Thursday, September 11, 2014

Patriot Day 2014

President Proclaims Patriot Day, Day of Remembrance Patriot Day - 9/11 
By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day,” and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, the Congress has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized “National Day of Service and Remembrance”. President Obama officially proclaimed September 11, 2014, as Patriot Day.

Patriot DayIn his remarks, the President said "America will never forget the September tragedy that shook our Nation's core 13 years ago.  On a day that began like so many others, a clear blue sky was pierced by billowing black smoke as a wave of grief crashed over us.  But in one of our darkest moments, we summoned strength and courage, and out of horrible devastation emerged the best of our humanity.  On this solemn anniversary, we pause in remembrance, in reflection, and once again in unity."

He continued, "On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 men, women, and children -- friends and neighbors, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters -- were taken from us with a heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty.  As we come together once more to mourn their loss, we also recall how the worst terrorist attack in our history brought out the true character of the American people.”

View our WTC Memorial Album on Shutterfly
During our pre-conference stay in New York last year, we decided to revisit the site of the World Trade Center.  The site was quite different from the last time we were there.   Rebuilding of the towers was moving along nicely.  The 9/11 Memorial fountains had been completed.  Click on the link above to view the album.

Remembering 9/11/2001

Each year we recall where we were when learning about the terrorist attacks.   We were on the inaugural voyage of Norwegian Sun, thousands of miles from home in Paris, France.   Our tour bus was filled with our fellow passengers, the majority of whom lived in New York.  The transatlantic cruise, we were on, was originally scheduled to conclude in New York but ended in Boston instead.

What was to have been a celebration of our 25th Anniversary, quickly became a very unique experience as we observed the hospitality and caring from so many people across the globe as our journey home continued.

See our article from 2011, FDNY May We Never Forget, on the 10th anniversary, as we recalled our journey back to New York to visit the site of the World Trade Center attacks.  Should your cruise vacation plans include New York, we recommend spending some time at the WTC Memorial and other historic sites in the city.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Color Your World With Orange

Once Upon A Time We Saw Everything in Black & White
Now We Can See The World in Living Color

Today's #FriFotos Theme:
is a weekly photo forum by @EpsteinTravels @TravelDesigned @CharlesYap. Theme is revealed every Tues 12pm ET. Participants from all over the globe share their personal images with the audience. Here are some that we shared this week, we hope you enjoy this mini journey across the globe.

Plenty of Orange on Cruise Ships

The image above was taken last week on Carnival Breeze at the Water Works slide.  I'm not sure if it was the orange color that drew me to the challenge, but I just had to try out this water slide.   It was great!

Another water slide entry is this one from Norwegian Cruise Line's Epic ship.  After sliding thru the enclosed tube, you find yourself dumped into the orange and yellow bowl.  Once again, this was a lot of fun.   BTW, did I mention that I can't swim?

Cruise lines invest a lot of money in interesting art which you can explore during your cruise. This eagle, which has its fair share of orange, was sited on Celebrity Cruise's Mercury. In this other image, taken on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas, someone brought their imagination to life on the ship.

Not pictured here, but can be seen on our Twitter profile, are images of life boats, life preservers, and more art which you can find on a cruise vacation.

Nature Paints with Orange

Not all the color in the world is man-made.  There is nothing more beautiful than a gorgeous sunset at sea.  As the sun sinks slowly into the water, the sky comes alive with shades of red, orange, and yellow.   

Images like these can be yours when you explore the world by cruise ship.   We suggest giving yourself a photo assignment to seek out more images where the world has been painted with orange.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more images from around the globe.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Norwegian Oceania and Regent to Wed

Norwegian Announces Marriage With
Prestige Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line published a press release on Tuesday announcing that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Prestige Cruises International, Inc, parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, in cash and stock for a total transaction consideration of $3.025 billion, including the assumption of debt.

"The combination of three distinct brands, each serving a different market segment, under one umbrella immediately creates an industry-leading cruise operator with an unmatched growth trajectory and a portfolio of products that allows us to appeal to guests at every stage of their life cycle. We are fully committed to retaining the brand propositions, guest experiences and cultures of the Norwegian, Oceania and Regent brands that have allowed each to realize such success."  ~Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's CEO

Following the announcement, they also had several meetings with investors, media, and their travel partners to discuss the transaction in further detail.  What does this mean to you as a cruise enthusiast?

The Courtship

It is important to note that both company's senior management forged relationships during the courtship, prior to this transaction being entered, and sought to understand the philosophies that drove each individual company.  As stated by Norwegian's CEO, Kevin Sheehan, these distinct brands serve different market segments and have loyal followings.   It is critical that the brand cultures don't change and that guest experiences are preserved.

The Wedding

The actual consummation of the deal will not occur until some time later this year, most likely in Q4 2014.  Until then, customers and travel partners should expect "business as usual".   If you are really interested, all the legal-ESE can be found in the actual press release.

In the industry briefing, it was clear that both companies had taken this merger seriously and done their due diligence.  This was "day one" and too early to answer many questions that were lurking in people's minds, but assurances were given that in due time there would be answers.  

The Honeymoon

After the deal becomes official, there may be some changes as one might expect.  Indications were that both companies have some best practices and that the intention was to learn from each other.   Prestige for example has already merged two companies, Regent and Oceania, so some of those past experiences will come in handy with this new entity. Customers and travel partners should benefit in the long run from the merger.

There is a definite life-cycle that cruise guests follow.   Using these three brands as an example customers going on their first cruises would typically start out on Norwegian.   As they mature and have families, Norwegian would still most likely be a fit.  As the kids get older, couples may want to cruise on their own and have a more upscale experience.  Oceania could be the cruise line of choice for those guests.   Later in life, Regent, with their all-inclusive experience, might become the preferred cruise line.   There should not be a need to go outside this new family of cruise lines to meet goals of any specific cruise vacation.  (There could be exceptions to that, such as river cruising).

There were questions about the loyalty programs as you might expect.  It is too early to determine what changes, if any would be made.  As travel partners and guests, the hope is that loyalty will be rewarded, while still preserving the individual benefits for the given brand within the family of brands.

Married Life

This deal has a life-cycle as well, and all we can do is wait and see.  We've been invited to the wedding feast and anxiously await the day of the event.   We all wish the partners well in their new journey together.  After all, it is in everyone's interest that this new "marriage" live long and be prosperous.   We expect more announcements in the months ahead and we will bring you updates as appropriate.

Congratulations to the entire Norwegian and Prestige Cruises family - we wish you well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Keeping Watch on Iceland Volcanic Activities

Monitoring Bárðarbunga and Holuhraun 

You might recall the major air traffic woes in 2010 and 2011 across Europe when ash from erupting volcanoes in Iceland grounded or diverted airlines.   This had a ripple effect on the travel industry, including the cruise segment.

When the Bardarbunga Volcano eruption over the weekend created lava fountains more than 50m (165ft) high, the Met Office in Iceland raised its ash warning for aviation to red, the highest level.  The level was later reduced to the second highest, orange.

Icelandic Met Office

Bárðarbunga - updated information 

Aviation colour code map

Because of the current seismic activity in nortwestern Vatnajökull, IMO has been allowed to publish the chapter Bárðarbunga System, an extract from a much larger work in progress.

Should Volcanic Ash clouds form, the following additional resources will be helpful:

Nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAAC) around the world are responsible for advising international aviation of the location and movement of clouds of volcanic ash.

Current Volcanic Ash Advisories (VAA) from London and Toulouse

 More information from NOAA about volcanoes.

Ash from the eruption of Grímsvötn (Credit: Icelandic Met Office)
Ash from the eruption of Grímsvötn (Credit: Icelandic Met Office)

London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)

The London VAAC is an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) designated centre, responsible for issuing advisories for volcanic eruptions originating in Iceland and the north-eastern corner of the North Atlantic.

Cambridge scientists and PhD students are at the forefront of monitoring the activity of the Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland.
Watch some amazing footage of the lava flows of the two active volcanic eruptions in Iceland.


Monday, September 1, 2014

How to Spend Summer Vacation

When we think of Summer...
CRUISING comes to mind

We missed the "live" tweeting on #travelpics because we were on a Seminar at Sea on board Carnival Breeze.   We still wanted to share our responses, so pardon the late entries.

Questions for last Monday’s summer-themed #travelpics chat: 

(3:00) Intros: Please introduce yourself and tell us where you’re tweeting from today!
Key West, FL during +Carnival Breeze #cruise #travelpics (picture above is Carnival Breeze in port)
(3:05) Q1: Home or abroad, where is your favorite place to spend your summer? Why?
A1: On a cruise - doesn't matter where it is going. Great way to #seetheworld  #travelpics

Seeing the world by cruise ship is one of the easiest ways to get around.  You embark your ship and unpack and each day you are either somewhere at sea or in a new port of call.

This cruise took us from Miami, Florida to Key West, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico before returning to home port of Miami.

(3:10) Q2: Share a photo from your most recent quintessential summer vacation.
A2: Relaxing is what #summer #vacation means to us  - by the pool, in the sun or shade #travelpics

I guess we can't be more recent than the vacation in progress during this #travelpics chat.  Truth be told, it was a mix of business and pleasure, but our trips always are that way since we are constantly learning and gathering images and information to share with our followers.

In this image, you see the Carnival Breeze main pool area on Lido deck.   It's not far form there to your favorite meal venue, such as Guy's Burger Joint.

The perfect ingredients of sun, shade, water, and plenty of places to simply relax can be found around the pool area.  Top that off with perfect weather, and it doesn't get much better than this.
(3:20) Q3: BESIDES swimming at the beach, what do you think of when you picture summer? Favorite activities?
A3: #summer fun activities for me include #waterparks +Carnival Water Works #travelpics

At home we've been known to take a summer vacation that includes some time at a water park or two+Carnival Breeze's Water Works is a great place to splash around.  I opted for the slightly slower orange tube which dumps you into the "drain" at the bottom of the slide.

(3:30) Q4: Show a summer photo of yours that ISN’T sand, surf, or sunglasses.
A4: as I get older, I'm getting braver +Carnival Breeze Rope Course was my next conquest #travelpics

This definitely doesn't include sand or surf, but since it was bright, but glasses did automatically darken.  Here I am waiting for the people ahead of me to clear this next section of the rope course.  It took some figuring out at first, but once I got the hang of it, the rest was "easy".

(3:40) Q5: What is the most unique place you’ve ever spent your summer?
A5: it was end of #summer when we visited #galapagos +Celebrity Cruises #travelpics

We explored this Land Beyond Xpectations via Celebrity Xpedition.  Here you'll see species that can be found nowhere else on earth.  You can snorkel with turtles, sea lions, and other marine line.   Walk along paths where Darwin explored over a hundred years ago before writing his famous publication.

(3:50) Q6: From hiking to wildflowers, show off your favorite view of summer anywhere in the world!
A6: #galapagos islands have many beaches like Urbina Bay #travelpics

We traveled by zodiac from Celebrity Xpedition to this landing site in Urbina Bay.  You can't tell from the picture, but it is one of the more difficult wet landing sites on our trip due to the inclination of the beach.   After landing on the beach we went on a short hike in search of Giant Land Tortoises and Land Iguanas before returning to spend some time snorkeling and swimming in the bay.

This concludes our #travelpics chat about #Summer.  We'd be happy to share other images from our summertime cruising adventures if it helps you plan your escape.

This final image was captured in Cozumel at Secrets Aura Resort.   We spent the entire day there relaxing, swimming, and enjoying a fabulous fresh fish lunch.  We'll write more about our day there in future posts, as well as the rest of our trip, so be sure to follow our blog.

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

Where is the Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat Last Seen on Carnival Breeze Last Week

Boys and Girls, Moms and Dads, the Cruise Director and Staff all met at the Liquid Nightclub lounge (deck 5 aft) on Carnival Breeze last Monday at 4 PM in hopes of finding the Cat in the Hat.    

Where was that cat?

They searched from the lounge all the way to the Ovation Theater (deck 3 forward).   They went down the hallway on deck 5 to the stairway and followed the winding staircase down two decks below.   Still they had not found the Cat in the Hat.  

Oh my, what to do now ... They continued their quest onto the stage in the Ovation Theater.

We were there live and captured all the action in three videos.  In the first video, we see the search party descending the staircase.  In the second, they continue onto stage where some volunteers are requested to help the Cruise Director and team.   Finally, the Cat in the Hat appeared and the reading of the Dr. Seuss book "The Cat in the Hat" was hosted by Cruise Director, Matt, with character appearances and audience participation.   Sit back and relax as we bring you live from Carnival Breeze...


Carnival Seuss at Sea Program
Late last year, Carnival Cruise Lines unveiled an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. to bring the beloved children’s brand to the lines fleet of 24 ships. In an industry first, the Carnival Seuss at Sea program will offer a variety of exciting and immersive on board youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences featuring the beloved characters and words of Dr. Seuss.

Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast

On the final sea day, you and your children can join the Cat in the Hat and friends for green eggs & ham breakfast.   Reservations are required and there is a nominal charge added to your sail 'n sign card.  (Read More...)

Carnival & Dr. Seuss Enterprises Comment on Program:
Our youth and family programming continues to be highly rated and extremely popular with the millions of families who sail with Carnival, but we’re constantly challenging ourselves to uncover unique and interesting ways to further enhance our guest experience,” said Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations for Carnival Cruise Lines. “We are thrilled to bring the fun, whimsical and wonderful world of Dr. Seuss to life for our guests of all ages to create even more fun and memorable moments during our cruise vacations"

“Dr. Seuss inspires imaginations across generations and encourages a playfulness and whimsy that is often lost in today’s ‘always on’ society,” said Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. “We’re excited to be working with Carnival Cruise Lines to bring some of the timeless magic of Dr. Seuss to the families that sail each year. Seuss at Sea will let kids and parents alike explore their imaginations through the memorable onboard experiences we’re building together.”
Roll-out of the Seuss at Sea program will begin aboard Carnival Splendor in March 2014 with implementation across the full fleet by 2015, as well as Carnival Vista when that ship enters service in early 2016.

Learn more about Seuss At Sea here:
Carnival Legend (August 2014), Carnival Liberty (September 2014)
This Experience Is Available On: Carnival Breeze, Carnival DreamCarnival Freedom, Carnival MagicCarnival Splendor and Carnival Sunshine.

Images courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.

We applaud the two companies for partnering to expand the youth programs across the Carnival fleet.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cloud 9 on Carnival Breeze

Just Onboard Carnival Breeze
 What to Do

Sunday August 24th we began our seminar at sea onboard Carnival Breeze out of Miami, Florida. Since we had priority boarding, it wasn't long after completing the embarkation process that we were on our way to our cabin. Most ships wouldn't have the cabins ready that early, but starting around 12:30 PM, you could go to your cabin and drop off your bags.

As usual, we had some lunch, which in our case was one of Guy's Burgers. We'll write about those in another post because we want to skip ahead to the relaxing part of the day.

After having our burger, we headed to Cloud 9 Spa for a tour of the facility.  After all, it was #SpaSunday, so we needed to get some images for our Twitter followers.   That was a good excuse don't you think?

One of the therapists, pictured above, demonstrated the hot stones technique on our arms.  This is by far our favorite treatment, so it didn't take much convincing that we should start our cruise our right.

Couples Hot Stones Massage

Pictured here is one of the couples treatment rooms that we saw on our spa tour.   At the conclusion of the tour we booked the hot stones treatment for right after the mandatory safety drill.  

TIP:   If you plan on having a massage or other spa treatment during your  cruise, go to the spa tour and book your appointments.  If you can, take advantage of embarkation day specials as well.

Feeling Like We're on Cloud 9

When we were done with our 75 minutes of the full body massage with hot stones, we certainly felt like we were no longer on a ship, but floating on Cloud 9.  We headed back to our cabin after the massage.

This wouldn't be our final visit to the spa.  In fact it was just the beginning because we also booked the couples pass to the thermal suite which we'll describe in another article.  Welcome aboard Carnival Breeze - visit us again to continue the journey.