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Saying Goodbye to a Friend and Fellow Cruiser



I’ve been blessed to be at this for almost eight years. In that time, I’ve met some really cool people. We’ve met in airports, had dinners, spent late nights at the Alchemy Bar, and developed lifetime friendships.

In 2014, I got an E-mail from a listener named Jeff Samuelson in Tampa. He worked for an airline and was addicted to cruising. When I say addicted, I mean addicted. Every E-mail included talk of itineraries he wanted to do in the future. We’d spend hours E-mailing each other back and forth about where certain ships were being repositioned and what we thought of new policies being rolled out across the cruise lines.

More than that, Jeff was a friend.

I was at the Tampa airport two years ago and had a chance to meet Jeff in person. We stood on top of the parking garage and watched planes take off and land until way after sunset.

Since Jeff worked with an airline, he could jump on a plane and go anywhere he wanted, even if it was only for a day. One fall day I was in New York City and Jeff said he wanted to come up. I met him at Penn Station, we grabbed pizza and I took him on a tour of the city. We visited Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade memorial, Central Park, and later went to watch the Norwegian Breakaway leave from Pier 88.

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Later that year I did a Carnival Journey’s sailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Port Canaveral. I found out Jeff was going to be in San Juan the same day on the Carnival Breeze, so we took the opportunity to catch up. We had an awesome day running around the Carnival Breeze, checking out Ocean Plaza, Guy’s Burger Joint, taking photos of other ships from the Serenity deck and hanging out at the RedFrog Pub.

Little did I know that would be the last time I’d see Jeff.

Jeff and I aboard Carnival Breeze in San Juan.

I got an E-mail this morning that Jeff — who was on a birthday cruise — had been found unresponsive in his stateroom and the medical team was unable to revive him.

I’m very lucky to have met Jeff, and find myself thinking that if it’s your time to go, why not go out doing what you love?

Jeff may be gone, but the memories will never die.

Sail on, buddy.


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Top 5 Oceanic Movies You Must Watch



Sailing is one of the most revolutionary forms of transportation. Sailing has been an integral part of various cultures for many centuries. The human fascination and reverence of the sea have inspired many men and women to set sail with hopes of discovering what lies beneath the blue carpet.

For eons, filmmakers have been trying to capture the strength and splendor of the ocean and its creatures on camera. There have been a multitude of stories based on real life as well as fiction highlighting the dramatic, and sometimes, frightening stories of people at sea.

We have compiled a list of five must-watch oceanic movies that are sure to awe and inspire you.

1. The Bounty– The Bounty is based on the oldest and most famous oceanic stories ever-Mutiny on the Bounty. The 1984 retelling of this famous story stars Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, Laurence Oliver, and Daniel Day-Lewis. With an amazing star cast like this, it is no wonder that this is one of the best nautical movies of all times. The audience gets a real sense of the scale on which the characters and the ship travels. The story is has an intensely human perspective thanks to the circumstances placing the characters aboard the Bounty under the dictatorial leadership of Lieutenant Bligh played by Anthony Hopkins.

2. Oceans 11- Ok, ok. Although, not a movie set on the sea. Oceans 11 is a great movie to watch when you are on some down-town on your ocean voyage (I know this from experience). Set in the bright lights of casinos of Las Vegas, Oceans 11 is a classic heist movie. Oceans 11, follows heister Danny Ocean played by George Clooney and his crew which includes Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts as the take a Vegas Casino for millions. This movie is much watch, and in particular, if you are fan of casino games, but even if you are not it’s still a great watch.

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3. In the Heart of the Sea– This movie is based on the highly acclaimed novel, Moby Dick. This movie highlights the turbulent nature of the sea, as well as the frightening creatures that it holds within itself. It is not an entirely dark film as some of the characters manage to come out of the ordeal with their honor and humanity intact. The choices that these men are presented with are terrifying, and it is an ordeal for them to keep their sanity and dignity alive under the circumstances. The film has some beautiful cinematography with sweeping shots of sails being hoisted on the masts and ships gliding through the blue waters of the ocean.

4. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World– This seafaring epic features Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film follows the story of two men engaged in a cat and mouse globetrotting battle. Their ship, called the Surprise, must take on the Archeron which is the pride of Napoleon’s fleet. Despite being at a severe disadvantage regarding ammunition, Captain Aubrey (Crowe) motivates his crew to take on their formidable opponent. Master and Commander was made into an excellent board game which you could also bring with you on your cruise.

5. All is Lost: The movie, All is Lost, is one of the most memorable films by the legendary actor Robert Redford. It is a one-of-a-kind film that depicts the struggle between man and nature in a way that had not been shown on-screen before. While many films have highlighted man dealing with natural disasters, none have managed to capture it as effectively as in All is Lost. There is minimal dialogue in this movie, but the manner in which Redford fights of the sea earns our respect, fear, and at times, sorrow.

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Planning a Carnival Cruise Line Wedding



It wasn’t until after I was already dating my now-husband in my early twenties that I learned you could get married on a cruise ship, and I grew up with a travel agent for a mom.

I loved the idea. I was not a bride who wanted to spend hours upon hours planning her wedding and pouring over details like the color of table napkins. The idea of spending my weekends dragging my fiance around to visit venues and taste cakes had no appeal to me. I just wanted to get married, and I did not want to spend a fortune doing it either. If there was anything I wanted, it was that I wanted my wedding to be fun.

carnival cruise line wedding

So, it was only fitting that we chose a Carnival Cruise Line wedding. To my surprise, there were several wedding packages to chooses from, including a wedding on the beach in an exotic port of call or an embarkation day shipboard wedding. We chose the latter so that friends and family who couldn’t join us on the cruise would be able to attend. This was best for us too since both my husband and I grew up in the Houston area about an hour from Galveston.

Despite the ability to get on and get off, 27 wedding guests booked with us and sailed along on a 7-night cruise on Carnival Freedom to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We were shocked and elated over how many people joined us. And for anyone thinking “why would you want all those people on your honeymoon?”, we thought of it more as a 7-day-long wedding celebration than a honeymoon.

carnival cruise line wedding

While you can have an unlimited amount of sailing guests at your wedding, Carnival allows up 50 non-sailing guests to board the ship for the day to attend the wedding and then disembark before the ship leaves port. So, in total we had close to 80 guests at our wedding. This option was important to us, because we had a lot of extended family who traveled from different states to attend the wedding but couldn’t stay on for the cruise.

One of the best parts of the planning process was that, as I like to joke now, “all I had to do was show up and look pretty.” You can plan as much or as little as you like. For example, for music you can choose to have a DJ who will play your choice of genres, or you can bring your own music and Carnival will provide an emcee. You can choose to bring along your own minister, or Carnival will provide one for you. Also, Carnival provides some of the flowers, like the bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, but you can choose to purchase extras to enhance your wedding. They even have vows to use if you’d like, or you can write your own. They truly let you customize your special day as much as you’d like, and they’re always happy to accommodate.

Read More: What’s It Like To Get Married On A Cruise Ship?

For the most part, though, Carnival took care of everything. They provided the three day-of wedding planners who told our guests where to go, they baked our four-tier customized wedding cake to our request (four layers with four different flavors!), and they handled the open bar, champagne toast, and customized hors d’oeuvres as well. Our photographer, who also doubled as our videographer, was even included in our wedding package. (Purchasing the pictures and video was separate.)

carnival cruise line wedding

The best part? All of this – yes, all of it – was included in our wedding package. There were no “extras” besides the option for tuxedo rentals through Carnival (we passed on this) or the option to enhance the floral package, but even still Carnival already provided the basic flowers. If you choose a port day wedding, there are options like hair and makeup services to add on as well. But otherwise, everything – venues, photographer/videographer, minister, open bar, food, wait staff, emcee and music, wedding planners – was included in our wedding package. All in all, the wedding itself was less than $2,250. (This price does not include the cost of our stateroom, because of course we were cruising too!) In fact, the pictures and video package purchased after the wedding cost even more than the wedding – but it was still less expensive than anything comparable I’d found on land. And still more money was spent on other things, like my wedding dress, hair/makeup, invitations, bachelorette party, etc., than on the wedding itself.

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But regardless of the all the perks like the ease of planning, low cost, and the incredibly unique venue, what made me happiest about booking a cruise wedding with Carnival is that they made sure my wedding was fun, which is exactly what I wanted it to be.


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8 Excuses Not to Cruise – Debunked



The popularity of a cruise vacation has been climbing, and is predicted to continue climbing in the coming years. In 2018, a record 27.2 million people will set sail according to the Cruise Lines International Association. This type of vacation is growing faster than land-based adventures by a whopping 20 percent.

While cruising is more popular than ever, those who’ve never stepped onto a ship may still have some misconceptions about what a cruise is really like.

Below are some common excuses for not taking a cruise – and why they aren’t true for the millions that sail on the high seas each year.

Harmony of the Seas.

1. Boredom

Honestly, you’d have to work hard to be bored on most cruise ships. They are outfitted with fitness centers, shops, enrichment workshops, pools, hot tubs, games, activities, and often waterslides. Ships also have spas with a wide range of treatments available, as well as trivia, wine tastings, and even movie theaters on some vessels. Whether it’s a Broadway-style show or a drink at one of the many bars in the evening, you won’t be bored on a cruise. If anything, you will have trouble fitting everything in!

2. No Nightlife

There’s lots of nightlife on most cruise ships. You can join the audience for a nighttime singing/dancing show, enjoy the comedy club, sing karaoke, suggest songs in the piano bar, or just kick back in the casino or at a bar with a drink in hand. For more action, check out the ship’s late-night parties, where the music can be found still bumping well after midnight.

3. Too Expensive

Many people don’t know this, but cruising actually offers extraordinary value when compared to many land-based vacations. Whether you book a standard cabin or a suite, a weekend cruise or a weeklong cruise, compared to a land-based trip a cruise is often up to 40 or 50 percent less expensive. Cruise fares include accommodations, meals, activities, and entertainment. If you wish to indulge in uncharges on certain areas, the possibility is usually there, but it is certainly not necessary.

With convenient homeports, many people can drive right to the ship without needing to take a flight. Carnival Cruise Line estimates that about half of the people in America can drive to one of their homeports in several hours, and that would be similarly true for other cruise lines as well.

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4. It’s only for groups/couples.

Cruise ships are social places, and those that travel with family, friends, or a significant other still often end up meeting and socializing with new people – which can be part of the fun. But if you don’t fancy conversation around every corner, there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy reading a book or soaking in the hot tub without being interrupted.

5. Sub-par food

No doubt one of the most important aspects of any vacation is the good food and drinks that await you on your journey. On a cruise, there will be great options both of the complimentary variety and in the for-fee specialty restaurants. At the buffets, there’s a great assortment of options from cold-cuts, to comfort food, pizza, and Asian dishes. Multi-course meals in the main dining rooms offer a great array of choices which is included in your fare. There are also other free options on most mainstream ships, which can include salad bars, hot dogs and burgers, and sometimes even Mexican burritos and tacos.

Specialty restaurants provide a more intimate atmosphere than the buffet or main dining room, and often an elevated level of cuisine, as well. Steakhouses, Italian restaurants, and Japanese hibachi-style specialty restaurants are common on cruise ships, but there’s a huge variety of them across the cruise lines to suit your fancy.

6. Cruises are for seniors.

According to independent surveys, cruising has been steadily increasing in popularity across all ages and demographics, including adults, seniors, kids, and millennials. Across the spectrum, most that take a cruise vacation want to go again. A recent J.D. Power survey found that Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Xers are particularly enthusiastic about repeating the cruise experience.

7. No Kids Activities

Cruises offer endless fun and games for young guests. Youth staff keep the little ones occupied in fun play spaces and kids clubs, giving parents some time to themselves. Teens and tweens also get their own clubs on most cruise lines. Restaurants also will usually have kids menus, and activities for the whole family abound – especially on lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney.

8. Cruises are outdated.

In many ways, cruising is becoming the vacation of the future. Carnival Corporation has recently begun implementing their Ocean Medallion technology, which can be used to make onboard purchases, open your cabin door, and help personalize your cruising experience. Ships are also being outfitted with faster and faster wifi at sea, and internet packages are becoming increasingly affordable. And, as new ships debut and old ones are being updated, styles are also being updated to reflect a more modern taste.

Information: PRNewswire

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