The art of cruising

Great  expectations for newbie cruisers

First cruise?  Here’s what’s in store:

An exhilarating experience. Fresh sea air, wind in your hair, leaving woes behind in the wake, completely relaxing.

Better way to see new ports without having to catch planes and re-pack often.

Cuisine you may have never tasted before. (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, Oceania).

Diving off the back of a ship into the water (Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream).

Eating as much and whenever you want (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, SeaDream).

Fitness options such as gyms, jogging tracks, paddle all, golf, swimming, exercise classes—on every ship worth its salt.

Great days at sea with never ending activities fro Bingo to disco.

Heavenly spa treatments, for an extra fee on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess.

Islands in the sun (cruises to the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Fiji).

Love it’s not call  the Love Boat (re: popular Princess Cruises TV series) for nothing. It’s all around you on a cruise. You just need to sidle up to the bar, put your lips together and blow.

WiFi to keep you connected, although it doesn’t often move too fast or at all depending on the ship’s position at sea. Sometimes you’ll just have

Pick, plan, put it together on Cruiseable.com

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Picking a cruise that suits your personality

Passenger Profiling

Ever wonder what your fellow shipmates will be like and if you’ll  gel? I’ve got you covered

By Patti Pietschmann

us at captain's partyWhether you’re a virgin cruiser or veteran seafarer trying a new cruise line you might wonder what your shipmates will be like.  This is especially true if you’re on a ship with assigned dining and  might be sitting at a table with strangersm(we always ask for a table for two).  So I’ve curated a  passenger profiling list based  400 cruises (yup, been covering the industry since I graduated from college) and reflects  the personal observations of my first mate Richard and I:

Carnival paradise and freedom in Grand CaymanCarnival: The Fun Ships no longer attract only younger passengers onboard mostly to party and go on active shore excursions. You’ll still find lots of energetic revelry around the swimming pools and in the bars, but families and the middle-aged are now in the mix. These ships are where you will find Middle America; what you won’t find are dedicated foodies.

Celebrity : This fleet of upscale ships attracts a mixed bag of millennials, the middle-aged and seniors who tend to be great fans of the fun and food  Celebrity provides. Passengers are likely to be better-traveled and more global than most mass-market lines aimed primarily at North Americans.

Costa:  This line credits itself as being “Italian’ but much of the crew hail from other parts of the world. Still the product rings true of Italy via cuisine, Italian captains and ambiance. A large segment of the passengers are from abroad.  Most of them are 55 and older, veteran cruisers who generally join in the activities with gusto. A regular Toga Party garners lots of attendance with passengers doing Roman-style garb.

cunardCunard:  Cunard’s famous Queens appeal to older, wiser, more sedate passengers, although the summer Atlantic crossings between New York City and Southampton also attract younger Sloane Rangers and other sophisticates who are anything but stuffy. You likely will encounter a high percentage of passengers from the British Commonwealth, who will carry on the tradition of dressing for dinner. You will also encounter one of the last bastions of the British class system at sea, with portions of the ship off limits to the hoi polloi.

IMG_0054Crystal:  Most of your shipmates on the two medium-size ships of this globe-trotting line will be 45 years-old and above, well-traveled and well off, and appreciative of the line’s reputation for outstanding food and service. You will find many repeat passengers who know the ropes and wouldn’t think of switching allegiances to another cruise line. This loyal clientele eagerly attends the lectures, seminars, computer classes and shows that the line works hard to provide. Although passengers tend to be upscale, there isn’t a whiff of pretension.

Disney:  what can we say? The passengers (mostly couples with young children) who flock to sail with Mickey and Minnie are staunch fans of everything Disney. They buy out the gift shop during the first days at sea, don logo tee-shirts, Mouse ears and go gung ho on the theme. For the most part Disney fans are not sophisticated travelers. Most are from Middle America but there is a sprinkling of foreigners.

Holland America:  Most of the passengers on the HAL cruises I have been on (though none in a while) were older, reserved, dedicated to the line and relatively undemanding regarding food and drink. They know what they want and they know that they like the consistent product that Holland America gives them.

MSC Cruises:  untested waters for me, research indicates that this Swiss-based line attracts  many Europeans along with Americans. Demographics include couples, families (children under 18 sharing a cabin with two adults cruise for free) and single passengers. Average age is 50 and older.

Norwegian:  it’s been eons since sailing on one of these budget ships and the line’ s come along way since then.  It continues, however, to attract a lot of firs-time, young cruisers, couples and friends sharing staterooms.  You won’t find foodies flocking to the fleet, but you will find plenty of party animals and very active seafarers.

marina photoOceania: Passengers on Oceania’s ships love the food and the far-flung itineraries the line offers. Many have cruised dozens of times with Oceania and wouldn’t sail on any other line, which prides itself on affordable luxury. Your fellow passenger will be middle-aged or above and confident in his or her choice.

Paul Gauguin:  this spiffy little ship that has the market cornered on French Polynesia, attracts water babies and arty adventurous passengers who appreciate nature and the beauty  of this part of the world.  They are usually sophisticated younger than average, well-dressed and love fine food, beach activities and culture. While most passengers are from the US (many lot from California) you will find some French, German and Italians on board.  Many who sail on PG spend a few days before or after the cruise in a port such as Bora Bora or Papeete.

Princess Cruises:  You’ll find every type of passenger on this line—wide-eyed first cruisers to those who already know the maître d’ and have sailed with the company dozens of times. The line’s big ships offer endless activities and options and a popular shore excursion program.  Expect more fellow guests  over 50 than under 30, lots of Californians (the line is headquartered outside Los Angeles), and a tolerant attitude toward dress and decorum.

Regent Seven Seas:  As with its sister company, Oceania, foodies and gourmets flock to the many restaurants on each of the line’s upmarket cruise ships. RSS’s similarly loyal, nicely put-together clientele comes from all over the world; if there’s a type, it is well to do. They enjoy the line’s luxury and worldwide itineraries and all-inclusive pricing, and if you don’t mind paying for it, you will too.

Royal Caribbean:  this mainstream cruise line attracts  aa similar segment of seafarers as Princess and Holland America.  During the summer there will be lots of families. The rest of year you’ll find a mixed bag of mostly middle class folks.  Passengers are fairly well cruised who  sail on these ships more for the ports and entertainment then say the food (which is often good but not usually exceptional).

DSCN0972Seabourn:  Passengers on the smaller, stylish ships of Seabourn tend to the chic, the sophisticated, and the international. Country club is the prevailing style of the moneyed leisure class that dotes on Seabourn’s easy luxury, excellent food, relaxed ambience and inclusive pricing and find it exactly what they want.  They tend to be repeaters who have been there, done that and have the funds to do more of it. Meet them in the bar and you’ll find most as friendly as they are accomplished.

36c16-ships2bin2bst-2bkittsSilversea:  Shipboard mates will be similar to those you will find sailing on the other premium small-ship lines that offer inclusive pricing—well-dressed, discerning and, because the line is Italian-owned, more of them may be European. They gravitate to Silversea for the food, varied itineraries, and the Italian-owned line’s refined cachet. The Bar, the convivial center of the ships, is where passengers meet before dinner.

056Windstar (photo by Glenn Bozarth): This fleet of mastered sailing ships attract young to middle-age, upscale adventurers who go for the wide variety (and convenient) selection of watersports from diving to snorkeling. Although they prefer being in the water, they love the lure of the wind-propelled sail and the fine food served on board.

 Tips for making friends:

Passengers tend to mingle more on upscale ships where drinks at the bar are free.  This isn’t because of the comps, but rather it reduces that awkward pause when you’re with people you just met and the check comes.

Also like-minded passengers tend to gravitate toward each other.  Say you take a snorkel or biking tour. You’ll notice back on board that the people who were along with be more friendly to you. The same goes for cultural tours etc.

Don’t barge in on passengers when they are sitting down to dinner, especially couples, unless invited. That’s okay at the bars but not the dining venues.

 

 

 

 

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What makes cruises so appealing — everything fro A to Z

Great expectations

By Patti Pietschmann

 

First cruise?  Here’s what’s in store:

An exhilarating experience. Fresh sea air, wind in your hair, leaving woes behind in the wake,d0e60-decksofasitting in a lounge chair on Crystal Serenity or Symphony.

Better way to see new ports without having to catch planes and re-pack often.b3b88-img_0951

Cuisine you may have never tasted before. (Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven  Seas, Oceania).d0a36-vitello2btonnato2bla2bterraza

Diving off the back of a ship into the water (Windstar, Seabourn, SeaDream).

Eating as much and whenever you want (Crystal

 

CruisesSeabournSilverseaRegent Seven  Seas, SeaDream).

Fitness options such as gyms, jogging tracks, paddle all, golf, swimming, exercise classes—on every ship worth its salt.

 

Great days at sea with never ending activities fro Bingo to disco. Heavenly spa treatments, for an extra fee on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa, Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess.

Islands in the sun (cruises to the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Fiji).manava hotel

 e0a08-ship2bshot2bserenity
Dining in penthouse suite on Crystal Serenity

Love it’s not call  the Love Boat (re: popular Princess Cruises TV series) for nothing. It’s all around you on a cruise. You just need to sidle up to the bar, put your lips together and blow.

Money matters cash isn’t tendered on ships. A credit card account is set up for you on embarkation day for which you can charge drinks, spas, boutique buys, shore excursions and the like.  If you’re watching your budget, charge carefully, the tab can skyrocket.

Outfits the cruise line web site will advise you of any wardrobe preferences. All ships are casual by day, especially on deck,  evening options vary from sea to port days, but some like Cunard‘s Queens are always dressy at night. Always look presentable.

 

Snorkel excursion
 

Formal wear
 73d94-ruby2bprincess2bin2bgrand2bturk
  The Ruby Princess

WiFi to keep you connected, although it doesn’t often move too fast or at all depending on the ship’s position at sea. Sometimes you’ll just have go ashore and use a cybercafe.  Check with your cruise line to see if Internet is included and if not what packages are available to purchase. By all means pop for  a package, the rates per minute are pretty pricey.

Indulge in the wild wonders of Carnival in Rio on Silversea’s new mystical Muse

museOne of my most memorable experiences was a cruise to Rio de Janeiro that began with a fast flight from Miami on the since defunct Concord,  and included three booze-soaked, fun filled days attending Carnival. The cruise line, which is long gone, had secured tickets to the balls for passengers to attend. It was surreal with people partying day and night, scantily-clad carioca women dancing on tables, and many next morning hangovers.

Although a flight on the SST is no longer on the table, you can indulge in the wild wonders of Carnival in Rio on Silversea’s new, super sonic Muse which is heading south from Fort Lauderdale on a 69-day Grand Voyage on Jan, 3, 2018. The spiffy vessel will completely circumnavigate South America, visiting 34 ports in 14 countries, while experiencing the mystery and pulsating rhythm of this vast continent on an intimate, ultra-luxury voyage that is Simply Divine™.

The  Grand Voyage 2018 combines the luxury of sailing aboard an intimate, elegant ship with the excitement of discovering fascinating destinations. Highlights include a crossing of the Panama Canal, cruising Chile’s majestic fjords, a three-day stopover in Rio de Janeiro in time for Carnival, plus overnight calls in Valparaiso, Punta Arenas, Buenos Aires, and Manaus, nestled in the heart of the Amazon.

“Grand Voyage 2018 is perfectly tailored to travelers who have the time and passion to indulge in travel on a grand scale. It combines adventure and immersive cultural experiences with leisurely days wrapped in the exquisite luxury and impeccable service of our beautiful new Silver Muse,” said Mark Conroy, Silversea’s managing director for the Americas.  As usual passengers will enjoy free drinks from Champagnes and cognacs an beyond, have tips covered, get transportation in ports,  and savor culinary experiences. Through Silversea’s association with Slow Food Italy, a selection of Ark of Taste products, such as Ecuador’s Nacional cacao, Peru’s native potatoes, Chile’s Merkén chili peppers, and sugarcane products from Santa Rita, Brazil, will be sourced locally by Silversea chefs to introduce guests to the remarkable flavors of these cultural treasures, which are being catalogued by the Ark of Taste to help ensure their preservation.

Exclusive Added-Value Benefits

In addition to a gala Bon Voyage dinner and overnight stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Fort Lauderdale on January 2; a unique “Panama Hat Party” event at the Montecristi Golf Club in Manta, Ecuador on January 12, showcasing the talents of local artisans; and a box-seat view of the Carnival Winners’ Parade at the Sambadrome in Rio on February 17, full-voyage guests will enjoy a generous array of benefits, including:

–$2,000 Onboard Spending Credit (per suite)

–Free unlimited Wi-Fi

–Baggage valet service

–Visa service (U.S., Canada and select markets)

–Commemorative gifts

Fares for Grand Voyage 2018 start at $36,955 per guest, based on double occupancy. For further information and the complete itinerary, please visit Silversea.com/destinations/grand-voyages-cruise/grand-voyage-2018-south-america.

 

Carnival signs pop star Nick Jonas to perform on two ships

Singer/song writer will do shows on Carnival Victory and Liberty
By Patti Pietschmann

Carnival ships grand cayman1 (2)

Teen favorite and multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated recording artist and award-winning songwriter will be performing for Carnival Cruise Line passengersjonas this fall while the ships are docked in Nassau as part of the  Carnival LIVE Concert Series. A recipient of the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s prestigious Hal David Starlight Award, Jonas will do two high energy shipboard concerts – one aboard Carnival Liberty on November 17 and the other aboard on Carnival Victory November 18. This is not part of the lines free entertainment with  tickets for Nick Jonas going for  $75 for general admission, significantly less than land-based venues.  VIP tickets are available for $250 and include seating in the first few rows, a photo opportunity with the artist and a commemorative concert pass.

Carnival LIVE is a unique entertainment experience offering the tops in live music and comedy at sea.   Performances are held in the ships’ main show lounges – which range in capacity from 900 to 1,300 – meaning there’s never a bad seat in the house. “This will be my first time performing on a cruise ship, which I’m really excited about because it’s so different than any other venue. I’m looking forward to seeing and performing for my fans that will be there.”

Jonas needs no introduction pop music buffs. He  released his self-titled, critically acclaimed debut album in November 2014 that included the double-platinum and No. 1 U.S. radio hit, “Jealous” and his sultry chart-climbing radio single, “Chains.”  Jonas released his sophomore solo album “Last Year Was Complicated” in June 2016 featuring the platinum him “Close” featuring Tove Lo that debuted as the No. 1 selling album of the week.

A full listing of all Carnival LIVE performances is available at www.carnival.com/CarnivalLIVE. For reservations, contact any travel agent or call 1-800-CARNIVAL. You  can connect with Carnival on: FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube. Journalists also can visit Carnival’s media site, carnival-news.com or follow the line’s PR department on Twitter at twitter.com/CarnivalPR.

Carnival Liberty Carnival LIVE Concert Series Carnival Victory Nick Jonas on Carnival shipboard entertainment

Edie and the jets

Crystal Cruises CEO/president gets keys to spiffy new Boeing 777

edie and the jet It’s luxury travel provider Crystal Cruises latest extravagance. An amazing, over-the-top  swank aircraft that will fly the friendly skies with  Crystal AirCruise.    Edie Rodriguez took possession of her company’s spirited member of its expanding fleet of luxury liners, river boats and yachts,  Crystal Skye.
 The official passing of the keys took place  at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington where the keys to the exquisitely outfitted Boeing 777-200LR were delivered to Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez from Greenpoint Technologies. Crystal Skye, the largest privately owned tour jet in the world and probably most deluxe, will be used for chartered service. Steep fares, and posh interiors,  will most likely attract celebrities and other wealthy  travelers. Crystal Skye will be christened in Las Vegas on August 12.
 “We are ecstatic to welcome Crystal Skye to the family, as she marks the beginning of a new chapter and realm of luxury travel for guests who seek the unmatched Crystal Experience,” said
 Rodriguez. “As we embark on new global adventures with Crystal Skye, we are inspired by the shared vision of our own experts and those at Greenpoint Technologies, who brought this sky-high dream to fruition.”
Just how luxurious is it?
With a spacious design for up to 88 guests,  Boeing 777, Crystal Skye is appointed with features rarely found in even the most luxurious private jets.
 She has the highest crew to passenger ratio of any twin-aisle aircraft and a non-stop range of 19.5 hours, allowing travelers to explore the far reaches of the earth while enjoying the personalized service.
  •  Bespoke Crystal Exclusive Class™ seats are designed for maximum personal space and ergonomic comfort, and convert to 180-degree lie-flat beds.
  • An  expansive social lounge with stand-up bar fosters friendly camaraderie among luxury travelers.
  • Cuisine will be prepared by an executive chef, in two state-of-the-art galleys and paired with an elegant premium wine list from the Crystal SkyeCellar.
Crystal collaborated with Greenpoint Technologies for the extremely specialized development of Crystal Skye, as the company is renowned for its innovation and leadership in the creation of superior aircraft design. Greenpoint Technologies worked alongside Crystal’s own experts to conceive the standard of excellence and luxury required to ensure the unparalleled guest experience aboard a Crystal vessel, then brought the vision to life. The interior installation of Crystal Skye began in August 2016 at Greenpoint’s Moses Lake facility in Washington, focusing on exclusive features such as a 24-seat lounge with a central bar, sofas, custom coved ceilings, the largest wine cellar in the sky and ample space to socialize. Stone veneers, colored LED lighting and other premium details adorn the extraordinary interior.
Feeling flush?   For charter inquiries contact in the U.S. 855-207-2778 and/or 1-786-971-1010 (international calls); and in China 86-400-800-0348 and Hong Kong 852-2378-5760.
For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888.799.2437, or visit www.crystalcruises.com.  Follow the Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page and @crystalcruises on Twitter and Instagram, and engage in the conversation with #crystalcruises.
 Read more about Crystal here:

Buy Carnival cruise with 3 easy payments

Carnival paradise and freedom in Grand Cayman

Photo by Richard Pietschmann

Carnival Cruises, already one of the most affordable in the industry, is making it easier for passengers to pay for their trips with Carnival EasyPay which allows bookers to pay for cruises in three monthly installments. You must make the perfunctory deposit after which the balance is charged in payments that are taken out automatically on the same designated day for three consecutive months. Additionally, the deposit due date must be at least 90 days before the final payment date.  The first installment is charged to guests’ credit card 30 days from the date of the deposit with two additional monthly installments thereafter.  Guests can either register for the program at carnival.com or via the line’s call centers.  Travel agents can also sign up for Carnival EasyPay to process payments on behalf of their clients.
“A Carnival cruise is already the most affordable and value-packed vacation there is and with Carnival EasyPay we’re making budgeting and paying for a cruise even easier and more convenient,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.  “Rather than having to remember to pay for their cruise, Carnival EasyPay provides guests with peace of mind knowing that their payment is being processed automatically. Carnival EasyPay certainly lives up to its name!”
To enroll in the easy pay log on to  the  “How Would You Like to Pay” section at carnival.com when you’re ready to make payment, You can also sign up for or cancel Carnival EasyPay after the initial deposit is made by visiting the “Manage My Booking” tab on carnival.com.
Additional information on Carnival EasyPay is available at https://www.carnival.com/carnival-easy-pay. A video outlining the program can be viewed here. Carnival can also be found on: FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.