Archive for the ‘Caribbean Cruise’ Category

Was the Carnival Dream a Dream?

Last week we cruised on the Carnival Dream for a Exotic Western Caribbean itinerary.  We chose this cruise for two reasons – I needed a cruise on a line that I’ve never been on for a certification and I have always wanted to go to Belize.  First let me say that this cruise was not a complementary cruise, nor was it purchased at a travel agent rate.  We did book it on a discount under a senior rate promotion with a small onboard credit.

Continue reading

Top Pick for Costa Maya – Maya Chan Beach

Last week while we were on our Carnival Dream cruise, we thought we would check out a private beach in Costa Maya that we had heard of on Cruise Critic.  I read a number of reviews and decided to get more information.  I contacted Mark at Maya Chan Beach by email for more information.  I was concerned as to what would happen if we didn’t make it in to Costa Maya.  I had read that this is sometimes a problem for Carnival with the winds.  Mark quickly responded indicating that they will refund 100% if the ship doesn’t make it in.  He also provided information about the resort and included some photos.

Continue reading

All Cruises are Not Created Equal

I love to cruise!  In the past 10 years, I have been on 27 cruises across six different cruise lines.  This was on nine different ships, though I have also toured eight other ships.  What I have learned is that no two cruises are created equal.  I mean that from a standpoint of itineraries and cruise lines alike.

I have some friends who are very happy with one cruise line and won’t venture onto another ship or line.  I have others who used to feel that way and then tried another and were pleasantly surprised.  The important thing is to keep an open mind and work with a travel agent that knows cruises.

When I started expanding my business to cover many different cruise lines, I heard from other agent that you don’t need to experience a destination to be able to sell it.  I find that to be true, but with many limitations.  I don’t think you can sell a vacation product without experiencing it first.  I heard about a Hawaii expert who had never been to Hawaii.  She was a top seller.  I think you can learn a lot about a destination without going there with all the media available these days.  However, recommending a specific resort or vacation package without knowing anything about the companies you are dealing with is another thing.  I can’t just say “oh, it’s a XX brand resort, it must be good” and book my clients there.  Of course after a long time working with a destination and having clients return with reports about their stays, you do develop a great knowledge of a product.

I took many classes offered by various cruise lines.  I do feel that I have a good understanding of what each has to offer.  However, I realized that a cruise ship is much different than a destination.  Because a cruise ship moves from place to place, you need to learn about the itinerary destinations as well as learn about the cruise line and the ships in particular.

Take for example Disney Cruise Line.  I have been on all four ships in various itineraries.  I have been on the same itinerary with different ships.  I have my preferences of which ship(s) I like best and which itineraries I like best, but I also recognize that not everyone is like me.  I can ask the appropriate questions to the cruiser to get an idea of what they might like best.

If I only cruised on Disney though, I would have a harder time with different lines and how to recommend one to someone else.  For instance, if you like to hang out by the pool and participate in the pool games/deck activities, certainly you don’t want to be on an Alaskan Cruise and probably not a Canada/New England cruise.  If you aren’t big on touring on land, you may not be interested in a Mediterranean Cruise.

I also have found that by cruising on other lines, you learn more about the people who do the same.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me “Disney?  Those ships are loaded with kids!”.  My response is always “there may be a lot of kids on board, but you don’t see them as much as you do on other ships”.  That is so true!  I found that many other ships have more limited adult only activities and less extensive of children’s programming so you end up seeing the children onboard much more often.  The time of year and itinerary also make a difference for this as well.  We are cruising on the Carnival Dream during the summer and I would have to say this is the most kids I have seen in a long time on a cruise ship.

I think the important thing to remember is that using a travel professional will help you make the right decision with a ship and itinerary that is right for you.  One who has experienced the lines first hand also helps.

Next Stop – Carnival Dream

For those that know me well, you are probably wondering why I’m going on the Carnival Dream.  After all, my favorite cruise lines are Celebrity Cruises and Disney Cruise Line.  So why are we going on Carnival?

When I decided to be a travel adviser with a focus on Disney and cruises, I realized that Disney Cruises aren’t for everyone, even though I think they should be!  Just like a 5 star restaurant or hotel isn’t right for everyone.  While I want to be “taken care of” on a vacation, I understand that others just want to be left alone, do things at their own pace or want an inexpensive getaway.

I have cruised on Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises, on 26 cruises covering nine different ships.  I have taken courses for these cruise lines and others including Carnival Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Holland America.  I have also taken various courses on cruising in general through CLIA (Cruise Line International Association), earning my Accredited Cruise Counselor, Master Cruise Counselor and Luxury Cruise Specialist.  Part of completing each accreditation is that I need to learn about more cruise lines, tour ships and take courses.

While what I have heard about Carnival in the past makes me feel I will not enjoy cruising on them like some of the others, I do recognize that my clients are not all just like me.  How boring would it be if everyone wanted the same things and liked exactly the same things.  How expensive would our one cruise ship be!  As a Travel Adviser, I feel it is important for me to learn as much as I can about all the cruise lines to be able to appropriately match a cruise line and ship with a client.  So when I started working on my next accreditation, I decided I would cruise on Carnival for that experience.

In preparing for the cruise, I do realize that Carnival has gotten a bad reputation as a party ship (or good if that’s what you are looking for).  They are one of the more inexpensive ships as well.  I noticed that Carnival also had a lot of shorter sailings to the Bahamas and Caribbean with many 3 night weekend cruises out of a wide variety of ports.  I thought about other short sailings that I have been on and I realized that they were also kind of a more party atmosphere.  Maybe it isn’t that Carnival is more of a party cruise line, maybe it’s just the short weekend sailings that tend to attract the party crowd.  That coupled with lower prices make it more of a party ship than the others.

Since I will be going on a week-long cruise, we needed to find an itinerary that would be interesting, just in case we do find out that the cruise line isn’t for us.  While I’m not generally a fan of the Western Caribbean sailings, I have always wanted to travel to Belize.  We were in luck!  The Carnival Dream offers an Exotic Western Caribbean sailing with stops in Cozumel, Costa Maya, Isla Roatan and Belize.  This would be perfect as we have not been to three of the ports there and Disney also stops at Costa Maya so it would be good for me to check that out as well.

Two other little known facts about me – I like to create new tastes and I love trivia.

By creating new tastes, this can be food or beverages.  I love to cook!  Mixing things together to come up with a unique taste is a lot of fun and I rarely follow a recipe to a “T”.  This goes for alcohol as well.  I like to mix things together to make interesting martinis or summer drinks.  Why does this matter?  While looking at a recent cruise daily for the Carnival Dream, they have a contest onboard to create a drink!  The winner’s drink is featured all week.  I will so be doing this!

I also found on the daily events that there are many, many trivia meets.  This is one thing that I was disappointed in on our recent Disney cruises.  Yes they have trivia meets, but I found that the questions rarely changed.  This is fine for new cruisers but for those of us who go often, it means we know all the answers.  I do like to win the trivia challenges, but I don’t like to do so without a challenge.  I saw quite a few trivia meets listed, many involving music challenges which are my favorites.

So now this cruise that I wasn’t looking forward to has a lot of great possibilities.  We’ll be dining in the steakhouse, snorkeling in Belize and Isla Roatan, checking out a private beach in Costa Maya, participating in trivia challenges, mixing drinks and checking out Carnival Cruise Lines for my clients.

What are you interested in learning about Carnival Cruise Line or the Carnival Dream?

The Eighth Day of ToaDmas

Today we go to another very popular cruise destination – Western Caribbean.  Many cruise lines have sailings to the Western Caribbean with stops in Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Roatan, Belize and Jamaica.  You can cruise from embarkation ports throughout Florida but also from the Gulf Coast in New Orleans and Galveston.  From the western side of Florida and the Gulf Coast, sailings can be as short as 4 nights for this cruise usually with stops only at Cozumel or Grand Cayman.  The most popular cruise length for this itinerary is a 7 night cruise.

The atmosphere on a Western Caribbean cruise is different than the Eastern Caribbean.  While the Eastern Caribbean is more tropical, the Western is a little more arid until you get further south.  Shore excursions on this itinerary can take you to beaches and snorkeling but you can also visit Mayan Ruins at many of the ports of call.  In Grand Cayman you can do everything from snorkeling and kissing a stingray to going to Hell or a turtle farm.

For the eighth day of ToaDmas, we are going to go on a Western Caribbean sailing with Royal Caribbean on Oasis of the Seas.  We visited this ship in September and found out first-hand how much she has to offer.  There are many entertainment options, dining venues and sports activities for everyone.  You can even take in a water theater show or ice show in the same night!  This ship is a small city of its own.  Zipline, rock climb or even learn how to surf, you can do it all on Oasis of the Seas.

There is a wide variety of room types on this ship.  Of course there is the usual inside, ocean view, balcony and suite, but on Oasis of the Seas, you can also get a Boardwalk or Central Park view with either a window or a balcony, numerous family suites with different views and even a loft!

For pricing purposes, we selected the Cruisin’ with ToaD sailing on April 27, 2013.  Pricing starts from just $829 per person plus tax for a large interior room.  For two adults in a Central Park View with balcony (category C2), the total price would be $2267.74.  A deposit of $500 would hold the room until February 11, 2013.  All payments would be fully refundable until that date.

Won’t you join us?

Where Do You Want To Go

The weather outside is getting much cooler here in the United States and the northern hemisphere, and people are getting antsy to leave the cold behind and go somewhere warmer. I feel the same way. Instead of “visions of sugarplums”, I have visions of tropical, warm getaways! Today, I thought we would take a break from our usual blogs and ask you “Where Do You Want To Go”. Please answer the poll and add comments about your dreams!

On the Fourth Day of ToaDmas

Today we are going on one of my favorite cruise itineraries – the Eastern Caribbean!  Many cruise lines have sailings to the Eastern Caribbean.  There are a number of islands that could be included in an Eastern Caribbean cruise with two primary islands of St Maarten and St Thomas.  Other cruises will also visit San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Antigua, Grand Turk or Tortola.  Sailings that go a little further south are usually classified as Southern Caribbean sailings, and they could include ports like Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, Martinique, St Lucia and St Kitts.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: