A Review of Princess Cruises

The Princess Cruises is a cruise line based out of California in the United States of America. The company was founded way back in the year 1965 and has been offering its passengers with some of the most memorable journeys and vacations ever since. The main rise to popularity for the Princess Cruises came with the launch of The Love Boat TV series which featured two of its cruise liners, the Pacific Princess and the Island Princess.

Embarking on a cruise with the Princess Cruises can be extremely exciting and scintillating. Moreover, the company offers its travellers with award-winning service and features which ensure that each of its guests have a great time while on board. One of the main charms of the Princess Cruises is its excellent cruise itineraries which cover some of the most exotic locales of the world. With over 1000 cruise itineraries and 300 ports to choose from, tourists are also spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a journey aboard the Princess. Moreover, each of the ships sailing under the Princess flag boasts of world-class service, sumptuous food and Maharaja style luxury. Voted as the Best Cruise Line Itineraries for 7 straight years, the Princess Cruises are second to none when it comes to sailing and luxury cruise liners.

The popular Cruise ships

The Princess Cruises also boast of a huge fleet which sail all over the world on various itineraries. Some of its most popular cruise ships are the Caribbean Princess (Sailing in the Caribbean Islands), the Coral Princess (Specifically built to sail in the Panama Canal), the Crown Princess (Sailing in the Caribbean Islands), the Golden Princess (Sailing in Alaska and Hawaii) and the Diamond Princess (Sailing in Alaska and the Mexican Riviera).

Great On-Board Experience

Another reason for the immense popularity of the Princess Cruises is its magnificent on-board experience. The ship is packed with activities and things to do for tourists of all ages to keep them content and occupied from sun rise up till sunset and beyond. One of the most popular sights aboard the Princess is its piazza styled atrium which becomes the stunning centrepiece on each of the ships. These atriums are spread over several decks and feature panoramic views of the ship, the signature Vines Bar and International Café and a breathtaking spiral staircase.

Other popular activities aboard the Princess Cruise Ships are poolside activities, cooking demonstrations, digital photography workshops, a variety of sports such as golf and ping-pong, vast libraries, mesmerizing nightlife, grand casinos, designer boutiques, art auctions, youth centres and teen lounges and pampering spas. A few of the most popular innovations aboard the Princess are anytime dining options and Movie Under the Stars. The latter is extremely popular amongst couples and lovers since they offer an extremely romantic opportunity to watch a movie with loved ones in a 300 square foot, 69000 watt poolside movie theatre. This experience is made even better with personalized touches such as cosy blankets, chaise lounges, complimentary popcorn and cookies and milk.

One can also experience a behind the scenes ship tour which allows passengers to get a glimpse of how the ship runs and functions. The tour is offered once or twice each day and allows passengers to catch a glimpse of the control room, print shop, medical centre, photo lab, bridge, laundry room and other areas which are typically visited only by the ship’s crew.

Heavenly living accommodations

The living accommodations which are offered by the Princess Cruises are also amongst the best. Passengers can choose from a range of accommodation options which include basic interior cabins, Ocean view cabins, cabins with balconies, mini suites with balconies, suites with balconies and grand suites. Irrespective of the choice of accommodation taken, passengers can expect to be treated to a range of excellent amenities and in room luxuries. The large and extremely comfortable beds, beautifully made bathrooms, pleasant décor and in-room entertainment options ensure that guests have a great time not only on board but in the rooms and cabins as well.

Lastly, the Princess Cruises is also one of the few cruise liners which still follow the century old traditions of Bon Voyage where family members and friends can board the ship to say goodbye to their loved ones before the ship embarks on its journey.

Mayank Kandoi has been writing for over two years at Writers Hubs and has offered various kinds of content writing and article writing services for innumerable clients. His niche area of writing is travel writing and content for travel websites.

Our 4-Night Disney Dream Cruise

We’ve visited Disney World in Florida more times than I can count. After so many years of driving to Florida and visiting every theme park in Orlando, it was time for a change. Our bags and passports were ready to travel abroad.

We knew we wanted to go on cruise and we knew we wanted it to be on a Disney ship. After years of wonderful Disney experiences we felt loyalty to the brand and comfortable with their level of family entertainment. We began our research online and started laying out our plan. The first questions we answered were “Where and when are we going?”. Traveling with my my wife and two daughters, we wanted to make sure we had as much available without spending a small fortune. We decided on a four night Bahamian voyage from Cape Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas. We decided to sail the second week of January to save on Disney’s off-season prices. The itinerary included a stop at Nassau, Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) and a full day at sea.

We drove from New York to Jacksonville on Saturday, Jan. 19th 2013. This 14 hour drive has become a yearly ritual for us, so it was just an ordinary occurrence. We departed Jacksonville at 9:00am the following morning in order to arrive at Cape Canaveral in time for our 1:30pm boarding hour. Cape Canaveral is incredibly easy to get to from I-95. We followed the signs to terminal B and before 1:00pm, we were already dropping off our bags and parking our vehicles.

Disney’s terminal at Cape Canaveral offers on-site parking at $15 per night rates. Higher rates apply for premium parking. I’ve read many reviews of families saving about $30 by parking off-site at private parking lots or hotels. Although this may seem like a bargain, I suggest parking at the terminal simply for the convenience. The parking lot is directly connected to the terminal via catwalk. This makes disembarking a breeze, too. Once you round up your bags, all you do is walk across the street and get in your car. No need to wait for any further transportation or taxi’s.

Check-in at the terminal was incredibly fast and easy. Be sure all occupants of your stateroom are together. You will need to sign some paperwork and take a picture that will be used for identification when boarding or disembarking. The entire check-in process, a few pictures, and waiting for our boarding number to be called took roughly twenty minutes. Once we walked into the gangway, we took some more pictures, then entered the ships atrium.

The Disney Dream’s atrium is a huge, rectangular, three-level gathering area adorned with an art-deco glass chandelier, marble steps, a grand piano, and a statue of Admiral Donald Duck. Once onboard, we hardly had a chance to take in the sights before we offered two dining options: option 1 would send us to deck 11 aft for a buffet lunch at Cabanas while option 2 led us down one level to the Enchanted Garden lunch buffet. We chose the Enchanted Garden. The buffet offered many seafood selections like shrimp and crab legs as well as a carving station, cold cuts, vegetables, salad, and grilled lamb chops.

Immediately after lunch, we headed to our stateroom. Our family had chosen a category 4A family verandah room on level 9. Once we entered the room, the first thing we did was figure out the lights. We had to insert a room key at all times in order to turn the power on in the room. Once we figured that out, we explored the balcony. Once we pulled the curtain and opened the sliding glass door, we knew this was the place we’d spend most of cabin time. The balcony added approximately 30 square feet of outdoor real estate. The glass wall offered unobstructed views of ocean while sitting or standing. The balcony had two chairs and a small coffee table that served as our breakfast table every morning.

Once we were acquainted with the room, it was time to head to our station for the mandatory drill. Once the drill was over, we headed to the pool deck for the sail away party. The kids liked the dancing Disney characters and the streamers flying everywhere. Definitely a good time if you have kids. Shortly after the party started, the ship pulled away from the terminal, sailed slowly down the jetty and into open ocean. We watched our first sunset from the deck 12 sports area. Our cruise was finally underway!

That evening we dined at Animator’s Palate. The Disney Cruise Line offers a rotational dining assignment which guarantees at least one meal will be served at each of their three main restaurants. Animator’s Palate is an homage to the artwork of Disney. It also features giant screens depicting characters from Pixar’s Finding Nemo. Our table was directly next to one of the screens. Before we knew it, we were being interviewed by Crush, the sea turtle. The girls really got a laugh when Crush called my glasses “sea goggles”. Our evening ended with chocolates and folded towel swan waiting for us in our room. It was a great way to finish off a very busy day.

We woke up the next morning at 8am knowing that room service will soon deliver our morning order of the day. The coffee, donuts, cookies, hot tea, juice and milk were delivered right on time! We poured our drinks, grabbed our snack and headed right for the balcony. Once outside, in the horizon, we could see some pilot boats approaching and land mass growing behind them. We were slowly approaching Nassau. Once we pulled into Prince Georges Wharf, the ship performed a 180 degree turn in the basin and backed into the port. Directly opposite of our ship was the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas (an Oasis-class ship – the biggest passenger cruise ship in the world). Directly behind this mammoth ship we could see the towers of Atlantis.

Atlantis is located on Paradise Island just north of Nassau. This resort island would be our destination for the day. We booked a tour of the Atlantis Resort through the cruise line. The $59 excursion granted us transportation to and from the terminal, a guided tour of the hotel, and full access to the aquarium and the predators lagoon. We gathered on the ship at D-Lounge to get our wrist bands, hand in our release forms and wait to be escorted to the buses. Once 11am rolled around, our excursion group disembarked the ship and walked about 5 minutes to the bus. The bus, which seated 20 passengers, was perfectly clean, air-conditioned, and proper working order. The bus driver also served as our tour guide of downtown Nassau. The drive took us through the government district as well as famous hotels and landmarks.

Once we reached Atlantis, we were greeted by our hotel tour guide. He first walked us through the stores and fashion boutiques in the hotels lobby. It’s very reminiscent of a Las Vegas-style hotel. We then walked across the hotel casino and main lobby. The tour then proceeded to the underground ruins area called “The Dig”. It’s suppose to mimic an archeological dig of Atlantis’ ruins. The main attraction here is the giant aquarium filled with tropical fish and huge manta rays. Afterwards we toured the main pool grounds of the resort which offered great views of the famous hotel towers. A bit more walking led us to the Predators Lagoon. Here you will walk through an underwater tube surrounded by sand sharks, sting rays, barracuda, and colorful tropical fish. Once the tour ended, we were free to explore any of the grounds we had previously visited including the casino. Around 4pm, we boarded our bus and headed back to downtown Nassau.

Downtown Nassau is full of souvenir shops, retail, and jewelry stores catering to the cruising tourists. The area is very popular and can seem very crowded at times. Despite the crowd, we always felt safe walking around and wish we had more time to explore the area. We did manage to stop by the local Tortuga Rum store for some excellent rum cake!

Once we headed back to the terminal, we walked directly to the immigration office for a passport stamp. The attendant stamped all our passports in no time and with no questions asked. Afterwards, we went through the security check-in and boarded the ship.

Our second evening featured a dinner at the Enchanted Garden. The a la carte menu featured seafood options but also chicken and pork entree’s. If you’re a picky eater you can always order from the kids menu which includes more familiar selections such as burgers, hot dogs, pizza, pasta, and chicken fingers. Every meal also includes an appetizer and dessert. Our evening ended once again with chocolates and a folded towel puppy wishing us a good night.

The third day started with a knock on our door as room service was being delivered Our morning coffee and tea led us once again to the balcony and beautiful view of Castaway Cay! The parasailing and glass-bottom boats were sailing by as we walked out. We could also see the workers on the shore prepping the jet-ski and boat rental areas. The line of cabanas and colorful buildings served as a backdrop to the sparkling blue waters of the Cay. We only had one thing in mind: let’s hit the beach!

Once we left the ship we were greeted by Lilo and Stitch posing for pictures. We also took some pictures of the Dream before boarding the tram car to the beach. Once we reached the beach we picked up three floating tubes, changed into our bathing suits, and hit the water. The beach was gorgeous and offered picture-perfect views of the Disney Dream. This was mid-January so the water was about 70 degrees. It wasn’t ideal swimming temperatures but the sun was hot enough to keep us warm.

Around 1pm we decided to eat at the nearby restaurant, Cookies II, an outdoor grill-style eatery. Cookies II served up burgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, as well as a variety of salads and sides. Endless drinks and an ice cream are also available. Dining at these restaurants is included in the price of the cruise so no extra money is required on the island. If you wish to rent any beach equipment once there, you simply swipe your room key and the charge will added to your room.

After lunch, we decided this was perfect time to head back to the ship and hit the Aqua-Duck ride. We boarded in a flash and headed straight to deck 12. There was a very short waiting line for the ride, much shorter than we had seen previously. We rode the Aqua-Duck several times before finally heading back to our stateroom. When we did arrive at our room we had pirate bandana’s waiting for us on our bed. It was pirate night!

Our third dinner was at the Royal Palace. It was also pirate night on the Disney Dream. The entire staff is dressed in the pirate garb and a surprisingly large amount of guests wore full pirate costumes! The menu also featured a pirate theme with selections such as Jolly Roger’s salad, and Jack Sparrow braised short ribs. The evenings festivities also included the “Pirates IN the Caribbean” live-action show followed by the “Buccaneer’s Blast” fireworks! At the time, the Disney Dream was the only vessel featuring fireworks at sea. They were a real treat! We we retreated to our stateroom we were greeted by a folded towel monkey hanging from the ceiling and a handful of chocolates spread out on the bed.

Our fourth day was a full day at sea. With no set plans in mind, we knew this would be our only chance to sleep in late. We also knew this would be our only chance to explore the ship. We had our room service delivered at 9am this morning. We spent a good amount of time just relaxing and enjoying the view from our verandah. We then headed out on our ship exploration campaign. Our first stop on the ship was the outdoor promenade on level 4. After walking around the promenade, we headed indoors to the shutters photo studio. After a quick review of the family pictures, we decided to buy the DVD package which includes every printed 8×10 along with a digital copy for future printings.

We then headed to level 3 forward to visit the retail stores. Here we picked up all our souvenirs including Disney Cruise sweatshirts, shot glasses, and resin models of the ship. We then decided to walk the three levels of the atrium where we encountered a photo-op with none other than Captain Mickey Mouse himself! Immediately afterwards, we headed to the Walt Disney Theater to see the musical show “Believe”. “Believe” is a tale of father who’s so busy with his work to realize the real important things in life are not things, it’s people. The show is must-see for all families and I highly recommend it.

Further exploration of the ship took us around the multiple lounges and clubs in decks 4 and 5. We then headed to deck 11 aft for lunch at Cabanas buffet. After lunch we trekked across the 11th and 12th decks exploring the pool areas, sunbathing lounges and sports complex. Seeing all the fun had us rushing back to our staterooms and changing into our bathing suits for a few more rides on Aqua-Duck. My wife also had time to take in a few rounds of Bingo while we spent our time outdoors.

Our last dinner on the Disney Dream was once again at the Royal Palace. The menu featured a French theme with appetizers like French Onion soup, and crème brulee desserts. Entrees included beef tenderloin, baked salmon, organic chicken breast, and others. Our final evening also featured a folded towel rabbit, some more chocolates and a customer satisfaction survey. They’ll also give you a brochure for booking future sailings which includes an onboard discount of 10%. After dinner, we packed our bags and placed them outside our door for pick-up. It was our final night on the Disney Dream and our final view of the starry sky from our balcony. Our Dream vacation was coming to an end and much sooner than we’d like.

Our final morning on the Disney Dream offered a sit-down breakfast at the Royal Palace. It was the final chance to exchange pleasantries and well-wishes with our dining staff. Our waiters, which had been with us throughout the entire voyage, were cordial and incredibly attentive. For those four evenings and final morning, they were part of the family. It’s all part of the Disney charm that keeps everyone exclaiming how wonderful Disney destinations can be.

After our breakfast, it was time to disembark. It was bitter-sweet to step off the Dream and back to the cool Florida winter weather. We rounded up our bags, walked to the parking deck, and hit the road to New York once more: an experience we hope to repeat soon!

Tips and Recommendations to Cruise/Tour Alaska in a Wheelchair

I was extremely nervous prior to taking a 14-day land tour/cruise to Alaska because I am confined to a wheelchair. Though I can stand, I do not walk at all. When travelling in a wheelchair, there is always a glitch with something that is supposed to be ADA compliant and isn’t.

Our trip began in Anchorage, and then took us to Copper Center, Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Mt. McKinley and Talkeetna. After the land tour, we boarded the cruise ship in Whittier and travelled southbound through the Inland Passage to Vancouver, with port docking in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

Overall, the trip was wonderful from an accessibility standpoint, though there were a few hiccups that we encountered along the way. I brought them to the cruise line’s attention and will share them with you.

The following is a summary of tips and recommendations I am making from my own personal experience if you are considering a trip:

    • Never assume that when someone tells you a room, transport, transfer, etc. meets ADA standards that it is. There is a wide variance in interpretation and assumptions when one says it is “ADA compliant.” You must make a list of specific questions that require specific answers from a travel agent who really is knowledgeable about your specific, required accommodations.
    • When I started planning my trip, I worked with cruise line directly. I spoke with agents who actually cruised on the ship we were taking, who could give me info about wheelchair-friendliness on the ship and help me choose a room. I also spoke with their access department about accessibility accommodations regarding on-land hotel rooms, and things such as shuttle/motor coach/railroad lifts. These folks were extremely helpful. I didn’t want to work through an independent travel agency as I have learned from experience that specific things don’t always get answered properly, or get “lost in translation” when dealing through a third-party.
    • I booked my trip almost a year in advance, so that I could get exactly what I wanted. For example, I wanted a room on a deck that contained a buffet, grill, and outside pools/seating/movies to eliminate elevator usage. It also saved us $1400 by getting an interior room–the outdoor open deck was just outside our door so we didn’t need a room balcony.
    • We booked in September because there were fewer crowds to navigate in the towns, and no young children. I find that when I am in my scooter, I have to always be looking out for others; so many people–especially kids-are not looking out for me. In addition, we didn’t have to deal with mosquitoes at that time of year, we saw the Northern Lights, gorgeous autumn color, and the days were cool–50-60 degrees. The cooler temperatures were good for me since my MS is very sensitive to warm, humid days, which occurs often in the summer months in Alaska.
  • I sent a letter in writing to their Access Department stating that I was “confined to a wheelchair”, therefore needing lifts for all transport and a roll-in shower for all hotel rooms if available. I recommend sending such a letter if you are totally confined, as this will cover you later if problems develop, which in my case it did.

For example, there were three motor coaches that arrived that did not have lifts. Fortunately, I am small (125 lbs.) and my husband is strong, so I was able to be carried up into the coach. Otherwise, I would have had to stay behind which would have disrupted my trip, and cancelled one of my tours. In the future, this is what I would do and what I would recommend others to do: Check with the Tour desk at every hotel that you stay at to re-confirm that a transport with a lift will be available for you for the next several days. You can also re-confirm any other special needs that you had requested ahead of time, such as a roll-in shower. Twice I was given a room without a roll-in shower, and later found out that this room was given to someone who didn’t require one. If I had been travelling with my sister instead of my husband, I would not have been able to shower since she couldn’t lift me into a tub that had a chair put in it.

If you are a part-time wheelchair user, please note that there are 5-7 steps going up into motor coaches and they are quite steep.

The railroads had lifts, as did the separate tour buses in Denali National Park.

Amazingly, the accessibility in the Alaskan towns–even the smallest inland places–was very good. When I use a restroom, I need assistance from my hubby. We were able to find a restroom that was large enough for both of us, even at the roadhouses we stopped to eat in during our journey. Note: the railroad restrooms cannot accommodate two persons, so if you are someone who requires a helper, you will need to prepare yourself in other ways for the 5-6 hour ride.

If you are thinking about taking a cruise or tour, I suggest to start planning your arrangements a year in advance because handicap accessible rooms are limited and fill up fast.

Review of the Alabama and Friends Music Festival at Sea on the Norwegian Pearl

This was my first music festival at sea. I got to hang out at the mid-ship pool with 2000 new friends and watch Alabama perform on three different occasions. I enjoyed the music of bands I had never heard of but will not forget. My girlfriend and I line danced in the atrium, played bingo with Randy Owen and wore our bell-bottoms on the 70’s theme night.

The Pearl left Miami on 10/24/13 for a four-day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas, and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, which is Norwegian’s private island. The spa offered discounts on services while in port. So after a short walk to the straw market in Nassau, I was back on board for a facial and a relaxing afternoon in the thermal suite.

The coed area of the thermal suite included a large mineral pool with lots of bubbles, a smaller hot tub and two shower stalls with color-changing lights. Heated, tile benches were available to relax and take a nap. Lounge chairs faced a large floor to ceiling window that overlooked the bow. The women’s only side had a sauna, a steam room and a cold plunge pool. The spa charged $38 for a one day pass to the thermal suite or $68 for a four-day pass. Since I was in the thermal suite every day, the four-day pass was a real value.

I have been on the Norwegian Pearl before. So whenever I saw someone with a dazed look on their face, I would ask if I could help. It is a great way to make new friends. Our room steward, Eric, made the best monkey I have ever seen out of a blue and white stripped towel. He also kept our small balcony cabin clean and neat. We ate breakfast and lunch at the garden buffet on the pool deck, and had dinner in the Summer Palace at the rear of the ship. I could always find something good to eat. If you don’t like a dish, the waiters are happy to replace it.

Sixthman organized the cruise and did a great job. Before the cruise, they sent me name tags and luggage tags. On the ship they had a representative at the front desk to answer questions. I told her I had left my name tags at home, and she immediately gave me new name tags. While on the ship, we also received Alabama and Friends beach towels, an autographed poster and special Alabama pins. On top of that, everyone got to have their picture taken with Alabama at assigned photo sessions. When I got home, I received an email with a web address where I could download my picture with Alabama. Other pictures from the cruise were also available for free download.

More than half of the people on the ship were over 50 and married. It was a friendly crowd which shared a love for country music and left me with wonderful memories.

Review: Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas From Galveston

I had planned this cruise for seven months. A friend and I who had previously cruised with Carnival and Celebrity were eager to try Royal Caribbean after hearing so many positive things about the beauty of the ship, quality of food and service, etc. For the second time, I surprised my retired parents by taking them with us (the previous year I had surprised them with an Alaskan cruise which I will review later), and they were absolutely giddy with excitement when they found out that they would once again be traveling aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, which they claimed was their favorite ship of 13 other cruises they had taken. With the ship fresh out of dry dock for upgrades, were set to go to some brand-new destinations none of us had ever visited: Roatan Island, Honduras and Belize City. Expectations were high.

Then cruise time came. While I am not prepared to say that we had a BAD time on this cruise, I think it is fair to say that our expectations were a bit deflated, pretty much from the minute we arrived at the Port of Galveston. Allow me to take you through the high and low lights of life on the high seas aboard Navigator of the Seas.

The Highs

Our dining experience– Most definitely the best service we received on the ship was in the main Sapphire Dining Room, which is without a doubt the most gorgeous dining room I have seen on a cruise ship. Walking into the dining room is like entering a regal opera house complete with grand stair case and three levels of dining with windows on each side. Our two servers were extremely attentive, noting my step-mother’s preference of making her own ice tea with two glasses of ice, 2 tea bags and some hot water, which was waiting for her every night after night one. I could fault her for being a “tea snob,” but then I’d have to look at myself in the mirror with my Starbucks in hand turning my nose up at Folgers. All of us enjoyed the variety of meal choices and thought the food was of very high quality, with service running like clock work. It was truly a pleasure to dine each evening.

Here we are at dinner. I am the goof-ball in blue.

The Cabin– Inside cabin 7667 (Aft Port) was home sweet home for our week at sea. My parents were right next door in 7669. For an inside cabin, there was plenty of room to stow all of our stuff and have a completely clear space to move in. I would say the bed was a bit hard, but it’s all about your preference as my friend and traveling partner Jay (the guy in purple) said his was just right. Ample closet and drawer space allowed us to each have sufficient space to unpack. Our steward service was also top-notch, re-stocking and tidying up twice daily.

The ship– Navigator is definitely a beautiful ship. Of note is the Royal Promenade, a series of shops, restaurants and bars running aft to forward giving cruisers the feel of strolling down a cobblestone street while at sea. I recommend the Two Poets Pub for some nice ambiance and people-watching. The main atrium is gorgeous, and the various lounges and bars are designed with a very classy yet comfortable feel. The pool deck is also impressive, featuring two main pools flanked by several hot tubs, some of which are shaded. For the most part there are plenty of chairs both in and out of the shade, but if your cruise is full you had better get there early to snag one. We also thought the nightclub overlooking the pool deck with its floor-to-ceiling windows added a nice touch to the ship’s offerings. The ship’s casino is also pretty decent, but since smoking is allowed in there, you may come out smelling like an ash tray.

Overlooking the Royal Promenade

The Grand Atrium

Beverage Package–Three of us on this cruise had the premium package for $55 per day, but since my dad only drinks beer, we got him the basic package. At first glance, this package might seem a bit pricey (Royal Caribbean’s beverage packages are some of the most expensive at sea), but overall we got our money’s worth. What I especially liked was that basically nothing on the drink menu was off limits short of the super premium stuff. You could even opt for Grey Goose vodka at no extra charge. The flip side here is the bar service (see below).

Theatre Entertainment–If you ever find yourself on Navigator of the Seas, don’t miss the ice-skating show. It is fantastic and was much better than I thought it was going to be. We also enjoyed the Elton John impersonator, the bar flair show and the adult game show.

The Lows

Embarkation/Debarkation–The words fiasco, nightmare, eternity and disorganization come to mind for both. This was hands-down the WORST embarkation/debarkation process I have ever experienced, and my parents who had been on 13 previous cruises agreed. We should have expected this when Royal Caribbean sent us out an e-mail prior to the cruise instructing us to arrive at certain times based on the deck on which our cabin was located. As it happened, we had flown into Houston, and our transfer dropped us off right at the time we were supposed to be there, which was 12:30 p.m. We did not step foot on the ship until almost 2 p.m, as we were stuck two different lines, both of which were extremely slow-moving. This is definitely not the way you want to start your vacation, and very few smiles were to be found in the security and check-in lines. Mind you, I totally expect a bit of a wait checking in, but this was just ridiculous. I think the longest wait I have ever experienced prior to this was 30 minutes tops. I definitely expressed my dissatisfaction to the check-in lady.

Debarkation was practically just as bad. Since we had a driver waiting for us, we opted for the self check-out and were given a specific time and place to meet. We have done this on other cruises with minimal waiting, with customs officers boarding the ship to collect forms. In the past, we have basically just walked off the ship. Not this time. When we arrived at the appointed spot we then waited another good 45 minutes just to be allowed to disembark. Once off the ship, guess what? Another line, another 45 minutes to pass through customs. I ended up being a charged an additional wait fee by my driver, thanks to Royal Caribbean and the Port of Galveston.

Bottom line–I will never cruise from Galveston, Texas again as they clearly do not have the ability to handle the volume of people that cruise ships have. Basically, Royal Caribbean left a negative first impression and a negative last impression.

Service–Aside from our servers at dinner, service in the bars and lounges on this ship was average at best and certainly not what I am accustomed to on a cruise. While some bartenders were standouts, it generally took forever to get a drink and often you felt as if you were a bother to the bartender or server. The worst service was probably at the pool bar. Some might say that I am too demanding, but when I spend my hard-earned money on vacation I want decent service. Period. I didn’t really get it on this cruise. My parents also commented that “things just weren’t the same on this cruise” as their previous experience on Navigator of the Seas.

Kids, kids, kids– OK, I am probably going to get some eye-rolls for this, and maybe for some it wouldn’t be a negative, but there were just too many kids taking over the main pool area on this ship. As with anyplace else, parents are partially to blame here, allowing their little monsters to run amuck and splash others in the main pool, but I fault Royal Caribbean for not enforcing pool rules. On past cruises, kids weren’t even allowed in hot tubs, but they were in this one. Granted, there is an adults-only pool and hot tub, but the problem is that there isn’t any entertainment there (not that the entertainment at the main pool was anything to write home about).

We did not participate in any excursions on this cruise, so I can’t speak to their quality. We did hear various comments that the excursions were over-priced and not worth the money. One excursion was even over an hour late and had to be delivered to the ship by boat as it was departing Honduras.

Accessible Cruise Trips for All – What Do You Need to Know?

Its peak summer time and that calls for long vacations, travel excursions, days off from work and a time full of absolute bliss surrounded by family and loved ones.

While most people may plan their vacations without too much planning, persons with special needs need to think of a lot of things before they can finalize their vacation. While it may involve extra planning and organizing, it certainly is possible for people with special needs to travel and enjoy just like everyone else.

One of the best vacations for persons with physical restrictions is a cruise vacation. Many major cruise lines offer accessible travel for persons with limited mobility. From the port to the staterooms and everything in between, each element of the ship is accessible for persons with special needs.

Accessible Travel with Senior Persons

If you are travelling with seniors who may have special needs, then here are some pointers that you need to consider to plan a smooth and fun filled accessible cruise trip:

1. Call ahead – check on the special needs provider for equipment rental, way before your trip, that you may require for you or your senior family member. This gives them a margin to prepare and arrange for the equipment on time – wheelchairs, electric scooters, oxygen equipment, beds, walking aides, etc.

2. Be Clear – clearly mention and specify your needs to the service provider to ensure you get the right kind of equipment and the preferred size (e.g. electric mobility scooters are available in different sizes).

3. Stock up on Meds – take extra medicines on board, you don’t want to miss a dose in case there is a diversion and the trip takes longer than the arrival time to reach the destination port.

4. Special Rooms – when booking your cruise, make sure you ask for rooms that are accessible easily for persons with special needs. Also, they should be large enough so you can easily maneuver using your electric scooter or wheelchair.

Accessible Travel with Children

1. Accessible travel agent – find travel agents who can arrange travel trips for people with disability. Since they have experience with making arrangements for disabled persons of all age groups, they can suggest the best one for you and your child with special needs.

2. Look for bigger ships – when choosing accessible cruises, make sure you choose new ones and bigger ones since they have more facilities; spacious doorways, roll in showers, open theaters, easy pool entrances, etc.

3. Service dogs – if you have a service dog for you or your loved one, make sure you check with the cruise line if they accept them on board. All major cruise lines do accept, but it’s always good to check. You may have to get the service dog vaccinated and keep the documents at hand before booking your trip.

Knowing the details and requirements before planning accessible travel can make travelling enjoyable for both the disabled person and their loved ones. Special Needs at Sea understand the needs of people with physical restrictions or disabilities and thus provides on board special needs equipment to help such people become independent, confident and relaxed.

Persons with special needs can avail wheel chairs, oxygen equipment, electric scooter rentals and other special equipment on board from Special Needs at Sea and enjoy their cruise like capable persons.

Thinking of Cruising? Go Carnival!

Stepping out of your car at the departure port is only the beginning. If you’ve never cruised before, get ready for a vacation of a lifetime. The excitement that builds up before you step onto the cruise ship is not as big as the excitement you get once you actually start your adventure at sea.

Carnival Cruise Line definitely does a good job with keeping their guests happy and satisfied throughout the trip. The second you board the ship and place your belongings into your cabins, you’re constantly greeted with warm and friendly smiles from every employee on board. If you’re in need of something at any point in time, whether day or night, an employee will always be there to help you. Before the ship departs, everyone on board meets up in the theatre and goes over a safety briefing. This lets everyone know that they will not have to worry about their safety or anyone else’s safety while embarking on the journey at sea.

One of the best things about cruising with Carnival Cruise Line is there is always something to do. Whether it be early in the morning, middle of the day, or late at night. You may just be looking forward to getting to the ports of call, but its not just the destinations you’re traveling to that are worth getting excited for, the days at sea are spectacular also. There are activities for all ages day and night, and tons of entertainment which you really get to experience during those days at sea. I mean, some crazy hilarious entertainment such as dance offs and harry chest competitions. The activities that happen on board bring families and friends together and even help you make friends as well, that you could potentially keep in touch with for a lifetime. When your stuck on a boat for a few days with people, it’s nice to make new friends that you can hang around the casino with, maybe take dance lessons with and more. And Carnival definitely makes it easy to do so.

While on board, the employees try and bring people together with all of their shows, entertainment on the deck throughout the day, and so on. It’s nice seeing everyone gathered around in one big area laughing and dancing together. It makes the trip that much more exciting and fun.

Aside from all of the entertainment, the food on the ships are out of this world also! You are guaranteed to never be hungry during your vacation, with the pizza bar, ice cream stand, and food buffet they constantly have on the deck. It’s extremely tasty food too! Also, every night there Is a timed dinner for your family and friends to enjoy and most of the time, you get your own table, depending on how many people you have and all. But the food there is amazing also. It’s a three course meal that will be hard to forget! And trust me, you’ll definitely leave full. Aside from the food, these dinners are a great time to share exciting events that occurred throughout your day on board, or to talk about the excursions your family and friends took part in that day. During this time once again, the employees will always make sure you’re having a good time! Some nights they dance, sing, and get you’re friends and family involved too. Every second is full of fun and laughter.

When it comes to ports of call, the employees on board are there to make sure you have a great time their as well.

Carnival Cruise Line has left me and many others happy with full of unforgettable memories, and has had me wanting to go back on another cruise since the day I stepped off of the ship, it also has me now wanting to work for the Cruise Line Industry at some point in the future.

If you’re thinking about booking a cruise at some point in the future, try out Carnival Cruise Line, so that you can leave your vacation happy and full of unforgettable memories also.

Disney Baltic Cruise

I would like to explain what my family and I did each day as we enjoyed our family vacation aboard the Disney Magic;

Day 1; We arrived at the port in Copenhagen, Denmark around 1:00pm, though you can board as early as 11am. We gave ourselves 3 hours to board (the ship sets sail at 4pm) so that we could explore Copenhagen before we left on our vacation. This day included us exploring the boat and signing up for kids clubs. One of the amazing things about Disney, is their kids clubs. They have rooms for different aged kids to go hang out in, participate in activities and make new friends. This gives parents a chance to have some time alone and know their children are safe and having fun. After exploring the boat, everyone came together at Deck 9 to set sail and have fun during “Mickey’s Sailing Away Party.” During this, everyone waves to the passengers staying in Copenhagen & dances along with Mickey & his friends on stage. Once this is over, we headed to the 6:30pm theater show. Depending on the dinner time you request (6:00pm or 8:30pm) you will either watch the theater show at 6:30pm or 8:30pm, the opposite time that your eating dinner. I absolutely love the shows. Disney does an amazing job coming up with themes and special acts to entertain their audience.

Day 2 was a “Day at Sea”, so that means we didn’t stop anywhere. We enjoyed our day watching Disney movies at Buena Vista Theater, participating in games at Vibe (a teen club), eating lunch at Cabanas (the buffet at deck 9), enjoying yet another theater show, & eating dinner at one of the three rotational dining restaurants (Lumiere’s, Animators Palate, or Cariocas.) Depending on your room card, you will rotate between these three different yummy restaurants. This night included Formal Dinner. This means we were encouraged to dress fancy (like dresses & skirts or suits for men.) Day’s at sea are, in my opinion, one of the best days on the boat. Disney provides their guests with the option of either Cabanas (the buffet on deck 9), Lumiere’s (one of the 3 rotational dining restaurants), or one of the quick service restaurants on deck 9. The quick service restaurants include Daisy’s Delights (a sandwich, salad, fruit, and cookie stand), Pete’s Boiler Bites (a hamburger, hotdog, taco, etc… american fare type of stand), and Pinocchio’s Pizza (a pizza stand where you can build any pizza you prefer.) Disney Magic does a fantastic job creating grade A food all day and making sure to cook the food in a fast manner, but keeping the flavor incredible. Now, the food is not the only reason I absolutely love day’s at sea. Though food is a key factor, Disney also provides their guests with a news article every night, allowing them to see what activities are brewing for them the next day (you also have the option of using their Disney Cruise Line app to see the activities and menus for each day.) This activities sheet is always filled with karaoke, newly released movies, workout games, and more during the days at sea. Disney makes sure their guests always have something fun and new to do on the boat, knowing some might get bored not having anywhere to dock.

Day 3 we stopped in Tallinn, Estonia. We arrived and walked Tallinn Old Town, which gave us a real idea of their culture. We also explored the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, The Estonian Maritime Museum (an old prison), and Fat Margarets Tower (a large building next to the ship.) Like most of you know, northern Europe has very sketchy weather. Knowing this, I packed a range of different clothes and layers. Tallinn stayed in the 60 degree F area during most of our visit, which was amazing. I wore leggings (lululemon), a tank top (lululemon), a long sweater (Madewell), and tennis shoes (New Balance.) My dad and brother were able to wear just shorts and a t shirt, so it really depends on your tolerance for cool weather. I am a small girl, so the wind was a little chilly for me, explaining the long sweater.

Day 4 we stopped in St. Petersburg, Russia. On this day, we decided to get a bus driver and a tour guide (Alla Tours.) St. Petersburg had multiple churches (Church of the Spilled Blood for example) and palaces (Catherine’s Palace), so we needed someone to help us find our way around. I recommend finding yourself a tour guide you trust (like Alla Tours), because during our visit to Catherine’s Palace (and a few other city monuments), the line wrapped around the building to get in, but our tour guide found a way to skip the line and sneak us in, in only 15 minutes. Like Tallinn, St. Petersburg’s weather was very strange. The morning was chilly and forced me to wear a scarf (Madewell) and a thick jacket (Madewell), but later in the day the temperature got warmer (maybe 67 degrees F) which allowed me to wear just a light rain jacket (Spice), because St. Petersburg did tend to sprinkle every so often. On this night, there was no theater show due to all aboard being at 11:30pm. This means, you had the option of staying out in Russia till 11:30pm or coming early and having dinner but no show.

Day 5 we stopped in Helsinki, Finland. This day was a bit shorter because all aboard was around 5pm. We decided to ride a carousel to see the town & take a boat ride to explore a small island with history about Finland (Suomenlinna.) We did not realize how large and historic Suomenlinna was, so we were unable to see all of its rich history. I recommend spending multiple hours here, if you decide to visit this location in Finland. This night included the Semi Formal Dinner. This means we had to dress up a little nicer than usual for our dinner, to take pictures. Disney does not require you to dress up any of the nights on cruise, but during these special nights, it is highly encouraged. I wore a mini skirt (Abercrombie & Fitch), a tank top (American Eagle), and sandals (Tory Burch.)

Day 6 we stopped in Stockholm, Sweden. This day was even shorter because all aboard was 3:30pm. We decided to visit the Armory & the Royal Palace next to it. If you are traveling with any boys or men, I recommend visiting the Armory. It was very cool for my brother and dad to see all of the military armor, weaponry, and royal carriages. We also purchased tickets for the Hop on Hop off bus, but it was very busy and packed (due to all the ships docked in Stockholm that day), I would not recommend buying a ticket for this bus in this town. This night Disney included “Anna & Elsa’s Frozen Deck Party”, which meant we all went up on Deck 9 before dinner to watch the Frozen characters dance and sing on stage. Disney also changed up their theater show on this night. Unlike their normal broadway style show, they provided us with a comedian show.

Day 7 was our final day, which means it was another “Day at Sea.” This day was a lot like Day 2, except that the cruise included activities like scrap booking all your memories & jack jack’s diaper dash (a race between babies who can crawl.) Usually my family and I prefer to eat lunch at Cabanas (the unlimited buffet is always nice), but on this day, my dad and I decided to try out Lumieres for lunch. I had the cuban sandwich and parmesan veal with pasta (two entrees were a must on this day) and my dad had the shrimp and pad thai noodles. Both meals were fantastic! Disney once again found a way to blow us away. Once the day was nearly to an end, we enjoyed the final show (Disney Dreams) & a dinner at Animators Palate (one of the three rotational restaurants.) After all was finished, the cruise wrapped up the day by having a “See you real soon” party in the Lobby Atrium on Deck 3. This show included a wave good bye to all the characters on board and a pin trading session (all the guests on board came together to trade their Disney pins.)

Day 8 was our final morning on the boat, which meant you went to breakfast at the place you had dinner at the night before or eat at Cabanas (the buffet on Deck 9.) For my family and I, we ate at Animators Palate once more. After eating the final meal on the ship, everyone disembarked and headed to the airport to fly home. Disney allows all of their guests to eat and explore the ship before leaving, which was nice because we didn’t feel rushed to get off the boat and let the new guests begin their vacation.

This 7 night cruise from Copenhagen was a fantastic trip and well worth the money. I know plenty of people are thinking, “A cruise is way to expensive. You pay for an expensive boat, expensive plane tickets, expensive hotel nights before the trip, expensive excursions, & expensive trinkets,” but I’m here to tell you, it is all worth it. My family and I have seen and made memories I may never be able to make again. I’m a 16 year old girl and I have now already been to more countries than over half the adults I know, & this is all because my parents were willing to pay the money to take me on a life changing cruise in the Baltic

Transatlantic Cruise Deals

A transatlantic cruise is the most amazing and fun way to travel from the Americas to Europe and from Europe to America. The memory of the Atlantic crossing aboard the cruises will be forever edged in your mind. The peak seasons for the transatlantic cruise deals are in autumn and summer. These are the times that the ship lines reposition their cruises.

The transatlantic voyage is served by many lines such as Celebrity Transatlantic Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Transatlantic Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Transatlantic Cruise and Royal Caribbean. You will get favorable transatlantic cruise deals aboard ships under these cruise lines.

For centuries, people have taken voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Now, the routes are served by modern ships fitted with state of the art facilities. To attract customers amid the stiff competition, the ship lines are offering deals which target various segments of the market. For example, there are transatlantic cruise deals that target families.

Aboard the cruise voyage, people get the chance to experience different new activities. For instance, you will be able to gaze at the stars at night. The constellations are a sight to behold. Additionally, you will have the chance to explore different historic European cities along the way in addition to seeing beautiful landscapes such as the Reykjavik landscapes in Iceland.

Among the lines that offer exciting deals is the Royal Caribbean line. The line offers cruise deals with a departure from Tampa or Boston to places such as cork Ireland, Cherbourg France, and Brussels, Belgium. The ships dock in many ports along the way giving the tourists a lifetime’s opportunity to sample the different delicacies and fun the cities offer. From Europe to America, the Royal Caribbean line commences in Europe with stops in Barcelona, Oslo, Hamburg, Rotterdam and other many cities.

Also, the Norwegian cruise line offers affordable transatlantic cruise deals. It covers Miami, Southampton, Copenhagen, and Barcelona. The cruise deals offered by the line tend to target the general market segment. Hence, there are deals designed for couples on a romantic gateway, families looking to take time out to bond and interact, or people taking some time out of their busy and stressful lifestyles. This implies that there are cruise deals that will suit everyone willing to take a journey of a lifetime across the Atlantic Ocean.

Since deals change frequently, it is best advised to head over to the above lines’ websites and carry out a comparison among the many cruise deals on offer.

Cruise Ships: 5 Reasons the SeaDream Yacht Is One of the Best

ForbesLife travel magazine recently designated the SeaDream Yacht as the best luxury level small cabin ship cruise line of 2015.

The year has hardly begun, and this little cruise company has already stolen the prize. It’s smaller size is a comfort to many travelers, and the company doesn’t sell you short on your experience.With upgrades and an exceptionally-professional crew, she looks to take and keep the prize for years to come.

We suppose that there were many contenders and that there are many other top-quality small cruise lines operating out there, but here are five good reasons why the SeaDream Yacht is one of the very best.

1. SeaDream Takes You Places Bigger Cruise Ships Can’t Go.

A Sleek Cabin Ship Cruise

For SeaDream’s Caribbean trips, you fly into the much-used airport on St. Thomas and take off from there. You visit popular spots like Anguilla and Virgin Gorda, but you also get a taste of some smaller ports that are only accessible to smaller vessels.This makes the experience more unique, and you will be surprised at how much those less-traveled ports have to offer.

You will anchor in quaint little coves that none of the larger cruise ships would be able to safely approach.You will visit small bays and tiny isles that few ever lay their eyes on. It almost has the feel of a private tour.

No wonder SeaDream’s motto is: “It’s not cruising, it’s yachting.” On the SeaDream, you will dream good dreams at night – and live them out the following day.

2. The On-Board Cuisine Ranks as Truly Gourmet.

Some cruise ships make you wait in long buffet lines only to watch as the shrimp supply, which wasn’t that special to begin with, was finished off by the person just ahead of you in line.

No need to fret, however; there are plenty more delectable dishes from which to choose. Truly, the SeaDream Yacht gives you a totally different experience. Each morning begins with the friendly wait staff bringing you your coffee and greeting you by name.You’ll get to know them well during the trip – or not, if you prefer to keep to yourself.

The menu is like that of a gourmet restaurant, and the presentation is done with flair. Lobster, steak, and a long list of delicacies is offered every day. One aspect of SeaDream’s eating experience is “top-end” in another sense as well.Topside Restaurant – the actual name – is located on the ship’s roof. From there, you can get a wonderful view of your surroundings, or even dine under the starlight sky.

3. The On-Board Bar Is Second to None

A full-service bar, including fine wines and cocktails, is part of the ship’s infrastructure. The barroom is as exquisitely designed as it is well-stocked, and no one will be disappointed. The ship also has a number of other amenities, like a mini casino, health spa, library, etc.

4. SeaDream’s Staff Literally Waits on You Hand and Foot.

With 95 crew members waiting on only 56 couples, a nearly a one-on-one ratio, you get a lot more attention from the staff than on most cruise ships. They are always ready to assist you. They even will take you on shore for sightseeing, dining, shopping, or other excursions.

They also organize the traditional beach party on White Bay at Jost Van Dyke. There you will be able to swim in the warm Caribbean waters, barbecue, feast, play water sports, kayak, and more. On the other hand, you just opt to relax in your hammock under a shady palm tree.

5. The SeaDream Is Smaller and More Intimate Than Most Cruise Ships

Most cruise ships are utterly packed with passengers, incredibly noisy, and far too “public.” With SeaDream, everything is smaller-scale, making it easier to learn the names of fellow passengers and actually make some friends.

While the cruise ship cabins are not extremely large, they are cozy and quite adequate.You may not want to stay all day in these small rooms, but that gives all the more reason to get out and enjoy the ship and its surroundings. And that is, after all, why you came on this cruise to begin with.