Showing posts with label transatlantic cruises. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transatlantic cruises. Show all posts

Monday, September 21, 2015

Repositioning: Steal-of-a-Deal Cruises

The 34-day spring cruise aboard Oceania’s Nautica that took us from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul, Turkey was a repositioning cruise.

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Oceania Nautica on the Indian Ocean
The four-day fall cruise aboard the Ruby Princess that took us from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, California this week was also a repositioning cruise.

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Ruby Princess on the Pacific Ocean
The two were vastly different cruising experiences: one aboard a small ship with not quite 500 passengers that took us to exotic places we’d probably have otherwise never visited and the other a ship of 3,500 passengers that took us on a long-weekend-like getaway to familiar places.

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Sailing from Vancouver, B.C. - sunny, but cold

What was similar was the fact they were ships being repositioned from one part of the world to another for a new sailing season.  The Princess ship, for example, was moving south from its summer Alaska sailings to California, and warm-weather destinations for the winter season.

Thus, the name “Repositioning” cruises; and offered in the spring and fall when ship’s are being moved. The cruise line offers deals so that they make some money while moving the ship and passengers benefit from the deals they offer to fill the ships. 

After I posted on the TravelnWrite Facebook page about our little cruise, I had so many questions that I thought  it time to highlight them again. They’ve been the subject matter of several posts  in recent years because they are among our favorite cruise types; so much so, that I wrote about them for the Seattle Times.

Short Pacific Northwest Getaway cruises

We’ve taken a number of short getaway cruises on the ships that sail the waters between Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, BC and Alaska during the summer months. They range in length from overnight to four- or five-days.

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Our mini-suite on the Ruby Princess
The most recent, a three-night sailing with no ports of call, took us from  Vancouver, B. C. to Los Angeles. The price had been the enticement – a mini-suite for just over $500. The mini-suite featured a sitting area, two-flat screen televisions, a king-size (and very comfortable) bed, walk-in closet and full bathroom (double the size of our Oceania ship’s bathroom).

We rented a car in the Seattle suburb, Bellevue, WA for $60 and dropped it off in Vancouver, B.C.  We were traveling with another couple, so it was cheaper to rent the car than to pay for four Amtrak train tickets. We returned home to Seattle from LA on Alaska Airlines for $99 per person. We spent a night in Vancouver but could have driven up the day of the cruise, saving the cost of the hotel and meals.

Note:  It is important to factor in these additional costs when considering cruise deals because they do add up. In the case of our Oceania cruise, entry visa costs for various countries added to the cost calculations. India, for example is $369 per person while Turkey is $20 per person.

Exotic Ports of Call and Days At Sea

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Yangon, Myanmar, a port of call on Oceania's Nautica sailing
Repositioning cruises can often take you to out-of-the-way places that would be difficult and expensive to reach otherwise and they offer long days at sea.

The affordable, reduced, price and extremely generous on-board benefits ($1,800 in on-board spending, pre-paid gratuities –a savings of about $800 -- and daily unlimited internet – saving about $900 )-- when coupled with an array of exotic ports of call were what enticed us to take the Oceania Nautica last spring.

We visited 10 countries, unpacking at the beginning of the cruise and packing at the end – no hauling bags, no airports, no muss, no fuss.  We were able to experience a high-end cruise line and visit a number of places that would have been both difficult and expensive to reach had we gone to them on our own. Some we need not return to, but others are now on our list for a return visit and longer stay.

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Celebrity Solstice in Sydney, Australia's harbour
There were long stretches of days at sea on the 23-day repositioning cruise we took aboard the Celebrity Solstice from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia.  The ship was repositioning from Seattle, but we opted for fewer days and flew to Honolulu to board (it also cost less from there). A number of fellow passengers were from Australia having also flown to Hawaii to sail home.

Note: Again we were able to visit multiple places including three South Pacific islands and New Zealand en route to Australia while not having to deal with air travel (and its cost), packing and unpacking at each stop.

Getting to and from Europe

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Canary Islands - a port of call on repositioning cruises

One of our favorite types of repositioning cruises is transiting the Atlantic Ocean, either going to or returning from Europe. Any number of cruise lines offer these sailings; we’ve crossed on Holland America and Celebrity ships. The ports of call usually include one or two stops on the United States side of the Atlantic and three or four on the European side with six or seven days at sea.  One of the best deals we nabbed was a balcony room for $125 per night.

Note: The plus side of these cruises are the stops in places like the Canary Islands and Madeira – destinations that would require expensive and long flights and multiple connections for travelers like us, living in the Western United States.

Long Days At Sea and Weather Considerations

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Repositioning cruises involve long, lovely days at sea
Because ships are being moved from one area of the world to another, repositioning cruises often involve long stretches of days at sea – no land in sight, no ports of call. Even our little cruise from Vancouver was two days at sea with no ports of call.
NOTE: Cruise lines go overboard (pun, intended) in lining up activities, events, classes, lectures, promotions, games, music and dance to keep passengers busy on those days.  Some, like us, prefer to laze away the time with a good book and watching the waves. 
If you are not able to deal with days at sea  and being confined to the ship, you might want to think twice before taking a repositioning cruise, no matter how good the deal.

Weather on these shoulder season cruises can be good, bad, or a bit of both. Our first day out of Vancouver was a blustery rainy and windy day and our second day allowed us to bask and burn in California sunshine. You'll want to check weather sites and pack accordingly.

“The Scout’s” Deal Finder

“The Scout” is credited with finding all the repositioning cruises we’ve taken.  He uses a number of cruise web sites. We booked our three-day cruise using Vacations To Go. They have a link to repositioning cruise deals.  CruCon Cruise Outlet is our usual ‘go to’ site as they’ve often offered benefits that tip the scale in their favor, even if the cruise price has been the same as offered elsewhere.

That’s it for today.  If you have specific questions, ask them in the comment section below or shoot us an email.  Hope it is smooth sailing ahead for you and your family until we see you back here. We’ll return to tales from our repositioning spring cruise with a stop in Mumbai, India.

Linking up with:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

TP Thursday: Cruise Blues

A friend who recently spent two days at sea on an Alaskan cruise proclaimed he wasn’t a cruiser after the experience. And then, in an incredulous tone asked us,

“How do you do it? I nearly went nuts knowing I couldn’t get off the ship??!!” 

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Unlike our buddy, our favorite cruises are those that involve crossing an ocean – the kind that have at least a  half dozen ‘sea days’; those kind of days where you see no other signs of life – no land, no ships, no birds, just blue. Cruise blues. In this photo our ship was leaving Fort Lauderdale, Florida bound for Europe.

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This strip of Florida beach was the last land we would see for nearly a week. The next land would be the Azores, 3,117 miles (5,016KM/2,706NM) away.  The islands that make up the Azores are 1,118 miles (1,800 KM/900NM) west of Portugal.

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We began many of our sea days with a trip to the gym (also hues of cruise blues) – a necessity when they ended with . . .

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gourmet food. . .and sommelier served wine. (BTW, that was a piece of fish hidden under the veggies in that artistic display above.)

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Sometimes we watched other guests play lawn croquet. (If you missed my earlier posts about this Celebrity Solstice ship – it, like others in its class, has a real live lawn.)

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Other times we watched glass artists at work, thanks to a partnership between Celebrity and the Corning Museum of Glass. We’d attend those lectures on subjects that interested us, but skipped the multitudes of  bingo sessions, dance classes, contests, games and other activities that drew contingents of  fellow cruisers.

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Generally on these types of sailings, when it comes to sea days – we prefer to soak up the ‘cruise blues’. The kind created when sea and sky merge.

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A day dreamin’, book readin’ and sun tanning kind of cruise blues.

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A where-did-the-day-go-so-fast kind of cruise blues. . .

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The kind of cruise blues that gave way to blazing orange sunsets.

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And then it seemed too soon we'd reached the Azores -  our first in a series of  ports of call en route to Barcelona, Spain.

Map picture


Transatlantic cruises, like this one, offer some of the best cruise bargains to be found.  We’ve taken several and have been able to book a balcony room for as little as $125 – $185 per night, not per person but per cabin! 

Also called repositioning cruises, sailings take place  generally in the spring and fall because that is when the ship’s are being ‘repositioned’ from one area of the world to the other. 
As cruise enthusiasts, we want to spend as much time on board as possible and yet visit interesting ports of call. This type of cruise provides for both.  Companies we use and recommend for cruise deals  can be found on Joel’s Deal Finder page.

Today is Travel Photo Thursday so head on over to Nancie’s Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos from around the world.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Or is there?

We celebrated Thanksgiving in a most untraditional way this year a couple of hundred miles off the coast of northwestern Africa aboard the Celebrity Constellation.  

And you know what? We had a feast and ‘family’ and football. . .so did we really need to be home?
Thanksgiving dawned a blue sky sea day during which we traveled between Gibraltar and the Canary Islands. It was easy to leave our Pacific Northwest traditional celebrations.

Food and Football

DSCF2144But when it came to the food and football fest usually associated with Thanksgiving, I can assure you, we had both. Just not in their usual trappings.

Turkey with stuffing and giblet gravy, glazed ham, seared ahi,  and penne pasta were among the entrée's on the dining room menu.

Jamie Petts, the ship’s Hotel Director, explained during my later interview with him, that because the ship’s roster is made up weeks in advance of the sailing, the passengers’ ages and nationalities are known and staff can plan on-board celebrations and special meals accordingly.

In our case, there were many Americans on board, so Thanksgiving menus were in order.  (Similar consideration is given to other holidays and national events in other countries, such as Canada Day and their Stanley Cup games, or even world-wide events like America’s Super Bowl.)

DSCF2217Food orders for our sailing had been made eight weeks in advance and shipped to the Constellation by container from Florida.

The ship’s staff made sure we had televised American football. But time zones put those games at the end of the day instead of the start, so kick-off for the last of the games was after midnight.


And  our ‘Family’

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We had opted for ‘select seating’ on this voyage which allowed us to chose the time we ate dinner. Each night we sat with different folks who’d also selected this independent dining option. 

On Thanksgiving we were seated at a table for six. . .a group that hit it off so well, we dubbed ourselves ‘the family’ and made plans to meet again during the cruise to continue our conversations. (The ‘family photo’ above was taken during our second, more casual, get-together).

Our Thanksgiving family was made up of a couple who split their time between the United States and Ukraine and a generational trio of ladies from California, whose family’s roots are in Jordan. Our conversations covered world history, politics, culture, travel, food and was mixed with plenty of laughter.  I hope we keep our vows to keep in touch.

DSCF2276And we had two bloggers in its midst! Galyna Tate, (pictured here with her husband, William,) writes about her homeland, Ukraine.  I’ve been following her blog since our return – it’s entertaining and informative.  Just click this link and see for yourself: Galyna's Ukraine

We don't feel the need to be home for holidays. How about you? Where have you found yourself celebrating holidays?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Beyond the Podium–Speakers at Sea

DSCF2338We basked in those unstructured, don’t-need-to-be-anywhere-or-do-anything days at sea on our recent transatlantic repositioning cruise, spending much of our time as the photo reflects.

We didn’t carry the daily program with us, as did many, to assure that no  activity or event would be missed.

We were so laid back  that sometimes we didn’t make it to the few we planned to attend. We had one exception to our lackadaisical lifestyle . . .



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Niki Sepsas,  a Smithsonian Journeys lecturer and one of the three speakers on board the Constellation.

In 2011 Smithsonian Journeys expanded its presence on Celebrity ships with speakers presenting enrichment lectures on 99 cruises traveling in Bermuda, the Holy Land,  the Mediterranean, the Panama Canal, the Antarctica and crossing the Atlantic.

Cruise ship lecturers generally fall into two categories. Those like Niki; destination speakers whose topics are travel focused on regions the ship is visiting, its history, politics, culture and arts or those related to cruising, and maritime history, including pirates, Vikings, Phoenicians, or Christopher Columbus and other early day mariners.
 
Our other two speakers focused on aviation and cloth; those Enrichment or special interest speakers who talk about topics passengers may find interesting.  Needless to say, our interest was in travel.

Entertainment and Enrichment

In introducing Niki Sepsas, a 31-year-veteran tour guide and freelance writer, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, our Cruise Director Sue Denning told the hundreds of us gathered in the ship’s theatre, “It is very important not only to feed and entertain you, but to enrich you as well.”
DSCF2320And enriched we were!   Each day Niki offered an enormous amount of information using PowerPoint presentations filled with facts and photos.

Absorbing so much information about topics like  “Gods from the East – The Sword and The Cross”  and “Indigenous People of the New World”   almost overloaded our laid-back  brains.

Okay, so true confession: 

I’ve always wanted to be one of those speakers. . .well, at least until they start talking and then I think, “How can they possibly know so much about so many places?!”  It was a question, I decided to ask Niki over coffee one day . . .

“It takes about a month to put together a show with the research and then putting together the images,” he explained, adding that he’s got some 200 in his portfolio.

HAL 2009 cruise photos 058And as the world changes, so do the presentations. Take Madeira, for example.  His talk about that island was scrapped when Portuguese strikers prevented our stop there. Instead, he switched topics as quickly as the ship switched ports.  And I might add, his “Gibraltar: Rock at the End of the World”  was one of our favorite presentations.

His enthusiasm for travel was contagious. Our fellow cruisers gathered around him after presentations to continue the conversation. Doesn’t surprise us at all that he’s been booked by several high-end cruise lines well into 2012. (He’s already done 23 cruises in nine months. ) Did I mention that in his non-cruise life he’s still leading tours in the U.S. and far distant destinations? And that in his 'free' time he still writes?

I've decided I'll quit fantasizing about being a speaker, I think I make a much better audience member.

Note:  Niki has also written a novel, “Song of the Gypsy” (2003) set in his parent’s homeland, Greece’s Peloponnese. Take a look at it – it’s on the  Amazon carousel on our home page (subscribers need to click the link to get back to the homepage). And as with all books there, if you buy any of them we earn a few cents -- we have earned to date, $1.24! 

If want Niki  to speak to your group or organization, his contact information is on his web site: www.nikiwrites.com

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So, who runs the hotel on this ship?

Think cruise ship. Think floating hotel.

While our  Captain got us to our ports of call and ultimate destination, someone else was taking care of the hotel side of operations. On our recent  Celebrity Constellation cruise that person was Jamie Petts, our Hotel Director.

DSCF2192 We’d seen Jamie several times on deck and at functions aboard our transatlantic cruise, and each time he was answering what seemed to us to be an endless stream of questions.  (As he was doing in this photo).

So, I almost felt guilty about my lengthy list of question as we sat down in  his office, just off the lobby’s Guest Relations counter, for an interview that I’d arranged prior to sailing.

I really didn’t expect to have the interview as he’d been rather busy the first few days of our cruise dealing with the ship’s sanitization after an outbreak of gastrointestinal virus on the cruise before ours. But he’d assured me that he had some time available. . .
Sure enough. The ship’s Events Coordinator called on one of our sea days and told me that my appointment with Jamie was set for 7 p.m. that evening. . .as in, long after an ‘8-to-5’ day would have ended.  But that’s not the way cruise ship life goes.

“You are on a ship for four months and off for two,” he said, acknowledging  that while on the ship he was basically on-call 24/7.   So a 7 p.m. appointment wasn’t unusual – for him, it was part of his work day.

DSCF2239As Hotel Director, I was surprised to learn, that he’s responsible for: Food and Beverage, Finance, Data systems, the Cruise Director, the Guest Relations Manager, the Assistant Hotel Director, the On-Board Marketing Manager, Restaurant Manager, Bar Manager Executive Chef and the 850 crew members who work in those divisions.

He assured me that I wasn’t alone, as most cruise passengers have no idea the scope of the job, “One of the funny things is that when the Hotel Director is introduced people  always say, ‘The cabins are really nice’ and there really is so much more than just the cabins,”  he said, with his ever-present grin.

He left his home in Canterbury, England, where he still lives, and joined his first ship 14 years ago in Sydney Australia. He’s worked for other cruise lines and held a number of on-board positions along his career path. Three years ago he joined Celebrity.

DSCF2334“This is a fantastic job!” he says, “Each morning I get up and I never know what my day will bring.  I love my interaction with guests and I am working with my family, my Celebrity family.” (Here Jamie was representing the officers in a bean bag toss competition with passengers.)

He’ll be leaving the Constellation soon. He’s starting his shore leave but don’t think he’ll be sleeping in when he gets back home. He’s about to become a dad and that will certainly make for some 24/7 days!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Celebrity Life draws to a close. . . for now.

solsticetransatlantic 006 Another taste of Celebrity Life came to an end today.  And as it did, we wondered how a 13-night cruise could glide by as rapidly as has this one. 

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida at 5 a.m. Saturday, were off the ship before 9 a.m.  – and will be home by noon Pacific time on Sunday, after spending a night at a Miami airport hotel to make the airline connection.

 (This beach in the photo above  is the first thing you see arriving in Port Everglades; the last land you see when setting out across the Atlantic from the port.)

After its rather unusual sanitized beginning, our cruise quickly got back to normal.  The only evidence of the previous outbreak of illness was the continued emphasis on hand washing and sanitation, elbow bumps replacing handshakes and extra sanitation in the public areas. (And by yesterday we were hugging new friends as we said goodbye – with a blatant disregard of ‘bugs’.)

The two-story library was the only part of the ship to remain closed for the cruise – sanitation of books is a difficult thing, we learned.

The ship’s doctor reported Thursday that only 21 on this cruise had been quarantined and those as precautionary measures. (There are nearly 2,000 passengers and a 1,000 crew members on board.)

barcellonaandconnie 024 Our cabin was spectacular, and Isabelo, our room attendant, took such good care of us that we were  spoiled by his attentiveness to detail.

We were so spoiled we actually looked into hopping aboard another Celebrity ship leaving Ft. Lauderdale and extending our adventure by another week.

We decided that might be considered excessive by some of you.  However, I must tell you that we were introduced to a couple who have been on the Constellation for two months! They were getting off today and hopping another Celebrity cruise. . . now that did sound a bit excessive.

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The last few days were filled with farewells and celebrations were held, like the traditional crew goodbye (photo to the right).

But I couldn’t leave you wondering about that glass of champagne I had been dreaming about being handed when I stepped aboard.  As I said things don’t always work out as planned when you travel, but good things do happen along the way, such as my champagne.  What can I say, but. . .?

barcellonaandconnie 037 Cheers to Celebrity Life!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sea Days ~ Sea Daze

barcellonaandconnie 054 We are now more than half way across the Atlantic Ocean as evidenced by the map on our television screen this morning.  (We are the little red dot under the “O” in Ocean.) This cruise is taking us across this massive body of water in seven days. . .seven long, glorious days at sea.

barcellonaandconnie 040 We once thought that sea days might drive us crazy.  Really, we thought, there’s nothing to see but sky and water and no choice about getting on or off the ship. . .how interesting could that be?

But, after trying our first transatlantic cruise a few years ago, we were hooked.  That sea and sky are  pretty interesting. . .in fact, we find ourselves often doing nothing but watching them for hours at a time.

Our days have begun on our deck waiting for the sun to rise while sipping coffee. I should note that we are re-entering the U.S. east coast time zone by turning our clocks back six hours, an hour at a time, which makes early rising much easier and our days a bit longer, which is great.

barcellonaandconnie 053 Changing cloud formations and sea foam patterns can be nearly hypnotic.

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Our days have glided by smoothly and rapidly- as we’ve focused on what I call our Body, Mind and Soul Program.  For the body, we’ve gone to the gym and worked out for an hour each morning, then headed off to a lecture (we have three lecturers on board – all with fascinating topics) to improve the mind, and then it is time to replenish the soul from a lounge chair overlooking the sea. From there we head to afternoon coffee, which leads into cocktail hour, dinner and whew, we find anther day has simply disappeared.

barcellonaandconnie 044 For those of you thinking that wouldn’t be enough to keep you busy, let me assure you that our Cruise Director Sue (see earlier blog post) and her staff provide us a daily page-long list of activities for those who need to keep busy. 

For instance, a sample from the list includes: attending a movie, taking an on-line computer class, learning  how to scrapbook, learning a new language using Rosetta Stone, taking a dance class, attending a culinary demonstration, playing  bingo, joining in a trivia game competition, listening to any of a half dozen entertainers performing throughout the ship, bowling on XBox Kinect, or entering a Texas Hold’em Tournament. There’s also a lengthy schedule of parties and dances, if you can fit them all into your schedule.

barcellonaandconnie 055 Today is the first storming day we’ve had at sea (a rain squall moved our morning coffee, lunch and most activities indoors today) and if it doesn’t get worse it is almost an enjoyable experience providing a  rocking of the ship. . . the kind that encourages a nap right after the morning’s lecture.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Sea foam and Sapphire Saturday

solsticetransatlantic 017 Being on the sea is the selling point for us on transatlantic cruises; days of endless sea foam blanketing sapphire water with lace coverings. That, and then not having anything that requires our attention beyond those ever-changing patterns, well, of course there are always the decisions about entertainment, activities and eating, but more on those later. 

(And even those stormy slate-gray waves we’ve had for three days have  been interesting to watch).

solsticetransatlantic 009 If we thought ‘sea days’ had gone too fast on previous crossings on Holland America ships, they were nothing compared to the speed this week has zipped away. Here we are on our sixth and final day of crossing the Atlantic. The captain tells us we are now 2,535 nautical miles fom Florida and 336 nautical miles from our first port of call, Ponta Delgada, the capital of  Sao Miguel, the largest island of the mid-Atlantic Azores and the greenest of them.

Legend has it that the Azores are that of the lost city of Atlantis (of course, we have heard that in Greece and just yesterday heard a lecture in which we learned theorists think Atlantis might be in the Bermuda Triangle somewhere.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Twixt Twain and Us: The Transatlantic

We’re mid-way across the Atlantic Ocean now and for the last couple of our days, our 122,000 ton ship has been buffeted by gusting  35 mph winds and traveling through 10 – 15 foot waves. Stacks of  seasick bags (that look identical to those bags found in airline seat pockets) are readily available. Luckil, we've not needed them.

We’ve bumped into a few fellow passengers (pun intended) as we’ve made our way around each day. Speaking of our fellow passengers there are 2,749 of us on board, a wee bit less than capacity ( 2,850) and we have 42 nationalities represented.
solsticetransatlantic 005 Solstice, our floating home for two weeks, (the size of  three-football fields placed end-to-end and 60-meters tall) entered calm waters (photo on left) on Sunday but the ocean has gotten rougher as the days have gone by. Even with the six-meter stabilizers out on both sides of the ship we’ve been a rockin’ –n- rollin’.  (BTW, the ‘H ‘on the ship’s deck in the photo is the helicopter landing pad.) 

Considering the bounce we’ve experienced, we’ve been speculating on Mark Twain’s journey, described in his book The Innocents Abroad, that began with a 10-day Atlantic crossing in which he describes many storms and very seasick passengers.

Twain's journey to Europe aboard the steamship “Quaker City” began on June 8,1867  in New York.  He describes the trip, that was to last several months, as ‘the first organized pleasure party ever assembled for a transatlantic voyage.’ 

I doubt any of his 149 fellow passengers had any idea that they were kicking off what would become a billion dollar cruise industry. The cost of their passage was $1,250 per person, more than we are paying and certainly a considerable amount of money in those days. And being able to buy a ticket  didn’t get you on the ship – you had to apply and be approved by the Committee on Selecting Steamer. In contrast we just reserved space this morning on a Celebrity cruise in Nov. 2012 – with no more information required than our names and a credit card.

Promotional material provided those passengers  assured them that the ship would have every comfort including, a library, musical instruments and ‘an experienced physician’.

Suppose they would like the glass blowing demonstrations and live lawn sports that our ship features?  Or our theatre that seats hundreds of passengers on multi levels?  We have a number of musical groups –very good ones, I might add – on board providing cabaret type shows, theatrical performances, poolside entertainment. . .whew, and I’ve just gotten started. . . there are cooking demonstrations, wine classes, art auctions, exercise classes. . .in fact it is time to head out now. . .there’s a lecture starting soon! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feeling Like a Celebrity

They all said it would be like this.

But, quite frankly, it sounded too good to be true.

The emails came as did the conversations:  “You will love Celebrity,” they said.  The accolades came from both friends and people previously unknown to us. In particular, many said, they loved the Solstice.
And then it began: Our embarkation greeting Sunday solsticetransatlantic 001was reminiscent of a cruise several years ago on Silversea: being handed a glass of bubbly  by a white-gloved waiter at the second we stepped on board

And if all those folks who told us we’d love this ship, had mentioned the long-stemmed red roses in our room (and bathroom!) I had forgotten. 

You recall we found a good deal long ago on this cruise from a company called CruCon Cruise Outlet  -- a deal so good that we were able to book Concierge Class for the price of a regular balcony room through other agencies.

So we’ve settled into to our beautiful room on the 9th floor that features both a spacious balcony and bathroom; a bathroom that featuring toiletries that remind me of the Bulgari products we were provided on Silversea.

We been so treated  like ‘Celebrities” the last few days, that you won’t  be surprised to learn that we spent part of our first morning on board talking with folks at the ‘future cruise’ desk.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Celebrity Bon Voyage!

We'll follow this waterway into the Atlantic Ocean
j.smith photo, (c) 2011
Just like kids on Christmas morning, we were both awake early: today is finally cruise day!

The day that seemed ages away when we booked the trip is finally here. Now we are only hours away from the time, 4:30 p.m.ET, that our Celebrity Solstice will gently slide from its berth at Port Everglades easing itself to the right and heading towards the Atlantic Ocean.

We will see land again next Saturday when we arrive in the Azores. We will  leave our hotel, the Springhill Suites Marriott, which was jam-packed Saturday with pre-cruise guests, joining them all just before noon in a parade of shuttles to the port.

Cruise lines and Port Everglades employees have so streamlined the embarkation process that it won't take long to board this floating ‘home’ away from home.
HAL 2009 cruise photos 008We'll likely be on board before our cabin is ready for us so our explorations will begin of this ship that sounds too good to be true. (I'll let you know about that later.  But honestly, from the first time I wrote that we were sailing on a Celebrity ship I have had emails telling me what a great cruise line it is and what a fantastic time we will have. We met another couple Saturday who echoed those sentiments and will also be on the ship with us.)

We will get hopelessly turned around as we set out to see all that each deck has to offer. And we’ll likely stay mixed up for several days, as this is one big ship! 

Then it will be 4:30 and the ship's horn will sound and a sort of magic will envelop us. We'll gather with fellow passengers first for safety drills and then to watch land disappear. There will be a potpourri of music and laughter, greetings and confusion. 

And since I invited you along, you need to grab yourself a beverage, sit back, make sure your computers speakers are on, then click the YouTube link and join us as we explore the Celebrity Solstice.

“Bon Voyage!”

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