Friday, September 25, 2015

Miracle Baby' Delivered Aboard Royal Caribbean International Cruise

Sept 24, 2015
A Utah family is praising Royal Caribbean International following a miraculous birth aboard the Independence of the Seas earlier this month. reported Chase and Emily Morgan were in the midst of a seven-day Caribbean cruise with their 3-year-old daughter Chloe when Emily unexpectedly went into labor. With the ship still 14 hours out from port, medical staff encouraged Emily to do what she could to hold off delivery. However the baby arrived just moments later. 
The staff originally told the Morgans that Emily had miscarried, but then came a shocking development. "About 45 minutes after I had delivered, the two doctors came back in and said the baby was still alive, however, they didn't expect him to live very long," Emily told
After learning of the situation, the ship's captain ensured an early arrival to port in San Juan, Puerto Rico. "He said we are going as fast as we can and we'll port two hours early in San Juan and we'll get you guys to the hospital, but he said that's as fast as I can get you there," Emily said.
Doctors credited the early arrival for likely saving the life of the baby, a boy who the Morgans named Haiden. In a comment made to's Jim Walker, an unidentified passenger provided their account of situation: "Just got off the Independence of the Seas. We had a medical emergency on Sept. 1 and headed full speed to San Juan because a woman gave birth to a little boy on Tuesday morning at 3 a.m." From San Juan the Morgans were transported to a Miami hospital via medical jet. There, one-pound, eight-ounce Haiden, deemed a "micro-preemie" by doctors, saw his prognosis continue to improve. "Royal Caribbean has really been great in keeping in touch after we got into Puerto Rico, making sure that everything was running smoothly," Chase told "They even sent translators with us when we first got into Puerto Rico." The Morgans plan to head home to Utah next month, but Haiden will remain at the hospital until December. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Norwegian Cruise Line has developed its own signature top deck attraction

Norwegian Cruise Line has developed its own signature top deck attraction. Just as Carnival Cruise Line has made the water slide its own, and Royal Caribbean International adopted the rock climbing wall as its emblem for top deck adventure, Norwegian has become the cruise line with the ropes course that leaves all others behind.
Norwegian started its love affair with the ropes course on the Norwegian Epic, and has continued it with the Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway. The 4,200-passenger Norwegian Escape, due in Miami next month, will take everything one shaky, scary, thrill-inducing step further.  The ropes course on the Escape is a dizzying construction of beams, platforms, tracks, ladders and lines. It will have three levels, up from two on the Getaway and Breakaway, and 99 individual elements, nearly double its predecessors.  An element unique to Norwegian is the Plank, a 6-inch steel beam extending eight feet out over the side of the ship, daring harnessed plank-walkers to venture out to the end. There will be two planks on the Escape, one on either side of the ropes course, up from a single one on earlier ships.  Another over the edge element will be a bowed zip-track, one of five “Sky Rails” that are included in the course.  The challenge of the ropes course is tailor-made for teens but also a good family activity. It provides an exhilarating view from the very top of the 20-deck ship. The only drawback to the ropes course is its vulnerability to bad weather, including high winds on a sunny day.
For more information on making reservations on a Norwegian Cruise Line and for  exclusive rates and amenities,, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Drivers License from Certain States not valid for use to Fly in 2016

If you have a Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire or New York driver’s license you’ll need a second form of ID to get past TSA as soon as the start of next year. Back at the end of December 2013, the Department of Homeland Security announced the arrival of the Real ID Act, which set federal security standards for government-issued IDs. About 70-80% of existing U.S. driver’s licenses already met those standards. But driver’s licenses from the four aforementioned states did not, and so were deemed “non-compliant.”

The act has been enforced in phases over the past couple years, and the government has now reached the final phase, which is the aircraft phase. Fliers who could previously breeze through security with their licenses from those non-compliant states will need to provide a second form of identification, such as a passport, once the Real ID Act is fully implemented and enforced. This will happen “no sooner than in 2016.”  New York media has been reporting that the NY state driver’s license will be rendered invalid as a form of ID for flying in 2016. But a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson informed us there were “no announcements” yet about when this final phase would be fully rolled out.

Official DOH literature says:   “DHS will ensure the public has ample advance notice before identification requirements for boarding aircraft change. That notice will include information on the process for individuals with a non-compliant driver’s license or identification card to be able to travel by aircraft.”

For now, it’s unclear exactly when this will happen or how people will be alerted. But if you’re from one of the non-compliant states and have any flights set for 2016, you might want to plan to bring a passport.
For more information and to make a cruise  reservations  contact at 203-288-1884 or email: for  exclusive rates and amenities 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Freedom of the Seas adds self-pour draft beer

Royal Caribbean International is piloting a self-service draft beer tap on the Freedom of the Seas, the first such service the line has offered.  The taps are located around the pool deck and the Windjammer buffet restaurant and serve the Stella Artois brand, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said.  The taps can only be used by guests who buy the Ultimate, Premium or Select drink packages. After buying the package, guests get an authorization card that connects to a radio frequency identification (RFID) device in the tap. That assures that the guest has purchased a drinks package. The tap/card combination has a timer to ensure the tap does not pour continuously, and to provide a time limit between refills, Royal Caribbean said.
For more information on making reservations on a Royal Caribbean Ship and for  exclusive rates and amendities,, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Carnival Cruise ship fire leaves guests stranded on Caribbean island- Update #3

(Wednesday, Sept 9, 2015

Carnival's latest update on the aftermath of the Liberty engine room fire provides info on compensation and plans for the rest of the week:
The Carnival Liberty continues to remain in St. Thomas following an engine fire that occurred yesterday while the ship was docked there during a scheduled port of call visit. The ship’s command is presently awaiting permission from authorities to sail. 
Once the vessel departs, it is scheduled to return to its homeport of San Juan. Guests will have the option of remaining on board through the rest of the week and exploring San Juan or disembarking and traveling home. If clearance to depart St. Thomas is not received by later this evening, the company will move forward with arrangements to fly all guests home from St. Thomas.  All guests are being provided with a full refund of their cruise as well as a 50 percent discount on a future cruise.  This is in addition to a $150 per person credit that has already been applied to guests’ shipboard accounts."
For more information on this and booking a Cruise with exclusive rates, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Biggest Travel Mistakes made even by professionals

1. Overpacking 
At home, with your complete wardrobe available, there's no reason not to run through work, workout and working-the-clubs outfits in a single day. But when your life is crammed into a couple bags, your fashion morality changes. Those socks you wore on the plane should be good for another go. 
The purple tee you slept in ought to be alright for a third wear. Yesterday's undies? Well ...
According to a recent survey by Travelodge, two-thirds of travelers typically return from a trip with at least six unworn outfits. The lesson: You don't need a new set of anything for each day of a trip. Figure on at least two wears for (almost) everything. 

2. Not buying something you like as soon as you see it
You think you're gonna circle back to that shop. You think you'll see a cheaper, better version somewhere else. You won't. That evocative street painting or those Metallica nesting dolls you didn't buy? Now not having them will haunt you for the rest of your life. When you see something you like, just buy it and live without regret.

3. Not checking your phone plan before traveling abroad
What you call "international roaming" your phone carrier calls "shareholder dividend!"  A week of texts from Singapore or St. Lucia shouldn't cost more and hurt worse than open heart surgery. But it happens all the time to travelers who fail to check their phone plans before departure.
4. Trusting "near city center" descriptions
  "Near city center" is like a Bible verse -- open to vast interpretation.  When you find the money you saved on your "near city center" hotel is being spent on 30-minute commutes and outrageous taxi fares, you know you've committed one of the cardinal sins of travel. Related note: Except by purely technical definition, if you're staying near the convention center in Portland, Oregon, you're decidedly not staying "downtown" (as is popularly advertised) by any local sensibility.

5. Taking the "super" shuttle
Wait on the curb for a ride in a sweat-soaked van and risk being the last one dropped off on a nine-hotel run, all in the name of saving a few bucks?  Your time is worth more than that.
Adam Carolla brilliantly sums up this classic travel blunder in his book, "In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks."  "The shuttle is the worst US$20 you'll ever save. It adds 90 minutes to whatever a Town Car or cab would have been. You have the unenviable choice between being dropped off last or being dropped off first and having a bunch of losers who can't afford cab fare and have no friends or loved ones with cars knowing exactly where you live."

6. Not tightening shampoo caps ... all the way
 Those cute, little trial-size shampoo and conditioner bottles are really handy -- until they magically burst open in-flight, spreading a layer of glycerol soap snot all over your bag. 

7. Thinking you know the perfect time to book a ticket
There's an art to reading the tea leaves of the airlines' protean pricing schemes, but there's some muddled science to it, as well. According to Travelers Today, research conducted by Kayak found the optimal timing for a cheap-ticket purchase is 21 and 34 days before domestic and international flights, respectively. But 2012 analysis by concluded that on average the cheapest fares are found 49 days before a flight.  Meanwhile, researchers at Texas A&M University simply found that Saturdays and Sundays are best for finding discount fares.  The golden rule? 
There's no golden rule. Tickets are cheapest when they're cheapest.
Editor's note: The original version of this story reported that claimed the optimal ticket-buying time is 79 or 81 days prior to a flight. The error has been corrected.

8. Trying too hard to chisel out a bargain
Congrats, you just saved 50 cents. Now go get your blood pressure checked.
There's no faster way to become embittered with the locals than going toe-to-toe with a market full of hungry sales people and shopkeepers.  Yes, we understand there's principle involved, but do you really need to whittle the equivalent of fifty cents off the price of an embroidered handbag that's going to sit in the back of a closet anyway?  Just buy the damn thing and spare your heart the cortisol burst for when it actually needs it. 

9. Not changing money at the airport
When traveling internationally, the conventional wisdom is that only amateurs change money at the airport, because the exchange rate for foreign currency will be better in town.  It usually is, but often not by that much. A recent check of the dollar-to-pound exchange rate in London Heathrow was US$1.71 to £1 (with no commission for changes more than US$300).  Near Oxford Circus the exchange rate was advertised at US$1.62 to £1, also with no commission.  Using these rates, converting US$300 at the airport would get you £175.43 as opposed to £185.18 on the street. 
So, you can hit the city like a cashless bumpkin and spend an hour hunting up an acceptable place to change money or, for less than £10, arrive with some local coin in your pocket.  Convenience factor alone makes it worth changing at least a nominal amount of cash at the "ripoff" place at the airport.

10. Underestimating the hell that is Heathrow
On the plus side, you're also getting in your day at the gym.  Speaking of London, it's easy to underestimate the several hundred miles of concourse you'll likely be obliged to traverse and the time-consuming security searches that create jumbled queues and make travelers look more like internment camp refugees than cosmopolitan jet setters. Arriving anything less than two hours before an international flight is risky, but even a longer cushion can get dicey. Imagine walking across a football stadium and you start to get an idea of the Andean trek from the Heathrow Express station to the swarm of travelers clamoring to get on lifts that will take them merely to their start of the Oz-like journey through Terminal 1.

11. Buying cheap flip-flops
You think, "I'm only gonna wear 'em for a week, I might not even take 'em home, why buy the good ones?"  The answer comes when you blow out a toe strap and shred the bottom of your foot a mile into a hike across the local lava beds. And now you have to go back. 

12. Fearing street food
No one wants to get sick on vacation, but why travel all the way to Thailand or Mexico and not eat the local grub?  The locals don't like food poisoning any more than you do. If they're in line, consider the place vetted and assume you're going to be fine. (Cue angry commenters with the "I almost died from a tainted falafel" and "the locals are immune to bacteria" histrionics below.)

13. Buying a drum on the first day of a three-month trek across Asia

We know, this is the antithesis of travel mistake number two, but there are some balls and chains you really don't want to lug around the subcontinent. Not because you'll make instant enemies with everyone in your hostel when they spy you struggling top-heavily into the dorm, but because a) you'll never play the thing, and b) you'll get back home, walk into the new Authentic Beats music shop that replaced your favorite bookstore while you were away and find 10 superior examples of your exact instrument.

14. Over-reliance on guidebooks
Traveler reading guidebook.Making a travel plan using only your guidebook is like making a plan to stand in line at the bank for a week. Guidebooks are great -- we use them all the time -- but it's best to pull just one or two suggestions per day from a guide that thousands of like-minded travelers have read or downloaded. 

15. Not buying the full insurance policy
We're not a bunch of free spenders -- except when the boss whips out the company credit card at the pub -- but a lot of the mistakes on this list come down to adding a significant amount of stress to your life in the name of saving a few bucks.  If you actually end up needing the travel insurance you purchased (a move a significant percentage of our staff thinks is silly in the first place), you're going to want the full coverage.  Just because you're in a country where the beer is cheap, it doesn't mean the healthcare is.  That bargain insurance policy might pay for your flight home when you crash your motor scooter on a winding road in some island paradise. But it won't cover the US$5,000 in stitches and sponge baths you racked up during your three-day international hospital stay.

16. Obsessive photography 
Pity the friends back home who have to scroll through the lot of them. The obsession/obligation to document every street scene, statue and starter course kills the spontaneity and visceral experience that should be the backbone of travel.  It's now so easy to take photos that one click leads to another. 
Before you know it, you have 300 pictures on your phone comprising old buildings, blurry sunsets and plates of food.  Congratulations. Your trip is now defined by low-quality images on a handset that, trust us, nobody back home wants to spend 20 minutes scrolling through.

17. Not checking visa requirements before departure
It's a nightmare come true when you get turned away at the ticket counter on departure day because you didn't realize Brazil requires citizens of your benighted country to secure a visa before travel.

18. Attempting Berlin in a weekend
At 344 square miles, Berlin is a metropolitan Goliath, larger than New York City (301 square miles), and, as the first-time visitor quickly learns, with just as many places to see, eat, drink, shop and get lost. 

19. Using a credit card to get cash
This is the fastest way of paying through the nose for the privilege of paying through the nose. Credit card companies charge a high transaction fee (up to 15 percetn) for using a card to get cash.  These special transactions also attract a higher associated fees than other purchases: the ATM-owning bank will charge a fee; if you're withdrawing a foreign currency the exchange rate will be miserly; and if you're not paying off your balance each month, credit card companies in some countries will apply your partial payments to normal purchases (with a lower interest rate, say 9 percent) before applying them to those cash advances (which have a much higher interest rate), milking your desperation for every pitiless penny.

20. Not printing out reservation details
They're already on your phone and computer, so why bother with hard copies of your hotel name and address? Because your phone, computer, tablet and other electronics might not work with the local network as soon as you land, especially after crossing oceans.

For more information on any Cruise and to make reservations with exclusive rates and amenities, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Celebrity Cruises cancels overnights in Istanbul

Celebrity Cruises said that overnight port stays in Istanbul have been canceled as a result of the security climate in Turkey.  “We will continue to closely monitor the situation in Turkey and have been contacting guests and their travel agents [to make] modifications to their upcoming itineraries,” a Celebrity statement said. Cruises on the Celebrity Equinox, Reflection and Constellation in September and October are so far affected.Celebrity Cruises cancels overnights in Istanbul
For more information on all Celebrity Cruises & Tours and to make reservations with exclusive rates and amenities, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Carnival Cruise ship fire leaves guests stranded on Caribbean island

(Tuesday, Sept 8, 2015- Updated Information

About 4,500 passengers and crew were stranded in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a second day after an engine fire on board a cruise ship operated by Carnival Corp. The company said on Tuesday that a team of experts, including representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard, had boarded the Carnival Liberty to assess damage to the engine area. There were no injuries to guests or crew.

Passengers and crew were told to evacuate onshore on Monday after thick black smoke was seen rising from the ship while it was docked in St. Thomas, a Reuters reporter on board the vessel said. Staff distributed water and snacks in the port. The fire was extinguished by the ship's automated suppression system, Carnival said. The cause has yet to be determined and the company has yet to inform passengers of its plans beyond Tuesday. The Carnival Liberty set sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday with 3,346 guests and 1,150 crew on board, Carnival said. It was a day into a week-long Caribbean cruise when the fire broke out.

Passengers were transferred to nearby hotels, where movies were screened and a buffet was served before returning to spend the night on the ship. On Tuesday, every passenger was offered $150 credit to spend on board and free transportation into town. The U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement that marine safety investigators were on the scene in St. Thomas to assess damage and to determine the cause of the fire.

Engine room fires have disrupted other cruises in recent years. In 2013, the Carnival Triumph was rendered out of service, leaving about 4,000 people adrift in the Gulf of Mexico without power or adequate sanitation. Later that year, a fire aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ship forced it to dock at Freeport in the Bahamas.  In 2010, an engine fire crippled the Carnival Splendor's propulsion system and knocked out most of its power off the Pacific coast of Mexico. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Writing by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Robin Paxton)

Update On Carnival Liberty Engine Fire In St. Thomas

While docked in St. Thomas (Monday, Sept 7, 2015) yesterday Carnival Liberty experienced an engine fire that was extinguished by the ship’s automated suppression system.  There were no injuries to guests or crew. Guests re-boarded the ship yesterday evening. All hotel services including air conditioning, elevators, toilets, galleys, etc. are fully functional and the ship's normal array of activities, entertainment, dining options and programming are being offered.

A team of experts has been conducting a deeper technical assessment of the affected engine area and working with various authorities including U.S. Coast Guard and the vessel’s flag state. While this process is ongoing, the ship remains alongside in St. Thomas.  Guests are able to spend the day ashore if they wish and the company is providing complimentary shuttle service to popular areas on the island along with a $150 per person shipboard credit.
Carnival Liberty departed San Juan for a seven-day Caribbean cruise with 3,346 guests and 1,150 crew on board."

For more information on this and booking a Cruise with exclusive rates, contact at 203-288-1884 or email:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Low water levels plague Europe river cruises

A hot and dry summer in Europe has led to lower-than-normal water levels on portions of the Danube and Elbe rivers throughout the summer, and has forced river cruise lines to alter their itineraries during July, August and now into September.  “Water levels on the Elbe and Danube rivers are currently lower than normal and Viking has had to make adjustments to the cruise schedules of several ships sailing these rivers,” Viking River Cruises wrote on its website this week.
Five Viking cruises have been altered this week, four of which include a ship swap. Passengers will be transferred in order to avoid a low-water area of the Elbe River that ships cannot bypass.
Additionally, Viking’s Sept. 2 “Grand European Tour” from Budapest to Amsterdam, scheduled to depart on the Viking Aegir, will begin in Komarom, Hungary, on the Viking Embla. Viking will provide transfers from Budapest to Komarom. “These are currently the only sailings we expect to be altered by the low water on the rivers,” Viking stated. But low water levels have been a problem all summer. The low levels on the Elbe came during a year when Viking launched two new vessels on the river in eastern Germany. Other river cruise lines have avoided the Elbe in part because of the challenges presented when the water level is low. The Danube River is one that all the major river cruise lines sail. The area on the Danube where the low waters have posed a problem is the 75-mile stretch between Regensburg and Passau in Germany. 
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection had to alter eight Danube River sailings in July and August, which included having guests swap ships from one side of the low waters to the other. The company canceled its Aug. 9 “European Jewels” cruise on the Maria Theresa, deciding that there wouldn’t be enough actual cruising in the trip to justify the departure. “We sincerely appreciate the understanding and support our guests and travel industry partners have shown during this challenging time,” Uniworld wrote on its website.
Avalon Waterways wrote on its Facebook page last week that the river levels on the Danube had again begun to recede. “Danube River waters receded over the weekend and early this week. Once again, the waters between Regensburg and Passau are beginning to delay and/or stall ship passage. We are fervently working to keep cruise itinerary disruptions to a minimum. If or when cruise itineraries are altered, however, we will provide affected travelers with alternate opportunities to see and explore the best Europe has to offer,” Avalon wrote on Facebook.
The post elicited a string of comments from passengers, some concerned about current and upcoming sailings, others with positive messages of support and kudos for how Avalon handled past sailings that were disrupted due to low water levels.
The forecast is calling for rain in the coming days, according to Rudi Schreiner, president of AmaWaterways, which has not had to alter any of its Danube itineraries yet this summer. Schreiner is hoping that some much-needed precipitation along the Danube will help bring the river’s water levels back up.
For more information on River Cruises and exclusive rates, contact at 203-288-1884 or email: