The term "foodie" is tossed around a lot, and I never thought of myself as one unless it means someone who likes to eat a lot of good food then heck yea I am a "foodie." Do I know the science of food, recipes, and what ingredients are in a dish just by tasting it? Of course not, but put a spread in front of me that looks like I am going to be in a food coma in under an hour and I am going to tell the world about it.
As a born and raised New Englander, I have dined in some pretty fantastic restaurants in Boston Massachusetts, New York City, Portland Maine, and Providence Rhode Island all of which are very well known to have some of the best food in the country so my expectations are always very high regardless of where I am.
Being an avid cruiser since 2000, I have experienced the complementary food being incredible to horrible, and back to incredible so there is some fluctuation in the complimentary dining. Where I have only experienced absolutely fantastic food and service consistently? The specialty dining experiences offered. It is not a secret that specialty dining is becoming very popular amongst the cruise lines and the more time goes on, the more options we have. That being said, sailing aboard the world's largest cruise ship gives you plenty of specialty dining options.
Let's take an overall look at the specialty dining currently offered onboard Symphony of the Seas.
Specialty dining onboard Symphony:
Hooked Seafood, Playmakers Sports bar & Arcade, Izumi, Johnny Rockets, Wonderland, 150 Central Park, Chops Grille, Jamie's Italian, and Coastal Kitchen (for Suite Guest only).
Unfortunately, I was not able to get to every restaurant but picked the ones I was most curious about, Jamie's Italian, Wonderland, and Playmakers!
From British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver comes Jamie's Italian. Found on multiple Royal Caribbean ships across the fleet and coming to more, Jamie's Italian caught my attention on numerous Royal Caribbean Ships, but I was finally able to enjoy this venue onboard the beautiful Symphony of the Seas.
Located amongst 12,000 live plans in Central Park on deck eight, Jamie's is tucked away directly across from Park Cafe, so dining alfresco is limited but available. I was lucky enough to have the chef bring out some of the best dishes, because why not ask the guy in charge.
Located amongst 12,000 live plans in Central Park on deck eight, Jamie's is tucked away directly across from Park Cafe, so dining alfresco is limited but available. I was lucky enough to have the chef bring out some of the best dishes, because why not ask the guy in charge.
We started with the "Classic Meat Plank," and the "Crispy Squid." The plank came with Fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, San Daniele prosciutto & schiacciata piccante with mini buffalo mozzarella, pecorino & chilli jam, pickles, olives. & rainbow slaw. The mini buffalo mozzarella, being my favorite type of cheese, was the first thing on my fork and the flavor of the topping of an Italian fig brought a sweetness that made me realize buffalo mozzarella can be even better than it already is. The crispy squid (calamari) was fried to perfection and had a light crunch to it paired with a garlicky mayo dipping sauce.
Next, the Bruschettas, one "Tomato," and one "Avocado and Crab." The tomato bruschetta with roasted cherry tomatoes, whipped ricotta cheese, basil, and olive oil was the perfect amount of a sweet creamy crunch that just drove my taste buds to a level I never thought possible. The avocado and fresh crab bruschetta with apples, yogurt, and chili was the perfect blend of the sweetness from the crab, the thickness of the avocado and crunchiness from the apples but surprisingly not spicy even with the chili.
Now onto pasta and lucky for me the chef must have known that I am a seafood lover because he chose the "Prawn Linguine." The linguini with garlicky prawns, fennel tomatoes, chili and topped with peppery arugula dressed with olive oil. Without question one of the best pasta dishes, I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy with the perfect blend of garlic, sweet tomato sauce, and pepper.
The main course, "Lamb Chops Scottadito." Now I am not typically a lamb fan but my mind has been changed. These artisan, free-range lamb chops are cooked to a perfect medium-rare that just melts in your mouth paired with agrodolce peppers and balsamic basil pesto, that is enough to make anyone into a fan of lamb!
Now, last and best, "Jamie's Dessert Plank." Yes, a dessert plank because why have just one when you can have a plank. This amazing plank comes with four different amazing homemade desserts, an "Epic Chocolate Brownie," "Raspberry Pavlova," "Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake," and "Tiramisu."
The brownie is made with 70% dark chocolate and topped with caramelized amaretto popcorn and chocolate syrup.
Next, the Raspberry Pavlova, a raspberry meringue cookie topped with honeycomb and raspberry syrup, proved to me that I need to have pavlovas in my life daily.
The Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake was the biggest explosion of flavors I have ever experience from a dessert, and I teared up a little after tasting this.
Finally, Tiramisu but this is not just any tiramisu, this is a Jamie Oliver tiramisu, so let's take ladyfingers throw them away and then replace them with sponge cake and then realize everything you know about Italian desserts should be changed!
Jamie's Italian is open daily for lunch ($25.00) and dinner ($34.99), lunch and price can vary per cruise. If this specialty experience is not on your list of restaurants to try on your cruise well click here to add it to your calendar on cruise planner, you'll thank me later!
Jamie's is currently available onboard Symphony, Harmony, Navigator, Mariner, Quantum, Anthem, Ovation, and coming soon to Spectrum
Stayed Tuned for parts two and three of "Specialty Dining onboard Symphony" next up, Playmakers!
Check out Symphony of the Seas on our Member Portal!
In eager anticipation of your next cruise, you've logged into Norwegian Cruise Line's online cruise planner, and you're greeted by words in big bold letters: "LET'S GET YOU UPGRADED!"
Those first four words grab your attention with a promise of a better cabin than the one you've already booked. Then your eyes move on to the words "Submit an Offer ... " and you realize that you'll have to shell out some money for that upgrade. The big question is, should you submit an offer to upgrade your stateroom, and then ask yourself a second question - is it worth it?
Norwegian's Upgrade Advantage guest bidding process is simple. Click the offer link, view the cabin categories available for upgrade, the minimum and maximum bids, and place a bid on one or more categories. As long as your bid has not yet been accepted, you can change or remove it any time. If NCL accepts your bid, the upgraded cabin becomes yours, and your credit card charged immediately. There is no changing your mind, it's non-refundable, and you can't pick the cabin location. In other words, you'll take what they give you. If your bid is not accepted, then you lose nothing and you retain your current cabin.
So, how do you decide what amount to bid? First, go to the NCL website and pretend to book the same cruise and cabin you want. What is the current per person price? Then, look at the bidding price for that cabin in your cruise planner. If you really, really want that mini-suite, is your bid going to cost more than what it would cost to buy that cabin outright? The dollar amount slider will indicate your chances of winning, "poor" up to "excellent". Surprisingly, the one time I bid on the next class up, from balcony to mini, I won with the lowest possible bid. Unfortunately, I can't tell you exactly what cabin we wound up with because we had to cancel the cruise.
Keep in mind that you are bidding on a class of cabin. So, if you're looking to move up from an ocean-view to a balcony, you could win a balcony cabin in anycategory of that class - even an obstructed cabin. Also remember that you may have chosen your existing cabin based on a great location - for us that means mid-ship with easy access to everything on board. Your upgraded cabin could be anywhere - first cabin forward, last cabin aft, under a noisy club or any one of a number of unfavorable locations. Your upgraded cabin could end up feeling like a downgrade.
The most likely factor in deciding which bids are accepted and for how much may very well be how certain categories are or aren't selling and how much space they need to fill before the ship sails.
Getting back to the original questions:
Should you bid: Are you perfectly happy with your present cabin? Probably not. If you are aren't fussy about cabin location or absolutely would love THE HAVEN, and don't mind spending the extra money, sure, give it a go.
How much should you bid? What can you afford and will you be getting a better cabin for what you're willing to bid?
For more information about the bidding process, see Norwegian's Upgrade Advantage FAQ.
I know we have been gone for a second but we are back and starting off with a blog that is bound to answer your questions!
Symphony of the Seas VS Harmony of the Seas!
The largest passenger ships in the world, Symphony of the Seas (2018) and Harmony of the Seas (2016), just so happen to be sister ships operated by Royal Caribbean International. "They can't be that different" is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of sister ships, right? I am here to tell you that YES they can be that different! Some differences are noticeable and some not so much, but I notice the smallest details, so I am here to help you choose the best ship for your cruise experience!
Let's start with the big picture and the fast facts of these queens of the ocean!
Length: 1,188 Feet
Width: 215.5 Feet
Length: 1,188 Feet
Width: 215.5 feet
Capacity (Max): 8,887
As you can see from the fast facts above these ships, seem practically identical except the Symphony being about 1,100 tons larger giving her the title of largest in the world! The differences are in the details!
The most noticeable differences:
Completely reimagined Solarium and Boardwalk onboard Symphony.
Symphony boasts a completely reinvented solarium that is unrecognizable from her Oasis class sisters. On Harmony of the Seas, we saw an additional floor added to the solarium on deck 14 which expanded the adults only area to three decks but no pool at all :(.
Forget everything you know about the solarium and discover the sprawling two-story adults only area with a pool, multiple whirlpools, a waterfall fountain, larger bar with complementary Solarium Bistro, and new specialty restaurant Hooked Seafood with floor to ceiling windows boasting panoramic views. Not to worry Royal Caribbean brought back the glass ceiling on the solarium, so no more looking at ripped plastic as we do on Harmony! One major thing to note is, you cannot access the solarium from deck 16!
One of my favorite places on board any ship, the Boardwalk. Introduced in 2009 onboard Oasis of the Seas, the Boardwalk is designed after the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and features a carousel, shops, restaurants, and to top it off the Aqua Theater. Fast forward nearly ten years the Boardwalk has been reimagined!
Onboard Symphony, Starbucks and the logo store have been moved back to the promenade and "Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade" spans the entire port side of the Boardwalk with "Sugar Beach" taking the place of "Sundials" and "Design District" on the starboard side. The place to be on the boardwalk on Symphony? Definitely Playmakers!
El Loco Fresh:
Taking the place of Mini Bites, El Loco Fresh is located on deck 15 starboard aft before getting to the pool and sports deck! Here you will find Tacos, Burritos, Nachos, and a salsa bar! This is an excellent place for a quick bite in between Flowrider sessions. With ample seating which stretches around to overlook the boardwalk, you might just find your secret spot to watch the Aqua Show!
Royal Caribbean's newest restaurant addition, Hooked Seafood takes your taste buds to New England and it's glorious seafood! It is no secret that New England has incredible seafood and has been a major player in the fishing community for hundreds of years. It's time to enjoy the best seafood in the best place possible, the middle of the ocean!
Semi Noticeable Differences:
Arguably the busiest venue onboard any Royal Caribbean ship, the Windjammer, has some subtle changes to accommodate large quantities of guests. Larger hand wash stations are offered at both entrances making it much quicker getting you to the food faster! The only other noticeable change in this venue was the removal of the bar making room for significant additional seating, but not to worry there are plenty of bars on the way, so if you need a drink you will find one!
The best place to go to avoid the craziness of the Windjammer, Park Cafe is located in Central Park on deck eight. Park Cafe onboard Symphony has about 25% more seating than Harmony, making it far easier to enjoy breakfast or lunch and of course, al fresco dining is offered!
Located on Deck 15 aft, just under the Windjammer, Unboxed has taken the place of the small silly store that is barely open onboard the Harmony, Oasis, and Allure. Here you will find Vending machines where you can buy anything from baby diapers, band-aids, and sunblock to Ray Ban Sunglasses and iPads. Yes, this is closed while in Port.
Making its way back to the promenade, Starbucks has a chic new look located at the far forward of the Promenade. Offering a full menu and the ability to use your Starbucks card to pay but not to redeem points.
The Logo Store:
My favorite store on the ship, the Logo Store, has a new home next to Cafe Promenade in the circular space which currently houses "Kate Spade" onboard Harmony. The store is small so get your ship model at the beginning of the week and avoid the crowds.
Overall, Symphony brings back design elements we missed onboard Harmony and brings an entirely new concept to some areas. I can say from experience the Symphony handles crowds much better, merely the flow of guests was much better than I experienced onboard Harmony. Both Symphony and Harmony are incredible ships, rivaled by no other but Symphony gives us a look into future Royal Caribbean ships and proves how fast Royal Caribbean responds and adapts to guests wants and suggestions!
Please comment any questions you have, share this with all the future Symphony cruises and lastly follow our Instagram because this Saturday, February 9 we are back onboard Symphony!
Learn More about Symphony of the seas and so much more by clicking to visit Cruise Ship Crayz
Well, 2018 is racing to a close, and it was an incredible year for the industry. Let's take a look back at some of the incredible new ships that debuted in 2018!
Every year cruise lines seem to outdo themselves with the incredible ships they debut, and 2018 was one of the most incredible! From the largest ship in the world debut to the most innovative ship of our time.
Symphony of the Seas, debuted in May of 2018 making her the fourth Oasis-class cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International. At 228,000 GRT, 1,188 feet long, and 215.5 feet wide Symphony of the Seas is the largest passenger ship afloat. In addition to bringing back some Royal Caribbean classics such as the Royal Promenade, Central Park, and the Boardwalk (made famous by her sister, Oasis). Symphony brings some new features including Laser Tag, Playmakers Arcade and Sports Bar, and Sugar Beach. Symphony has earned the "Best new Large Cruise Ship" title by the reader choice awards!
Check out the Symphony here!
The Most Advanced:
Celebrity Edge debuted just weeks ago stunning everyone who sails on her. EDGE is Celebrity Cruises first new ship since 2012, and it was well worth the wait. The Edge is unrecognizable as a Celebrity ship as her design both inside and out is a first for this premium cruise line. From countless new restaurants, a cantilevered elevating bar and restaurant, a 22,000 square foot spa, and new staterooms the EDGE is "A total game changer."
Check out the EDGE here!
The largest Norwegian Cruise Line ship to date the Norwegian Bliss is the third in the Breakaway Plus class ships and at 168,000 is one of the largest passenger ships in the world. The Bliss features one of the only go-kart tracks at sea, outdoor laser tag, and multiple full-size water slides.
Check out the Bliss here!
Carnival has stepped up their game. The Carnival Horizon might not be the largest cruise ship ever built, but she is one of the best ships afloat. The Horizon is beautifully laid out, features incredible restaurants, bars, venues, staterooms and has unrivaled service. I can not wait to be back on board.
Check out the Horizon here!
MSC Cruises is making waves in the North American market. MSC Seaside was built specifically for North America, and the reviews are incredible. From her chic exterior design to her dazzling interiors she is allowing the North American market to be more Mediterranean!
Check out the Seaview here!
Holland America Line is bringing elegance and innovation together on their newest ship Nieuw Statendam. The largest Holland America ship to date she allows guest to enjoy the classic elegance of an ocean liner and the innovation and excitement of a modern cruise ship!
Check out the Nieuw Statendam here!
These are just some new ship that we saw hit the ocean this year.
2019 looks to outdo 2018 with ship hitting the ocean such as Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas, Norwegian's Encore, Carnival's Panorama and even more ships being released by MSC Cruises, Princess, and Costa Cruises!
Click here to check out all the new cruise ships coming in 2019!
I have stressed in previous blogs about the importance of carrying both travel insurance and a passport while on a cruise vacation. An article on Yahoo’s travel page yesterday about a couple who cruised very recently without the benefit of either passport or insurance is a perfect example of what can happen if travelers don’t prepare for the unexpected.
The couple were on a three-night cruise to the Bahamas when a sudden and serious illness necessitated a visit to the cruise ship doctor while the ship was docked in Nassau. The medical facility was unsuccessful in treating her and sent her to a nearby Nassau hospital. Her only insurance, unfortunately, was Medicare, which the hospital didn’t accept. Moreover, in order to be seen, the guest needed to fork over $2,000 in cash. To make a long story short, the woman was eventually seen and tested, and advised to fly home for surgery.
However, this presented a second problem. The ship had already left Nassau by the time the woman was released from the hospital. The couple had very little cash and no money to fly home. Even if they did, they had no passports. While a passport is not required for a cruise beginning and ending in the same U.S. port, one is absolutely required for air travel.
As of this writing, the couple is still stranded in Nassau and hoping, with the help of a GoFundMe page, assistance from the cruise line and wire transfers from friends at home, that they will be able to settle up with the hospital in Nassau and fly home soon.
There are two very important lessons here. One, always expect the worst and don’t rely on your health insurance when traveling out of the country, especially if on a fixed income and only carry Medicare. Secondly, spend the money and get a passport, even if you think you would never need it.
For the full article, visit: Yahoo Lifestyle
What exactly is a group cruise?
When I offer a group cruise to someone, I often get looks of puzzlement or replies like "I don't like to travel in herds" or "nope, don't like crowds of tourists". What many people - those who have never experienced group cruising - don't realize is that a "group" reservation doesn't mean that you have to follow one another around the entire trip as if you were attached at the hip. For some, the term ‘group’ conjures up images of eating every meal together, doing every excursion together and doing every onboard activity together. On the contrary, you are absolutely free to come and go as you please and are never required to follow the crowd anywhere, if you choose not to. However, many groups are formed by families, friends or communities with the intent of enjoying the experience together - and do enjoy the comraderie a group provides. But for those who don't necessarily like the idea of cruising as a posse, rest assured that the real reason you are choosing a group is to take advantage of the special amenities that come with it - onboard credit, gifts from your agent and other group perks. If you happen to enjoy the company of your fellow group mates, all the better!
As an example - if you don't know - CruiseCrazies is organizing our 3rd annual group cruise for community members next summer: Caribbean Princess 10-day Canada/New England-August 9-19, 2019. As a member of our group, you are never required to participate in anything with the group - though we would love it if you would (it's kind of why we have a great community in the first place, right?). In fact, beyond one or two shore excursions and a cocktail hour, we don't plan anything as a group. We let the group - or individual members - decide what they want from their cruise, and how and with whom they want to spend it.
So reserve that group cabin and enjoy the benefits and amenities you get. Invite your friends and family, and hang out together - or don't. No pressure. It's your cruise. It's your choice. Just relax, sit back and enjoy!
For more information about our CruiseCrazies 2019 Summer Cruise, go to:
Our Community Group:
After trying multiple new airlines over the last year, I have figured out which ones would be best for getting me to my ship on time and which ones might cost me my entire cruise. For all of you seasoned cruisers sound off and tell me what you think is the best/ most reliable airline to fly and where you are flying from! Also, tell me what your most unreliable airline for cruise travel is!
Now I would ALWAYS suggest flying in a day early to avoid any possibility of missing your ship but here is my favorite and most reliable airline:
From Providence, RI (PVD) to Fort. Lauderdale (FLL) for Port Everglades or Port Miami and to Orlando (MCO) for Port Canaveral Southwest is the only airline I fly if I am catching a cruise ship.
Here is my reasoning:
Providence is a major Airport for Southwest Airlines, so there are many direct and stop over flights going to all areas of Florida from early morning to late night. Additionally, no bag, change or cancellation fees, and the customer service is some of the best I have received while flying. Lastly, my flights are very rarely delayed, and they are always ready with another flight for you if needed.
Untrustworthy Airline: JetBlue
JetBlue has very few flights from my area, has bag fees, the customer service is lacking, the planes themselves make me feel like I have to flap my arms to fly and they are famous for delayed or canceled flights. This is one airline I simply can not chance while flying to a cruise ship.
Let me know what Airlines are best for you and your area!
In attempt to keep the costs down for this cruise, we initially booked an inside cabin. However, the price dropped and we were able to upgrade to a standard balcony at no extra cost. I wondered, would a balcony even be usable on a cruise like this, one in which driving rain and wind kept everyone inside? First things first ... get the balcony door open. We pulled and yanked to no avail, but finally the door slid open so that we could barely see the skyline and Statue of Liberty through the mist. Come to find out, when we had trouble with the door later that evening, we were told by our very gracious cabin attendant, Grace, that the wind makes it hard to pull the door open, to lean into the door and then pull. Whew ... what a relief! I didn’t want to gaze at the scenery through a rain-slicked window!
Once we looked around the cabin, I realized what I love about Princess staterooms - the fact that the space is much more functional and usable than the Norwegian cabins we’ve become accustomed to. I like having a desk more than a couch, for instance. The couch becomes a place to throw stuff, whereas a desk has drawers to hide things away. Love the Princess beds, as well, and their comfy beds are everything they advertise. The bathroom is compact but leaves enough room to move. The large flatscreen TV is mounted on the wall directly across from the bed, freeing up precious counter space and making TV viewing convenient without having to strain your neck.
This ship is absolutely gorgeous, and even though the weather kept most people inside, it didn’t feel crowded. The decorating scheme is tasteful, done in muted colors, using lots of mirrors and creative lighting to make it look ever so elegant. Artwork throughout the ship is sophisticated, matching the elegant tone and design of the ship. The Atrium is absolutely stunning. A special mention goes to the Seawalk, a very cool walkway extending out from the upper decks over the ocean with views at your feet 15 decks below to the water. Pretty awesome, and not as scary as I thought it would be.
We have recently learned, after many a cruise, to head to our muster station about 15 minutes before the required drill alarm is sounded. In this case, our muster station was the Concerto dining room, to which we leisurely made our way, and had our choice of seats. We have also discovered other like-minded seasoned passengers who do the same - we saw one couple playing cards to occupy their time.
We had intended on stopping by Club 6 for the Elite cocktail party at 5:00 pm but found ourselves at the Wine Bar, instead, off the Atrium for sail away. The weather was too nasty for a proper deck party, so the festivities were moved inside. Being our first time in a wine bar, we decided to try a “flight”, which we learned was a set of three 2-ounce wine samples. Even though the menu showed 8 different groupings, strangely enough, only two were available. I chose the European, and David chose the Italian. We were soon joined by three other friendly people From Long Island, adding some great lively conversation to our wine sampling.
Due to the storm, sail-away was delayed by about 90 minutes. By then, some of the mist had cleared, and we had a decent view of both the NYC skyline, Lady Liberty and the Norwegian Breakaway heading into port.
I remember my husband and I being aboard the Ocean Princess back in 2012 and watching a preview of the soon to premier Royal Princess. The new design looked so beautiful, with her large open atrium and understated elegance, and I knew it wouldn’t be long until we would sail this new class of Princess ship. However, it wasn’t until sister ship Regal Princess entered the picture a few years later that we were finally able to consider a cruise aboard the biggest ship in the Princess fleet. When I saw the Regal Princess was sailing a 5-night cruise to the Canadian Maritimes from New York in late October, I convinced my husband to juggle his schedule around in order to accommodate this short cruise, and it didn’t take much to convince my brother Norm and his wife, frequent cruise buddies, to join us!
The big day was finally here. The only slight blip on the horizon was the forecast of a nor’easter heading our way, threatening our sailing. As a result, instead of the 4-hour drive from Rhode Island to Brooklyn on the morning of the cruise, we drove down the night before with a stay an hour away from the Red Hook port, in Stamford, CT. This was a good move, because it made for a much less stressful drive for my brother, and we arrived relaxed and ready to cruise!
We arrived at the port at 11:00 am in pouring rain, where Norm dropped off us and our bags, and went to park the car. Being Princess Elite, I was able to escort us all through priority embarkation quick and easy, and we were on board and in our cabins by noon. One of those fabulous things I love about Princess ... the rooms are always ready after boarding. No need for schlepping your stuff around while occupying your time until rooms are ready. We dropped off our stuff, checked out the room (more about that later), admired the fog, rain and mist from the balcony (I think I spot the NYC skyline ever so slightly), and is that Lady Liberty peering at us through the haze?). In just a short time, we were off to explore the ship!
Did you know? Repositioning cruises are a unique and affordable way to vacation and experience a number of ports around the world!
Low prices, lots of relaxing sea days and interesting itineraries make a repositioning cruise an attractive vacation option. Most often taking place during the shoulder seasons of fall and spring, this interesting cruise option allows you to sail to unusual and off-the-beaten track locations when a cruise ship relocates to another region for the new season.
Repositioning cruises vary in length, usually longer than your typical sailing, from 10 days to several weeks. Leaving from major ports such as Miami, London, Rome, Buenos Aires and Anchorage, repositioning cruises allow the unique opportunity to explore multiple destinations and even different continents around the world. Common itineraries include transatlantic voyages form the Mediterranean to the Caribbean in the fall, or the reverse in the spring, or sailings from Alaska to Hawaii. There is an endless combination of itineraries offered throughout the year as ships move from one region to another.
What better way to save money on cruising than to relax onboard a resort-style ship as you cruise to or from seasonal cruise regions like Northern Europe, Panama Canal, Hawaii or Asia!
One of the most confusing things for travelers when booking flights are the names on the reservation. As we all know - or should know, especially if booking our own flights - airline reservations require names to exactly match those on the guest’s passport or ID. But what about middle names? According to theTSA and Homeland Security travel requirements, middle names are not required, even if the middle name is spelled out on the passenger’s passport or traveling ID. In fact, by omitting the middle name, you avoid confusion as to whether to use middle initial or middle name, or in the case of some, having to squeeze 2 middle names on the reservation. You also avoid the annoying running of two names together on the flight reservation, i.e. “John Paul Jones” becomes “Johnpaul Jones”.
When TSA states the requirement that names match ID, they are not concerned with middle names, only the accurate spelling of first and last. For instance, if the passport says “Thomas Smith”, then “Tom” Smith is unacceptable.
I hope this clears up the confusion and makes your next flight reservation go easy.🙂
As of October 2, 2018, Norwegian has released the new base price of their Unlimited beverage package to USD 99.00 per person per day! The beverage package on Norwegian includes soft drinks, beers, spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass and bottled or draft beer up to and including USD 15 during your entire cruise. Bottled water is NOT included in this package. Now in addition to the USD 99.00 per person per day, a 20% gratuity surcharge will be added to your package.
Norwegian offers a promotion which the beverage package is included with your cruise fare, so the price of most Norwegian cruises now reflects an almost "all-inclusive." When booking NCL guests do not have to select the beverage package as their perk, four other perks are usually offered. Other perks include free 250 minutes of internet, free third and fourth person in the cabin, free specialty dining, or free shore excursion credits. After looking at all the perks the unlimited beverage package has the most cash value. I know you are asking the question and yes your cruise is the same amount regardless if you choose the beverage package with a value of USD 1,663.00 for two people (on average for 7-night voyages) or 250 minutes of the internet with a value of USD 105.00. So the choice is yours, but I know what I would choose. What are your thoughts on this price hike? Let us know in the comments below!
To get a price quote on an NCL cruise click here!
Cruise Ship Crayz is sailing onboard the Harmony of the Seas in 8 days, and it will be our largest live onboard experience broadcast EVER! Click below to learn more about how you can follow our journey and discover why an Oasis-class ship should be your next cruise!
Discover Back to ROYALITY
While aboard the Norwegian Epic a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when a guest angrily complained to the lido bartender about the lack of a drinking straw for the frozen concoction she was holding. In the scheme of things, a plastic straw seems like a non issue, really, but it has become a hot topic since Norwegian did away with them as a step in an environmentally-friendly direction. The new line, Virgin Cruises, has similarly announced a similar ban on straws as well as other green methods of eliminating excessive waste.
I wholehearted agree with the forward thinking. You might say “it’s just a straw - how can a straw possibly make a difference?” Well, take a 5,000 passenger ship, for instance. That’s up to 5,,000 straws a day in the trash, some ending up in the ocean. We can all do our part, one baby step at a time.
Start with those ugly disposable plastic water bottles. Plastic bottles, in my humble opinion, are the scourge of the earth. Ditch the plastic and start using a reusable water bottle. Bring it on your cruise, and make it a daily habit at home.
Buy some reusable drinking straws. Some are made of silicone, but the good ones are steel and indestructible. Bring a few along on your cruise. You’ll be the envy of all your frozen pina colada friends. Everyone will want one!
Other ways to conserve include recycling glass, paper, aluminum, plastic and cans where available, re-using towels, turning off the lights when leaving the cabin, and closing the balcony door so the A/C doesn’t have to work so hard.
Now, if only Norwegian would do something about those plastic cups ... 😐
I was cleaning out some old clothes the other day and came across a box of T-shirts, purchased from various past cruises and land trips at a time in my life when I liked wearing T-shirts. Most in the pile were too small and never (or hardly) worn, and should have gone out to the donation collection a long time ago. This re-discovery got me to thinking about small regrets about my vacations past.
By regrets, I don’t mean missed flights, excursions gone wrong or hotels from hell, but those memorable little things that I deem now to have been a waste of time, money or just poor judgment. In the case of the T-shirts, for instance, while I have one or two that did become favorites, the rest turned out to be too small, too big, ill fitting, or just really not my style. Crew neck shirts choke me, for one, these days, which made having all those shirts now pointless. Still, I kept buying them “just in case”. In the end, I really hate T-shirts. Here are a few other past vacation regrets:
Running out of iPhone memory. I don’t take video often, but last spring while going through the Panama Canal, I thought it would be really cool to record the Coral Princess going through the locks. It wasn’t long before the dreaded “memory full” words came up, forcing me to use up precious time to go in and delete stuff. Instead of one grand video to show the folks back home, I wound up multiple footage of about 10 seconds each, and spent the rest of my day deleting old stuff to make room for new. I have since upgraded to a phone with more storage, so I have some time before I reach capacity (I hope)!
Overpacking. I’ve gotten pretty good at judging the weight of a bag and avoiding fees, but the real issue came about while on a drive-trip with the family around Portugal several years back. The trunks (or boots, depending where you live) of the rental cars had limited room, as you can imagine, necessitating me to consolidate, toss out a few things, and leave one of my empty bags in the hotel we were staying in. To validate my “charitable donation”, I chose the worse, oldest bag in the bunch. What’s the the moral of this sad story? Always figure in what, how and where you’ll be traveling when packing and choosing luggage.
Not adhering to the family meet-up rules. Probably because I was so mesmerized by my surroundings or, more likely, because I have a severely limited attention span, I would inevitably miss the words “we’ll meet [here] at [such and such time.” I once spent an hour searching for my family in Disney World. Some mother, huh? They were all where they were supposed to be. I was not. This was in the day before cell phones, so cut me some slack.
Not learning to read a map. Finally, the last and probably most important thing that would have saved me and my family a lot of grief was to learn how to read a map. My husband will tell you that I am the worst navigator. Now keep in mind that this was the day and age before GPS, when going to the local AAA office for maps, guidebooks and TripTiks was a requisite for any trip. My husband learned early on to put our 10-year-old in the navigator seat of the family car, because she could be trusted, and I could not. As one who has hated asking for directions, I probably spent many hours of my early life driving in circles. GPS, these days, still has me going in circles, but those circles are now smaller and less frequent.
What are your little vacation regrets or annoyances? Maybe you have some greater than mine. Feel free to comment.
How I love this quote:
"Travel is like a giant blank canvas, and the painting on the canvas is only limited by one’s imagination." – Ross Morley
When I was in the planning stages of my first cruise back in 2001, I combed through every book, magazine, website, review, video and photo I could find in order to choose the perfect cruise. Through others' eyes, I learned of the best ships, the best cabins, the best food, and the best destinations. I listened while others touted their advice on what to avoid and their 10-best lists. I ended up with many pre-conceived notions and over-inflated expectations of what cruise life is like. Granted, I felt prepared for that first ship adventure on the Grand Princess to the Western Caribbean, but I also dispensed with much of the useless advice I was given (despite the 1001 uses for duck tape, and how no one should leave home without it, I have never carried a roll in my 17 years of cruising).
I'm not saying that we should make the trip up as we go along - some preplanning is required. But I no longer plan down to the last pad of post-it notes. How many times do we visit the must-see sights in a destination only because someone said we'll be sorry if we didn't. For instance, when planning our time when the ship docked in Florence, it was suggested by some to combine our precious limited time in both Florence and Pisa. After all, how could we travel to this part of the world and NOT experience that leaning tower. Actually, we could. We've seen many a touristy photo - you know the one - the tacky photo of the guy pretending to hold up the tower so it won't fall. We didn't feel the need to waste time when there was so much beauty in Florence to see.
In other words, when you travel, create your trip from your own blank canvas. Start with the basics. Add your dream experiences - those bucket list items (the Sistine Chapel comes to mind!), but leave room for the unexpected - the seaside stroll, the impromptu music performance in the square, a chat with the locals over a pint in Dublin. See what that final painting reveals. It's those candid, unforeseen surprise moments that really make a trip!
Now that summer has officially arrived, so has hurricane season in the Caribbean, lasting from June through November, affecting tourists and residents from the Southern Caribbean, and on north to the coast of Maine. Should that stop you from booking a Caribbean or New England cruise in late summer or fall? No, and here’s why.
Caribbean cruise rates are never better than they are in fall, especially from late August through mid-December. Crowds diminish, the kids are back in school, and cruising is generally quieter. It’s an ideal time to cruise.
Chances are good that a hurricane will not affect your cruise plans. Cruise ships use the latest weather-tracking systems to steer around the path of storms. While you may encounter some rough seas, the crew will do a marvelous job of keeping you safe and the ship as steady as possible.
If you are planning a Caribbean cruise in fall, you can take a few extra precautions to lessen the chance of weather-related mishaps.
First and most importantly, buy a good travel insurance policy. You might even consider one with a cancel-for-any-reason feature.
Arrive at your port a day or two ahead of your sail date, especially if you need to fly. While the cruise itself may not be an issue in a storm, getting to your ship on time could be. Weather delays and flight cancellations may leave you stranded at home. Getting a jump start to the cruise port will increase the likelihood of getting on board.
When choosing a late summer or fall tropical cruise, consider a destination less likely to be in the path of a hurricane, such as Panama or Costa Rica.
Use a travel agent. They have the resources to keep you alert to delays and cancellations and can get you where you need to be with minimal stress.
If a storm does come your way, keep in touch with your travel agent for the latest cruise line updates and advice.
If you are cruising during hurricane season, keep an open mind and board your ship with the right attitude. If a hurricane messes with your vacation, the ship’s itinerary may change, and you may find yourself in ports you weren’t expecting. Go with the flow, and enjoy your cruise, wherever it may take you.
Fun on board the P&O Australia ships.
Even on the smaller ships they have been able to utilize as much space as they can. Flying fox, rock climb, walk the plank, waterslides and so much more.
before i go on, i would love to know in the comments what you guys might have done on ships that you have been on that was fun!
I know that when I worked for Carnival they were starting to install a bunch of cool ropes courses, and Royal Caribbean has so many extra activities. I have never been on a Royal but the ads i have seen makes it seem unreal.
But with P&O i wanted to check out some cool things to do and made a video about it. Thanks for reading and watching. I would love to hear your thoughts on fun things onboard ships. CHEERS!
After 25 cruises it shocked me that I had not yet sailed onboard Norwegian Cruise Line and I knew I was way overdue to experience "Freestyle Cruising." Fast forward a few months, and I find myself on a train racing toward Grand Central Station to Board the Norwegian Escape to Bermuda! Perk number 1 of NCL departing out of Manhattan, it is the most convenient departure port for New Englanders that is a train, bus or car ride away. With the taxi, Uber and Lyft drop off directly in front of the terminal getting from Port Authority Bus Station or Grand Central Train Station could not be easier and takes about 10 minutes. Once you arrive at the Pier, your luggage is taken by a porter, and you are through security in about 5 minutes.
After security things got a little confusing, with lines every which way but little signage that directed me to where we needed to be, however, I believe this was because the Escape was very new to New York, I did find my way and was happy to be so close to boarding. I am very used to a check-in process that is different from Norwegians'. Typically my onboard expense account is set up when I check in online 2-3 weeks before my cruise, with Norwegian this is not, currently, an option and your expense account is handled at the pier. This lead to noticeable longer wait times to check in and was clear to me that the expense account was the reason for this, especially with chip cards. After the longer than normal check-in process, Thanks to Norwegian, my friend and I were quickly escorted onto the Escape before any other passengers and then the fun began!
Stepping onto the ship was that same feeling you get every time that feeling of escape, relaxation and excitement for the week that awaits you. The one thing that I was most excited to see was 678 Ocean Place! The hub of the ship did not disappoint, with a marvelous multi-colored Chandelier dangling in the center, I immediately realized that this was going to be my favorite part of the ship!
Booking Onboard Experiences:
I have been on quite a few ships that have well over 4,300 passengers and have always been able to make reservations online before sailing. With Norwegian, I realized that there is a significant amount of onboard experience that you can only book once you are onboard. We were lucky enough to be the second people in line and finished booking everything that we needed and even though we just booked three activities it took about 20 minutes for the crew member in the box office to do this and an extremely long line formed behind us, definitely not the way I want to start off a cruise. So I would make sure this is your first stop when boarding to try and avoid lines!
The buffet area onboard Norwegian Escape, the Garden Cafe, had a lovely relaxed vibe with hand washing stations at every entrance and a large variety of foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks until 12 A.M! Dinner was a different global influence every night, with breakfast and lunch remaining consistent throughout the cruise!
We were booked in a Family Balcony Stateroom on deck 9. The stateroom was spacious, had plenty of storage space, a mini refrigerator, hairdryer, television, plenty of outlets included one on each side of the bed and a beautiful view from the spacious private veranda! This stateroom has the capacity of 4 people with a bunk bed that drops from the ceiling and a sofa bed with plenty of room to move around!
Freestyle dining was the best, included, dining I have ever experienced on a cruise ship! Being able to choose a different
restaurant and time every night was fantastic. I was expecting a different menu in each restaurant; however, most everything on the menu is the same in each restaurant, but the atmosphere is different in each one! For those of you who are unfamiliar with "Freestyle Dining," this is how it works. You can make reservations for one of, typically, three "main dining rooms" in this case we had choices of the Manhattan Room, Savor, and Taste. Each restaurant has the same menu and same times, but you can enjoy different atmospheres, times and wait staff every night! So say goodbye to being stuck in one dining room, at the same table, at the same time for the length of your cruise and hello to freedom to do what you like! For those of you who still enjoy the traditional way of dining with the same place, time and waitstaff you can do that too! To ensure you have the same time place and waitstaff every night go to a hostess at the very beginning of your cruise and let them know that is what you want and they will make it work!
The Norwegian Escape is the first ship in the Breakaway Plus class of ships, so there are many activities onboard with but unfortunately laser tag and Go Karts did not make it onboard 😞 #firstworldproblem, am I right?)
An absolute must try, my only regret was not trying them sooner. The Escape is equipped with two freefall slides and one "Aqua Racer" which is a nice relaxing slide! So you can opt for the exhilaration of the racer slides or the laid back lazy Aqua Racer slide and have the time of your life on both!
I understand why the Go-Kart tracks have replaced this, it was anti-climatic, at least for adults I can see children from 7-15 enjoying this activity. Is it worth doing, of course, but only once per cruise is fine!
Learn More about Norwegian Cruise Line's onboard features here!
While on a cruise that is overnight in a port it is easy to miss the onboard entertainment, but we made it a point to try and get to everything we could!
The comedy shows onboard were offered almost every night both for families and for adults only. Of course, we chose the adults-only show and we left Howl at the Moon exhausted from laughter! The on-stage shows offered onboard Escape currently are, After Midnight and For the Record: The Brat Pack. Both shows are can't miss, it is a bit difficult to follow the story but the talent is OUT OF THIS WORLD do not miss one show! The small shows such as the Newly Wed game and similar shows were typically held in the Atrium, each show was unique and had its distinctive flair. In addition to small shows, you can also see cooking demonstrations, dance classes, cruise ship 101 and more in the atrium daily!
Learn More about Norwegian Cruise Line's onboard entertainment here!
Although this is the worst part of the cruise, regardless if the process is smooth or not we all know smoother disembarkation is preferred over a prolonged wait for the enviable (reality). Disembarking the Escape was, and I hate to say it, the most unorganized process I have ever experienced. Now I definitely can not place all of the blame on Norwegian because it seemed that customs and the coast guard slowed them down, a lot. So disembarkation was quite horrible, but we were able to get a glimpse of the Norwegian Bliss, so that made everything better!
The below ratings are based on a 5 "wave" 5 being the best and 1 the worst, and it is waves because why not! These ratings are strictly opinion based and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cruise Ship Crayz TM.
Check-in and embarkation: 3 Waves
Some improvement is needed on the organizational side at the Manhattan cruise terminal to speed up the check-in process. Security is quick and Easy!
Included Dining: 5 Waves
The food onboard the Escape was some of the best-included food I have had at sea in a long time, and of course, the service was impeccable!
I can not give a rating because I enjoyed the main dining rooms so much I forgot to try one!
Onboard Activities: Solid 4 Waves
The wide variety of activities offed onboard the Escape keep you busy all day, but I didn't get that WOW factor from the activities.
Onboard Entertainment: 4 Waves
As mentioned above The talent was incredible, but I was looking for more of a storyline, still can't miss shows!
Accommodations: 5 Waves
We loved our stateroom and attendant, and we had more than enough space to spread out and unpack completely!
Disembarkation: 2 Waves
Disembarkation was horrendous with people coming from all direction to get in a line that I am still looking for. I would opt for the express walk off!
Overall I absolutely loved my first Freestyle cruising experience and can not wait to be back onboard a Norwegian cruise ship! I would highly recommend cruising onboard a Norwegian cruise to anyone, especially those with children!
Click here to learn more about Norwegian Cruise Line and the Norwegian Escape!
This past weekend I got to go on another themed cruise.
This was called the BIG LAUGH COMEDY FESTIVAL. It was a 4 day cruise on the P&O Pacific Explorer from Sydney to Moreton Island (outside of Brisbane) and back. I have been on "comedy" cruises before. Typically its your normal 1 or 2 comedy shows and a couple little workshops, but this one was different. This really was like a festival. On the 2 sea days it was wall to wall comedians, 14 total, converting some of the rooms into comedy clubs. There were big acts on the big stages, but then they also had more intimate rooms that were equally hilarious. These shows would go continually throughout the day so you have to pick your own schedule to try and see them all. Myself and another P&O employee did a live facebook broadcast on the ship:
It was great to see it all come together and be an event that guests will never forget. I also got to perform and play music every night and it was a great time, and I gained a lot of fans. Ironically, I am not a comedian, but sometimes i get portrayed that way because I have a lot of banter with the guests as I am playing, and usually after a couple of drinks I can be quite funny.
Thanks for reading my blog, I try to make a new post every week but would love to get some input from you guys (the readers) on any interesting ship topics you would like to read about?
So the reason this title is "not Elvis" is because the real theme is "Tribute to the King"
This was a themed cruise I went on recently. Apparently the Presley Estate doesn't give out the rights to Elvis easily. Which I thought was funny because no matter how you wordplay it people are going to say Elvis. Check out the video and then come back to read more.
I got on this cruise in a weird way... I thought I was on to play, and then found out there wasn't enough room for me, basically hearing that I am confirmed and then on a waiting list about 5 times... and then basically it worked out, although I wasn't there to play music, I was there to make a video of my experience for promotion on P&O Australia. This might sound like I'm complaining but really it was a great chance for me to check out other acts on board and it was really cool to see people diving in to being "Elvis"
Backstage getting pictures of the performers one of the impersonators was talking to me with a thick southern American Accent and then a flip of the switch had a super thick Australian accent. That blew my mind how well they get into character.
The cruisers were also doing their part, dressing up, and screaming like teenagers at a real Elvis concert like the KING himself was singing in front of them. It was a really good experience.
I am excited that P&O will be doing more themed cruises and cant wait to share more stories of these. Next cruise in 2 weeks is a full on comedy cruise! So stay tuned and keep cruising!
I opened up my facebook and instagram to anyone with questions about ship life.
I got some great questions, and some silly questions, and of course questions that had nothing to do with ship life.
So I made this video to answer those questions including... "do they have a morgue?"
The biggest question of all is when people watch this video and they want to work on ships, I am a big fan of anyone wanting to work on ships because this has changed my life in so many amazing ways. So if you are interested or have a family member that might be interested don't hesitate to ask and I would be happy to point you in the right direction.
Also if you have any questions yourselves please ask and I will do my best to answer them.
I had the honor of being invited to the naming ceremony of the Carnival Horizon! Carnival Cruises newest ship is 133,500 GRT and holds 5,056 guests. She will sail from New York City to Bermuda and the Eastern Caribbean before repositioning to Miami, FL to sail Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean.
You think you know Carnival? Think again! Once you step onboard you will think to yourself "Wait, this is a Carnival ship?" The Carnival Horizon is the new flagship of the fleet and it is bringing a new name to Carnival. The Horizon does not boast non-stop crazy party and drinking for young adults no instead you see families, young couples, friend groups, older couples and yes, a lot of kids. With 17 dining options, 13 entertainment venues, the first ever Dr. Seuss Waterworks, a sports complex complete with Sky Ride and three pools this Carnival ship has taken things to a whole new level.
The Horizon is the BEST Carnival ship that I have ever had the pleasure of boarding (even if it was just for the night). The service, food, entertainment, accommodations and venues are second to none I will even say I believe it is the best mid-size cruise ship afloat. Carnival Has absolutely outdone themselves!
So let us talk ship!
Very similar to it's "Sista Vista" the Horizon's atrium spans three decks (3,4, and 5) has an incredible lounge and bar, that, might I add, serves some of the best drinks onboard, has "mall style" shopping on both deck 4 and 5 with the first-ever Victoria's Secret at sea and access to all other areas of the ship! A few other places you will find in the atrium are guest services, carnival adventures, fun hub, and of course Cherry on Top!
The Upper Promenade:
Take a stroll through the upper atrium and find the first ever"Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse" that features incredible small bites, craft beer including four new specialty craft brew beers brewed right onboard and Incredible cocktails! You'll also find some Carnival classics such as the Alchemy Bar, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Java Blue Cafe, Shake Spot, the Havana Bar and of course Pixels Photo Gallery, Dream Spot and the Internet Cafe. Lastly, enjoy the first ever onboard a Carnival ship "Bonsai Teppanyaki" restaurant located mid-ship upper promenade!
The Lower Promenade:
Now, of course, how can you have an upper promenade without a lower promenade. You might find yourself here late night way after dinner to put a few dollars in the slot machines, or on the Blackjack table in the Casino, catch a comedy show in the Limelight Lounge or cheer on your favorite sports team in Skybox Sports Bar!
The Lido Deck:
Deck 10 the most iconic deck on a cruise ship awaits you here, the Lido deck! Step out to the Beach pool, grab a lounge chair then head over to the Blue Iguana or Red Frog bar before relaxing for the day under the sun! If you opt for a more relaxed quiet area head to the very aft of deck 10 and find the Tides Pool. This area is complete with a full bar, a full-size pool, whirlpools, Pizzeria Del Capitano, Seafood Shack, endless amounts of loungers for you to relax, and a stunning view!
Sports & Activities Deck: Deck 11
Now here is where the fun is, where children of all ages, looking at you baby boomers, can experience the true fun that Carnival offers. Take a ride down one of the two full-size waterslides but be careful not to be caught by Thing 1 or Thing 2 and beware of the GRINCH! Head to the aft of deck 11 and take a ride in the sky with Carnivals Skyride, climb through the ropes course, get a hole in one with mini golf, or make new friends and play a game of basketball!
The Serenity Deck:
This is for all of those adults who are traveling without kids or are choosing to leave their children at the kids club all day! Enjoy oversized loungers, a full bar, healthy eating alternative, whirlpools and amazing views that look out over the Horizon!
One of the main dining rooms onboard is there to impress. The chic design of Meridian sprawls over two decks boasting a calm atmosphere and cuisine that will leave you pleasantly surprised. If you're lucky you can get a table right in the center under one of the incredible color changing chandeliers or maybe one in the very aft next to the back windows! Be prepared to eat and enjoy because Carnival does not save the best food for the specialty restaurants they make sure all guests have a meal unlike any other!
Welcome home for the Summer Carnival Horizon!
Check out cruiseshipcrayz.com for more!