Connect with us

Uncategorized

Trip Report: Eurodam Heads Back to Grand Turk

Published

on

When I woke up today, the Holland America Eurodam was pulling into Grand Turk.  I’ll admit, I had mixed feelings about the day. Grand Turk has long been one of my favorite Caribbean islands, but it was also pretty hard hit by the hurricanes which struck only a few short months ago. Would the island still be the one I first fell in love with, or would the storm’s ravages leave me feeling sad about the fate that had befallen it?

The Eurodam Arrives In Grand Turk

Weather wise, it didn’t look like we were going to have one of those perfect days that thoughts of the Caribbean usually conjure up. As we docked, the rain was coming down, and it would remain cloudy and rainy all afternoon. As it turns out, Grand Turk had been experiencing similar weather for a solid week. In fact, several ships had been forced to skip the port because of stormy weather, so we were fortunate in that we’d be able to dock!

A cloudy day wasn’t going to keep the Eurodam‘s passengers from Grand Turk!

Once again, we headed to the Main Dining Room for breakfast. You know I’m not going to pass up the chance to have someone bring me a delicious meal! This time, I went with the southwest omelette, ham and some fruit. Oh, and coffee. We’re talking four or five cups of the stuff. There’s something about cruising that really ups my coffee game. At home, I’m what you might call a social drinker, but put me on a ship and I down cups of coffee as if I’m an old man gulping from the fountain of youth. And I’m not someone who drinks it for the boost of energy, either… I just love the taste!

By 8 a.m., we were walking off the ship and down the pier, heading straight for Jack’s Shack. Shortly after Irma hit, I was able to talk to the owner of the popular bar about the damage sustained to not only the Shack, but Grand Turk as a whole. Now, I was looking forward to checking in on him and, of course, Topher, the world’s most photographed dog!

Although evidence of Irma’s wrath remains in places, Grand Turk is back in business.

On the short walk to Jack’s Shack, you could see that dozens of new palm trees had been planted along the beach. But you could also see that some of the huts were in disarray, with their roofs completely gone and walls knocked down. It was a little disheartening, but there was something almost inspiring in the way that the island is clearly coming together to rebuild in the wake of the natural disaster.

Sponsored Link

Settling in at Jack’s Shack, we got to talk to some of the locals about life on the island, interview Jack and enjoy a great jerk chicken and conch lunch. At first, it seemed as if most of the other customers were off-duty crew members from our ship. But when the Carnival Sensation later pulled into port, the place filled up with locals and passengers alike. To be honest, Jack’s has more of a low-key Carnival vibe, which I’ve always loved… although someone did walk up and ask if the had any caviar and champagne! I assumed the customers were kidding, but it turned out, they weren’t!

It’s always happy hour at Jack’s Shack.

The drinks were as ice cold as the company was warm. Mixed drinks ran $10, and beers were $6 each. That meant prices were a little less than you’ll find at Margaritaville, but not much. Speaking of which, we swung by there on our way back to the pool to grab a pina colada. That’s the kind of thing I would never drink back home, but when in Rome… or, in this case, on the islands!

We had to be back on board the Eurodam by 3:30 p.m., at which point we got cleaned up for our 7 p.m. dinner reservation at Canaletto.  Before heading to the Italian restaurant, we swung by the shore excursion desk to book our tour for the next day’s stop, Punta Canta. Turns out the shore excursion desk was closed, but they had a couple of after-hour options. Weird as it was to see the words “after hours” when it was daylight, we were able to swipe our cards at a nearby kiosk and, via a simple to use system, find the excursions we were interested in and book them.

Dinner At The Eurodam‘s Canaletto

We’d intended to hit trivia before dinner, but wound up missing it. (Given how poorly we’ve done so far this trip, it might be for the best!) One place we didn’t lose was Canaletto, where for $15 each we had a fantastic meal. The venue itself always throws me off a little, because it’s actually sort of carved out of the lido deck. You basically go to the Lido Market — aka the buffet area — to check in before being seated.

An amazing dinner at the Eurodam‘s Canaletto.

When we sat down and looked at the menu, I’ll admit that nothing really appealed to me. And then, I saw the dishes being served to the diners at nearby tables and suddenly found myself wanting to try everything. I’ll have a full review coming once I’m home and can digest (pun intended) this entire trip, but I’ll say that the beef carpaccio, shrimp ravioli, veal and canoli were all amazing!

I’ve booked a sail-and-snorkel excursion for tomorrow’s visit to Punta Cana, and since it’s a tender port, that means meeting in the ship’s theater at 8:50 a.m. And just typing that makes me realize I haven’t even been to the theater yet. I’m hoping to see a show before the trip is over, but time is definitely winding down! In two days, I’ll be flying back to Jacksonville after spending the day in St. Thomas.

Until tomorrow… goodnight!

 

Advertisement

Carnival Cruise Line

Inside The Party For Carnival Horizon [PHOTOS]

Published

on

Given that Queen Latifah is the Godmother of Carnival’s newest ship, you had to know a good time was going to be had by all at the Carnival Horizon’s official naming ceremony. Held in New York City on a picture-perfect afternoon, the event featured plenty of food, lots of drink, singing, dancing and even a pretty substantial charitable donation.

Welcome To Flavortown

Things got under way with a ribbon-cutting ceremony as celebrity chef Guy Fieri welcomed guests to the latest outpost of Flavortown, the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse. With live music playing, servers dished out hearty helpings of the venue’s signature foods, including trashcan nachos, dragon chili cheese fries and a pecan pie that was, according to the genuine Southern belle at our table, “to die for.”

Guy Fieri and brewmeister Colin Presby, doing the honors.

After that, the traditional naming ceremony kicked off with Brand Ambassador John Heald offering up a tip of the hat to “the one man to blame” for the fact that “I now have X’s in the back of everything I’m wearing,” Fieri.

Next up was the traditional prayer of blessing, followed by Carnival president Christine Duffy welcoming everyone aboard before discussing the very special bond between the cruise line and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Speaking proudly of the $16 million dollars raised by Carnival since the partnership first began in 2010, Duffy then presented the hospital with a check for another $100,000 and directed everyone’s eyes to the 24-foot Dreamscape, which anchors the atrium and now features among it’s displays 33 pieces of art created by St. Jude patients.

Artwork done by St. Jude patients lit up the Dreamscape.

Next up was the ship’s Godmother, Queen Latifah, who also happens to be a major supporter of St. Jude. After thanking the crowd “for looking so good,” Latifah asked everyone to take another look at the artwork-adorned Dreamscape. “My mom was an art teacher,” she said of her recently-deceased parent, “so I appreciate what the kids do. I know what it does for a child’s heart to create like that.”

Of being Godmother to a cruise ship, Latifah admitted it was “one of the coolest things I’ve ever been asked to be a part of in my life!” She was then joined on stage by Captain Luigi De Angelis and, together, they poured an oversized bottle of champagne (“This is the only time the captain will hold a bottle of champagne like this,” quipped Heald) over the ship’s inaugural season bell.

Sponsored Link

“Only at Carnival Cruise Line,” quipped Heald of the ceremony, “do we water the plants with Moet.”

With the official business of the day out of the way, it was time for the fun to start in the Liquid Lounge, where Latifah battled Philadelphia Eagles player Jake Elliot in an epic Lip Sync Battle hosted by popular Carnival cruise director Matt Mitcham. But before the main event could begin, the crowd was in for an unexpected treat when Duffy was joined on stage by Carnival Corp’s President and CEO, Arnold Donald, for a lip synched performance of The Black Eyed Peas’ party anthem “I Gotta Feeling.”

Duffy and Donald proved they definitely choose fun.

With Duffy cheering on Elliot, and Donald firmly in the Queen’s corner, the main event began. And while footballer Elliott took the pumped-up crowd back to the days of MTV’s Headbangers Ball by donning a massive wig to perform Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” this was Latifah’s battle to lose. And if you know anything about the singer/actor/businesswoman — who also happens to be a past Lip Sync Battle champion — it’s that she does not come to lose. The moment she and the Playlist Productions performers took to the stage to perform “It’s Raining Men,” it was all over but the cheering. Of the stripping background dancers, Mitcham joked that Latifah’s performance was “like Baywatch and Magic Mike went wild,” while Donald said that the dancers “inspired me to keep my shirt on!”  

Elliott put up a good fight, but he couldn’t dethrone the Queen.

Before being crowned the winner, Latifah admitted there was one thing about her new role which she’d found disappointing. “Shouldn’t Godmother’s have a wand?” she asked… only to promptly be presented one, with which she sprinkled “love dust over the crowd, even my sworn enemy Jake.”

The evening ended with a bang… or, more precisely, a whole lot of bangs.

With the scheduled events of the evening over, invited guests dispersed to enjoy the live entertainment taking place all around the ship, as well as movies in the Imax and Thriller Theaters, a party on the Lido deck, a midnight buffet and an impressive fireworks display that was, appropriately enough, set in part to the tune “New York, New York.” 

Continue Reading

Carnival Cruise Line

Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 7: Adult Stuff

Published

on

Since we figured out ways to keep the kids entertained in our last entry, it seems as if we’ve earned a little adults-only relaxation, right? So let’s wander around the Carnival Horizon and take in some of the various venues that offer grown-ups an opportunity to rest, relax, and have some fun of their own.

A Little Piece of Heaven

In our minds, there’s really only one place to start when it comes to adults-only areas, and that’s the Serenity Deck. Step away from the madness and chaos of the pool area and head up to this ship-topping oasis where no one under the age of 21 is allowed, and that rule is pretty well enforced.

There are an awful lot of comfy spaces to be found on the kid-free Serenity deck.

As a result, the Serenity area is exactly what you both want and expect it to be, complete with a bar, tons of comfy seating (including hammocks and daybeds perfect for cuddling) and, on sea days, a salad bar. There’s also, of course, a full bar of the non-salad variety which offers a variety of specialty cocktails, wines, and other adult libations.

What’s an adult’s-only zone without a menu offering specialty cocktails, like this one from the Serenity deck.

Another spot that pretty much screams “relaxation” is, of course, the Cloud 9 Spa. Be sure to swing by on the first day and take the tour, because it usually involves a raffle for some type of spa package. Yes, as on every cruise ship, you’ll probably wind up getting a hard-sell at some point, but we’ve found that if you’re up front with a polite but firm “Not interested,” they respectfully dial it back. Planning to spend a fair amount of time at the spa? Consider booking one of the Cloud 9 Spa staterooms, which give you access to the thermal suites, priority booking of treatments and a host of other perks.

What better way to bond with your significant other than by getting a couple’s massage? Photo courtesy of Andy Newman, Carnival Cruise Line

You can also purchase a week-long pass to the thermal spa, which includes dry heat chambers, a variety of steam chambers (including one called an “aromatic grotto”), a large whirlpool and two “experience showers” which help sooth you by combining the soothing waters with special aromas. And remember to check Carnival’s website under My Cruise Manager before you sail to see if by booking treatments in advance, you can save a little money!

After Dark, the Real Fun Starts!

There are all kinds of fun activities scheduled throughout the day that are perfect for families… but it’s after dark, when the kiddies are tucked away and (hopefully) asleep, that the Carnival Horizon really comes alive. We spoke about some of our favorite bars and hot spots earlier, so you already know to grab pre- or post-dinner cocktails at the Alchemy Bar, and that you can dance the night away at the Havana club.

Let the bartenders at the Alchemy Bar whip you up a cocktail that will have you ready to tackle the evening!

But if you wanna just kick back and relax for a while before things rev into high gear, why not head to the Punchliner Comedy Club, which on most nights offers an 18-and-over show later in the evening. Don’t bring the kids, and leave your prudish Aunt Gertrude in the stateroom because things can get a little raunchy during these shows!

Speaking of activities Aunt Gertrude probably isn’t going to want to take part in (unless you think maybe it’ll help her loosen up), there’s the infamous Quest Game Show. Think of it as a very, very adult scavenger hunt… and more fun than should probably be legal. Heck, maybe that’s why it only takes place at sea… because international maritime laws are looser! Keep your eyes on the Fun Times, because this is one game you definitely do not want to miss!

Shop ‘Til You Drop

As you know, your Sign & Sail card basically acts like a credit card while you’re on the ship… and as fate would have it, there happen to be some pretty nice shops on board! (It’s as if someone at Carnival thought, “You know, we’ve got them here… and they’ve had a few drinks… “) Maybe after having some luck in the casino (which we’ll talk about soon!), you want to buy something a little special, making Front Street Jewelers a great place to stop. And maybe in order to get lucky in a completely different way, you want to pick up something from Victoria’s Secret! Of course, the Carnival Store sells… you guessed it, lots of Carnival branded items (including those awesome miniature ships which would look so good somewhere in your house, right?)

Sponsored Link

Carnival Horizon has added new shops to the promenade, including the Wearable Tech store.

Of all the shops on board — and there’s some great, high-end stuff available — perhaps our favorite is the Wearable Tech store, specializing in a variety of fitness-tracking watches (and a staff who knows how to help you get started), perfect for those who need a little help making sure that they take enough steps each day to work off at least some of what they’re eating at the endless restaurants!

Smile For The Camera!

While people love posing with their families for the photographers found around the ship, why not book a special Dreams Studio photo shoot? Whether for you and your significant other or a group of friends traveling together, this is a fun way to commemorate the trip. And what the heck, after getting some pics snapped of just the adults, let the kids in for some shots. It is their vacation too, after all. At the end of the day, could there be a more perfect souvenir of your vacation than gorgeous photographs that will capture it forever?

Finally, how’s this for an amazing way to cap off your vacation: A vow-renewal ceremony with the captain himself presiding. Check the Fun Times newsletter for more on whether this is available on your sailing, and how to set it up, or contact Carnival in advance to make preparations for a day neither of you will ever forget!

Next up? If baby needs a new pair of shoes, we’re heading for the right place… the casino!

SaveSave

Continue Reading

BEFORE YOU GO

How Cruise Lines Boost The Price Of Your Vacation

Published

on

When it comes to budgeting for a vacation, we all try to get the most bang for our buck. But over the past few years, the cruise lines have gotten incredibly good at figuring out ways to get a little extra money out of passengers… and most people willingly fall into the trap!

Why We’re Willing To Pay Extra

When is a hidden fee not so hidden? When it’s promoted openly and accepted without question! Increasingly, cruise lines have found that people are more than happy to shell out a little extra money — above and beyond the initial cost of their cruise — months before even setting foot on a ship! And there’s more than a little bit of psychology at play when it comes to how and why the cruise lines market these extras!

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley shared how pre-cruise spending helps boost the bottom line. “What we found,” he explained, “is that, if you spend $100 before you sail, that’s spent and gone. You don’t even put it in your budget for when you’re on vacation. So every pre-cruise revenue dollar that we generate will often generate 50% more on-board revenue for that customer.”

Sponsored Link

If you pay for your night at Royal Caribbean’s Chops Grille in advance, you’re more likely to spend more on other things.

As Norwegian Cruise Line’s President and CEO Frank Del Rio explained during a conference call last year, “When folks have money to spend on board, they spend it in restaurants and in shops and, primarily, shore excursions. We’ve seen this wide-spread move away from buying things to enjoying experiences.” And this, he said, had led to a pretty significant uptick in on-board spending in 2017.

Shore excursions — such as the Sentry Hill Zipline on St. Marteen — are a big source of revenue for cruise lines.

How To Avoid Breaking The Bank

If you’re looking to stay within a budget, it’s important to make sure that you’re keeping track of all the expenses associated with your cruise. While it’s all well and good to get a great price on your stateroom, make sure you know exactly what’s included… and just as important, what isn’t! What additional expenses will you incur along the way? Will you be staying on the ship during all or some of the port visits, or is doing shore excursions a major part of the experience for you? Is it worth purchasing a drink package, or would you be better off simply paying as you go? Will there be pre- and post-cruise expenses such as airline tickets and hotel stays involved? Are the daily gratuities included, or do you need to factor them in separately? While trip insurance isn’t required, it’s highly recommended and could ultimately wind up saving you a whole lot of money!

READ MORE: 17 Extra Costs To Factor Into Your Cruise Budget 

While cruise vacations are a fantastic bargain, they are also a bit of an investment and should be treated as such. Just as you wouldn’t simply blindly purchase a stock in which to invest (we hope!), it’s worth taking a little bit of time to make sure you know how much you’re spending and what you can expect in return!

Do you find that you spend more on the ship if you’ve already paid for your other expenses? What are some of your best money-saving tips? 

 

Continue Reading

Sponsored Link

ads

Sponsored Link

Stay in the Know with Cruise Radio

Send this to a friend

Hi, this may be of interest to you: Trip Report: Eurodam Heads Back to Grand Turk. This is the link: https://cruiseradio.net/trip-report-eurodam-grand-turk/