Cruise for Your Charity:Get a Tax Deduction

Imagine taking a cruise and the cruise agency makes a donation, in your name, to your favorite charity. The cruise agency also gives you the tax deduction for the donation. As of  mid January 2019, you don’t need to imagine. Just book your cruise through the Cruise for Your Charity Program at candocruises.com, my cruise travel agency.

Cruise for Your Charity Program Description

The Cruise for Your Charity Program offers value filled cruise packages that vary from cruise line to cruise line. Cruise packages complement the stateroom amenities offered by each cruise line.

A Cruiser's luxury ship in the Cruise for your Charity Program

The  Program is open to residents of the United States wanting to cruise anywhere in the world. Can Do Cruises can develop value packages with most cruise lines. Cruise ships can vary in size from small, luxury ships to Mega ships that offer something for every age group.

Cruisers can assign their donations to their favorite charities at they time they book their cruises. To qualify for a donation, a charity must be a nonsectarian and nonpolitical  501(C)3 organization.The amount of the donation is based upon the price of the cruise, the cruise line and the stateroom selected by the cruiser. There is one donation per stateroom. A donation can range from $150 to $ 1,200.charity banner for Cruise for your Charity

A check is issued to a charity, in the name of their cruise donor, two to three months after the cruise is completed. The cruise donor receives the tax deduction for the donation.

Cruise for Your Charity Next Steps

If you want to discuss the Cruise for You Charity Program further, please call me at 212 710 2672. You can also reach me at the 212 710 2672 number to plan and book a cruise through the Program.There is no charge to you for my planning and booking assistance. I am compensated by the cruise company for my services.

I look forward to helping you enjoy a cruise, of you choice, generating a donation for your favorite charity, and receiving the tax deduction for the donation.

Please visit my cruise website, www.candocruises.com and begin to check out your cruise choices when it comes to your options in 2019 and 2020.

Happy New Year!

All the best,

Jean

Cruise Travel Insurance-What Does it Cover?

When you book a cruise, you will be encouraged to take cruise travel insurance. It doesn’t matter whether you book your cruise through a travel agent or the cruise line. The agent or the cruise line’s representative will share what the insurance will cover and coverage rates.

Why is it so important to have comprehensive cruise travel insurance?  Insurance is the only way to prevent you losing money due to a travel emergency or a personal circumstance.

Image of cruise travel insurance

 

What Does Cruise Travel Insurance Cover?

All cruise travel insurance is not same. Some cover more than others. Most cover the following circumstances:

  • You Have to Cancel Your Cruise Because of a Medical Emergency: You become seriously ill or need emergency surgery a week before your cruise. If you did not take cruise travel insurance and must cancel your trip, you will be facing a sizable financial penalty. If you have insurance, you will be reimbursed for the monies that you paid for the trip that are not refundable.
  • Plane Delayed/You Miss Your Cruise: Your plane is delayed by bad weather, and you miss your cruise departure. If you have travel insurance, you are covered for flight and other transport delays that resulted in your missing your cruise.
  • Your Luggage is Delayed or Lost: While you arrive at your cruise port in plenty of time to board, your luggage does not. You board the boat with only the clothes you are wearing and carry on bag that has important papers, medicines, your wallet and phone. Your policy will state what you will be reimbursed for based on the amount of hours your luggage is delayed. Usually this will include replacing a new outfit and personal toiletries to use until you receive your luggage. Should you luggage be permanently lost, you can submit a claim for the luggage and its content. Your policy will state what you will be reimbursed for, and identify a cap amount for your claim.
  •  Medical Expenses on the Cruise and In Ports of Call: Medical services are available on most cruise ships. If you have insurance, payment for these services are covered. If you do not have insurance, you will be billed for your care. You want an insurance policy that covers you, not only if you need care on-board, but in ports of call. Out of pocket costs for doctors and hospital care outside the U.S. can be high. It is important to choose a policy that will cover your immediate care while in a port outside the U.S.
  • Medical Emergency Evacuation: If you or a member of your family have a medical emergency, medevac may be a life-saving necessity. Emergency evacuation from a cruise ships to a medical facility is very expensive. However, it’s covered in a number of cruise travel insurance policies.  If you choose to buy insurance through a cruise line, confirm that they include emergency medical or evacuation benefits.
  • Your Cruise is Interrupted and All Passengers Must Disembark: If your cruise ship experiences a mechanical failure, or other damage, you will have to disembark at the next port. Usually the cruise line will help guests in these circumstances But, having cruise travel insurance will insure that you will be reimbursed for such things as  lodging and food while you wait to catch a flight home.

What is Usually Not Covered by Cruise Travel Insurance?

  • Weather–Inclement weather is not a legitimate claim. However, severe storms can interrupt, delay or cancel a trip. In which case, you would be eligible for trip cancellation or interruption insurance claim.
  • Changes to Itinerary- Sometimes high winds, or other circumstances, make it hard to dock safely in a port of call. In this case the Captain will decide if  skipping a port is the best choice.
  • Car-rental Collision Coverage is usually not included, but can be purchased at a minimal day rate.

How  Do I Purchase Cruise Travel Insurance?

Many people prefer to purchase travel insurance at the time they book their cruise. This is especially true when they are booking on the Internet through a cruise line. While this is convenient, it isn’t always the most cost effective. Also, it may not result in getting the most comprehensive insurance plan. You travel agent can identify the best policy to meet your needs. It is wise to comparison shop.

Be sure that whatever policy you select, it is underwritten by a reputable and licensed insurer. You can check out licensed insurers at the U.S. Travel Insurance Association.

 

Why I Purchase Insurance for Every Cruise I Take

Before my first cruise, 30 years ago, I debated buying insurance since I was in good health. But, I wanted the peace of mind of knowing I would be covered if anything unexpected happened. The travel agency I booked with declared bankruptcy two weeks before my cruise. The travel policy I had purchased reimbursed me, in full, for the cost of my cruise.

Years later, I was scheduled to take an extended transatlantic cruise. I chose to cancel my cruise when an immediate family member was diagnosed with a serious illness and I needed to be of support. My travel insurance policy reimbursed me for all the payments I had made to the cruise line.

Cruising is my primary means of travel. I take 3 cruises a year and have for years. I never cruise without insurance. I’ve learned, through experience, that the unexpected does happen.

 

Differences in the Cost of Cruise Travel Insurance

Most cruise travel insurance can be purchased at a nominal cost, which is a small price to pay for the coverage it affords. You need to be aware that there are differences in price for the same coverage.

Some of the factors that influence the price variations include:

  • Coverage based upon age which tends to be more expensive for senior travelers
  • Coverage based upon the price of a cruise which may or may not include taxes and fees. If you do not take the cruise, there are no taxes.
  • Coverage based upon a time period whether for the cruise only; the travel period from when you leave to when you return; a specific 30 day period or a per cruise basis.

Here are two coverage examples for the same price of $268:

  1. The fist coverage is for a transatlantic cruise for 2 traveling from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl to Southampton, UK with a trip to Toulouse, FR.  The trip included air fare from NYC to Ft. Lauderdale, round trip air fare from Gatwick Airport to Toulouse, and return air fare from Gatwick to NYC. The total price of the trip was $3,000.
  2. This December, I booked 2 cruises for 2 people.  The first cruise is for 12 days, and the second is for 7 days. Since the total cost for both cruises is  under $3,000 and within a 30 day period, the insurance on the 12 day cruise covered both cruises.

 

America’s Test Kitchen on the Rotterdam

I was surprised and delighted to find America’s Test Kitchen on the Rotterdam. During the week I was on my cruise, I participated in a pastry workshop and attended two demonstrations.

In the following post  Fleet manager Barbara Mills-Schuchardt shares about America’s Test Kitchen and its popularity. We met her on the Rotterdam, while she was installing a new host; Chef Odette Oliver from South Africa. Oliver, a gifted chef, left a position as head chef at Cape Point Nature Preserve to join this unique group of Test Kitchen chefs at sea.

America's Test Kitchen on the Rotterdam company logo

For more than 25 years Cooks Illustrated magazine has been a culinary cornerstone for its subscribers.
This successful business model provides its readers with unbiased reviews of culinary equipment, ingredients and fool-proof recipes that have been tasted to be the best. America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Country are the delicious offspring of this culinary publishing powerhouse.

America’s Test Kitchen is the most watched instructional cooking show on television. This iconic cooking show along with its sister show Cooks Country delivers the science of good cooking to avid fans all over the United States.

Holland America Line, a decidedly different cruise line, has been making waves for more than 145 years with its elegant medium-sized ships, scrumptious food and incredible itineraries. In 2016, looking to re-imagine its on-board entertainment, Holland America Line and America’s Test Kitchen whipped up a brand new culinary adventure at sea. Take a cruise on any of Holland America Line’s 15 ships and you can enjoy a live America’s Test Kitchen cooking show on board.  The shows are engaging, informative, and just plain fun.  The hosts of these shows are talented chefs from all over the globe, trained at the Test Kitchen, and on board, to bring you an array of delicious recipes that will inform your cooking with the science of why a recipe works. There are several shows: 20 in all have the look and feel of a live America’s Test Kitchen broadcast production.

You can take a deep dive into chocolate, learn to create perfect buttermilk biscuits with pimento cheese spread, prepare perfectly poached salmon or take home a recipe for the best black bean burger you have ever tucked into a brioche bun.

America's Test Kitchen on the Rotterdam image of their Black Bean Burger

The shows have been standing-room only and guests are willing to sit on the floor to just to get of whiff of this terrific program. The shows open with an intro that takes you inside the Test Kitchen and then segues into an interstitial video hosted by the talent in Boston explaining the science inside the recipes. At the close of each show, guests get a glimpse of a website created just for them which includes all the recipe for all the shows, links to cookbooks, equipment and additional recipes.  Episodes of Cooks Country and America’s Test Kitchen also are available for viewing from your stateroom. But the real culinary collateral for the guests are the complimentary magazines and glossy over sized recipe cards featuring decidedly organic photos of these amazing recipes. The cards sail out of the Test Kitchen to be packed away for friends and family and the next great party at home.

A cadre of 20 chefs overseen by Fleet manager Barbara Mills-Schuchardt expertly deliver the voice of this tasty brand. Mills- Schuchardt, a classically trained chef, has been a culinary instructor for more than 25 years.  She cooked up a career that included artisan bread baking at King Arthur flour, cheese making in Vermont, lead instructor for several cooking schools and owner of her cooking school, television show and cooks store. She is uniquely qualified to provide support and brand integrity to the chefs on-board.

The relationship between Holland America Line and America’s Test Kitchen is so intuitive, that three of Holland America Lines’ ships call Black Falcon terminal in Boston their home port. The ships dock in the shadow of the Test Kitchen, located at 21 Dry Dock avenue.  I can only describe this relationship as a perfect culinary paring taking the science of good cooking to avid home cooks world-wide.  What a well-seasoned culinary adventure.

Rotterdam Canadian Cruise Destinations

In addition to excellent  service, Holland America is known for its cruise destinations. Rotterdam Canadian Cruise destinations offer guests the opportunity to visit several ports during a seven day cruise. Beginning in Boston, and before ending in Montreal, guests get to explore five destinations. After disembarking in Montreal, guests purchasing an excursion through the Rotterdam, can enjoy touring Montreal before heading home.

You can purchase excursions, for each of the destinations, at the time you book your cruise, or on-board. The EXC Tours Desk on Deck 4 is open throughout the cruise. The EXC Tours Team can help you choose an excursion that is a match for your interests.

Rotterdam Canadian Cruise Destinations And Excursions

Bar Harbor, Maine is a quaint coastal town  surrounded by the beautiful Acadia National Park. The town streets boast everything from snack stops to full service restaurants. Lobster is the fish of the day. The ice cream shops are a great place to get dessert, or just a snack. A number of clothing boutiques offer a variety of shopping options.

Excursions

Boat tours explore the waters and islands that surround Bar Harbor. Guests that take these tours get to see the lighthouses, which seem to be everywhere.  Additionally, each season brings the opportunity to see different wildlife, such as whales. Guests can hike, bike or take a horse-and-carriage ride to explore Acadia’s lakes and striking coastline.

If you opt to see Bar Harbor on your own, be sure to take advantage the of the free Island Explorer buses. They take guests to Acadia’s major sites and to other nearby destinations.

Note: Bar Harbor is a Tender Port. This port is not accessible to large cruise ships. Since the Rotterdam is a large ship, it drops anchor a distance from the port. Rotterdam guests board small ships, called tenders, from the cruise ship to get into the port.

Guests who have mobility issues may have problems getting on and off the ship while tendering because of the steepness of the gangways and steps. This is especially true when trying to do so during low or high tide. The Rotterdam is retrofitted with a tender lift system. It enables guests using wheelchairs to roll directly on and off the tenders while staying in their wheelchairs. However, wind and swells or extreme tide levels may prevent using the ship’s tender lift equipment.

Halifax, Nova Scotia 

Halifax Harbor Walk, Rotterdam Canadian Cruise Destinations

Halifax Harbor Walk

There is so much to see in the port of Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia! It offers history museums, along with music, excellent food and nautical experiences. The Harbor Walk is a mixture of shops and restaurants. You can catch a tour of the harbor on a tugboat, or a land and sea vehicle. You can walk to the center of Halifax or take public transportation.

Excursions arranged through the Rotterdam include guided tours of Halifax.  A favorite of many is Peggy’s Cove, a fishing village a bus ride away from downtown Halifax.

Before you return to the Rotterdam, check out the local crafts on display in the terminal. The kilts, sweaters, hats and jewelry are beautiful.

Sydney, Nova Scotia 

Sydney, on Cape Breton Island, is accessible by causeway to the rest of Nova Scotia. Rotterdam guests can begin exploring Sydney in the the harbor by visiting the shops where local crafts are sold. You can see the world’s largest fiddle towering beside the port’s cruise pavilion. Sydney boasts of historic homes and houses of worship dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

A favorite EXC excursion, a visit to Eskasoni, is a multicultural tour that reflects the two different and distinct cultures of Cape Breton.

Prince Edward Island

The smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island, is charming. It is an easy walk from the harbor to Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island. There are Victorian houses to admire and parks waiting to be explored. Be sure to visit the shop that is all about the classic children’s best seller, Anne of Green Gables. It was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, a native of Prince Edward Island.

Rotterdam EXC Tours features a theater production, Anne & Gilbert, in Charlottetown. It is a musical based on the lead characters from the book, Anne of Green Gables.

Quebec City

Rotterdam Canadian Cruise Destinations, Quebec Cit

Evening in Quebec City

There is more to see in this beautiful, historic city than can be seen in the several hours we were in port. I chose to spent my time in the historic district of Quebec. Here, you can walk the streets as they looked centuries ago. Boutiques and restaurants are housed in buildings that reflect the architecture of that time.

Excursions include coach tours of Quebec City and a trip to the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre and Montmorency Falls.

Montreal

When the Rotterdam docked in Montreal, guests that purchased an excursion boarded buses for a tour of the City. Since I was getting back to NYC on Amtrak, I  asked my cab driver to give me a half hour tour of Montreal. I got to see quite a bit of the downtown area before heading to the train terminal.  I purchased an assortment of freshly prepared french foods to have on the train. The ride home, although long, was through beautiful farmland, small towns, and villages in upstate New York.

I enjoyed the various entertainments and activities offered on the Rotterdam. I was delighted to find that America’s Test Kitchen was offering cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops. I was able to attend 2 cooking demonstrations and participate in a pastry workshop.

On 11/14, the 3rd post of this 3 part series, will focus on America’s Test Kitchen aboard the Rotterdam.

Please check out my cruise travel website at candostreetfamilyfriendlycruises.com.

I can help you choose a cruise ship that meets your interests and is within your budget. My planning and booking services are complimentary.

Thanks for visiting!

Best,

Jean

Service on the Rotterdam Canadian Cruise

From the time I boarded Holland America’s Rotterdam in Boston, to disembarking seven days later, in Montreal, I enjoyed excellent service on the Rotterdam Canadian cruise. It was not my first cruise on a Holland America ship, but it had been awhile. I was eager to see if the level of service I experienced several years ago was available on the Rotterdam. It was, and then some!

Service on the Rotterdam Canadian Cruise

As a frequent cruiser, I’ve gotten on and off 50 cruise ships. Some ships were easy, but time consuming to get on and off. Others were an ordeal with long lines that moved ever so slowly. The Rotterdam goes to the top of my list as the easiest, fastest, and most comfortable experience of getting on and off a cruise ship.

Once on the ship, guests were guided by staff to the elevator banks. Staff rode the elevators with guests, stopping at each floor and directing  guests to their cabins. Guests were able to go directly to their cabins, which is often not the case on other ships. On a number of other cruises I’ve been on, guests are often directed to the buffet restaurant to have lunch, and wait until the cabins are ready. On the Rotterdam Canadian cruise, guests got to settle into their cabins before going to the buffet restaurant and enjoying a relaxed lunch.

My inside cabin measured 180+ square feet. It equaled the space of some balcony cabins I had on other cruise lines. I was please to find generous clothing hanger areas, storage cubicles and drawers. The bathroom was roomy and stocked with personal care items.

Cabin Steward Service on the Rotterdam Canadian Cruise

Shortly after I got to my cabin, the two cabin stewards responsible for my cabin, came by and introduced themselves. They told me that if there was anything I needed, to just ask them.  Each day, they cleaned my cabin in the AM, after I left for breakfast, replacing towels and personal care items as needed. Each evening, they freshened up my cabin while I was out for dinner. They picked up laundry in the evening and returned the next evening. The cabin stewards were pleasant and genuinely helpful throughout the cruise.

Dining Room and Lido Market Buffet Service

The main dining room, offers a serene environment with sea views from three sides of the restaurant. Open for breakfast and dinner it is an attractive and comfortable setting in which to enjoy fine dining. The menu is varied, with something for everyone including guests on special diets. Background music is pleasant but not intrusive, enabling guests to easily engage in conversation.

Wait staff worked in pairs serving guests at their tables. They were attentive, pleasant and provided consistently professional service throughout the meal. They routinely asked each guest about any dietary needs or food allergies. At the end of each meal, I and other guests, with food allergies, were given a preview of the next evening’s meal. We were asked to make our selections in advance. This enabled the culinary staff to substitute ingredients, where possible, for the ones that could cause us problems. Then we could safely enjoy our meal choices.

The servers in the Lido Market, the buffet restaurant, readily answered guest questions about buffet offerings. The explained how foods were prepared for those with food allergy questions. Other servers quickly stepped up to assist guests with walkers, scooters and wheelchairs make their selections. Servers then found them seating in the dining areas and got their beverages. These servers double back when it was time for dessert selections and coffee or tea. Throughout the buffet dining areas. other servers stood by ready to assist all guests with refills on beverages and anything else they might need.

 Service Throughout the Rotterdam

Service on the Rotterdam Canadian Cruise

Rotterdam Atrium

The quality of service on the Rotterdam is consistent throughout the ship. It compliments the warm, comfortable, attractive atmosphere guests experience in the atrium, lounges, dining venues, entertainment areas, and daily activities. Officers, crew, and staff go out of their way textend themselves.

A mid-sized ship, with a guest capacity of 1,404 and 600 staff, the Rotterdam is a favorite of mature cruisers.  It has 25 accessible cabins for guests with special needs. The ship is fully accessible for those with mobility impairments. The Rotterdam is a perfect example of the excellent service that Holland America is known for in the cruise world.

On 10/30, in the 2nd of this 3 part series, I will post about – Rotterdam Canadian Destinations, Excursions and Activities. 

Please check out my cruise travel website at candostreetfamilyfriendlycruises.com.

I can help you choose a ship that meets your interests and is within your budget. My planning and booking services are complimentary.

Thanks for visiting!

Best,

Jean

Cruises for Under $500 Do Exist!

Over the past 20 years I’ve had several opportunities to take advantage of cruises for under $500. I got to visit destinations I always wanted to see, but could not have otherwise afforded.

Before I became a Cruise Planners Franchisee, I relied on my travel agent to help find cruises for under $500. Today, as a cruise specialist, I assist my clients in finding these cruises.

Most cruises that are under $500 fall into a couple of categories that make them affordable for cruisers on a modest budget. These categories tend to include: Older ships, repositioning cruises, and seasonal discounts.

Older Ships offer Cruises for Under $500

Older ships are usually more budget-friendly because they don’t have all of what the newer, larger ships can offer, namely, more features and amenities. Also, these cruises are more often shorter in duration than cruises on the newer ships. There are overnight cruises, three and four night cruises, and seven-day cruises. While these ships may be older, they are refurbished regularly. Refurbished ships offer the same level of service, Broadway-quality entertainment, and a variety of excellent food venues found on the newer, larger ships. Cruisers, on these ships, also can enjoy pool, spa, gym, shopping, casino and many of the games and activities available on the newer ships for a much more affordable price.

Repositioning Ships offer Cruises for Under $500

Norwegian Jade offers cruises for under $500

Ships that are seasonally repositioned from one home port to another offer a wonderful opportunity for very low nightly per person rates. They give cruisers the opportunity to experience sea travel to interesting and exciting destinations on a high end cruise ship. Trips are usually about 10 days. Cruisers need to figure in the cost of an air flight home.

A few years ago I took a transatlantic cruise out of Tampa on the Norwegian Jade that was being repositioned to Europe. Our first destination was Key West, then on to San Juan. From there we headed across the Atlantic. Like many first time transatlantic cruisers, I was concerned about so many days at sea, without the break of getting off the ship for several hours. It turned out to be the most relaxing part of the journey. Each sea day offered a wide range of activity choices and entertainment. There were special interest lectures, pool parties, ship tours and social Meetups for adults. Youth programs began at 9 AM and ran until 10:30 PM.

The ship’s library and many lounge areas gave readers hours of uninterrupted time with a good book. The Internet Center, casino, spa, pool and gym were open from early morning to late in the evening. Evenings were spent in the theater enjoying Broadway quality shows or attending one of several music venues. Some nights, weather permitting, I watched newly released movies under the stars.

Time at sea went quickly, and we were soon in our first port of call in Portugal. From there it was on to Cork, Ireland and Falmouth, England. I disembarked in South Hampton, England  where I spent a few days sightseeing in London before catching a flight home to NYC.

Seasonal Discounts for Cruises under $500

Seasonal discounts make cruising to destinations you always wanted to visit a possibility. You can book at the very beginning of a season or at almost the end of a season for Alaska and take advantage of reduced rates. You can do the same for the Mediterranean in winter, and the Caribbean in the autumn. Current listings of cruises for under $500 are listed on my cruise travel website, www.candostreetfamilyfriendlycruises.com.

If you have questions or want to book a cruise, please call me. There is no charge to you for my planning and booking assistance. I am compensated by the cruise lines for these services. In the meantime, visit my post, Tips for First Time Cruisers and make your planning and packing easier!

Thanks for visiting!

Best,

Jean

Oceania: Luxury at Premium Prices

Cruise ships are categorized as mass market, premium, or luxury ships. Oceania Cruises  has the one of a kind classification of luxury-premium. Guests on Oceania Cruises enjoy the same elegance, personal service, and outstanding dining experiences found on luxury ships. However, traveling on Oceania Cruises is significantly more affordable given what is included in the pricing, and in the on-board amenities.

Traveling in Luxury All Over The World

Oceania ships include: The Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, and Sirena with a guest capacity of 684 persons and a guest to staff ratio of 1.71 to 1.  The two larger ships, the Marina and the Riviera, each have a guest capacity of 1,250, with a guest to staff ratio of 1.56 to 1. Personal attention and impeccable service are a hallmarks of cruising on these ships. Mature cruisers often choose the personal service, unique destinations, fine dining and value filled cruise packages of Oceania Cruises over other luxury cruise experiences.

Oceania ships visits more than 400 destinations all over the world. Ships frequently stay overnight in a port so guests can experience the night life. Cruises vary in length from 7 days on the low end, to 180 day around the world cruises.

Because Oceania ships  are mid-sized, they can enter and dock in smaller ports. Larger ships often have to drop anchor a distance from a small port. Under these circumstances, passengers need to use small boats, call tenders, to get to a port. Tenders are a problem for guests with mobility issues that use wheelchairs or other mobility equipment.

Each ship offers a warm, cozy atmosphere that lends itself to passengers meeting and enjoying each other’s company. There are no long waits for elevators, or for getting on or off the in ports of call.

Guest accommodations include inside, ocean view and balcony staterooms, and suites that range in size from 420 sq. feet to 2, 000 sq.feet. Suite guests have complimentary 24 hour butler service.

Oceania Cruises Dining Experience

Oceania is known to have the finest cuisine at sea. The Five-star menus offered in the six on-board restaurants are curated by Oceania Cruises’ Executive Culinary Director and world renowned Master Chef Jacques Pépin. Menus include: Continental, Italian, French Country, and Asian cuisines as well as steaks, chops and seafood. Guests can also choose from extensive vegan menus. When Norwegian Cruise Holdings purchased Oceania Cruises in 2014, Jacques Pepin was asked to design a new menu for Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Jaques Pepin's Bistro on Oceania

Open seating insures that guests can eat when they want in all of the restaurants. Meals are cooked to order. A Country Club Casual dress code enables guests to dine without having to dress for dinner.

Entertainment and On-board Activities

All Ocean ships have Broadway quality theater, and other forms of live entertainment. Each  ship also has a card game room, a casino, a large, comfortable library, a gym, and a  full service spa. There are boutiques offering selections of fine jewelry, clothing, and other specialty items. Many guests enjoy the pool and lounging in the pool area.

Oceania guests have the unique opportunity of participating in a culinary center. They learn to make a variety of dishes in a state-of-the-art cooking school. For those guests who have always wanted to try to paint sketch, or work with clay, there’ the Artist Loft.

Oceania Cruises’ deluxe ships feature a fully staffed computer lounge, enabling guests to keep in touch with family and friends at home.

At 4 p.m. each day, guests can participate in afternoon tea and enjoy tea sandwiches, scones and tarts.

Value Filled Cruises

One way of figuring out the value of a cruise is to use the cost per night evaluation. Prices will vary by length and total cost. However, cost per night will give you an indicator of real value.

The chart below gives an indication of how Oceania Cruises can be a better value, for the money, when compared with a luxury cruise or a premium cruise.

Oceania Cruises Price Chart

I am pleased to announce that I now share a co-branded site with Oceania Cruises! Please visit our co-branded site at http://jeancampbell.oceania.wvgcruise.com/

When you visit the site you can learn more about Oceania and the see the latest Oceania offerings. If you are interested in cruising on Oceania, call me at 800- 388-8781. I can help you plan your Oceania sea vacation  My services are complimentary to those booking with me.

Also please check out my cruise travel website at candostreetfamilyfriendlycruises.com.

Thanks for visiting!

Best,

Jean

Accessible Cruises that are Resorts at Sea

Accessible cruises, that are resorts at sea, give persons with special needs the freedom to enjoy a sea vacation. Accessible cruises include accessible cabins, access to the entire ship, and ports that are accessible for persons with motor impairments.

While all cruise ships entering and leaving United States ports must adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, some cruise ships do more. They give passengers, with special needs, access to all that their ships have to offer. They go to ports where ships can dock, and don’t require small boats called tenders to get into a port. Once in port, persons using mobility equipment can get around, and have access to bathrooms, and places to eat that are accessible.

image of man hanging clothes in a cabin typical of accessible cruises

When we think of accessible cruises, many of us think of a cruise ship having accessible cabins for persons  with physical disabilities. Actually, Accessible cabins are double occupancy cabins designed for persons with:

  • Mobility issues that require the use of a wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device. Cabins are larger than the standard cabins. They have wider doors than the standard cabins, large bathrooms with  roll-in showers, grab bars, and turning space.
  • Hear impairments who require portable ADA kits and closed-captioned televisions.
  • Sight impairments who need access to Braille signage and/or accommodations for a service dog.

But, a mobility impairment is not the only reason someone may need special assistance while cruising.  Accessible cruises are ones that can meet the diverse needs of  many passengers. The following cruisers may have special needs:

  • Slow walkers
  • Those requiring special diets for religious, medical, or personal preference
  • Families with young children
  • Returning Veterans
  • In recovery following surgery or cancer treatment
  • Children with physical or cognitive disabilities
  • The elderly
  • Those with occasional mobility conditions

I am a cruise travel agent certified by Special Needs Group (SNG), www.specialneedsgroup.com. SNG is the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry.

As a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate, I provide planning services that help to insure a comfortable, accessible cruise vacation. I bring  35 years experience in my services as a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate. During these 35 years, I developed educational and recreational programs for children and adults with physical and cognitive impairments. For several years I worked with adults going through and recovering from cancer treatments.

Accessible cruise planning services are provided at no cost for persons booking a cruise through me. You can reach me at 800-388-8781.

My  Cruise Planning Service Includes:

  •  Identifying cruise ships that are fully accessible for persons with mobility impairments and traveling to accessible ports.
  • Port Assessments:Is the terrain level and paved? Are there accessible bathrooms and restaurants?
  • Determine if service dogs, for persons who are blind, have permission to come ashore.
  • Securing priority embarkation and disembarkation.
  • Making arrangements for cruise travel, including rental of wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility equipment aids, and portable oxygen.
  • Making on-board arrangements for passengers with sight impairments that need Braille signage and those traveling with service dogs.
  • On-board arrangements for persons with hearing impairments needing in-cabin ADA kits, TTY phones and assisted listening devices in the theater.
  • Arranging for special diets including but not limited to diets for religious observance, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, low sodium, diabetic and other medically required special diets.
  • Ordering an in-cabin refrigerator specifically for medications.
  • Assisting with registering a special needs child in an on-board youth program.
  • Arranging for a bottle warmer, crib, stroller, highchair and other necessities when traveling with a young baby.

Planning and arranging for needed services on board, in ports and on excursions takes time. It is important to get started well in advance of a sail date.

Don’t let a disability or special need keep you from enjoying the freedom of a cruise vacation. If you have a disability or a special need, a fully accessible cruise can be a resort at sea! Just call me at 800-388-8781 and together we can plan am accessible cruise to where you have always wanted to go!

Got a question? Just email me at jean@cruisesresortsatsea.com.

Please check out my travel website at www.candostreetfamilyfriendlycruises.com

Thanks for visiting!

Best,

Jean

Cruise Tips for First Time Cruisers

Cruise tips usually begin with packing tips. But, this post begins with cruise tips about what you need know and to do before you even start to pack.

Cruise tips on packing suitcase

There is lots of room for error when packing for a cruise. The first time I cruised, I took far too many outfits for seven days. Once in my double occupancy cabin, I discovered that my share of closet space could not accommodate all the clothes I had packed.

As it turned out, my clothing choices were not the best either. Forty+ cruises later, these are the cruise tips I have to share with first time cruisers.

Prepacking Cruise Tips

Before you put anything in a suitcase, do your cruise homework. Review all the documents you received about the cruise. If you have not done the following, do so 30 days in advance of sailing:

Special Dietary Needs: Make the ship staff aware of special dietary needs you have, because of medical conditions, religious observance, or personal preference such as Vegetarian or a Gluten-free diet.

Trip Insurance: If you did not purchase insurance when you booked, it is not to late to do so. Contact your travel agent, or the cruise company you booked with, and purchase trip insurance. Get a policy that covers you for all travel related to your cruise as well as the cruise itself. Why do you need insurance? Because things may happen that will be out of your control. If a last minute illness, a family emergency, or travel delays prevent you from taking your cruise, insurance will compensate you for the cost of your cruise. On-board medical care will also be covered by trip insurance.

If you don’t have answers to the following questions, call your travel agent or the cruise company. Get the information you need to pack for a comfortable cruise trip. In order to pack, you need to know:
  1. The Dress Code: Many ships have a more casual approach for dress. However, they have guidelines as to what is suitable in the dining room, theater and other entertainment venues. While some cruise ships still have a formal night, other ships have a more relaxed attitude about dressing for dinner. They usually have suggestions for attire for women and men.
  2.  Weather Conditions in Each Port of Call: Will you need two sets of clothing because of  temperature differences in various ports?
  3. Laundry Facilities or Laundry Service: Does the ship have self service laundry facilities, or do they have a laundry service that picks up your laundry and returns it within 1-2 days? Being able to launder your clothes, or have them laundered, cuts down on the amount of clothes you need to pack. There is usually a charge for laundry service. If you get an on board credit as a part of your cruise package, you can apply some of it for laundry service.
  4. Internet Access: Internet access maybe offered in a computer center where you purchase Internet time in packages billable by the minute. Internet access may also be sold in bandwidth packages for use on your personal computer, tablet or smart phone.
  5. Onboard Shopping: If you are planning to do some shopping on board for clothes to wear on the cruise, you need to know more about the ship’s selections. All ships usually feature a large selection of jewelry, a limited selection of clothing for men and women, and a limited choices of  personal care necessities. Local pharmacies carry travel size personal hygiene and other care products for less than what these products will cause in a ship’s store.

Packing Cruise Tips

Make a packing list for clothing, and another for incidentals such as personal care items. Have another list for needed documents, including all cruise related documents, passport and driver’s license. It is smart to carry medical information in case of illness. It should include medical history, medications, and allergies. Given how tech savvy many of us are today, make a list of what equipment, beside a smart phone you want to carry around on the cruise.

Carry on Bag: This packing list is crucial! It can save you a lot of heartache if your luggage is lost while traveling to the cruise port. Also, luggage, checked in at the cruise terminal may not arrive at your cabin for hours after you board. This is the bag where you have boarding documents, passport, driver’s license, medical information, medications, and a change of clothes. It is also where you should carry your camera, electronic equipment, cash, and other valuables.

 Essentials

  • Sun glasses are a must.
  •  Comfortable walking shoes are best when in port.
  • A hat is important when outside on shipboard, walking around in ports, and on excursions.
  • A jacket is important even if you are traveling to a warm climate. You will enjoy movies under the stars, and other outdoor evening activities on shipboard if you are not cold.
  • Carry on an adapter for electronic equipment.
  • Bring extra one dollar bills. You may want to tip staff for exceptional service.

If you are interested in taking a cruise, call me at 800- 388-8781. I can help you choose a ship that meets your interests and is within your budget. My services are complimentary.

Please check out my cruise travel website at candostreetfamilyfriendlycruises.com.

Thanks for visiting!

Best,

Jean

Mature Cruisers Prefer Smaller Ships

Mature Cruisers on deckMature cruisers are a large segment of the cruise travel population. Many are retired, and have the discretionary income and leisure time to travel. They want to see the world, and they want to do it from the comfort and convenience of a cruise ship.

Most cruise lines, whatever their size, have something for every age group. Yet, small to mid-size ships are preferred by a growing number of Mature Cruisers. These ships offer more of what people in the 55+ age groups want in a cruise experience.

Mature Cruisers are a diverse population. Despite their different interests, there are many things they agree upon when identifying what they want from a cruise vacation.

What Mature Cruisers Want

  • A value filled experience and amenities in keeping with the cost of the cruise
  • Having a comfort level with the numbers of passengers, noise level, and elevator access
  • Fine dining in an elegant setting, a varied menu, and well prepared, delicious food
  • Excellent service provided by all members of the staff and crew throughout the cruise
  • The convenience of unpacking and packing once while on the cruise
  • Several choices of activities and entertainment throughout each day and evening
  • Activities that stimulate and challenge such as guest lecturers and classes
  • Visiting multiple, interesting and exciting ports of call
  • On board medical care on call 24/7
  • The opportunity to meet new people, socialize and participate in activities together
  • Feeling pampered by all the little extras and attention that make cruising special
  • A fully accessible cruise ship and ports of call if they have special needs
  • A cruise vacation with destinations they want to experience, and a cruise ship that is a resort at sea.
  • A cruise ship that is in keeping with personal lifestyle, interests and needs
A Mature Cruiser's luxury ship

A Luxury Cruise Ship that Caters to Mature Cruisers

What Ships Can Meet These Interests and Needs?

Mature travelers have several choices when it comes to cruise ships:

Large ships with a passenger capacity of 2,000 – 2,999, and the new Mega ships serving  3,000+ passengers offer more amenities, activities and entertainment than the smaller ships. They may also cost less than the smaller ships.

Mid-size ships can carry 950-1,999 passengers. They tend to feel friendly, cozy, and informal. While entertainment options are not as many as on a large ship, the types entertainment, activities, and personal services make them a favorite of mature cruisers.

Small Ships have a passenger capacity of 1-949 passengers. Small ships have a higher ratio of staff to passengers than other ships. The atmosphere on board is friendly, warm and inclusive. Many of the ships in this category are luxury ships. They are all about personal service, including butler service. Luxury ships are known for their fine dining.

Luxury Sanctuaries at full capacity are under 300 guests. They are located within mega ships, and offer the exclusivity and services of a private club. Yet, they are only an elevator ride away from all the activities of the mega ship.

Mature Cruisers River Cruise

Courtesy of AMAway Cruises

Accommodations

Note: Cabins are billed on a minimum of two persons per cabin.

Solo Cruisers whatever their age, usually must pay what is called a “single supplement”, and this charge can equal the cost of almost the double occupancy fare for two people. Studios are beginning to become available on some cruise lines. There is no additional supplement for these single occupancy cabins. In addition, a separate solo lounge with key access provides a social gathering place with refreshments.

Couples Cruisers are double occupancy. Most ships have Inside, Oceanview, Balcony and Suite accommodations.

Multi-generational Cruisers have the option of sharing a family suite, or a number of connecting cabins.

Special Needs Cruisers having mobility impairments, or other special needs such as sight and hearing impairments are entitled to accessible cabins at no additional cost.

Decision Making 

Selecting the right cruise ship is key to getting the most out of any cruise experience. In addition to the usual considerations of destinations and budget, ship size and cabin accommodations need to be chosen carefully.

A number of mid-size to smaller ships cater to mature cruisers.  These ships offer music, activities and entertainment that appeals to cruisers 55+. Fine dining and exceptional personal service are hallmarks of these cruises.

Amenities such as complimentary beverage packages and specialty dining packages increase the value of the cruise. On board credit enables cruisers to choose purchases, which further reduces the cost of the trip and enhances the value of the trip.

If you are interested in cruises that cater to mature cruisers, call me at 800- 388-8781. I can help you choose a ship that meets your interests and is within your budget. My services are complimentary.

Please check out my cruise travel website at candostreetfamilyfriendlycruises.com.

Thanks for visiting.

Best,

Jean

My next post, “Cruise Savvy Travel Trips” is August 13th.