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Have you ever wondered what it's like to run a hotel at sea as compared to one on land? Well this is the kind of thing that occupies this writer’s brain so I took some time during my vacation aboard Celebrity Reflection to speak with the ship’s Hotel Director (because yes – they have that), Jamie Petts, to get the inside scoop.
Like a hotel GM, a ship’s Hotel Director oversees pretty much everything to do with running a regular hotel including F&B, housekeeping and guest services. But unlike a GM who also looks after revenue and bookings, Jamie’s concerns are more hands-on: getting 3,000 people off the boat and back on 25-minutes later, whether the tenders are working properly and if the pools can open on time due to rough seas.
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Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't get that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.
How much was a 10-day Bahamas cruise over 60 years ago? Well, you have your answer in the ad above, placed in Playboy in 1960. It advertises a voyage on a Windjammer sailing ship, departing Miami, with stops at Bimini, the Berry Islands, Nassau, Havana, Abaco, Cay Sal, and Grand Bahama all for $175 per person.
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Relax. This story is not about Selfie Sticks.
With the ferociously brutal winter almost behind us, this contributor decided to take some desperately-needed recuperating time, not just for my hunched-over, heat-starved body but for my rattled, over-worked brain as well. I really needed to unplug both mind and spirit.
The only way to prevent me, however, from sneaking an illicit peek at my emails and “only answering a few” was to book a cruise where that privilege costs a pretty penny. Ergo, I found myself on Celebrity Cruises’ Reflection, their newest ship on the block.
Celebrity has keyed into a traveler's need to disconnect and so they teamed up with Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebook and current Editor-in-Chief of Dot Complicated, and big advocate of finding a tech-life balance. The two brands came up with a series of spa and wellness treatments that encourage you to Take Care of YourSelfie. Clever marketing name aside, I didn't need to be told twice.
Thinking about cruising in 2015? Then say hello to our cruise specialist, MaidenVoyage. As a travel agent who spends day in and day out booking cruises for curious travelers, she knows cruise lines and ships like the back of a muster drill script. Got a question about cruises? Even a stupid one? MaidenVoyage has heard and seen it all, so don't be shy. Send your cruise question to her!
The one cruise request that I've been getting daily for the last few weeks is...Alaska. Y'all back in the Northeast just groaned, I'm sure. See, over here in the western U.S., where I'm based, we've had a mild winter. Besides, from here traveling to Alaska isn't an all day thing like going to Florida or the Caribbean or Europe.
So since the AK cruise season is upon us and since that just happens to be the last cruise we took (on the Celebrity Solstice), we thought we'd give you a Cruising Alaska 101 story. Grab your hats and gloves!
As you sit dreaming of cruising right out of winter weather, a voyage to Chicago probably hasn’t entered your mind. But starting in July, Great Lakes Cruise Company will begin offering itineraries from Montreal to Chicago with the inaugural trip leaving Montreal on July 5 and porting in Chicago on July 14.
With only 105 state rooms, the ship, the M.S. Saint Laurent, is teeny tiny compared to typical cruise vessels due to Great Lakes size limitations. But this vacation won’t come at a teeny tiny price. The company says the price for the trip will range from $4,199 to $7,999 per person. Ouch.
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Chocolate buffets. Rock climbing walls. Waterslides. Ice skating rinks! Sometimes it seems as though innovation for cruise ships is solely focused on making passengers forget that they're on a boat.
Thankfully a few new additions to ships and cruise lines over the last few years have focused not on all the bells and whistles inside the ship, but on the ship itself. The simple experience of sailing on the open ocean is a natural amenity much taken for granted, and these 3 new cruise ship features understand that:
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How do you remember a voyage of 4,500 nautical miles? For Jaunted Editor Cynthia D, who sailed on the Azamara Journey for 17 days last month, the answer is with emoji. Allow her to explain.
I'd never been on such a lengthy cruise before, and certainly never to Antarctica. From Buenos Aires, we'd stop at Montevideo, Uruguay and continue to the Antarctic Peninsula, then Ushuaia, Argentina and the Falkland Islands before returning to BsAs. I traveled with a colleague, and the internet onboard was so great that we'd use Twitter DMs like walkie talkies. Emoji quickly crept into these exchanges, and nearly took over as my captions and comments on social media when words proved inadequate to describe the scenery, the experiences, and the feels that developed as the ship sailed on.
Plus, one time I asked Jaunted contributor Andy how his trip to Hong Kong was going, and he replied with a descriptive stream of emoji so brilliant no further explanations were needed. It was awesome.
So, without further ado, a 17-day cruise as seen through emoji:
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The 'Azamara Journey' off Port Lockroy, Antarctica
The Antarctica travel season is an extremely short one, lasting from December through February. Owing to mercurial weather, strict regulations on tourism, complicated logistical planning, and the high price of what are considered once-in-a-lifetime trips, some ships will only squeeze a few voyages into those few months. As such, planning for your trip to Antarctica is best accomplished early and armed with as much first-hand information as possible.
And here's a little nugget we feel compelled to share after our own 17-day sail on Azamara Club Cruises' Azamara Journey: taking a "big ship" to Antarctica is not only possible, but it's potentially the travel deal to rule all travel deals.
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If it's cold where you live, then pay attention this week as we profile a few Perfect Weather destinations.
Ships sailing up the Beagle Channel and into the port city of Ushuaia wish they could always have the view above. Blue skies, majestic mountains, and a slight froth to the waves from the area's infamous high winds. It's optimal weather for setting out in exploration of the capital of Argentina's Tierra del Fuego region, but it only arrives several times every year.
Ushuaia, owing to its location at the "bottom of the world," (Fin del Mundo), is a perfect gateway for Antarctica travel. Expedition ships, cruise ships, and research vessels squeeze in to the single main pier, welcoming thousands of passengers for the start of epic adventures. As such, those travelers much first find their way to this frontier city, and there are definitely differences to the tourist seasons.
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It’s full steam ahead for the SS Shady Pines.
Some seniors head to retirement homes. Others pack a suitcase, don a straw hat, and decide to cruise through the remainder of their golden years.
Case in point: 86-year old widow Lee Wachstetter, who took nearly 90 cruises during her 50 years of marriage. She hasn’t stopped since her husband passed away, and as was his wish, she tells the Asbury Park Press, that she has carried on their cruisin' lifestyle by becoming a permanent reside of the Crystal Serenity cruise ship nearly seven years ago.
“Mama Lee,” as the staff knows her, spends about $164,000 per year to live on board. She has gone on a 100 cruises in total since becoming a "resident", including including 15 around-the-world cruises. Being literally the coolest grandmother on the high seas: Priceless.
Sure, the rent ain’t cheap. But take a look at what she gets for $164,000 :
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You know that old idiom, “everything happens in threes?” Well, it absolutely applies in the case of WiFi on cruise ships this season. At-sea connectivity is a notoriously sore spot in the cruise industry, since the standard satellite systems bring embarrassingly low bandwidth at a shamefully high cost. In most cases, we’re talking $0.75 per minute. For real.
Several years ago it was normal to be charged ~$300 just to keep up some minimal internet access for emailing and some social media-ing on a 7-day cruise, and as of 2014 not much had changed...other than the passengers’ desire for more time online at a better price.
Then along came Royal Caribbean’s “smartship” Quantum of the Seas and its lower cost, lower orbit, higher bandwidth satellite technology, includinggaspunlimited plans.
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Travel sickness: we’ve all been there. Well, most of us, who don't have iron-clad stomachs have. And seasickness – which can strike even those who’ve never suffered travel sickness before – can ruin the fun of a carefully planned cruise.
So how do you cure seasickness? To find out, Jaunted dispatched me - its most lily-livered contributor, who has balance issues galore and once threw up on a car ferry crossing a tiny river in England - to the Azamara Journey, a cruise ship currently navigating some of the most treacherous waters in the world: the South Atlantic and Drake Passage, en route to Antarctica.
Seasickness is something you will have to deal with if you're traveling to Antarctica - there is no way of escaping these waters known, due to the low latitude, as the 'screaming sixties'. I have been sick for four days and counting, and I have tried various methods of recovery. Here’s how each one rated.