Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sailing from Luxembourg

Catching Up with Ship

Once again, our ship moved from where we last left it in Grevemmacher around 1:30 PM.  Since Luxembourg excursion was optional, not all passengers disembarked after lunch.  Those that stayed onboard got several hours of extra cruising along the Moselle river.

Artistry II made a technical stop in the village of Riol to pickup passengers who had been on the Luxembourg excursion.

Evening Sailing to Cochem

 We had some time before dinner to enjoy the view from our cabin.   As you can see from both pictures, this is wine country and vineyard after vineyard lined the river banks.

After our usual Port Talk by Mark, our Cruise Director, it was time for dinner in the main dining room.   We had a lovely view of the vineyards along our route.

Dinner - Main Dining

(click images to enlarge)

The main entree choice that we selected was Grilled Skewer of Beef, Pork, and Chicken.  This wasn't your typical dinner selection on most cruises we've been on previously.  It was excellent, by the way..

Click on the menu to the left to see alternative choices as well as more details about our meal.

As usual, there were two soup choices and several other starter choices.  

We completed our meal with a Belgian waffle accompanied by berries.   Note:  you can order this off the breakfast menu as well - highly recommended.

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page:

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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Not all Cabins are Alike

Interior Stateroom with Two Twin Beds

Cruise Ship Accommodations

You've decided to go to your local hotel for a weekend getaway and you call reservations to book your room.   What are some of the questions the clerk asks?

How many people? Do you want a king bed or two double beds?  Do you want high floor or low floor?  Is anyone in your party handicapped?   Do you want to be near or away from the elevator?   Would you like the parking lot view or the pool view?

Just as hotel rooms aren't alike, neither are cruise ship cabins. You'll need to decide on the types of accommodations that will best meet you and your traveling companions' needs.

Main Cabin Accommodation Types:   
Interior, Outside, Balcony, Deluxe

Outside Cabin with Obstructed View
Pictured above is your typical Interior (inside) cabin.   As you might expect, it has no windows of any type. Imagine walking into a bedroom or walk-in closet that doesn't have any windows.   That's exactly what you should expect in an inside cabin.

These will be the lowest priced cabins on the ship.  If you like dark when you sleep, then this is definitely for you.  On the other hand, if you are claustrophobic,   then you definitely won't want this type of cabin.

Location, Location, Location

Just like in a hotel, not only does the type of cabin factor into the cost, but also the location.  Cabin types are further divided into categories.   Each cruise line has a different labeling scheme for categories, but what they have in common is grouping by deck and location on the deck.  The least expensive inside cabins will be found on the lowest decks, either all the way forward or all the way aft.   Cabins located in the center of the deck command a premium price as do cabins located on higher decks.

Rooms With a View

The next category of cabins is the Outside accommodations.   As the name suggests, these cabins aren't hidden away in some dark interior part of the ship, but rather have some sort of window that allows you to look out at the sea.    On the majority of the ships, the cabin may have a port hole or picture window.   These cabins tend to be on lower decks and could be across the hallway from an interior accommodation.   For families traveling with children, you may want to book an inside for the kids and an outside for parents.   We'll leave cabin size to another blog post by the way.

Location is still a price-determining  factor as was the case with the inside cabins.   Another sub-category is outside cabins that have an obstructed or partially obstructed view.    The picture above shows a cabin that is partially obstructed.   You can look out at the sea, but you'll also see a life-boat or other obstruction due to the location of the cabin.   You have a view with any of these cabins, but you won't get any fresh air since the windows do not open.

Balcony Stateroom

Balcony accommodations, like the cabin pictured here, are the next major level up from Outside cabins.  As the name implies, you have a private veranda (balcony) which is accessed via a sliding door in your cabin.   Most balconies have a small table and one or more chairs so that you can lounge outside your cabin and watch the sea go by or view the port as the ship arrives or sails away.

These cabins are primarily on the higher decks, although on some modern ships, there is a high percentage of balconies, which implies they could be found on lower decks.

Location is still important with balcony accommodations.   On some ships, there are balconies located on the "hump", or area of the ship that juts out further than the rest of the cabins on that deck.   These are typically in the center of the deck and command a premium price.   Royal Caribbean's newest ships, Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas have interior balconies that overlook Boardwalk and Central Park neighborhoods, but all other ships provide a view of the ocean from your balcony.

How Suite it Is

Deluxe accommodations come in various shapes and sizes and offer exclusive amenities to guests.  These cabins are also known as balcony suites on most cruise ships.   These deluxe accommodations are comparable to suites one would find in finer hotels on land.
Royal Loft Suite with Balcony

The cabins may have butler service depending on the cruise line.   They are larger than standard balcony cabins in most cases and may even have multiple bedrooms to accommodate families or groups traveling together.

Pictured here is one of the Royal Loft Suites with Balcony on the Oasis of the Seas.   This is a two-deck high stateroom with panoramic views.  Besides the multiple sleeping areas, the private balcony comes complete with whirlpool and dining area.   You may not want to leave your suite at all during the cruise.   We mentioned we'd talk about cabin size another time, but just to give you an idea, this is larger than some houses.

 Special Needs

Most ships have specially designed cabins for guests that have accessibility needs, such as wheelchair access.   These may be limited in quantity and cabin types, so you'll need to book early if this is a necessity for your cruise.

There are many types of bed configurations on ships.    The standard sleeping arrangement is two twin beds that can be together or apart.   Bunk beds, sleeper sofas, Pullmans, roll-a-ways, and even cribs can be found on most ships.    You'll want to be sure to discuss options with your cruise specialist.

Cabins are double occupancy for the basic configuration.  There are a limited number of cabins on most ships that can handle 3 or 4 guests.  If you have more than that in you party, you'll need multiple cabins or one of the deluxe accommodations.  Triple and quad-occupancy cabins are strictly controlled by the U.S. Coast Guard.   Once capacity is reached, the cruise line cannot sell any additional cabins of that type.   So, book early if you will have more than double occupancy in your party.

What Cabin is Right for You

Do you think you have this all figured out? You know exactly what cabin type and category you want for your cruise? Let me warn you. We've over-simplified things here. There are 37+ different categories of cabin accommodations on Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. That is the most extreme case at the present, but the majority of the ships have more than 10 different types of accommodations with multiple categories within type.

Many times we've had prospective customers ask about a particular rate they saw on some advertisement. They can't understand why the price we're quoting is higher than what they found. Probably the funniest story was a conversation with a honeymoon couple that saw a cabin with a lower price than we were quoting. When asked if they really wanted to spend their honeymoon in bunk beds, they saw the error of their ways.

It is best to work with a cruise specialist who can properly advise you about the various pros and cons of each cabin category. The last thing you want is to be sea sick because you picked a cabin location where you felt every wave during your cruise. Or perhaps worse yet, you got no sleep the entire cruise because you were right next door to the main elevator. There are reasons why the cabin is priced lower than others.

We have deck plans for all the ships on our website. Just select the cruise line you are interested in and browse the ship's photos, 360 views, and layouts.  Here are some links to photo albums on our FB pageAll Cruise Lines

Families Need to Plan Early

You've seen several different types of accommodations here.  There are more options, specific to ship and cruise line, that cater to families which need more than 2 people in a cabin. There are a limited number of cabins that can accommodate 3 or 4 passengers.   This is strictly enforced by the Coast Guard, so the cruise line cannot make an exception and convert a double into a triple for example.  When the cabin category is filled, you need to get a higher cabin category which means more money.

Another issue for families is the need to have children or others in the party in neighboring cabins.  The cruise lines have specific rules, based on the age of the cabin occupants, on where those cabins must be located and who is allowed to be in the cabin together.

In order to have best selection and price, we highly recommend you book way in advance when planning a vacation with families and groups of cabins traveling together.  The time of year and destination factors into the equation as well.   Everyone wants to cruise over Spring Break for example - and most of them will be families with the same needs as yours.  

We Can Simplify The Cabin Selection for You - Just Contact Us to Plan YOUR Cruise

Allure of the Seas Staterooms 
(Photo Albums on our FB fan page)

Royal Loft Suite with Balcony

Sky Loft Suites

More Allure Staterooms

Norwegian Epic Staterooms
(Photo Albums on our FB fan page)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Planning a Cruise

You Haven't Lived Until You've Cruised...

You've heard friends talk about their cruise vacations and how great a time they had, and you wonder what's it all about. More and more people are discovering the all-inclusive pleasures of a cruise vacation.   This month, in conjunction with CLIA's National Plan a Cruise Month, we are writing a series of articles to help you become more familiar with cruise vacations.

Planning Your First / Next Cruise

The diagram above shows some of the decision points that factor into your final selection of a particular cruise sailing.   At first glance, it may seem to be a bit daunting, and perhaps that is what has kept you away from taking a cruise up to now.  We can work with you to demystify the process.

We highly recommend that you work with a professional travel agent, that specializes in cruises, to plan your vacation.   As a CLIA certified Master Cruise Counselor (MCC), we've taken the time to learn about the industry, the cruise lines, the destinations, all the changes that occur year after year, and through our personal experiences, can ask the right questions to find the cruise that best meets your desires.  The MCC certification isn't a one-time event, it is an ongoing commitment, of our expertise, which we need to renew year after year, much like your family doctor.

Asking the Right Questions

Think about other travel that you have done ...  When planning those trips, you had certain criteria in mind that ultimately factored into what became your vacation or business trip.

Who's Going, What are their Ages, When Can you Go

In many cases, you are locked into a specific date or period of time (such as when the other travelers can get off of work, or when the kids are out of school).  Once a date is selected, the pool of possible cruise destinations may shrink.   For example, if you wanted to cruise in December, you won't be going to Alaska, as that season goes from May - September.

Are Certain Ports a Must, Are you Driving or Flying to Port

We'll look at destinations in more detail in another post, but that is one of the key determining factors in planning the actual sailing.   Let's assume that you want to meet a long lost relative in a foreign country...   that would become a must-see port of call and could become your primary deciding factor.

If you are fortunate enough to be within driving distance to a cruise port, departing from that port may dictate the length of cruise and destination(s) possible.  Even if you are flying, each port has certain destinations that are within sailing distance for a given length of a cruise.

Do you Have any Preferences

You may have some cruise lines, that you are familiar with, and want to sail on.   This may be a trip with the family who loves Disney characters or Dreamworks characters and the cruise line becomes the most important factor in your planning.

Finding the Right Cruise at the Right Price

After discussing all the options within the framework of your wants, the final decision will most likely involve what's available within my budget.   Our goal as your agent is to find you the best value for your vacation dollar.  Note that doesn't necessarily equate to the lowest price.   If the lowest priced cruise doesn't have any of your top requirements, then that cruise isn't for you.  You wouldn't buy a car that you didn't like, and you shouldn't purchase a cruise vacation that you won't like either.

Starting the Planning

We have many tools for you to begin your cruise research.   We are highlighting them throughout the month as we look at cruising, which we fell in love with personally some 30+ years ago.  This blog, our Facebook page, and our website are your building blocks.   We have a cruise finder on all these sites which can give you an idea about the destinations that are possible within the desired time frame.  The best tool that you have at  your disposal is the phone.  An interactive conversation is the best way to uncover your wants and desires and funnel them down to possible candidate cruise sailings.

Are you new to cruising?   Start by reading our Cruise Rookies page.  We'll be posting several more articles this month, but if you can't wait, we suggest you next visit our NCVW mini-site.  You can also search our Blog for past articles.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas.  Sign up for our eNewsletter to get updates.

National Plan A Cruise Month Promotions 

Cruise lines are offering special promotions and pricing on popular cruises to encourage consumers to plan their next cruise vacation now.

We'll be featuring promotions on our website and social media.  Click here to see current offers.

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Hurricane Joaquin Impacts Cruise Itineraries

Graphic of Hurricane Joaquin courtesy of NHC
Other images: 5-Day track off3-Day track off3-Day track onInteractive


A turn toward the northeast is expected tonight with an additional increase in forward speed. On the forecast track, the core of the strongest winds of Joaquin will continue moving over portions of the central and northwestern Bahamas today. Joaquin will begin to move away from the Bahamas tonight and Saturday. Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have all been impacted by the hurricane. Please click on the following links for updated information.

Carnival: Tropical Weather Update (Joaquin)
Norwegian: Weather Alert
Royal Caribbean: Tropical Weather Updates

NHC issuing advisories for the Atlantic on Hurricane JOAQUIN


Full coverage of this, and all tropical storms, can be found on our Hurricane Zone page.   There are RSS feeds from the National Hurricane Center posted there giving you up to the minute information.   For storms that impact cruises, we will bring you information on those details as well.  Please bookmark that page for further reference during the Hurricane Season which runs now through November 30th.

200 PM AST SUN OCT 04 2015

105 MPH...165 KM/H
with higher gusts
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...
* Bermuda

Carnival Pride: Pride's September 30 itinerary from Baltimore will replace 
its October 1 call at Half Moon Cay with a sea day.

Carnival Valor: Valor's September 26 cruise from Port Canaveral will miss 
Grand Turk on October 1 and instead spend a day at sea.

Carnival Conquest: The ship's September 26 itinerary will replace Grand Turk
 on October 2 with a sea day.

Carnival Sensation: Carnival Sensation's three-night Bahamas cruise (Oct 1 
sailing) will visit Freeport instead of Nassau on October 2.

Disney Magic: Disney Magic has been forced to skip its scheduled visits to 
Castaway Cay and Nassau. The ship's new itinerary is Key West on October 1, 
Cozumel on October 2 and a sea day on October 3.

Disney Dream: Disney Dream will replace its October 2 call at Nassau with a 
sea day. As of now, it will visit Castaway Cay on October 3 as scheduled.  
Disney Fantasy: Disney Fantasy will skip Castaway Cay on October 2 before 
returning to Port Canaveral on Saturday. 

Norwegian Getaway: On October 2, Norwegian Getaway will skip Nassau for a sea 
day before returning to Miami Saturday morning.

Royal Princess: Royal Princess will skip the line's private island on 
September 30 and October 2.

Crystal Symphony: The ship has canceled its Bar Harbor call, scheduled for 
October 2. It will arrive in New York October 3 (a day earlier than scheduled), 
giving passengers more time in the city.

Liberty of the Seas: The Royal Caribbean ship will head to St. John, Canada 
on Saturday instead of King Wharf, Bermuda.

Enchantment of the Seas: Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas will not
be able to call on Nassau, Bahamas as originally scheduled. Instead, the ship
will sail to Freeport, Bahamas in an effort to try to find the calmest seas
A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected
somewhere within the warning area.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible
within the watch area.
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are
possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Storm Archive       Graphics Archive



WIND:  Tropical storm conditions are first expected to reach Bermuda
later this morning, with hurricane conditions expected by later this
afternoon and early evening.

TORNADOES:  Isolated tornadoes are possible on Bermuda this
afternoon and early evening.

STORM SURGE:  A dangerous and life-threatening storm surge is
expected to produce significant coastal flooding in Bermuda.  Near
the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive

RAINFALL:  Joaquin is expected to produce total rainfall
accumulations of 3 to 5 inches across Bermuda through tonight.

SURF:  Swells generated by Joaquin will continue to affect portions
of the Bahamas during the next few days. Swells are affecting much
of the southeastern and mid-Atlantic coasts of the United States and
will spread northward along the east coast of the United States
through Monday.  These swells are likely to cause life-threatening
surf and rip current conditions. Even though Joaquin is expected to
pass well east of the coast of the United States, a prolonged period
of elevated water levels and large waves will affect the
mid-Atlantic region, causing significant beach and dune erosion with
moderate coastal flooding likely. Please consult products from your
local weather office.

1100 PM AST SUN SEP 27 2015
1100 PM EDT MON SEP 28 2015

1100 PM EDT TUE SEP 29 2015
800 AM EDT WED SEP 30 2015
1100 PM EDT WED SEP 30 2015

535 AM EDT THU OCT 1 2015
At 535 AM EDT (0935 UTC) the Government of the Bahamas has issued a
Hurricane Warning for the Acklins, Crooked Island, and Mayaguana in
the southeastern Bahamas.
200 PM EDT THU OCT 01 2015

1100 AM EDT FRI OCT 02 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Luxembourg City Dining

click images to enlarge
Feeling Hungry?

We had eaten lunch before leaving for our city tour of Luxembourg and dinner would be waiting for us when we return to the ship, but if you didn't want to wait, there are plenty of dining options in city center.

From French Brasseries and Pâtisseries to local or international food chains, there is something for everyone.

"You Deserve a Break Today ..."

Traveling the world we've found the Golden Arches all over and that includes Luxembourg.  Here you'll find your hometown favorites as well as a local twist on the menu.

As you can see from the sign, there's plenty of seating inside or you can eat outside in the center of the plaza.

There are 9 McDonald's as of this writing.

Quality Burger

If you are looking for a fast food alternative to McDonald's, give Quick Restaurant a try while in Luxembourg.   We can't provide personal experience, and since food likes are subjective, you'll need to make your own decision on whether or not it was quality or simply fast food.

Luxembourg is one of those cities where we didn't have enough time to really try or see it all.

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page:

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

More Luxembourg Prominent Attractions

Grand Ducal Palace

The Grand Ducal Palace is a palace in Luxembourg City. It is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and where he performs most of his duties as head of state of the Grand Duchy. There were no guards present which means the Grand Duke was not in residence when we were there.

click images to enlarge

After walking around for awhile, several passengers were looking for a water closet.   Our guide directed us to the Chocolate House which had a WC downstairs.   The stairs were very narrow and had enough room for only one person at a time.


The most prominent attractions include the "casemates" or bunkers, which are among the longest subterranean tunnels in the world. The casemates that once formed an extraordinary network of 23 km were carved into the rocks of the city and are a top attraction in Luxembourg City. Not only did they provide shelter for thousands of defenders with their equipment and horses, but they were also home to workshops of artillery and armaments, kitchens, bakeries, slaughterhouses, etc.

Chemin de la Corniche

Also called “the most beautiful balcony of Europe” (according to the Luxembourg writer Batty Weber), it runs along the Alzette valley on the ramparts - built by the Spaniards and the French in the 17th century - from the Bock Promontory up to the lower part of the Holy Ghost Citadel, the so-called “Rondellen”.

Up to the year 1870 the Corniche had staircases in steep parts which were leveled off only after the dismantling of the fortress. Moreover the greatest part of the protecting wall with its loopholes was cleared away so as to disclose a superb panorama on the valley of the Alzette, the city district of Grund and the Rham Plateau.

Place de la Constitution

The Constitution Square was put up on the ancient Beck bastion (1644, 1685). The "Gëlle Fra", a monument which is located on this square, was set up in 1923 to commemorate the Luxembourgers who perished in the First World War, today it sympolises freedom and resistance for the Luxembourg people.

From here you have a superb view over the Pétrusse Valley and the Adolphe Bridge.


The Old bridge – in common parlance – was built between 1859 and 1861 to cross the Pétrusse valley at a height of 45 metres.

It consists of 24 arches spanning either 8 or 15 m The total length is 290 metres whereas the slight curve in the middle is the result of military and strategic considerations.
etres and of pillars up to 30 metres high.

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page:
Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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Notre-Dame Cathedral Luxembourg

click images to enlarge

Cathedral of Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame Cathedral is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Luxembourg City, in southern Luxembourg. It was originally a Jesuit church, and its cornerstone was laid in 1613. It is the only
cathedral in Luxembourg.

The church is a noteworthy example of late gothic architecture; however, it also has many Renaissance elements and adornments. At the end of the 18th century, the church received the miraculous image of the Maria Consolatrix Afflictorum, the patron saint of both the city and the nation.

Around 50 years later, the church was consecrated as the Church of Our Lady and in 1870, it was elevated by Pope Pius IX to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

The Towers 

The Cathedral has three towers, the west tower, which was the tower of the Jesuit church and which contains the bells, the east tower, and the central tower, which stands over the transept.

When the Cathedral was enlarged in 1935-1938, the east and central towers were added. The central tower, which is only a third of the height of the other towers, consists of a wide, pyramid-shaped base and a narrow peak covered with copper. The roof itself is carried by a steel frame, consisting of two PN20 beams from ARBED-Belval.


 Cathedral Repaired

On Good Friday, 5 April 1985, around mid-day, work on the roof caused the west tower to catch fire. The church bells, i.e. the Virgin Mary bell, the Willibrord bell, the Peter bell, and the Cunigunde bell were destroyed in the fire. When the tower collapsed, the roof of the central aisle was also partly damaged. It took until 17 October 1985 for the tower to be repaired.

The crypt of the Cathedral contains the remains of members of the Grand-Ducal family.  In particular, John of Bohemia (1296–1346), Marie-Adélaïde (1894–1924), Marie Anne of Portugal (1861–1942),  Felix of Bourbon-Parma (1893–1970),  Charlotte (1896–1985), and Joséphine Charlotte of Belgium (1927–2005) are buried in the crypt.

Additional photos can be found on our Rhine & Moselle Shutterfly page:

Click on the image to the left for more Blog posts about this trip.

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