An Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2

In late April, I took an Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2. It was a round trip, and I was at sea for a total of 14 days. This was my third time on the Queen Mary 2. While I have taken a number of transatlantic cruises, this was my first Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing where the ship is the destination.

The Queen Mary 2 has a long history of transporting passengers from New York City to Southampton, and  Southampton to New York. An elegant ship, it offers excellent live theater, newly released movies, and several music venues.  In addition, passengers have access to services not found on any other ships. There are kennels for pets, a planetarium, and the best ocean-going ship stabilizers. Most of the time it felt as if we were not moving at all! When we hit a few patches of rough weather the stabilizers enabled passengers to enjoy their meals, and the many ship activities with a minimum of movement.

An Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2 out of NYC

An Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2 out of NYC

I enjoyed many of the on-board activities. But what made the trip for me were the people I got to know during our hours of conversation each day. There are a lot of hours to fill when you are at sea for 7 days.  An Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 really sharpens one’s social and conversational skills!

Breakfast and lunch gave me the chance to share a table with new people each day. Dinner was a designated table with the same dinner companions. Going over, many of the passengers were British, returning home after spending the winter in the U.S. southern states. Others were from the U.S., throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Dutch South Africa. There were 430 American passengers making the round trip crossing!

 Why An Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2?

Despite where they came from, when asked, passengers would share that they preferred an Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 to flying. American passengers were taking the Queen Mary 2 to vacation in other parts of Europe.

On the way back from Southampton to New York City, a number of passengers joined the cruise from the Queen Victoria. They had just completed a 97 day world tour, and were taking the Queen Mary 2 home to the states. Others were spending a few days in NYC then catching a plane back to other parts of the U.S., Australia, or New Zealand.

Cunard Ships Are a Favorite of Single Men and Women

While many of the passengers were 65+ couples, there were a significant number of solo travelers and singles traveling in groups. They ranged in age from 40+ to 80+ years.

The Queen Mary 2 holds a 10 AM social gathering each day for solo travelers and group singles travelers. The Queen Victoria holds similar gatherings. One lady, from Australia, who was our breakfast companion, has taken world cruises every year, for the past 20 years. She is part of a group of women who have met one another through world cruising. Her cruise agent travels with the group, and hosts meet ups each day for members of the group. Queen Mary’s staff make it their business to watch out for solo travelers. If they don’t show up for a meal, someone checks in on them to see if they are well.

The dining room managers seat solo passengers with other guests for open seating at breakfast, and lunch. At the dancing sessions there are dance partners for women and men who are solo travelers.

I was so impressed with the solo travelers, of all ages, who were either coming from or going on land tours throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. One lady was traveling to the U S. to spend four months walking the Appalachian Trail.

Services on An Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2

The Queen Mary 2 is a safe, comfortable environment for all passengers. It has a large medical department capable of caring for everything from motion sickness to those needing to be airlifted for life saving care.

 The Atrium, An Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2ssing o

Atrium of the Queen Mary 2

The ship is fully accessible for persons with disabilities. Passengers with food allergies can review the menus for the following day’s lunch and dinner. They then can make selections that are safe for their dietary restrictions.

Conversations at meal time were never boring. I came away with a greater understanding of the life styles, customs and cultures of other countries. I met unassuming people who had led, or currently lead fascinating lives.

The Queen Mary 2 is a relaxed, fun, social and interesting way to travel, especially across the North Atlantic. The Queen Mary 2 is a resort at sea!

Coming Soon!

On June 10th, I will publish the Inaugural issue of , “Cruise Along with Jean”. It will be available via email subscription.

The newsletter will cover such topics as:

  • Our monthly Cruise for Your Charity luncheon schedule
  • Jean’s hosted annual cruise schedule
  • Value, price and quality tips for planning your custom cruise
  • Cruising amenities for singles, and those cruising with a partner, spouse or family
  • Reader Q&A

Thanks for visiting,

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 Ocean View/OV Cabin Pacific Cruise

Luxury Ship OV Cabin
Pacific Cruise

Premiun Ship OV Cabin
Pacific Cruise

Number of Nights 18
Per Person Rate $6,599
Air Fare   Included
Gratuities $288
Soft Drink Pack  Included
Alcohol Pack $960 
Specialty Dining Included
Internet Included
On Board Credit $800
Taxes & Fees Included
Total Cost $6,847
Cost Per Night  $380
Number of Nights 18
Per Person Rate $11,300
Air Fare   $1,004
Gratuities Included
Soft Drink Pack  Included
Alcohol Pack Included
Specialty Dining Included
Internet Included
On Board Credit $350
Taxes & Fees Included
Total Cost $11,954
Cost Per Night  $664
Number of Nights 10
Per Person Rate $2,258
Air Fare   $1,004
Gratuities $218
Soft Drink Pack  Included
Alcohol Pack $1,068
Specialty Dining $400
Internet $250
On Board Credit 0
Taxes & Fees Not Included
Total Cost $5,198
Cost Per Night  $520

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 

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.

Thanks for visiting.

Best,

Jean

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

Cruises are Luxury Vacations at Sea

Welcome to “Can Do” Street Family Friendly Cruises, your website portal for planning and enjoying luxury vacations at sea. Our site content can help you decide whether a cruise vacation is a fit for you. Current  information on individual cruises, destinations and accommodations will take the guess work out of choosing a cruise.

“Can Do” Street Family Friendly Cruises is my way of sharing the travel ease, fun, and affordability of cruise vacations. To make this possible, I became a Cruise Planners Franchisee. Cruise Planners is an American Express Travel Representative. When planning a cruise, I draw on my personal cruise experiences and 35 years as an educator and recreation therapist.

Cruising is my favorite means of travel. Over the past 25 years, I’ve  taken 40+ cruises, including transatlantic and river cruises. As a result, I can share what makes cruises ideal for young children and  teens, as well as solo cruisers, couples, and seniors. Because I am Certified Accessible Travel Advocate,  I can help children and adults with special needs to cruise in comfort.

Together we will find cruises that meet your destination interests and travel needs, while staying within your budget. I provide planning assistance at no cost.

 Why a “Can Do” Street Cruises Site?

picture of multi-generational family on one of MSC cruises

“Can Do” Street is a family site and cruises are great environments for family-friendly vacations. Cruises give individuals and families access to luxury vacations that are convenient, comfortable, exciting, and fun. Cruises pamper by providing fine dining and excellent service. Most activities are complementary, beginning early in the AM, and going late into the evening. Professional entertainment, which is offered nightly, is Broadway quality. In addition, live music is provided throughout the ship, during the day and evening.

Cruise ships anticipate the needs of families traveling with children as a standard practice. High chairs and cribs are available. The ship’s store carries diapers and other child care necessities. Dining rooms have a supply of coloring materials on hand. Children can order from a kids menu. Most staterooms have a refrigerator that can store baby bottles as well as healthy snacks.

Today’s cruises open the world of cruise travel for children and adults with special needs. In addition to accessible cabin accommodations, there are hearing and sight assistance devices on-board. Wheelchair, scooter, and walker rentals enable children and adults with motor disabilities to get around the ship and in ports. Oxygen, hospital beds, recliner chairs, and other special needs rentals make travel possible for those with medical conditions. As a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate, I can assist with planning and making arrangements for the rental of equipment. My service is offered at no charge to the those booking a cruise through “Can Do” Street Family Friendly Cruises.

image of MSC youth program site

What Makes Cruises Luxury Vacations at Sea?

  • Cruising is a cost-effective vacation: A cruise is often more cost-effective than a land resort vacation.  Most cruise costs are included in the per person rate for the cruise.
  • Packing/Unpacking: You pack and unpack once. Your luggage is picked up from you at the ship terminal. It is delivered to your stateroom. Luggage is picked up from outside your stateroom on the last evening of your cruise. You pick up your luggage in the terminal after leaving the ship.
  • Sea activities: All activities during the day and in the evening are free, throughout the trip, with the exception of the game arcade, casino, and spa services.
  • Youth programs: Most cruise ships offer complimentary youth programs during the day and evening hours. Children are grouped by age. Staff are professionals experienced in providing recreational activities and supervising children and teens.
  • Family activities: There are complimentary activities that families can enjoy together, throughout the day, and evening.
  • Laundry: Cruise ships either have self-service laundries on most floors, or they offer discounts for laundry services.
  • Medical Care: Cruise ships have on board medical services. Medical services are covered by the  cruise insurance plan purchased when you book your cruise.

Complimentary Dining on Cruises:

image of MSC Kids Buffet on one of MSC ship's cruises

Courtesy of MSC Cruises

  • Meals Traditional dining rooms with waiter service offer complimentary dining. Buffet dining is also complimentary, as are eateries featuring pub foods or desserts. They also offer specialty restaurants which carry a charge. However, most of charges are less than similar restaurants in any city.
  • Snacks:  Burgers, fries and hot dogs are available on the pool decks at no additional cost.  Unlimited coffee, tea, juices, milk, and soft serve ice cream are also free throughout the trip. Soda and alcoholic beverages cost less if purchased through a beverage package.

Find What You Need to Know about Cruises: 

  • The major cruise ships sailing from ports world-wide to destinations all over the world and river cruises
  • New ships coming on line
  • Weekly cruise value packages that are an affordable vacation for families
  • Value packages allowing kids to sail free or at a reduced rate
  • Group rates with additional amenities for family members and friends sailing together
  • Information about youth programs, meals, laundry, priority boarding, insurance, medical care, accessibility, and other special needs accommodations on shipboard, and in ports
  • On-board cruise life, and ports of call
  • Ships with accessible, on-board accommodations, and activities for children and adults with special needs
  •  Destinations with accessible ports and excursions.

In my next post, I will share the pros and cons of stateroom accommodations available on a cruise. In the meantime, if you are thinking about a cruise vacation and have questions, you can reach me at 800-388-8781.

Thanks for visiting!

Jean