Relaxful Cabanas on the Cay

In an earlier post Great Stirrup Cay, Highlight of the Cruise I talked about our day on Great Stirrup Cay during the Cruise Family Reunion cruise. Great Stirrup Cay is Norwegian cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas. In this post, I wanted to talk a little more about renting a cabana.

Cabana on the Cay! #CFCruise #cruise #CruiseLikeaNorwegian #instapic #piccollage

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Cabana on the Cay

Cabana on the Cay

We rented a cabana for the day because, traveling with our two year old, we wanted to make sure we had shade. We were glad we did since shade is at a premium on the island. They do have some shells you can get to go over your chairs but I heard many people complain about how hot it got underneath them. With the cabana, not only did you get your shade but you also got a ceiling fan to move the air and ensure you have a breeze. You can reserve a cabana for $299 for the whole day. A cabana can accommodate up to eight guest. You get priority tendering to ensure you get the most out of your day. You arrive to find your cabana with eight bottles of water and a fruit plate of fruit. You will also have eight towels waiting for you as well so you don’t have to bring yours from the ship. They also include four of the floaty mats and a $50 food and beverage credit. Upon arrival at the island you make your way to the cabanas and the one reserved for you.

Lack of shade on Great Stirrup Cay

Lack of shade on Great Stirrup Cay

Beach directly in front of the cabanas.

Beach directly in front of the cabanas.

Shortly after getting there someone will greet you and give you a wristband. Supposedly only people with a wristband on will be able to be around the cabanas for safety reasons but I didn’t see people really check this.From that point on, you will have someone bring you drinks and food so you don’t have to worry about that. The beach directly in front of the cabanas is a lot less crowded and more quiet. There is, however, a few rocks in the water. You need to be carefully when entering and leaving the water or I suggest having some water shoes to protect your feet. Being a further walk than the main beach, not as many people make their way to this part of the island. Yes, it is a further walk to the bathroom but if you’re in one of the first few cabanas it’s not all that far. A good investment for NCL to make would be to construct a bathroom near the far end of the cabanas.

Salsa dish delivered to our cabana

Salsa dish delivered to our cabana

All in all I loved having the cabana. In my eyes, it was the difference between having a good time and having a great time. If you want a more laid back experience during your stay on Great Stirrup Cay, I would recommend looking at getting yourself a cabana for the day.

Author: Nathan Nehmer, nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

Categories: Beaches, Cruise, family, Norwegian Cruise Line, travel, Uncategorized, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day Three, Nassau

The last port of call for the Cruise Family Reunion was Nassau, Bahamas. I have to be honest with you; I wasn’t all that excited about this port of call. Traveling with a two year old who still takes naps, limits what you can do for shore excursions. We didn’t want to venture too far or book an excursion that lasts all day since we didn’t know how Taylor would take so many action packed days in a row.

Because I had to!

Because I had to!

We decided to take in a little shopping and the straw market in downtown Nassau that day. We got up and ate breakfast and headed off the ship. The straw market was just starting to open up at 9:00 am on a Sunday. While it was nice to not have the crowds, a lot of the stores were still closed up. That also cut down on the amount of pushy stall owners trying to get you to buy the stuff they supposedly made.

After making our way through the straw market and buying one shirt for our five month old we headed over to the Del Sol store to check out the color changing clothing and accessories. The Del Sol portion of the store is located in the back of the store with the bamboo-clothing store, Cariloha, in the front. Be careful taking a two-year-old girl into a Del Sol store since they have so much Disney clothing on display. They will want everything! We managed to get out of there spending only $70.

First church in Nassau

First church in Nassau

carriage .jpg

Our Carriage

On the way back to the ship someone wanting to sell us a horse carriage ride through Nassau encountered us. We asked him how much and were it was $40. Our chance to barter with him was foiled when Taylor started jumping up and down saying “I want a horsey ride”. So off we go on a carriage through the streets of Nassau. During the ride he explained all the historic sights of the city and then some, although it was hard to hear him over the noise. It was fun but I suggest not paying $40 for it.

Snow White

Snow White

That was it for our day in Nassau as we had planned to return to the ship for lunch and spend a pseudo day at sea.

 

Author: Nathan Nehmer nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

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Great Stirrup Cay, Highlight of the Cruise

Day two of the Cruise Family Reunion on the Norwegian Sky took us to Great Stirrup Cay. Great Stirrup Cay is Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas. This port of call is basically a beach day so; if you are cruising on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship that calls on Great Stirrup Cay, keep that in mind when planning your shore excursions.

Welcome to Great Stirrup Cay! #cruiselikeanorwegian #cruise #travel

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Great Stirrup Cay is a tender port, which means your ship is anchored offshore and you are transferred there in smaller boats. When I say smaller boats, it’s a relative term since they still can hold up to 450 people. Our tender ride to shore that day wasn’t exactly the smoothest ride in the world. We had some pretty choppy water that rocked the boat a bit. My wife, who gets motion sickness easily, was happy because since we were traveling with Taylor, our 2 year old we were put on the top deck. The tender ride to shore takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Tendering to Great Stirrup Cay

Tendering to Great Stirrup Cay

Once on sure you are, once again, taken through a spot to have your picture taken with some characters. Off to your right is the big inflatable slide right behind the small straw market where people from a neighboring island sell t-shirts and other merchandise. Keep walking straight ahead to find the main attraction on the island, the beach. The main beach on Great Stirrup Cay is impressive. Nice soft groomed sand leads down to water. The beach is protected very well in the cove making the water nice and smooth for all to enjoy. There is a lack of shade so, especially if you have little ones, you may want to get there early to find a spot in the shade or a table in the pavilions. You could also do what we did and rent a cabana for the day (more on this in a later post).

Entry to Great Stirrup Cay

Entry to Great Stirrup Cay

Main Beach

Main Beach

Lunch is served on the island and, since it is Norwegian’s private island, it is included in your cruise fare. Lunch is a buffet style and is served in the Jumbey Beach Grill building located behind the main beach. Besides the pizza and salads and other normal buffet food they serve up some BBQ type items (the ribs were REALLY good). Also, there are plenty of bar areas scattered throughout the island and you don’t have to pay cash for them. Everything is charged back to your room card so you can be surprised at your bar bill at the end of your cruise, LOL. If you plan to shop at the straw market, you will need to bring cash though.

Buffet

Buffet

There are many shore excursions you can do while on the island. Norwegian Cruise Line offers wave runner rentals, parasailing adventures, and kayak tours. They also offer a snorkeling tour, which is more of a self-guided tour so you can bring your own snorkel equipment if you want (you are required to wear a vest while snorkeling though). You can purchase an all day pass to the Hippo waterslide, or pay per use if you only want to do it once or twice. Or if you want some relaxation and some quiet time, you can do what we did and rent a cabana for the day.

Main Beach with Norwegian Sky in the Background

Main Beach with Norwegian Sky in the Background

Great Stirrup Cay, in my eyes, was the highlight of our cruise. Well…except for meeting some of the friends I tweet with on a regular basis.

Author- Nathan Nehmer: nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

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Norwegian Sky Embarkation Day.

Hello from Miami Beach as we have just disembarked the Norwegian Sky. We had a great time on the Cruise Family Reunion. A mix up between everyone left me without a data package for the cruise so I had to wait till after the cruise to post this.

Norwegian Sky in the Port of Miami

Norwegian Sky in the Port of Miami

The embarkation process was a breeze on Friday. Our shuttle left the hotel at around 11:00am and we were on the ship before noon. The only issue we had was Taylor not wanting to have her picture taken for security purposes. She threw a pretty good fit and the poor guy checking us in turned about 20 shades of red. After that, we went upstairs and had our family picture taken and sat down in the waiting room. They began boarding by calling for families with small children in strollers, which we took advantage of, of course.

The Funnel Picture

The Funnel Picture

Once on board we had lunch with Kristin, Andrea, Shon, and Shon’s sister Mia in the buffet. As I have said before, I am not a huge fan of buffets but when you are traveling with a 2 year old you need to eat when you need to eat.  The buffet was good and had a pretty good selection to suit every taste. After lunch it was naptime for a few people like Taylor but I think the one most looking forward to nap was Shon. I used nap time as a time to walk around and snap pictures of the ship.

The Sailaway party was fun but if you’re traveling with young ears you may want to stay back a ways or even go up a level. Taylor complained of the loud noise and we had to back off a bit. Then we were off to dinner in the Main Dinning Room where one of the specials for the night was lobster. The lobster was slightly overcooked but the meal as a whole was still really good.Steak and lobster dinner

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Day one was a great day and we all had a great time. Until the next time I get a break, Happy Sailing!

Author Nathan  Nehmer: nate@Cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

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Breakfast on the Farm

The month of June is national dairy month and that holds a special importance here in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland and so much of our state has some reference to the cow and all the products we get from her milk. From fans wearing a foam wedge of cheese on their heads at sporting events to giant mice eating cheese in front of cheese stores, you can see how important the dairy industry is to Wisconsin.

Long line waiting to eat

Typical Dairy Breakfast

Typical Dairy Breakfast

                      You may be asking, so what do you do on your June weekend days there in Wisconsin? Well, we stand in line for a dairy breakfast! That’s right, almost every weekend in the month of June there is a dairy breakfast somewhere in Wisconsin. People go to a farm and eat pancakes, sausage, eggs, cheese, milk, and ice cream. Yes, you read that right; ice cream for breakfast, how great is that?

Serving that many people needs special equipment.

Serving that many people needs special equipment.

This past weekend we went to the dairy breakfast put on by the Watertown Agribusiness Club. This dairy breakfast is among some of the largest in the state and attracts over 4,000 people every year on Father’s Day weekend. We went on Sunday, Father’s Day, which is the busiest of the two days. The line, which of course was out in the rather warm sunshine, was long but it moved quickly and we were at the food in far less time than I thought it would take. The money raised by the dairy breakfast goes towards scholarships for students studding in an agricultural related field.

The experience doesn’t stop with the breakfast though. The host farm has their machinery out on display although this year it was in a huge puddle. They also have people on hand to explain how the feed is mixed together and gave to the cows. They have people in the milking parlor to answer questions and show you how they milk the cows (they were not milking when we were there). There is a petting zoo for the kids, and antique tractor display, and tractor drawn wagon rides around the farm. It is a great way to have fun, eat a good breakfast, and learn a little about farming at the same time.

Taylor in the freestall barn

Taylor in the freestall barn

Taylor Petting a Calf

Taylor Petting a Calf

There is still some time left in the month of June, so head on up to Wisconsin and take part in a Wisconsin tradition. You can find a list of farm dairy breakfasts at the Dairy Days of Summer website.

 

Author: Nathan Nehmer, nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

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There is a New Princess

On Thursday The Duchess of Cambridge will officially christen the Royal Princess. The Royal Princess is the much talked about brand new ship from Princess Cruise Line. The christening ceremony, will start at 6:15 am eastern time/5:15 central time, will be streamed live on Princess Cruises’ website www.princess.com. If your not freak like I am and set an alarm so you can get up and watch this special event, you can watch a replay of the christening ceremony online.

Back when the Norwegian Breakaway was christened I did a post featuring photos of the ship that were shared over social media. I decided I would do another post like that for the Royal Princess. So without further a-do, let me shut my mouth (finger) and let the pictures do the talking. Here are some of the pictures that have came out since she has arrived in Southampton.

What a beautiful ship she is.

These show the much talked about SeaWalk, a glass bottomed walkway that extend 28 feet off the side of the ship.

Next up is a few pictures of the adults only Sanctuary.

https://twitter.com/ADDArkinstall/status/343713857287639042

The atrium on the Royal Princess is where the action will be since it will be the social hub of the ship!

Finally the outside areas of this beautiful ship.

Thank you to everyone tweeting pictures of this beautiful ship and congratulations to Princess Cruise Line on their newest addition.

Author: Nathan Nehmer: nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

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A Month Away

Today I woke up, as I always do, at 4:30 am and, like every other day, reached for my phone. Before you all start telling me that I am addicted to my phone (I already know this), the reason I grab my phone is simple: It is also my alarm.  Once I am able to see halfway straight to shut off the annoying sound that drags me out of bed, I begin to make my morning run through my apps.

 

Click here to learn more about ShipMate

Click here to learn more about ShipMate

This morning, my eyes and fingers were not working well with my brain and I happened to open my ShipMate App. While I really love this app and all its features, it’s not normally in my “first of the morning” routine. But this morning I was treated to a wonderful sight; we are a month away from sailing! I already knew this in my head but it was sure nice to see on my phone. If you don’t already have the ShipMateApp, you should really check it out. It is my favorite cruising app out there. You can learn more about ShipMate by clicking on their logo above.

photo

Now comes the hard part, getting ready to go. Sure, normally, packing is not an issue for us but this will be the first time we are taking our 2 ½ year old further than the 3 hour to Grandpa’s and Grandma’s house. What do we need to pack to keep her occupied on the airplanes? This is all the stuff we need to think about when packing for this trip. This is on top of everything for us that we normally pack.

 

I am really looking forward to taking her on this cruise. She loves to hear music and dance so I am thinking she will love the sail away party. Oh, and by the way, Nickelodeon on the Norwegian Sky will also be a big hit, especially when she see’s Dora. This will be, however, her first time on an airplane, first time on a cruise, and not to mention her not being on her normal nap schedule. How is she going to take it? I guess we will see in a month.

DSC02153

If any one has any advise on traveling with and packing for a toddler please leave comments below. I’d love to hear all the suggestions and I’m sure others would like to hear them as well.

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Learning About the Circus

Sometimes, when we are thinking about our travels, we forget about the attractions that are close to home. I started thinking about these things and how they seem so normal to me. Just because they are normal to me, doesn’t change the fact that other people may want to hear about these. So I am going to write about some of the “normal” things I do on the weekends/days off and mix them in with my travel, cruise, and news topics.

The first of these “local” attractions I will highlight is the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI. The Circus World Museum now occupies the grounds where the Ringling Brothers founded their world famous circus back in 1884. From 1884 till 1918 the winter quarters for their circus was right on the grounds that the locals called “Ringlingville.” This area is now a National Historic Landmark Site.Ringling Brothers

Back in the heyday of the railway circuses, Ringlingville consisted of at least 22 winter buildings. Today eight of those original buildings remain plus part of the original circus train complex.

Historical Site Marker

Historical Site Marker

2 of the remaining buildings

2 of the remaining buildings

Part of the world’s largest circus memorabilia collection is over 210 original circus wagons and vehicles. That is about two thirds of all known circus wagons left in the world. They have one huge building that houses most of these wagons and another building with a restoration shop.  You are able to look inside and see the work being done to save these pieces of history. There is also a huge collection of circus ads and posters, with over 8,650 multi-colored circus posters. This is a must visit for any circus enthusiast and it appeals to non-circus enthusiast as well.

Circus Wagon Building

Circus Wagon Building

Gavioli Band Organ

Gavioli Band Organ

Circus World Museum is also for the kids. They have a daily schedule of shows and attraction that go on every day. I will get more into the fun circus type activities that they put on here. These are sure to keep the kids entertained while you learn about the history of an era long gone.

To learn more about the hours, schedule, and prices visit the Circus World Museum website by clicking here.

Author: Nathan Nehmer, nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

Categories: Circus, Circus World Museum, family, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Insurance, Foolish Not To?

While watching my Twitter timeline today, I came across a conversation discussing if it is a good time to book a cruise vacation. This conversation started in response to the fire onboard the Grandeur of the Seas yesterday morning. Everyone onboard was accounted for and the Royal Caribbean PR team did an excellent job keeping everyone informed and accommodating all of their guests.
As the conversation carried on, the topic of travel insurance up. The question was, “Do you believe it’s good to buy travel insurance when you book a cruise?” I jumped in and tweeted this comment, “@scottlara1961 @CruiseGuy @elliottdotorg I believe when you save money to buy a vacation, it’s foolish not to buy travel ins. #traveltuesday”. I’d like to take a little bit to explain my answer some.
For the fear of going on and on about the details of different plans and coverages, I will keep this in the simplest of terms. Most of us don’t have the money sitting around to get up and go on a vacation whenever we want. We save up our money, and time, to take a vacation from our everyday life and enjoy ourselves. We go through the time to research and book our vacation. Why would you not want to protect that investment you saved so hard for and are looking forward to?
With the possibility of hurricanes in the summer months to winter storms, flight delays and cancelations could put a damper on your much needed time off. Having travel insurance can give you the peace of mind and keep you calm when the unexpected happens.
While weather is the biggest concern with most travelers, there are many other reasons to consider travel insurance. Illness or, heaven forbid, death in your family; can affect your travel plans. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the peace of mind that, when you are going through these tough times, you won’t loose out on the money you saved for your vacation?
Another reason to think about purchasing travel insurance is, what if something happens to you requiring medical care. Most health insurance plans will not cover medical care while you are traveling outside of the country. Travel insurance plans can cover your medical expenses and even transport back if needed in most cases. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you wouldn’t be stuck with huge medical bills if that need arises?
These are the reasons I said I believe it’s foolish not to purchase travel insurance for your vacation both cruise or land based.

Author: Nathan Nehmer, nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

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Royal Caribbean Releases Itineraries for Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean introduced the 18 Caribbean sailings for the Quantum of the seas. These sailings range from seven to twelve nights, and the official inaugural voyage is set for November 23, 2014. These itineraries are open for sale on June 4, 2013 but if you a Crown & Anchor Society member you will get a head start on May 28.

Quantum of the Seas

Quantum of the Seas

Vacationers in the New York-metropolitan area and around the world can choose among seven- and eight-night Bahamas, eight- to 11-night Eastern Caribbean, and 11- and 12-night Southern Caribbean itineraries aboard Quantum of the Seas. She will sail round-trip from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J. to the most popular Caribbean destinations through April 2015, with many “firsts at sea”, such as a skydiving experience; a thrilling adventure that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air on a breathtaking journey; cutting-edge transformative venues including the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever. To learn more about the Quantum of the Seas’ innovative at-sea “firsts,” please see click here

Bahamas seven and eight night cruises

  • Port Canaveral, Florida (Orlando)
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • CocoCay, Bahamas (Royal Caribbean’s Private island)

Eastern Caribbean eight to eleven night cruises

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico,
  • Samana, Dominican Republic
  • St. Thomas
  • St. Kitts
  • St. Maarten

Southern Caribbean eleven and twelve night cruises

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • St. Maarten
  • Martinique
  • Barbados
  • St. Kitts

On most Caribbean sailings, Quantum of the Seas also will visit Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise on the north coast of Haiti.

 “Royal Caribbean is proud to partner with some of the Caribbean’s premier destinations for the inaugural season of Quantum of the Seas,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “The Quantum class of ships will combine a new set of truly exciting and first-at-sea innovations that can only be found on Royal Caribbean, with some of the most incredible destinations in the region. We can’t wait to WOW vacationers with Quantum cruising.”

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