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.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Memorable Moments in National Parks


Yellowstone National Park
Mammoth Hot Springs

This may come as a shock to some of you but, despite the name of this blog, I do travel by other means of transportation other than cruise ship.

On this particular trip, one of our stops was at Yellowstone National Park, which spans several states: Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

North Entrance -
This 37-foot (11-m) dormant hot spring cone marks the northern portion of Mammoth Hot Springs.















Liberty Cap & 
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel



Minerva Spring & Cleopatra Spring 

This popular stop along the Mammoth Hot Springs trail has a wide range of colors and ornate travertine formations.  A boardwalk spans the hill allowing for close up exploration without danger.

We've seen many sights in our journeys around the world, but Mammoth Hot Springs ranks among the most impressive memories of nature.
There is a lot more to see here.  These images were taken during the first moments within Yellowstone National Park.



Want to learn more about our National Parks?   The inspiration for this article came from a Twitter chat.   Today they are featuring #Memories as the subject matter for photo submissions.

@ChrisPappinMCC#ParksChat is a weekly Twitter chat where anyone can participate and talk about the week's selected Topic/Destination. 

NationalParksImages.org

Topic for this week (10/17/2014): #memories

Let's talk about our memorable things and share some of our memorable pics in our Parks  -- Use hashtag #ParksChat and #memories
Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc for more ideas.

 

Happy FOURth Birthday #FriFotos

Celebrating a Milestone
#FriFotos #FOUR 
 
Since joining the Twitter community, we have been participating in the weekly   photo forum hosted by . A new theme is revealed every Tuesday 12pm ET.
Today we celebrate #FriFoto's fourth birthday and the theme fittingly is "#FOUR".
Every week in preparation for our participation, we search through our archives for a few images that meet that week's criteria.   Some themes are hard, while others, such as #greatINDOORS, provide a wealth of possibilities.   We actually co-hosted the event that week which was a lot of fun.

Commemorating the Event

There are many ways to interpret a theme, which actually adds to our enjoyment of the photo forum.   It causes us to look through our archives with a different perspective searching for photos that convey the theme.   It is interesting to see how others interpret the theme as well.   We often get ideas for future trips by reviewing others' contributions.  Here are some of our entries for this week:

Dancers bringing balloons to birthday party

You can't have a birthday party without balloons, so we searched through our archives and found this image captured during a cruise on Caribbean Princess.

Let the Party Begin
 
Need some music for birthday - we invited the Beatles but they were on Allure OTS 

What's a birthday party without some good music?  This group of #FOUR launched the world into a frenzy with their music and the rest is history.  I think they'd be the perfect group to perform at our party.
 


dancing stars will provide some entertainment for birthday Direct from stage  
These energetic #Four dancing stars are on stage to really get our party going.   Join us on #FriFotos today so that you don't miss all the fun.
 

Many Well-Wishers On Hand
Congratulations from Captain Zini & Crew

Everyone is invited to the party and look who showed up. Royal Caribbean's Captain of the largest vessel afloat brought along #Four of his crew members to with the #FriFotos team a Happy Fourth Birthday.

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.

Congratulations to the best Four-Some on Twitter:
Charles Yap, Jonathan Epstein, Stephanie Diehl & You (the contributors who make it worth the effort)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Major Hurricane GONZALO Alters Cruises


Hurricane GONZALO

Major Hurricane GONZALO

Gonzalo is now a Category Three major hurricane with additional strengthening expected over open waters of the Atlantic.  The hurricane is currently on course for Bermuda.  Interests there should monitor the approaching storm system.  Gonzalo grew to a Category Four and set sights on Bermuda.

Several cruise lines altered itineraries due to the hurricane.  In some cases, the port order was changed, in others an extra day at sea replaced a port of call, and in a few cases, Eastern Caribbean cruises became Western itineraries.   That is the beauty of cruising during hurricane season - the ship will move to avoid the storm instead of ruining your vacation with bad weather.

Weekend calls to Bermuda were cancelled and ships set sail on alternate itineraries.  Hurricane Gonzalo made landfall Friday (10/17) evening as a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds along the south-central coast of Bermuda. 

It was the second time in less than a week that a tropical cyclone had a direct hit on the island.  Bermuda was still cleaning up after Tropical Storm Fey hit on October 12th.  With debris laying around the island following Fey, there is an added level of hazard with Gonzalo hitting the island.

NHC issuing advisories on Hurricane GONZALO
 

 

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.

 CATEGORY 4
Hurricane GONZALO
 
800 AM AST SAT OCT 18 2014

...WEATHER IMPROVING IN BERMUDA AS GONZALO QUICKLY MOVES
AWAY...
...FORECAST TO PASS NEAR THE COAST OF NEWFOUNDLAND TONIGHT AND
EARLY SUNDAY...
 


WIND:
NEAR 100 MPH...160
KM/H...WITH HIGHER GUSTS
WATCHES/ WARNINGS:
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

THE BERMUDA WEATHER SERVICE HAS DISCONTINUED THE TROPICAL STORM
WARNING FOR BERMUDA.

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS EFFECT FOR...
* ARNOLDS COVE TO CHAPELS COVE NEWFOUNDLAND
SHIP IMPACT:
Carnival Liberty at sea 10/14 (St. Thomas skipped)
Carnival Breeze at sea 10/14 (La Romana, DR skipped)
Carnival Conquest changed to Western Caribbean itinerary:
Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Honduras) and Costa Maya (Mexico)
Disney Magic rearranged port order
Norwegian Getaway ports changed to Falmouth & Cozumel 
Caribbean Princess changed ports to Ocho Rios,Grand Cayman,Cozumel
Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas left San Juan early 
Jewel of the Seas at sea 10/13 (skipped St. Maarten )
Allure of the Seas modified to visit Falmouth & Cozumel 
 
Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Oceania have ships scheduled 
to call at Bermuda this weekend and next week.
 
Explorer OTS (10/18) - Calling on Halifax & St. John. NB instead
Norwegian Dawn -  Calling on Nassau, Bahamas & Great Stirrup Cay
Oceania Insignia - Departs 10/18 for Caribbean; Adds St. Maarten 
 
We will monitor for any additional changes 
     
Storm Archive       Graphics Archive

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA...IN THIS CASE WITHIN
THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...IN THIS CASE WITHIN 24 TO 36
HOURS.

Royal Caribbean said Jewel of the Seas did not call at St. Maarten on Oct. 13. The ship spent Monday at sea before returning to the scheduled itinerary, calling at Antigua on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Explorer of the Seas departed San Juan at 9 p.m. on Oct. 13, instead of staying overnight.

Allure of the Seas is sailing a modified western Caribbean itinerary. The ship will now visit Falmouth, Jamaica on Oct. 15 and Cozumel on Oct. 17.


 
 
 
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND 
 
WIND...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE IN THE TROPICAL STORM
WATCH AREA IN NEWFOUNDLAND BY LATE TONIGHT AND EARLY SUNDAY.

STORM SURGE...WATER LEVELS ON BERMUDA WILL GRADUALLY SUBSIDE TODAY.

SURF...LARGE SWELLS GENERATED BY GONZALO ARE STILL AFFECTING
PORTIONS OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS...THE NORTHERN COASTS OF PUERTO RICO
AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC...PORTIONS OF THE BAHAMAS...PORTIONS OF
THE UNITED STATES EAST COAST...AND BERMUDA. SWELLS WILL SPREAD
NORTHWARD INTO PORTIONS OF ATLANTIC CANADA TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY.
THESE SWELLS WILL LIKELY CAUSE LIFE-THREATENING SURF AND RIP CURRENT
CONDITIONS. FOR MORE INFORMATION...PLEASE CONSULT PRODUCTS FROM YOUR
LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE.


Historical Notes:

130 PM AST SUN OCT 12 2014

...TROPICAL STORM GONZALO FORMS EAST OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS...
...TROPICAL STORM WARNINGS AND WATCHES ISSUED... 
 
TROPICAL STORM WARNINGS FOR
GUADELOUPE...DESIRADE...LES SAINTES...MARIE GALANTE...ST. MARTIN...
AND ST. BARTHELEMY...ST.MAARTIN...SABA...AND ST. EUSTATIUS...
BARBUDA...ANTIGUA...ANGUILLA...ST. KITTS...NEVIS...AND MONTSERRAT
 
TROPICAL STORM WATCHES FOR 
THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS...PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...
CULEBRA...AND THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
 
 
500 PM AST SUN OCT 12 2014

...GONZALO STRENGTHENING EAST OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS...
...HURRICANE WATCH AND TROPICAL STORM WARNING ISSUED...
 
HURRICANE WATCH AND A TROPICAL STORM WARNING FOR
PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...CULEBRA...THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS...
AND BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
 
500 PM AST MON OCT 13 2014

...GONZALO BECOMES A HURRICANE WHILE MOVING THROUGH THE
NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS...
...ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING LIKELY... 
 
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
* ST. MAARTIN
* ST. MARTIN
* ANGUILLA

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* PUERTO RICO
* VIEQUES AND CULEBRA
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* ST. BARTHELEMY
* SABA AND ST. EUSTATIUS
* BARBUDA
* ANTIGUA
* ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
* MONTSERRAT
* PUERTO RICO
* VIEQUES AND CULEBRA
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
 
1100 PM AST MON OCT 13 2014

...GONZALO CONTINUES TO STRENGTHEN...
...EXPECTED TO PASS NORTHEAST OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS OVERNIGHT... 

200 AM AST TUE OCT 14 2014

...HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT FINDS GONZALO STRONGER...
...EYE PASSING JUST NORTHEAST OF THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS...
 
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
* ANGUILLA

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* ST. MAARTEN
* ST. MARTIN
* ST. BARTHELEMY
* PUERTO RICO
* VIEQUES AND CULEBRA
* U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
 
1100 AM AST TUE OCT 14 2014

...GONZALO MOVING NORTHWESTWARD OVER THE OPEN ATLANTIC OCEAN....
...STRENGTHENING EXPECTED TO RESUME LATER TODAY... 

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

NONE
 
500 PM AST TUE OCT 14 2014

...GONZALO BECOMES A MAJOR HURRICANE OVER THE OPEN ATLANTIC...
...ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING EXPECTED...
 
800 PM AST FRI OCT 17 2014

...BERMUDA IN THE NORTHERN PORTION OF THE LARGE EYE OF DANGEROUS
HURRICANE GONZALO...
...DAMAGING WINDS AND A LIFE-THREATENING STORM SURGE EXPECTED
AGAIN AFTER THE EYE PASSES... 
 
900 PM AST FRI OCT 17 2014

...900 PM POSITION UPDATE...
...LARGE EYE OF DANGEROUS HURRICANE GONZALO OVER BERMUDA... 
 
AT APPROXIMATELY 830 PM AST...0030 UTC...THE CENTER OF THE LARGE EYE
OF HURRICANE GONZALO MADE LANDFALL ALONG THE SOUTH-CENTRAL COAST OF
BERMUDA...BASED ON DATA FROM THE BERMUDA RADAR...ISLAND SURFACE
OBSERVATIONS...AND REPORTS FROM AN AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR LOCATED
IN DEVONSHIRE PARISH BERMUDA.
 
 
800 AM AST THU OCT 16 2014

...GONZALO MOVING NORTHWARD AS A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE... 
 

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Would Christopher Columbus Think



Columbus First Transatlantic

La Pinta (Spanish for The Painted One or The Spotted One) was the fastest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first transatlantic voyage in 1492

The Pinta was square rigged and smaller than the Santa María. the ship weighed approximately 60 tons with an estimated deck length of 17 meters (56 ft) and a width of 5.36 meters (17.6 ft). The crew size was 26 men under Captain Martín Alonso Pinzón.

On the evening of 3 August 1492, Columbus departed from Spain with three ships, including the Pinta.  He first sailed to the Canary Islands where he stopped for repairs and provisions, staying there until 6 September 1492.

First Person to Sight Land

In the wee hours of 12 October 1492, Columbus claims to have seen the light of land. Columbus called the island (in what is now The Bahamas) San Salvador.  He claimed the lifetime pension promised by Ferdinand and Isabella in connection with the sighting.

How Does Pinta  Compare to Today's Cruise Ships

Oasis of the Seas is 47 meters wide and 360 meters long, i.e. 40 m longer than the height of the Eiffel tower! Height over the water line is 65 m. Building the vessel has been compared to a huge 3-dimensional puzzle. The vessel consists of 180 grand blocks, the biggest with a size of length 22 m, width 30 m and weight 600 tons! The vessel´s weight is 12 times the weight of the Eiffel tower. 

 Pinta Definitely Out-Sized

Here you see just one of the 180 grand blocks that comprised the Oasis of the Seas.  Let's assume that it's the largest block.  That would mean that the Pinta was 5m shorter and 1/10th the weight of just that one building block.

Oasis of the Seas First Transatlantic

Just like the Pinta, the Captain of the Oasis of the Seas set sail from Europe destined for Bahamas and points beyond.   The Oasis made the journey from 31 October 2009 until 13 November 2009, arriving two days later than planned due to a tropical storm it encountered during the crossing.   Columbus too had encountered tropical weather during his crossing.

Columbus would probably be amazed if he sailed his ship alongside the Oasis of the Seas.   We'll take a look at more ships as we continue our special series for National Cruise Vacation Month


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Size Does Matter - They Come in Many Sizes

Grandeur of the Seas Next to Oasis of the Seas

Picking Right Ship For YOUR Cruise

We've taken many pictures of cruise ships over the years and perhaps none was as striking as this image we captured in Cozumel, Mexico, a few years ago.  Shown here are two Royal Caribbean ships:  Grandeur of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

It should come as no surprise that the Oasis of the Seas would definitely stand out in a crowd of ships since it was (until the Allure of the Seas) the largest ship afloat.   Allure of the Seas, its sister ship, beats it out by 2 inches in length technically making the Allure larger.     Is that taking things to the extreme?  Well, maybe, but
Captains Zini and Wright had something to say about it amongst themselves.   That story was picked up by the media and has become one of the talking points about the two ships.

Watch the video of the two captains: Allure of the Seas Arrives in Fort Lauderdale

Well, back to the story about different size cruise ships.   Here are the facts about these two vessels:



Grandeur of the Seas


Passenger Capacity: 2,446
Gross Tonnage: 74,000
Length: 916'
Beam: 106'
Draft: 25'
Cruising Speed: 22 knots
Oasis of the Seas


Guest Capacity: 5,400 double occupancy
Gross Tonnage: 220,000
Length: 1,187'
Max Beam: 184.40'
Draft: 30'
Cruising Speed: 22 knots


We published this picture and details before, but it is worth repeating.   Click on the image to really get an idea of scale of both Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

Oasis of the Seas is 47 metres wide and 360 metres long, i.e. 40 m longer than the height of the Eiffel tower! Height over the water line is 65 m. Building the vessel has been compared to a huge 3-dimensional puzzle. 
The vessel consists of 180 grand blocks, the biggest with a size of length 22 m, width 30 m and weight 600 tons! The vessel´s weight is 12 times the weight of the Eiffel tower.  The Statue of Liberty does tower over the ship but you could put several Boeing 747s, London Double Decker buses and Mercedes Benz autos end to end and have room to spare.

Size Does Matter

Just to give you an additional sense of scale,  the first cruise ship we went on in the 80s was Carnival Celebration which  weighed in around 37,500 tons.   At the time, that was one of the largest vessels in Carnival Cruise Line's fleet.   The Oasis and Allure are almost 6 times heavier than the Celebration.

If you have been following our blog, you are well aware of all the activities on Oasis and Allure.   Size is obviously an advantage to ship builders - they have more canvas on which to create.  So with the introduction of these ships, we have some of the most amazing innovations at sea.

Of course, size costs more. The price tag of these state of the art vessels means someone has to pay for the ship.   The good news is there are more cabins on a large ship which means more passengers to share the weekly costs.    It does however mean that, at least for the foreseeable future, guests will pay a premium over smaller ships owned by the same companies.

More passengers can mean more wait time, but Royal Caribbean has taken that to heart in planning these ships, and you might not experience long wait times.   There are so many different attractions onboard, passengers will be scattered over the entire vessel, so it shouldn't appear crowded most of the time.  Loading and unloading the ship will be one time where you'll see most of your fellow passengers, but Royal Caribbean has taken steps to make that run smoothly.


RCI Explorer OTS & Azamara Journey
Smaller Ships



Here is another image with two ships side by side in port.  The ship on the left is Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas and the ship on the right is from sister line Azamara Club Cruises - Azamara Journey.  The Journey is one of the old "R" ships which by today's standards were very small.


If you are looking for an intimate experience with less passengers, then Azamara Journey would be an excellent choice.  The smaller size ship also allows the cruise line to visit ports that the big sisters can't get into.

Here are the facts for these two ships.  Notice that Azamara Journey has a gross tonnage of less than 25% of the Explorer of the Seas and it is about half the length of Oasis of the Seas.


Explorer of the Seas

Passenger Capacity: 3,114
Gross Tonnage: 137,308
Length: 1020'
Beam: 154.7'
Draft: 28.2'
Cruising Speed: 23 knots
Azamara Journey

Guest Capacity: 781
Gross Tonnage: 30,277
Length: 592'
Max Beam: 84'
Draft: 20'
Cruising Speed: 18.5 knots

 
We have focused on Royal Caribbean in this article, but there are other examples within the remaining cruise lines.   One important take away is that size is just one factor when planning your cruise vacation, but it is an important one.   Take advantage of the expertise among cruise specialists in deciding the right ship for you and your traveling partners.   The last thing you'd want would be to be expecting a ship the size of Grandeur of the Seas and step out of your cab to find Oasis of the Seas in front of you at the pier.

No matter what size you are looking for, you'll find a ship in one of the cruise line's fleets that meets your needs.   They come in many sizes, shapes, and with many different attractions.   Personally, the fun is in selecting the ship you want to try next and enjoying everything it has to offer once you start your cruise vacation.

As National Cruise Vacation Week continues, be sure to 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.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Confused About What Cruise Line To Select

Stop Losing Sleep - Seek Advice of Specialist



STOP LOSING SLEEP!
Seek the advice of a trusted cruise specialist to select a cruise line

Every day we make choices.  Coke or Pepsi?  Coffee or Tea?  Chips or Fries?  The list goes on. Sometimes making these decisions introduces stress into our lives.  One of the benefits of taking a vacation is to get away from daily stress.  We'll guide you through the selection process.

 Look Under the Covers to Narrow Selection
You've seen their commercials; you've heard their slogans.   Even though you've never sailed before, I bet you can name these top selling cruise lines.
In case you can't, they are Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line (top to bottom).
Each cruise line has a different personality and appeals to different demographics.  In most cases, any of these three lines would be an excellent choice for your first cruise.
However, you will definitely need to know differences to set proper expectations.

CLIA has 26 member cruise lines with over 260 ships  [Tweet this]
Determine What is Important to You

As a cruise specialist, the majority of my time is spent asking questions and listening to your responses.  Those answers in turn help to narrow the field of cruise sailings to a manageable short list.  Example:  If you don't want to go on a cruise where there are children, you probably won't want to book a cruise on Carnival during Spring Break.

From there, factors outside our control may further narrow the selection (for example, a particular cabin type could be sold out).

Homework Assignment:  
Read about these three cruise lines - "All Cruise Lines" page.     



Tell a friend about what you've learned and suggest that they read some of our articles as well
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.