Get Away With Fran

September 29, 2014

Best Cruise Moments on TV

Filed under: Cruise,Travel Advice,U.S. — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 5:31 pm

Here I manage to combine two things I enjoy, cruising and TV trivia. This was a fun story to research. Hope it’s a fun read too. http://www.usatoday.com/story/experience/cruise/best-of-cruising/2014/09/29/10-best-cruise-ship-tv-moments/16423715/

September 12, 2014

Booking a cruise like a pro

Filed under: Cruise,International,Travel Advice,U.S. — admin @ 7:10 pm

What secrets do travel pros know in terms of getting you the best cruise at the best price? Here are some lessons that apply whether you are using a travel agent or booking a cruise on your own. These tips can save you money.

My story for Bon Voyage/Cruiseline.com:

http://cruiseline.com/advice/cruising-101/all-about-cruising/how-to-book-a-cruise-like-a-pro

Best cruises for sailing fans

Filed under: Cruise,International,Travel Advice,U.S. — admin @ 6:56 pm

These cruise ships have something different — sails. Enjoy the romance of the sea while you luxuriate on deck or help pulls the ropes. Pirate speak is encouraged.

Check out my story for USA Today Experience Cruise

http://www.usatoday.com/experience/cruise/best-of-cruising/see-the-best-sailing-cruises/15065063/

Cruise ship comedy

These cruise ships will make you laugh. Check out my article in USA Today. This was a fun one to write.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/experience/cruise/best-of-cruising/2014/09/11/the-best-cruise-lines-for-comedy-shows/15413043/

August 19, 2014

Don’t miss these cruises for beer lovers

Filed under: Cruise,Food,Wine and booze — admin @ 1:58 pm

Sipping suds is a prime activity on some cruise ships, including on beer theme cruises. Check out my story in USA Today’s Experience Cruise:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/experience/cruise/best-of-cruising/2014/08/19/best-cruise-ships-beer-lovers/14135897/

August 16, 2014

Labor Day Cruise Deals

Filed under: Cruise — admin @ 5:57 am

I have been meaning for some time to start posting links to my published stories. Thing is, there are a lot to choose from — which is a very good thing.

This one is Labor Day cruise deals.

http://www.usatoday.com/experience/cruise/cruise-buzz/set-sail-on-these-sweet-labor-day-cruise-deals/14015269/

 

March 7, 2013

The Best Cruises for Families

Filed under: Cruise,Travel Advice,Uncategorized — admin @ 3:20 am

Thinking about taking the kids on a cruise vacation? Check out my T+L article on family cruising: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/best-cruises-for-families

June 27, 2011

Sea and Glaciers

Filed under: Cruise,Travel Advice,U.S. — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:30 pm

After departing Vancouver, the Disney Wonder spent a day at sea. We were pretty lazy. We played a lot of shuffleboard, and we all won at least once (great thing about shuffleboard; little athletic skill required).

Sasha went swimming in the heated family pool. She says it wasn’t cold, even though outdoor temps were low 60s.

We got dressed up for dinner – formal night, though most people went with cocktail attire and some did not even go that far.

Disney Cruise Line has a unique rotation dining system where you eat in a different restaurant each night but with the same waiters. It’s especially clever. Kids don’t get bored by similar menus and ambience and get to know the waiters. We ate in the lively Parrot Cay the first night and the fancier Tritons the second. Sasha did not want to sit through a full multicourse meal the first night, but by the second our Serbian waiter, who performed magic and made Origami from the children’s, was not only a familiar face but a pal.

After dinner we went as a family to see the Golden Mickeys show in the main theater. It features clips from Disney animated movies and dancers and singers performing some numbers too. We all enjoyed it.

My brother and I dropped Sasha off after at The Edge, the ‘tween hangout, so we could check out some of the entertainment for adults-only. Seems other passengers had the same idea. The comedy show, featuring three whacky brothers, was so crowded in the disco they had overflow to the Diversions bar where you could watch on video screens. The physical comedy got lost in translation on the screens, so we headed instead to the ship’s movie theater to see the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. It was sold out too, no seats available. We wandered the ship a bit – passing a folk guitarist and singer, but then picked up Sasha and headed back to the cabin.

Next day, appeared to be another day at sea, but appearances can be deceiving. We spent about five hours in and around Tracy Arm Fjord, where we saw humpback whales close enough to spot even without binoculars, bald eagles, seals, a bear (through binoculars), snow-capped mountains reflected in clear water, blue icebergs (and white ones too) and then the amazing sight of Sawyer Glacier, a massive lake of moving ice heading ever so slowly towards the sea. And yes, we saw calving and even from a distance the sight of ice falling off a glacier into the sea is magnificent.

The temperature fell below 50, but the heated pools still called Sasha, who spent time swimming with a pal.

Dinner in Animator’s Palette, where animation appears throughout the meal, had Sasha smiling throughout the meal. Her smiles continued at the show where a really fun magician sure knew how to appeal to the family crowd, and the three brothers performed their unusual brand of song, dance and sound effects to many giggles.

June 21, 2011

Cruising Alaska with Disney

Filed under: Cruise,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 8:54 am

(This week Getaway will be written with the help of 11-year-old Sasha, Fran’s niece. We’re heading off on a Disney cruise to Alaska.)

photo-3

Yesterday we (me, niece Sasha and my brother Ben) got up before 4 a.m. to catch a flight to Chicago and on to Vancouver. The cool thing is, given the time difference (Vancouver is three hours behind the East Coast), we still got here before 11 a.m.

We spent a little more time at the airport than we had had intended, since our luggage had stayed in Chicago. It was later delivered to our hotel, so no worries. But this is one reason why flying in a day ahead of a cruise is a good thing — a safeguard against delays, lost luggage, etc.

With our free time in Vancouver, we grabbed good dim sum from a food truck conveniently parked outside the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, which itself is conveniently right at the pier where we will embark on the Disney Wonder today.

Also nearly is Gastown, where we headed next. This historic area is today full of shops, restaurants and the like (it’s a tourist haven), but there are also reminders of the past when loggers and trappers hung out here including cobblestones, gaslights and a steam-powered clock. And some of the shops are wonderful. Hill’s is a must for its Native American art including totem polls. Those into design should walk into the John Fluevog shoe store (65 Water St.), not only to admire the handcrafted shoes but the “building,” which is a glass-enclosed former parking. The display tables are made of reclaimed tree trunks with Alaska pipeline as the base.

Next stop Chinatown, but those walking with kids should be forewarned that the tourist signs direct you on a route past an area that seems to be a hangout for drug users — a passing needle exchange van gave us a good clue.

Still, make a bee-line for the Dr.Sun Yat-Sen Gardens (578 Carrall St.), the first Chinese garden outside China when it opened 25 years ago, and a wonderful spot with a lily pond, koi fish, hand-carved Chinese architecture taking into account Yin and Yang, bamboo and an overall peaceful ambience. Sasha particularly liked the resident box turtles, though a docent said the park has no idea where they came from, just that they arrived one day.

Dinner was Southern-style BBQ at Peckinpah (2 Water St.) in Gastown, only because that looked good to us all when we passed by. Ribs and mac and cheese hit the spot.

Back near the hotel, we walked over to the Olympic Flame from the 2010 Winter Olympics. A local family passing by happened to have a torch from the games their Special Olympian son had carried, and they let us hold it. Sasha says that was amazing.

Given the time difference, we were surprised we all managed to stay awake until 9 p.m., when it was still light outside since we’re pretty far north.

June 19, 2010

Epic entertainment served up by Norwegian Cruise Line

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:35 pm

manhattan-tina-epic

Norwegian Cruise Line has been touting its new 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic as the cruise ship for entertainment. And a first glimpse proves they deserve the bragging rights.

Now I will admit I am not always a fan of cruise ship show productions. I generally find them pretty darn boring. But I was awe struck by the dinner performance of Legends in Concert in the Manhattan Room restaurant (one of the ship’s two main dining rooms). No, that’s not Tina Turner in the top photo, but a really good Legends impersonator.

elvis-manhattan-room

Elvis and Madonna also made impressive appearances.

motown-manhattan

There was an excellent Motown tribute too. And you see all this while eating – in my case a decent New York Strip steak. I love the idea of dinner with show – tomorrow I’ll check out the ship’s Cirque Dreams circus with dinner.

kevin-dances

Audience members get called into the show, and the performers just happened to pick NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan, who was a good sport participating in a rendition of “My Girl.”

The show in the dining room is about a half hour, but Legends also does a full-length show a few nights each cruise in the theater.

After dinner, I checked out some of the clubs in the ship’s entertainment area on Deck 6. “Howl at the Moon,” an act involving two piano players facing each other and taking audience requests, is the place to go if you like your entertainment participatory (they perform some nights in the comedy club, which other nights features the Second City comedy troupe).

blues-club

But the place with the most enthusiastic crowd was Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, where the top notch band tonight was doing a little Prince, a little Hendrix, a lot of amazing guitar playing.

“Blue Man Group,” the ship’s headline act – and the reason for many to come on Epic in the first place – was not performing tonight due to a minor technical issue in the theater. But I hope to see their premier at sea tomorrow night.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress