Norwegian Breakaway is Christened!

ncl_Aerial_Breakaway_03-hires

If you’re a cruise junkie like me, the announcement of a new, shiny, pretty ship is like a holiday. For me, Christmas Eve. So imagine how it feels when the new, shiny, pretty  ship actually ARRIVES to its home port and is ready to sail! Well…today was like Christmas Day for the cruising world, as Norwegian Breakaway was christened in her new home of New York City. The ship will offer 7- and 12- day itineraries to Bermuda, Florida and the Caribbean…year round. So for you folks who live in the Midwest and East Coast who don’t feel like flying to Florida, Texas or New Orleans for a cruise and are looking for a tropical getaway in the dead of winter, this may be another great option for you! (Note: Other cruise lines offer East Coast departures from Boston, Baltimore, New York, New Jersey, Norfolk and Charleston…this is just the NEWEST ship in that region).
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Reveal Day: Quantum of the Seas

This morning at 10 am EST, Royal Caribbean International stopped travel experts, bloggers, agents and aficionados in their tracks with the Quantum of the Seas live reveal event. It had all of the buildup of an Apple Reveal for the newest iPhone and iPad….we just LOVE new, shiny ships. And Royal Caribbean certainly did not disappoint today.

Unfortunately I was unable to tune into the live stream, so I was VERY thankful for the folks on Twitter who chose to live-tweet the event and provide real-time updates. I almost felt like I was there!

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Project Sunshine Materializes!

Earlier today, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line revealed the name of their two new ships: Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas…previously known under the moniker “Project Sunshine”. This is a new class of ship that is “Designed for WOW”.

I don’t know about you, but the name Quantum of the Seas is just SEXY! What do you think?

Touring the “Disney Dream”

Last year, before becoming a travel agent was anywhere on my life radar, I had the rare opportunity to spend a day aboard a brand new cruise ship, the Disney Dream. One of my childhood friends is employed by Disney and therefore has the ability to invite family and friends aboard the ship, either for a tour (such as we did) or to actually cruise. It’s a pretty wonderful and generous perk provided by Disney Cruise Line!

Disney Dream

Disney Dream

Disney Dream cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida on 3 to 5 day itineraries to the Bahamas. You can combine your cruise vacation with several days at Walt Disney World resort, as they are only an hour apart.

We had to send my friend our credentials (names, birth dates, drivers license numbers, DNA samples) to her prior our tour date. That way, getting through security would be easy peasy.

Oh – and I’m just kidding about the DNA sample.

We arrived to Port Canaveral and were in awe. There’s just something about being in a cruise port and seeing these massive ships en masse – and PC isn’t even one of the busiest ports! (Ever been to Miami?)

Disney Dream is a lovely ship. It’s a LARGE ship. We were welcomed onboard and were instantly in awe with the decor inside the main atrium. It’s elegant. Opulent. Disney truly pays attention to detail.

The Grand Atrium
from avidcruiser.com

She showed us around the public areas of the ship, pointing out the framed photos that actually changed as you stand in front of them. I’m a full-grown adult and was completely mesmerize, so I can only imagine how much a kid would’ve freaked out about this really cool feature. These paintings and photos are strategically placed throughout the ship.

We then headed to Cabanas to grab some lunch. Okay, we already know that cruise ship eating is the LIFE, and Disney did not disappoint! I wish I could tell you what we ate…just know we had plates full of food and stuffed ourselves silly. I want to stretch out and say I had shrimp or crab. All I know is my belly was happy after that meal. And dessert? Don’t even get me started. YUM.

Dessert Bar at Cabanas
from allears.net

Our tour guide tried to take us to some of the other restaurants, but they were closed as people began to arrive on the ship for their vacation. I really wanted to see the Enchanted Forest, which apparently TRANSFORMS as guests dine..but the doors were locked. (insert sad face)
Next she took us to the nightlife area of the ship. Most of the bars and nightclubs are located in close proximity to one another; although this is a Disney cruise, there is PLENTY of adult playtime available too. We were completely blown away by these venues. We checked out the nightclub, Evolution, and wished a DJ was there so we could dance! (The rhythm is always gonna getcha) The champagne bar, Pink, had such an appealing decor that we had trouble leaving the spot; it feels like you’re inside of a champagne bottle. No lie. This led us directly to Skyline, another bar with a backdrop that changes to a different cityscape while you relax. Loved it.

Skyline Bar
from disneycruiseblog.com

At this point it was time to visit the restroom. I wouldn’t normally mention the bathroom, but these public bathrooms were like none I’d ever seen before. They were so different that I had to take a picture. (which I’ll have to find later)

Finally we made it to the Lido Deck and did we REALLY wanted to do: got in line to ride the AquaDuck, Disney’s first at-sea water coaster. We changed into swimsuits and ascended the staircase into the funnel, where boarding for the AquaDuck occurs. There already was quite a line! We climbed into the two man rafts and took off! Chutes of water propel you throughout the ride, over small dips and bumps, around the top of the ship. It wasn’t the most exhilarating ride I’ve ever been on, but it was a lot of fun. Not to mention, we were doing this on a cruise ship!

AquaDuck

From there, we headed over to Senses Spa to check out the Rainforest Room. This included 4 or 5 different “shower pods”, where you could tailor the type of shower you experienced. They had shower options that gave you hot water, cool water, sideways water, water from below…crazy stuff. Naturally, since I was still in my swimsuit I was the guinea pig. Everyone stood around and laughed as I was attacked by water. Glad I could be of service, people…

This was an adventure...

Unfortunately we weren’t able to see any staterooms or suites, as this wasn’t an “official” ship tour. We were able to see crew quarters and man…please don’t ever complain about the size of your cabin again…the crew lives in cubbyholes! Our tour guide was fortunate enough to have her own room, but some folks aren’t so lucky.

One thing that really struck me was the manner in which guests board the ship. As you step off of the gangway onto the ship, your name is read aloud and everyone applauds. You feel like royalty! (advice: don’t cruise Disney Cruise Line if you are trying to be covert..because your name is announced to EVERYONE).

All in all, it was an amazing day aboard a beautiful cruise ship. I would LOVE to sail on Disney Dream one day in the future. There is so much to offer couples or families of any size!

For more information about booking a Disney Cruise, contact Bon Voyage by Barbour!

Preview the Top Deck of “Royal Princess”

Princess Cruise Line’s newest ship, Royal Princess, will have her maiden journey in summer 2013. They just released the following video to give curious cruisers a preview of the ship’s top deck and….WOW. The Seawalk and Light Show are SO cool. But I am not sure if my opinion is in the majority: do features like these inspire you to book a cruise?

Join “Bon Voyage by Barbour” aboard the Norwegian Dawn!

Yay it’s a giveaway!

“Let’s Do Lunch” with Norwegian Cruise Lines, aboard the Norwegian Dawn!

 

The winner and one guest will have the opportunity to tour the ship and will be provided lunch in one of the ship’s many dining venues!! You will be taken on a guided tour of the ship’s many different staterooms, as well as the public areas that you would be able to utilize aboard the Norwegian Dawn. This afternoon will offer you the opportunity to preview a ship before you decide to sail; a very rare experience!

Event Details:

 “Let’s Do Lunch” on the Norwegian Dawn

Sunday, November 18

10:30 am – 3:00 pm

Tampa Port Authority
On the Ybor Channel
815 Channelside Drive
Downtown Tampa
Tampa, FL 33602 USA

 
 
 

All you need to do to enter is tell me Why YOU Need a Vacation? Best Answer Wins!

Click the LINK to enter!

Contest ends on Sunday, September 23rd. Winner will be emailed shortly thereafter.

Good Luck!!

**please note, the contest prize provides admission for the winner and one guest to NCL’s “Let’s Do Lunch” program. Additional costs, such as transportation, parking, and lodging are not included. Winners must provide one form of government ID (Drivers License or Passport number) to Carla at Bon Voyage by Barbour in order to complete registration. The same form of ID must be shown in order to be granted admittance to the ship.**