Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Traveling to Greece need to have ample cash

Travelers heading to Greece should make sure they bring enough euros in cash to cover emergencies, given that banks in the country will be closed from June 29 to July 6, advised the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  The Greek government decided to close the banks and establish strict limits on ATM withdrawals after bailout negotiations between the country and its creditors stalled over the weekend. The Greek government said it is not limiting withdrawals on cards issued outside of Greece, but long lines have formed at ATMs in the country, making it difficult to get cash quickly, according to reports.  The system for paying with debit and credit cards for retail transactions continues to function, noted the U.K. government, but travelers should have sufficient cash with them in case those banking services fail.  Travelers should take appropriate security precautions against theft, added the U.K. government.
Bailout terms from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have been rejected by the Greek government. The Greek people will vote on whether to accept the terms in a snap referendum on July 5. If the vote is no, Greece could default on its debt and leave the eurozone.
For more information on this and to make a reservation for cruises that visit Greece, contact TheCruiseoOutlet.com at 203-288-1884 or email at info@thecruiseoutlet.com

Disney bans Selfie Sticks

The Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks will no longer permit selfie sticks effective June 30, the company said.
The Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland theme parks will also instill the policy, effective July 1.  “We strive to provide a great experience for the entire family, and unfortunately selfie sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast,” a Disney spokeswoman said.  According to the company, because the devices, which are essentially retractable sticks people use to snap photos of themselves, continue to be used on attractions despite signs that say "no selfie sticks” and despite verbal warnings, many popular attractions have experienced down times, which disrupt the guest experience.   “We are encouraging guests to not bring selfie sticks to Disney theme parks. If a selfie stick is observed in the theme park, guests will have the option of checking their device for pickup near the main entrance prior to departure or returning to the park after they’ve stored it in an alternate location outside the theme park,” the spokeswoman explained.  Parks employees have been and will continue to be on hand to help take photos of Disney guests, the company stated.
Selfie sticks have never been permitted on Disney attractions. Earlier this year, signage had been added as a reminder of the policy.
For more information on this and to make a reservation for a Disney Park or Cruise, contact TheCruiseoOutlet.com for exclusive offers and promotions at 203-288-1884 or email at info@thecruiseoutlet.com

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cruises Cancel South Korea Calls Due to MERS Outbreak

The MERS outbreak in South Korea now is impacting the cruise industry, with several ships canceling calls to Busan, Jeju Island and Incheon, the port for Seoul. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has canceled calls to South Korea for Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and SkySea Golden Era, the former Celebrity Century. These port calls were replaced with an alternate port or a sea day. “We’ve been closely monitoring all developments regarding the increase in the number of cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome, also referred to as MERS in South Korea,” RCCL said. “Health authorities from a variety of nations are investigating the situation and we remain keenly attuned to their progress.” Carnival Corp. said it is also is updating its pre-boarding health questionnaire but that itineraries “have largely remained intact.” Its Sapphire Princess, under charter to Chinese travel giant Ctrip, replaced originally scheduled calls at Busan and Jeju with a visit to Okinawa, Japan, according to a recent story in WantChinaTimes.
Royal Caribbean also has strengthened its passenger and crew screening procedures on ships sailing in the region. The line said anyone onboard who shows symptoms can be isolated and treated with anti-viral medications that are stocked on all ships. A viral respiratory illness, symptoms of MERS include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC on June 5 issued a low-level alert for South Korea, which means travelers there are urged to “practice usual precautions.” Royal Caribbean passengers are receiving letters regarding MERS, including a description of symptoms, and ways to prevent the spread of the disease. Hand sanitizers are available throughout the ships, and the line asked guests to wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water often. It also recommended covering mouths and noses with tissue when coughing or sneezing and to dispose of used tissues in wastebaskets. If tissues are not available, it is recommended to cough or sneeze into upper sleeves, not one’s hands. “Like our guests, we take all health matters seriously and we’ll continue to closely follow all developments regarding MERS,” RCCL said.
For more information on this and cruises, contact TheCruiseOutlet.com at 203-288-1884 or email at info@thecruiseoutlet.com

Say Farewell to Cruises-to-Nowhere

Say Farewell to Cruises-to-Nowhere

Say good-bye to cruises-to-nowhere from U.S. homeports. Starting in 2016, foreign-flagged cruise ships can no longer operate voyages that do not stop at a foreign port. What isn’t immediately clear, however, is why. The Cruise Lines International Association issued this statement: “While itinerary decisions are made by individual cruise lines, beginning in 2016, in compliance with U.S laws and regulations, foreign-flagged cruise lines operating out of U.S. ports are not to offer cruises for sale that do not include a call in a foreign port. Ships are cleared into and out of the United States by officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”  When asked the reason for the change, CLIA’s spokeswoman said the statement is all she could provide at this time. “Due to recent changes in how ships are cleared into and out of the United States by U.S. officials, certain short duration cruises without a foreign port of call are subject to itinerary changes beginning in 2016. Unfortunately, this means that no cruise line will not be permitted to operate cruises-to-nowhere. The short cruises that don't visit any ports often are sold as getaways and are booked by people who like the sea. It was unclear how the cruise-to-nowhere itineraries would be adjusted. 
For more information on this and to make a reservation for a cruise, contact TheCruiseOutlet.com at 203-288-1884 or email at info@thecruiseoutlet.com

AmaWaterways Details Family Staterooms on New Ships

AmaWaterways Details Family Staterooms on New Ships

AmaWaterways’ two new European river ships set to debut next year will offer a variety of family-friendly staterooms and suites. The 158-passenger sister ships AmaViola and AmaStella will have 12 staterooms that can accommodate up to three family members each, six sets of adjoining cabins that can be connected via an internal doorway, and four suites with convertible sofa-beds that can accommodate up to four.  Also, the fitness room and salon will be moved to the lower deck, opening up space on higher decks for balcony cabins and suites.  “These new ships have been developed in a way that will bring added comfort to groups and families seeking the beauty, history and culture of a European river vacation,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “They were designed in part with feedback from our new partners at Adventures by Disney, and we are confident that the final result will broaden the appeal of our product to new types of travelers.”  Adventures by Disney is offering seven family river cruises on the AmaViola in 2016.
Both vessels will feature marble-appointed bathrooms, multi-jet showerheads, plush linens, sun decks and heated pools with swim-up bars. Fares include complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, and complimentary bottled water provided daily in staterooms. The new ships will start cruising on the Danube and Rhine rivers in the spring. AmaStella’s maiden voyage will depart April 6, followed by AmaViola’s inaugural cruise on April 20.
For more information on this and to make a reservation, contact TheCruiseOutlet.com at 203-288-1884 or email at info@thecruiseoutlet.com for exclusive programs, rates and amenities.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Carnival Bans Bringing Bottled Water Onboard

Carnival Cruise Lines is changing its beverage policy. Guests will no longer be able to bring any bottled water onboard. The line is also lowering the charge for purchasing bottled water on its ships.
Essentially, guests will no longer be able to bring any water, sodas, juices and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard in bottles. Carnival cites instances of alcoholic beverages being smuggled in those bottles – causing safety and security concerns. In turn, the line has reduced its price for bottled water to 12 bottles for $2.99, providing the water is reserved in advance. The price is comparable to what guests would pay in the grocery store. To receive that price, the guest must reserve the bottled water online in advance; it will then be delivered to the room. If guests wait to buy it onboard, the price is $4.99 per 12 bottles. The line says it will basically break even with the new fee structure, if that.  Carnival stresses that people can still bring up to 12 cans or cartons (per person) containing juice, sodas and other nonalcoholic beverages. But bottles are not permitted. The carry-on wine policy and onboard corkage fee remains the same. Carnival says some safety issues onboard have been investigated and found to be caused by guests' use of smuggled alcohol. Guests are also bringing what Carnival considers as "excessive amounts" of bottled water - thus slowing down embarkation as inspections must occur.  Not suprisingly, much of the abuse cited by the line is occurring with boarding in the U.S. for Caribbean itineraries. That said, all North American ports have a high complement of "drive market" guests -- who bring coolers and cart cases of water and other beverages, as they're not restricted by airline regulations or baggage fees. 

The official Carnival Letter”
“While your bags may not be packed just yet, we wanted to let you know about some changes to our Liquor & Beverage policy which is being modified effective with sailings departing July 9, 2015.
Bottled water carried in "excessive amounts" is slowing down the security screening at ports.“Often times, we find guests transporting alcohol onboard through unauthorized means resulting in unmonitored consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately, this has led to behavioral and safety related concerns. “We have also found that bottled beverages are frequently used to transport alcohol and the screening measures needed to validate the contents delay the embarkation process for all guests. “For these reasons, we find it necessary to modify our Liquor and Beverage policy, including restricting guests from bringing bottled beverages aboard our ships. To avoid any potential disappointment at the start of your cruise, please familiarize yourselves with our new Liquor and Beverage Policy below, which will be strictly enforced. • Guests are prohibited from bringing water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard that are packaged in bottles. 
• A small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages (i.e., sparkling water, sodas, juice, and milk) packaged in cans or cartons may be brought onboard on embarkation day only in guests’ carry-on luggage. A small quantity is considered a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12 ounces each or less per person.  
• Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages on board with the following exception: 
At the beginning of the cruise during embarkation day only, guests (21 years of age and older) may bring one 750 ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne per person in their carry-on luggage.
A $15 corkage fee (a charge exacted at a restaurant for every bottle of wine served that was not bought on the premises), per 750 ml bottle, will be charged should guests wish to consume their wine or champagne in the main dining room, steakhouse or bar.  
• All liquor, beer, other forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages outside of the exceptions referenced above are strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage and such items will be confiscated and discarded and no compensation will be provided.
• All alcohol purchased in ports of call or in the Fun Shops will be returned on the morning of debarkation.
• Guests are prohibited from bringing large coolers onboard since screening and movement of large coolers through embarkation is an impediment to the boarding and security process. However small, personal-sized coolers, no larger than 12”H x 12”L x 12”W for the purpose of housing small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages and/or medications are permitted as carry-on luggage.
We know some of our guests are accustomed to bringing on their own supply of bottled water so as part of this new policy we have significantly reduced the pricing for spring bottled water which will be conveniently delivered directly to your stateroom. Pricing is as follows:
• $2.99 (plus tax) for a 12-pack of 500 ML of bottled water for pre-cruise purchase. Please visit www.carnival.com/funshops to place your order before your cruise to ensure we have an ample supply onboard.
• $4.99 (plus gratuities) for a 12-pack of 500 ML of bottled water for purchase onboard.
We sincerely apologize for any disappointment these changes may cause however, we firmly believe this will result in a safer environment while also improving the embarkation process and the overall guest experience. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. We look forward to welcoming you aboard.”