Category Archives: Family

Celebrity Solstice Cruise, Last Day

On our last day at Sea, I’m thinking back to everything that has made this Celebrity Solstice Cruise vacation so special. 5 years ago, I fell in love with cruising because it is the most social form of vacationing. We make new friends on every cruise vacation. As always, our fellow passengers helped make this cruise special. With the introduction of the Solstice Class of ships, Celebrity has had to have knocked 10 years off of their passenger’s average age. This cruise offered a diverse mix of age ranges, but no matter the age of the passengers we met they were all the type of people who strive for the finer things in life. They had a good understanding of the quality of food, drinks, and service that distinguished this cruise ship from most of the others. I talked to several passengers travelling in the Aqua Class Suites. After a few days on board, they were all sold on the value of the cost to upgrade to the Aqua Class. The cabin size of the Aqua Class Suites are similar to a balcony cabin, but the exclusive access to the Specialty Restaurant, Blu, the Persian Garden, and the Concierge Service were well worth the extra money according to passengers with whom I spoke. One passenger, Sam, even stated that the upgraded shower in the Aqua Class Suite was enough for her to book an Aqua Class suite again.

The Celebrity Solstice is the perfect example of a large vessel offering a noticeably higher level of service, food, and style. The diverse entertainment onboard from the Hot Glass Show to the Circus style show offers something for cruisers of all ages. Earlier this week, I met a family in which the grandparents typically cruised on Oceania. For a large family vacation consisting of ages ranging from 11 months old – 75 years old, they compromised and chose the Celebrity Solstice. The grandparents were very impressed by the food and service on the Solstice and the kids were having a blast in the kids club. For all that the Celebrity Solstice is offering, the Solstice has been selling for rates that are close to the less premium cruise ships making it the best value in the Caribbean.

Celebrity Solstice, Circus style Show

The onboard experience on the Celebrity Solstice has been unmatched. The feedback I’ve received from our new friends onboard has been consistent with our feelings about the Celebrity Solstice. So if you are a travel agent, your clients will love you for recommending a Solstice Class ship and if you are a cruiser looking for the perfect combo of amenities, entertainment options, style, service and food, I fully recommend the Celebrity Solstice.

Jess & Dylan with the Celebrity Solstice

Full Disclosure, I did not pay for my Cabin. I did pay for Airline tickets, Gratuities, Excursions, Bar Bill, etc…. I’ve been on about 15 cruise ships in 3 years. They’ve all been wonderful, but the Solstice Class is special. My 8 year old would probably like the Liberty of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas better (he enjoyed the Fun Factory, but was upset that there was not a waterslide on the Solstice)… I’m a big fan of the style and service that is the Solstice. I have loads of photos and video that I will be uploading from home so you can see the Celebrity Solstice experience for yourself.

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Filed under Caribbean, Celebrity, Family, First Cruise, Ship Reviews, Travel Reviews

Old San Juan, Lawn Club Pictures – Solstice Day 2

We explored our first port of call today aboard the Celebrity Solstice. We arrived in San Juan with the Grand Princess, The Sea Dream I, and a Regent Cruise Ship already docked. We were some of the first off the Celebrity Solstice at 2:30 PM. We walked 4 – 5 miles and covered most of Old San Juan in 2.5 hours. The Celebrity Solstice is docked today in San Juan from 2 – 10 PM. We were back on the ship about 5 PM. We ate dinner and then played Corn Hole on the Lawn Club as the sun set. We almost had the entire deck 14 to ourselves. We were the only passengers on the lawn playing during the sunset. This was a highlight of my cruising career and definitely recommended. Checkout the pictures I’ve uploaded Live to Flickr from our Celebrity Solstice Cruise.

If you are on other cruise ships, are in port in Old San Juan from 2 PM – 10 PM, and you are wanting to see the city for free by walking on your own then I recommend eating a late lunch at 3 PM and disembarking at 4:30 PM. Walk San Juan from 4:30 – 7:00 PM when it is not as hot. San Juan is a US Territory so we were able to upload pictures live to Flickr as we walked Old San Juan. We were also able to call home.
Tomorrow we will be in St. Kitts and we plan on hitting the beach so Dylan can take his first swim in the beautiful clear waters of the Caribbean. See you in St. Kitts!

Playing Cornhole on the Lawn at Sunset on the Solstice

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Filed under Family, First Cruise

Celebrity Solstice, Day 1 at Sea

We are on the Celebrity Solstice for Easter Week. Thanks to a last minute cancellation, we are in a Sky Suite… by far the best cabin I’ve ever stayed in on a cruise ship. I’ve always wanted a rear facing balcony, and we finally have one. This is my son, Dylan’s first cruise. It was also his first flight, first taxi ride, and first time on a moving sidewalk. He’s had a blast and with this being Easter week he made plenty of friends today. I love going on cruises with people who have never been on one before, and going with an 8 year old has definitely added to the experience.

Our 1st day at sea is almost complete and here are some of the video and pics from today!

Dylan Boarding the Celebrity Solstice

@CruiseDeals Celebrity Solstice

Earth & Dylan

Earth & Dylan

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Celebrity Solstice, Family Cruise

Life is better when you have a cruise vacation to look forward too.  Over the past couple of weeks, while working long hours I kept pushing myself because in a few weeks I’ll be able to relax while cruising the Caribbean with my Family.  Well those few weeks flew by and that time to relax is almost here!!  We depart on April 4th, 2010 on the Celebrity Solstice

I was thoroughly impressed with my first Celebrity Cruise Line experience in November 2009 sailing on the Celebrity Century.  The Century is one of Celebrity’s oldest vessels, but thanks to recently being refurbished the Century is in excellent condition.   More important than the hardware, experiencing the Celebrity treatment in the quality of the service and food for the first time is what made the cruise standout from my other cruise vacations. 

Celebrity is a premium cruise line offering Food and Service a notch better than some of the other cruise lines.  Traditionally, Celebrity’s average age has been slightly older than the other Cruise Lines due to the entertainment, service, length of cruises, and price being more geared to an older and affluent clientele.   With the introduction of the new innovative Celebrity Solstice, they’ve supposedly knocked 10 yrs off of the average age of their passengers.    

We’ll see… my wife is 27, I’m 35, and my son is 8 and we’ll notice if we are one of a few families on the ship. This is my son’s first cruise and I have to be honest…  For 3 years he’s had to stay at home while we’ve cruised Hawaii, Italy, the Caribbean, and Mexico.  I want this cruise to be very special for him and I probably wouldn’t have taken him on any other class of Celebrity Cruise Ship for his first cruise.  He’s pretty wild, full of energy, and I’m sure he would have gotten bored on some of the other Celebrity Ships.   He’s watched all of my videos from the Oasis of the Seas, so he knows that some ships offer tons to do for kids.  He’s very excited to play on the grass lawn on the Celebrity Solstice… he wants to find out if they have to mow it.

Grass Lawn on the Celebrity Solstice

The Week of April 4th, I’ll be posting daily here on CruiseSource.us from the Celebrity Solstice.   As always, I will be live-Tweeting from the ship and posting pictures on Flickr.   If you thought about taking your family on the Celebrity Solstice, Equinox, or Eclipse follow along by subscribing to the blog or following @cruisesource on Twitter!

Happy Sailing ~ Rich Tucker

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Filed under Family, Ship Reviews, Social Media, Travel Reviews

You Never Know

So Life took a sharp right turn the minute I got off the Celebrity Century on December 17th 2009. Over the last month, I hosted the Social Fresh Social Media Cruise on the Carnival Destiny, I was one of the first on the Oasis of the Seas (interviewed in the Miami Herald for Live Tweeting from the Inaugural), and completed a 5-day cruise to Jamaica and Grand Cayman on the Celebrity Century in which I taught other agents Social Media basics. It had been an almost perfect end to an incredible year. I was looking forward to getting home and spending time with the family. As soon as I got off the Celebrity Century, it all changed. I received a call from my Dad telling me that Mike, my brother, had fallen asleep behind the wheel of his truck and ran into a huge tree at 7:00 AM.

He crushed both ankles, lacerated his liver and spleen, and his head went partially through the windshield. He was not wearing a seatbelt. He’s very lucky to have lived through the crash. He had to be cut out of the truck and airlifted to the Charlotte Medical Center. I rushed to the airport and got on an earlier flight home. By the time I got on the flight home, all I knew was that he had been airlifted and that his legs were in very bad shape. Once I got to the Hospital, my brother was asleep on the bed with cuts all over his head and his legs covered in bandages. The Doctors were not sure if there was enough bone structure left to attempt to fix his ankles. My brother did not look anything like himself thanks to all the cuts and swollen head from the impact with the windshield. As of now, it was my worse day ever and I couldn’t even imagine being my brother.

Mike & JoJo at the Zoo a few weeks before the wreck

It is now Tuesday, December 22, 2009. Mike went through 4.5 hours of surgery yesterday and the doctors were positive about the results. They were able to get all the bones in the correct placement and now it is up to Mike’s body to heal properly. After surgery his heart rate remained extremely high, he was running a fever and of course was in excruciating pain. They moved him back into the Trauma Intensive Care Unit so that they could keep a closer eye on his situation. They got his Heart Rate and Fever back down by Midnight. Today, he is in full recovery mode with a slight possibility to be back home on Christmas Eve. Mike has two beautiful daughters and a wonderful wife. Him being home for Christmas would make for a very special Christmas.

I share all this because I’ve shared all my good times of 2009 here on my blog, CruiseSource.us. The reality is that times are not always good. I wanted to explain why I had not gotten to my final reviews of the Celebrity Century, and to let you know that they are coming soon. Although it has been a tough week, I am truly blessed as we have had tons of prayers and well wishes from all of our friends online and offline. As you head into the Holiday Season and into the New Year, please remember how quickly loved ones can be taken from you or how fast things can dramatically change in your life. Going through this experience has given our family time to reflect about all the good times spent on family vacations and other shared life-experiences. At the end, all we have are memories. Having lots of memories from beach trips, sports, and other lifetime experiences has made this ordeal a little more bearable… I’m personally going in to 2010 living by the quote: dream like you are going to live forever; live like you are going to die today. Make it a point to spend more time with loved ones in 2010. Don’t keep putting off that family trip to Disney, Europe, cruise vacation, or whatever is on your list to do next. You never know when life may take a sharp turn on you.

Hold me to living 2010 to the fullest, subscribe to CruiseSource.us to remind you to check back in.

Leave a comment about what you’re not going to put off in 2010.

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Filed under Caribbean, Celebrity, Family, Social Media, Travel Reviews

Carnival Splendor only $199 for 7nights! – May 10th

The May 10th sailing of the BRAND NEW Carnival Splendor out of Los Angeles California is now for sale for only $199!!! the itinerary now goes to the Victoria and Vancouver Canada…at $199 it could go no where and be well worth it! All of your food is included, on a brand new ship. Unbelievable..this is the California Vacation Bailout!!

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Filed under Carnival, Family

Guide to Choosing the right Cruise Line

For your first Cruise deciding which cruise to book can seem like a very difficult task due to having so many options. My goal is to help you narrow down your options of cruise lines with the help of this blog post. Over the course of Cruising adventures, I do recommend that you try out multiple lines to see what they all have to offer. A lot of our clients graduate from shorter cruises to longer cruises as they become “addicted” to cruising. These clients will increase their vacation budget and their ability to get more time away from work (or retire). So look at this as your first of many cruise bookings and do not stress too much about making the wrong choice. 99% chance which ever you choose, you will be happy that you took your first cruise!

If you need to take a 3 – 5 night cruise due to budget, available time, or you are testing out cruising then of your main choices for Cruise Lines will be Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and the Norwegian Sky. Celebrity, Holland, and Princess Cruise Line occasionally offer short cruises. Carnival has the most ships completing 3 – 5 night itineraries leaving from multiple ports in Florida, Galveston, TX, Long Beach, CA, and New Oreleans, LA.

The Cruise Lines typically use their Medium-Sized ships for short 3 – 5 itineraries. So if on your first cruise you want to enjoy amenities like ice skating rinks, wave rider or bowling alleys of the large ships then you will need to take a 7-night cruise. The Short itineraries typically have a younger average age of passenger. The cruises longer than 7 nights will have an older average age.

When choosing your cruise line here is a quick reference to help you choose the right cruise line-

Carnival – the FUN Ships. Carnival is rated very high for their quality of Food and Entertainment. It is a mass market cruise line that appeals to almost everyone. Ships décor is bright lights, colors, reminiscent of Vegas. Carnival has the highest rated beds at Sea…a big deal if you are looking to catch up on sleep.

Royal Caribbean – Family Oriented. Unmatched in the size of their of ships and the activities offered aboard the ship. Royal Caribbean pushes the envelope on their ship designs. Décor is a lot of Brass and Glass on all of their ships. Large Family Reunions I would consider Royal Caribbean and Carnival because they appeal to the most diverse range of people.

Norwegian Cruise Line – Freestyle Cruising. It is your vacation do thing on your own schedule and dress up for dinner if you want to. NCL are the mavericks of the cruise industry and are willing try things that are not ‘traditional’ cruising. Most cruise lines now offer an open dining option for dinner after NCL introduced it several years ago. Casino’s on NCL offer the highest limits and are my favorite. NCL is making an effort to improve their food but it ranks lower than Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

Princess Cruise Line – Described as Casually elegant. They have a good kids program but not are not as kid friendly as Royal, Carnival, and NCL. This also means that when school is out that you will not see as many kids on a Princess Cruise as the other 3 before mentioned. Princess offers Anytime Dining for Dinner and have almost perfected the concept. You are not likely to find a late night party crowd on a Princess Cruise. If you are cruise Alaska for your first cruise I would look at Princess first. Princess has been in Alaska the longest and have invested the most money in Alaska.
Celebrity Cruise Line – Celebrity is Royal Caribbean’s Premium Brand. They have impeccable food and drinks. The average age of the passengers will be older than the cruise lines above. Most of Celebrity’s ships are medium-sized ships, but they have recently launched the Celebrity Solstice which is getting rave reviews for design and innovation. The Celebrity Solstice is Celebrities largest ship and seems to be appealing to the younger demographics too.

Holland America – Holland is a Premium Brand. Holland America is geared toward the 60+ demographic. They have white glove service and highly rated food. They offer several World Cruises. I do not believe many people take a world cruise as their first cruise. I could be wrong, so if you are taking a world cruise as your first cruise leave a comment below and let us know how it turns out.

Disney Cruise Line – Disney is very kid oriented. There is not a casino. Adults to have some adult only areas on the ships to get a break from kiddos. Disney Cruise Lines food is very good. Disney Cruise line has all the characters and even gets taken over by Pirates so the Mickey can save the day. An awesome family vacation. Price will be more expensive than Carnival and Royal Caribbean for similar Itineraries.

There are several other Deluxe and Premium Cruise lines such as Regent, Oceania, Azamara, Crystal, Seabourne, etc. A future article will be how to choose the right Luxury Cruise Line.

Click on the Cruise lines above to get more detailed information. Those of you who have been on A couple of Cruises, how did you choose your first cruise and and advice you have to offer? Leave a comment!

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Filed under Carnival, Celebrity, Family, NCL Sky, Norwegian Cruise Line