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It’s Great To Celebrate On A Cruise

Written by: Kuki

Thankfully during the course of our lives we have many life events we celebrate. The celebration of many of those life events are easily arranged and enjoyed on cruise ships.

Birthdays are a great reason to celebrate. They occur every year, so we’re supplied with an annual reason to indulge ourselves. To celebrate you can go out for dinner with friends, or arrange to surprise your friend, spouse or family member (or try to) with some form of birthday party. Or you can plan ahead, and get your family or friends to go on a cruise, and let the entire duration of the cruise be your celebration. You tell me- - what’s better a party for a couple of hours, or a week on a ship?

Personally. I’d give up all the gifts in exchange for a week long party. Heck, I’m willing to celebrate the birthdays of people I don’t even like if it means I get to go on a cruise.

I particularly enjoy celebrating the birthdays of my children on cruises. ( note -I highly recommend leaving the children at home with their grandparents or other family members, and celebrating their birthdays at sea without them present).

Getting married on ships, or in ports of call, is a growing segment of the celebratory cruise market. There are plenty  of options to choose from. And making the arrangements can be accomplished relatively smoothly. You can use wedding planners who specialize in cruise ship weddings, and work with the cruise lines directly to ensure your onboard marriage ceremony goes smoothly, or work directly with the cruise lines. Both ways allow those getting married and their guests to relax and enjoy it. There’s presently many ships with wedding chapels on board, and many that will allow the Captain to officiate as you say your vows.

You can even arrange to have your wedding in port, before the ship embarks on it’s voyage, and have family and friends come on board to enjoy the wedding, even if they are not cruising with you.

Wedding in ports of call are slightly more difficult to arrange, though with a bit of research it’s easy to find companies in almost every port of call that will make all the arrangements for you. The only danger is if weather conditions, or other unforeseen circumstances cause the  ship to skip its scheduled visit to that port.

The advantage, of course, if that circumstance happens to occur, is both the bride and groom get extra time to realize that marriage to that person would be a terrible mistake, and have time to arrange for separate cabins for the duration of the cruise, and back out. From someone who has, to this point, been married for 32 years,,  marriage is not all that’s it’s cracked up to be. (I don’t mean that honey… if you’re reading this).

Which leads me to the next great occasion to celebrate at sea; anniversaries.

Every week on ships, there are couples renewing their wedding vows, for their anniversary celebration.  It’s very romantic to stand and restate your love for each other while at sea. Mrs. Kuki and I have chosen not to try this option yet, as we’re both not so sure we’d say yes again. If you’re planning to avail yourselves of this option, it is best to discuss it first, so there’s no surprise in the end result.

Though I haven’t had the pleasure of trying it, cruise ships are also a great place to go to celebrate a divorce. If the divorce is amicable, you can even go on the cruise with your ex spouse. This has in fact occurred in the past, where a divorced couple go on a cruise, and after mixing alcohol into the celebration, make the same mistake, and get remarried. Those situations aren’t that bad because they create another reason to cruise the next time they divorce.

Celebrating your children’s graduations with the gift of a cruise is another excellent idea. The generosity of such a gift is rarely overlooked. I do however recommend doing so for early graduations, like kindergarden or  elementary school, because doing so for things like college graduations (where the children are old enough to legally consume alcohol) easily drive up the total costs of your gift.

If you do it when they are younger, you can remind them for years, while they are growing up, how generous you were with their graduation gift.

A celebratory cruise upon retirement is an exceptional option as well. After all those years of working hard you’re finally able to treat yourself to relaxing, romantic, and adventure traveling, all in one wonderful package; a cruise.  It’s a particularly good reason to cruise if ,after all the other celebratory cruises I’ve mentioned previously, you have any money left. You’re celebrating surviving all the other “life events” without going broke.

- A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: August 26th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Why Seniors Should Cruise

Written by: Kuki

Before anyone gets up in arms accusing me of ageism ( before even reading this piece).  And prior to the ”Grey Army”  being given its marching orders, to rebut  me full force,  I want to make it clear, I am myself a senior.

I’m one of you;  a card carrying member of AARP.

My hair is fully white-grey, and I wake up every day with a different part of my body hurting. So, as “one of you” I want to offer you 10 good reasons for seniors  to cruise, if in reasonably good health.

- #1 – There’s not many places we can vacation with so many public washrooms close by. And if your need happens to be urgent when you’re on Lido Deck, several hot tubs are usually near.

- #2 – Passenger deck hallways are significantly narrower on cruise ships than they are in hotels.  This makes it much harder for us to tip over. There may be some minor bruising from bumping into walls, but we  need less people nearby to help us get up.

# 3 – I do recommend cabins with private balconies for seniors. Interior, or even ocean view cabins can be problematic, as senior’s flatulence can be devastating.

- #4 – The toilets in the cabins on a ship are excellent for seniors. If we are having one of those days where it’s just a bit difficult to do our duty, we just have to sit on the toilet and flush. They  will suck it out of us.

- #5 – Entertainment on cruise ships is generally very good, and varied. For seniors, perhaps the best (if unexpected) entertainment is finding one’s cabin. We can easily while away hours each day trying our key in cabin doors on the wrong deck.

Another entertainment form for seniors is spending time at the Guest Relations Desk, voicing complaints, real or imagined. This experience provides us with excellent opportunities for social interaction if we aren’t travelling with a group.

- # 6 -  During ports of call shore excursions present a simple and easy means for seniors to explore the area. They also are designed in such a way as the seniors are easily able to control the pace of the tour to ensure their enjoyment.

If you feel the tour you’ve chosen is leaving too early, you can disembark the ship, board your assigned bus, and then tell them you’ve left some necessary medication in your cabin. You can then return to the ship, and  go enjoy a leisurely breakfast, before returning to your bus to begin your tour.

While visiting a particular site on a tour, if the tour has not allowed ample time for sovernir shopping on their schedule, one can feel free to make time to touch every item in every nearby shop or kiosk. Everyone else on the tour will be happy to wait for you before departing.

- #7 – The dining experience on ships is also incredibly well suited to seniors. The service staff are generally very caring; very well trained, and experienced in dealing with seniors. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve personally experienced service staff stopping by often, to ask me if anything is alright.

- # 8 – Cruise ships create a wonderful environment which often serves as a catalyst for romance for both young and old.  In the evenings you’ll often see young couples on a leisurely walk around the outside decks, holding hands and gazing at the moon and stars.  For seniors the experience can be very similar, though I recommend holding on to the railings instead of hands, and looking at where you’re walking instead of star gazing.

- #9 – A very nice touch for a relationship  is to renew your vows while on a cruise.  It is very easy to arrange to arrange this type of ceremony onboard, often with the ship’s Captain officiating.  The only difficulties you may encounter are remembering which person in attendance is your spouse, or if you start questioning yourself about why you married them originally.

- #10 – I did have 10 reasons when I started this piece, but… oh well… a senior moment.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: August 19th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 1

See What Ship Fits

Written by: Kuki

It’s likely that you’ve never tried on the underwear of a neighbor or friend (unless you’re a 12 or 13 year old girl). It’s also unlikely that you would think your friend’s favorite outfit would be perfect for you.

But, it’s surprising just how many people will choose to cruise on a cruise line, or particular ship, based soley on someone else’s choice of underwear or outfits. Well, not quite.

But many will book a cruise based almost entirely on that little amount of information.

The thing is, the most important decision you will make, which will have the ultimate affect on your enjoyment of your cruise vacation, is your choice of which ship to sail on. Just like underwear and outfits, you really want to find one that fits you, and your personality.

The cruise lines have done quite a stellar job during the last decade of identifying their ship’s personalities, and effectively making those personalities differentiate themselves from their fellow industry competitors.

Even ships within a cruise lines own fleet may be operationally very similar, yet, many of them do standout with their own personal idiosyncrasies; some of which you might love, and some less so.

If you’re investing your money and your time in your vacation, I think it’s of utmost importance to also invest in finding the cruise that is best equipped to supply you with the most satisfaction.

Admittedly there is plenty of misinformation out there that you have to sift through, and that is why a site like CruiseMates is invaluable.

The forums, where people post up to date information about their recent cruises, and respond quickly to questions asked, are a great tool. And, if by chance misinformation is posted, other members of the community respond pretty quickly to point out inaccuracies.

Professional, trained travel agents, who are cruise specialists, are another excellent tool, who’s advice and services are available free of charge (in most cases). They work and ard are compensated by the cruise lines based on commissions.

Unlike many consumer products, cruises are not something I believe is in your best interests to buy direct from the suppliers. The reason is simple; unlike travel agents, the cruise lines sales teams purpose is to sell you a cruise on their particular cruise line. They have no interest in finding one that fits you.  When you “step out of the dressing room”, whatever ship you are “wearing”, they are going to tell you it looks great. The cruise line sales teams know little if any real detail of their competitors.

Everyone has to find a cruise that meets the parameters of what comfortably fits in their budget. But, the cheapest isn’t always the best for you; nor necessarily is the most expensive.

Going to either extreme may leave you feeling like you are wearing your neighbor’s underwear… and stuff may pop out.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: August 12th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 3

Can You Lose Your Cruise Lust

Written by: Kuki

It probably makes perfect sense that I love cruising. For 14 years I’ve been avidly following the industry, and writing about it for CruiseMates.

Like many others who love cruising, almost as soon as I returned from a cruise, I was looking for the next one, if in fact I didn’t already have several more on the books.

Between 1996, and 2012 I’d cruised over 60 times. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, I haven’t sailed on a ship for 2 1/2 years. It’s not that I’ve lost my love of cruising. But over time, circumstances occurred in life, that combined to slowly diminish my lust for cruising.

In 2001, we were in Rome, Italy as a port of call while enjoying a Seabourn cruise, sailing in the Mediterranean (before all ships had internet service for passengers) and we received a message delivered to our cabin telling us that Mrs. Kuki’s mother was seriously ill, and not expected to survive.  We very quickly made arrangements to leave the ship before its scheduled departure from Rome, and with Seabourn’s assistance, made arrangements for our flight home.  We didn’t make it back in time for Mrs. Kuki to see her mother before she passed, but we were back in time for the funeral.

At the time I thought very little of it. I considered it an anecdotal experience; life and death happens. It doesn’t stop because you are cruising.

Then, in 2008 we, were on a Carnival cruise, off of the coast of Rotan, when I received a call in our cabin, notifying my father had been hospitalized, and might not survive. The ship was going to be in Rotan that day, then there was one more sea day before the end of the cruise. The choice I faced at the time, was to try and fly back home from Rotan, or continue on to the end of the cruise, and return home as planned. After considering the alternatives, and realizing because of the available options for connecting flights from Rotan to home, we would only get home about 6 or 8 hours earlier than if we stayed on the ship, I made the decision to continue on to the end of the cruise.

In the middle of the night, just prior to our scheduled disembarkation, I received the phone call notifying me that my father had passed away.

Though it had been seven years between these incidents, they did have a psychological impact.  Subconsciously I began to make excuses not to go on cruises. I did keep cruising, but nowhere near to as frequently as I had been in the past. I thought I was moving on, but in fact there was a barrier to my really enjoying the experience as much as I usually did. My lust was diminishing.

In 2012, while sailing in Hawaii on a Crystal cruise, just prior to leaving the islands before heading to the mainland, I received an email, making me aware my mother had been hospitalized, and was in serious condition. Once again I was faced with the decision of leaving the ship and flying home, or returning to the mainland to fly home immediately.  Thankfully, my mother survived that episode, so I wasn’t just coming home for a funeral.

But, in my mind I apparently decided I was not going to go anywhere again that was further than a direct 2 0r 3 hour flight home. I made excuses about not going on cruises. I turned down trips that were writing assignments for CruiseMates. I honestly hadn’t even realized I was doing it, until last summer when friends really wanted us to join them for a river cruise and land trip in Europe. I said I would consider joining them, when Mrs. Kuki finally spoke up and said “you’re not going to go anywhere” while your mother is still alive. And, I had no choice to accept the fact she was right. I had subconsciously made that decision.

From the 2012 incident until just recently my mother’s health continued to worsen, and almost continuously teetered on death. And with it, my lust for cruising.

Recently, my mother succumbed to her illness, and she passed on. I am, of course, still going through the mourning process. But, this time I was there for her when she became ill. I was able to do whatever I could to organize aid, comfort her at the end, and just be with her.

As I go through the mourning process, I do wonder of myself… Maybe now I’ll want to cruise again? There’s no question that I still love cruising. But, I am not sure I have the lust for it that I did. All of the wonderful memories I have from our many cruises, at least for the moment, are being drowned out in my heart by the 3 traumatic memories I’ve spoken of here.

For now there’s no way to know if that will  change. I am still grieving the loss of parents. And dealing with the “business of death” (handling the government documentation, legal requirements, and dealing with acting for her estate, etc.) makes it difficult, and extends the grieving process considerably.

I’m certain I still love cruising! Will my lust for cruising return? I don’t know.

I do know once life is somewhat straightened out again, we’ll certainly be getting on another ship to find out.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: August 5th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 5

The Dumbest Way To Try And Save Money

Written by: Kuki

To state it simply, one cannot predict when or where an event calamitous to your life, or that of a family member, can occur.

Yet, for  a much too large percentage of people planning a cruise, making the choice to save money in their cruise budget by not purchasing travel insurance is far too common.

The latest such case to reach the public eye is that of the Colucci family. The Colucci family was to cruise on a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship on June 1. On May  19 five year old Nicolas Colucci was found to have a large cancerous tumor growing in his liver, and required surgery as soon as possible, followed by chemotherapy treatment. They contacted NCL, not to cancel their cruise, but to request they be allowed to reschedule the trip. Their request was denied.

This is a heart wrenching story. No one amongst us can possibly not feel deeply for young Nicolas and his family. How could you not? No doubt everyone hopes Nicolas’ surgery went well, and prays his treatment has a positive outcome.

As this story became more public, in traditional as well as social media, the calls grew loud for NCL to change their mind, and allow the Colucci family to reschedule their cruise for a later date; understandable? Certainly!

Yet, I can’t help thinking— if the Colucci’s had purchased available travel insurance they wouldn’t even have to be dealing with  this; adding stress of their already horribly stressfull situation; having to deal with losing the family vacation they had bought and paid for.

There has certainly been a growing call for Norwegian to make an exception to their policies in this case, and on an emotional level, it’s easy to agree they should.

However, with the hundreds of ships sailing week in and week out, can anyone possibly think there aren’t multiple life (and trip) altering situations arising? They may be similarly heart wrenching diagnoses, deaths in the family, or domestic accidents, which force people to cancel and try and alter their cruise plans. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was some such case on every sailing each week.  And each and every such incident is traumatic to those involved.

In these situations it seems so many look to the “deep pockets”( the cruise lines) to cover the financial loss of the situation.

The fact remains, if the people who face these crisis had purchased the available travel insurance, there would be no burden added to their troubled situation, and little or no financial impact added to that burden.

Sadly, the situation of poor Nicolas clearly demonstrates, that no matter what your age, and no matter the state of your health, crisis and tragedy can and do occur.  That it is possible for you to purchase insurance for a few hundred dollars which will relieve you of the (sometimes massive) financial costs of these occurrences is actually very positive, and doing so is very important!

It is important to note that it very rare to have regular health care insurance which covers out of country travel. And even more rare that it would cover illness or death of family members. So purchasing actual travel insurance is absolutely essential.

I recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy which covers much more than only crises which arise before you cruise. You need to be covered for unforeseen events if they occur during your trip. In the event you or a family member become ill, and need to be treated in a foreign port, or worse yet if the need arises to be evacuated from a ship at sea; the costs can be astronomical.

Don’t be left in a crisis situation, looking for someone else to accept responsibility  for something you could have so easily been responsible for prior to your travel.

And, to be blunt, if you can’t afford to purchase the travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

The case of Nicolas Colucci is indeed a dilemma of the heart; a 5 year old struck with a terrible disease.  But I do have to wonder; if there is a maximum age limit for sympathy, and empathy, and understanding.

On June 28 my mother passed away. I wasn’t booked on a cruise, But, if I had been scheduled to cruise on July 1, would the cruise line be expected to accept responsibility for my life’s circumstances, and rebook me at a later date?

If, god forbid, my home burnt to the ground, who would I look at to be responsible for rebuilding it if I chose not to have insurance?

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: July 29th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 2

Brand Ambassadors

Written by: Kuki

Almost a decade ago Carnival created a new position; naming their Senior Cruise Director, John Heald, Brand Ambassador.

John is incredibly popular, and he and his team maintain a strong presence with his popular blog, as well as his Facebook page.

In the time since John’s appointment as Brand Ambassador, as the use of the Internet has grown exponentially, an army (hundreds, if not thousands) of brand ambassadors have been created, without any official appointments or relationships to the cruise lines.

My own position with CruiseMates came into being due to the Internet. Almost by accident, I began with Cruise Critic, hosting live chats about cruising, and monitoring their forums. Then moving to join with Paul Motter and Anne Campbell, when they first started CruiseMates.

In the early days of both sites, the most common type of visitors was first time cruisers, looking for information, as well as a small mix of more experienced cruisers. The most common types of posts on the forums were questions ; simply searching for information, and people returning from cruises, who, for one reason or another, were displeased, and looking for a place to share their complaints.

Initially people were simply more willing to post their negative thoughts and experiences, than they were to speak on public forums about their positive experiences.

In the past decade the broadening commonality of people using the Internet has led to an explosion of user driven content; reviews, forum and social media posts, cruise related web sites (both commercial and personal), and personal Blogs.

The cruise lines were somewhat slow to join “the game”. But they now embrace it, and direct many resources to driving their presence, through their own web sites, blogs, and all of the various social media outlets available, to drive their message.

Brand loyalty is, of course, of considerable importance to any company. And, over years the cruise lines have generally been quite successful maintaining that brand loyalty. More recently, as cruise related websites, forums, social media sites, and blogs have grown in popularity, the cruise lines have most certainly noticed.

The difference between their own web sites and social media presence, and all of those privately owned and operated, is the cruise lines are less able to control the message.

Where, initially those with complaints about the cruise lines were more vocal about expressing their complaints,  today it is amazing how many more people are willing, and ready quite fervently spend their time writing very detailed reviews, and report their positive experiences, and their brand loyalty, through all the outlets I’ve mentioned earlier.

In fact, these brand loyalists may sometimes go to extremes to defend their choice of cruise lines, and to spend considerable energy deflecting complaints about their cruise line of choice.

So, where brand loyalty used to be limited to enthusiasts sharing their experiences by word of mouth, and by booking future cruises, with all the public outlets that exist today, rather than simply being brand loyalists they have all very much become fairly important public brand ambassadors. And, again, the cruise lines have taken notice, and will indeed even attempt to cater to those they see with growing voices.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: July 22nd, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Lobster, Lobster Everywhere!

Written by: Kuki

There was a time when “lobster night” in the dining room was considered by many to be THE night to dine in the dining room on a cruise ship.

To be honest, to me, they were just bottom-dwelling crustaceans, and pretty ugly looking things too.

But to many cruisers lobster night was the top of the food heap, that seemed to define cruise ship dining.

I recall, not that long ago, when, since you could order as many you as you want, there was almost a contest to see how many lobsters a person could eat during dinner on a ship. The practice was so common, I  once asked a ship’s Hotel Director, if they knew what their ship’s record was for the most lobsters ordered by one person. With little hesitation he told me, 17.

Then, rather suddenly, lobster became less prominent on cruise ship dining room menus. I presume this came about because of budgetary concerns, and no doubt, as cruise pricing pressures grew, pushing down the price of cruise tickets. The desire to dine on lobster certainly hasn’t diminished, only the availability. We still even see posts in our forums asking what night is lobster night on a particular ship. And, just a short while back, I remember on an NCL cruise, a part of their promotions was stating lobster would be available onboard in one of their restaurants every night.

North Atlantic lobsters, from both Maine and the coast of Nova Scotia (Canada), are generally thought of world wide as the best/tastiest lobster one can find. Over the years, and many cruises, I encountered many supposed ”crustaceans experts”, who swore they could tell the difference in taste between North Atlantic lobster and those from other areas. I personally presumed the only reason it tasted good was the drawn butter they were drench-dipping it in.

But now it’s time for the lobster lovers to rejoice… and call the cruise lines… and demand a “claws” in your cruise contract… this year there is an enormous excess  supply of North Atlantic Lobster. The reports I’ve read today, say the price of lobster has dropped 25%. As of today you can buy North Atlantic lobster for $4 lb., with fisheries very concerned it is going to drop further.

With beef prices rocketing higher, you can seemingly buy lobster for less than you can buy even average cuts of beef. Being a meat and potatoes guy, I’m beginning to get depressed.

At least for this season, the cruise lines can probably serve you lobster for less cost than they can serve you a decent hamburger. But I have to admit, I didn’t research the cost of the butter.

Always available lobster bisque with whole lobsters in each bowl, and lobster-burgers for you crustacean lovers; leaving me having to dine in the extra cost ship’s alternate restaurants to find myself a good all-beef hotdog!

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -
 

 

 

Posted: June 24th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Golf Camp Cruising

Written by: Kuki

Years ago you could hit golf balls off of the stern of the ship into the sea. That’s no longer available.

But, coming in 2015 golfers will be able to cruise while getting golf instruction from Jim Maclean, one of the world’s most acclaimed teachers in the game.

Golfers (like me) are obsessive and compulsive about golf.

Admittedly non-golfers have a hard time understanding the devotees dedication to the game, even when it’s obvious that ” their golfers” don’t really have the ability to master the game.

But we golfers are always ready to do almost anything to improve “our game”.  We always seem ready to spend a small fortune on the newest, latest and greatest, equipment that promises to add distance to our shots, and improve our chances of hitting the ball even a little bit closer to our actual target.

The truly dedicated (read addicted) among us will occasionally travel to golf schools, or camps,  in an attempt to fine tune elements of our game. We’re happy to immerse ourselves for a period of time, from a few hours, to a few days, to get tips and training exercises, to reduce our scores even slightly.

Why? Because the game is such, that all of us, from young golfers looking for perfection, to old “duffers” like me, draw pleasure from those times (in my case those odd times) when we hit that ball “right on the screws”, and get to watch it go where you intended it to go, and act like you intended it to act.

Like almost all activities in life, one’s goal is to “hit the sweet spot”, and the more often you do, the more pleasure you derive. The drive to achieve that  feeling is what drives golfers.

Now, thanks to a partnerships between theme cruise specialists, Landry & Kling, and Jim Maclean Golf Schools, there is an opportunity to attend golf camp at sea aboard the luxurious Celebrity Equinox, sailing June 28 – July 4, 2015 - cruising from Rome to Barcelona.

This trip can help the golfer “hit the sweet spot” of both cruising on a superb ship, enjoying travel in Europe, while receiving superb, professional, and in depth instruction from Jim Maclean,- recognized for decades as one of the top golf instructors in the world - and his top instructors, drawn from his 11 highly rated golf schools world wide.

“My customized ‘Golf School At Sea’ will offer total game improvement focusing on full swing, short game, and course management; all while sailing to some of the most alluring ports in Europe,” McLean said. “This will be the voyage of a lifetime!”

During the cruise, 144 golfers will have access to 10 hours of onboard instruction with Jim McLean and his instruction staff, and improve their skills ashore on championship golf courses. Instructors will utilize the Jim McLean teaching method and state-of-the-art golf instruction technology.

For information on full pricing, booking info, details, itineraries , and amenities included  in this Maclean Golf School @ Sea  cruise check out: http://mcleanatsea.com/ OR visit http://www.landrykling.com/ 

Since 1982, Landry & Kling Inc. has provided cruise solutions and custom planning for ship buy-outs, incentive cruises, all kinds of cruise meetings, theme cruises and dockside ship charters for global events.

I have had the pleasure of sailing several golf themed cruises in Europe, and I highly recommend the experience. They are also wonderful if there are non-golfers in the group, as the tours available on this itinerary are fantastic. So a cruise like this can easily make the golfer a happy camper, and still satisfy any of the non-golfers in the crowd.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

Posted: June 17th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Dynamic Dining Issues

Written by: Kuki

Just a few weeks ago, in this space, I wrote about Royal Caribbean’s announcement of the “Dynamic Dining” programs which were going to be introduced on their upcoming new ships, Quantum and Anthem of the Seas.

In that blog I theorized “Dynamic Dining” would be the next step toward the eventual disappearance of the ”traditional”  large cruise ship dining rooms on the majority of mass market cruise ships. I rather enthusiastically endorse the growing idea of having more dining variety choices on ships. However, the systems are going to have be worked through in order to assure efficiency.

And though it’s probably too early to predict - and too early to criticize RCI’s yet, since these ships are not even sailing yet – there are some issues already being reported and discussed on our message boards (by people already booked on these ships). These reports are stating that, though months away from their sailing dates, many people are unable to find space available in the restaurants onboard is already limited to the less desirable dining times.  On some sailings, in the cost included restaurants, there are already no dining times available until after 9 P.M., and in some cases even later. Not only are these dining times not attractive to a vast majority of cruisers, but they are apparently also concerned because of the apparent conflicts they will create with the entertainment schedules.

RCI has yet to make public if more popular dining times are not available for reservations because they are keeping open a large percentage of those times for booking once onboard. Though they have released statements that they will work with “groups” to assure they are dining together… which also is going to require some tricky balancing with smaller dining venues, even if there are more of them.

But, it does at least appear for now, that if you’re booked on the Quantum or Anthem of the Seas, you had best book your dining reservations as soon as you are eligible to do so, or you may be faced with some very limited choices. And those who don’t even think about making their dining reservations in advance, may be faced with a true dynamic dining dilemma – being left with no choices.

As the system is introduced and further developed, RCI may come through with some quick stepping, quick thinking remedies to these perceived issued.  They had better, because if not, the “dine in whatever restaurant you want, with whom you want, when you want, with an abundance of choices” philosophy will quickly fall flat and those tremors can quickly have a significant impact on it’s customer base.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: June 9th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Who’s A Cruise Expert

Written by: Kuki

It amazes me how so many people can tell you exactly how many cruises they’ve been on.

While they may not be able to tell you the birth-dates of their children, they can tell you how many cruises, which ships, and what type of cabin they had on each – sometimes, even recite the various cabin numbers.

I’m not one of those. I can’t tell you the birth-dates of my children, nor can I tell you exactly how many cruises I’ve been on. Somewhere over 60 I think. Does that make me an expert? No, I don’t think so. It only makes me lucky.

Over 60 is a lot of times to repeat any activity. Yet, if I said I’d done over 60 driving vacations, or been camping over 60 times, no one would care.

I love cruisers. Overall, when you’re on a ship, the people are friendly, looking to have a good time, and have a relaxed attitude. But, the one area where we’re weird is when at the first opportunity in the conversation we’re inclined to tell the people we’re talking to how many cruises we’ve been on.

In “days gone by” if you had been on many cruises it may have meant you were wealthy; because cruises used to be quite expensive, and generally only the wealthy cruised.

But, in today’s world, where cruising is inexpensive enough that it’s available to “the masses”, people who cruise often are just regarded as cruise enthusiasts; old – with lots of time to cruise; or unemployed – with lots of time to cruise (well, ok maybe not the unemployed, because it does take money).

It is getting much harder to find first time cruisers on board, that you can impress by telling them how many cruises you’ve been on, and that you are basically now an expert on the subject of cruising.

In fact, on the contemporary cruise lines, you’re just as likely to meet people who have been on more cruises than you, as you are meeting first timers.

Why, I remember meeting some people who’ve told me it was their 19th cruise on the same ship. Say what? (Now that’s a hard one for me to understand).

These days the truly devoted “cruise trackers” keep count of how many days at sea they’ve sailed. They feel it’s “unfair” to include the short cruises to boost your ”cruise expert cred”, so they found a way to do an end around by counting days. It actually impresses me that they can count and remember all those days at sea, when I can’t manage to count the days left until the weekend.

But really… if we’re going to go that far, shouldn’t we also be noting a differential between days at sea, and days in port. Do we deduct for those odd overnights in a port of call?

So, who’s opinions should you trust? Who should be recognized as a cruise expert?

Several years ago, Gene Sloan, who writes the Cruise Log for USA Today, referred to an article I wrote for CruiseMates. He referred to me as an “industry watcher”. I kind of liked the tag. But, I guess that means I’m no expert. And I admit, I am no expert.

But I have been able to keep track of the fact I’ve been working on writing this blog for 3 days – and there’s 3 days left until the weekend. Of course that depends on which days you count.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

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Posted: June 4th, 2014 under Kuki.
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