Affordable Cruise Deals – October 11, 2014

Fall is the ideal time to take a discounted cruise! Why? Kids are in school and it’s the time of year sandwiched between end-of-summer travel and holiday travel. In order to keep all of the fabulous ships sailing at capacity, the cruise lines will typically have some cabins deeply discounted if you are able to plan and travel without a lot of notice. Even some of the ships that don’t normally offer much in the way of a discount have significant savings offered in the fall. If you are looking to cruise NOW, take a moment to look over the deals below…and hopefully you’ll be on the high seas in no time at all!

Carnival Freedom

CARNIVAL LIBERTY
This five-night cruise departs from Port Canaveral, Florida on November 2, 2014 and visits three ports of call in the Bahamas: Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay. This 110,000-ton ship offers plenty of entertainment as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center and spa, three pools, a waterslide, art auctions and an Internet cafe. Night life is full of Vegas-style shows, comedy shows, a casino and a piano bar. Kids have a large playroom, wading pool and a teen hangout (Club O2 – ages 15-17) while adults can look forward to my favorite place on the ship – the Serenity adult-only area complete with hammocks, a private bar and a whirlpool. Dining options are plentiful with full-service formal dining and counter service, including Guy’s Burger Joint and the Blue Iguana Cantina. Find more information at http://www.carnival.com.

Pricing for inside cabins start at only $169pp. Represents over 80% off regular rates.
Oceanview cabins start at $189pp. Represents over 80% off regular rates.
Balcony cabins start at $349pp. Represents over 70% off regular rates.
Suites start at $859pp. Represents over 50% off regular rates.

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RUBY PRINCESS
This five-night cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida departs on November 3, 2014 and visits Princess Cays, Bahamas and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The Ruby Princess offers the exceptional amenities and innovations Princess Cruises is known for including a dramatic piazza-style atrium, street performers on Deck 5, award-winning specialty restaurants and more! Enjoy the full-service spa menu at Lotus Spa or watch a movie under the stars poolside on the outdoor screen. The youth center offers plenty for children from play areas and a splash pool to the Teen Lounge. Adults enjoy the Sanctuary with a relaxing oasis, a pool, whirlpool and spacious sundeck. For more information, visit http://www.princess.com.

Pricing for inside cabins start at only $289pp. Represents over 50% off regular rates.
Oceanview cabins start at a rare $169pp. Represents over 70% off regular rates.
Balcony cabins start at $229pp. Represents over 70% off regular rates.
Suites start at $399pp. Represents over 60% off regular rates.

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NORWEGIAN SKY
This four-night cruise from Miami, Florida departs on November 10, 2014 and visits three ports in the Bahamas: Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay. Norwegian Sky offers an impressive glass-domed atrium soaring 12 decks high! The Atrium Bar offers everything from champagne and vodka to caviar. The Sky also has a cigar club, casual Sports Bar and a casino. The Coffee Bar offers guests an Internet Café and a skycam! Hungry? Dining options include Le Bistro (tableside cooking, Mediterranean cuisine and specialty desserts), as well as many other restaurants. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the two golf driving nets, basketball and volleyball courts. The ship has two pools, five hot tubs and a kid’s pool with a waterfall. For more information, please visit http://www.ncl.com.

Pricing for inside cabins start at only $209pp ($199pp Alabama Resident Rate). Represents over 80% off regular rates.
Oceanview cabins start at $269pp ($259pp Alabama Resident Rate). Represents over 75% off regular rates.
Balcony cabins start at $369pp ($349pp Alabama Resident Rate). Represents over 75% off regular rates.
Suites start at $799pp ($749pp Alabama Resident Rate). Represents almost 70% off regular rates.

Keep in mind that cruises, much like airlines, have the right to change pricing without any notice. What that means is that if you see the deal today, that doesn’t mean it will be that price tomorrow. Also, these prices are NOT including taxes and port fees which typically run anywhere from $75-$150 depending on how many ports of call you will visit. You will need to add this cost to the price of the cruise. And, pricing is based on double occupancy. Even so, these are AMAZING prices! Happy sailing friends!

Halloween Travel Trends

Many of my readers, listeners, etc. often ask what trips they could take that revolve around the month of October celebrating fall and the spookiness of Halloween. I aim to please, so here is a short list of some super cool things that I hope you and your family will enjoy!

Dahlonega, Georgia – Hair Raising Ghost Tours
Ah, Dahlonega! This southern city has a haunted history thanks to its gold-mining, Civil War and Trail of Tears past, in addition to its geology.

The Dahlonega Ghost Walk – Historic Hauntings Tour is a 14-location guided tour leading guests on an eerie journey full of local tales and legends. Jeremy Sharp, tour guide and founder, meanders the streets, back alleys, historic buildings, and the local cemetery, showing tourists the full paranormal side of Dahlonega. The tour is offered on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. August through November. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and are available at The Attic Upstairs, 19 East Main Street. For more information, call 706-482-8795 or email dahlonegawalkingtours@gmail.com.

Haunted Dahlonega: Spirits, Legends & Lore is conducted by The Friends of the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site, a not-for-profit organization offering interactive tours for adults and children alike. Learn why Dahlonega is a hotbed of activity, including Cherokee folktales, local mysteries and benevolent hauntings. All proceeds benefit the Dahlonega Gold Museum. Tours are Saturdays at 7 p.m. on October 4, 11 and 25 as well as November 1. Tickets are available at the Dahlonega Gold Museum. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/FODGM or call 706-864-2257.

Orlando, Florida – Theme Parks offer Tons of Halloween-Type Events
LEGOLAND offers the third annual Brick-or-Treat this Halloween. Kid-friendly, haunted adventures includes trick-or-treating along the brick-or-treat trail, super brick building activities, the largest LEGA Jack-O-Lantern in the world, entertainment and an all-kids costume contest (with prizes). This event promises lots of family fun and photo opportunities!

A spectacle of characters parades down Main Street, U.S.A in Mickey’s Boo-to You Halloween Parade during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. The parade includes Disney characters in Halloween regalia and the ghostly inhabitants of The Haunted Mansion. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a special ticket event and takes place on select nights each fall at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Charlie Champagne, photographer

A spectacle of characters parades down Main Street, U.S.A in Mickey’s Boo-to You Halloween Parade during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. The parade includes Disney characters in Halloween regalia and the ghostly inhabitants of The Haunted Mansion. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a special ticket event and takes place on select nights each fall at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Charlie Champagne, photographer

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World is a family fun-filled event that will make lifetime memories. After the park closes, guests will be invited to dress up in costume and collect candy throughout Magic Kingdom, which will be transformed into the happy haunted hallows. Enjoy the Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball dance party in Tomorrowland featuring Monsters, Inc. characters. You can bet there will be Disney characters dressed in their favorite costumes, a Villians Dance Mix and Mingle, Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade and much more!

SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is a safe, exciting place to trick-or-treat. Fun-loving sea witches and many other sea creatures will greet and play with guests as they meander through SeaWorld Orlando. At Penelope’s Party Zone, guests can enjoy crafts, music, games and colorful characters. Also, new to SeaWorld, families can enjoy a new, immersive brunch experience – Dine with Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch.

Halloween Horror Nights 24 at Universal Orlando Resort redefines Halloween entertainment with movie-quality haunted houses and “scare zones” that touch on your deepest fears. On select nights, guests will explore eight blood curdling haunted houses as well as encountering “scareactors” on the streets of Universal. Enjoy outrageous shows as well as fantastic rides and attractions. Check out the largest maze in the history of Halloween Horror Nights inspired by “The Walking Dead.”

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Disney Cruise Line – Halloween on the High Seas
Discover treats, tricks, magical mischief and spooky surroundings on your Halloween on the High Seas cruise! This new experience is available on most itineraries departing late September through Halloween.

If thrills and chills are your cup of tea, then this venue is perfect for your family. Every turn is filled with Halloween-themed parties, lively entertainment and elaborate décor—including an evolving Halloween Tree that eerily transforms throughout your cruise.

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Sail Dates
Disney Magic September 27, 2014 – October 26, 2014
Disney Wonder September 26, 2014 – October 31, 2014
Disney Dream September 07, 2014 – October 31, 2014
Disney Fantasy September 06, 2014 – October 25, 2014

Other special experiences include:
• Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party, an atrium party scare-a-bration (in addition to Pirate Night) with ghoulish games, trick-or-treating*, dancing and some favorite Disney Pals in their Halloween attire
• Halloween-themed activities for all ages, including mask-making and pumpkin-carving**
• Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream, an interactive movie experience where you’re part of the action, followed by a meet-and-greet with Jack and Sally
• Haunted Stories of the Sea – a campfire-style storytelling experience on the deck
• Halloween Isn’t Just for Kids – an adults-only party that includes a costume contest

With so much to see and do, you won’t want to miss this Halloween celebration at sea, now offered fleetwide. Pack your costumes and get ready for happy haunting on Disney Cruise Line.

To book your Halloween cruise with Disney Cruise Line, book online (web site below and click on reservations) or contact your Travel Agent.

IF YOU GO…
Dahlonega, Georgia
http://www.dahlonega.org

Orlando, Florida
http://www.VisitOrlando.com

Disney Cruise Line
http://www.disneycruise.disney.go.com

The Travel Voice by Becky on APH Radio!

Shelby County, Alabama has a new kid on the block…as far as local radio stations! This one, however, is a bit different. APH Radio is community-centered. Underwriting announcements replace advertisements and those dollars (net profits) are donated to local charities and civic groups.

This station brings you local Friday night high school football, Top 40 hits in all genres of music and fun talk shows! Can’t tune in locally? No problem! Go to the app store on your smartphone and search APH. You should see APH Radio come up, download it and you are able to listen live or on demand when you miss something!

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The Travel Voice by Becky is proud to be part of this local endeavor and my sponsors reach a HUGE audience in central Alabama! Thanks for your support!

The Travel Voice by Becky is also proudly associated with iHeart Radio! Search for it under SHOWS and make it a favorite so you won’t miss an episode! Thanks, fans, for allowing me to serve you in this capacity!

How to obtain a U. S. Passport

Do you have a trip overseas coming up? Not sure where, when, how to start when getting a passport? This article is for you. Short and to the point, here’s what you need to know.

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First off, do you need a passport? If you are traveling internationally by air regardless of age, each person must have their own passport. If you have NEVER had a passport, you’ll need to apply in person. If you are renewing, you may qualify to renew your passport by mail. The web site below will be able to help answer that question for you.

If you are traveling by sea (cruise ship), the rules are a little different. There is something called a “Closed-Loop” cruise and here are the regulations for that: If you are a U.S. citizen, and you board a cruise ship at a U.S. port, travel only within the Western Hemisphere, and return to the same U.S. port on the same ship, you may present government-issued photo identification, along with proof of citizenship (an original or certified copy of your birth certificate, a Consular report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization). Please be aware that you may still be required to present a passport to enter the foreign countries your cruise ship is visiting. Check with your cruise line to ensure you have the appropriate documents.

Traveling by land internationally, you may use a passport book or passport card. Determine what you need at the below web site, but basically, if you are going to spend the money on a passport, go ahead and get the book. If you then had an emergency, you would be able to fly if need be.

Getting your passport…
Go to http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english.html. On the right hand side of the page, you will see a box with links to forms. Download the appropriate one and fill out on your computer, print and take with you so you do not have to do that while you are at the facility. Gather the appropriate documents that will go with your paperwork:

  • Proof of citizenship – your original birth certificate with the raised seal. Unaltered and undamaged. They will return it to you when your passport is issued (keep a copy of it at home in your files.
  • Proof of identity – your driver’s license will work just fine. Make a copy of it front and back to put with your passport application.
  • Picture – they are PARTICULAR about the picture! It must be color, 2 X 2 and show full frontal face. I highly recommend that you pay to let them make the photo at the facility where you are submitting.
  • Fees – The current rate (subject to change) is $110 for an adult first time passport book. A separate check or payment of $25 is for processing. The web site will break everything down. The fee for pictures will vary from place to place, but typically is around $15.

The web site offers a search engine to help assist you in finding a local facility that processes passport applications, but most U. S. Post Offices will do it. Call or ask the next time you are by one of them. Some have set times and days that they accept them while others require an appointment. If you have all of your paperwork in order, your process will go smoothly. If you know well in advance that you’ll be traveling overseas with the family, you’ll have time to budget the passports…do one a month so that the fees aren’t such a chunk at one time. Routine processing time is 4-6 weeks.

Good luck and safe travels!

Five Reasons I Love to Cruise

It is no secret that this travel journalist is a fan of cruising. Sometimes it is just me and the hubby, while other times it may be the whole family…either way, it is always the cornerstone for great memories and fantastic value!

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Everyone always asks why I love cruising so much, so I compiled a list of the five top reasons why I love to cruise. Sure, there are more, but these characteristics are always common across all fleets.

  1. Value. Cruises offer an all-inclusive vacation adventure with lots of bang for the buck, especially if you cruise during the times of the year when kids are in school. Prices are higher during summer months and holiday seasons when children are on school break, so if you can make it any other time, you are likely to find a BARGAIN! Cruise prices include everything you need to have a great vacation…good food with lots of choices, activities, entertainment, and more!*
  2. Relaxing. You don’t have to worry about driving (the captain usually doesn’t let you command his ship) and there are folks around to wait on you hand and foot.
  3. Entertainment. There are Broadway-like shows nightly, karaoke, piano bars, casinos, comedy shows, movies (some ships have onboard theaters and some have big screens out over the pool for nightly viewings), dance parties, deck parties and more depending on the particular ship you are sailing with. Never a dull moment…or do nothing at all! It’s your choice!
  4. Ports of call. I have visited some fabulous Caribbean islands, tropical paradises, European must sees and more thanks to cruising. To fly to these places individually and spend time there would cost a fortune. Cruising is a great way to see the world!
  5. Activities. Today, cruise ships are loaded down with activities from full-service workout facilities to basketball courts and everything in between. I have seen mini golf, bowling, rock climbing walls, zip lines, video arcades, water slides and more! Of course, there are less physical things to do such as checking out a book from the library, attending an art auction, playing Bingo, taking a towel folding class (learn how to make those cool turndown friends) or simply lounging by the pool.

Carnival Freedom

If you haven’t thought of cruising as a vacation option before, I invite you to consider it! There is literally a cruise for every budget! If you are an avid cruiser like me, or you’ve just taken your first, what are your favorite reasons to cruise? Do you look for bargain cruises? Do you like seeing the world via a cruise ship?

*Some of the items NOT included in the price of your cruise are sodas, alcohol, specialty restaurants, shore excursions, gratuities, spa services, etc. This list is not inclusive, but gives you an idea. You can have a perfectly good vacation without spending anything extra aside from your tips. How do I know? I have done just that!

Norwegian Getaway named best new ship

To Celebrate, Line Offers Getaway Bonus Day on August 19

Miami’s Ultimate Ship, Norwegian Getaway, has been named “Best New Ship” in the first Editor’s Choice Awards by Bon Voyage, an online digital magazine published by Cruiseline.com. To celebrate this honor, Norwegian Cruise Line has designated August 19, 2014 as Norwegian Getaway Bonus Day and is offering a $100 on-board credit per stateroom for new reservations for all 2014 Norwegian Getaway sailings, plus free balcony upgrades.

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“Whenever Norwegian has chosen to celebrate a home port, the results have been fun. We loved the Miami influence on Norwegian Getaway, from being able to start our day with Cuban coffee to ending it with a Latin dance performance or a mojito at an outdoor bar,” said Sherri Eisenberg, editor-in-chief of Bon Voyage.

The ship is the largest to homeport year-round in Miami and sails seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises departing weekly from PortMiami. Norwegian Getaway has received rave reviews from travel partners and from the more than 100,000 guests who have sailed on her thus far who say Norwegian Getaway is “the best cruise I’ve ever taken” and “an awesome cruise on an awesome ship.” To read more comments from her guests, click here.

Featuring groundbreaking entertainment, the ship offers performances of the seven-time Tony Award nominated musical LEGALLY BLONDE and sizzling Latin-inspired dance productions by Broadway sensation, Burn the Floor. The ship is the first to feature the GRAMMY® Experience at Sea, which include artifacts chosen and curated by the GRAMMY Museum® along with live performances by past GRAMMY winners and nominees, among others.

Another first of its kind at sea, The Illusionarium is an all-new dining and entertainment experience that envelops guests in the fascinating world of magic, inviting them to experience the astonishing illusions of world-class magicians and supernatural special effects. In addition, there are hilarious comedy headliners produced by Levity Entertainment Group and the sing-along fun of the dueling pianos from Howl at the Moon. Every sailing features a dazzling fireworks show at sea, set to music, as part of a dance party in the ship’s outdoor club, Spice H20. In addition, the ship is now offering complimentary 3-D movies twice per cruise, such as “Frozen*” and “Thor Dark World.*”

Similar to sister ship Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway dazzles guests with the excitement of 678 Ocean Place and The Waterfront, a variety of interconnected indoor and outdoor venues on three dynamic decks that creates a multiplex of dining, activities and more, and enhances guests’ connection with the ocean. Norwegian Getaway also features Miami’s coolest place to chill out – the ship’s SVEDKA/Inniskillin Ice Bar, featuring Art Deco-style décor, reminiscent of Miami Beach’s famous Ocean Drive.

Foodies setting sail from Miami on Norwegian Getaway can feast on their choice of 28 incredible dining options, including Celebrity Chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian’s three dining concepts: Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian; Ocean Blue on the Waterfront and The Raw Bar. Buddy Valastro, star of the popular TLC series “Cake Boss,” also has an outpost of his famous Carlo’s Bakery onboard, serving up delicious treats like cannolis, lobster tails and specialty cakes.

For families, Nickelodeon®, the number-one entertainment brand for kids, is on board and includes a variety of exciting interactive experiences, along with the opportunity to meet SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star, Dora the Explorer and Diego, among other favorites. Norwegian Getaway also includes a pirate-themed Nickelodeon Kids’ Aqua Park where children can cool off with colorful, whimsical and larger than life Nickelodeon characters from Bikini Bottom.

The three-story Sports Complex features the Aqua Park with five thrilling water slides, two swimming pools and one of the largest multi-level elevated ropes course that challenge guests to more than 40 different elements, including a zip track. For a thrill like no other, guests can confront The Plank, a platform that extends eight feet over the side of the ship. A nine-hole miniature golf course is located beneath the ropes course, offering family fun with friendly competition. A rock climbing wall, bungee trampoline and spider web, a 24-foot enclosed climbing cage complete with a spiral slide, round out the activities.

Norwegian Getaway offers a variety of flexible accommodations ranging from Studio staterooms specially designed for solo travelers, to balcony and family staterooms and opulent suites in The Haven, the ultimate in luxury accommodations.

Departing every Saturday, the ship visits tropical ports of call including Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. Fares for 2014 cruises are from $419 per person, double occupancy.

To book a cruise during Norwegian Getaway Bonus Day, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), or visit http://www.ncl.com.

Press release by Norwegian Cruise Line.

Disney goodie bags for vacation

Who’s planning a trip to Disney with little ones? Want to save a little money? Make a goodie bag for your child with Disney items spotted today at Target!

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Getting the character’s autographs at Disney is a big deal to kids and you can, of course, purchase autograph books and pens in the parks. However, I found these precious Disney journals for $1 (several characters to choose from including new Frozen theme) and these super cute Frozen pom pens also for $1!! Target also has cute Disney socks and other things…so go by and take a look if you have a trip coming up anytime in the next few months. Saves a family a lot of money, especially if you have more than one child! Vacation can be both fun and frugal with a little planning!

Seven Grand Things about the Jeep Grand Cherokee

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

There’s no doubt that the Jeep Grand Cherokee has a following second to none resulting in its claim as “Most Awarded SUV Ever!” Owners site reliability, resale value and safety as primary purchase factors when choosing the various models of Jeep Cherokee. In fact, a glance at the used car classifieds will attest to their quality with so many still on the road 10 years after initial purchase.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

Standard on the Summit model are things I’ve come to expect and appreciate from the Jeep Cherokee brand including: 4 wheel drive, a full host of airbags (even the advanced multistage front airbags), power liftgate and excellent interior craftsmanship. The current model year, however, has left me with a few new favorites to add to my growing list of admirable characteristics on the Grand Cherokee.

Read more in the recently published article in Focus Daily News out of Texas: http://focusdailynews.com/seven-grand-things-about-the-jeep-grand-cherokee-summit-p13155-84.htm

Also, see MOM MOBILE article in Birmingham Parent magazine: http://www.birminghamparent.com/article/the-mom-mobile-seven-grand-things-about-the-jeep-grand-cherokee-summit.html

Nine reasons to sail on Carnival’s newly renovated Freedom Ship

Seven years ago I was privileged to sail on the inaugural Carnival Freedom cruise to the Caribbean. I remember thinking it was so massive and full of extravagant at-sea activities. By today’s standards, it is not the largest ship on the water, but thanks to an extreme makeover and two weeks in dry dock, it is once again among the elite cruise ships sporting innovative technology, fabulous repurposed spaces and kids programs second to none!

Carnival Freedom

Two weeks seems like a tiny bit of time. In fact, I can hardly paint a bathroom in that amount of time. But, non-stop, round-the-clock teams can transform a mega cruiseliner in that time frame and leave vacationers speechless. This spring Carnival added its Fun Ship 2.0 Initiative to the Freedom including: Guy’s Burger Joint; RedFrog Rum Bar; BlueIguana Tequila Bar; BlueIguana Cantina; EA SPORTS Bar; Alchemy Bar; Hasbro, The Game Show; and The Punchliner Comedy Club.

Freedom received so many wonderful additions that it is impossible to cover them all, and for that reason, I have compiled a list of my favorites. Below are nine reasons (in no specific order) to plan a family vacation onboard the beautiful Carnival Freedom ship!

Carnival Freedom

1. Carnival’s partnership with Seuss Enterprises created the new Seuss at Sea program for families. Carnival Freedom is the first ship to feature Bookville, a dedicated Seuss-themed play space featuring iconic décor, colors, shapes and funky furniture inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. Bookville is the perfect place for families to relax and read beloved Dr. Seuss books or enjoy family-fun activities such as arts and crafts, toys and Dr. Seuss-inspired games.

2. The revamped kid’s club area has transitioned from Camp Carnival to Camp Ocean and brings with it redesigned areas that are age-specific and appropriately named penguins, stingrays and sharks! The kid’s love it! From dance floors to space for arts and crafts and even video games, Camp Ocean is created for fun and exciting times at sea.

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3. Seuss-a-palooza Character Parade and Story Time is an awesome opportunity for families to don parade props and noise makers, and march along the ship’s promenade chanting “Dr. Seuss is on the loose!” Oh, and did I mention that Cat and the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and Sam will be joining the parade as well? The parade will conclude in one of the ship’s theater rooms with children sitting on the stage and parents in the audience. The ship’s cruise director will lead an interactive dramatic reading of Cat and the Hat that is not to be missed!

Carnival Freedom

4. Admittedly, I had concerns about whether or not Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with Cat and the Hat and Friends could hold a candle to other character breakfasts I have attended throughout the years with my children. My reasons? Well, for starters, it is only a $5/per person upcharge and most of these type events I have attended have been anywhere from $29.99 – $59.99, so I assumed the price reflected the value that I should expect. I was WRONG!! This is by far one of the best values at sea for families and an event not to be missed! When you arrive (you must have a reservation) you will be blown away by an amazing Cat in the Hat ice sculpture surrounded by themed colors and life-size cutouts of other characters.

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The tablescapes are completely over-the-top with pops of blue and red that resonate with Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, and the characters (Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Sam) eagerly await meet and greets with the kids (old and young alike)!

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And then there’s the menu…oh the menu! The cutest stinkin’ thing you have ever seen! The laminated book-like menu tells of its offerings in poetic format reminiscent of the author himself! I won’t take away the surprises, but I will remind you to be sure and reserve a table for this event as soon as you arrive onboard, as you do not want to miss this extravaganza!

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5. Cherry on Top is a brilliantly displayed candy store with lots of color and choices for candy by the ounce or pre-bagged sweet treats and other indulgences.

Carnival Freedom

6. Guy’s Burger Joint is a poolside venue celebrating Food Network’s Guy Fieri, his bodacious California roots and down-to-earth comfort food. Guy’s delicious burgers are hand-formed and receive high marks from guests onboard consistently. Guy’s thumbprint is all over the eatery with coastal maps and his personal signature on the dining tables. This place is definitely a hit!

Carnival Freedom

7. The shows! Playlist Productions builds upon Carnival’s reputation for high-quality entertainment by combining live performances, spectacular staging and special effects in an effort to create fantastic musical revues. Nice job!

8. Carnival added lots of new bars on the Freedom, and while the RedFrog Rum Bar (and the Pub) is high on that list, I love the EA SPORTS Bar, a sports enthusiasts paradise where guests can find scores on the real-time 24/7 sports ticker, see the latest big-time sporting events and play the latest EA SPORTS games on a 16-screen video wall!

9. The addition of the adults-only Serenity deck is my favorite daytime spot onboard. This 21 and older designated area is a sanctuary filled with cushioned lounge chairs, pillowed clam shell-like retreats from the sun, hammocks and hot tubs. It’s private for adults and offers its own bar and ambiance.

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Larry’s favorites…
My husband Larry is most often my travel partner and his favorites are sometimes different from mine. This ship is no different! His favorite lunchtime eatery is the Mongolian Wok where guests pick their meat and veggies and have them stirred up in yummy sauces. He also enjoys the BlueIguana Cantina with wonderful burritos filled with favorite meats and veggies…and they have wonderful sliced watermelon perfect for a hot day!

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Additionally, Larry tries to visit the workout facility at least every other day when we sail and he found this one to be updated nicely with state-of-the-art equipment and free weights. He also reminded me that the ports of call from Fort Lauderdale are particularly inviting and should not be overlooked. We visited Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Curacao and Aruba…favorite islands for both of us! Something we can agree on!

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For more information on Carnival ships, itineraries or to book a cruise, visit http://www.carnival.com or call your favorite travel agent.

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National Cheesecake Day July 30th

As a self-proclaimed travel junkie, I sway a bit to the foodie side as well. And, bearing that in mind, it would not be quite fair if I didn’t share this delicious deal with you knowing that National Cheesecake Day is coming up rather quickly on July 30th.

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The Cheesecake Factory is offering up ANY SLICE HALF PRICE on July 30th and 31st for dine-in guests to celebrate the sweetness of their namesake. The deal is good for everyone at your table (none to go), only one slice per guest and each guest must be present. Fair enough I’d say!

Also, making it’s debut on National Cheesecake Day, The Cheesecake Factory presents Lemon Meringue Cheesecake! I don’t know about your family, but this could be a great night out for desserts at my house, especially with a looming gift card in my husband’s possession.

Are you a fan? Head on over to The Cheesecake Factory’s official Facebook page and give it a LIKE! You never know what they’ll post next! https://www.facebook.com/thecheesecakefactory?fref=photo

*Valid in US & Puerto Rico restaurants only.

Norwegian Cruise Line orders two new ships

Recently, I sailed on my first Norwegian cruise and it was a wonderful experience with every modern amenity imaginable, outstanding water park fun and brilliant entertainment. Today, Norwegian announced that it will add two more ships to the fleet in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Below is the press release from Norwegian including all of the relevant details.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NASDAQ: NCLH) announced today that it has reached an agreement with MEYER WERFT GmbH of Germany to build two new Breakaway-Plus class cruise ships for delivery in the second quarter 2018 and the fourth quarter 2019. Each ship will be 164,600 gross tons and include 4,200 passenger berths.

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“Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway have proven themselves as industry game-changers and are extremely popular with our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “It was only natural that we build on their success with this new ship order that further solidifies our long-term growth strategy.”

The contract price for both ships is approximately euro 1.6 billion. The Company has export credit financing in place for each ship, arranged and underwritten by KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH of Germany.

“We are thrilled that Norwegian Cruise Line has the continued confidence in MEYER WERFT to expand their fleet,” said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of MEYER WERFT. “We are very proud of our longstanding relationship with Norwegian.”

Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the concept of Freestyle Cruising which offers guests the freedom and flexibility to enjoy their cruise vacation on their own terms, including multiple dining venues, relaxed attire, a variety of accommodations and world-class entertainment. The Company took Freestyle Cruising to the next level with the introduction of Norwegian Epic in June 2010 and subsequently launched two game-changing vessels, Norwegian Breakaway based in New York in May 2013 and Norwegian Getaway homeported in Miami in February 2014. These ships incorporate groundbreaking design, including The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place, a wide range of indoor and outdoor venues on three dynamic decks that create a whole new complex at sea and connect guests with the ocean.

SpongeBob

About Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is the innovator in cruise travel with a 47-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising, most notably with the introduction of Freestyle Cruising which revolutionized the industry by giving guests more freedom and flexibility. Today, Norwegian invites guests to “Cruise Like a Norwegian” on one of 13 purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ships, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed, resort style cruise vacation on some of the newest and most contemporary ships at sea. Recently, the line was named “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” for the sixth consecutive year, as well as “Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line” and “World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line” by the World Travel Awards.

The Company recently took delivery of its most innovative ship to date, the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Getaway on January 10, 2014. The largest ship to homeport year-round in Miami, Norwegian Getaway boasts 28 dining options, including seafood restaurant Ocean Blue by famed New York Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and a branch of Carlo’s Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro, star of the TLC series “Cake Boss.” The entertainment lineup includes Broadway shows Legally Blonde and Burn the Floor and a unique magical theatrical experience, the Illusionarium. Norwegian Getaway’s sister ship, Norwegian Breakaway, was named “Best New Ship of 2013” by the editors of Cruise Critic and “Best Rookie Cruise Ship” by the readers of Travel Weekly. Known as New York’s ship, Norwegian Breakaway is the largest vessel to homeport year-round in the city. The Company currently has four vessels on order at Meyer Werft for delivery in fall 2015, spring 2017, spring 2018 and fall 2019.

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Norwegian Cruise Line is the official cruise line of the Miami Dolphins/Sun Life Stadium, The New York Knicks, Blue Man Group and Legends in Concert; and the official cruise line partner of The GRAMMY Awards and is an official partner of the Rockettes and Radio City Music Hall.

Carnival Courier includes The Travel Voice by Becky

I get many emails from readers and listeners asking various questions about cruises, so I try to share all the information that I can regarding that subject. Podcasts are awesome places for cruise reviews, as well as informative newsletters like the Carnival Courier. The latest Courier actually contains great stuff, including a couple of things from yours truly. Enjoy!

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http://paper.li/CarnivalCourier/1382731931

Cruise Radio shares about Carnival Freedom

Recently, I sailed on the Carnival Freedom out of Fort Lauderdale to check out all of her renovations and new additions. During that cruise I was interviewed by Doug Parker of Cruise Radio and it was included in his fantastic review of the ship. If you have a few minutes to listen, this is a wonderful way to research and gain useful tips in booking your next cruise vacation!
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http://cruiseradio.net/episode-carnival-freedom-southern-caribbean-sailing/

Florida Panhandle Beaches

In this two-part podcast, Becky shares some of her favorite places on Florida’s forgotten coast and panhandle! Visit Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Black’s Island, Cape San Blas and Pensacola. Learn about “don’t miss” activities and where to find great accommodations.

http://www.spreaker.com/user/thetravelvoicebybecky/the-forgotten-coast-of-fl-part-1

http://www.spreaker.com/user/thetravelvoicebybecky/the-forgotten-coast-of-fl-part-2

Black's Island

Black’s Island

Becky talks about the newly renovated Carnival Freedom

Recently Carnival Cruise Line renovated the Freedom ship, adding awesome new features like Guy’s Burger Joint, Red Frog Rum Bar, Blue Iguana Cantina, EA Sports Bar and Hasbro the Game Show. The most exciting new feature, however, is the joint venture between the mega cruise line and Seuss Enterprises creating the Seuss at Sea Program exclusive to Carnival. From Bookville to the Seuss-a-Palooza parade and storytime to the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast extravaganza, this new kids endeavor will WOW you like no other program at sea!

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Take a moment to download and have a listen while you’re on the treadmill, walking or working! Enjoy!

http://www.spreaker.com/user/thetravelvoicebybecky/carnival-freedom-cruising-the-caribbean