Royal Caribbean’s Going, Going, Gone Sale – Must Be Booked By Wednesday, December 13th

1/14    Allure of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Neighborhood Balcony $709; Inside $479

1/14    Oasis of the Seas  7 night E Carib from Pt Canaveral – Oceanview Balcony $709; Inside $479

1/14    Liberty of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Galveston – Oceanview $469; Inside $349

1/21    Oasis of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Pt Canaveral – Oceanview Balcony $709; Inside $479

1/28   Oasis of the Seas  7 night E Carib from Pt Canaveral – Oceanview Balcony $709; Inside $479

1/28   Liberty of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Galveston – Oceanview $529; Inside $379

1/28   Allure of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview Balcony $709; Inside $479

2/1     Grandeur of the Seas  9 night Southeast USA and Bahamas – Inside $449

2/4    Liberty of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Galveston – Balcony $859; Oceanview $539; Inside $389

2/10  Harmony of the Seas  7 night E Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview Balcony $899; Neighborhood Balcony $819; Inside $679

2/11   Liberty of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Galveston – Oceanview $589; Inside $399

2/11   Jewel of the Seas  7 night S Carib from San Juan – Balcony $499; Inside $399

2/11   Oasis of the Seas  7 night E Carib from Pt Canaveral – Oceanview Balcony $709; Inside $479

2/12  Adventure of the Seas  5 night S Carib from Miami – Balcony $349; Inside $199

2/17  Harmony of the Seas  7 night E Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview Balcony $899; Neighborhood Balcony $839; Oceanview $779; Inside $699

2/18  Allure of the Seas  7 night E Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview Balcony $709; Inside $479

1/22  Grandeur of the Seas  9 night Southeast USA and Bahamas – Inside $499

2/24  Adventure of the Seas  7 night S Carib from Miami – Balcony $599; Inside $449

2/24  Harmony of the Seas  7 night E Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview Balcony $909; Neighborhood Balcony $859; Oceanview $779; Inside $629

2/25  Allure of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview Balcony $709; Inside $479

3/3    Harmony of the Seas  7 night E Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview Balcony $909; Neighborhood Balcony $859; Oceanview $779; Inside $599

3/4    Jewel of the Seas  7 night S Carib from San Juan – Balcony $499; Inside $399

3/4    Allure of the Seas  7 night W Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview Balcony $709; Inside $479

3/10  Adventure of the Seas  7 night S Carib from Miami – Balcony $599; Inside $449

3/11   Jewel of the Seas  7 night S Carib from San Juan – Balcony $499; Inside $399

 

Celebrity 7-day Sale – Must Book By Tuesday, December 19th

1/6      Summit  7 night S Carib from San Juan – Concierge Veranda $699; Veranda $599; Oceanview $549

1/13    Summit  7 night S Carib from San Juan – Concierge Veranda $749; Veranda $699; Inside $399

1/19    Reflection  10 night S Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Veranda $1149; Oceanview $1099; Inside $949

1/20   Summit  7 night S Carib from San Juan – Aqua Veranda $699; Concierge Veranda $649; Veranda $549; Oceanview $449; Inside $349

1/20   Equinox  7 night E Carib from Miami – Concierge Veranda $799; Veranda $749; Inside $599

1/26   Silhouette  9 night S Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Aqua Veranda $1749; Veranda $1499; Veranda $1349;

Inside $799

1/27   Equinox  7 night E Carib from Miami – Aqua Veranda $1199; Concierge Veranda $899; Veranda $799; Inside $549

1/29   Reflection  11 night S Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Aqua Veranda $1799; Concierge Veranda $1699; Veranda $1699; Oceanview $1049; Inside $949

2/3     Equinox  7 night E Carib from Miami – Aqua Veranda $1249; Concierge Veranda $949; Veranda $899; Inside $599

2/4     Eclipse  14 night S Carib from Miami – Veranda $1599; Inside $1249

2/9     Reflection  10 night S Carib from Ft Lauderdale – Oceanview $1049; Inside $899

2/11    Silhouette  7 night E Carb from Ft Lauderdale – Aqua Veranda $1299; Concierge Veranda $999; Veranda $899; Inside $599

2/17   Summit  7 night S Carib from San Juan – Aqua Veranda $1099; Concierge Veranda $999; Inside $449

2/18   Eclipse  14 night S Carib from Miami – Veranda $1649; Inside $1249

 

This is just a sampling of what’s available, so call or email if you don’t find the cruise or land vacation you are looking for.

 

 

We Couldn’t Resist

posted by Wayne
November 19, 2017

Cuba’s Classic Cars

We (Rachelle and Wayne) will be cruising to Cuba on the November 26th sailing of the Empress of the Seas.  We couldn’t resist one of the “Going, Going, Gone” promotions.  Besides, we want to see Havana before it becomes “touristy”.  We also want to experience the complexities associated with a visit to Cuba so that we can give advice to our clients.

Some people think that the recent Trump administration ruling stopped US citizens from visiting Cuba.  The ruling did make it difficult to fly and stay at certain hotels.  However, the ruling does not affect cruise line or land tour operator visits to Cuba.  When we return, we’ll give an update on this website.  By the way, if you have an interest in Cuba, there’s a great deal in this week’s Last Minute Specials.

Our ship will be the venerable Empress of the Seas, built in 1990 as the Nordic Empress. She was transferred to European subsidiary Pullmantur in 2007 where she cruised until 2015 when she was transferred back to Royal Caribbean specifically for the Cuba run.  She was refurbished in 2016 but her staterooms remained on the small side and she has relatively few balconies.

New Ship for Celebrity Cruises

posted by Wayne
November 19, 2017

Celebrity is building a ship specifically designed for the Galapagos Islands.  The 100 passenger ship is the smallest ever built for Celebrity Cruises.  The Ecuadorian government restricts the size ships that are allowed to visit these islands that are rich in wildlife seen exclusively in this part of the world.  The ship will be named Celebrity Flora and will begin cruising in May of 2019.

This “soft adventure” cruise will be premium priced because this is one of the world’s most sought after destinations and government restrictions limit the number of visitors.

The Jones Act has been in the news because of the hurricanes and the need to get supplies into hurricane ravaged US territories.  It was enacted in 1920 and was designed to protect the American Merchant Marine which would be needed in time of war.  Its basic tenant is that in order to carry goods or passengers between US ports, a ship must have the hull of the ship built in the US and at least 75% of its crew must be US citizens.  During the ongoing emergency at St Thomas, St Johns and Puerto Rico, there are too few US flagged ships available to move supplies to these territories.  Therefore the Jones Act was temporarily suspended.

How does the Jones Act affect the cruise industry and its customers?

There are a number of cruise lines whose ships ply US rivers who meet the Jones Act requirements.  The most well known is the American Queen.

However, most of the large cruise ships were built in Europe and are flagged in small countries that have low tax rates.  They cannot carry passengers between US ports without stopping at a foreign port.  There is one large cruise ship that meets the Jones act provisions.  It is NCL’s Pride of America. Its hull was built in the U.S. It’s flagged in the US and carries an American crew.   It’s based in Hawaii has weekly cruises in the Hawaiian Islands.

It is the only large cruise ship that can do this itinerary and therefore it is no competition.  NCL has the only 7 day cruise in the Hawaiian Islands.

How does the lack of competition affect price?

We compared a Balcony stateroom on a 7 day cruise around Hawaii with an NCL 7 day cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Norwegian Getaway.  Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess and others provide stiff competition on this itinerary.

The lowest priced balcony on the March 3rd 2018 sailing of the Pride of America from Honolulu is $2599 per person while the lowest priced balcony on the March 4th Norwegian Getaway is $1179, less than half the price of the Pride of America.

Itineraries are also affected by the Jones Act.  For example, for a round trip Alaska cruise from Seattle, one of the ports must be in Canada.

You can go to Hawaii on a cruise line other than Norwegian Cruise Line.  However, the ship will stop in Ensenada or Vancouver on its way to or from the West Coast of the United States and it will be an 11 or 12 night cruise with a lot of days at sea..

Are there benefits to the Jones Act?

Yes, crews receive higher wages and working conditions are better and safer.  Also, there are stricter environmental requirements for US flagged ships.

When NCL initiated Hawaii cruises on the Pride of America, they hired young Americans as waiters and room stewards and guess what happened?  Passengers complained bitterly about the quality of service.  It seems that the young Americans pictured themselves as laying out on deck during the day and partying at night with a smidgen of work here and there.

NCL had to build a facility in Maryland to train American staff in the art of service.  They are now able to weed out the party people before they board the Pride and service is now very good.

Photo Contest August 11, 2017 – Venice

posted by Wayne
August 19, 2017

Contest Photo – Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal

We were thrilled with the response to last week’s photo contest which asked for the name of the bridge and body of water shown in the contest photo (photo on right).  The correct responses to this two part question were Rialto Bridge (or Ponte Rialto) and Grand Canal.  The Grand Canal is the body of water that snakes through the center of Venice and is equal to a city’s main street.  The ornate and picturesque Rialto Bridge is at the heart of Venice.

More views of the grand canal

More views of the grand canal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We (Wayne and Rachelle) were in Venice for 3 days where we boarded the Celebrity Constellation for a 9 night cruise in the Adriatic Sea.  The cruise ended in Rome (Civitavecchia) where we spent another 3 days.

Gondola passing under a small bridge

Small waterway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until you have actually experienced Venice, it is hard to conceptualize a city whose walkways and bridges are interwoven with waterways and whose “main street” is a grand canal.  Our hotel, just a 5 minute walk from St Mark’s Square, was located on a small waterway frequented by serenading gondoliers.  As picturesque as the gondolas are from afar, a close inspection reveals superb maintenance and great attention to design detail.

Gondolas up close

Gondola up close

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Venice, there are basically 2 different modes of water transportation:  water taxis and water buses.  Water taxis are private, point-to-point hires just as a land taxi would be.  They will take you right to your door if requested. Water buses, like land buses, run on a schedule and have multiple lines and designated stops.  Depending on the line, they can be pretty crowded.

 

 

ACTV “bus” line

Alilaguna “bus” line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to Pat Horne of Edison, NJ, whose name was randomly drawn from those who responded correctly. Pat will receive a $25 credit towards a trip booked through Just Cruises Plus.

 

Romance in St Mark’s Square

 

Call us to help you plan your next vacation which includes Venice!

Royal Caribbean’s New Price Program

posted by Wayne
June 23, 2017

Are you a Royal Caribbean Fan?  If yes, you must read this.

Beginning July 1st, Royal Caribbean will offer an additional discount if you are willing to forego your deposit if you cancel  your cruise.  However, all is not lost.  If you cancel and rebook another date with Royal Caribbean, your deposit less $100 per person will be moved to the new date. This new program will take effect on July 1st.

The key information, that is, how much you can save by taking the no refund route, will not be available until July 1st.

On the Edge

posted by Wayne
March 17, 2017
Artistic rendition of the Infinite Veranda

Artistic rendering of the Infinite Veranda

There was so much hype leading up to the announcement of Celebrity Edge, Celebrity’s new class of ship which is scheduled to debut at the end of 2018.  Now that we’ve seen the plans, we understand what all the fuss is about!

This groundbreaking ship is truly on the cutting edge in the world of cruising:

~~~ Its Infinite Veranda allows passengers to turn their entire stateroom into one open-air veranda by opening the glass door barriers (they fold to the side like French doors). Alternatively, you can enlarge your stateroom by leaving the “french doors” open and closing a second set of veranda doors which seal off the wind.

~~~ The Magic Carpet is a covered platform attached to the starboard side of the ship. It moves up and down on the side of the ship and stops on certain decks, adapting to each of those decks as an extension of what already exists (an extension to the pool area, an extension of one of the new restaurants, Raw on 5, a platform to streamline stepping onto a tender, etc.)

Artistic rendering of the Magic Carpet

Artistic rendering of the Magic Carpet

~~~ Suite passengers on the Edge have use of exclusive public spaces called “The Retreat”.  There is an exclusive lounge, sundeck, pool bar and pool along with Luminae, Celebrity’s suite-only restaurant.

~~~ Celebrity has introduced two new Edge-class suites. The 950 sq ft Edge Villas are awesome 2 story luxury residences that surpass any “suite” we’ve seen. The 1880 sq ft, 2 bedroom Iconic Suites are positioned above the bridge and enjoy sweeping panoramic views.

~~~ Celebrity has been moving n the direction of open air spaces on all of their ship classes.  The Edge expands on this theme with the Rooftop Garden, a space artfully decorated with tree-top sculptures. It’s a place where you can relax with a good book, grab a bite to eat, dance under the stars or watch a movie.

There is still quite a bit of information about the Edge that has not yet been released – as we receive more information we will provide updates.

The Edge will begin its season with an East/West Caribbean itinerary.  Reservations are available for sailings from December 2018 through April of 2019.  Pricing and promotions are competitive with other Celebrity ships, so call now to reserve your space!

Harmony of the Seas Inaugural Photos

posted by Wayne
November 17, 2016
Harmony of the Seas docked in Nassau

Harmony of the Seas docked in Nassau

Jonathan just returned from the Harmony of the Seas’ inaugural sailing!  He describes this new Oasis class ship as “amazing” and says “you have to see it to believe it”!   The Harmony, Royal Caribbean’s 3rd ship in the Oasis class, will be doing 7-night East and West Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale.

Call or email us to plan your next vacation on this magnificent new ship!

 

Harmony of the Seas has a bionic bar like the one found on the Anthem of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas is the first of the  Oasis class ships to host bionic bartenders.

Harmony's Pool Deck

Harmony of the Seas pool deck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harmony of the Seas has two 10-story slides overlooking Boardwalk

Harmony of the Seas has two 10-story slides overlooking Boardwalk!

Bermuda Trip Ends in Bayonne

posted by Wayne
October 21, 2016
Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas

A category 3 hurricane hit Bermuda last week.  The Grandeur of the Seas was scheduled for a five night cruise to Bermuda and had to be diverted.  Royal Caribbean selected Bayonne as the alternate port.  Is Bayonne for Bermuda a good trade?  Before you scoff, let’s see what happened with the passengers.

First, they were given 100% credit toward a future cruise.

Second, Royal Caribbean provided a free ferry to Manhattan.

It seems to us that the Grandeur’s passengers got an all-expense paid trip to New York City.  Imagine the cost for 2 nights at a hotel and 3 meals per day.

Our clients who were aboard the Grandeur were very happy and can’t wait to book their next Royal Caribbean cruise.

We applaud Royal Caribbean for this more than fair offer.

Rivers of Europe Presentation – RSVP

posted by Wayne
October 14, 2016
Tapestry II on Seine River in Les Andelys, France Photo taken by Rachelle August 2016

Tapestry II on Seine River in Les Andelys, France
Photo taken by Rachelle – August 2016

What’s Hot and What’s Not?

Europe!  It’s both hot and not.  Rachelle and Wayne were in France this August.  We went to a local restaurant for lunch in Isigny-sur-Mer, very near to the Normandy beaches.  There was only one table occupied.  The owner came over to our table and personally thanked us for coming to France.  She said that there have been very few Americans in her restaurant this year.  By the way, we found everyone we encountered in Normandy to be very warm and welcoming.

While Normandy, as well as other areas of Europe, is starving for American tourists, the river cruise ships in Europe are consistently filled to capacity and more are being built as you read this.  There are very few “not so good” river cruise companies.  Most are very good.  However, in our opinion there is one that stands out for value.  Avalon ships ply most of Europe’s rivers and provide passengers with unmatched cuisine and well-appointed staterooms together with exquisite service.

One of the difficulties of river cruising is deciding upon which river to cruise.  Some emphasize history and culture while others excel at scenery and still others have themes like wine tasting.

If you are considering a river cruise, you won’t want to miss the presentation by Doug Brown of Avalon Waterways and Globus Family of Brands.  He has been on the most popular rivers of Europe and will give an overview of those rivers.  The size of the audience will be limited, so we ask that you RSVP now if you want to hear Doug’s very informative talk.

October 29, 2016 at 1:30 PM

RSVP:  Call 215.364.3310 or email just-cruises@comcast.net