Newest Carnival Cruise Ship “Freedom”

Having just completed a Mediterranean cruise, I did a bit of daydreaming as I saw this story and photo, by Jennifer Grech of the Times of Malta, telling of the newest Carnival Ship, “Freedom”, with St. Mark’s Square in the background.

There is a “reasonable possibility” that Carnival Freedom, the biggest North American cruise liner operating in Europe, will start calling at Malta.

The official naming of the 110,000-tonne vessel took place in Venice yesterday, presided over by “godmother” Kathy Ireland. Carnival Freedom will sail on her inaugural voyage, a nine-day Mediterranean cruise from Venice, this afternoon. She will then launch a schedule of 12-day Mediterranean and Mediterranean and Greek Isles cruises beginning on March 14.

Okay, I’m ready to book my next cruise! 

Afford Your Dream Cruise

So you have dreams of getting on a cruise ship but think you can’t afford it.   A recent article in the Los Angeles Times gives you 10 tips to get you closer to that dream. 

You have to pay the mortgage, taxes and car payments, and that can leave little for a grand tour of Europe or a fancy cruise. But with discipline and diligence, families can save for that trip of their dreams.

It takes a plan, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you will be on that trip, financial advisers say.

So what are you waiting for?  Let’s get started working on that dream!

“Free” Wine on Cruise Ships

So. you’ve finally gotten aboard the ship.  You’re in your (balcony) stateroom perusing the various envelopes left by your cabin steward (who has already introduced himself/herself with a great big smile).  Ah, a gift from your travel agent.  A “free” bottle of wine.  All you need to do to get your “free” bottle of wine is present the enclosed card to your waiter at dinner.  Seasoned cruisers know that you must pay a corkage fee for this “free” wine, but new cruisers may be a bit surprised.   For a very interesting article on corkage fees, and liquor aboard cruise ships in general check out the followng article on the Cruise Critic web site.

The Question of the Corkage Fee

Should there — or shouldn’t there — be a corkage fee? Over 50 percent felt it’s fair, when bringing your own wine to dinner, to pay a corkage fee.

And for the 120 voters (1.5 percent) who chose, “What’s a corkage fee?” a corkage fee is an additional surcharge, from $10 to $25, that you must pay if you’d like to drink your own wine onboard during dinner, instead of a selection from the restaurant’s wine list.

And as far as price for corkage, that vast majority of voters, 77.9 percent (5,486 members), felt that $5 was a fair surcharge for drinking your own red or white.

So, what do you think?  Is the (usually) small corkage fee reasonable?  Any personal experiences?

Cruising Baby Boomers Gone Wild

Baby Boomers, now is your chance to do all those things you’ve dreamed of, get behind the wheel of a Formula One race car in Monoco. study Shakespearean acting with alumni of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, learn French cooking with visiting Le Cordon Bleu chefs.  These are just some of the things you can find to do on your next cruise.  Baby Boomers are looking for active and adventure vacations and the cruise lines are responding to these needs. Check out the recent article found on the CLIA website. 

As the cruise industry matures, so too do baby boomers. They are a formidable swath of the population that grew up on rock ‘n roll, who, although aging chronologically, remain forever “young at heart.” In travel terms, baby boomers seek vacations that incorporate active and adventurous elements but are unwilling to sacrifice creature comforts.

So fellow boomers, what will you be doing on your next cruise?  Of perhaps you’ve already found the perfect cruise and would like to share it here with others.  Drop us a line and tell us about it. 

Great Cruise Deals

New cruisers, veteran cruisers, now is the time to book that cruise!  Great deals are everywhere, according to Sue Kovach Shuman, of the Washington Post:

In his 23 years in the travel business, says Alan Fox, chairman of the Houston travel agency Vacations to Go, rates were this low only in the six months after Sept. 11, 2001. “The inflation-adjusted price of a cruise has never been lower. …It honestly is a buyer’s market out there.” Prices average about $70 per day on some ships, he says, “and it got down to as low as $40 in the fall.”

The best bang for the buck these days can be found in the Caribbean, Fox says, partly because of the prices and because people can often drive to their point of embarkation. Further, he notes, lines he considers “extremely family-friendly” — including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Disney and Norwegian — are sending ships out full.

Four night cruises are as low as $219.  Eight nights $399! A great price if you’d like to try cruising for the first time!  For seasoned travelers what about 10 days in Europe for $1425?

The deals are out there, you just have to look for them!

Ports “Missing The Boat”?

Okay, how many possible cruise ship ports are “missing the boat”?   As recently reported by Johanna Jainchill in Travel Weekly

“New York City’s cruise industry is booming thanks to ongoing investments in our new and improved terminals, and it is important to do everything we can do to make sure that growth creates opportunities for New York City’s businesses,” said EDC President Robert Lieber. “Cruise lines spend an average of $700 million per year stocking their ships, and with an increasing number of ships sailing in and out of New York, we want to capture that business…

New York’s cruise terminals in Brooklyn and Manhattan currently serve 15 cruise lines and more than 1 million passengers annually, the EDC said, and economic impact studies published by the International Council of Cruise Lines show that the cruise industry spent a total of about $500 million in direct purchases, including food and beverage, in New York in 2005, the most recent data collected.

Granted, some of the goods may be bought in other states and trucked to the port cities, but the the economic impact on the port city is huge.  So is there any chance that cruise lines will add more ports in the US?  Think of the endless possibilities. 

A port in Georgia (Savannah), could supply the ship with an unlimited supply of peaches, peanuts and Coca Cola, which would be great because then the ship could have one of those restaurants that let you throw your peanut shells on the floor while you sip your Coke or Fuzzy Navel. An added attraction would be a visit to the Christmas party house we read about in Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil!

South Carolina (e.g., Charleston) could feature soybeans, shrimp, crabs, oysters, and more peaches and peanuts. Hummus and shrimp cocktail, yum! Added attractions, of course, could be Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. 

You get the idea.  So let me know your ideas. 

Techno Cruise Ship

A big “THANK YOU” goes out to Celebrity Cruises.  As reported by freelance reporter, Christina Jonas, talking about the refurbished 12 year old ship Celebrity ship, Century,

“took just five weeks and included adding 14 new suites, 10 staterooms, a specialty restaurant, updated bathrooms, and plasma TVs and wireless Internet access in every room”.

Now the dreams of many can be answered.  You want to go on that desparately needed vacation but you or your spouse must be able to be in contact with the business world (or your family that you left at home), on a daily basis. Now thanks to Celebrity Cruises you can do just that!  Even better, assuming that the access works just outside your room, you can sit on your balcony while you work.  According to Celebrity president, Dan Hanrahan, an additional 314 balconies were added to the ship.  

Speaking of balconies… after being spoiled by having a balcony once you just can’t go back to an inside cabin.  (At least I haven’t been able to!)  My husband is afraid that I may decide to try a suite next! 

So now there are no more excuses.  Book that cruise, pack up your laptop and go on vacation! And if you haven’t tried it, treat yourself to a balcony, you won’t regret it! 

The “Dream” Cruise Ship

So, if you were designing your “dream” cruise ship, what cool innovations would you include?  Cruise lines are very interested in finding out what their customers want and are competing with each other for your business according to an article titled Cruise lines compete for tourists with innovations by Beth J. Harpaz, of the Jackson Hole Star Tribune:

The latest innovations for having fun in the middle of the ocean include a bowling alley aboard Norwegian Pearl, and a Flowrider, which lets you ride an artificial wave, on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. Norwegian Pearl took its inaugural voyage in December, Freedom of the Seas launched last May, and another Royal Caribbean ship, Liberty of the Seas, which will also feature a Flowrider, debuts this May.

“They’re trying to outdo each other in terms of innovation,” said Celebrity Cruises president Dan Hanrahan at a January news conference organized by the Cruise Lines International Association.  “They’re trying to outdo each other in terms of innovation,” said Celebrity Cruises president Dan Hanrahan at a January news conference organized by the Cruise Lines International Association.

Being of the “baby boomer” age myself, my husband and I introduced our children to cruising early on.  Born in the late 70s and early 80s they have now become “cruisers” on their own.  Cruising is truly a family affair.  Depending on the line or ship that you choose, your vacation dreams can be fulfilled on a cruise ship no matter what age you are or what your interests are.  For example the Disney cruises cater to smaller children while a European cruise may cater to a “baby boomer”. 

My “dream” cruise would be one that would cater to me and my whole family so that we can have a real family vacation on the ship and everyone would be happy, from the little kids to great grandmas and grandpas.   Any line out there up for the task?  Is anyone out there now that we don’t know about?  Please write in if you’ve already experienced this “dream” cruise. 

Personally, I would also like to see a racquetball court aboard a ship!

 

 

Retirement on a Cruise Ship

Yes, I know this subject has been talked about before, but no cruise line seems to be taking the topic seriously, even though there are many “Baby Boomers” getting ready to retire in the very near future. What if a current cruise line took a chance to see how this would work?  Has any line even done a market analysis on this yet? 

Here are my suggestions:  Maybe start with 2-3 cabins.  They must be “rented” for a minimum amount of time. (3,6,12 months).  Of course the prices should be comparable to or less than if the “renter” just purchased back to back cruises for the same amount of time.  Renter gets a break on the price, cruise line has an occupied cabin at a guarenteed rate.  Renter may even work on/for the line.  Assuming these are retirement age people the possibilities would be babysitting for the tourists’ kids, teaching bridge, computers, etc. 

How many people would actually give up everything to live on a cruise ship?  I don’t know, but I do know that baby boomers (myself included), want “something different”, not our parents idea of “retirement”, but something that keeps us active and in touch with the world and technology.  Traveling offers so many opportunities to learn about history and other cultures.  Wouldn’t it be great to have everyday be a new experience while your basic needs (food and shelter) are being met?  Perhaps eventually the ships could have a reciprocity deal.  After your contracted time is up on one ship you can move to another ship (or maybe just switch with another couple).  It would work like the all inclusive resorts where you can go to different restaurants but it’s still part of one package.  I have more ideas concerning this topic and would be happy to be the first participant should any cruise line be interested.  (I would need a little bit of lead time to sell the house and everything in it. ;))

 

Whale of a Cruise Ship Story

If you don’t like sad animal (or in this case mammal) stories you’d better stop reading now.  Many may think that Alaska is a beautiful place to visit by cruise ships but the regional humback whales may not agree after reading the article written by Don Hunter of the Daily News.

Princess Cruise Lines has agreed to pay $755,000 in fines and restitution to resolve accusations that one of its ships struck and killed a humpback whale near Glacier Bay more than five years ago.

The body of a 45-foot female humpback was found floating near the mouth of Glacier Bay on July 16, 2001. A necropsy showed the animal died of massive skull fractures, and that it was pregnant with a 4- to 5-month-old fetus, according to news accounts at the time. A distinctive marking on the whale’s fluke identified her as one first sighted in Seymour Canal as an adult in 1979.  

So what is the answer? How do we fix this?  Does slowing down to a slow and safe speed really solve the problem?  Maybe someone can invent a whale whistle (sort of on the idea of a deer whistle) to warn the whales to “Move out of the way, the cruise ship is coming through, wave to all the nice tourists”.  With more cruise ships heading to Alaska let’s hope that these questions get answered sooner than later so that we can keep these beautiful creatures around for a long time.