Posts Tagged With: NCL

March Cruise Ship Madness Week 2

Last week I introduced to you the March Cruise Ship Madness where we matchup cruise ships in NCAA basketball tournament style to see which ship comes out as the champion. The first week of matchups are in the books and we are on to week two. Each week your vote enters you into a drawing for a $200 gift certificate. Vote every week for the best chance to win. Also, if you share the contest with your friends, you will get an extra entry for every friend that enters.

Week one was a success! The Norwegian Getaway defeated the Carnival Fantasy with 85% of the votes. The big winner of the week was the Ruby Princess who took all 100% of the votes in the matchup against the MS Noordam. Also winning in week one was the Celebrity Solstice and the Norwegian Sun. Each of these ships took 57% of the votes and defeated the Oasis of the Seas and the MS Nieuw Amsterdam respectively.

Update March Cruise Ship Madness Bracket

Update March Cruise Ship Madness Bracket

Here are this weeks Matchups:

1. Royal Princess vs. Majesty of the Seas

2. Norwegian Gem vs. Carnival Breeze

3. MSC Divina vs. Celebrity Infinity

4. Carnival Dream vs. Independence of the Seas

You can vote for your favorites through the tab on my Facebook page or you can get to the promotion directly by clicking here. You have until Saturday to vote for this weeks matchups. Have fun and good luck. the official rules for the contest can be found by clicking here Contest rules.

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March Cruise Ship Madness – Week 1 Matchups

Ok, this post is going to be a little different. I am not going to show you around a ship, tell you about someplace I just visited, or even tell you about some interesting travel related news. Today’s post is all about giving something away FREE and having a little fun while doing it.

To play off the excitement of the NCAA basketball tournament I would like to introduce the first March Cruise Ship Madness. Each week we will have a group of matchups for you to vote on your favorite ship. The winning ship will move on to the next round until we get our champion. Take a quick look at the whole bracket below.

March Cruise Ship Madness real

Well, that is the fun part but didn’t I say something about this being about giving something away FREE? Ah yes, by voting each week you earn one entry into a drawing for a $200 certificate good when you book your next trip through Cardinal Cruise and Travel. Thats right all you have to do is vote each week for your favorite ships. You also get an extra entry for every friend who enters when you share the fun. Of course, as with every contest there are official rules and you can read them Contest rules. The promotion is running on my Facebook page and you can get to the promotion directly by clicking here. You have until Saturday to vote for this weeks matchups. Have fun and good luck.

This weeks matchups

Norwegian Getaway vs. Carnival Fantasy

Holland America’s MS Noordam vs. Ruby Princess

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas vs. Celebrity Solstice

Norwegian Sun vs. Holland America’s MS Nieuw Amsterdam

Oh, by the way, does anyone have predictions on what

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Options for Seeing Hawaii for the 1st Time

Many of you may know that I love Hawaii. I fell in love with the Aloha spirit when I first visited the Big Island on my honeymoon. After several other visits to the islands, I still can’t wait to go again. Maybe its is the warm weather, the fresh fruits and vegetables, or the laid back friendly attitude of the locals. Or maybe it is the history and the culture that draws me there. Whatever it is, I am always dreaming of returning and relaxing in the sun.IMG00235-20120214-1601.jpg

What is your favorite Island? What are your favorite sights? How do you know what island is right for you? These are all questions I have been asked. Some of these are easy to answer like the Big Island is my favorite and I love seeing the whales playing off sure during the winter. There are others that are harder though like “What island is right for me?”.429 ft. Akaka Falls

Each of the Islands has its own feel and appeals to a different group of people. A call to travel agent specializing in Hawaii can get you the answer to the right island question. You can expect the agent to ask you a few questions about what you like to do, what you like to see, what type of accommodations do you prefer,  and more about your lifestyle. They can then match you to the island that fits you the best.

Kilauea Lighthouse

Kilauea Lighthouse

But what if you want to experience more than one island yourself? You would have to arrange inter-island flights and hotels on each island you want to see. This type of planning becomes much harder making the dates and times all match up but there is another option. You can take a Hawaiian Islands cruise. Most of the major cruise lines offer cruises to Hawaii. Most offer cruises from the west coast during the winter months as they repositions ships to do Alaskan Cruises and other markets. They offer stops at multiple Islands giving you the day to explore and get a feel for each one.

Pride of America along the Napali Coast

Pride of America along the Napali Coast

But what if you don’t want to spend so much time at sea sailing from the west coast all the way to Hawaii and back? Norwegian Cruise Line offers a 7-day round-trip inter-island cruise from Honolulu on the Pride of America year round. This cruise gives you by far the most time on the Islands, after all the reason you’re visiting Hawaii is to experience Hawaii. Two full days in Maui and a day and a half in Kauai as well as two days, at different ports, on the Big Island are included on this itinerary. You will also experience cruising past the Napali Coast line on Kauai. This is a truly great option to see what each island has to offer.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

There are many ways to experience the Aloha Spirit. My suggestion is to take the plunge and do it. You will not regret it.

Author: Nathan Nehmer, nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

Categories: Cruise, Hawaii, Norwegian Cruise Line, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrity Announces New “Suite Class” Taking Pampering to a New Level

Celebrity is now joining in on giving the ultimate in pampering by unveiling the “Suite Class” experience on their ships.  Exclusive new benefits include a suites-only restaurant, VIP lounge, complimentary premium beverages, plus much more. A personal butler will also be there to help take care of every need. This will truly be an over-the-top experience.

Experience_it(BRAND)

“Our guests are accustomed to exceptional quality and service, and for those wishing to further indulge in the very best while on vacation we have launched ‘Suite Class’, specially designed to appeal to the most discerning vacationer,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “We know that suite guests value privacy, personalized service, exclusive access and flexibility, and providing them with their own unique benefits, such as a dedicated restaurant with a dining experience like no other, is just another way that we are significantly elevating the guest’s vacation with us.”

Reflection Suite Bathroom

Reflection Suite Bathroom

 

There are 3 levels to the new “Suite Class”. The Entry Level is for guests staying in the Sky Suites. The Mid Level is for guest staying in the Signature Suites and the Celebrity Suites. Finally, the Top Level is for guests who are staying in the Royal Suite, Penthouse Suite, and the one of a kind Reflection Suite.  The higher the level the more amenities are offered to you. You can see these by clicking on the link below.

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Some amenities included in the new “Suite Class” are:

Private dining – A dedicated private restaurant reserved exclusively for all Suite Class guests will be available morning, noon and night. Each meal will feature unique menus that offer sumptuous dishes not available anywhere else onboard. Guests can truly immerse themselves in the local culture with specially crafted menus inspired by the local destination, and enjoy the world’s best ingredients. Memorable and inspiring dishes will be served, from locally caught seafood, to the freshest pasta. The Suite Class chef can provide a tailor-made experience to suite guests and prepare a dish to their liking, and the Cellar Master – Celebrity’s head sommelier – will select from more than 450 wines to provide the perfect pairing.

Premium ‘all in’ benefits – Premium beverages, dining across all specialty restaurants, unlimited internet access and a private bar with water, sodas and beers will all be complimentary for guests staying in Royal, Penthouse and Reflection suites.

VIP lounge – A private VIP lounge, Michael’s Club, will be available to guests staying in Celebrity, Signature, Royal, Penthouse and Reflection suites. A dedicated Concierge service and unique food and beverage experiences by Celebrity’s James Beard- featured chef will be provided to guests.

 

This amazing news from Celebrity is another example of how the mainstream cruise lines are stepping up their product to their top end customers. Just last Month Norwegian Cruise Line introduced their Butler Drawn Bath Menu for guests staying in their suites and in The Haven. You can read more about that in my earlier post Being Pampered, What Would You Pay?.  If you can afford it these options sure seem like a great way to get pampered while on you cruise vacation.

Categories: Celebrity, Celebrity Cruise Line News, Cruise, cruise news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

A post shared by Nathan Nehmer (@cardinalescapes) on

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

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

A post shared by Nathan Nehmer (@cardinalescapes) on

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

Categories: Cruise, family, Norwegian Cruise Line, travel, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

Norwegian Getaway Hull Artwork Announced

While I prefer a nice “clean” look of a white bow on cruise ships, the artwork on the bows of Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) ships serves it purpose. You can pick out a NCL ship from a long ways away and can definitely say that it is NCL. If you are really into them, like me, you can even tell which ship it is because each one has a different mural on them.

The artist and hull artwork were released for the Norwegian Getaway yesterday. Well-known Miami artist, David “LEBO” Le Batard, was introduced at an event held at his art studio.  Here they introduced the design to be featured on the hull of the Getaway when she launches in January of 2014. The artwork features a whimsical tropical ocean theme complete with a mermaid holding the sun, pelicans and palm trees. This artwork reflects her home port city of Miami where she will sail year round seven-day cruises to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on February 1, 2014, with ports of call including Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas.

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Norwegian Getaway Hull Design

 

“Norwegian Getaway will be Miami’s ship and, therefore, we wanted to ensure that her hull was designed by an artist with strong ties to Miami and the Latin community,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Having begun his career in South Florida, Dave is an artist that is entrenched here. His work adorns the city and I’ve learned that he is also a genuinely nice guy. He is a shining star in Miami, as well as the global art community.”

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David “LEBO” Le Batard

“LEBO’s incredible design reflects all of the elements that Miami is known for sea, sun and paradise,” said Sheehan. “This artwork will surely make Norwegian Getaway an iconic part of the Miami skyline when she arrives as Miami’s largest year-round ship in 2014.”

The Norwegian Getaway, which is currently being built at Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, will be 146,600 gross tons and offer a wide range of accommodations. She will offer an opportunity for guest to “get away” from the same old routine and find a true respite at sea that reflects the energy and culture that Miami is known for worldwide.

What do you think of the mural that will be featured on her hull?

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Photos and press release courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Categories: Cruise, cruise news, Miami, news, Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line News, Port of Miami, travel, Uncategorized, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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