To view the rest of my Alaska Cruise Guide:
|RyG's Cruise Guide||
Tracy Arm Fjord is one of Alaska's many scenic cruise destinations. This is not a typical blog post with information, but instead a simple photo gallery of all my Tracy Arm Fjord photos. I did not post comments for each photo because they would all practically say "Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska". Please enjoy my photos and click to make each one larger!
To view the rest of my Alaska Cruise Guide:
In the past I have mentioned ideas and suggestions on packing for an Alaska cruise vacation. However, I have never told nor described the areas of packing that I messed up in. When you are packing for a cruise or any vacation you need to start planning what you will pack in advance. The more thought you give packing the better you will be prepared for your cruise. As you decide what to pack for an Alaska cruise vacation, make sure you keep the weather forecast in mind. Also, remember the weather forecast is subject to change. Here are some of my Alaska cruise packing mistakes:
1. Too Many Long Sleeved Shirts; Few T-Shirts
The temperatures during my Alaska cruise turned out to be warmer than predicted in the weather forecast. All of the shirts I packed had long sleeves, except for one t-shirt. I didn't like having the shirts with long sleeves because of the warm temperatures and it was uncomfortable being outside. In the ports of call, I visited t-shirt shops to buy some discounted t-shirts to wear because it was too warm for me to be comfortable in long sleeved shirts.
2. Don't Forget Sunscreen!
Just because Alaska is not the Caribbean or the Bahamas doesn't mean you are safe from sunburns. Let me emphasize this: You CAN get sunburned in Alaska! I know from personal experience and it was not fun dealing with burned skin. I didn't bring sunscreen because I thought Alaska should be cold, wet, and cloudy. My cruise had high temperatures and a lot of sunlight. While I was outside on the public decks and on my balcony, I was exposed to u/v radiation that gave me a terrible sunburn. Make sure you bring sunscreen with you that will adequately protect you from the sun's rays and u/v radiation. If you bring sunscreen be sure to use it!
3. For Photographers: Bring Your Tripod
If you have read any of my published cruise reviews online you may realize that I enjoy taking many photographs during my cruise. I took many pictures from my cruise ship balcony and I wished later that I would have brought a fold-able camera tripod that my camera could rest on as I took pictures. If you have a portable tripod for your camera that would not take up too much room in your suitcase I recommend bringing it. You could take it outside with you on your balcony and when you go back inside your stateroom you can just fold it back up to store in your room until you decide to use it again.
I wish I would have brought binoculars with me. Having binoculars would have made it easy for me to spot wildlife that was pointed out by my ship's naturalist. I used my camera's zoom feature in place of binoculars, but I didn't like wearing down my camera's batteries just to try to get a closer view of scenery and wildlife.
Choose what you take on your Alaska cruise carefully! Be sure to pack wisely and with thought!
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For many months cruisers like me waited anxiously to learn more about the new Carnival Vista's amenities, features, itineraries, and dining. This past week, on January 22, Carnival unveiled many of the Carnival Vista's amenities and European homeports. I spent part of my day studying the renderings and reading Carnival's press releases to try to learn more about this new class of ships - the Vista Class. The Carnival Vista is going to have many features not seen previously on Carnival vessels, but one feature that stood out to me is the "Havana Staterooms" on the ship's Promenade Deck.
Based on the details Carnival has released and the Carnival Vista's deck plans there will be multiple staterooms on Carnival Vista's Promenade Deck. Some of these staterooms are given the name "Havana Cabana" because the have a "balcony" that is like a patio that the guest can step out onto their own part of the Lanai. Some of the staterooms are considered a part of this Havana themed area and others are interior rooms. Based on Carnival's booking engine these rooms are divided into "Havana Interior", "Havana Cabana", and "Havana Cabana Suites". Most of my focus in this post about the Carnival Vista will be on the "Havana Cabanas" and suites, but I will discuss the "Havana Interior" rooms briefly as well.
Would I book one of the Carnival Vista's new "Havana Staterooms"? The answer is probably yes. The benefits of these rooms appears to outweigh the negatives and I think it would be neat to try a room with a patio. This is a neat addition to cruising and the Carnival Vista appears like it will be an exciting ship.
I acquired some information from Carnival's official press release and renderings. For Carnival's press release on the Carnival Vista: Click Here For the Carnival Vista's webpage: Click Here
As always, if I made a mistake please let me know. Since the Vista is a brand new class of ship the new programs and features could be interpreted in different ways until cruisers have a firm understanding of how the new programs will work. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you think something could be interpreted incorrectly or if I need to make a correction. Thank you and I hope to see you someday on the Carnival Vista!
Welcome! This is not one of my typical blog posts because I am going to only be sharing a bunch of links. There is a lot of great information on the internet about the Carnival Vista and I want to share as much of it as possible with you here on this blog post. All links will open in a separate window away from my website. Please note, I am not responsible for the content on any of these websites. Enjoy and I hope you learn more about the Carnival Vista, Carnival's newest ship!
Carnival's Official Vista Website:
The Carnival Vista page on Carnival Cruise Lines' Official Website contains deck plans, renderings, booking information, and more!
Click Here To View
Carnival's Vista 360 Website Virtual Tours:
Carnival has put together a few Carnival Vista Virtual Tours of areas such as the Beach Pool, Havana Cabana Suite, Sportsquare, Horizons Aft Restaurant, and the Family Harbor Lounge. The virtual tours are not of the actual Carnival Vista because it is still being built, but the virtual tours are of real Carnival Vista renderings.
Click Here To View
Carnival Vista's Twitter Account (@CarnivalVista)
Carnival has set up a Twitter account for the Carnival Vista. The twitter account posts come from the perspective of the ship and are a great source of Vista information. It is pretty neat and quite different learning from "the ship".
Click Here To View
I will be adding more links as time continues! Keep checking back!
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NOTE: I originally wrote this early in 2014, but I never published it. I found this in my blog's drafts folder and I thought I would go ahead and share it to give everyone a laugh. I understand the people that really need to read this probably won't, but one can hope!!
When many people board a cruise ship they forget how to act or act differently than they would on land. There are other people that do rude things or act inconsiderate all the time. Earlier last year (2014) I put together a new section on here titled "Cruise Etiquette". The Cruise Etiquette section has been dedicated to sharing tips on how to act onboard and stories of the things people have done onboard a cruise ship that are stupid or rude. I don't expect my Cruise Etiquette section to change people's behavior because more than likely the people that need to read the section won't, but I do hope that my tips and stories of passengers will help make someone else's day a little more enjoyable. All of these stories and observations, in this blog post, are from my Carnival Dream 2014 cruise to the Bahamas. I will be sharing my observation and where on my website I gave tips on this particular violation. If you enjoy reading this blog post you may also enjoy our Cruise Etiquette section (Click Here for that section). Many readers have been hoping for some more stories of Cruise Etiquette violations and now I am granting their wish!
#1: Disposing Of Dirty Buffet Plates On Someone Else's Table When They Are Sitting At The Table
My Observation: There was a lady that was walking around the lido buffet looking for a place to dispose of her dirty plates and cup. My table had many dirty dishes on it because everyone I was with was eating and a half of my table was up getting more food or something to drink. Me and two others were sitting at this table and this lady quickly plopped her plates & cup on one side of our table. When she did this she quickly turned around and went outside.
Violation From Our Cruise Etiquette Section: Before this cruise, I didn't think about writing tips about putting dirty plates and cups on other cruiser's tables. I will be writing some tips that include this topic soon. I am shocked that someone would actually dump their dirty dishes on someone else's table while they were sitting at it. I still laugh about this today!
#2: The Elevator Button Pushers
My Observation: I got into an elevator on Deck 12 and needed to go down to Deck 2. Someone had pushed all of the buttons in the elevator, which meant that the elevator was going to stop at every floor. After going down two floors I got out and took the stairs (which was good excersize anyways).
Violation From Our Cruise Etiquette Section: From Cruise Etiquette Part 1 - "4. Don't push floor buttons in the elevator that you or nobody else needs to stop at. Many passengers get annoyed when the elevator stops at floors and nobody is waiting or needs to get off. In addition, if you are waiting for an elevator and you push the button to call the elevator to your floor make sure you are not pushing the button just for fun. Passengers in the elevator may become annoyed when they stop at a random floor because someone pushed the call button and left. "
#3: Hogging Deck Chairs
My Observation: There were many people that would set their towels and/or personal belongings in deck chairs mid-morning to keep others from using those chairs. Carnival's staff was enforcing their chair hogging policy the best they could, but they missed a few violators.
Violation From Our Cruise Etiquette Section: From Cruise Etiquette Part 2 - " Do not hog deck chairs. Do not leave items on the deck chairs for a long period of time to try to save the chair you want. By leaving items unattended you also run the risk of the item getting lost or stolen. Some people get highly annoyed when deck chairs have unattended place-holding stuff in them."
I hope everyone has found these behaviors of other people enjoyable. I am not angry or mad, but I just wanted to share the way some people act on a cruise.
2015 is going to be an exciting and cruise filled year for the Texas cruise industry. This year, both Galveston and Houston will receive different cruise ship deployments that will lead to an increase in passenger capacity for the Texas cruise industry as a whole.
The Port of Galveston's cruise terminals will be in much higher demand this year, compared to 2014, as more sailings are being offered from Galveston.
Carnival Cruise Lines
In February 2015, Carnival Cruise Lines is repositioning the Carnival Freedom in order to have three year round ships sailing from Galveston. In addition to the Carnival Freedom, the Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph will continue sailing from Galveston. Besides adding a ship, Carnival decided to "shake up" some of the Carnival Magic and Triumph's itineraries. The Carnival Triumph will take a few breaks from its regular 4 & 5 day schedule to do a few 10 & 11 day cruises and the Carnival Magic will do a few cruises that are shorter than a week (normally the Carnival Magic does non-stop 7 day voyages).
To view Carnival's press release about the Freedom repositioning to Galveston: Click Here
To view Carnival's press release about the special Triumph itineraries: Click Here
To view Carnival's press release about special Magic & Triumph itineraries: Click Here
* All links will take you to Carnival's press release website.
Galveston has another reason to be excited because Royal Caribbean will continue sailing year round from Galveston in 2015 and in November 2015 the Navigator of the Seas will be replaced with the Liberty of the Seas. The Liberty of the Seas is larger than the Navigator of the Seas and has a greater passenger capacity. According to their ship's respective fact sheets, the Navigator of the Seas has a total capacity of 3,990 passengers and the Liberty of the Seas has a total capacity of 4,375 passengers.
For specific itinerary information visit Royal Caribbean's website by clicking here.
Disney Cruise Lines
Disney Cruise Lines is back to sail from Galveston at the end of 2015. The Disney Wonder will start sailing from Galveston in November 2015 and stay through early January 2016 before repositioning again. This short window of sailings from Galveston will give Disney cruises the chance to sail from Galveston.
To look up itineraries visit Disney Cruise Line's website by clicking here.
The Port of Houston has much to celebrate. For many years, the brand new Bayport Cruise Terminal sat empty without any cruise lines or ships regularly using it. The Carnival Ecstasy & Conquest were temporarily relocated to sail from Houston after Hurricane Ike damaged Galveston. However, this was temporary. In 2013, Princess Cruise Lines began to sail from Houston seasonally and in Fall 2014 Princess & Norwegian both sailed from Houston for the Winter/Spring cruise season.
Princess Cruise Lines
Princess Cruise Lines will be respositioning the Caribbean Princess back to Houston in October 2015 and it is currently scheduled to sail from Houston through April 2016. The Caribbean Princess has sailed from Houston previously, but for the 2014/2015 Winter & Spring season the Emerald Princess was sailing from Houston.
For more information and itineraries visit Princess Cruise Line's website by clicking here.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Lines will be repositioning the Norwegian Jade to sail from Houston seasonally starting in November 2015. The Norwegian Jade will replace the Norwegian Jewel, which will end its seasonal sailings from Galveston in the late Spring of 2015.
For more information and itineraries visit Norwegian Cruise Line's website by clicking here.
It is important to keep track of your vacation expenses and how much you plan to spend on each component of your vacation. There are many people who like to plan their vacation expenses when booking a cruise vacation in advance to try to get an estimate for how much the entire vacation will cost and to try to keep from spending on a whim. This post will give some tips on how to write a budget for an Alaska cruise and I will provide a free budget template for you to use in this blog post. The budget template is as detailed as I could make it and it includes as many cruise related and pre/post cruise expense categories I could think of.
Alaska Budget Template/Worksheet:
Click Here To Open The Template In Google Documents (No Google Login Required)
I. The General Basics of A Cruise Budget
A budget is way for you to plan your expenses and then afterwards go back and see how much you actually spent. Detailed budgets will allocate specific dollar amounts to different aspects of cruising. Before you take the time to create a budget there is something you must understand. A budget is only good if you plan on following it. If you create a budget, but then disregard it and spend freely on your vacation it was pointless creating a budget in the first place. If you don't plan on following your budget you should not waste your time making one!
II. Deciding On Dollar Amounts For Each Category
The key to deciding on dollar amounts comes down to two essential things. First, you need to know an approximate amount of how much things will cost. If a round trip airplane ticket is $500.00 per person you will need to budget that amount times the number of tickets you will have to buy. Don't forget to include your spouse, children, or anyone else you are paying for! You wouldn't want to only budget $100.00 per person for airfare tickets it the rate is much higher. Being reasonable is important when deciding on amounts. Don't plan on spending $10.00 at the bar when you know you will visit the ship's bar often for a drink. This brings me to my second essential thing -know your personal spending habits. If you don't plan on visiting the bar you will know to budget no money to bar spending. If you don't plan on visiting the casino you know you can budget zero dollars to the casino. However, if you plan on buying a lot in the gift shop you can plan on budgeting a significant amount to that category.
III. After The Cruise
After your entire vacation is over compare what you budgeted to the actual amounts you spent. This will help you see if you spent more or less than intended. You will also learn for next time how to create a budget that better fits your spending habits.
Your spending is in your hands. Spend your money on your cruise vacation wisely and with care. Remember, things may seem like a novelty on the ship, but when you get home you will have to pay for them and all of your other expenses. Enjoy Alaska!
Alaska is a rare vacation opportunity for many, including myself. The stateroom you select or get assigned to can make your cruise extra special or make it a memorable cruise in the wrong way. Some cruisers have limited control in their stateroom selection because they opt for a cheaper price that allows the cruise line to choose their room for them. However, many people prefer to choose their own stateroom. If this scenario applies to you this means it is your responsibility to research the details of the stateroom. Another factor to consider when selecting a stateroom for Alaska cruises is the view and scenery outside/around the ship. If you choose one side of the ship you could potentially miss out on something that is able to be seen from the opposite side of the ship. This blog post will give you some ideas on things to consider when choosing your stateroom to make sure your location on the ship is optimal and you can get the best view possible at the same time.
I. Location On The Ship: Things To Look Out For & To Avoid
There are some locations on a cruise ship that you will want to avoid. Avoid selecting a stateroom under or above a main lounge, dining room, galley, or any late night hotspots (for example, bars and casinos). These areas may create some noise at night that could keep you awake. I have read some reviews of cruisers that have had rooms under pools and major outside decks that have reported noise above their cabin too. Try to avoid being under a main outside deck area as well. You could get noise at any time from any of these areas. If possible try to avoid being near elevator banks because you may hear a little bit of elevator noise or passengers getting on/off the elevators. Although you can try to avoid these spots, noise can come into any room from the passengers walking in the hallway, elevator banks, or from the ship's motors in general. It is difficult to find a spot onboard that is 100% free from noise, but try to choose a room that you think will mitigate the amount of noise you may hear from public areas and other passengers.
In addition to having to worry about location, you need to worry about obstructed view staterooms. If you are staying in an interior stateroom (with no view) this is something you don't have to worry about. Some cruise ships have staterooms that have obstructed views that are caused by jut-outs in the ship, lifeboats, or porthole windows. If you are staying in a stateroom with a window, balcony, or both you need to find out if your stateroom has an obstructed view. Obstructed views would allow you to see out, but it would be limited by something else. This could put a damper on your vacation because of limited visibility. Some cruise lines report staterooms with an obstructed view, but some do not! Make sure you find out before booking if the room you want to choose has some type of obstruction that could hinder your view out!
II. In Order To See The Most Amount of Scenery Possible: Which Side Do I Choose?
This is a commonly asked question about Alaska cruises. Some cruise ships have specific set paths that would make it easy to know which side of the ship will allow you to see certain highlights and which side of the ship will face the port when the ship docks in a port of call. If this is the case for your cruise ship & line all you have to do is contact your cruise line to get these details so you can make an informed decision when choosing which side of the ship your cabin is on.
However, most cruise ships don't sail the exact same route each cruise. This means many circumstances could play a role in what your side of the ship sees and which side of the ship faces port when the ship docks. Factors could include the navigational bridge's staff, the ship's timeliness when arriving to the port, and the harbormaster/coast guard's preference.
Don't lose hope in your stateroom because many cruise lines turn the ship 360 degrees at highlights in scenic cruise spots. This will ensure balconies and staterooms on both sides have an opportunity to see the scenic spots. Ask your cruise line if they turn the ship around in their scenic cruise spots to insure each side has the fair chance to see one of the spot's highlights. In ports of call, one side may get to have a look at the port, but the outside public decks are open to everyone and you can visit those to see the port if your side didn't get to the dock the way you wanted it to.
III. Rough Seas in Alaska? Which Shipboard Location Will Lessen The Effects?
There are some spots that cruise ships have to travel through around Alaska that are known for having rougher seas, wave heights, and making some people feel a little sick. For example, the area known as the Outside Passage is known for have rougher seas and making some people sick. When I cruised the Carnival Miracle in 2013 the rougher seas of the Outside Passage made me feel motion sick. There a few other areas like the Outside Passage that are known for having rougher seas.
If the whole ship is rocking there may be no location that can completely escape the effects. On my Carnival Miracle cruise I noticed the middle of the ship did not feel as much of the effect of the Outside Passage's rockier waters. For this reason, I recommend booking a stateroom in the middle of the ship if you think you might experience sea-sickness.
If you are not prone to sea-sickness, I would not place much emphasis on rough seas when selecting a stateroom location. However, I recommend bringing some sea-sickness medicine that could help you if you get sea-sick, whether because of the waves or just from being on a moving ship.
Make sure you put time and effort into choosing your stateroom for an Alaska cruise. If you are just excited about cruising to Alaska and want to take whatever room you can that is an option too! However, don't be upset if you get stuck with a stateroom that has an obstructed view. If you have the power to choose your stateroom use it wisely and make informed decisions!
Carnival Cruise Lines' Dream Class ships feature a BBQ buffet line on the Lanai part of their Promenade Decks. In the case you are wondering, the Dream Class ships are the Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic, and Carnival Breeze. You will find this BBQ line on all three ships, but on the Carnival Breeze it is named "Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ". On the Carnival Dream & Magic this line is often referred to as Oceanside BBQ or Lanai BBQ. The menus on each ship vary slightly and each ship offers different BBQ selections, depending on the itinerary. This review is of the Carnival Dream's Oceanside (Lanai) BBQ buffet line.
Where on the Carnival Dream Is This Located?
This buffet line is located on the Promenade Deck, which is known as Deck 5 onboard the ship. You will find it on the outside Lanai on the Starboard (Right) side of the ship. It is closer to aft on this side of the Lanai. If you can't visualize this now, there are pictorial deck plans on the ship that will help you better locate this when you are onboard the Carnival Dream.
When is this open?
This buffet line is open on most, if not all, sea days. It was open only on sea-days during my cruise in 2014. I have seen older daily newsletters that show this line opened on select port days, but this is not typical for every cruise. Pay attention to your daily activity newsletter when you are onboard to see when this is open.
Now that I have some basics out of the way, it is time to review the food, service, and the buffet line in general!
The Mini Sliders
These were extremely delicious and, in my opinion, the best food item served from this BBQ line. The slider's bun tasted like it was lightly buttered and it was served warm. The meat was well seasoned and had a flavorful taste. As a whole, this was a very good selection. There were onions, lettuce, tomato, and some other condiments for cruisers to put in their slider.
For anyone cruising on a Carnival ship that serves these sliders I recommend trying them!
Another item that was served at the Oceanside BBQ, during my Carnival Dream cruise, was a chicken quesadilla. This item was ok in taste and was nothing spectacular, but it didn't taste bad either. The meat was well seasoned and tasted good, but the cheese was not my favorite. I wished there would have been less cheese in the tortilla. The tortilla tasted good too! This item is not something I personally enjoyed, but there are some people that would probably enjoy this.
Homemade Chips & The Salsa Bar
The Oceanside BBQ had chips and salsa located in a line very close to the main BBQ buffet line. This area has some "homemade" chips and a variety of different salsas for cruisers to take. I really enjoyed trying many of the salsas and I found that I enjoyed the red salsas the most. Some of the chips were soggy, but this was probably just the batch that I tried. If you want some normal tortilla chips I recommend you go to the Lido Buffet's Burrito Bar and get some there. I will have to discuss the Burrito Bar is more detail another time!
I did not review all of the items available from this food line because I did not try them all. There were hotdogs and tacos available too that I did have the chance to try. Please keep in mind the food served is subject to vary by ship & cruise.
RyG's Cruise Guide