Cruising Italy: A Shore Excursion to Rome

A shore excursion to Rome…it just sounds strange. Normally we do not book excursions thru the cruise lines. Most of the time you end up with a lot of people in your group, you pay way too much mon…

MSC Divina Entertainment

Dinner and a show, that is what we did every night and the MSC Divina entertainment team never disappointed! Every cruise line is a little different in their nightly show offerings.  I was excited to find out what MSC had in store for us. When we first got on the Divina we made our way to the Pantheon Theater.  It is a huge theater that is 2 ship decks tall with very comfortable,  red velvety seats.  The stage was covered but the curtains looked like liquid silver.  It was not a dulled silver color…but more like a silver chrome.  We ended up walking down to the lower part of the theater and tried out a few different seats trying to find the ones that we wanted to be “our seats”.  Of course, all the seats are available first come first serve, but we made sure to get there early enough for every show that was got to sit in the seats we chose that first day. Every show put on by the MSC Divina entertainment team was incredible!  They all had a general theme as far as the costumes and the general flow of the show went.  But overall they were kind of like a big variety show.  They featured opera singers, acrobats, dancers, magic tricks…the list just really goes on and on.  The costumes were equally as impressive as the performers who wore them! On our sea day, we found out that the theater would be putting on a show during the middle of the day.  WOW what a treat.  That is definitely something that the other cruise lines do not do!  Then come to find out that they would be performing an hour-long condensed version of the Italian opera La Traviata.  I have never been to an opera before but this was so fantastic to see.  I do not speak Italian at all, but this was one of the most beautiful shows I have ever seen.  The theater had a really great turnout which kind of surprised me…I had no idea that operas were so popular. I had two shows onboard the Divina that are my absolute favorites from that week. The first was Wonderland that was designed after Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  I have to admit that I love all things Tim Burton…his films are incredible!  The performers were all spectacular and it was so fun to have something that I love come to life before my eyes! The second show that was my favorite was Pirates that was themed after Pirates of the Caribbean. After all who does love pirates…especially when you are currently sailing the Caribbean?? The quality of shows that were performed on the MSC Divina entertainment is unlike any that I have seen on a cruise ship before.  Everything was extremely well put together from the costumes, transitions between performers and the quality of the acts.  I cannot wait until I can get on another MSC ship to see what other performances they have! Like this …

7 Best Updates on Carnival Vista

7 Best Updates on Carnival Vista

Not much longer now!  That’s right we only have a handful of days left until the Carnival Vista welcomes her first guest on board!  As of right now she has finished all of the sea trials and the crew should be on board getting everything ready!  May 1st will be the first sailing and she will continue to travel around the Mediterranean until later in 2016 when she makes her way across the Atlantic to the US. It’s been a few years since the Carnival Breeze started sailing and I have no doubt in my mind that this one will be better than the last!  We are booked on one of the first sailings, so keep an eye out for that!  I am really excited to get over to Europe and see her for myself, but for now, Carnival pics will have to do!  With that in mind, I decided to do a preview post of a few of the new and improved features that I am most excited to see! Red Frog Pub  Red Frog Pub is not a new feature to Carnival but the Vista will have something a little special that we have not seen before…the 1st American brewery at sea. Yes you heard me right…they are going to be brewing beer on the cruise ship! Cruisers will be able to see the brew tanks on board, get the house made beer at the regular bar and pour their own beers through special tabletop beer taps.  Here are the beers that are to be brewed on board.  Cheers! ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA – aromatic, floral and hoppy notes with passion fruit and citrus overtones ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat – unfiltered lager with aromas of bananas and spices FriskyFrog Java Stout – Carnival Vista’s take on a traditional stout, rich and creamy with hints of coffee IMAX Theater SkyRide Skyride is a peddle-powered roller coaster car that goes around the ropes course on the top deck.  The ride is 800 feet long and 150 feet above the water and can get going up to 25mph. Hope you’re not afraid of heights!  I am pretty interested to see this in person and I am not afraid of heights so it should be lots of fun! Kaleid-O-Slide At a dizzying 455 feet long this slide features visual effects along with twists and turns.  This will be the cruise line’s first water raft ride.  I’m kind of interested in seeing how they plan to get the rafts back up to the top once people are done at the bottom of the slide… Havana Pool Palm trees, thatched huts, hot tubs, colorful umbrellas, comfy seating, and the best view on the ship.  Sound like paradise?  I’m pretty sure this might be a possibility!  There is also the Havana Bar that will authentic Cuban food and drinks. Atrium A new kind of atrium will be found on the Carnival Vista.  It will feature a multi-deck funnel-shaped LED screen and visuals to help set the mood.  So far, I have seen a varieties …

Specialty Dining on Navigator of the Seas Edit

Specialty Dining on Navigator of the Seas

We can all agree that cruise lines have some amazing food.  All you can eat buffets, main dining rooms that will knock your socks off and smaller cafes to pick up snacks in between your meals; these are all pretty standard places to eat on a cruise ship and are available for no extra charge.  Pretty sweet deal if you ask me, but what about all the specialty restaurants that you hear about…the specialty restaurants that are not included.  Are they really worth the extra cost?  Is the food really that much more spectacular that you would be willing to pay an extra fee per person for a single meal? During our last cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, we took the time to check out a few of the restaurants and see what all the fuss was about. Izumi Izumi is a specialty sushi restaurant that is located on the 14th deck and offers incredible views of the world passing by while you enjoy your meal.  We decided to take the sushi class that was offered on one of the sea days.  The class will set you back $25 per person but considering the amount of food that you get and that you get the knowledge of how to prepare some of the most popular rolls…I think it was worth it.  We had a lot of fun and left completely stuffed!    Sabor Sabor is a specialty mexican restaurant that doesn’t feel like a mexican restaurant.  Contemporary and bold colors on the walls and a darker, intimate dining area that makes Sabor feel like you are in an upscale restaurant in a downtown environment instead of the middle of the ocean.  The restaurant was only open on certain days for lunch and dinner.  It is strongly advised to make a reservation or you may miss out.  Separate from lunch or dinner, Sabor offers a guacamole class that is during lunchtime on at least one of the sea days.  I thought we would get to make our own guacamole…I was wrong.  Instead, you sit at a table and listen to someone talk about the history of the guacamole and how it is made. You get to eat the guacamole (which is amazing!!) and also get some other food.  We also got a small history lesson around the various types of tequila and how it is made.  All in all, it was a fun time and really great food.    The guacamole class was so good that we had to get a reservation to try out their dinner menu and see what else they had to offer.  I am glad we took the opportunity because they didn’t disappoint for dinner either.  They make the guacamole table side and even have a table side margarita bar.     Giovanni’s Table Giovanni’s Table is located on the 11th deck next to the WindJammer Cafe.  Amazing food and amazing views…best advice is to come hungry and listen to suggestions from your waitstaff.  Our waitress …

Holland America MS Amsterdam – Disembarkation Day Pt. 2 – May 2015 – Vancouver

(Continued from Holland America Disembarkation Day, Pt. 1) … We docked up against the Canada Place dock.  Our spot was directly behind the MS Noordam. The previous night, we had filled out our Canadian customs forms, to simplify the process.  We propped our balcony door open and were watching the proceedings on the dock from our room. I was lying on the couch near the door, and relaxing.  The steward or someone else came to check the minibar (which we had emptied ourselves and subsequently re-filled prior to arrival.) We had also kept all of our bags under our own control for easier disembarkation.  We chose to self-disembark, so that would could leave at our leisure. Shortly after the ship arrived, we apparently were cleared by Canadian customs, and we left the ship.  With customs forms in hand, we queued up and walked through Canada Place.  At some point through the journey, we handed the customs forms to an agent, and that was the extent of our customs experience. Years prior, I had been to Vancouver for work, and my customs experiences were consistently MUCH different than it was this time.  We followed the path to leave the building, and were soon out in the sunny Vancouver weather.  After three days of nearly zero sun, the sun was a welcome addition to my day.  (the later days in Vancouver had no sunshine, so this was our only sunshine of our entire vacation)… This was the end of the ship portion of our trip.  Being our first Holland America ship, we learned a lot about the differences between Holland America and the other cruise lines we had been on.  In general, it was a great experience.  I would have hoped for better weather, but OBVIOUSLY that has nothing to do with the cruise line.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below.  Thanks for following along on our short adventure. FIN   Get our cruise posts to your inbox monthly! * indicates required Email Address *

Holland America MS Amsterdam – Disembarkation Day Pt. 1 – May 2015 – Vancouver

(Continued from Holland America msAmsterdam Day 3, Pt. 5) … For some unknown reason, I decided it would be a good idea to wake in the middle of the night.  When I did, I saw that we were cruising between islands and were probably just north of the Seattle area, so I hung out by myself on the balcony for a little while.  I also noticed at this time that we had at least a marginal cell phone signal from a US source, for the first time since leaving San Diego, so I checked my email (omg, that’s a lot of email).  I think that I probably went back to bed for a while, as it was still dark out, and I knew that I would need the sleep. It wasn’t much longer that we woke and started to watch off the balcony together at the Vancouver area coming into focus.  The previous night, we were told that we would be cruising under the Lion’s Gate Bridge into Vancouver.  We went to grab some food from the Lido Buffet, and then headed up to the upper decks to watch us go under the bridge and arrive into Vancouver. This was my first experience sailing under a bridge on a cruise ship.  It was pretty cool to see, as sometimes you do not realize how tall these bridges are.  The stacks cleared the bridge with a bunch of room to spare, but I imagine a taller ship would maybe have to time it with the tide to ensure clearance. As we got closer to “Canada Place”, where we were set to dock, we noticed that we were the last of three ships to dock there that day.  The Holland America msNoordam and the Star Princess were already docked and waiting for us to join them.   … (Continue to Disembarkation Day, Pt. 2 )   Get our cruise posts to your inbox monthly! * indicates required Email Address *