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Windstar Cruises tells you how to swill at sea

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 30 - 2017

Let’s face it: Many guests who vacation on cruise lines like to lift a pint or have a drink or cocktail while escaping the rushing, worried world. But the days of bringing your own on board or stocking up in a foreign port have changed over the years, mostly for the safety of the guests themselves. Yes, people are still trying to get that vodka on by putting it in a mouthwash container and coloring it with blue food dye, but the cruise lines are onto that trick.

And while there are many myths and misperceptions about cruising in general, there are any number about drinking on a ship.

So while others may not want to talk about this, Windstar Cruises, which says that it’s “180 degrees from ordinary” will. And why not? It’s great customer / guest service. So we asked the person in the know, Peter Tobler, the new director of marine hotel operations for Windstar Cruises. With more than 30 years of experience managing beverage operations for brands like Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, as well as luxury lines Seabourn and Cunard, Peter shared his words of wisdom. Here are Windstar’s/Peter’s tips for finding your sea legs:

  1. Order a Bottle/Save it For Later. On many cruise lines, you can order a bottle of wine at dinner, and if you don’t finish it, have the wine steward save it for another evening. Check with your cruise line for specific rules and fees, but this is a great way to save money for light drinkers, rather than purchasing everything by the glass.
  1. Plan on Throwing Back a Few? Invest in a Beverage Package. Beverage packages vary, so make sure you purchase one that fits your needs. At Windstar, for example, our packages are now available on a per-guest basis rather than a per-cabin basis (so if one person drinks and the other does not, you only pay for the one package). We also are adjusting our packages to accommodate those who just drink wine and those who would like a more comprehensive beverage option with liquor, beer, and wine. It’s all about options, so make sure your cruise’s beverage package matches your preferences and you’re not paying for what you don’t want to sip and savor.
  1. Buy the Beverage Package Before You Get on Board. As a rule, there is no savings gained by purchasing your beverage package once onboard. In fact, sometimes it can be cheaper or even included in a special cruise rate in advance. This is really about psychology. Throwing down $10,000 to book your vacation? It’s not that big a deal to add an extra $300 to your bill for the beverage package and just be done with it. If you wait and purchase the beverage package months (or even years) later when you’re actually on your cruise, that $300 on its own suddenly seems like an unnecessary luxury. Do yourself a vacation favor and just buy it early and enjoy.
  1. Bring Your Own. A lot of cruisers don’t know you can bring a certain amount of alcohol onboard (during the first day of your cruise only) and consume it in the dining room with a corkage fee – or in your room for free. At Windstar, you can bring aboard two bottles of wine or champagne (750ml) per cabin for a seven-day voyage or three bottles for an eight-or-more-day voyage. Check with your cruise line to figure out what is allowed, but don’t try to sneak extra booze onboard. (X-rays will catch you, and it’s embarrassing.)
  1. Consider a Themed Cruise. Really into wine? Consider a designated wine cruise. (There are beer- and tequila-themed cruises, too – options abound.) At Windstar, we have an incredible food- and wine-themed voyage through France, Spain, and Portugal, which includes a variety of expert-led wine tastings and an evening in a private chateau in Bordeaux included in the cruise price.
  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Alcohol in Port, but Don’t Expect to Consume It on Board. I love visiting local wine shops and bringing home special souvenirs for friends and family. But all alcohol purchased at ports of call along your cruise route will be kept by the ship’s crew and delivered to your room the last evening of the voyage. You’ll just have to wait to pop the cork when you get home, and remember your journey with each glass.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.


Do you need a visa for your Visa? Maybe

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 30 - 2017

As many of us embark upon trips overseas this summer it is wise to take steps to protect your credit cards before you travel.  After returning home from a cruise in French Polynesia, I found a startling message on my answering machine: “This is Bank of America inquiring about charges made in Huahine on June 10. Please call as soon as possible regarding your account.”

I was worried. Had someone stolen my card number and gone on a shopping spree? I called the credit card company right away, and what I learned surprised me. My card wasn’t stolen. Instead, the credit card company was monitoring my spending.

I had never before used my credit card in French Polynesia, so when I bought black pearl earrings in Tahiti, the bank deemed the charges questionable and put a hold on my account — both for my protection and, presumably, to limit their own losses if the card had been compromised. Credit card companies often do this when their computers detect an abnormal pattern of use. As I found out, this normally helpful service can pose problems for travelers.

Take Hank Allyn, for example. While traveling in Belize, the Pittsburgh resident stopped for gas along a remote road deep in the jungle. He gave the attendant his Visa card and waited in the car. A few minutes later, the attendant returned to tell him the credit card had been rejected. Allyn was confused since he had used the card to rent the vehicle only a few days earlier. Fortunately, he had enough cash on hand to pay for the gas, and he had another credit card he could use for the rest of the trip. Only after Allyn returned home and found a message from his credit card company on the answering machine did he understand what had happened.

As credit card fraud has become more global and more sophisticated, so have efforts to ferret out illegitimate charges. Credit card companies have invested heavily in sophisticated anti-fraud computer software, which uses a complex algorithm to analyze the pattern of transactions, weighing such variables as dollar amount, time of day, day of the week, merchant category and the country in which the charges are made.

Sometimes large purchases will raise a red flag, as I found out when I purchased an emerald in Cartagena, Colombia. Again, the bank called my home to make sure I was the one using the card. Fortunately, a family member was there to let the bank know that I was indeed in Colombia, thus preventing my card from being put on hold.

Passport for your card

Do you need a visa for your Visa? Maybe. A stamp of approval in advance of departure will make charging much easier overseas. If you are planning to travel to far-flung destinations, here are some tips to make sure your credit card keeps on charging:

* Call your credit card company or the bank that issues your card and let them know your travel itinerary — both dates and destinations.  If available, many banks now offer online access and credit card apps for smart phones that allow you to put in a ‘Travel Notification’ to tell them your plans.

* Make sure you have the issuer’s special toll-free number for overseas customer service. The regular 800 number, which is usually listed on the back of the card, will not work outside the United States and Canada.

* Make a note of your card number and the overseas customer service number, and keep them in a safe place separate from the card. That way, if the card is stolen, you will have the necessary information to make a report.

*Traveling overseas with chip cards you might want to consider utilizing RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) protection in the form of a wallet or individual card sleeves.

Even with advance notification, you may not be able to spend as you please while you are abroad. Certain charge patterns will still arouse suspicion, and your card may be subject to spending limits, so you should always carry a second credit card.

Your rights

Under federal law, you are not responsible for unauthorized charges over $50. However, you must report the card stolen or lost immediately to be covered under this law. If unauthorized charges do occur, you will need to document them in writing to the credit card company within 60 days. Not all credit cards have the same rules, so check with your card company for its policies.

For more information about your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, visit the Federal Trade Commission‘s Web site.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog

Princess Cruises expands Ocean Medallion Vacations

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 27 - 2017

Princess Cruises, the world’s largest international premium cruise line, announced today that Golden Princess, Crown Princessand Ruby Princess will be the next three ships to feature the Ocean Medallion™.  The wearable device — powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the One Cruise Experience Access Network™ (O·C·E·A·N™) — enables a new level of personalization and delivers an enhanced guest experience not previously available in the global vacation industry.

Golden Princess (November 2018), Crown Princess (November 2018) and Ruby Princess (January 2019) join four other Princess ships scheduled to debut Ocean Medallion Vacations — Regal Princess® on November 13, 2017, followed by Royal Princess® on January 19, 2018, Caribbean Princess® on March 18, 2018 and Island Princess on May 16, 2018.

“With the addition of Golden Princess to the fleet of Medallion Class ships, we will make available a more personalized vacation to guests sailing in and around Australia,” said Jan Swartz, group president, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia. “And, as we continue to enhance our ships with the Ocean Medallion, we do so to further our commitment in providing our guests the most memorable and relaxing vacation.”

Some distinctive sailing news on these ships for the 2018-2019 season includes:

  • Golden Princess returns to Melbourne for a season sailing October 2018 to April 2019 with departures to South Pacific, Tasmania, South Australia and New Zealand
  • Crown Princess will be Ocean Ready™ for the Fall 2018 Caribbean season. With this

news, all Princess Cruises Caribbean cruisers will experience Ocean Medallion

  • Ruby Princess sets sails from Los Angeles for a season of West Coast cruising

Announced at CES 2017 in January, the Ocean Medallion goes well beyond the growing number of wearables used by theme parks and other vacation companies by leaving behind the required action of “tap” and ushering in a new paradigm for guest interactions.

The Ocean Medallion makes cruising more personal, immersive, simple and seamless than previously considered possible. At the heart of this personalized experience is the Ocean Medallion, which enables endless vacation possibilities.

The Ocean Medallion has no discernible technology – no on-off switch, no charging, no menu to navigate – and can be worn as a pendant, on a wristband, in a clip or simply placed in a pocket to reveal enhanced services and personalized experiences without guests having to push a button or take any action. The pre-cruise engagement will allow guests to provide preferences that detail their wants, needs and desires so their onboard experience can be personalized.

Pairing with the Medallion is the Ocean Compass™ – a digital concierge accessible by all guests using interactive displays throughout the ship, on stateroom TVs, via guests’ own smart devices or through a crew member.

For example, guests can find their way to venues around the ship; make reservations at the Lotus Spa®, specialty dining restaurants and for shore excursions; arrange celebrations; view and purchase photographs; learn about the destinations they will visit and activities at each port of call and more. The Ocean Compass will invite guests to experiences based on their individual needs, wants and desires.

Some of the initial service innovations include:

  • Ocean Ready: Expedites embarkation as required information is added to the guest profile at home.
  • Stateroom Access: The Ocean Medallion will unlock a guest’s stateroom door – replacing the key card.
  • Here & Now™: Guests can place food and beverage orders and have them delivered to select locations.
  • There & Then™: Guests can place select food and beverage orders and have them delivered to where they plan to be at a designated time.
  • Ocean Navigate: Accessed through the Ocean Compass, guests can learn the whereabouts of their family as they enjoy activities throughout the ship and be guided seamlessly in finding their way around the ship. Friends and family will also be able to easily communicate with each other through a seamless messaging service.

More information about O·C·E·A·N is available at ocean.com

For additional information on Ocean Medallion vacations on Princess Cruises, please visit www.Princess.Com/Ocean.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS or by visiting the company’s website at princess.com.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, cruisenews, News

Norwegian Joy christened in Shanghai

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 27 - 2017

Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Cruise Line’s first custom-designed ship for the Chinese cruise market, was christened today in a lavish ceremony held onboard the vessel in Shanghai that featured an over-the-top performance by the ship’s Godfather, singer songwriter, music producer, actor and film director, Wang Leehom.

At 167,725–gross-tons and accommodating 3,883 guests, Norwegian Joy features an innovative design, world-class finishes and amenities tailored to provide a “First Class at Sea” experience for Chinese guests, along with Norwegian’s signature cruising style that offers guests the freedom and flexibility to design their perfect vacation experience.

“After years spent carefully designing this amazing vessel, my team and I are both proud and thrilled to finally christen the world’s first cruise ship custom-designed for the wonderful people of China,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “This is truly a special moment for the entire Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings family, our valued travel partners, honored guests and dedicated officers and crew across our fleet.”

Norwegian Joy christened in Shanghai, China (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Norwegian Joy christened in Shanghai, China (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

In homage to Norwegian Joy’s eye-catching hull art, designed by famed Chinese artist Tan Ping and featuring a majestic phoenix, the christening ceremony began with a performance by renowned dancer and choreographer Yabin Wang, with her interpretation of the spirit of the phoenix through dance. Tan Ping, who also made a special guest appearance at the ceremony, selected the phoenix as the focal point for the ship’s hull artwork, as the iconic bird represents beauty and good luck in Chinese culture.

The pinnacle moment of the christening ceremony came as Wang Leehom, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings executives and local Chinese government officials simultaneously smashed bottles of champagne against the side of a replica ship hull, which released an oversized bottle of Veuve Cliquot that shattered against the ship’s actual hull, signifying the maritime tradition of bringing good luck to all who sail on her.

Wang Leehom, who serves as Godfather and brand ambassador for Norwegian Joy, ended the ceremony with an electrifying performance that wowed the crowd of VIP Chinese and Western guests.

“I’m honored to officially welcome this incredible ship to China and share the cruising lifestyle with Chinese guests as the Godfather for Norwegian Joy,” said Wang Leehom.

Norwegian Joy’s christening marks the end of a month-long grand inaugural tour where she has been showcased through events at the ports of Singapore, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, as well as VIP partner cruises from Norwegian Joy’s homeports of Shanghai and Tianjin.

 

Norwegian Joy

Norwegian Joy is Norwegian Cruise Line’s first purpose-built ship customized for the Chinese cruise market. The ship was designed to provide First Class at Sea experiences with onboard amenities that cater to the unique vacation desires of Chinese guests.

Norwegian Joy offers a multitude of VIP accommodations including The Haven by Norwegian®, the brand’s exclusive, ship-within-a-ship luxury suite complex, and a Concierge level, an all-new accommodations category that provides a VIP experience that includes an exclusive Concierge Observation Lounge with 180 degree breath-taking views and larger balcony staterooms.  Accommodation choices also include staterooms designed specifically for families, with a multitude of connecting staterooms for extended families traveling together, as well as a wide array of mini-suite, balcony, ocean view and interior staterooms, many with virtual balconies.

Norwegian Joy boasts engaging and innovative activities including a first-at-sea two-level competitive racetrack; an open-air laser tag course; the Galaxy Pavilion that features thrilling simulator rides, Oculus virtual reality technology and interactive video walls; and two multi-story waterslides. In addition, Norwegian Joy features 28 dining options that range from traditional Chinese cuisine to upscale French, Italian and Steakhouse fine dining restaurants, along with a tranquil open space park, as well as the line’s largest upscale shopping district, complete with everything from exceptional duty-free shops to world-renowned global luxury brands.

For more information on Norwegian Joy, please contact an authorized Norwegian travel partner or visit www.goncl.cn (in China) or https://www.ncl.com/norwegian-joy (in US) or follow Norwegian Joy’s official wechat: NuoWeiZhen.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.


Windstar Cruises announces Fourth of July Sale

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 27 - 2017

Small ship cruise line Windstar Cruises today announces its Fourth of July One Week Sale, running June 28-July 7.

From $1,099 per guest on over 100 sailings in 2017 and 2018, the sale encompasses ALL of Windstar’s cruising regions including the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Asia / Arabia, Costa Rica / Panama, the Caribbean, Alaska, and Canada / New England.

With more than 50 different Windstar itineraries included in the One Week Sale, here are a few highlights:

Southeast Canadian Explorations from Montreal to Boston over nine days takes guests from one postcard-perfect scene to another in waters alive with whales and fishing boats. Tracing the historic Freedom Trail in Boston or exploring the New England charm and Victorian-era architecture in Portland are great ways for guests to connect with America’s earliest roots.

Elsewhere in America in the “Last Frontier,” Windstar is including its new Alaskan Splendors itinerary in the Fourth of July One Week Sale. From Vancouver to Seward (Anchorage) over 11 days, it offers a tour de force of top Alaskan destinations. From the wildlife and glaciers of the Inside Passage to the First Nations totems of Ketchikan; hiking in Haines or sampling its cultural offerings like the Alaska Indian Arts Center, where traditional craftsmen offer demonstrations of their work; to the biggest zip-line in the United States in Icy Strait Point … it’s all of southeast Alaska’s most intriguing ports.

Back in the “Old World,” Windstar is including its special food- and wine-themed James Beard Foundation Epicurean Explorations of France, Spain, and Portugal sailing with Chef Hugh Acheson, winner of multiple James Beard awards and “Top Chef” judge. The itinerary sails to the famed wine region of Bordeaux for an overnight stay and wine valley visit, as well as visiting the storied oyster beds of Northern France. Guests also will enjoy cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, featured dishes, and wine pairings at dinner.

And with extended sailings, Windstar is also including sale itineraries within its new Star Collector Voyages, where longer and more in-depth voyages from 14 to 34 days feature few repeated ports. In addition to the elegance of an extended trip with the luxury of unpacking only once, guests also get to take advantage of traveling light for these epic journeys, as all Star Collector Voyages include free daily laundry service.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, cruise sales, cruisenews, News

On Sunday, June 25, 2017, Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 set sail from Saint Nazaire, France, to cross the Atlantic in a once-in-a-lifetime Transatlantic “Race” against four of the world’s most famous trimarans in ‘The Bridge 2017.’

‘The Bridge 2017’ is a series of events commemorating the centenary of the first landing of American soldiers in France during WWI in June 1917. It is also a celebration of 100 years of friendship between France and the U.S. ever since that landing. The luxury cruise line Cunard, a company known for its rich history and significant role in both World Wars, is taking part in this historic celebration by sailing Queen Mary 2 from Saint Nazaire, France, where the ship was originally built, to her U.S. homeport in Brooklyn, New York, arriving on July 1.

The four multi-hulls accompanying Queen Mary 2 across the North Atlantic are helmed by award-winning skippers Thomas Coville for Sodebo Ultim, Francis Joyon for Idec Sport, and the two fastest around-the-world sailors, François Gabart for Macif, who has won the most races, and Yves Le Blévec for Actual.

“We are honored to be part of The Bridge 2017,” said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. “Cunard, with its 177-year history, has been recognized for its role in World War I and we are privileged to be an important part of this historic event which celebrates Franco-American relations and their shared pastime of sailing.”

For more information about Cunard, or to book a voyage, contact your Travel Consultant, call Cunard Line at 1-800-728-6273 or visit www.cunard.com.

 Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, cruisenews, gallery, News