|Posted by RCI fans on December 31, 2012 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
Well what a year it has been in the cruise industry. The year unfortunatly started with the tragic Costa Concordia disaster, in which 32 people lost their lives. We've also seen the 'Royal Advantage' added to Rhapsody, Mariner, Grandeur, Serenade and Enchantment of the Seas and more recently the announcement of a third Oasis class ship.
This year we were fortunate enough to embark on 3 cruises (Brilliance of the Seas, Oceana and Queen Mary 2) We also went on 3 visits to Southampton. Watching Independence depart twice as well as meeting Patricia Dempsey and Dan Gosling to watch Vision of the Seas make a special visit to the port on 21st September.
These 10 stories are our picks of the biggest stories of 2012;
These are the top 5 stories from the past year based on comments and views;
|Posted by RCI fans on August 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
If you live in the United Kingdom, I'm sure you'll agree that cruises that sail from the UK are far less stressful than the 'Fly/Cruise'. You can forget about going through security at the airport, waiting hours to catch your plane and the strict baggage allowance of around 23kg, which when you go on a 14 night voyage, can be hard to comply with. It means you can drive or hop on a train or coach and take as much luggage as you can possibly carry.
Southampton is certainly the main hub for cruise voyages in the UK. On average 3 ships dock at the port everyday. Each filled with around 2,500 passengers. So what makes Southampton so popular with the cruise ships?
Let's start with its transport links. South West Trains run services from London to Southampton roughly every 25 minutes and the journey time is around 1 hour and 20 minutes. South West Trains also operate services from the South coast. Cross Country Trains from the Midlands and the North run hourly. Southampton is also connected by Southern which runs trains from the South East. First Great Western also operate services from the West.
CruiseSaver (part of the Bath Travel Group), operate dedicated cruise trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh with pickups at Newcastle, Leeds, Preston, Stockport and Solihull. The 'Boat Train' offers first class travel and silver service meals, a perfect start or end to your cruise. The train delivers passengers direct to the QEII Passenger Terminal in the Port’s Eastern Docks and the Mayflower Cruise Terminal in the Western Docks.
The M3 and M27 allows motorists to get to Southampton from London and the South coast. National Express coaches as well as Eavesway have regular services from all over the UK.
You could also regionally fly from your local airport to Southampton Airport. However you will then have to face the baggage restrictions and waiting around.
It's not just Southampton's convenient travel links that makes it so popular. It's location makes it possible for ships to travel almost anywhere. Wether it be Northern Europe, Mediterranean, Canaries or America. If you compare the Port of Edinburgh or Harwich for example, you are much more limited to where you can cruise to. For instance the Norwegian Fjords, British Isles or Northern Europe.
So what do you think about cruising from Southampton?
Janet Bailey says 'I love travelling from Southampton because it means I can pack as much luggage as I want'
Debi Martin believes 'cruising from Southampton is convenient and stress-free'
|Posted by RCI fans on March 19, 2012 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
There are many things I love about Royal Caribbean and many things that are slightly disappointing. I summed up my top 3 things I love about Royal Caribbean and the 3 things I don’t like about the cruise line.
Entertainment – Royal Caribbean offer some of the best entertainment at sea. Allure, Oasis and Liberty of the Seas offer Broadway shows. Even with the Royal Caribbean Productions, you know the show will be fantastic. Talented singers and dancers, perform wonderful numbers and routines. I have never been to a show I have not liked.
Amenities – Royal Caribbean offer some of the best amenities afloat. Royal Caribbean brings out innovation, after innovation on their ships. Such as the Rock Climbing Wall on all ships and even the Zip Line on the Oasis class. Is this pushing the boundaries too much though?
Service – The level of service you receive onboard is amazing. Even though the crew are serving over 4,000 others, you still feel like they know you. The dining room staff are delightful. You build up a strong bond between them and they get to know what you like and dislike and your interests, which makes you feel special. I have never had a waiter or assistant waiter I have not liked. Although, I’m never that fond of the Head Waiters for some reason. They seem to welcome you on the first night and introduce themselves and then see you on tip night! For some reason, although we always pre pay our tips, I begrudge giving it to them.
Food – The food on Royal Caribbean is not the best out of the cruise lines, for sure. At the end of the day, I prefer familiar, comfort food, rather than white gloved, formal measly portion sizes. If I was served Royal Caribbean’s food in a typical restaurant on land, I certainly would not complain, but when you compare the food quality to other cruise lines. I understand why people do.
Staterooms – When I went on Oasis of the Seas, I found the layout was awful. You had very little space to get into the wardrobe and the air conditioning blew down onto your neck when you sat on the bed. Which by morning, you would have a stiff neck! The bed was very close to the wall, so it was hard to move a case past the bed. Also, I felt like Royal Caribbean had tried to squeeze as many staterooms in as they possibly could. Even on Independence of the Seas, though the ship is not that old, the décor looks out dated and worn.
Casino – I hate how the Casino acts as a through fare. I always feel like the staff are watching you and in my eyes, the whole place gives off a negative impression. The layout also annoys me. You seem to have to weave in and out of the machines and there is never a clear distinguished path.
|Posted by RCI fans on March 10, 2012 at 3:35 PM||comments (0)|
Royal Caribbean Fans recently recieved an email asking us to compare Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines with Carnival Cruise Lines. As we have never cruised on Carnival, we called upon our friend Mikey Faust to share his likes and dislikes about the two lines.
CARNIVAL - Thumbs Up
- Great service thanks to a great crew! They are always very caring and willing to help you with anything you need.
- Nice cabins! Carnival actually has the largest cabins out of the main cruise lines. Obviously Silversea and Seabourn will have huge cabins, but Carnival's are the largest compared to NCL, RCI, Celebrity, etc.
- Great food! I have never had a meal on Carnival that I did not enjoy!
- Nice sized ships! I have cruised on the Carnival Victory twice, the Carnival Valor twice, and the Carnival Freedom once. These ships are the perfect size since they carry only about 2,500 passengers and because of their size, they can go almost anywhere in the world!
- The shows! On my most recent cruise I attended almost every show, because they were so good! These productions were some of the best that I have ever seen on a ship! The best one had to be, Ticket to Ride, which is generally accepted as Carnival's best production show!
- The poolside theater! During the day, Carnival plays videos highlighting ports of call, and at night they play recently released movies with lounge chairs and popcorn!
CARNIVAL - Thumbs Down
- The pools. -On Carnival, the pools can be a little small and because their saltwater, it doesn't really help them.
- The water slide. On Carnival's older ships the one water slide is a bit boring, but on their newer ships, they look amazing and are some of the best at sea!
ROYAL CARIBBEAN - Thumbs Up
- The interior design. I do look on Royal Caribbean the interior design of the ships. They sue very soft colors and is a bit more relaxed. I have been on Brilliance of the Seas, and I loved the interior design!
- The innovations. I will say Royal Caribbean has come up with some great ideas, such as the zip line, surfing, and the split superstructure idea for Allure and Oasis, but I don't really want all of that on a ship. It seems like to much to do. In fact, Princess Cruises had a commercial showing some Royal Caribbean features and they said, "tired of floating amusement parks?"
ROYAL CARIBBEAN - Thumbs Down
- The food. When I cruised on Royal Caribbean, the food really wasn't all that exciting. The Winjammer Buffet kind of bored me and it felt weird eating a slice of a sandwich that was made to serve like 100 people int he buffet. Plus, I hear a lot that people don't enjoy the food on Royal.
|Posted by RCI fans on January 6, 2012 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
Christmas is a wonderful time and what better way to spend the holiday season than on a cruise!
We asked some cruisers a few questions on their experiences about cruising over Christmas.
Shon Ford aka CruiseMan3000 and avid blogger of The Ocean Escape, summed up his Christmas cruise onboard NCL's Norwegian Gem as ‘Loads of kids and very crowed!’
He also responded to us with his views and tips about cruising over Christmas;
First off, no matter what ship you sail, expect it to be completely sold out--mainly occupied with many families, and yes, that includes many kids. I spoke with one of the security officers abaord Norwegian Gem and he told me there were 600 kids on the Christmas sailing.
It was jammed packed everywhere! The buffet was a free-for-all mad house. It reminded me of the crowds you see in stores on Black Friday. But, it was nice to be in paradise and enjoy a taste of summer in Mid December.
Also, having sailed from NYC down the Atlantic, I thought I'd tell ya it was very very windy out there, but the temperature were pretty moderate and not too bad. The Atlantic was not as rough as I expected and we had smooth seas the entire trip.
I loved the cruise and the highlight was the extended stay the Captain gave us on Great Stirrup Cay--NCL's private island in the Bahamas. We arrived in our first port--Pt. Canaveral (Orlando)--due to an issue the ship had, causing us to stop twice on our first day at seas from New York. The ship was ah-mazingly decorated and all the crew members kept saying "Merry Christmas" and it truly felt heart-warming. On Christmas Eve, everyone gathered to sing Christmas Carrolls in the atrium and it was truly enjoyable! Another highlight of my cruise was Nassau! It was my 8th time there, and they just got a brand new straw market! I was able to experience it and get a picture with the plaque outside the facility.
We also asked Liz Salby, a cruise lover and mother of 2, who also cruised over Christmas. We asked her a few question about her time;
How was your cruise?
We loved it! The themed activities and shows that were put on were fabulous. It’s hard to find a vacation that every member of the family can enjoy. My 7 year old daughter loved the youth program, so she spent most of the time there. Tom, my son, also enjoyed the youth program, he also loved the rock climbing wall and water park that were onboard. It gave us some time for me and my partner, to relax and not have to worry about the children, which is not very often we get to do that, especially over the Christmas season.
What was the highlight of your Cruise?
Relaxing! It was so nice to forget about all the stress and strains of life and not have to look at your cell phone once!
Chris Harms (Founder of Cruisers Connect) and Brad Lenz (Editor-In-Chief of Cruisers Connect) boarded the Allure of the Seas in Fort Lauderdale on Christmas Day, where they would cruise around the Caribbean for the next 9 days over the Holiday period. Not only was the cruise special for the seasonal atmosphere, but they were also onboard for Allure’s first docking in St Kitts. We will talk about their experience of St Kitts later.
We also asked them questions about their cruise;
How was your Cruise Experience?
Having two holidays in one cruise was a great experience. Christmas and New Years were wonderful and we visited the great ports of St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Marteen, and Labadee, Haiti. As always, the shows were good, Oceanaria the Aquashow was one of the best, the activities were exciting as I really enjoyed participating in a Flash Mob organized by the cruise director’s staff and the Allure of the Seas is one truly incredible ship. One thing worth noting would be the length, having 9 days was really nice. Four days at sea allowed a lot of time to explore the ship and enjoy the endless activities that the Allure of the Seas hosts.
The staff was one of the best I have experienced on a cruise. They were attentive, friendly, had lots of energy, and made the cruise that much more enjoyable for myself and the 6,000 others. Speaking of which, even though the ship was full to capacity, it never felt too crowded in any of the neighbourhoods or activities.
How was the Allure decorated for the Festive season?
The Allure of the Seas was decorated very nicely for the Christmas holiday. The Royal Promenade—one of the ships seven neighborhoods—was where most of the decorations were concentrated. There was garland wrapped around some of the railings on deck six, snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, and in the center, near Sorrento’s, a two-story Christmas tree with basketball sized ornaments. As for the other neighborhoods, there weren’t many, if any, decorations. I was especially surprised that the Central Park did not have any Christmas or holiday decorations as the Promenade did.
On New Years Eve, there were hundreds of balloons hovering over the Royal Promenade in nets, as well as confetti, noisemakers and hats that passengers could use.
What Christmas activities/entertainment did they put on?
There was Christmas Carolling in the Royal Promenade. All the passengers that participated received a song book and Ken Rush, our Cruise Director led us through some of the most popular holiday tunes.
On Day 2 (at Sea) Santa came to visit in Studio B. Children up to 17 years old could visit Santa and receive a Christmas gift. The gift you received was determined by your age, so it ranged from a blanket to a backpack. We later learned that there were over 4,000 presents wrapped in preparation for the event. Santa and his elves most of been working over time! There were also children activities, hula-hoop contests, and games in Studio B for all those not wanting to wait in line to see Santa.
What additional Christmas dishes were served in the restaurants?
On Christmas Day, I dined in Chops Grille Royal Caribbean’s signature steak house for a $30 surcharge, and they did not have any special Christmas or holiday food. However the main dining room had some holiday themed dishes such as gingerbread soufflé, and traditional Hanukah brisket with a full holiday menu.
Were there many children onboard?
The Allure of the Seas was brimming with kids and teenagers. When I went into Fuel (teen night club) some nights, there were maybe a hundred teenagers or more. All around the ship too, I got the feeling that this was obviously a family cruise and everyone brought their children/grandchildren/nephews etc.
This cruise, like many of Royal Caribbean’s, was perfect for kids. They hosted activities everyday ranging from dodge ball tournaments to scavenger hunts. But some of the most exciting events centered on Royal Caribbean’s partnership with DreamWorks Animation. They hosted the parade in the Royal Promenade which was a spectacle; held the acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon ice show in Studio B; and got passengers dancing on their feet in the Let You Entertain Me aquashow.
What would you say are the advantages/disadvantages of spending Christmas on a cruise rather than at home?
I will say that the advantages very much outweigh the disadvantages. If you really think about it, being in the middle of say, St. Thomas, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, on Christmas is pretty amazing. Some people on our cruise missed their extended family that they are usually with, so that may be the only downfall I would say. But from the shows, to the ports, activities, and some of the spectacular individuals you meet, spending Christmas on a cruise is the best. New Years was absolutely incredible as well. Imagine having 4,000 passengers packed in the Royal Promenade. Everyone on the ship was having a good time and you are celebrating with new friends, and the energy is something you would never find at home on New Years.
What was the highlight of your Christmas cruise?
Being one of the passengers on board Allure of the Seas for her inaugural call to St. Kitts was one of the biggest highlights of the cruise.
(Allure of the Seas docks in St Kitts for the first time.)
Getting off the ship I couldn’t help but realize how fun and excited the citizens were to see us. They were all so intrigued with the Allure of the Seas and were grateful for all the passengers that visited. Immediately once you stepped foot on Port Zante, there was a parade, steel drummers, and schoolchildren singing; all of which boosted the energy of all the passengers. Little did we know, that was the start of what St. Kitts had to offer.
After a day long island tour, St. Kitts became my favorite island. The island was breath-taking; it had mountain bluffs, black sand beaches, and a bustling capital (Basseterre). We also got to see where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet in St. Kitts, which was very cool.
I hope Royal Caribbean will make St. Kitts a permanent stop on the Allure of the Seas itinerary so other passengers can experience this special port.
Cruisers Connect obviously enjoyed their cruise very much. There really does seem so much that took place on the cruise. The range of activities offered are amazing! I particularly love the sound of the Carol Singing in the Royal Promenade, that must have sounded super! I also like the idea of the ‘Meet Santa’ in Studio B. (I may have gone round more than once for extra goodies!!!)
As mentioned earlier, it was also the first time Allure of the Seas has docked in St Kitts. Cruisers Connect founder Chris Harms was the first person to disembark Royal Caribbean's Allure Of The Seas on it's inaugural call to the island! This cruise must definitely be their best Christmas ever!
(Cruisers Connect Founder, Chris Harms was the first passenger to disembark Allure in St Kitts. This photo shows him being interviewed by Local News Channels.)
It has come to a conclusion that Cruising over Christmas is a wonderful experience and one far better than any on land!
We thank all of the people we asked for answering our questions. I hope this article gives you some more advice and information on what a Christmas cruise is like. If you have any pictures from your cruise over Christmas in the past, please send them in! We love seeing your cruise experiences!
(A Video by a Local News Team. We do not own this video.)
All photos are uploaded with kind permission from Cruisers Connect and The Ocean Escape by Shon Ford. Please do not redistribute or add these images to your own website, without prior consent from Cruisers Connect or Shon Ford.
|Posted by RCI fans on December 30, 2011 at 12:20 PM||comments (0)|
Well what a year it's been! Royal Caribbean announce a new class of ships, We change our domain name and many ship revitalizations, but what are the top stories from the past year? Find out as we look back on 2011.
These 10 stories are our picks of the biggest stories of 2011
- Is the FlowRider on Royal Caribbean ships dangerous?
- Royal Caribbean Sells Majesty of Seas to Korean Start Up?
- An Interview with Joan...
- Radiance of the Seas in dry dock for upgrades
- Cruise ship rocked after Gibraltar explosion
- Royal Caribbean CEO gives more details about Project Sunshine
- Royal Caribbean planning major cruise fleet upgrade
- Allure hits Hollywood!
- My first post as guest blogger!
- Grandeur of the Seas Review
These are the top 10 stories from the past year based on comments and views;
- Monarch of the Seas fails CDC Inspection
- Cruise ships to stop sailing to Venice?
- Christmas Cruise Calendar
- iPads For Every Stateroom
- Splendour of the Seas Refurbishment
- We're a Guest Blogger!
- My first post as guest blogger!
- Ben and Jerry's 'Sweet'
- RCI's Project Sunshine
What do you think was the biggest news story of 2011? Leave us a comment.