Booking Strategies To Get The Best Cruise Price

I asked Vince at CruiseShipCenters why should I book a cruise early, like a year in advance.  Here is his excellent reply which I gained his approval to share with you.

Why Should I Book A Cruise Early?

Hi Robert,

I was thinking about our conversation from yesterday, and wanted to share a few more thoughts. This email may get long, but I hope you’ll find it interesting and useful. Continue reading “Booking Strategies To Get The Best Cruise Price”



Bucket List Travel


Bucket List Travel Can Improve Your Health, Broaden your Perspective, Even Lead You Into New Careers

If travel is something you long for, I encourage you to do it. Don’t let fears or worries stop you.

Study after study reveals that travel is good for us. It’s good for the body and good for the mind. It lowers stress, strengthens relationships and gives you memories for a lifetime.

Whether you like natural beauty (think rivers, mountains, beaches, waterfalls), cultural experiences (think museums, concert halls, art galleries), or historical sites (think battle grounds or presidential libraries), traveling to these places can enrich and enlarge your life in numerous ways.

Want to be amazed? Fascinated? Awed? Travel somewhere you’ve dreamed about but never actually been. Or, return to someplace wonderful you visited decades back and feel the wonder anew.

My husband, Al, and I began to travel in earnest after we were involved in a serious automobile accident in 2012. That wreck brought home to us how fragile life is. How it can be snatched away in a moment, in the blink of an eye. We decided to stop putting off our travel dreams.

Since then we’ve cruised through the Panama Canal, visited the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, ridden on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, cruised the Mediterranean, driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, and cruised the Mississippi River on an honest-to-goodness steam-powered paddle-wheeler.  Next spring, we’ll cruise the fjords of Norway.

We’ve been pleased to learn that travel is associated with lower rates of heart disease, reduced risk of depression, as well as increased brain development. Yes, our brains can develop even at our “seasoned” ages.

Activities such as touring a museum, finding your way through an unfamiliar town,  walking along the beach have positive mental, physical and social benefits.

Traveling develops new skills. And that increases confidence.

When we travel and meet people from unfamiliar cultures, we may find new ways of looking at life. And that can give us a different perspective on things. We may find ourselves growing intellectually and emotionally.

Because travel often includes walking, we may find ourselves actually getting in better shape. We may even lose weight and gain muscle as we hike, stroll, walk or amble about.

Escaping the every-day, if only for a weekend, can energize and renew us.

Travel is fun.

And you never know where your travels will take you. Al and I have made friends we never would have met otherwise. And we found our travels so amazing, that we began to write about them.

So travel has turned us into authors. We write travel memoirs, filling them with all the wit, wisdom, discoveries and surprises we experience on our journeys.            This year, we’re publishing three books about a trip we took in 2014.

Color_Cover_Promo_72dpi copy

 

Cruising the Mediterranean, describes our adventures in  Amsterdam, Venice, Athens, Istanbul and other places. It was named an Amazon #1 best seller in the senior travel category.

Indie Book Reviewers say that the book is “…full of adventure and life and great advice on traveling.”

 

 

FindingOur second book, Finding Ourselves in Venice, Florence, Rome & Barcelona,  was also named a #1 best seller in the senior travel category. In addition, Amazon named it the #1 Hot New Release in Venice travel guides.

In this book, we visit local markets, famous sites, and quiet out-of-the way neighborhoods, staying in Airbnb apartments and using Barcelona’s hop-on hop-off bus to show us around.

Rick Bava, author of In Search of the Baby Boom Generation, said this  about the book: “The beauty of these wonderful places shines through every page.  I recommend it for Baby Boomers and others whose hearts long to travel. You’ll feel like you’re right there…”

And we have a third book, coming out soon: Cruising the Atlantic, Our Epic Journey from Barcelona to Miami.

          I tell you this to underscore how travel can take you places you never dreamed of. Who would have imagined that a wreck caused by a texting driver slamming full speed into us would result in our becoming travel memoir authors sharing our trips with readers around the world?

But there you have it. We’re either writing about a trip, planning a trip, or we’re on a trip, enjoying all the benefits of travel.

At our age, we have the time for travel and we have more money for travel than we had as young adults. Still, we are careful with our travel funds, and try to get the most value for our dollars.

If you have a travel dream, I encourage you to take it.  Travel now, while you can. The Internet can make the trip easier than ever. Nearly every city, state or national park has a website where you can check out tours, lodging, points of interest, even maps of the area.

Do some online exploring, plan with care, fuel your sense of adventure, trigger your imagination, then make your dreams come true.

Al and Sunny Lockwood have traveled by foot, car, rail, air and cruise ship. Everywhere they go, they capture unforgettable moments — Al with his camera and Sunny with her reporter’s notebook.  Their work has been published in magazines and newspapers. This photograph was taken in an Athens coffee shop, when Al and Sunny ducked inside to escape a sudden downpour.  You can contact the Lockwoods at  sunnyandallockwood@gmail.com

 

 

 

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Cruising Observations for Boomers

Mary Ann and I just got back from a 11 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Equinox, which is about our 24th cruise. Here are some observations from our trip.

We observed and have heard from 3 other frequent cruisers that the cruise lines are now targeting younger people in the 45 to mid 50s age range.  Well after cruising some time with the older people, now we are right in the mainstream being an older boomer of age 67. So the cruise lines want to pass over my age group to target younger people? Doesn’t make sense.  As an example, Equinox presented their Modern Luxury theme with a new stage production which has men wearing only girdles and all cast members looking androgynous. Yuk!Equinox show

Cruise ships do change. Equinox used to be our favorite ship. That is why this was our third cruise on the Equinox. But things have changed. No activity staff at the upper lawn areas or throughout the ship like previous cruises. Cruise staff changes, entertainment changes, ports change, so don’t expect just because you liked the cruise last time you will like the same ship next time.

Equinox3On many cruises, the best part is meeting the people. We met many people we related to on this cruise and it was nice talking with them. Unless the cruise is really port intensive, you will have time to socialize and meeting people is super easy.

Too much of a good thing is bad.  When you first get on a cruise ship, you will love to eat and maybe drink too much. By about day 4, things start to catch up with you and you will have to pace yourself or else a good time turns bad.

Celebrity Equinox
Celebrity Equinox

Taking too many cruises back to back will burn you out on cruises. I think that is where I am now. Taking a 14 day cruise in Sept, then this 11 day cruise in December, I just decided to cancel my California Coast cruise in March because that is just too much cruising.  I will wait until the urge comes back, which won’t be long.

See why baby boomers like cruising. It is the best of boomer travel ideas.

 



Boomers on Royal Princess and Regent Princess Cruise Ships

These two ships are recent additions to Princess Cruises and my wife wanted to sail with the Royal Princess. We just did the reposition cruise on the Royal from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal down to Fort Lauderdale with three stops in the Caribbean.

It is hard to answer when people ask me what is the best cruise line for baby boomers and just as hard to compare ships because it really is up to your personal taste and desires. But having taken 22 cruises and having sailed on the Royal with 2600 guests with Princess Platinum or better cards, here are some observations. The sweet spot of the ages on this cruise was say mid 60’s to early 70’s, so we now fit it perfectly.  That is kind of strange since we used to think the people were older, now they are our fellow baby boomers.

The Royal is a nice big glitzy ship with 3560 guests and 1700 crew but you don’t feel too crowded. There are some large spaces like the Piazza atrium which some felt was too much for their taste but most people liked it. We noticed there is no problem finding a seat at the bar lounges and around the Piazza atrium’s three levels. That was nice.

Atrium on Royal Princess cruise ship
Atrium on Royal Princess

 I must say the food and the Royal’s singers and dancers were the best I have seen. Also we had no problem at all with our anything dining getting in without any wait. Those are a big part the cruising experience right there.

Smaller things people were complaining about were no stairs above deck 8 on the center of the ship. Shower curtains rather than glass doors. A small balcony in their cabins.

Alfredo's on Royal Princess
Alfredo’s

But as the cruise got on you saw many positives like I have mentioned above with the food, shows and no wait to dine. There is Alfredo’s  Pizzeria, a new no fee restaurant with is nice for lunch and a full size Gelateria bar serving ice cream and Italian crepes. The SeaWalk on the side of the ship was fun to walk across and look down 128 feet to the ocean under your feet.

Top of the SeaWalk give a good view.
Top of the SeaWalk gives a good view.

The Movies Under the Stairs on Pool side was amazing. It is the largest movie screen of any cruise ship. It look great even during the day. The sound qualify was amazing and resulted in some great pool parties during the day.

The Princess Theater has the most up to date technology and the digital props on stage were amazing.

I loved the Royal’s ship horn which plays part of the Love Boat Theme which I capture here as we were leaving Antigua. The passengers on the Carnival ship next to us got a kick of it and cheered us goodbye!

The Royal Princess (and Regent Princess) are beautiful ships and you should give them a try. They will be sailing the Caribbean this Winter through April.

More about Cruises for Boomers
Celebrity Equinox Cruise Photos
Cruise Travel Tips
British Isles Cruise
Veterans Cruise Discounts



Celebrity Equinox Cruise Ship Photo Blog

Photo blog of the Celebrity Equinox. Just back from a 10 night Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship, my second cruise on this beautiful ship.

Just back from a 10 night Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship, my second cruise on this beautiful ship.  I have now taken 19 cruises and I think the Equinox is the best so far. Here are some of my photos of the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship.

Photo Blog of Celebrity Equinox Cruise Ship

The Lawn Club on the Deck 12
The Lawn Club on the Deck 12

The lawn club is amazing. Up on the top of the ship are two large areas of real grass!  We played bocce ball and was in a golf putting contest (which I won, see photo below).  The lawn club area makes this ship and the other solstice class ships really unique.

ship lawn putting contest
Putting contest at Lawn Club

 Well that is not all, right next to the Lawn Club is the Corning Glass Show. Given a couple of times a day while at sea, you have got to see this. True artisans at work.

Corning Glass Show on Equinox
Corning Glass Show
Rear deck of Celebrity Equinox
Rear deck of Celebrity Equinox

On the same level at the rear of the ship, there is a bar and sitting area. Up above you will the outside tables from the appropriately named Oceanview Cafe. This must have been St Thomas.

Dance Class
Dance Class

There is always some activity going on in the many foyers of the Equinox.  I believe this is some sort of dance exercise group. You don’t sign up, just show up. In the evenings there  games here.

Speaking of foyers, this one below is the Grand Foyer on Deck 3. Part of this foyer is the elevator atrium that shows four glass elevators as they go all the way to the top of the ship. Quite a sight. In the Grand Foyer there is always something going on, like dance classes, demonstrations, formal dancing, and mini “interactive” shows by the ship’s entertainment cast.

Grand Foyer on Eqinox
Grand Foyer

One evening the cast came down the stairs of the Grand Foyer and gave a mini show which turned into a dance party. It was wild!

Interactive Show on Equinox
Interactive Show on Equinox

The main entertainment area is the Princess Theater where two shows a night are staged. I liked this theater because there were no chairs and tables to bang around and camp your sitting.  Comfortable and every seat is a good seat, even in the balcony.

Princess Theater on Equinox
Princess Theater

On a returning sea day there is a great brunch from 10am to 2pm.  Do not miss this, it is excellent.

Brunch on Equinox
Brunch

 

One reason not to miss the brunch is the beautiful original food and ice carvings. Bring your camera like I did.

Food Carving on ship
Food Carvings

By the way, we took a cooking class at the Murano Specialty restaurant and really enjoyed it.  You get a great meal with the package. You have to ask the restaurant about this as I don’t think it is advertised.

Cooking Class Murano
Cooking Class

Of course there is a 24 hour computer room (staffed during the day)

computer room aboard the Equinox
Computer Room

Other rooms include a library

Library on Equinox
Library

 

And a card game room

card game roon on the Equinox
Card Game Room

Of course on a Caribbean cruise the pool area is very popular. Entertainment stage, hamburger and hotdog grill and bar right there too.

pool on the Equinox
Outdoor pool

But we liked the Adult Pool in the Solarium.

adult pool Equinox
Adult Pool

This little cafe is also in the solarium. They serve healthy food and have fresh fruit drinks and smoothies which we like.

Cafe in the solarium
Cafe in the solarium

Well there are many more attractive places on the Celebrity Equinox but this should give you an impression of this beautiful ship.

Boomer Cruise Vacations
Boomer Travel

Oh, I better let you see the outside of the Equinox.

Celebrity Equinox
Celebrity Equinox


Boomers Should Check Out Veterans Cruise Discount

I am taking a cruise in three weeks and I just got a $250 on board ship credit for veterans. This is nice since I didn’t know about this veterans discount when I booked my cruise with Princess a couple of months ago.

I am taking a cruise in three weeks and I just got a $250 on board ship credit for veterans.  This is nice since I didn’t know about this veterans discount when I booked my cruise with Princess a couple of months ago.  I was drafted into the US Army in 1971 and spent two years in service.

I bet a lot of other boomers who are veterans do not know about this.  My wife just told one of her facebook friends about it since they were taking a cruise the week after us with three other couples.  Now three out of the four guys turned out to be veterans and have been approved for the veteran cruise credit also.  Many of us older Baby Boomers are veterans.

Several cruise lines offer veterans a cruise credit.

The information from Princess Cruises is as follows but just ask the cruise line you are considering whether they have a military discount.

From the Princess site:
In recognition of Veterans Day, Princess Cruises is promoting the line’s military onboard credit program for active and retired military personnel. The credit, which ranges from $50 to $250 per stateroom depending on the length of the cruise, is available to members of the United States and Canadian armed forces with appropriate service identification.

“As I discovered when I recently wrote about my own military experience on our company blog, we have a large number of veterans among our passengers,” said Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruises president and CEO. “We want to honor all military personnel this Veterans Day and thank them for their service.”

The line’s military personnel onboard credit program is available to active military personnel plus retired and disabled military veterans with proper verification as follows:

–Active personnel currently serving in the following service divisions: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserves, Canadian National Defense (military verification certificate)

–Retired personnel defined as: Enlisted personnel or officers with a minimum of 20 years of service, medically retired or 100% disabled (blue or tan uniformed ID card/Canadian white N.D. 21 ID card)

–Veterans with an Honorable Discharge serving a minimum of 2 years or 6 months in an active war zone in any of the United States service divisions listed above or Canadian National Defense (DD 214 plus current photo ID)

The onboard credit amount is $50 for cruises 6 days or less, $100 for cruises of 7-13 days, or $250 for cruises of 14 days or longer, offered on a per stateroom basis.

To request the military personnel onboard credit, eligible persons should apply no later than one week prior to the cruise departure date. Passenger and sailing information should be accompanied by proof of eligibility and provided to either the passenger’s travel agent or to Princess Cruises. For more information about how to submit information, contact 1-800-PRINCESS.