by Don McCann
Having grown up in Florida, in the 60s, I practiced ‘ducking under the desk drills’ in second grade during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I watched I Love Lucy reruns with Lucy & Ricky flying off to Cuba to visit his family and roll cigars. I heard stories from a family friend about people they knew who loved Cuba in the 50s with barrels of rum on the sidewalk and street parties almost every night. In the late 60s I saw on the TV news that a few airline flights got hijacked to Cuba. Later, as an adult in the cruise industry, I cruised off the coast of Cuba, close enough to see it in the distance, as we sailed off to other Caribbean destinations.
Cuba has always been a fascination and someplace of which I dreamed of visiting.
On Monday, my wife & I are sailing with some friends on a Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas for a cruise to spend a day & a half in HAVANA! I’m very excited to finally visit this most interesting destination and I plan to write more next week and post some photos, so check back soon….
by John Lane
I was recently given the opportunity to spend an afternoon at Celebrity Cruises’ Innovation Lab featuring their new ship, Celebrity Edge. The 10,000 square foot venue behind Celebrity’s headquarters in Miami offers a look at the design elements and technology that will be featured on this new ship for 2018.
The Celebrity Edge is the first ship to be 100% designed in 3-D. With special shoes and our 3-D glasses on we stood in front of a large screen where the outdoor deck appeared.
We watched as people moved about the deck and they could evaluate the space to see if there was enough space for good traffic flow. We then saw how they could move structures to make more room, change the color or even the size of any object for it to be more pleasing …all of this in 3-D!
The biggest news of the ship is the infinite verandas. They are 23% larger than Celebrity’s current verandas sailing today. From their surveys Celebrity found their guests wanted:
- larger bathrooms
- larger beds
- more storage space
- larger living area
- larger veranda
With the infinite veranda guests will experience all five. This new veranda brings the outside in. Glass French doors open to the veranda which gives you more living space or they can be closed off to create a traditional veranda. A wall of glass that opens with a press of a button brings the fresh air and sunlight into your stateroom. (click photos to enlarge)
The Magic Carpet which started out as a new design for a tender platform transformed into a moveable multi purpose area that will be a luxury embarkation station on Deck Two. When on Deck Five, it becomes an extension of one of the restaurants. On Deck 14 it becomes an extension of the pool area and on Deck 16 it will host “Dinner on the Edge”.
New suites include six two-story Edge Villas offering 950 squarefeet complete with outdoor living space and plunge pool along with two Iconic Suites perched atop the bridge offering 1880 square feet of luxury along with 685 square feet of outdoor living space with Jacuzzi. These two suites along with the Penthouse, Royal, Celebrity and Sky Suites will be part of the “Retreat” offering a private lounge area, pool and dining in Luminae, the private dining venue for Retreat guests.
These are just a few of the reveals offered at this time. More amazing reveals are to come and will definitely raise the bar on cruising. Beginning December 16, 2018 it will embark on 7 night alternating Eastern/Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale.
by Don McCann
Thanks to a great sponsorship of Downton Abbey and an aggressive mail campaign, Viking River Cruises is virtually a household name. They have launched many river ships (mostly in Europe) in the last several years and have become the industry’s most recognized leader. The experience of docking right in the heart of quaint communities, or famed European capitals along the river, makes for a wonderful sightseeing vacation. These river cruises also include shore excursions at each port, as well as wines & beer at lunch and dinner so the value is tremendous!
Building on this success, Viking decided to bring their ‘river’ concept to ocean itineraries and they launched Viking Ocean Cruises last year. The Viking Ocean ships have all balcony accommodations and, just like their river sister company, they include a shore excursion in each port AND they include wines & beer with lunch and dinner, as well. They carry only 930 guests and they have garnered only outstanding reviews in their short history, thus far.
This unique and popular company literally has something for everyone interested in cruising, be it river, or ocean. So it’s easy to see why we are so excited to share all this information at our upcoming Viking Cruises Event next week! Laurie Smith of Viking Cruises will be the guest speaker and she’ll share what is new with both river and ocean, as well as the latest special offers! Click here for all the details and the RSVP link; please plan to join us – we look forward to seeing you!
by Don McCann
When most people think of an Alaskan cruise, I imagine they don’t think beyond the cruise. There is spectacular scenery, for sure, as you cruise along the coast of Alaska and it’s glaciers, but there is much more to see if you can take the time to ‘go inland’. This is what’s called a cruise-tour, or land-sea package, where a 7-night cruise is combined with a land package to such sights as Mt McKinley and Denali National Park. Here you’ll experience incredible scenery, majestic wildlife, excellent lodge accommodations, vista dome train sightseeing, and much more!
Even if you’ve been on an Alaskan cruise in the past, consider going back and seeing more this time. There are many different options on these cruise-tour combinations, but here’s an example of one of the most popular choices from Princess Cruises:
by Don McCann
Most of our experienced ocean cruisers prefer to travel in a balcony cabin (and if you have ever experienced one, you certainly know why!) So when booking a river cruise, many are unsure as to the meaning of a “french balcony” and how that will compare. Well, to begin with, the entire river cruise experience is so different that the balcony preference is not nearly as relevant. In Europe, all river ships are restricted in size due to the many locks which they will traverse during the cruise. This limited size requires the ship designers rethink and rework the standard cruise accommodations. So in order to allow the maximum amount of space for the cabin itself, the ‘balcony’ space is a challenge. Therefore, many ships feature the french balcony, which is really floor to ceiling, sliding glass doors which open up for the fresh air (and to stick your head out), but you don’t actually step out onto a true balcony; many people like to think that this transforms the whole cabin into a balcony! Also, the nature of river cruises is such that you are in port a great deal, so there is not as much time to sit out on the balcony as you might think.
To illustrate how different lines offer their accommodations, I’m enclosing a few photos:
Avalon Waterways Suite Class French Balcony
AMA Waterways French Balcony (left) and Outside Balcony (right)
Viking River Cruises balcony cabin
As you can see, there are many options and we can help you sort them out. Whichever you choose, river cruises are wonderful and we hope you’ll be taking yours soon!!
by Don McCann
AMA Waterways, gliding through Europe
River Cruises, primarily in Europe, have exploded in popularity in recent years and there is a very good reason: They are WONDERFUL! As we have mentioned in past posts, they carry between 130 to 190 guests and dock in the heart of the city in many ports of call. A very good industry friend told us “on an ocean cruise, you cruise TO a country; on a river cruise, you cruise THROUGH a country“. Simple observation, but yet so true.
So we take July as River Cruise Month for several reasons….
- Now is the best time to book for next year, 2017; river cruises fill far in advance
- Most lines have advance booking discounts which will expire soon
- Crystal River Cruises has their inaugural cruise in July; an exciting, new product
This month we’ll be sending out examples of special offers for River Cruises, but we’ll also be sending out some photos and observations on our own past River Cruises. Watch for more posts and remember to THINK RIVER CRUISES all month long!!!
by Don McCann
Several major cruise lines have released ‘beverage package’ promotions in the last year, or so and they have proved very popular. Even for those who are not heavy drinkers, it simply makes the cruise experience that much nicer to have that expense included with the cruise rate. Some lines have a premium level package at an additional cost, but the classic, or standard package works for most cruisers. Your soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages (up to a certain value, usually about $10) are complimentary on these promotions. One such example is with Princess Cruises and their current Sip & Sail promotion. Bookings have to be made by August 31 of this year for cruises in the summer of next year, in 2017. For some sample rates and details, click here.