 

When Mike and I cruised NCL Jewel to the western Carib., we asked our TA to check on that for us.  We had booked an aft mini-suite for a 5 night pre-wedding honeymoon cruise.  (We couldn't cruise after our wedding as son Jake had to start school and we were married in late August.)

So while home sick one December day, my TA called and said she was going to make me VERY happy.  For $300 total we were offered an upsell from the mini-suite to a forward facing PENTHOUSE Suite!  This penthouse suite was complete with butler, concierge, cappuccino machine, the biggest balcony I've ever seen on a ship and many, many amenities.  We were treated like royalty. 

There are many ways to skin a cat so to speak.  If you're not sure or if this is your first cruise, talk to others who have cruised frequently.  On www.cruisecritic.com, you can find just that.

Happy Cruising,

Mary

Thursday, December 18, 2014

One person's great cruise is another person's worst...go figure!

I'm constantly amazed at the cruise reviews that are negatively slanted. No matter the cruise line - but for this blogs sake I'll pick on Royal Caribbean. 

I know there are experiences that are less than stellar but in all truth, I've never had a bad cruise. 

I hear complaints about embarkation, food quality, shows, ports and excursions not to mention cabins.  I think if you have to wait more than an hour to embark, it's a nuisance.  However, I can wait knowing that I'm going to be on the ship in a little time. 

Food quality is so subjective that it's hard to know where to start. Yes, the Windjammer (or Jammer as it's known) may not have the quality of the main dining room or specialty dining.  It has one thing in it's favor, however, and that is the ability to pop in and grab a snack pretty much any time of the day or night...which is pretty great.   I love their bran muffins, the only time I eat them is on the ship.  They are superb.  I am pretty laid back about food.  If I'm not cooking it and I'm not cleaning up after it, it's good to me. 

I've always had decent meals in the MDR (main dining room) although there are one or two meals I haven't liked.  Guess what?  Your waiter will bring you another...no need for complaint.  I find the MDR to be a great place for any meal.  Specialty dining is just that.  It is a special experience with great food.  You will have to pay a fee, but it's usually so good it's more than worth the price.

I pick the cruise for the ship and not the port of calls.  However, that being said, we are booked on a southern Caribbean cruise with friends and I am looking forward to a couple stops.  I may go to port or I may not.  The ship is the ultimate destination to me.  There are some ports that I haven't enjoyed, but that doesn't mean someone else won't.  You may love that port - it's all subjective.  

Where am I the pickiest?  Ah...that would be my cabin.  I want the best cabin for my dollar.  I want the best location and the biggest balcony I can afford.  I wasn't always able to cruise in a balcony and have had my share of inside and outside staterooms.  If there's a problem with your cabin please tell your steward.  They should be able to fix it.  Speak up and be kind yet firm.  The staff work their hinds end off each and every week.  They deserve your respect and they are willing to help.

A cruise is what you make it.  I'm a glass half full...make that 3/4 full kind of girl.  I know I'm going to enjoy myself and do as much as I can fit in that 7 days.  If something isn't perfect, I can roll with it. I am just amazed at the finicky people complaining and giving the cruise 1 star.  1 star?  Come on.  You're on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean...AND...you're not working!  

A good day cruising beats a great day working any day of the week. 

Happy cruising, 
Mary

 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

$400 OBC...but not for ME!

Royal Caribbean is running a special - well not that special - it's their BOGOHO sale.  Buy one get one half off sale.  

We took advantage of that when it first started early in 2014. We were able to book a grand suite on Adventure of the Seas for less than a balcony on a new ship. 

So what's the problem? The difference is now they are advertising up to $400 on board credit or OBC.  We are in a suite so I figured we would receive that amount, however, because the price when we book was cheaper than it is now, that is not so.  I think that is insulting.  Not only should the credit be applied but my Platinum status discount shouldn't be taken away if we received it.  (which we are not...boo!)

I love cruising always.  I love Royal Caribbean.  I don't love the offer as it stands.  If you're booked you should receive the offer.  Just my two cents.

I'll get off my soapbox now.  

Happy cruising, Mary

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Great Deals Everywhere!

I've been getting a thousand emails lately about the amazing deals for cruises in a week or a month.  Deals that are unnaturally good.  IF you have the ability to do this, if you're retired or if you live near a cruise port, you can save a lot of money. 

Living in northern Michigan doesn't make it easy.  While the prices for the cruise are outstanding, the price for airfare is not. I even looked at prices from Detroit to Miami (mind you, Detroit is a 5 hr drive from my house and we have to deal with snowy roads) but the prices weren't much better than flying from nearby.

Having to fly into Miami or any other port adds over $1000 for my hubby and I.  Even in the case of a cheap flight, at least $600-$700 dollars for the two of us.

So am I just complaining or jealous.  A little of both.  When I retire, my desire is to within an hour of a major airport or 2 hours of a cruise port.  It makes all those last minute deals SO enticing.

I pray you take them up on the deals between now and mid-December.  Then go to www.cruisecritic.com and write a review so I can live vicariously through you.

Happy cruising,
Mary in snowy Michigan

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