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.

NCL Jade: Happy Kids Cruising the Atlantic

NCL Jade Cruise Ship

Courtesy of NCL Jade Cruise Ship

Last summer, I took a Transatlantic cruise on the NCL Jade. I saw families, with children, enjoying themselves during several consecutive days at sea! How did this happen? It was the Jade youth programs to the rescue!

The NCL Jade is all about family-friendly cruising. It offers activities for each member of the family as well as family activities.

The Splash Academy and Entourage youth programs, give children the opportunity to  have fun with new friends throughout their cruise. They give parents the added cruise value of complimentary programs.

Youth programs hours are 9 AM to 12 PM and 2 PM to 5 PM and 7 PM to 10:30 PM.

NCL Splash Academy logo

Courtesy of NCL

Splash Academy’s youth programs are held in well equipped, modern, comfortable recreation areas. Children participate in age appropriate activities lead by a professional staff. All staff members are multilingual, and have an  educational background in child development and recreation services. Programs are held in Splash Academy designated areas that are spacious, attractively decorated, and filled with learning materials, toys, and play equipment.

NCL Jade Splash Academy and Entourage Groups:

The Guppies group is for ages 6 months to 3 years. Parents may bring their children to the Guppies Playroom, where they can interact with their babies and toddlers. The Guppies Playroom is equipped with books, building blocks, and toys.

The Turtles group serving ages 3-5 years. Programs take place in the Splash Academy recreation areas and include arts and crafts, games, sensory play, and storytelling. Children also participates in parades and treasure hunts.

The Seals group offers programs for ages 6-9 years. Seals programs are held in the Splash Academy recreation areas. Activities include Circus Skills and Shows,  theme nights, painting, sports and games, parades, treasure hunts, and video games.

The Dolphins provide activities for ages 10-12 years. Programs are in designated Splash Academy recreation areas. Activities include Circus skills and Shows,  scavenger hunts, sports and team building, theme nights, and video games.

Entourage is the teens group for ages 13-17 years. Teens socialize with other teens their age  in supervised teen centers around the ship. They play video games, seeing movies, enjoying music, and sports.

A Late Night Fun Zone is available from 10:30 PM to 1:30 AM. The Fun Zone is a fee based program at the rate of $6 per hour for the first child, and $4 for each additional child, per hour.

Children participating in Splash Academy,  joined their parents for lunch and family activities from noon to 2 PM.

From 5-7 PM, the family came together for dinner and made an evening of family activities including shuffleboard, volleyball, board games and table tennis. Some of the children returned to the Splash Academy and stayed from 7 to 10:30 PM. Splash Academy evening activities included movies, group games, and video games.

NCL Jade Theater

Courtesy of NCL Jade

While the children enjoyed being out with new friends, some parents went to the  theater. Many listened to live music in one of the several lounge areas.  Others enjoyed a romantic dinner for two at one of the several specialty restaurants.

After the Atlantic crossing the NCL Jade visited ports in Europe. Children who wanted to stay on board and participate in Splash Academy programs where able to do so. A small, per child, fee covered the cost of supervision during meal times. They had lunch and dinner with other campers and staff. This service enabled parents to take a several hour shore excursion. They were able to enjoy port time knowing that their children were well cared for, and having a good time.

Parent Response to The NCL Jade Youth Programs

The parents I spoke with on the cruise had high praise for NCL Jade youth programs. The shared that they initially had reservations about an Atlantic crossing cruise.  They wondered  how they would keep their children active and amused during the several continuous days at sea. Parents were delighted that they got to enjoy many daily activities on board, while their children participated in Splash Academy.

Parents were also complimentary of the activities they got to share as a family following the Splash Academy lunch and dinner breaks.

During mealtime, children shared happy stories about new friends, fun activities and what they were going to do next in the youth programs.

Time past quickly for the children and their parents. Memories were made, and email addresses exchanged with promises to keep in touch after getting back home.

The Jade fills long sea days with activities that make families feel they were in a resort at sea.

Goodbye for now!

Jean

P.S. If you are thinking of a Transatlantic cruise, please give me a call and we can plan your trip together. My services are complimentary.

On August 4th I will post, “Mature Cruisers Prefer Mid-size and Small Cruise Ships”

MSC Seaside Yacht Club, a Luxury Sanctuary

MSC Seaside Yacht Club Grand Suite

The Grand Suite, MSC Seaside Yacht Club

As a passenger in the MSC Seaside Yacht Club,  I had priority boarding on the MSC Seaside. When I entered the cruise terminal, my luggage was tagged for delivery to my suite. A butler escorted me to the reception area for Yacht Club guests. As I waited to finish the embarkation process, I got to meet and socialize with other Yacht Club passengers. While we waited, we were served refreshments.

Within an hour of boarding the Seaside, I learned, first hand, why the Yacht Club is known for its outstanding personalized service. My luggage arrived at my door just several minutes after I did. It was accompanied by a butler who offered to help me unpack. When I opened my suitcase, I saw a week’s worth of  damp, wrinkled clothes that were once pressed and carefully packed. My luggage had been in and out of heavy rains since leaving  NYC. All I could think about was what was I going to wear until my clothes came back from the laundry service.

The butler gathered up my clothes and headed to the laundry. Three hours later, he returned all my clothing cleaned and pressed. He got my trip off to the best possible start!

The MSC Seaside Yacht Club caters to guests wanting a luxury sanctuary and the personalized services of an exclusive private club. A “Ship within a Ship,” the Seaside Yacht Club gives guests the best of all possible worlds. Guests cruise in the elegant style of a luxury ship, and enjoy 24/7 concierge and butler services. Yet, they are only an elevator ride away from the activities, entertainment, and night life of the MSC Seaside.

One of Several Types of MSC Seaside Yacht Club Suites

The Yacht Club is located in the front of the ship, on decks 16, 18 and 19. Suites are located on decks 16 and 18. There are 86 suites including: Inside, Balcony, Family, Deluxe two bedroom, and Accessible suites. They are beautifully furnished and comfortable. Marble bathrooms are spacious, and have glass enclosed showers, as well as generous counter space areas for personal care items. Every suite has a flat  screen television, a refrigerator stocked with complimentary beverages, a safe, closets and cabinets.

Each day, fresh fruit, bottled water, and refrigerated beverages are replenished in every suite. Room service is complimentary. All beverages, including alcoholic beverages, are complimentary to guests sailing in the MSC Seaside Yacht Club.

MSC Seaside Yacht Club Lounge

The MSC Seaside Yacht Club Top Sail Lounge and overhang of the dining room

The Top Sail Lounge, on deck 16, and the dining room on deck 18, give guests a panoramic, floor to ceiling, view of the ocean. While dining, guests see what the crew sees from the bridge.

The Yacht Club private dining room extends out over part of the Top Sail Lounge below. During my cruise, a piano and violin duo played softly enough not to interfere with guest conversations. They played waltzes and show tunes, which were a great backdrop for guests gathering in the lounge, and during dinner.

The MSC Seaside Yacht Club Entertainers

The MSC Seaside Yacht Club Entertainers

The dining room is a lovely setting with comfortable chairs and a spectacular view. Menus offer a variety of choices, food is prepared to order and very enjoyable. Dining room staff are friendly and sensitive to the needs of guests on special diets.

I’m a dessert person. Desserts were attractive to look at and delicious to eat. I could not get enough of the rich chocolate Gelato.

Features of the MSC Seaside Yacht Club

  • The One Pool Deck is reserved for Yacht Club guests only. It includes a swimming pool, whirlpool baths, sun deck and bar. Having breakfast on this deck is a great way to start the day!
  • The MSC Aurea Spa offers health and beauty treatments,  Aromatherapy and Balinese massages. All guests of the Seaside Yacht Club, have complimentary access to the Thermal Area in the MSC Aurea Spa where  the massage and treatment rooms are located.
  • Special Shopping Services give guests the opportunity to enjoy private, after hours, shopping in the on-board boutiques, accompanied by their butlers.
  • Toiletries in each suite are complimentary
  • Complimentary Beverage Selection in all on board bars and restaurants
  • Priority Access on Tenders
  • Complimentary Wristband that takes the place of a suite key card. It can be used when making purchases in on board boutiques, making reservations for the theater, and dining in specialty restaurants.

I can not say enough good things about the level of service in the Yacht Club. There are 60+ dedicated staff to serve the guests in 86 suites. Below are just a few of the staff who made my trip memorable!

MSC Seaside Yacht Club Executive Chefs and Maitre d'

MSC Seaside Yacht Club Executive Chefs and Maitre d’

MSC Seaside Yacht Club Butlers

MSC Seaside Yacht Club Butlers

MSC Seaside Yacht Club Executive Chefs and Staff

MSC Seaside Yacht Club Executive Chefs and Staff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MSC Seaside Yacht Club has all you could want in a luxury vacation at sea!

If you are thinking about taking a cruise to the Caribbean, the MSC Seaside Yacht Club is a wonderful way to get there!

Best,

Jean

 

 

MSC SEASIDE Kids Clubs

MSC Seaside Kids Clubs Get an A+

MSC SEASIDE Kids Clubs

A performance by MSC Seaside Kids Clubs Cruisers

The MSC Seaside is a family friendly and kid friendly cruise ship. The Seaside offers families, with young children and teens, state of the art recreational facilities throughout the ship. Additionally, cruisers 3-17 years have the option to join in the daily activities offered in the MSC Seaside Kids Clubs.

The MSC Seaside Kids Clubs are complementary recreation programs for young cruisers. Every day your children can join their new friends in one of the age-appropriate Kids Clubs. Each day there are new activities including, but not limited to, arts and crafts, sports, games, theater and technology, ship and pool parades and socializing with new friends.

Kids Clubs for children 3-11 open at 9 AM daily, and close at 11 PM. Clubs for 12-17 open at 10 AM and also close at 11 PM. The clubs are closed from 1-4 PM for children to join their parents for lunch and family activities, and again from 6 to 8 PM for dinner with family. You can come together as a family to share activities outside the Clubs, such as water slides, swimming, and bowling to name a few. After lunch, and before the Clubs open at 4 PM, parents can join their children in the Lego Center.

MSC Seaside Kids Clubs are on the 18th deck of the ship with easy access to elevators. The facilities are spacious, attractively decorated and furnished with age-appropriate toys, games, equipment, technology and furniture. The content offered in each Kids Club is creative, interesting and stimulating. Activities are a mixture of educational and recreational. The Teens Club is also located on the 18th floor. However, Teens Club cruisers also enjoy activities in the Disco, Deck 7, the Theatre, Decks 6 / 7, and the Sports Arena, Deck 20.

There are Five MSC Seaside Kids Clubs:

  • Baby Club – 1-3 yrs. Provides parents with two services: Baby Time gives parents dedicated areas for playing with their children. Baby Cares enables parents to leave their children in the care of Baby Club staff. Parents must register for this service. Since hours are subject to change, when you register, get a schedule.
  • MSC Seaside also offers a Baby Laundry Service, which is for all babies and toddlers, not just those in the Baby Club.
MSC Seaside Baby Room

Baby Club Room

  • Mini Club – 3-6 yrs. DO-RE-MI, the MSC Cruises’ mascot, plays an active role in activities for this age group including a pool parade, a family disco, a live talent show, and Doremi Studio.
  • Junior Club – 7-11 yrs. Club members participate in a variety of  sports, games, technology sessions, a live talent show, and Lego Experience Day. Juniors also attend theater performances and have dinner together in the Marketplace buffet.
  • Young Club – 12-14 yrs. Zorball, I-Pop competition and the Buzzer Game, movie quizzes, and  social events are just a few of the activities for this group.They attend Disco events, have dinner as a group, and attend the theatre.
  • Teen Club – 15-17 yrs. Senior teens play PS4 and X-Box and Nintendo, as well as Table Tennis and Fooseball. They participate in activities throughout the ship including social events in the Disco, theater events, and have dinner together.
Teens Dancing at MSC Seaside Kids Clubs

Teens Dancing at MSC Seaside Kids Clubs

Special Features of the MSC Seaside Kids Clubs

I met with the Kids Clubs supervisor, Maria Garcia, during my cruise. Ms. Garcia has several years experience working for MSC Cruises. Her staff are educated women and men with child care and recreation program experience. Staff speak English and one or more languages. This is a necessity, since there are six different language spoken on the ship.

I asked how the children spoke to one another. She shared that the staff assist with conversation between children. Ms. Garcia added that children quickly pick up enough words to carry on basic conversations, and friendships develop. She added that being in a Kids Club is a great way to meet children from around the world whose languages and customs are different than their own.

On the 5th night of the cruise, at Ms. Garcia’s invitation, I had the opportunity to watch young cruisers sing and dance for their parents and other guests. The happy looks on their faces, and the faces of their parents, beaming with pride, said it all!

Kids Clubs participants are welcome to have lunch with staff on port days rather than go ashore with their parents. They are also welcome to have dinner with staff when parents want to have dinner at one of the specialty restaurants. Both services are provided free of charge. For more about MSC Seaside features that the family can enjoy together read more
MSC Seaside Mini and Juniors Kids Clubs play with Legos

Family fun with LEGO® bricks and equipment

While your children are safe and enjoying the MSC Seaside Kids Clubs, it’s your time to enjoy what the Seaside has to offer. MSC Seaside staff and Kids Clubs staff take every precaution when caring for your children. Young cruisers attending the Kids Clubs wear a color-coded bracelet specific to their Kids Club for security purposes.

If you are thinking about a family cruise, please call me at 800-388-8781. I can answer questions about what MSC Seaside offers for every member of the family.

Best,

Jean

P.S. On the 25th of July, the third post in the MSC Seaside series will publish. It will feature the MSC Seaside Yacht Club.

The MSC Seaside is a Resort at Sea

The MSC Seaside resort experience begins when you board the ship. It continues as you explore and enjoy the beautiful environment that is yours during your cruise.

Recently,  I took a seven day cruise on the MSC Seaside from the port of Miami.

No blog post can do justice to the variety of features, amenities, activities, entertainment options, and dining venues offered on the Seaside. What follows is a virtual tour of the MSC Seaside. Its unique exterior design and creative use of inside space have to be seen to be appreciated.

 

The MSC Seaside is a Mega Ship

Now in its first year of service, the MSC Seaside was built for a North American market. Europeans, interested in a cruise vacation to the Caribbean, also make the trip to Miami to sail on the Seaside.

The Seaside has 2,067 staterooms (cabins), including Inside, Oceanview, Balcony and Suite.The ship is fully accessible for persons with special needs. There are 53 accessible cabins for persons with mobility impairments, and/or those with hearing and sight impairments.

The Yacht Club, is “A Ship within a Ship.” A private, luxury sanctuary, it occupies upper decks in the front of the ship. The Yacht Club provides guests with the comfort and services of an exclusive club. The Yacht Club has 86 suites, of various sizes, as well as a lounge, dining room, pool, and a deck and grill area. There is concierge service, and 24 hour butler service. While private, and with key only access, it’s just an elevator ride from activities throughout the rest of the ship.

The third post in this series, publishing on July 24th, will feature the full experience of cruising in the Yacht Club.

A Ship  for All Ages

Activities, entertainment, and dining options reflect the interests and needs of the youngest guests to the most senior guests. Couples, families, single parents with children, solo travelers, seniors and persons with special needs can all find things to enjoy.

During my cruise, there were over 700 children aboard, many of whom participated in the complimentary youth programs, held each day. The second post of this 3-post series, publishing July 17th, details these youth programs, and their indoor and outdoor facilities.

Seaside Dining

There are two complimentary full service dining rooms. The variety of choices, the quality of the food, and its preparation make dining a pleasure. The two complimentary buffets, most ships have only 1 buffet, offer a selection of American and International foods. The pizza is the best I ever had on any cruise ship!

There are four specialty restaurants: Butcher Cut, Asian Market Kitchen, Ocean Cay, and Bistrot La Boheme.  Reservation are required, and prices vary from restaurant to restaurant. Guests who select a dining package, when they book their cruise, can choose from a prefixed menu for each restaurant.

Wherever you choose to eat, leave room for dessert. All are delicious, especially my favorite, Chocolate Gelato, the deepest flavored, creamiest Gelato I have ever eaten! If you don’t have it with your meal, you will find it in Venchi 1878 Gelato & Crêperie on the 7th deck.

Image of Bistrot la Boheme on MSC Seaside

Activities and Entertainment

Activities are held all over the ship, and in its many outdoor spaces. Organized activities are scheduled throughout the day, beginning in the early AM, and going to the late evening. If you prefer to make your own fun, the features and facilities of the ship are open to you. Each evening, a Daily Planner will be left in your room with information about the following day’s activities and entertainment.

The Seaside offers quality entertainment. Shows in the Metropolitan Theatre are Broadway style and quality, and have an international appeal. The costumes, music, scenery, and the singers and dancers remind me of Broadway musicals. In addition, there are comedy performances, and magicians, as well as game shows. Throughout the ship, including poolside, there are live music venues including: Latin, country, jazz, classical, and folk.

Service on the MSC Seaside

Service begins in the MSC Seaside terminal on the day you begin your cruise. Staff are there to guide you through the process of going through security, and getting on to the ship. Once on-board, staff are are available and ready to help when you need assistance.

I found the service staff and other members of the crew to be friendly and helpful. Wait staff made a point of asking about food allergies and food preferences. It was especially nice to see and be greeted by the Captain (Ship’s Master) as he walked around the ship.

Ship technologies also provide a service. For example, the MSC and Me Touchpoints, which are throughout  the ship, enable guests to navigate the ship with ease.  It can also be used to make reservations for meals, the spa, and excursions.

Special Features of the MSC Seaside

  • An Interactive Aqua Park gives guests the experience of a water slide and interactive video game all-in one.
  • Outdoor Catwalks, with glass floors that extend beyond the edge of the ship, give the illusion of walking on water.
  • The Largest Balinese Spa at Sea offers massages, treatments, a state-of the-art-gym, personal trainers and Yoga instructors.
  • The MSC Seaside’s Two Longest Cruise Zip Lines (345 ft.) soar 50 ft. above the ship and travel at a speed of 18 mph.
  • A Full size two-lane bowling alley
  • A Formula One Car Simulator
  • A 5D Cinema gives users the opportunity to feel that they are in the games they are playing
  • Complimentary MSC for Me Wristbands make access to cabins easier than using a key card and allow for hands-free purchasing in shops, and other areas on-board.
  • MSC for Me App enables parents to keep track of their child’s  location when he or she is wearing the wristband. Children’s wristbands are color coded according to their level in the kids club.
  • On-board Packaged WIFI uses bandwidth rather than minutes for pricing. During the seven days I was on-board, I paid significantly less for Internet access and speed was faster.

If you are thinking about a Caribbean cruise, think MSC Seaside!

I can help you plan and book a cruise on the MSC Seaside. Just call me at 800-388-8781. My services are complimentary.

The MSC Seaside series continues on July 17th with Youth Programs and Facilities

Best,

Jean