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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Top Cruise Tips

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA — Giving people tips on how they can get the most out of their cruise experiences is something I have long enjoyed doing and received positive feedback on. Here are three that came to mind when boarding Celebrity Eclipse at the Port Everglades Cruise Terminal and doing our initial exploration of this beautiful ship.

Come in the Night Before As unreliable and subject to delays as air travel can be, flying into the location from which your cruise is leaving on the day it departs can be stressful and problematic — and, in the worst cases, might even lead to your missing your sailing. You can avoid these problems simply by coming in the night before and staying at one of the hotels closest to the cruise terminal. And, if you happen to have any friends in the area, this can be a great chance to meet them for dinner or a drink, which you otherwise would not be able to do!

Board Early as Possible Try to board your vessel as early on the day of departure as you can. If there are only a few hundred other people with you when you come on board, instead of a few thousand, lines will be shorter when you are conducting business at the guest relations or shore excursion desks, you are going to rub fewer elbows when exploring the ship, and it will be that much easier to get your first meal at the buffet and find a good table at which to eat it. And coming in the night before, as suggest above, can help make it easier to board as early as you are able.

Brings Lots of $1 Bills Have lots of $1 bills handy for tips! Even before you board your ship you are going to be checking luggage at airports, having it hauled on and off of shuttles, and turning it in with the porters at cruise terminals and are going to want to have small bills handy. Then, once you are on board the ship, even though purchases are charged to your cruise cards you will still find it useful to have $1 bills at hand when ordering room service. And if any of your ports of call are in developing countries $1 bills are handy for small purchases, bribes for the guardians of local attractions, and the like.

Don't Eat at Specialty Restaurants on Formal Nights Most cruise ships nowadays have a variety of specialty theme restaurants that guests can opt to eat at for a surcharge (and there are four on board Eclipse, Blu, Murano, Qsine, and the Tuscan Grille). Many people are inclined to make reservations and eat at these once or twice during the cruise and often decide to do so on the formal nights because they most feel like a special occasion. Meals in the main dining room tend to be the nicest and most high-end on the formal nights, however, so you won't want to miss them! Enjoy a meal in the one of the specialty restaurants on the night the chef is recommending the pork chop in the main dining room, not the night they are serving lobster.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lecturing on Celebrity Eclipse

Have somewhat feverishly been getting ready for my upcoming trans-Atlantic cruise on Celebrity Eclipse, for which I have been booked as the on-board lecturer! This is my first transoceanic cruise and I am looking forward to it a lot. In that I have to give one itinerary-oriented lecture per sea day, however, I will also be giving more presentations on this cruise than on any previous one, which means I have been getting a full 10 talks pulled together.

Ghosthunting Florida
Join paranormal researcher Michael Varhola, author of multiple books in the popular America’s Haunted Road Trip series of travel guides, as he explores ghostly sites throughout Miami, the Keys, and other sites in southern Florida.

Exploring the Bermuda Triangle
Join maritime historian Michael Varhola on a journey into one of the most mysterious places on earth and the site of innumerable disappearances and wrecks over the past 500 years.

Blockade Running During the Civil War
Join Civil War expert Michael Varhola as he discusses the daring blockade runners — like Rhett Butler in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind — who braved the Federal Navy to smuggle goods into and spies out of the besieged Confederacy using ports in the Bahamas as their bases of operations.

In Search of Atlantis
Join historian Michael Varhola as he looks at the roots of the Atlantis legend and travels from the Bahamas to the rugged Azores and beyond in search of the lost city.

The History of St. Maarten
Join historian Michael Varhola on an odyssey through the 3,500-year history of the island of St. Maarten, from its first inhabitants through the era of colonization.

Ancient Transatlantic
Maritime historian Michael Varhola looks at evidence and legends of ancient and medieval people who may have crossed the Atlantic Ocean centuries before Columbus.

Exploring Roman Britain
Historian Michael Varhola explores the fascinating history of the Roman occupation of England, including its conquest by Julius Caesar, the founding of Southampton as a Roman town, and its influence on the legend of King Arthur.

D-Day 1066
Join author Michael Varhola as he examines the 11th century Norman conquest of England through medieval folklore, literature, and art. Special attention is paid to the world-famous Bayeux Tapestry, a medieval masterpiece commemorating the invasion.

The Battle of Cherbourg
Join Civil War author Michael Varhola as he discusses how one of the most fascinating naval battles of the U.S. Civil War, the duel between the USS Kearsarge and the CSS Alabama, was fought out off the coast of France.

D-Day 1944
Come with D-Day author Michael Varhola as he explores the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II and the role of Southampton in the preparations.