Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cruising During Hurricane Season

As hurricane season starts tomorrow, I am reminded that I'm often asked about cruising during hurricane season. Frequent questions include: 1) Is is SAFE to be at sea when a tropical system is, or might b, around? 2) WHY would anyone want to cruise then, anyway? and 3) What about seasickness?

Is it safe? Pretty much! If you think about it, NO PLACE is absolutely safe in a major hurricane. But, I'd rather ride one out at sea, where the ship can move out of the way of the storm, than cooped up in a stationary hotel room with no power and only emergency food rations.

Yes - there may be minor inconveniences, as the ship moves through rough seas, seeking safe harbor, or sunny skies. The outside decks may logically be off limits. Even when they aren't, taking a dip in the pool may be out of the question. But, rest assured the captain of the ship WILL use all the skill and navigational equipment at his disposal to get his (or her!) vessel fillled with human cargo to a safe location.

Why cruise then? There are often some awfully good deals to be had during hurricane season (June 1 - Nov 30), but particularly during the peak part season, when most storms tend to occur. Peak season is roughly from mid August through late October. Personally, if a system is heading my way, and my area is under orders to evacuate, I'd prefer to hop on a ship and set out to sea than evauate inland. But, that's just me.

What about the motion of the ocean? It happens! Be prepared. Different people are more or less subject to sea sickness. And different remedies work well for some, but not others. I HATE the pills. Took 'em once, as a precaution, sailing during Hurricane Jeanne. I slept - a LOT. Many folks who ARE subject to motion sickness, and don't like a drug-based solution use products containing real ginger, including ginger candy, like these, available at Cruise Ready Store.

There are also some special considerations that should be taken by anyone considering a Caribbean or Bahamas cruise during the season. Some that I believe to be quite important are listed on my Tips for New Cruisers page. I'll post them here in more detail later this week.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cruise Line Private Islands

One of my favorite things about cruising is visiting the private islands that belong to the cruise lines. Well, at least the two I've visited so far. One of the items on my 'bucket list' is to visit all of them. If the others are as nice as the two I've gotten to, visiting each and every one of them is, indeed, an bucket list worthy item.

I've been to Royal Caribbean's CocoCay at least a dozen times, and so far, it's one of my all time favorite places on earth. If you like water, sun, or natural beauty, you can find it on CocoCay. You won't find automobiles, skyscrapers, telephones, or any other of those annoying modern "conveniences."

What you can do there:
Sunbathe, swim, jet-ski, mingle with the crowds, find (semi) solitude, kayak, parasail, snorkel, shop for souvenirs, play beach volleyball, and eat, drink, and be merry, for starters. In short, you can make your own perfect day at CocoCay. (About the drinking part: a must have is a Coco Loco, the official drink of CocoCay.) Did I mentioin snorkeling? Oh, yeah!

This fall, I have a return trip scheduled to Princess Cays, and it ain't half bad, either.

Brought to you by Cruise Ready Store

Thursday, May 28, 2009

First T.D. of the Season - Already!

Tropical Depression Number One has formed 300 miles south of the coat of Rhode Isand. TD One is forecast to become a minimal Tropical Storm, probably briefly, at which time, it will be named Ana. The system is expected to be a 'fish,' meaning, it is forecast to stay over water its entire life, not threatening land at any time.
Ana should pose no insurmountable probleme for the Norwegian Majesty which leaves Bermuda to return to Baltimore tomorrow.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Win a Free Cruise for Two

Here's another cruise give-away contest by a cruise line. This one is from Celebration Cruise Line, a new single-ship line that runs short cruises to the Bahamas from Ft. Lauderdale.
The link to the contest page is:

This free cruise opportunity brought to you by Cruise Ready Store

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Win a Cruise on HAL

Visit this link to enter to win a cruise on Holland America Line.

This cruise contest link brought to you by Cruise Ready Store

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Port Canaveral Potpourri #3 - Cocoa Beach Pier

The Cocoa Beach Pier is a great option for spending a couple or three pleasant hours on the day before your cruise, and includes several choices for lunch, a snack, or an adult beverage. It's also a great area for walking on the beach, wading in the surf, and watching the surfers paddle out and ride in. Weather and surf conditions permitting, you might even want to take a dip in the Atlantic.

GETTING THERE: From the Cruise Terminals, go South on A1A. When you see the Holiday Inn Express on your right, and Perkins on your left, take the next left, and go two blocks. PARKING: When the lot attendant is there, you'll pay $5 to park for the day. But, if you're just going for an hour or so, find an emply meter on one of the two streets bordering the property to the north and south, and pop in several quarters.

Before you set foot on the actual pier, you'll find: To your left - OH SHUCKS, a right-on-on-the beach (literally) seafood bar. Oysters in season are good here. To your far left (across the side street, actually), there's RiCKY'S ARCHADE AND ICE CREAM PARLOR, which the kids will love.
As you stroll out onto the pier, you'll notice a couple of SHOPS on your left, and THE BOARDWALK on your right. The boardwalk is a fabulous place to sip a cold one and watch the beach activity below.
Next, you'll encounter the entrance to the ATLANTIC OCEAN GRILLE (on your left) and MARLIN'S (straight ahead.) The Grille is open evenings for full dinners,. What a spectacular view looking over the ocean toward the Cape! Marlins is open during the day and evening for lighter fare. For a nice interlude, ask for a window table at Marlin's, and enjoy one of their fish sandwiches while you watch the surfers directly below you and feel the Atlantic Ocean waves lap against the pilings of the pier.

After your meal, walk out onto the end of the pier, where you can watch the fishermen, view the cape and launch pads to the north through binocular stands, or feed the pelicans.

All in all, you'll find a lot to help you pass a pleasant afternoon on and around the Cocoa Beach Pier.

This idea for a pleasant afternoon brought to you by:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cruise Lines returning to Mexio

Announcements have been made by the two largest cruise lines that they will be resuming calls at ports in Mexico.
Royal Caribbean will once again be making calls at Mexican ports, beginning with cruises that leave on May 24 or thereafter. Carnival ships will return to Mexican ports in mid June.

This good news brought to you by Cruise Ready Store.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

2009 Hurricane Season is Fast Approaching

Atlantic Basin Hurrucane Season begins in just over two weeks, on June 1st.
The season for the Eastern Pacific (EPaC) starts tomorrow - May 15th.

In most years, we see fewer storms early in the season. However, now is still a good time to remind everyone that the official beginning of the 2009 hurricane season is upon us. For those of us living in hurricane country, and for anyone who cruises, it's time to start watching the tropics for signs of possible developmnet.

Most of the major forecast organizations are predicting a near average season. Drs. Gray and Klotzbach's April forecast was for 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. (The average: 9.6, 5.9, and 2.3)

I'll be watching the tropics, and blogging on storm development, landfall threats, and effects on cruising.

If you're planning on cruising between June 1 and Nov 30, look for tips on cruising during hurricane season on many cruise sites around the web, including what I consider to be the four most basic (and important) ones, which you'll find near the bottom of my Cruising Tips for New Cruisers page.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Possible Swine Flu Case on Serenade of the Seas

One crew member on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas is sick, possibly with Swine Flu, and is in quarantine. The Serenade is currently sailing an Alaskan itinerary.
Advice for cruisers is the same as for landlubbers, only MORE SO, because you're in a confined setting with lots of others: wash hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, and if you have to sneeze or cough, do so into the crook of your arm, rather than your hand. If you have ANY symptoms, see the ship's doctor.

This news brought to you by

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grand Cayman!

The harbor at George Town, Grand Cayman Island

Today is Grand Cayman Day. What a beautiful place! There are actually three islands in the Cayman Islands: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. These three tiny spces in the Caribbean Sea, South of Cuba, are the most hurricane-prone areas in the Atlantic Basin. We could take lessons from them. They know how to rebuild!

Grand Cayman is a prosperous little spec of land, too. It appears that most everyone there is employed in one of two endeavors: tourism or banking. You can't go a half a block in George Town without seeing a bank. Banks are big business there. But, that's a story for another day, and, just maybe, someone else's blog.

Tourism is big business there, too. And with good reason. It's an astonishingly beautiful place, with a high standard of living, and much to offer. The weather is fabulous, the diving and snorkeling excellent, the atmosphere friendly, and the pace laid back.

Two most fascinating creatures are to be found there... and one of those two ONLY there.

More people have probably interacted with the southern sting ray at Grand Cayman's Stingray City than just about anywhere else on the planet. The gentle, graceful creatures are so accustomed to humans visiting the sandbar named for them that they flock there at the sound of approaching boat motors.

And then, there's the Blue Iguana. Oh, my. Yes, they really are blue, they grow very large, and live very long... and are very endangered. Hurry to the Caymans if you want to see them, because you can't see them anyplace else on earth.

These words about this very special place brought to you by:
Specials at Cruise Ready Store

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ah . . . Sea Days!

Today is the first of two scheduled Days at Sea on our cruise. I do LOVE Sea Days!

Why? It's a real treat to just sit on the Aft, mesmerized by the wake, or stand at the railing, and watch the water go by. Occasional sightings of other ships and tiny islands are fun - especially with binoculars. Sometimes, I'm fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of dolphins playint, or a flight of flying fish glittering in the Caribbean sun. Then, there are those marvelous sunrises and sunsets at sea. I just can't get enough!
My love of Sea Days is what inspired me to come up with the Sea Days Magnet, pictured above.
As you can see, the simple things about Sea Days are what I enjoy the most. I also enjoy sitting on the pool deck and chatting leasiurely with my cruise buddies. You meet the nicest folks at sea. For me, Sea Days are all about freedom... absolute freedom to do what you want, when you want - OR NOT!
For others, Sea Days are all about activity... roaming the ship, participating in organized pool games, sunbathing, attending lectures, bingo, trivia contests, shopping, gambling, and of course, the all time favorite - scarfing down scrumptuous food, food, and more food.
I recently asked the question, "What's so special about a Day at Sea?" over on the Cruise Line Fans forum. Quite a few cruisers chimed in with their opinions. Please feel free to add yours!
Ah . . . Sea Days! brought to you by:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Today's the Day! Freedom for Port Canaveral

Today is a BIG day for Port Canaveral, because the BIGGEST cruise ship ever to home port here - Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas - makes her Central Florida debut today. The first of the Freedom Class ships, she's moving here from South Florida, complete with her Cantilevered whirlpools, Ice-skating rink, Royal Promenade, and other innovations that were created just for this class of ship.

Ths local port authority has but together a welcome and bon voyage to-do for her first sailing out of our port. It's dubbed the 'Sail-A-Bration,' and takes place today from 4:00- 6:00pm at Jetty Park.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I'll miss the event. I'm currently cruising on another ship... and today's port of call is Key West, where my snorkel buddy and I plan to plunge in and explore the reef off the soutnern tip of the Sunshine State. Hopefully, there will be pics of what we find when we come back!

Over my swim suit, I may just wear a pair of quick-drying Mesh Swim Cover up shorts from Cruise Ready Store. They take up almost no room at all in your suitcase!

Available (while supplies last) in three colors at $2.00 off retail

This entry brought to you by:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bon Voyage to Me

Today, I can legitimately wear one of the very first Shirts for Cruising that ever went on sale at Cruise Ready Store. That's right, the Bon Voyage to Me T Shirt. Sure does feel good to be getting ready to spend a few nights on board one of those big beauties again!

My friend's flight lands shortly after mine at the same airport, so we'll be able to meet up and share a cab to the pier. Then, it's straight through VIP check in and across the gangway. (She's a frequent cruiser with this line, so she's "worked" hard to EARN that VIP privilege.)

Shortly after 4 PM, we'll don our life vests and procede to wherever we're told for our muster drill. Muster drill is a MUST, no matter how many times you've been through them before Many cruisers say look at the drills as a real pain. But, I prefer to think of them as an important milestone. It marks the end of all of your pre-cruise and the beginning of the real thing. It's the last thing you absolutely MUST do until you must get off the ship at the end of the cruise. So, in a way, it's kind of exciting, eventhough you could give the little speach for them - word for word.


Once muster drill is over, my time is all mine for the duration. And the ship will head out to sea. I can almost smell the sea air now! There's nothing like a cruise to refresh and reinvigorate the spirit, believe me.
Next stop: Key West

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sailaway tomorrow.

All packed and ready for an O Dark Thirty departure in the morning... It's time to cruise!

My original plans were to drive to the port, but found an air special for $9 more that what port parking alone would cost. So, a one hour flight it is.

I am SO ready to see my good friend and cruising buddy again. And, we're both ready to hit that beautiful turquoise water for some quality snorkel time.

The store is closed, but the blog will continue through the cruise. Stay tuned . . .