Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Where is Chris?

HAPPY
THANKSGIVING

Allure of the Seas & Regal Princess in St. Maarten
It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is here already. Where did 2014 go? As has become my tradition, I'd like to share with you some of the things that I'm thankful for and highlight some of my adventures this year.

I hope that you, your family, and friends have plenty to be thankful for this holiday season. I know that I have plenty of things to be thankful for, including my health, family, and friends and the ability to share my love of cruising with all of you. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to explore new worlds with family and friends again this year.

While this has been another tough economic year, it appears that the cruise industry has weathered the storm once again.
The value of cruising has never been stronger. Even in these tough times, more and more families have taken to the seas.  Indications are that the record discounts offered the past two years will be coming to an end.  In the meantime those discounts have made cruising an even better value, and consequently we have seen a surge in first-time cruisers.

Thankful for ... 
Sailing on Brand New Ships

Cruises Inc. and Cruise One held the 2014 National Conference on Regal Princess  which just started its inaugural season sailing to the Eastern Caribbean. Regal Princess met up with Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas in St. Maarten. The two ships side by side make an amazing photo. We've been fortunate to sail on both of these ships during their inaugural years.

This year I was privileged to be recognized among the "Best of the Best" awards at the conference. I was presented with the Cruises Inc. Best of Overall Marketing Award. What that means to you is that I'm constantly bringing the best values to my guests via the various marketing programs. Sometimes offers that cross my desk are short-lived, so it is best to subscribe to my eNewsletter and various social media sites.

We wonder what the Pilgrims, who came to the New World in Tall Ships, would think about the Allure of the Seas.  Their ships measured 110 feet, held 150 passengers at most, and took months to cross the Atlantic.  The Allure is more than 10 times that length (1182 feet), holds almost 8000 passengers and crew, and took just a couple weeks to cross the Atlantic.

Thank you for making our blog column a part of your lives in 2014.   I hope that the information we share helps you to dream about future cruises of your own. I'd be honored to help you plan those trips. I have the best job in the world - helping make dreams come true. For that, I'm truly thankful.


Happy Thanksgiving to All

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Early Bird Gets the Worm

What We Learned 
at National Conference

Times are a Changing

One of the highlights of CruiseOne / Cruises Inc. 2014 National Conference, which was held onboard Regal Princess earlier this month, was the Cruise Line Panel Q&A.  Each year, we hold our conference on a different cruise ship but no matter what line it is on, the other CLIA member cruise lines participate.

This year was no different with, representatives of many lines including Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Holland America, to name just a few.   A subset of those lines participated in the moderated Q&A session which talked about the Cruise Industry, their business, and the outlook for next year.

Prices Are Rising 

As you might expect, the cruise lines want to sail full each sailing, so they need to monitor sales closely and adjust prices as needed.   In 2014 there was excess capacity in the Caribbean, with all the new ships, so that had pressure on pricing forcing some last minute discounting.  Cruise lines don't like to do so because it hurts their bottom line and also penalizes those that booked early.

Cruise lines are making adjustments in deployments for next year, and that over-capacity situation will not exist driving prices upwards.   Across the board the cruise lines indicated that their goal for 2015 was to have the best prices early in the sell cycle with higher prices resulting as the ships fill and demand continues.

Message to Consumers - Book Early for Best Deals

Sales for 2015 are off to a good start, so the cruise lines are confident that their strategy will work.  To be sure to keep sales on track, the lines are kicking off Wave Season early.  Normally it doesn't start until January, but many lines have already released Wave Season offers.  Wave Season is the first quarter of the year and typically has some of the best offers.   This is the time of year when people are locked inside their houses due to cold temps, so they really start to dream about getting away to somewhere warmer.
 
Of course, Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, so cruise lines have announced offers for that as well.  See our Facebook page for some highlights.

Location, Location, Location

Besides getting the best prices by booking early, there are other advantages as well.  What would you rather look at when you wake up - 4 walls or the ocean?  Would you like the smoothest ride or is a roller-coaster cruise satisfactory?

The most important thing to having an enjoyable cruise is your accommodations.  Contrary to popular thinking, you do spend a significant amount of your vacation in your cabin, so comfortable surroundings does increase your satisfaction level.    If you've ever looked at multiple cabin categories, you'll notice that location factors into the price you pay.    Mid-ship demands a higher price tag than all the way aft or all the forward, even on the same deck.  You will find the least motion mid-ship, so anyone that might not want to feel the "motion of the ocean" should definitely try to get one of these prime cabins.

Guess which cabins sell out first?   Mid-ship and higher decks - which often mean the balconies and suites  that are highly sought after.  

Delaying your booking means you get what's left.  You'll still have a great cabin and no doubt an enjoyable cruise, but perhaps it could have been even better if you were able to get your first choice in cabins.

How to Play the Game

Our goal is to help you find the right cruise for you and your guests.  With all the added capacity, there are also many choices.   It is becoming harder for the individual to sort through all the choices and offers to find the best value for your vacation dollars.   That's where we come in - that is our task and one that we really enjoy.   We love making dreams come true and hearing about your fantastic vacation afterwards.

Our website has links to all of our various social media outlets.   Most importantly is our eNewsletter which is sent out via email on average once a week.   During Wave Season, and times when there are an abundance of offers, it might be more frequent.  Some offers cross our desk and have a very short duration - so we suggest you let us know in advance about your plans so that we can watch for the best value.


We've included links here with a brief explanation of some of the resources we offer to our followers.   Please be sure to take advantage of all these opportunities, as that is the best way to stay informed.
 
Join our eSavers

If you haven’t signed up for our eSavers Newsletter yet, be sure to do so. This is just one of our communication vehicles to keep you informed about industry news and special offers for our loyal followers.


Like Us on Facebook


Be sure to visit our Facebook Fan Page and "Like Us" so that you can be in the inner circle of our Fans. You’ll have the opportunity to be the first to know about specials and other exclusive information, such as updates from cruise lines.

@ChrisPappinMCC

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas.

Each week we post images from our trips and participate in several travel chats on Twitter.

Take advantage of these resources to assist you in planning your dream vacations.  Of course, we are always available to answer any questions you might have about travel and the industry.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Circles of Regal Princess

Regal Princess

Not Your Typical
Cruise Ship Review

We've just concluded a 7 Night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the brand new Regal Princess.   It has been sailing since May over in Europe, but we were fortunate to be onboard her debut in the Caribbean.

We were part of a group of more than 900 people for the CruiseOne / Cruises Inc. 2014 National Conference.  Besides learning from some of the industry's leaders, we also had our own first-hand experiences on Regal Princess that we are anxious to share with our readers.  Join us in this photographic journey around Regal Princess.

Why Circles?

Photography is one of our passions, and sharing images with our readers brings us great joy.   When you cruise as much as we do to the same destinations, photography helps you focus on finding a unique perspective to the destination (including the ship).  Unique images are more interesting.

When the @FriFotos team announced this week's theme (you may have guessed it) #CIRCLES, we checked through our recently captured images for some contributions.  

Remember, we are constantly looking for different angles and interpretations for our photos, so even though we didn't have advance knowledge of the theme, we identified several examples that we could share.  You might be amazed at how many circles can be found on a cruise ship.  

Some Obvious Examples - Food

Those that have followed me for awhile know that we love sharing images of food.   Being able to sample fabulous food from around the globe is one of the best values of cruising.   Food is often a determining factor for our guests when they select a particular cruise itinerary.

Regal Princess had plenty of great food.  The Horizon Court buffet was truly amazing.   If you couldn't find something you liked to eat there, then you probably weren't hungry in the first place.   When we captured these images, the crew had put out their Chocolate Indulgence creations for our breakfast enjoyment, along with the normal breakfast items.   Donuts, cookies, waffles, pancakes (topped with chocolate of course) fit the #circle theme rather nicely.

On our first Formal night  we enjoyed this Chocolate Journeys creation by Norman Love.

First Impressions

When you board the ship, your first impression of the lobby will be one of your memorable moments.   Ship designers realize that and put a lot of consideration into creating an impressive atrium.

Regal Princess has beautiful circular staircases with concentric circles on the floor which helps draw you to this central meeting point on the ship.   Be sure to capture the atrium from several different vantage points.   Often the best shots are from higher decks.

Look Up

Most ships have exquisite light fixtures hanging from the ceiling in the atrium.  Regal Princess was no exception with this gorgeous piece with many circles in the design.

We actually captured several different angles which we'll share for #FriFotos.

Include Art Work 

Your ship portfolio should include images of the art work located around the ship.   Often you'll find art work in the stairways as well as corridors of the ship.   Regal Princess had original works taken by past guests lining the corridors.   We'll share more of those images another time.


 










Carpet / Wall Patterns

As you walk around the ship, pay attention to details.   Is there an interesting pattern on the floor,  walls, ceilings, etc.?   Maybe that could be used as a background for some other image at a later date.   Or perhaps, it just catches your eye and helps you identify with the ship and it's designers.   

Great Hangouts

Did you have a favorite location to hangout with your new or existing circle of friends?   What made you comfortable hanging out there?

Perhaps the #circles in this image bring back memories and become conversation starters. Odds are you won't find this same setting on another ship, so some day when you are searching through images, you'll immediately recall the time you spent on Royal Princess.

We have just scratched the surface on our #circle adventure around Royal Princess.  We invite you to  join us on Twitter this Friday for more images.   Also, if you are so inclined, search through your images and see if you have any to share from your trips.

If you like Travel & Photography join us each Friday!
@ChrisPappinMCC

Follow #FriFotos on Twitter and Facebook

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas. 
 #FriFotos is a weekly photo forum by . Theme is revealed every Tuesday 12pm ET.  This Friday, guest host @spencerspellman joins the @FriFotos crew.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Natiional Conference 2014 in Review

Can You Find Me?

We've just returned from a very successful CruiseOne Cruises Inc. National Conference on board the new Regal Princess.  Our sailing was the inaugural North American sailing to the Eastern Caribbean.
This was our largest conference ever with more than 900 franchise owners, agents, and families attending.

Pre-Cruise (Ft. Lauderdale)

Water Taxi Tour

Shortly after arriving in Ft. Lauderdale, Saturday November 7th, we boarded a Water Taxi for a private tour of the yachts and mansions along the Ft. Lauderdale canal system.

Our guide provided background information about the properties and boats we saw along the way.   The tour is very informative and a good way to pass the time before your cruise.


Renaissance Hotel Ft. Lauderdale

Our pre-conference activities were based out of the Marriott Renaissance Hotel Cruise Port which was walking distance to the water taxi.

Following the water taxi tour, we had time to freshen up and then had a welcome cocktail party which was hosted by Crystal Cruises. 

Several of us went to dinner at Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill which was just across from the hotel.   Despite having tables empty, we had to wait to be seated.   The food was fantastic, but we weren't crazy about the wait since we were hungry after traveling earlier that day.  

Our day had actually begun at 4:00 AM so we were really starting to drag.  Following dinner, we went back to our hotel room and went to bed.

We had prearranged transfers from the hotel to the pier, so after some breakfast, we boarded a shuttle to the port.

Welcome to Port Everglades

The town rolled out the red carpet for us with this sign at the entrance to Port Everglades cruise terminal.  As you can see, there is a lot of traffic entering the port.  Make sure you allow enough time when embarking from here.

It wasn't long after this photo was taken that we got our first glimpse of Regal Princess which would be our home for the next 7 nights.


We will update this article with links to additional stories and photos about our National Conference Cruise on board the beautiful Regal Princess.  Be sure to visit again or better you follow us here and our other social media sites to stay up to date on the latest cruise industry news and reviews.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Count Down to National Conference 2014

Regal Princess

It is hard to believe that we are just one week away from our 2014 National Conference: GROWTH-Gaining Relationships and Opportunities Through World Travel Holdings. That means we are also one week away from seeing the brand new Princess Cruise's Regal Princess as she sails for the first time out of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Join Us Live from Regal Princess

Our Blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter followers will have the opportunity to join in the excitement as we bring you highlights from our National Conference onboard the brand new Regal Princess. If you don't already, please follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc.

We will be sharing content with you throughout the conference...

Making a Difference

In return, we have a favor to ask of you...

As many of you know, our Conference and Corporate charity is Make-A-Wish®. Together we have raised over $200,000 from our fund raising efforts at our National Conferences in the past. Last year alone, we surpassed the $100,000 mark and made history by having a Marathon@Sea run by Sean Tolkin, Director WTH. The National Conference is a great opportunity for us to see firsthand how we can come together and be part of something bigger.

Our goal is to continue our record breaking fundraising efforts and to surpass our goal of $75,000. There will be many opportunities during our conference to raise money for our cause, including a Zumba@Sea-Dance for Wishes. Each dollar we raise together will help kids like Bizzy, age 13, who wished to go on a Mediterranean cruise. You can learn more about Bizzy on the donation site below.


Celebrity Cruises has sponsored our Zumba@Sea efforts this year and will be helping us have some fun during the Zumba event, which will be held on Thursday morning on the ship. WTH/Celebrity will match dollar for dollar up to $5,000 in donations made from the Zumba event.

You Can Help Too

Many of you have asked how you can get your family and friends involved in our efforts to help grant the wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions – AND HERE’S YOUR CHANCE! We have a group donation page that you can access using the link below.

If you are interested in supporting this great cause please make a donation using the following link:   
      http://friends.wish.org/100-100/page/CruiseOne-CruisesInc./Zumba-Sea.htm 
Any amount will help us reach our group goal of $5,000 for the Zumba event.

Thank you to Celebrity Cruises & World Travel Holdings and all of YOU for helping to make kids like Bizzy a little happier.   Thanks to the Make-a-Wish foundation for all that they do for kids.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween Great Time to Vacation

Plan a Vacation for Halloween


October is Halloween Time at Disney Parks

Halloween can come early for you if you visit Disney Magic Kingdom during the month of October.  The park is decked out for this magical time of year and there's even a private party that you can attend.

  
Private Party - You are Invited to Attend If You Dare

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a Halloween-themed special event held on select dates in Magic Kingdom theme park. Purchase of an additional event admission ticket is required to attend Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  The park is closed to other guests for the evening.
Click for More Pictures

During Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Guests of all ages are encouraged to dress up in their favorite Halloween costumes. There are several locations where you can collect delicious candy as you trick-or-treat around Magic Kingdom theme park.  We didn't dress up, but we did take part in the trick-or-treating.

In addition to many favorite Disney attractions, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is filled with special entertainment, including:
  • Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade—including Disney Characters and the stars of the Haunted Mansion attraction. The parade begins with a spook-tacular ride by the Headless Horseman.
  • Happy HalloWishes—a spectacular fireworks show where the Disney Villains go trick-or-treating in the sky.
  • Many favorite Disney Characters and Disney Villains in special Halloween costumes.
  • Special lighting, music and theming effects transforms special areas of Magic Kingdom theme park into happy haunted hollows.
We've posted some pictures from the event on our Facebook Fan Page.

Become a fan on Facebook

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dining at Sea - What's Your Favorite Food

National Food Week

In honor of National Food Week, let's take a look at dining at sea.

What's Your 
Favorite Food 
on a Cruise

Whether you have cruised before or not, I'm sure you are aware that there's plenty of great food to be had on a cruise ship.  The first thing you'll find when you get onboard is that your cabin is not ready, but don't worry, the buffet is open and ready to serve you.  But that is just the beginning of what lies ahead.   We'll take you on a culinary journey onboard several cruise ships over several posts.  If you can't wait, we've posted some similar stories previously as well.

Myth #4 – All There is to do is Eat – I’ll Gain Weight

While it is true that there are several dining options on every cruise, we've examined this myth about nothing to do but eat previously.  Now, let's focus on the second part of that myth - that you'll gain weight.

It is possible that you could gain weight on a cruise, but if so, that will not be the cruise line's fault. There are healthy menu options on the main dining menus and while not every venue serves food for the health conscious, there are plenty of options for you to chose from.  In addition, there are full service health and fitness facilities on each ship so that you can continue your exercise routine.

One of the things the cruise line pays close attention to are any dietary requirements of their passengers. 

We took this picture during a galley tour on Azamara Journey.  The special requests consist of some religious requests, because it was during Jewish holidays, and also some specific ingredients that needed to be avoided for another passenger.

Be sure to let you cruise specialist know if you do have any special requirements so that it can be noted on your reservation and advance preparations can be made if necessary.

What's for Dinner 

You might want to start with our previous What's for Dinner article

In addition, visit our Pinterest Board where we'll be sampling some of the food and venues that we've had the pleasure of dining at in the past.