Will Current Russia Tension Affect Summer Cruises?

US Russia flags

by Don McCann

Cruises to the Baltic Sea region are very popular in the summer and most include a stop in St. Petersburg.  I’ve taken one of these cruises and, while each port was truly great, St. Petersburg was a highlight.  A number of clients who we have booked for this summer have called this week asking “What will happen to our cruise if things escalate with Russia; will they cancel the cruise?”.  To begin with, cruise lines virtually never ‘cancel’ a cruise, they simply alter the itinerary (since ships can easily be moved around).   So we fully expect all scheduled Baltic cruises to sail on schedule, but some of the planned ports of call could change.

So what do we think?  What do we know?  Well, we don’t know anymore about the current events than anyone else who follows the news.  As for what we think, it’s sort of uncharted territory.  Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have not been to this level in recent memory.  However, if we had to guess, we’d say that things will most likely calm down to the point that Baltic cruises will sail right into St. Petersburg and all visiting passengers will have a fantastic experience there, just as I did a few years ago.  If things escalate, or relations deteriorate to lower levels, then these Baltic cruises could drop St. Petersburg and alter the itineraries to add other ports, or extend their scheduled times in other ports.

It is simply a ‘wait and see’ situation at this point……..

Leave a comment

Filed under Baltic cruises, Cruise News, European Cruises, Russia cruise

Open House Sale Coming Soon

by Don McCann

We are very excited about our upcoming Open House Sale on Saturday, February 1.  Why be excited?  Well, it is always a treat for us to bring together our clients with some of our favorite cruise line representatives.  Nothing beats personal contact and most people really enjoy being able to meet and chat with some one from these lines.  They can tell you what is new, what itineraries have changed, or have been added, AND what specials we have to offer!  We’ve worked with these people for a very long time and we are fortunate to have them in our office to meet with our clients (both long-time and new clients).

If you are in the Dallas Ft.Worth area, we hope you will join us, along with Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Viking Cruises on Saturday, February 1, 2014 from 11am to 2pm in our office at 14464 Midway Road, Dallas 75244.

< more details, click here >

Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Viking River

Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Viking River

Leave a comment

Filed under Celebrity Cruises, Our Cruise Stories, Our events, Princess Cruises, River Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Viking Cruises, Viking River Cruises

Azamara Journey, the Adriatic and the Amalfi Coast, September 21, 2013

by Alice Burkhart

Image

Alice in Fiskardo, Celphalonia, Greece
(see more photos at the bottom of this post)

My cruise aboard the Azamara Journey was “AzAmazing.” The cruise line’s motto is “You will love where we take you;” and, I truly did. The voyage from Venice to Rome touched the ancient shores of the Adriatic Sea with distinctive shore excursions which immersed you into the countryside as well. The size of the Journey allows her to go beyond the traditional large seaports to smaller, lesser-known ports. Our itinerary included beautiful Opatija, Croatia, once the resort of Viennese aristocrats, and the medieval walled city of Kotor, Montenegro, which is perfectly hidden in a maze of fjords. The tiny, pastel-painted port of Fiskardo, Celphalonia, which could be a sister to Bermuda and a mecca for day sailors, was a lovely respite for enjoying the day. When we visited Sicily, we were anchored at the base of Mt. Etna conveniently located to the hilltop resort of Taormina instead of being docked in the large port of Messina which is miles away.

Dubrovnik on Azamara

Dubrovnik

Azamara offers longer stays in ports, more overnights, and night touring in their voyages. Our INCLUDED night touring was in St. Ignatius Square in the walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was an evening of music and dance presented by the word-renown Lindjo Folklore ensemble with samplings of Croatian food and wine. The walls of the buildings were even decked in neon lighting. It was truly an incredible evening that could have doubled for a Hollywood set. Our overnight stay was in Sorrento, Italy, perched on the rugged hills of the Amalfi Coast. Who doesn’t love the charm of that romantic town and to have two days there was a gift!

The Azamara onboard experience equals a fine boutique hotel where service reigns and friendliness is genuine. You immediately get the feeling that the staff is a caring onboard family who treats you as a guest in their home rather than a passenger. The cuisine was always a delight and the two Specialty restaurants went beyond being “special” in creative presentation and delectable food pairings.

Voyages on Azamara not only include exceptional European sites but just about everything else. There is no extra charge for select spirits and international beers, boutique wines, sodas, bottled water, coffees and your gratuities are complimentary.

So go beyond the traditional large ports and sail the up-market Azamara Club Cruises. You will love where they take you!

Montenegro on Azamara

enroute to Kotor, Montenegro

Mt Etna

Mt Etna

Amalfi on Azamara

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Colosseum on Azamara

Colosseum in Rome

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Azamara Club Cruises, European Cruises, Mediterranean Cruises, Our Cruise Stories

Panama Canal to celebrate 100 years…is it on your list?

By John Lane Ship-At-Panama-Canal-1

Do you have a bucket list? If not it is time to begin and start checking the places off of that list.  Whether it be Antarctica, Tahiti or the Great Wall of China we can help you make those destinations become a reality.  One of the destinations on most people’s list is the Panama Canal.

In 2014, the Panama Canal will celebrate its 100th anniversary, followed in 2015 by the addition of new locks.  So what a better time to experience one of mankind’s greatest feats.  A dream in the making, the building of the canal took an unprecendented effort and cost many lives to connect the Atlantic and PacificOceans.  It is an amazing experience being raised and lowered through each lock by gravity.  The Panama Canal Offers a truly unique cruise experience one will not forget and 2014 is the year to experience it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean Cruises

The Grand Canal of Venice….by John Lane

 

Image

 

One of the most exciting ports of call in the Mediterranean to sail into is Venice. Your ship slowly sails the Grand Canal of Venice, towering over the small restaurants, shops and hotels on each side.  The excitement builds as you glide by St. Mark’s Square, a true highlight of your cruise.  It brings an air of excitement among your fellow passengers that are all lined up along the ship’s railing.  This cruise experience will soon be coming to and end! 

 The Italian government announced that it will begin limiting ship traffic in the lagoon. That means 20 percent fewer ships in front of the Piazza San Marco (beginning in January), a complete ban on ships larger than 96,000 gross tons (starting next November). Although cruisers might be disappointed, this is a welcome move for the crumbling city of Venice.  So if you truly want to enjoy this experience before it goes away…summer and fall Mediterranean are available with Venice on the itinerary!  This is truly one of the most beautiful port to sail in and out of and don’t miss it! 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Royal Princess: Cabin Choices

by Don McCann

In yesterday’s blog, we promised photos of some cabins.  I’ve always liked the Princess cabin design and this ship is no exception.  The walk-in closet design in most cabins is very practical and user friendly and the appointments in the cabins are simple, but tasteful.  The padded headboard wall above the bed is stylish and attractive, but means there is less artwork in the cabin; guess it’s a trade off.  Royal Princess offers interior, balcony, and deluxe balcony cabins, along with many mini-suites and some full suites and all are quite attractive.

Here are some photos of the major cabin types (you can click on each one to enlarge):

Standard Interior cabin

Standard Interior cabin

Standard Balcony Cabin

Standard Balcony Cabin

Standard Balcony

Standard Balcony

Deluxe Balcony Cabin

Deluxe Balcony Cabin (the sofa makes a nice difference)

MiniSuite

MiniSuite

DSCN2221

MiniSuite sitting area

S4 Suite

S4 Suite

S4 Suite bedroom

S4 Suite bedroom

S4 Suite bathroom, note separate shower & tub

S4 Suite bathroom, note separate shower & tub

S4 Suite balcony

S4 Suite balcony

S2 Suite

S2 Suite

S2 Suite bedroom

S2 Suite bedroom

S2 Suite wrap around balcony

S2 Suite wrap around balcony

Royal Princess sails from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean during the winter and will return to Europe next summer.

Comments, or questions?  Just post – we’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment

Filed under New Ship, Princess Cruises, Royal Princess, Sea Walk

Royal Princess: Photo Essay

by Don McCann

Having just returned from an agent 2-day preview cruise onboard the Royal Princess, it’s difficult to know just what to share first.   After all, this is not only the newest ship in the Princess fleet, but it’s the largest and, perhaps, the most innovative.  So, since I’m very much a visual person myself, I think the best way to describe the ship is with a few visual aids!

To begin with, I liked the ship very much.  Royal Princess has many of the Princess hallmark features, but they have expanded and/or tweaked a few areas to give it very much its own personality.  Some examples would be the SeaWalk, the first ‘over the water’ walkway of its kind; the expanded Piazza, which is visually appealing and includes many venues to draw to this area, as well; the largest Sanctuary in the Princess fleet and the most impressive, to be sure; and too many dining options to list here.  The only thing of which was a head-scratcher to me was the lack of a stairwell at the midship elevator bank.  I was in a cabin only one deck below Lido Deck, but instead of taking an easy single flight of stairs, I was forced to wait on an elevator to ascend only one floor; have not seen this on any other ship and can’t figure out why it is the case here?!

So here are a few visuals of the great new Royal Princess (and you can click on each photo to enlarge):

The SeaWalk as seen from below, at eye level on Deck 15, then looking DOWN at the sea!

The SeaWalk as seen from below, at eye level on Deck 15, then looking DOWN at the sea!

The Sanctuary on Deck 17; there's an extra charge, but it would not be full most of the time if it wasn't worth it!

The Sanctuary on Deck 17; there’s an extra charge, but it would not be full most of the time if it wasn’t worth it!

DSCN2322

The Retreat is a lovely adults only area; a great alternative for those who do not wish to pay for The Sanctuary

The vibrant Piazza area on Decks 5, 6, & 7

The vibrant Piazza area on Decks 5, 6, & 7

Lido Deck 16 with pools and the large screen for Movies Under the Stars

Lido Deck 16 with pools and the large screen for Movies Under the Stars

Princess Live! is a new concept for innovative entertainment in person and broadcast on your cabin's TV

Princess Live! is a new concept for innovative entertainment in person and broadcast on your cabin’s TV

Alfredo's on Deck 6 is THE place for pizza and has no surcharge!
Alfredo’s on Deck 6 is THE place for pizza and has no surcharge!
The Princess Theater, not a bad seat in the house!

The Princess Theater, not a bad seat in the house!

Horizon Court on Deck 16, friendly service and endless choices for casual dining

Horizon Court on Deck 16, friendly service and endless choices for casual dining

There is of course much more, but this gives you a glimpse into some of the features and areas onboard Royal Princess.  If there is a particular area of interest you’d like to see, but missed here, then just ask us!

Check back for our next post on the various cabin choices!

Leave a comment

Filed under New Ship, Princess Cruises, Royal Princess, Sea Walk