I spent Christmas at Sea on the Norwegian Escape this past December. Our destination was the Eastern Caribbean. We visited Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas, as well as Nassau.
Over 1, 500 of the passengers were youth ranging in age from infants through 18 years. On board activities in the Splash Academy for children and Entourage for teens gave participants the option of participate in programs throughout the day and evening hours.
The Norwegian Escape’s Kids’ Aqua Park was a big draw for many young cruisers especially the enclosed tube slide. Another favorite, which was always busy, was the two-story climbing structure.
Families could be seen on the Sports Deck playing miniature golf together, shooting hoops, or playing bocce ball. Additionally, there were the many video games to share. Of course, there were also all the Christmas activities to enjoy.
Getting into the Christmas Spirit
The Christmas holiday began as soon we boarded the ship. Brightly decorated Christmas trees lit up the public areas. Holiday favorites and carols played softly in the background.
The dining rooms and buffet areas featured displays of creative winter scenes made of foodstuffs. Each of the specialty dining restaurants also had their own unique decorations that added to the spirit of the season.
Besides the dining room decorations, staff and crew created a village display in the small atrium. A set of trains chugged their way around the display. The train whistle would blow every few minutes and small puffs of white smoke would come out of the steam engine’s smoke stack. This display put many a fussy member of the under five set in a good mood almost immediately.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there were traditional holiday meals including prime rib of beef and turkey. Dessert offerings included pies, puddings and Christmas cookies.
Christmas Eve was our first port of call day. Guests going ashore boarded tenders for the trip from the Escape to Great Stirrup Bay. Besides enjoying beach activities, guests had five excursion options:
- Marine Life Encounter Eco Boat Tour
- Kayak Tour
- Stingray City Bahamas
- Wave Runner Tour
For guests staying on the ship on Christmas Eve, holiday activities began in the AM. Christmas trivia was followed by Christmas crafts. In the afternoon, Christmas movies trivia drew a huge crowd!
The Escape choir and crew led guests in singing Christmas carols in the Atrium at 9 PM. At midnight, there was an Interdenominational Christmas service in the Theater.
Christmas Day dawned early with Santa’s arrival in the Atrium. He didn’t come alone. Mrs. Claus made a rare appearance, as did some of his elves. Santa didn’t come empty handed either. He brought gifts and invited the children to have their photographs taken with him.
Guests spending the day in Nassau, our second port of call, had a choice of five shore excursions:
- Atlantis Aquaventure
- Discover Atlantis
- Discover Nassau by Land and Sea
- Blue Lagoon Beach Day
- Charm and Beauty of the Bahamas
Ship Christmas activities included a viewing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on the large screen in the Atrium. A family holiday glow party was well attended.
Evening activities included a performance by four time Grammy winner, Melba Moore, in the Escape Supper Club. Overflow crowds attended the Escape Holiday Spectacular, in the theater at both the 7 PM and 10 PM performances.
Many families chose to celebrate Christmas at sea on the Norwegian Escape. As a result, they got to enjoy being together at Christmas without all the work of holiday preparations.
Imagine taking a cruise and the cruise agency makes a donation, in your name, to your favorite charity. The cruise agency also gives you the tax deduction for the donation. As of mid January 2019, you don’t need to imagine. Just book your cruise through the Cruise for Your Charity Program at candocruises.com, my cruise travel agency.
Cruise for Your Charity Program Description
The Cruise for Your Charity Program offers value filled cruise packages that vary from cruise line to cruise line. Cruise packages complement the stateroom amenities offered by each cruise line.
The Program is open to residents of the United States wanting to cruise anywhere in the world. Can Do Cruises can develop value packages with most cruise lines. Cruise ships can vary in size from small, luxury ships to Mega ships that offer something for every age group.
Cruisers can assign their donations to their favorite charities at they time they book their cruises. To qualify for a donation, a charity must be a nonsectarian and nonpolitical 501(C)3 organization.The amount of the donation is based upon the price of the cruise, the cruise line and the stateroom selected by the cruiser. There is one donation per stateroom. A donation can range from $150 to $ 1,300.
A check is issued to a charity, in the name of their cruise donor, two to three months after the cruise is completed. The cruise donor receives the tax deduction for the donation.
Cruise for Your Charity Next Steps
If you want to discuss the Cruise for You Charity Program further, please call me at 212 710 2672. You can also reach me at the 212 710 2672 number to plan and book a cruise through the Program.
I look forward to helping you enjoy a cruise, of you choice, generating a donation for your favorite charity, and receiving the tax deduction for the donation.
Please visit my cruise website, www.candocruises.com and begin to check out your cruise choices when it comes to your options in 2019 and 2020.
Happy New Year!
All the best,
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
There are four main types of cruise cabins: Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, and Suite. There are specialty cabins available within these types that meet the needs and interests of certain cruisers. Specialty cabins are available on many of the larger ships. Specialty cabin categories include: Family, Accessible, Luxury, Spa and Single Travel Cabins.
Family Specialty Cabins
Newer ships come with family cabins designed to accommodate parents and children. Often these cabins are suites that give parents and children separate sleep rooms, and have more than one bathroom.
Standard Inside, Oceanview, and Balcony type cabins with sleep sofas, or bunk beds, that pull down, are another option. These cabins have one bathroom. When packing, it is important to consider that storage space, and clothing closets have limited space.
Accessible cabins are double occupancy cabins that are designed primarily for persons having:
- Mobility issues and require the use of a wheelchair, scooter or other mobility devices. 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 and requiring portable ADA kits and closed-captioned televisions.
- Sight impairments and need access to Braille signage.
Luxury cabins enhance the experience of being in a resort at sea. They are referred to as suites, and come in different sizes and layouts. They are larger in size than other specialty cabins. Cabin amenities may include brand name toiletries, complimentary specialty dining, discounted laundry packages, and on board credits. Suite passengers have priority when boarding and leaving the ship.
Some of the Mega cruise lines offer suites in key access communities above the rest of the ship. These communities offer private dining, lounge, pool and deck area. Their amenities includes 24 hour concierge service, butler services, and preferred seating in the theater in the main ship. Passengers have the opportunity to enjoy the comforts of a small luxury cruise while having access to the activities of a mega ship.
Spa cabins are usually a few steps away from the spa. A spa cabin can be an Inside, Oceanview, Balcony or a Suite. However, spa cabins come with more amenities and cost more.
Spa cabins differ when it comes to amenities from cruise line to cruise line. The best spa cabin amenities are high-end bath products, personal toiletries, and aromatherapy. Free time in the spa facilities such as the relaxation room, or complimentary participation in a few classes are also attractive amenities.
Single ( Solo Traveler) Cabins
One of the rarer specialty cabins is the single cabin. Most cabins are double occupancy. In most instances, a cruiser traveling alone must pay his or her individual rate plus a single supplement for a double occupancy cabin.
The Norwegian Epic features 100 sq ft studio cabins and a private lounge for solo travelers. The studio cabins have a full-size bed and a separate bath area There is no single supplement for this cabin.
If you are thinking about taking a cruise, and want to know more about specialty cabins, please give me a call at 800-388-8781.
Choosing a cruise cabin is not just about staying within your budget. It is about choosing one that meets your needs for space and comfort during your cruise. You need to know what kind of cabins are available, and where on the ship they are located. Some other questions you need answered are:
- Do kids sail free?
- What amenities, on board services, and perks come with each type of cabin?
While a cruise cabin may come in several shapes and sizes, there are usually four types available on cruise ships. As a veteran of 40+ cruises, I have experienced each of these cruise cabins on several occasions:
- An Inside Cabin is the smallest of the four types of cruise cabins, and the least expensive. It doesn’t have a window or other access to the outside. It can sleep up to four persons. If you enjoy a dark room for sleeping, this cabin is ideal. If you are claustrophobic, this may not be the best choice for you. Depending on the cruise line, an inside cabin can have as little as 140 sq. feet to as much as 190 sq. feet.
- An Outside Cabin usually called an Oceanview, has either a window or porthole that allows you to see the outside. It may be the same size as an inside cabin or a bit larger. Because you can view what is going on outside the ship, there is a feeling of more openness. On the down side, some may have views that are blocked by parts of the ship.
- A Balcony Cabin offers a balcony where you can sit out and enjoy the view. It is larger than an inside cruise cabin. A balcony gives the impression of more space, even though it is outdoors and not living space. Balconies can have views obstructed by lifeboats.
- A Suite may come in different sizes and layouts. The larger suites can comfortably sleep several members of the same family. Some suites have living space as well as separate sleeping areas. While the most expensive of the four types of cruise cabins, suites can be a value added way of cruising since they can be a more cost effective way for a number of family members to cruise together.
Cruise Cabin Features and Perks
Every passenger cabin comes with cabin steward services that include daily cabin cleaning, and bed making. Bathrooms include shower stall, sink and mirror, and are stocked with soap and shampoo. An ice bucket, coffee set up and hair dryer are also available.
Most cabins come with small refrigerators, stocked with beverages available for purchase.
Some cabins come with additional services that enhance the cruise experience. Priority boarding, laundry service discounts, complimentary dining in specialty restaurants are just a few perks available with certain types of cabins.
In addition to all the amenities and perks already listed. Suites have even more to offer. Many have separate living and sleeping areas. Larger suites are suitable for families with several members. Suite passengers often have access to private dining and pool facilities, as well as butler services.
As a Cruise Travel Specialist, I can take the guesswork out of choosing a cruise cabin that best meets your needs. In addition to what is shared in this post, I will share information about choosing a cabin location that is best if you are concerned about sea sickness, have difficulty walking distances, or are sensitive to noise.
If you are thinking about taking a cruise, and have questions, please call me at 800-388-8781. My services are complimentary.
The July 2nd post will also introduces specialty cabins, such as accessible cabins for persons with special needs, spa cabins, and luxury sanctuary suites.
To Be Continued…July 2nd.