Sunday, August 25, 2013

Canaveral to Get Sunshine, Liberty

New Carnival Ships to Call Port Canaveral Home

Sailing from Port Canaveral Post Card by CruiseReady 
In case you haven't heard - Next year, fans of Port Canaveral and Carnival Cruise Lines will have some new choices.  That's because, beginning in 2014, the line will re-position two ships that are currently sailing from East Central Florida's only cruise port, replacing them with two others.  Neither is a brand new ship, but both are new to Port Canaveral cruisers, and one has just undergone an extensive make-over.

The Sensation (pictured above) will be staying here, and will be joined by the Carnival Sunshine (replacing the Dream) in April and the Carnival Liberty (replacing the Ecstasy) in May.

Sunshine is the new name for  the older Carnival Destiny, which has undergone such an extensive refit that the cruise line felt it appropriate to re-christen her with a new name.  She'll sail 5, 7, and 8 night cruises, with each length sailing two choices of itineraries.

The seven and eight night itineraries of the Liberty will visit the same ports as those called on by the Sunshine.  The five night sailings will differ, however.

Sensation will continue to offer three and four night getaways to The Bahamas.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Today is National Aviation Day

Honoring Aviators and Aviation History in the U.S.
August 19 is National Aviation Day

Space Shuttle Columbia 

I think it's probably a pretty safe bet that a lot of people are unaware that today is National Aviation Day in the United States.  It's a day specially designated to celebrate the development of aviation.

August 19 was chosen because it's the birth date of Orville Wright, one of the famous brothers who made that famous first flight in 1903.

It's a perfect time to reflect on the amazing progress that has been made in the 110 years since Orville and his brother Wilbur made the first successful flight in a heavier than air craft.

Historic Wright Brothers Flight
The distance of their flight was measured in hundreds of feet, and the time it
stayed aloft was measured in seconds.  It went largely unnoticed by most of the rest of the world.  Yet, it was the start of something big - very big.

Now, ordinary folks routinely fly across the country and half way round the world.  A lucky few humans escape the bounds of earth and enter orbit, living in space for prolonged periods.  Amazing, isn't it?

Hurricane Hunter Aircraft
Today, I am reflecting on two groups of modern aviators for whom I have a great deal of admiration:  NASA's astronauts, and the men and women of the Hurricane Hunters. For me, both groups are filled with modern aviation heroes.

One thing that readers of this blog may find interesting is the seafaring  connection of the names of NASA's space shuttles.  Every one of them!   It's a fascinating connection for anyone who loves ships and the sea.  You can find out more about that in two articles I wrote, called  Space Shuttle Names, Part I: Columbia and Challenger  and Space Shuttle Names: Part II, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour.  Have a look, and see what you think.  Leave a comment, if you're so inclined.

I know I'll never fly into space, or into the eye of a hurricane.  But I like to think that if my life had taken a different turn, I might today be waiting a call to climb aboard a Gulfstream or Hurcules to help investigate the next developing tropical system.  What an amazing life that must be!

So, to all aviators, but most especially anyone connected with NASA, or the Hurricane Hunters:


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cute Bon Voyage Gift Idea

Wish Your Favorite Cruiser a Sweet Bon Voyage

Red Anchor Jelly Belly Candy Tin

Need an idea for a cute little bon voyage gift for your favorite cruiser?

Zazzle has added custom Jelly Belly tins to their line up of products.  They come filled with your choice of mints, or any one of more than a dozen varieties of Jelly Belly candies.  The candy is gluten free and soy free/  It's kosher, too.

Not only that, they are available in half a dozen shapes and sizes, including rectangular, round, bean shaped, and an old fashioned candy jar shape.

There are a couple of color choices, too.  For instance, the rectangular shape (which has a hinged lid) comes in either white, or a metal color, and the round tin even has a peek-a-boo lid option.

Sea Princess Candy Tins
On the Lido 

Of course, you don't have to wait until someone you know is about to set sail, and your favorite cruiser just may be yourself!

Blue Sea Anchor

Upgrade Fairy 

See more nautical candy tins

Monday, August 12, 2013

Updated 2013 Hurricane Season Predictions

Latest Forecasts by CSU and TSR

- from 2013 Atlantic Basin Hurricane Predictions -
Hurricane Felix (2007) passes Aruba, CC
The August updates for the 2013 hurricane season predictions have been released by two prominent forecasting teams:  Colorado State University, and Tropical Storm Risk.  Each has actually lowered their numbers, but only very slightly.

For years, those who follow seasonal tropical weather activity have followed the reports from the eminent team of Drs. FGray and Klotzbach at CSU.  Their original report, from April of this year, called for 18 named storms, 9 of which would become hurricanes, with 4 of those intensifying to major status.  The August forecast has revised that prediction to 18,8, and 3.

At TSR, the April numbers of 15.2 (named), 7.5(hurricanes), and 3.4 (major hurricanes) have also been lowered slightly in August, to 14.8, 6.9, and 3.0.

That's the good news.
The bad news is in the landfall predicions.  The brains at the two places generally agree that the chances of at least one hurricane hurricane making landfall somewhere in the U.S., and also at least one on the Caribbean are above average.  (That's as compared to the average year over the last century)

Here's where you can see more about this year's forecasts, and compare the numbers from CSU and TSR, as well as the NHC and WSI:   2013 Atlantic Basin Hurricane Predictions

How are we doing so far?
So far, we have seen four named storms, which puts us ahead of schedule compared to a typical year.  None of those four ever made it to hurricane status, making this year to date normal in that respect.

The next name on the list is:  Erin. (See all the hurricane names for 2013)

REMINDER:  Make sure your hurricane supplies are in order and that your emergency evacuation plans are up to date.  Don't forget the fresh batteries for your NOAA Weather Radio.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cruise Ship Comes To Aid Of Tour Vessel At Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve | National Parks Traveler

 Statendam Photo by Saberwyn ,
 via Wikimedia Commons
Cruise Ship Comes To Aid Of Tour Vessel At Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve | National Parks Traveler

Love stories like this!

It's the story of an excursion boat, with about 100 aboard, stranded in a remote Alaskan waterway.  HAL's Statendam, which was in the area, dispatched lifeboats, and took on everyone from the smaller vessel, then delivered them safely to their originating location.

(to read more, follow the above link)

Bravo, Statendam!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's Lighthouse Day

August 7 Is National Lighthouse Day

Light The Way Lighthouse Print by bmthour 
Today is National Lighthouse Day in the United States.

Why was August 7 selected?  That's because it was on this day in 1789 that congress passed legislation authorizing the government to build and maintain lighthouses. You can read the full text of the legislation here,  It's just a few paragraphs.  They didn't need thousands of pages in those days.

These days, the lighthouses in the U.S. that still serve as active aids to navigation are automated, and have no need of keepers.  Most are open to the public, as they are important pieces of national and nautical history.

Today is a good time to reflect on the countless ships and souls that were guided to safe harbor by the beacon of one of these stalwart structures.  You might also investigate your local lighthouse or preservation association, if you happen to live near the ocean or a major inland waterway.

If, like me, you are fond of all things nautical, or lighthouses in particular, you might want to commemorate this special day by finding a great lighthouse jigsaw puzzle to work on the next rainy day.

It's also a good opportunity for me to introduce you to some works of Brenda Thour, one of my favorite artists.  You can purchase quality reproductions of her lighthouse, landscape, and wildlife paintings from her Zazzle gallery.  They are available not only on stretched canvas, and as posters, but also on a variety of other items, like these three examples:

For lighthouse lovers, here are several more pages that I've written.  Each showcases lighthouse themed products, and also gives some  brief stories about particular beacons.

Have a Happy National Lighthouse Day!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jamaica!

Today is Independence Day in Jamaica

Oh, Jamaica.  For those of us who cruise the Western Caribbean, it's at least somewhat familiar.  But, how much do you actually know about Jamaica?

For instance... today is Jamaica's Independence Day.  August 6, 1962 was the day that the island nation, which had been under the rule of Great Britain, gained full independence.  As such, it was the first Caribbean island nation to do so.  Happy Fifty First Birthday, Jamaica!

Being such a special day, it's also a good one to pass on a few random facts about the country.  So, here are a few things you'll be able to impress your cruise mates with the next time you're fortunate enough to enjoy Ocho Rios, Falmouth, or Kingston as a port of call.

Jamaican Lighthouses
 Plumb Point Lighthouse,
via Wikimedia Commons
There are eleven lighthouses in Jamaica. Nine of these are on the Jamaican mainland, and two are on small cays out in the Caribbean Sea.

The country's port authority reports that the lamp in the Plumb Point Lighthouse, near Port Royal, has gone out just once since the structure was erected in 1853.  That one outage was during an earthquake that struck the area in 1907.

Other Random Facts about Jamaica
  • The land mass we call Jamaica is actually the third largest island in the Greater Antilles.
  • Kingston boasts the seventh largest natural harbor in the world.
  • Not surprisingly, rum is the national drink.
  • Reggae music originated there in the 1960's.
  • The movie Cool Runnings, about a Jamaican bobsled team that had no snow to train on, yet made it to the Olympics is actually based on fact.  
  • Last year on August 6, 20125,  one U.S. dollar was worth about 86 Jamaican dollars.  This year, it would be worth about 99.  
  • That right now, means their $20.00 coin (yes, there is one) is roughly equivalent to an American nickel. 
Here's a page where you can enjoy a few images of Jamaica, and vote for your favorite.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Quantum Tidbits

Some Little Tidbits about Quantum and Anthem of the Seas

As practically everyone knows by now, construction is underway on a new class of Royal Caribbean ships.  The first, Quantum of the Seas is due in November, 2014, with her sister, Anthem of the Seas debuting in April, 2015.  

In size, the Quantum class ships will fall in between two existing classes:  Larger than Freedom of the Seas and her sisters, but smaller than the Oasis class cruise ships.

Cruising solo?  Line up one of the 28 single cabins, called 'studio staterooms,' 12 of which will have balconies.

If you liked the self-leveling pool tables on Royal Caribbean's Radiance class ships, you be pleased to know you'll e able to enjoy them on the new ships, too. 

And, finally, Bayonne.  You could be sailing on the Quantum of the Seas on a 7 - 12 days voyage out of the NEW Bayonne, NJ cruise terminal facility to be constructed by Royal Caribbean.  

If you're anticipating being one of the first to experience her while she still has that 'new ship' smell, then you probably already know that bookings are open for November 2014 through early April of 2015. 

A third ship in the class, due out in 2016, has yet to be given a name.   RCI also has an option for a fourth.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Carnival Sunshine Christening Scheduled

Godmother Lin Arison to Christen Sunshine

Photo credit: Piergiuliano Chesi , via Wikimedia Commons
Formerly the Carnival Destiny, the refurbishment of this ship has been so extensive that the  Cruise Line has deemed it appropriate to rechristen the vessel with a new name.

Although the ship is currently sailing the Med under her new name, she will officially be christened at New Orleans, LA, on November 17.   The re-positioning cruise departs from Barcelona on November 1.

Doing the honors at the official ceremony, which is by invitation only, will be the ship's godmother, Lin Arison, wife of Carnival's founder, Ted Arison (1924-1999).  

After gracing the Big Easy with her presence for several months, Sunshine will then home port in Port Canaveral, effectively switching places with the Dream, which will move to New Orleans.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cruise Accessories: Nautical Flip Flops

Cool Footwear

Looking for some fun footwear for your next cruise?  Zazzle now carries high quality Sandalei sandals in both men's and women's sizes.  Browse through hundreds of designs, like the  anchors design shown above.  If maritime themes inspire you, find a cool pair of nautical themed flip flops to toss in your carry-on, and proceed straight from the gangway to the lido deck.

Here are several more from Zazzle's collection of nautical flip flops:


Sailboats And Lighthouses

Vintage Sea Life


Need an idea for a gift for a friend who loves all things nautical?

If flip flops aren't exactly your thing, maybe one of those pages will help you find just the perfect thing for yourself or someone you know.