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 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're not working!  

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

Happy cruising, 


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!)

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 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,

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 

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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. ( 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!

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,

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


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 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!

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, 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bad Reviews? What's a cruiser to do?

I've been tracking the reviews on Adventure of the Seas.  We are set to cruise her in February 2016.  I wanted to try the Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's largest ship in the fleet.  (Until Quantum of the Seas rolls out in November.)  I've cruised Adventure's sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, in 2004 and 2005 and loved her. So what's the problem?  

Adventure was second behind Voyager when the premiered.  She is a steel hulled ship with no glass balconies.  That's one issue for me.  My biggest complaint from what I read?  She's looking dated.  When I pay good, hard-earned money to cruise, I expect certain luxuries.  I don't expect to find grayed, fringed towels and sheets.  I expect the furniture to look crisp and clean and not worn and outdated.  The carpet should be clean and not worn in places.  The summation - Adventure needs a true dry-dock overhaul.

Royal Caribbean took her out of service for a quick retrofit this winter.  She hasn't had a real dry-dock overhaul in years.  It's showing. They did put on a new pool deck, updated touch screen technology, and put in a specialty restaurant, Giovanni's Table.  (Italian...a plus!)  That's all good and well, but she needs a total facelift.  

At what point does Royal Caribbean listen to their cruisers?  There are many complaints, MANY complaints.  I am really concerned about cruising this ship.  My friends picked the itinerary and so picked this ship for the southern Caribbean.  I'm excited to see the ports of call on this trip, just wish I could be excited for the ship.  

You have to understand me for a moment.  I cruise by the SHIP, not the ports of call.  The ship is the destination and I could care less if I got off in port.  Seriously.  So what's a cruiser to do?  I will continue to monitor the reviews and keep an ear out for dry-dock talk.  I don't want to disappoint our friends, but if Adventure of the Seas doesn't improve, I may have to cancel this cruise and book on another ship.

Happy (or is it?) Cruising,

Monday, July 14, 2014

So you want to cruise?

As an avid cruiser....( addict) I enjoy helping the cruise world newbies.  There's nothing better than sharing my love (cough...cough...addiction) of cruising with someone.  I can get quite animated (cough...obnoxiously excited) talking about different cruise lines, cruise ships and ports.

It all depends on what you're looking for.  Do you want to get your feet wet by taking a short cruise?  Are you looking for a certain destination or do you want to go all out on a luxury cruise line?

Getting the best results is all about knowing what you want, and just as important, having realistic expectations.  Don't expect perfection, although I have had perfect cruises; and don't expect doom and gloom either.  

One of the most amazing questions that I hear is the worry of getting a)sick, b) stranded in the ocean, or c) gaining weight.  Let's address those issues.

There is the possibility of getting sick anywhere you go.  The Novovirus is not exclusive to cruise ships.  It can happen wherever people gather in large numbers, however, a ship IS a closely-contained unit.  That's why you will find hand-sanitizing stations all over the ship, especially in the dining room.

Getting stranded...I dream of getting stranded as long as there is water, food and air conditioning.  Not the kind of Carnival Cruise Line fame with people being stranded with no toilets, not enough food, etc.  That wouldn't be fun.  The chances of getting stranded are so minimal it's laughable.  Any time you travel you have the chance of getting stranded, but really, what are the odds?  Not very high in my estimation.

Gaining weight.  Now this is has a higher probability of happening.  The food...oh the food!  Not to mention the empty calories in alcoholic drinks.  I recommend losing 5 pounds prior to the cruise.  Then is you gain ten, it's not really that bad.

If you don't cruise for fear that "something" could happen, you will not experience the sheer joy of it.  Cruising isn't for everyone but count me in.  The best times in my life, I've had on the sea.

Happy cruising,

Monday Dreaming...Christmas Cruises

It's Monday, and I'm working.  Ok, apparently I'm writing this and not really working but I'm caught up.

One of my cruise dreams, of which are many, is to take a Christmas cruise. I have many reasons why this would be ideal.

  • The cruise itself would be the gift, therefore, I wouldn't have to go through the hassle of Christmas shopping for our immediate family at least. ( could buy them someone on the ship or give money.)
  • Taking the whole family, 3 adult kids, 2 spouses and 3 grands plus hubby and I would really be a dream come true for me.
  • There is something magical about a Christmas decorated ship.  I have seen many pictures and it's just stunning.  
  • I hear the Captain says that something has been sighted and Santa and his sleigh comes by boat to visit all the children and children-at-heart.  (SQUEEE!)
  • Not having to put up a Christmas tree, etc. would be heavenly.
  • Leaving the snow and cold behind is wonderful any time of the year, but at Christmas it would be so magical!
 I could go on and on.  I want this so bad.  I just pray someday we can afford it!!  Santa, did you hear that?  My most important Christmas wish is to see you, in the Caribbean, on a cruise ship.  



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Drydock or Retrofit?

When a ship needs a facelift, she goes into either dry-dock for an extensive makeover or will have a retrofit which is basically a quick fix.

According to, it takes 3 years to build a ship but only 3 weeks to a month for an overhaul. For the cruise line, it's a great chance to update technology, make some cosmetic changes or add new restaurants and shops.  You can imagine the revenue loss during that time but the rewards will be greater when the public cruises on the "new and improved" cruise ship.

So what's a retrofit? It's a refurbishment basically.  Like some cruise ships, they may have cut out a portion of the hull and installed ready made balcony cabins.  This is true on older ships especially when there were few balconies on board. They may add something that is on newer ships but lacking on older ships, like the adult-only Solarium pool. It's a great way to appeal to the cruise audience without having to pay for a huge dry-dock bill.  Time is money.

Adventure of the Seas, of Royal Caribbean's voyager class, recently went into a retrofit.  They added some features found on their Freedom and Oasis class of ships.  Giovanni's table, a fee for use restaurant, was added along with new technology.  Flat screens replaced the older clunky models of televisions, and some old carpeting was replaced.  The pool deck was redone as well as adding a large outdoor movie screen.  She was out of commission for about a month and a half.  Not bad when you consider the many customers she will lure in.

There are things I wish would have been changed.  I would have moved the concierge lounge.  It's currently a windowless closet of a room. Oasis concierge lounges have windows and an indoor-outdoor seating. I would have liked to see the furniture replaced as they are outdated and getting worn.  

However, beggars can't be choosy and I'll enjoy the upgrades on our Adventure cruise in 2016.

Happy Cruising,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Amazing acts of kindness on every cruise!

I'm a "glass is half full" kind of cruiser.  Because of that trait, I tend to have an amazing time on a cruise.  I know there are those who haven't enjoyed it or have had really horrid things happen to them. (Clothes stolen?  Another story to come!)

The biggest complaint I hear is about the food.  I'm not a foodie and I'm not picky.  

  • The chef cooks for me, that's top-notch in my book.  
  • A waiter wants to BRING the food to me.
  • After my meal the waiter will clean up, bring me dessert and others will wash the thousands of dishes?

Of course there are better meals than others, and not everyone will like what's on the menu.  Know this, you can choose from something that's not on the menu (ask your server) or even from the kids menu if you want something light.  Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not available.   

Are you a big eater?  Ask for another meal, another lobster tail, or another steak.  Still hungry?  There are many other food options before and after dinner.

My favorite?  Going to the Royal Promenade and getting a couple ranger cookies (yum!) and milk to take back to the my personal balcony.  Heaven!  

Even better, order room service!  You can get warm chocolate chip cookies and milk.  Happy, Happy!

Remember, not all cruises are the same nor are all cruise lines.  Take the best of what you experienced and forget the bad.  Keep our "picky" sides at home and just relax and enjoy your cruise!

Happy Cruising, Mary

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Bermuda Triangle of Cruising

Every once in a while you find someone that booked a guarantee cabin (meaning that cabin category or above) but then something weird happens and the person finds out there actually in a lower class than what they booked. 

To me this falls into the "Bermuda triangle of  weird cruise happenings " that happens not very often, but certainly once in a while.

This person was complaining about it on the Cruise Critic boards for Royal Caribbean.  She should've gotten at least a Junior suite if not higher because of her guarantee booking.

The week before the cruise she finds out she is in the balcony state room which is below her booking and makes no sense.  

While this isn't exactly bait and switch, it certainly leaves one to wonder how in the heck did this happen?

Because of the new customer service center that is not housed in the US, there have been all kinds of problems regarding bookings. Is this the norm? Absolutely not. Can it happen? Absolutely so. 

Luckily for this cruiser, she was able to get a large onboard credit on her account to compensate for the mistake and she ended up having a wonderful cruise!

The moral of the story? Double check your booking, call the cruise line if you're not sure, double check your account online and leave nothing to chance.  

By the way, if they can't correct the mistake make sure that you get some kind of compensation, call Travelers United, they will fight on your behalf or call the cruise line corporate office.

Happy Cruising,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cruise Addicts Read On...

Not sure if most of you would understand this extremely frustrating feeling?

These are my address tags for my suitcases.  It's completely true.  I will do almost anything to cruise. (Hey!  Keep it clean now...)  Sometimes I get this OVERWHELMING desire to cruise.  I can't seem to help it.  After the number of cruises I've been on, (14 with one booked)  you'd think that I would have gotten it out of my system, right?  I'm afraid that's not true.  Today, I've spent the morning trying to price a 5 night cruise for either early December or March of 2015.  Now I know that I can't go...but it's just that I have such a yearning to go.  Like an addict, the need to cruise is so overwhelming that while my brain ticks off the many to-do lists for my home, my heart only sees one thing, a future cruise.  

I'm sure I drive my hubby insane with it.  Patient man, that one!  He loves to cruise but not in the obsessive way that I do.  Here's my office at work for example.

I truly have a sickness...I'm a cruising addict. I have to send myself to cruisers anonymous.  Hi, my name is Mary and I'm an addict!

Happy Cruising!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Will the Upgrade Fairy hit you on your next cruise? One can only hope!

I've been talking to my friend, Anna, who has a cruise coming up on the Allure of the Seas.  I've also helped a friend book a cruise on the NCL Getaway.  I, myself, have cruised Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and AMA Waterways river cruise in Europe.

Pete, the NCL Getaway cruiser, was looking for the best rate he could get for his money.  I had him book an aft (back of ship) mini-suite for a decent price for a 7 day cruise.  It was $300 more than a balcony but I had my reasons.  

Firstly, he is cruising in early February and that is prime time for a chance that the upgrade fairy might hit, or at the least a chance for an upsell. I know what you're thinking...just what is an upsell?  It's the chance to upgrade at a nominal fee.  

When I took my boyfriend-now hubby- on his first cruise on NCL Jewel, I also booked an aft mini.  We cruised the end of January and kept asking if an upsell was possible, please CALL ME!! And she did!  I was able to go from the mini-suite to a forward facing PENTHOUSE!  Yes, I'm yelling this because I was so excited.  What did I pay?  A measly $300 total.   This is what that $300 bought me:

We could have had a party for 35 people and we would have had room to spare.  The suite was #9500 and it came with a butler (Maurice) and a concierge (Alex) and the best room stewards I've ever had.  It spoiled my hubby for life since it was his first cruise.

So new or fellow cruisers, what does this mean to you?  

First, always let your travel agent (TA) know that you would love the chance for an upgrade or upsell.  Some cruise lines are more likely than others o give them out.  My thoughts:
  • Choose the time of year wisely.  Oct/Nov, Jan/Feb are the least expensive times to cruise for a reason.  Most ships aren't booked and they are more likely to give you that much coveted upgrade.  
  • Cruise lines usually upgrade from inside to outside room, outside to balcony, balcony to mini-suite, and mini-suite to better suite.  By booking either a guaranteed rate (you can't pick the room but you have a much better chance of a better room or suite), or a coveted room like the aft or hump (areas in demand).
  • Remember, be happy with whatever you book because the upgrade/upsell fairy is very choosy.
  • Most importantly, I always prefer a suite but I am happy cruising in a shoebox if that's all I get.  A cruise is a cruise and that beats ANY DAY working!

IF you have any questions, please let me know.  I'm not a travel agent but a complete cruise addict.

Happy Cruising!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Choosing the best stateroom for YOU.

Not all cruisers thing alike. (What? Shocker!) Some must have suites, and some prefer to save their money and get a low-budget inside room.  There are middle roads as well, balcony staterooms and outside cabins with a window.

On some ships, mainly Royal Caribbean's Voyager, Freedom and Oasis class ships you can get a Promenade stateroom.  What's that you ask?  You did ask right?? Promenade staterooms are slightly more expensive than an inside room but make a huge difference.  The biggest complaint about an inside room is the lack of light.  Once you turn off the light your room is black as a tomb.   One way to fix that is to turn the tv onto the bridge cam, turn down the sound and as the sun comes up your room will slowly get lighter.  

To me, the best way is to get a Promenade room.  It looks out over the Royal Promenade and it's the best people watching rooms there are.  (Of course, the Oasis class also has two other people watching neighborhoods-Boardwalk and Central Park.)

As you can see, there are promenade staterooms across the promenade so when you want privacy, keep your curtains closed.  I found out the hard way!!!

From the promenade, you will see the rooms here:

My hubby and I really like a balcony but the next time I cruise with a friend or family member, I'm booking this room again.  I really loved it.  Hope you will,too.

Happy Cruising, Mary

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Have a flexible schedule and SAVE!

Many times I've seen amazing deals on cruises. Usually the cruise is perhaps a month out or even a week away. Do you have the kind of lifestyle that allows you to cruise at a moments/weeks/month notice?

There is an online travel sight that has a 90 day ticker.  I sometimes go there and dream about where I can cruise in a week or a month.  I have the mindset that can pack and go in two seconds flat.  However, my work, my family may not second my idea.

However, if you live in a home port area, (Florida, Baltimore, New Orleans, Houston, London, etc.) you should consider this as a way to save on your next cruise.  Airfare significantly increases your vacation budget (I know, I live in northern Michigan where the closest major airport is a 5 hour drive...sigh.) so if you can do without that component, you're already ahead of the game.

Check your favorite cruise line and do a dummy booking to see if you'll save on a cruise that is within two months.  I retire in 4 years with plenty of good years ahead of me, God willing, and I plan to move to Florida as soon as I can.  

Happy Cruising!

Oh the things you can think!

A new ship is always a cause for celebration.  Not for everyone, some feel the ship doesn't compare to  their latest and greatest, or it my too large for their taste.  However, seeing a ship cruise from it's shipyard to it's new home port is a wonderful feeling.  (If you're a cruise addict...ahem....)  There is nothing more romantic that taking an inaugural cruise.  I've done it once but then I had kids to raise.  I love the klingons (kids) but for many years I couldn't afford to cruise what with braces, prom gowns, and then college.

Quantum of the Seas will sail on her inaugural voyage from the UK on November 2. 2014.   I wish I could say I was sailing on Lady Quantum but...alas...I am not.  I could only wish!

She is very different from the Oasis class and is actually smaller.  For a line who always seems to enlarge their ships with each class, this is something new.  Also, this is the first ship since the Voyager class to be missing the Royal Promenade.  What?  What, you say?  No Royal Promenade?  I admit that I love the promenade.  I have a real crush on it.  However, I would live without it and would like to see this new ship.

What's so new you ask?  It's the first ship at sea to have bumper cars, The RipCord, a skydive simulator (oh that's so me!!) and the North Star, a giant arm to bring you up and over the side of the ship. YESSSSS!  I'm not an adrenaline junkie but I'm not afraid of heights, which is why this appeals to me.  

It's not just about the fun new innovations either.  The dining system is completely new on Quantum.  Instead of set dining times, or even My Time Dining, this will feature many restaurants in which to take you pick.

Quantum (and next, Anthem) will peak your interest and feed your inner child at the same time.  I hope to sail on her ...anyone have money to spare?  Send me on the Quantum!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cruise Critic complainers running rampant!

I'm completely OCD about cruise planning.  I don't even talk about it with others because they aren't fervent cruise addicts like I am.  However, where I can find other like myself is Cruise Critic.

I love to research, check out reviews, see who has been visited by the Upgrade Fairy, etc.  I really can't get enough of the live cruise reviews, those brave people who count on the good (or bad) wifi on board to post an amazing amount of pictures and their play by play of the cruise.  I, for one, am too busy enjoying a fruity drink and enjoying the sun to post one during the cruise.  I suppose I should try it someday.

One of the recent few threads has been about complaints with the cruise line.  I feel if there is a valid complaint it should be stated and look for a solution.  Some people, however, have the silliest complaints!  To me, a cruise is something close to heaven and therefore there is little I complain about.  Wait a minute, there is NOTHING I complain about.

I think you have to take it for what is is--a amazing vacation on the high seas with plenty of sun, music, food and fun.  Oh and drinks...but mine are mostly the virgin kind.

There have been some really good sales lately.  Some sales aren't really sales...but this one was a great deal.  If you're in the market for a cruise, really do the math, compare apples to apples and get the best discount you can.  That way you have more money to spend onboard or in port.  In my's ALL good!

Happy Cruising, Mary

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Southern Caribbean

There is fantastic sales going on right now in the cruising world! Royal Caribbean has a bogo sale. ( Buy one get the second person half off!) Norwegian Ceuise Line has a deal if you're interested in cruising around Hawaii-2 nights hotel (Marriott Waikiki which we stayed at last year) and airfare (certain regions) for free with the cruise!

We took advantage of the RCI sale and  booked a cruise with another couple for the southern Caribbean route on Adventure of the Seas. We booked connecting Grand Suites, our first with Royal Caribbean!  Previously we had an upsell from NCL from a mini-suite to a penthouse for $300 totaL. It was amazing!!

Happy Mother's Day and Happy Cruising!  Mary 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cruising IS a safe and fun mode of travel

With this horrible tragedy going on in Korea, it's understanding why some people would be afraid to get on a cruise ship.
 Let me put your fears to rest. Cruising is one of the safest modes of travel -not to mention the fact that you're going to be fed well, have a great time, see wonderful sites and be pampered better than any other place I know.

My heart goes out to the families in Korea for their senseless loss. Don't let the act of a few people who mishandled this ferry to keep you from a cruise. 
Happy Cruising, Mary

Monday, April 14, 2014

I want to cruise...but how?

Do you ever look at various cruise lines or cruise ships and are confused on what to book?  Each cruise line has their own benefits and quirks.  Some are always more expensive BUT you won't get nickle and dimed to death.  Some have a better itinerary BUT you may pay more for that vs. other itineraries.
Do I choose the 7 night cruise or pay a little more for an 8 night? (I would choose the 100 night cruise if I could afford it!)  

Regarding a Caribbean cruise, you can choose from Southern Caribbean, Western Caribbean or Eastern Caribbean.  Southern Caribbean is affordable but most cruise out of the San Juan port which means airfare could cost more.  The western Caribbean cruise will usually be less expensive than an eastern Caribbean cruise.  I prefer eastern to western but have done both.  The most beautiful port on an eastern Caribbean cruise is St. Thomas.  It is breathtaking to wake up in the morning, stroll out onto the deck and see that landscape.  

Western Caribbean itinerary best port (to me) is Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  Beautiful!! 

You see, it all depends on speaks to you.  If you're not sure - please speak to a cruise/travel professional and your friends who have cruised before.  Keep in mind that they may love a specific cruise line and will be biased against others.  This is normal with cruise addicts.  I know-- I am one!!  Best of luck in your search.

Happy Cruising,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Catching up!

I am a really horrid Blogger. I bought a new phone and I didn't download the app on this phone so I've been missing in action for months and months and months!!

So what's new you ask?  Oh you didn't ask? I'm going to tell you anyway! 
In the cruising world there's always something new. New ships, new Innovations, new ways to find bliss all over the globe!

Right now I'm starting to research a cruise for either next year or 2016. I have the most days at sea with Royal Caribbean/Celebrity. I've cruised once with Carnival  (my first cruise)  and once  with  Norwegian Cruise line. Our NCL cruise was amazing as we were blessed to get an upswell from a mini-suite to a penthouse suite for $300 total. It was totally worth it!

I was really looking at the Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's newest ship, (That is until Quantum of the Seas comes out this year) nut I'm also looking at going a little old-school with Freedom of the Seas, and being able to get a nicer room with a lot less money. It's a tough choice because I've never been on Allure and I do enjoy all the amenities that we would receive sailing on her but on the other hand, the suite life is a very sweet life indeed!!

For now, Happy Cruising!