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. You don’t need to imagine. Just book your cruise through the Cruise for Your Charity Program at cruiseforyourcharity.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. Cruise for Your Charity 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 the 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.cruiseforyourcharity.com and begin to check out your cruise choices when it comes to your options in 2019 and 2020.
All the best,
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