Sunday, July 20, 2014

Budget Travel by Cruise Ship

Hop-on-Hop-off Bus - Copenhagen
Budget Travel - 
What Comes to Mind

The next #travelpics will take place Monday, July 21st, 2014, from 3-4pm Eastern time (8-9pm UK time). This week’s questions are all about budget travel.

Preparing for this week's Twitter photo chat, we gave that question some serious thought.  Most likely the first thing that comes to mind is backpacking across Europe, traveling by rail, and staying in hostels.  That's fine if you are in your early twenty's but after that, we doubt that would be your preferred method of travel.

Cruising Europe

Baltic Itinerary
We can't argue that backpacking across Europe is the epitome of budget travel, but for those that can no longer travel in that fashion, the next best thing could be seeing Europe by cruise ship.   If you are coming from the United States, the cost of air travel will be your largest component.   Since it is a fixed cost, no matter what you do upon arrival in Europe, we will not factor that into our budget assessment.

We'll use a Baltic cruise for an example on how cruising in Europe can be budget travel.  A typical Baltic itinerary will have about 7 or 8 ports of call.   If you were to visit those same ports by making your own travel arrangements, it would most likely include several flights between the various destinations, which as we've already mentioned could add significant cost to the trip.   Likewise, you would need to have lodging in each destination.

With a cruise, your lodging and transportation between countries is already included in the price.  Meals and entertainment are also included, all of which would have been extras if sight seeing on your own.

Exploring Ports

There are many ways to explore the countries that the ship visits.  There are several options which fall in the budget travel category.  We'll explore some of those which we used during a past cruise to the region.

Under the Bridges of StockholmThe picture above is a "hop-on-hop-off" bus.   With this form of transportation you can typically start the tour when you get off the ship and conclude back at the ship, making a circle around the port city.  For one low price, usually around $20 USD, you have the option to get on and off the bus as many times as you like to see points of interest along the route.  This is how we toured Copenhagen for example.

In several of our ports, there were shuttles from the ship that would take us into town.  In Stockholm, we took the shuttle and then after a short walk, we were able to book a boat excursion "Under the Bridges of Stockholm".  This two hour tour was one of the highlights of the cruise.   We also used the shuttle method to go to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen for an evening at the amusement park.

In many ports of call, it was possible to simply walk to nearby attractions.  Such was the case in Bergen, Norway.   In this picture, we walked to the Fløibanen Funicular, one of Bergen's most popular attractions. Ride the tramway to the top for views of the entire area.

If you decide to have a meal while in port, for example in Bergen,  you have a full range of choices from the choices for the budget minded to expensive.   Perhaps something in the fish market would give you a taste of Bergen on the budget side.

The great thing about cruising is that it is all about choice.   The cruise lines offer excursions, which typically cost more than if you organize the same tour on your own.  The benefit to the ship's tours is that you don't have to plan anything and also, they are responsible for getting you back to the ship on time.  Which ever way you decide to go, you have already saved money by not having to pay for hotels, meals, entertainment and additional transportation during your multi-port visit.

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Navigating 5 Types of Signs Onboard Cruise Ship

Signs Signs Everywhere a Sign

For Cruise Rookies:
If you've never been on a cruise, the following information about signs you'll see onboard your ship may come in handy.

For Cruise Veterans:

You may not have even noticed some of these signs the last time you were on a ship.  Perhaps you should pay more attention to the signs  the next time you are on a cruise.

For Every Cruiser:

Please pay attention to the Safety signs - they are there to protect you and make sure everyone enjoys their cruise.

In this article we'll feature signs that we photographed on Carnival Conquest.  You'll find similar signs on the other cruise lines as well.  Knowing about the types of signs onboard will help you make the most of your cruise vacation.

Safety Signs

The sign above is posted on your stateroom door.  It contains the layout of your deck, marks your location, and emergency exits.  It also contains information about what to do in an emergency including how to put on your life jacket.   This is important reading, especially for first-time cruisers.

This next group of signs have important safety and conservation information.  It is everyone's responsibility to help prevent illness by washing their hands.  Everyone on board the ship needs to work together for the comfort and safety of others and to preserve the environment for the future.

Click for Larger Images
Directional Signs 

Here are just a few examples of signs that help you find your way on the ship.  In this modern age there are now electronic signs that provide current information and directions.  Public rooms have a sign on the door similar to this one (note it even has braille lettering).  Lastly, you'll see signs like the one in the middle that direct you to popular locations on the ship.

Food & Beverage Signs 

These signs come in several types.  The first one lists the hours of operation of a very popular bar on Carnival cruise ships.  The second sign instructs you on how to order your custom-made burrito.  Finally there are signs describing drink packages which can be purchased on your first day on the ship, which could possibly save you money over the length of the cruise (depending on how much you'd normally order).  For more information on drink packages, see our previous article Bottomless Bubbles & Cheers.


Activity Signs 

There is a lot happening on the ship each day.   Cruise lines may also use signage to advertise popular events so that you don't miss them.   Here we learn about some casino special events and shore excursions.



Informational Signs 

The remaining signs we'll put in this category.   Typically they tell about special offers, which may be time limited.  Pictured are a sign explaining discounts in the shops, another one suggesting you capture a special image as a souvenir, and lastly how to earn bonus points on the money spent on your cruise.


This Friday on Twitter 

@ChrisPappinMCC is a weekly photo forum by . Theme is revealed every Tues 12pm ET.  If you can't guess, this week's theme is #SIGNS so we thought we'd get a head start with this selection.   Be sure to join us on Friday.

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

6 Examples of Texture in Travel Pictures

Mykonos, Greece #TRAVELPICS 
the travel photography chat/share on Twitter

Monday we joined #TRAVELPICS chat on Twitter for a fun packed hour exchanging ideas and travel photos with like-minded posters. The theme was “texture” and participants shared their own travel pics about the theme and answered pre-arranged questions. Here are our replies.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC

Q1: What are elements that add texture to make your travel photos stand out?
ParthenonA1: @AntiTourist #travelpics Cloud sky waves color water rocks buildings streets mountains are all elements that add texture #Mykonos #Greece #ttot

These first two images were captured during our 12-Night Mediterranean & Greek Isles Cruise

Q2: Whether it’s snow in a forest or tiles on a home, show us a travel photo that’s all about texture.
A2: @AntiTourist #travelpics   Acropolis a Journey Into Antiquity #Athens #Greece #cruise #ttot

Q3: Share a photo of yours that shows off texture in a unusual fashion: shadows, birds, abstract patterns…
A3: #travelpics Glacier ice flowing in #Hubbard Bay #Alaska has interesting patterns #ttot #cruise

Photography opportunities abound in Alaska. As our ship cruised through Hubbard Bay, we emerged from our balcony cabin to capture floating chunks of glacier ice like this.

A Man & his Donkey - Mykonos
Q4: Interesting people lead texture to photos, stories, & experiences. Share a photo or tale of a bizarre or memorable encounter!
A4: #travelpics A Man & His Donkey shores #Mykonos #Greece #ttot #cruise #photography

Click on the link above to learn more about this experience in Mykonos.  If you click on these images, you'll see larger versions of them which will help show the #textures we captured.

Q5: Specific or general, what’s something that has added texture to your travels? Get creative!
A5: @AntiTourist #travelpics Add special effects in the digital dark room to enhance your travel #photography #ttot

Fun in Costa Maya

The instructions were to be creative, so we dug into our archives and selected an image where we'd taken one of our photos and using a photo editor turned it into an entirely different image.   Click on the link to learn more about how this and other examples shared in that post could become a part of your travel portfolio.

Building & Streets of Bergen, Norway 

Q6: Textures add interest to landscapes near and far. From your backyard to travels abroad, share a “colorful” photo!
A6: #travelpics Buildings & Streets of #Bergen #Norway composed of many colors & textures #ttot #photography

Our final example has a mixture of color and textures along with people to make a very appealing image.  Bergen is one of our favorite ports in Norway.  It can easily be explored on your own and there are plenty of photo spots to add to your enjoyment.

We only had an hour to share some of our #texture images.  The time passes so quickly during the chat.  Hunting through our archives to prepare for the chat brings back memories of our trips.

We hope that this has sparked your interest in taking your photography to a new level.  Follow the weekly #travelpics chat on Twitter for more ideas on this and other travel topics.   We'd love to hear your ideas as well, or better yet, join us for the next chat.

Thank you to this week's co-hosts: @AntiTourist, @TheTravelCamel, @Sihpromatum, @VibrantIreland, and @travellingmolly.

Have you seen the  recap?

Join us for on Monday's at 3 PM ET every week for a fun-filled hour related to travel and photography. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Costa Concordia the Final Journey

Costa Concordia
Giglio to Genoa

Approvals have been given for the salvage team, directed by Titan Micoperi, to commence one of the final stages in the salvage of the Costa Concordia.

 Refloating To Begin

Refloating stages

The refloating operation will be divided into 4 separate stages. The refloat will be complete when the greatest possible amount of water has been pumped out of the sponsons and the ship is virtually parallel to sea level.

  • Stage 1: Partial refloating and eastward movement of the wreck 
  • Stage 2: Attachment and tensioning of the chains and cables and final positioning ofthe starboard sponsons
  • Stage 3: Actual refloating - At this stage the actual refloating will commence
  • Stage 4: Final maneuvers and departure of the ship from the island
Salvage experts will conduct the refloating operations from the Remote Operations Center (ROC) located on the Concordia. The monitoring systems will be handling the ballast in the sponsons and guaranteeing vessel stability, trim and the even distribution of the forces acting on the hull.

This video shows the refloating phases of Costa Concordia salvage operations
(limited hours of operation)

Once it is afloat, the wreck will be ready for transportation to its final destination, namely the
Port of Genoa Voltri.  Two possible courses have been selected with the actual course determined by conditions at the time of towing commencement.  The course pictured above, courtesy of Titan Micoperi, would cover 208 nautical miles.  The second course would be slightly shorter.

Costa Concordia Live Web Cam Links:

Re-floating Concordia    Courtesy: Parbuckling Project

UPDATE 03 July 2014:

Costa Crociere: installation of all sponsons completed, ten days to possible refloating

Genoa, Italy has been selected to receive the vessel for salvage

Following installation of the last sponson, we can start the countdown to refloating and final departure of the wreck from Giglio Island,” said Costa Crociere CEO Michael Thamm.Now all our energies are focused on the successful conclusion of this unprecedented engineering challenge to respect a precise commitment: remove the Concordia wreck as soon as possible, in compliance with the highest environmental and safety standards.”

Watch footage from Italian police divers in the sunken ship just before it is scheduled to be towed:  Inside Costa Concordia Now & Before

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Food Too Pretty To Eat

Food Creation by Caribbean Princess Chefs
Go Behind the Scenes - Princess Cruise
Galley Tour

That Looks So Good - I Don't Want to Eat It
Have those words ever come out of your mouth?  I suspect that they have - I know I've said them.  We've been cruising for more than 30 years now, and yet I'm always amazed by the talent that goes into food presentation on board cruise ships.   Every plate at dinner is a masterpiece in its own right, with everything placed in the exact spot and all the ingredients working together to make an appealing dish. But that is just the beginning of food presentation on a cruise ship ...

Food Art

The ship above is amazing.  It almost looks like we could sail the seven seas - all we need is a crew. During our behind the scenes Galley Tour we had the opportunity to see how food is prepared and also experience some of these works of art. This is the first in a mini-series about the talented chefs onboard Caribbean Princess.

Here we have a violin that is perched above the buffet counter.  It reminds me of art on a shelf in gift shop or gallery.

All that is missing is the sign: "Pretty to look at, pretty to hold, but if you break it, consider it sold."

Click on any of these images for a closer look.  We simply loved the time and effort that the Princess Cruises staff put into these culinary works of art.   They definitely added to the enjoyment of our cruise.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bountiful Travel Pics

What Does Bountiful 
Mean to You

Finding Examples 
as You Travel

Today is Friday which is our favorite day of the week.   You might think it's our favorite because it's the last work day - but we are available to our clients every day, so that's not it.

Friday is #FriFotos

is a weekly photo forum by . Theme is revealed every Tues 12pm ET.  If you can't guess, this week's theme is #BOUNTIFUL.

We love this photo forum because it gives us the opportunity to revisit places we've visited and look at the images we've collected in a new light.   It also gives us vision for future photos.

Bountiful Defined

boun·ti·ful   (per Merriam-Webster dictionary)

adjective \ˈban-ti-fəl\
: giving or providing many desired things
: given or existing in large amounts

1:  liberal in bestowing gifts or favors
2:  given or provided abundantly <a bountiful harvest>
 Pictured above is a field of tulips in Keukenhof Gardens, Holland.  The image on the left was taken at the fish market in Bergen, Norway.   Both of these images fit the theme for this week's photo forum.
More Examples

These two images were also captured during our visit to Keukenhof Gardens in Holland.  The first image is a display built out of Coca-Cola cans.   Certainly this is a bountiful supply of Coke cans.

Zooming in on one of the many floral displays at Keukenhof Gardens, the second image filled the frame with flowers in bloom.

Cruising along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, we captured this image of bountiful vineyards.  Come harvest time these will result in some of the best wine around.

This theme is a little harder than some of the past #FriFotos subjects, which makes it all the more interesting.   Do you have any images that fit the theme?

We've found that photography and travel go hand and hand and it helps to keep the memories alive longer.   Even when the mind forgets, we can help recall our travels by going through our photo archives.

Hopefully this post gives you some inspiration for getting more out of your travel experiences.   When visiting familiar places multiple times, it is often useful to give yourself a photo assignment, such as one of the #FriFotos themes.  That doesn't mean you have to devote your entire vacation to taking pictures, but why not keep an eye out for images that would enhance your trip when you revisit the archives in months ahead?

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas.
We'd love to see your examples and hear your feedback.   Do you enjoy stories like this?  Are their themes that you'd like to explore?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Not To Be Missed Culinary Extravaganza At Sea

Culinary Extravaganza
Caribbean Princess

As you sit down to dinner in the main dining room you wonder...

"My delicious meals arrive in front of me, but how do they get there?"

Come with us for a "taste" of two of the culinary extravaganzas that await you on your Princess cruise.

Culinary Demonstration and Galley Tour

Giuseppe Pollara, Executive Chef, and Angelo Balbiani, Maitre D' Hotel (MDH), on Caribbean Princess during a recent voyage presented an exciting cooking demonstration in the Princess Theater, followed by the Tour of the "Caribbean" Galley.   We joined the demonstration and tour as part of my ongoing Princess Commodore training, where I strive to keep up to date with behind the scenes information for my guests.   Fortunately, this event is open to the public, so you too could go behind the scenes.

Click on any image in this article to see it in Larger Size

Dave, our Cruise Director, and Angelo, our MDH, set the stage for what we were about to see in the theater and afterwards in the galley.   We were able to watch on the big screen as the Chef and his assistants prepared a couple dishes from the Princess cookbook which we would be able to purchase following the tour.

Entering the galley, following the cooking demonstration, the first thing that strikes me is how spotless all the counters and equipment are.   Having worked in a kitchen or two in the past, I really appreciate the effort that went into keeping the galley in such condition.

There are several "stations" throughout the galley, each of which is dedicated to a particular task and type of food.   We passed by meat, fish, vegetable, and many other preparation and storage areas.

Courses A Culinary Journey

Following the galley tour we had the opportunity to speak with Executive Chef  Giuseppe Pollara and Maitre D' Hotel Angelo.

The answer to your question:

234 Galley Personnel under the supervision of the Executive Chef prepares all your delicious dishes!

274 Dining Personnel under the supervision of the MDH serves all your delicious dishes!

Armed with our autographed copy of the Princess cookbook, the goal was to keep the cruise lasting beyond disembarkation.