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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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!
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
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.
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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
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.
If you have questions or want to book a cruise, please call me. In the meantime, visit my post, Tips for First Time Cruisers and make your planning and packing easier!
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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.
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 Ocean View/OV Cabin Pacific Cruise
Luxury Ship OV Cabin
Premiun Ship OV Cabin
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
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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.
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!
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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.
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:
- 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.
- Weather Conditions in Each Port of Call: Will you need two sets of clothing because of temperature differences in various ports?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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Mature 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
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.
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.
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.
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My next post, “Cruise Savvy Travel Trips” is August 13th.
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.
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.
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!
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”
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.
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.
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 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!
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!