Posts Tagged With: vacation

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.

Advertisements
Categories: Contest, Cruise | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Cat in the Hat Goes Cruising

Carnival Cruise Line announced a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to bring to life the beloved children’s books to the lines 24 ships. In what they claim as an industry first, the Carnival Seuss at Sea program will give kids plenty of activities, entertainment, and dinning fun while onboard. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line already has partnerships with DreamWorks Animation and Nickelodeon, respectively, bring their characters to life on their ships. Not to mention Disney Cruise Line, who doesn’t need a partnership to bring characters children love on their ships.

Carnival-Seuss-at-Sea-Logo-_JPEG_FINAL-229x300

Like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival will offer The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast in the main dinning room on the first sea day. For five dollars per guest, attendees will have the wait staff serve them foods inspired by Dr. Seuss books. Characters from the books will also join them at their tables for even more fun and photo opportunities.


There will also be Seuss story time help on sea day on each voyage, which will include some of your favorite Dr. Seuss characters. There will be opportunities for guest to meet and get their pictures taken with the characters. A Seuss-a-palooza Character parade will also take place, much like the DreamWorks Character parades on Royal Caribbean.

The Carnival Freedom, which will get refurbished in May, along with the Carnival Vista, set to debut in 2016, will feature the Dr. Seuss Bookville. This will be a fun play space inspired by the world of Dr. Seuss.

The Seuss at Sea program will debut on the Carnival Splendor in February and will be on all 24 Carnival ships by 2015.

While this may not be totally an industry first, it sure promises to be fun for people of all ages who love the rhymes of Dr. Seuss.

Information and logo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

Nathan Nehmer: nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

Categories: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line News, Cruise, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Norwegian Gem Ship Tour Part 1

Norwegian Gem Ship Tour

On a nice day in late September, I had the privilege to tour the Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Norwegian Gem. Since there are no real opportunities to tour a ship in and around Wisconsin, I need to fly out somewhere and spend a night or go to a conference to take part in a ship tour.  So, with this in mind I flew into New York City the night before and stayed at place using Airbnb. You can read about my stay in a previous post A Un-hotel Option.

Manhattan Cruise Terminal

Manhattan Cruise Terminal

That Saturday morning, after catching a glimpse of the ship from the top floor of the apartment building I stayed at and drinking my cup of coffee, I walked the few blocks down to pier 88 of the Manhattan Cruise Passenger Terminal. NCL allows us to bring a guest along on the ship tour, so I met up with my clients outside the terminal and made our way inside. After going through the normal process of giving up our I.D. to get the visitor badge, we were shown to a waiting area so we can wait till the group was ready. What a perfect time to grab a picture of the artwork on the hull of the Gem.

Norwegian Gem

Norwegian Gem

When we were ready to board, we were taken through the security line where our carry-on bags were checked and were led on board. This ship does have the WOW factor when you walk into the Crystal Atrium. It is beautiful! I will get into the public areas of the ship more in another post since we were whisked off to tour the staterooms first.

Crystal Atrium

Crystal Atrium

We were first taken up to the The Haven, Norwegian Cruise Line’s “ship within a ship” concept. There are many benefits you get when you stay in The Haven which include:

  • 24-hour, trained and certified suite butler
  • Concierge service
  • Courtyard Valet
  • Gourmet “white tablecloth” en suite dining with special gourmet menus
  • Platinum keycard access
  • Exclusive access to The Haven Courtyard with private pool, sundeck, hot tub and fitness area

    The Haven Courtyard

    The Haven Courtyard

  • VIP priority embarkation and disembarkation
  • Priority boarding of tenders ashore
  • Priority reservations in the ship’s specialty restaurants, spa, award-winning shows and more
  • Invitations to private restaurants for breakfast and lunch and to exclusive events
  • VIP private tours ashore can be reserved by The Haven Concierge

We were shown the three bedroom garden villa that I will only be able to see on a tour or in my dreams. This suite goes for just under $22,000 for a 9-night cruise.

Garden Villa Sitting Area

Garden Villa Sitting Area

Garden Villa Master Bedroom

Garden Villa Master Bedroom

Garden Villa Private Courtyard

Garden Villa Private Courtyard

After that, we were taken down to see the balcony and inside cabins. They are well decorated and more spacious than other ships that I have been on. Lets face it though, how much time are you really going to spend in your stateroom? There is so much to do on this ship you will want to spend as much time exploring it as you can. I will get more into the public areas and all the activities there is to do in my next post.

Balcony stateroom

Balcony stateroom

Inside Stateroom

Inside Stateroom

Author Nathan Nehmer: nate@cardinalcruiseandtravel.com

Categories: Cruise, New York, Norwegian Cruise Line, travel | 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

Categories: Cruise, family, Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line, travel, Uncategorized | 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

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.

Categories: Air Travel, Cruise, family, travel, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Beaches of Kauai

Once again, I am reposting a blog that I did on my other account some time ago. I wanted my blogs altogether in one place so I apologize if you were one of the few who saw this post.

Beaches of Kauai

The Island of Kauai is known for many beaches. Since it is the oldest of the Hawaiian Island it has more sand beaches per mile of shoreline than any other island. I am going to highlight a few of these beaches. Please keep in mind, since Hawaii is located in the open ocean, Hawaii’s beaches are more dangerous than most of the beaches in the Caribbean. Rip tides and rouge waves can form without warning so be careful if you are going to swim while you are on your Hawaiian vacation.

  1. Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay, located near the north shore town of Hanalei, consists of four beaches. They are Waikoko Beach, Wai”oli Beach Park, Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park, and Black Pot Beach. Hanalei Bay is not a great swimming destination but it is great to look at.  Hanalei Beach Pavilion Park offers facilities and a lifeguard, as well as a pier to walk out on to.

Photos of Hanalei Bay, Kauai
This photo of Hanalei Bay is courtesy of TripAdvisor

  1. Moloa’a Bay

Moloa’a Bay is off the main road and can be accessed by taking Moloa’a Rd. of Ko’olua Rd. This beach is a beach not to well known so it shouldn’t be crowed. Parking is limited here, but it is worth the extra walk to get there. The better part of this beach is on the south east side. There is also a lot of shade here.

Moloa'a Bay

Moloa’a Bay

  1. Donkey Beach

Donkey Beach can be accessed from a parking area between the 11 and 12 mile marker on the main rd. From there it is about a 10 min walk down to the beach. It will seem a lot farther on the way back since it is uphill. A sidewalk that goes most of the way down to the beach makes it a little easier though. Donkey Beach has been known to be a nudist’s beach but new multi-million dollar houses here have put a stop to that (not saying that you still won’t see some nudity. Swimming is not great here, because of the current, and shade is limited.

Donkey Beach

Donkey Beach

  1. Lydgate State Park

Probably the best place to swim and snorkel, Lydgate State Park, is located just south of the Wailua River.  Protected from the surf and the facilities located here, makes this park popular with families and also makes it crowded sometimes. OK, most of the time. Still I highly recommend checking this park out, maybe for a little picnic.

Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai - Picture of Anini Beach, Kauai
This photo of Anini Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

  1. Kalapaki Beach

Popular with both visitors and locals, this beach is a great place to learn to surf and boogie board. With a shopping center and restaurants (Dukes Canoe Club is one of my favorite) nearby, there is something always going on at Kalapaki Beach. You can also check out the Cruise ships coming into Nawiliwili Harbor here.

Photo courtesy of Duke's Kauai

Photo courtesy of Duke’s Kauai

  1. Glass Beach

Glass beach is located behind an industrial area in Ele’ele; this beach is made up of broken glass washed up from an old dump nearby. As you may expect, this is not a good beach to swim at or even walk barefoot on. It is however very colorful.

Hawaiian Monk Seal on Glass Sands beach

Hawaiian Monk Seal on Glass Sands beach

Categories: Beaches, Hawaii, Kauai, Uncategorized, vacation | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.