Hurricane Irma Notes - Thursday P.M.

Hurricane Irma caused wide-spread damage on St. Maarten/Saint Marten.  The French side of the island appears to have taken the brunt of the damage.  St. Thomas is reporting heavy damage and many buildings that simply failed against 185 mile an hour winds.  All cruises leaving from Florida are now canceled.  Expect to see cruises up the eastern coast of the U.S. cancel soon.  Cancelation policy varies but most lines are refunding 100% of the cruises canceled with some credit toward an additional future cruise.  Most ships are seeking refuge in the Western Caribbean.  Most of Florida is at risk of wind and rain damage and many roads north are clogged.

 The Red Cross hurricane relief page for those that wish to help.  

Hurricane Irma Notes - Saturday

Most of Florida is at risk of wind and rain damage and many roads north are clogged still.  The hurricane is in a state of decline but could become stronger as it crosses open water approachign the Florida Keys.  There is a great deal of uncertainty in regards to where the path of Irma may go.  There isn't any news specific to cruise cancelations to relate.  Those that will be, have.  The ETA of ports reopening is harder to guess and when the first cruises will again start to flow out of Florida isn't something that can be predicted at the moment.  Damage to the islands and ports along the leeward islands is hard to come by.  Media sources and political types are using the most inflated terms possible, either to position for funding and support or to ganer ratings and clicks online.  Without question there were lives lost, lives ruined and damage across the scale that comes with such storms.  However how dire the collective impact is something yet to be determined.  Most ports throughout the Caribbean likely will be open and operational within 90 days.  Business' and excursions within many ports will be a case-by-case issue depending on the damages suffered.

 The Red Cross hurricane relief page for those that wish to help.  

Hurricane Irma Notes - Sunday Sunday Sunday!

Irma is ashore for the time being, having crossed the Keys and landed on the mainland near Napals.  So far damage is consistent with a catagory 3 but not producing the over-hyped devestation predicted.  Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise lines are sending ships to several islands to pick-up stranded travelers and make drop-offs of emergency supplies.  Despite massively over-stated social media posts describing nothing short of primal chaos and even civil war among the leeward islands, the recovery process is underway.  Schools are preparing to reopen in several U.S. Virgin Islands, damage assessment is underway at St. Thomas, and U.S. Navy ships are well represented in the relief efforts.  The much discussed situation on St. Maarten is one of two sides of one island.  The Dutch side of the island is essentially stable and quickly recovering.  Some looting was reported and verified but was never the wide-spread gangs of roving thugs.  Even the initially panic stricken descriptions from government officials has become far more constrained and accurately detailing the situation.  The French side of the island however both took the brunt of the storm, the bulk of major damage and was the location of most of the worst civil unrest.  Irma will begin to wind-down from this point forward but will reach Indianapolis, Indiana by 2 p.m. on Thursday.  The greater Ohio region will see a considerable amount of rain.

 The Red Cross hurricane relief page for those that wish to help.  

Port Talks: Hurricane Maria Notes - Tuesday Night.

Hurricane Maria bares down on Puerto Rico. 

Puerto Rico, which was spared a direct hit from Hurricane Irma will not escape without taking the brunt of Maria head-on.  The Dominican Republic is due to take a hard but glancing blow following Maria rolling over Puerto Rico.  No new cruise cancelations have been announced as of now.  Follow our special blog Port Talks here, and share your reviews at PortTalks.com.  For those Facebook fans, Like us there Facebook!

The Red Cross hurricane relief page for those that wish to help.  

Pro-Tips and Fun Ship Thoughts.

Since the last blog posting, I’ve been preparing to tell you about a few helpful tips when cruising.  After my 19th cruise, I am just as excited as the first time my eyes set sight on the “Fantasy” in 2000 my first cruise experience.  The magic of cruising for someone like me never gets old.  I look forward to the unveiling of new ships with anticipation of a new adventure. 

During my travels, I have learned a few things to make cruising easier, worry and stress free.  Pack with fun in mind. Know that there is a time your bags will be searched or away from you.  Once you arrive at the port and the night before your departure. So keep your valuables with you.

Let’s start with whats most important to me, tipping.  Do not think a dollar here a dollar there is too much.  Although it adds up set a tip budget.

Carnival provides exceptional service above and beyond just because of who they are.  Sowing a seed of thankfulness adds to your experience.

Whether traveling to the port or leaving the port without a doubt tip "anyone" who handles your luggage. Start with transportation either wheelchair, bus, taxi or Uber drivers. Most important to me is the baggage handlers at the port. You can get your bags on time, later or never. Be friendly to them it's vacation. Any delays, or changes is not their fault. They are there to help assist you.

The ship staff, housekeeping, who remembers your name all week, who cleans up behind you. Some of us have a lot of mess. Your bar staff, if you keep the same person he or she will remember your favorite drink. My happy place is with the dining room servers who remembers special meal request or that you like a few extra lemons with your water at dinner time without asking and the delightful entertainment they provide.

You should include gratuities in your travel package. but when extra care is given to detail, show your appreciation in tipping it makes you feel good. 

Now remember this is a cruise you do not need to bring the entire house. Besides who wants to pay the airlines extra money when you can spend that on vacation. Or bring tons of heavy things that you never wear. Unless you are going to Alaska which is another topic by itself.  One goal is to make sure you can identify your luggage by tags or colors. After all there will be at least 3,000 plus pieces. You want to move transparently through the crowds without a struggle.

Ladies, depending on the season shorts, tank tops, tshirts, socks, under garments, sundresses, swimsuits and cover ups are truly all that's needed. Interchangeable outfits make less clothing you have to carry. Bring a light jacket, rain poncho or sweater for those cool or rainy nights, maybe a pair of jeans if you normally get cold.

A pair of sandals, flip flops, ankle boots or rain boots (optional because I like rain boots) and a pair of tennis shoes. Honestly you don't need 40 pairs of shoes! Make sure you bring one nice dinner dress for The Captains formal night! This is your dress to impress night. Shoes are important just remember you are on a ship. 

Men, tshirts, tanks, socks, underwear and shorts. A nice suit for your formal dinner night. Now men you don't have to bring 40 pairs of gymshoes but if you are strong enough to carry all that then go for it. Refer back to why I started with why you should tip.

Here are a few extras that won't take up much room but I find are essential and what I call cruise don't forgets.  Keep in mind Carnival is the fun ship. Beach towels are available you don't have to bring one from home. Laundry services are available as well or you can do it yourself on board. Bring a roll of quarters or get them when on shore.

A small surge protector since there are only two outlets but nothing long or bulky it will be confescated by port authorities. Scarf or door designs which makes it easier to find your cabin especially for seniors, children or partaking in the spirits. Those cabin hallways are very long which can get confusing. Highlighter to highlight your itinerary for the day. A dry erase board for your door to leave messages along with walkie talkies for group travel on and off the ship. There are no phone signals on board plus it's a time to unplug.  Ziplock bags to keep wet seperate from dry on the beach. To store your jewelry together when using the cabin safe, keep bottles from leaking, candy from melting or to take a few cookies to the beach. Strangely I bring a few sheets of foil when traveling with food from deck to cabin. 

Let's not forget a hat to shield you from direct sunlight. A waterproof case to keep your money, credit cards and phone dry all in one place. A water bottle one of the main necessities while traveling. I also bring a small insulated coffee travel mug so I don't have to practice not spilling coffee while the ship is moving. I like to walk with my coffee.

Few clothes pins to hang swim suits to dry. A finger nail clipper or small scissors. I also bring a small battery operated flash light. NO CANDLES are allowed!

Hair dryers are provided along with shower jel and  shampoo so you don't need a huge bottle in your suitcase. A few thank you notes for anyone who has shown you hospitality. Ear plugs for those times you want to block out the world, or if your cabin mate snores.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, aspirin, dramine for motion sickness, chap stick and bug repellent comes in handy. Hand sanitizer is provided on every deck. I bring wet wipes, face cloth and a small bottle of sanitizer to stay refreshed and keep cool on shore.  Lastly earbuds for music and or a wireless speaker to share your music with your cabin mate.

All of these things are optional never required. Remember this blog is about helpful hints to travel smoothly. Keep in mind if your bags are heavy when you arrive imagine how much heavier they will be when you add your souvenirs to them. The airlines will charge you when returning home and there's no fun in that. I hope this helps you.

Happy fun ship sailings!

Share us everywhere!

Follow us with your favorite social media!

Share a Review!

Reviews on Cruise Aficionados