Sunday, February 22, 2015

May the Force be With You





Star Wars™ Weekends returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios® at the Walt Disney World® Resort every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 15-June 14, 2015.

During this galactic event, you can encounter out-of-this-universe entertainment, favorite attractions and more!

James Arnold Taylor, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” will return to host the Stars of the Saga talk show – including everyone’s favorite stormtrooper preshow – at a new larger location in the Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard.

Darth’s Mall is moving to a new and expanded complex near Streets of America where you can find Star Wars-themed and exclusive event merchandise just for Star Wars Weekends 2015.

Plus, Star Wars characters assemble and “Summon the Force” each night for a grand celebration, including a look back at greatest moments throughout the day on social media.

And, at the end of the day, the night sky will erupt in an interstellar frenzy of fireworks as “Symphony in the Stars” salutes the saga’s most dramatic stories and brings you as close to the Force as you can get.

Plan a Trip to Florida Today

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If you are Star Wars fans, you'll also want to ask us about Disney Cruises with your favorite Star Wars characters.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gong Xi Fa Ca! - Year of the Sheep

Wishing You a Prosperous Chinese New Year

On our calendar, 2015 began just over a month ago but to the Chinese 4713, the year of the sheep, is about to begin.  According to China's ancient lunar calendar, the New Year always falls between January 20 and February 20.  This year it begins today, February 19.  To close the celebration, the great Feast of Lanterns is held on the first full moon of the New Year.

People carry lanterns and join in a huge parade headed by the enormous Golden Dragon, symbol of strength, goodness, and luck.   The Dragon has been hibernating since the last festival and will go to sleep for another year when the parade ends.


Year of the Sheep

If you were born in1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, or 2003 you were born under the sign of the sheep.

Sheep personality traits are some of the most popular in the zodiac as sheep are generally kindhearted and make the most loyal of friends.
Also one of the most creative signs, sheep are never happier than dreaming about their next project or innovative idea. In 2015, watch as your efforts pay off as you enter into a prosperous period in which you can really shine, either personally or professionally.

Around the Web, learn more about Chinese New Year celebrations in the U.S. and worldwide, browse festive clip art and e-mail greetings, or read up on holiday customs and folklore.


Monday, February 16, 2015

President's Day 2015


HAPPY BIRTHDAY  
GEORGE WASHINGTON
& ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, and concurrent with Presidents' Day. Washington's Birthday is commonly referred to as Presidents' Day (sometimes spelled President's Day)

Presidents' Day was started by President Nixon, to honor all past presidents of the United States, and set on the day when Washington's Birthday was celebrated. Both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays are in February.


The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.


This monument is often associated with the Presidents's Day holiday.  Mount Rushmore National Memorial is visited by nearly three million people each year that come to marvel at the majestic beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota and learn about the birth, growth, development and preservation of the country.

In honor of Presidents' Day, view our photo album on our Facebook Fan Page:
Mt. Rushmore (42 photos)   We can help you plan your next vacation on Land or Sea.
 

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Captain Schettino Prison Sentence Set

Captain Schettino

Convicted & Sentenced

Costa Concorida Trial

 

Just over three years following the capsizing of Costa Concordia off the coast of Giglio, Italy, the Italian court has handed down its verdict in the trial of Captain Schettino. He was sentenced Wednesday to 16 years and one month in prison for multiple counts of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship in the 2012 disaster that killed 32 people.


Sentencing by the three judge panel was as follows:
  • five years for causing the Jan. 13, 2012, shipwreck
  • one year for abandoning the ship 
  • one month for false communications to maritime authorities
While this sentence was less than the 26 years and 3 months requested by prosecutors, Schettino had commented (prior to sentencing) that the verdict "should have involved an entire organization and instead sees me as the only defendant." Several of his crew members had already taken deals by pleading guilty to their charges.

Despite the prison sentence, Schettino remains a free man.  The court rejected prosecutors' request that Schettino be immediately arrested. In Italy, defendants have two levels of appeals and sentences don't begin being served until those appeals are exhausted.

The appeals will undoubtedly center around Schettino's contention that no one died because of the collision, but because of problems beyond his control including the following factors:
  • helmsman who botched Schettino's orders immediately before and after the collision
  • crew members who weren't fluent in English or in Italian, the working language of the ship
  • emergency generator failed after the crash 
  • water-tight compartment doors also didn't work properly
  • lack of emergency drills after cruise started 
We have been covering the entire Costa Concordia accident, including the cleanup and legal proceedings.   For complete details, see our anchor article:  Costa Concordia Listing after Deadly Accident

Related Blog Posts 

Captain Schettino Testifies
Captain Schettino Gets Day in Court or Not
The Legal ABCs of the Costa Concordia Shipwreck (Peter Greenberg)
Costa Concordia Legal Update (Ongoing updates)
Expert Findings Released on Costa Concordia

Monday, February 2, 2015

Water Wonders of the World


 #Travelpics
Water Wonders
 
Today we joined #TRAVELPICS chat on Twitter for a fun packed hour exchanging ideas and travel photos with like-minded posters. The theme was  “water wonders.”

Pictures that were shared ranged fFrom diving and waterfalls to aqua landscapes, hurricanes, coral reefs from above, and so much more.  Here are some of our answers to questions raised during the hour along with some images. (click on images to enlarge)
 
Questions for Monday’s “Water Wonders” #travelpics chat:

(3:00) Intros: Please introduce yourself and tell us where you’re tweeting from today!

Greetings from frozen #Chicago #Travelpics

(as you can see we got some fresh snow that morning)


(3:05) Q1: In your mind, what are some of the “water wonders of the world”? 
A1: Several come to mind from Niagra Falls to Gullfoss in Iceland - what do you think of

 (3:10) Q2: Share a photo of the most wild water wonder you’ve ever been to! 
A2: #Kjosfossen waterfall #Norway is a rail stop from Voss to #Flam


Norway is one of our favorite lands to visit with the mighty Norwegian fjords waterfalls amongst the most popular attractions.

(3:20) Q3: Whether above the water or below, share a tale or snap of an unusual perspective.
A3: @CelebrityCruises amongst our #Galapagos memories #snorkeling with sea turtles #Travelpics #ttot

You can learn more about our Galapagos adventure on our blog: Cruise With Christine Pappin: Diary of Celebrity Xpeditions Galapagos

(3:30) Q4: Bigger isn’t always better: Tweet a water wonder photo that’s beautiful even if small, hidden, or overlooked. 
Several answers came to mind for this question:
A4: Bay of Fundy #NovaScotia #NewBrunswick #Canada reversing falls #Travelpics #ttot
 
Visit these amazing waterfalls when on a Canada / New England cruise.  Be sure to visit in the morning and then later in the day to see the tides reverse.


A4: Brisksdal Glacier & Waterfalls #Geiranger #Norway #travelpics #ttot Norwegian Fjords

A Norwegian Fjords cruise offers the opportunity to visit Geiranger and Hellesylt.  You can walk on a glacier or ride on a path past amazing waterfalls. 

A4: Hellesylt #Norway waterfall in the center of town #Norwegian #Fjords #TTOT #travelpics

Other favorites include Olden and Tvinde waterfalls.

A4: Norwegian Fjords including #Olden #Norway waterfalls & rapids come to mind #Travelpics #ttot
A4: hard to pick just one amazing water wonder in #Norway #Tvinde #travelpics #ttot Tvinde.jpg



(3:40) Q5: Tell us what water wonder is your favorite–and pick one you’d hop on a plane today to see.

A5: @NPKrka KRKA National Park Split #Croatia #travelpics #ttot

One of the most amazing highlights of our Mediterranean cruise from Rome to Venice included our visit so Split, Croatia and KRKA National Park & Waterfalls.  You could spend hours there capturing water wonders.

(3:50) Q6: Show off that awesome water shot–a frozen moment, a beautiful long exposure, or something unique!
A6: Brisksdal Glacier & Waterfalls #Geiranger #Norway #travelpics #ttot Norwegian Fjords

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 @Sihpromatum @TheTravelCamel & @VibrantIreland
 
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.  
 
@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 in you in planning your dream vacations.  Of course, we are always available to answer any questions you might have about travel and the industry.
 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour San Juan

Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour
Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour  (photo album)

San Juan
Shore Excurions

Whether this is your first trip to San Juan, or like us, have been there many times before, you might be looking for something different to do this time around.

We had never been to the Bacardi Rum Distillery before, so we decided to book a shore excursion through the cruise line.   It is possible to do this tour on your own, but we opted for convenience over price.

Tour Coop

Carnival contracts with Tour Coop to provide the tour to Bacardi Distillery and Old San Juan.  Upon arriving at Bacardi, you are given two drink tickets and a tour number.  Tours depart every 20 minutes or so from the welcome tent.

The ticket can be exchanged for a rum drink of your choosing.  Be sure that you have enough time to finish the drink before your tour is called because no drinks are allowed on the tour.

Tram Ride

When your tour is called you'll board a tour tram for a short (1 minute) ride to one of the Bacardi buildings.   In the lobby you'll see various artifacts that tell about the Bacardi family history.   The tour includes a video about the family and then you proceed into another room where you'll be able to smell some of the different Bacardi rum "flavors" and watch a video that explains the rum making process from sugar to rum.

Shop Bacardi Rum (36 images)

There's a "bar" where they'll describe how two of the most popular rum drinks, Mojitos and a Cuba Libre, are made.   Browse amongst the various Bacardi displays, including magazine ads from the 40s.   You can purchase rum or Bacardi logo items in the gift store before returning to the welcome tent to finish your drink coupons if you haven't already done so.  You'll have ample time to explore before boarding your van for the ride to Old San Juan.

This is an enjoyable tour which we'd recommend that you try at least once in your lifetime.

Click for Mini-Series Articles / Images
Tip: You can book a tour with the ship or travel to Bacardi on your own: From Old San Juan – Take the ferry from Pier 2 to Catano, for $0.50 pp, each way. When you arrive in Catano, go to the right for a taxi to the factory for about $3.00 pp each way.

We'll continue with more to see and do in San Juan and describe the rest of our cruise in future articles.   If you are just joining us, we have several articles in this mini-series already.   See our main article (click image).

Cruise Like a Norwegian - Escape Starting November

What's New From Norwegian Cruise Line
 

Norwegian Cruise Line is known for their innovation and the new Norwegian Escape, which debuts this November will be no exception.

Norwegian Escape will homeport in Miami and sail to the Caribbean year-round.  We've just attended a local unveiling of some of the new features onboard this fabulous new ship.   Watch this video to learn more about what awaits you when you step onboard to Cruise Like a Norwegian.





Some Highlights on Norwegian Escape 
  
Bayamo Pincho 
Tapas Bar (Jose Garces)

The District Brew House (Bar Lab / Wynwood Brewing)
 678 Ocean Place

The Cellars 

(Michael Mondavi wine bar)

Tobacco Road

Food Republic
(Pubbelly Boys)
(click on images to enlarge)

 Margaritaville & 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar 
(Jimmy Buffett)

Teenage Mutant Ninja
 Turtles Mini-Golf

Snow Room


Aqua Park

Sports Complex 
- Ropes Course


This Breakaway Plus class ship will have many innovations as you can see from these images (courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line). We hope you enjoyed these artist renderings of some of the attractions that will be found on the new Norwegian Escape.  Our 2015 National Conference is being held on this new ship.  We will be among the first people to sail out of Miami.

>>> Learn More about Norwegian Escape