Every year brings advances to the world of cruising: new ships and amenities, breakthrough technologies, more enticing itineraries.
As cruise lines jostle to stay one wave or river bend ahead of the competition, they grow ever more creative – and passengers reap the rewards.
In 2017, that means more personalized experiences, a more varied choice of destinations, and more “Wow!” factors than ever. Happy sailing!
A Techno-Gizmo That Does It All, Almost
Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, has announced plans to begin rolling out a techno-marvel medallion in 2017 that will do almost anything for you on board except mix your drinks (for that, you’ll need to sail on Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship the Harmony of the Seas, which sports cocktail-preparing robots in its Bionic Bar).
Paired with an optional app for maximum… Continue reading
If romance is the universal language — and who says baby boomers have lost their sense of romance? — a Caribbean cruise is sure to spice it up with a potpourri of accents:
Perhaps a dose of “Yeah, mon” Jamaican hospitality one day, a Dutch treat on St. Maarten on another, and a dash of French joie de vivre on St. Bart’s on a third.
Or you could go British on Grand Cayman or all-American with a Spanish twist in Puerto Rico.
Stir in the Caribbean’s trademark turquoise waters, soft breezes, palm-fringed beaches, steel-drum beats, and alluring tropical ambiance, and you have the recipe for an unforgettable voyage.
Still, Caribbean cruises are as varied as the islands themselves, so you’ll need to make some decisions.
One is the itinerary.
Caribbean islands are… Continue reading
Viking Cruises — which already operates the world’s largest and most popular river cruise line with almost 60 ships in Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Asia– is now moving into ocean cruising in a big way.
Viking launched its first ocean-going ship, the Viking Star, in 2015, and in April 2016 launched its second, the Viking Sea. (I’m looking forward to a voyage on the Viking Sea this fall in the eastern Mediterranean).
And it’s launching more ocean-going vessels, the Viking Sky, Sun, and Spirit, in 2017 or 2018. A sixth unnamed ship is on order for 2020, and if Viking’s explosive growth in river cruising is any indication, other ocean-going cruise lines may want to watch their backs.
Viking’s ocean-going vessels hold a maximum of 930 passengers and, in… Continue reading
I just returned from a week-long cruise to Cuba aboard the Greek ship Celestyal Crystal, in the company of 776 fellow passengers, many of them from the United States.
Along with some journalists who were guests of Celestyal Cruises, the Americans were aboard under the auspices of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, a Riverhead, New York-based “People to People” program promoting U.S.-Cuba relations.
The ship was also filled with Canadians, Germans, French, English and other nationalities who had been free to visit Cuba for years, mostly for Caribbean beach vacations.
Americans, on the other hand, have been highly restricted in travels to Cuba for decades, though things are now loosening up following President Obama’s recent rapprochement with Raul Castro.
As of March 16, 2016, just prior to Obama’s historic visit to Havana, Americans can now… Continue reading
“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”
“Less Planning, More Experiencing”
“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”
These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)
In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.
“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… Continue reading
On the first day of our Caribbean cruise aboard the Sagitta – a 24-passenger Island Windjammers ship sailing out of St. Lucia through the French West Indies – my watch stopped.
Though it seemed inconvenient at the time, it proved to be a good omen. This was one of the most relaxing trips I’ve had in years, and while I admit that I glanced at my left wrist from time to time over the course of a week’s cruise expecting to view my now packed-away watch, I didn’t really need to know the hour – or sometimes, it seemed, even the day.
The ship’s bell rang at mealtimes – 8 a.m. for breakfast, noon for lunch, 5 p.m. for snack-and-cocktail hour, 7 p.m. for dinner – so the critical times of the day were accounted for.
All my wife,… Continue reading
Two of my favorite cruise lines, Star Clippers and CroisiEurope, have just come out with Valentine’s specials, and with Cupid Day coming right up, you’ll have to move quickly to take advantage of them.
Star Clippers, whose fleet consists of three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels, has a Valentine’s Day offer of French Champagne, sweet treats, and a one-hour massage for two for all new bookings made by February 15, 2016, based on double occupancy.
If you’re traveling solo, you can treat yourself to one massage along with the Champagne and sweets as well.
The offer is good for select Mediterranean sailings between April and October of this year. To review European itineraries and to book, go to the Star Clippers website or call 1-800-442-0551.
Note: I was on one… Continue reading
While it’s certainly true that subsequent generations have discovered Star Wars, baby boomers were among the first to take the interstellar journey to a galaxy far, far away back in 1977, albeit in the comfort of their local cinema.
Now that Disney has taken over the franchise with the ultra-successful Episode VII (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the same boomers — and yes, subsequent generations — can awaken to a special “Star Wars Day at Sea” aboard a Disney cruise ship. (Disney cruises, by the way, are geared to adults as well as kids.)
Eight sailings of the appropriately named Disney Fantasy will transport Star Wars fans of any age to a sea far, far away — well, not that far away, but at least out of the… Continue reading
Hamilton — a musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the U.S. Founding Fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington — is the hottest show on Broadway, currently showing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The cast recording was also one of the top albums of 2015.
It’s fitting to mention it today because Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 (some sources say 1757).
One of the leading figures in the American Revolution, Hamilton was known as a brilliant orator and influential advocate of a strong federal government, putting him at odds with Thomas Jefferson and provoking jealousy from his one-time friend Aaron Burr, who eventually killed Hamilton in a duel. (Burr, a fascinating figure in his own right, is now primarily remembered for shooting his rival.)
The Travel… Continue reading
Third in a Series:
The British Virgins are known for their calm, clear waters, with tropical breezes ideal for sailing. But those same waters were once infested with pirates, including some of the most notorious. Here, Blackbeard, Drake and others preyed on passing ships laden with riches bound for Spain.
Legend has it that Robert Louis Stevenson modeled fictional Treasure Island after Norman Island, where local fishermen reputedly found treasure buried in its sea caves. Today the caves off Treasure Point are favored by divers and snorkelers, no doubt hoping for a glimpse of a piece of eight themselves.