Category Archives: First Cruise

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.



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 Century Day 4

I met Ryan, one of my best friends through high school and college, at the Miami airport before heading over to the Celebrity Century. Ryan is a first-time cruiser. I’ve been on many cruises over the past few years, so I occasionally forget the awe of getting on a cruise ship for the first time. The Celebrity Century is a medium-sized vessel which is dwarfed in size when compared to the new massive cruise ships. But to the first-time cruiser, touring a ship for the first-time gets reactions like “Man this Awesome” or “I didn’t realize ships had all this”. It’s always refreshing to get the opportunity to see the cruise experience through a first-timers’ eyes.

Celebrity Century in Jamaica, 12.14.09

Celebrity Century in Jamaica, 12.14.09

This is my first Celebrity Cruise Line experience and I had high expectations for the food and service as I’ve been told for years that Celebrity is noticeably different in those areas. We arrived to the Celebrity Century at 12:15 PM and we headed straight to the Buffet. At the lunch buffet, we found an excellent pasta bar where there are 20+ fresh ingredients to choose from. Even with high-expectations, I was really surprised by the quality of the buffet food. I noticed small differences like a nice cloth covering on the trays and the food at the buffet is protected better because all items are covered by more glass which keeps everything more sanitary. Throughout the entire cruise we did not run into lines at the buffet which is wonderful. And yes the ship was sold out.

Although the price of the Celebrity Century is selling for as low as $295 pp for 5-nights in January and December, Celebrity is not skimping on its product. Two examples of how they are not cutting back on the amenities are that they’re continuing to run the all-you-can-eat Sushi Bar every night and the Ice Cream bar during the day. Both are included for the price to get on the Celebrity Century and on some other lines come with an extra charge.

Conference at Sea
Not all fun and games. I am on the Celebrity Century to teach some Travel Leaders agents about Social Media. This is the 2nd conference at sea that I have been to in the last month. The value is unbeatable by land based conferences thanks to having everything included in one price. The Sea days are the perfect opportunity to have educational based sessions. The networking and relationship building is amazing at a Conference at Sea.

Blog Posts coming Soon:
Jamaica – Dunns River Falls & Cayoba Gardens
Grand Cayman – Stingray City & Snorkeling
Above and Beyond Service – Celebrity Century.


Filed under Caribbean, Celebrity, First Cruise, Miami, Ship Reviews, Shore Excursions, Travel Reviews

Guide to Kid-Free Cruising

Everyone knows that a cruise is a great family vacation, but what if you prefer to travel without the company of children? Whether you’re a parent looking for a grown-up getaway, or a childfree person who prefers to travel with as few kids around as possible, there are lots of ways that you can make a cruise your perfect vacation option! I have been on several cruises, including four on Carnival, one of the most kid-friendly cruise lines around. No matter what cruise line or itinerary you choose, here are some tips to help you have a simply wonderful time and escape from all those reminders of the real world, including kids!

• The best advice for traveling when there are less children is to travel outside of common school vacation periods. The times to avoid are summer months, Thanksgiving break, the Christmas/New Year holiday period, and Spring breaks, which typically occur during the months of March and April.

• The more “upscale” the line, the less likely there are to be kids. While many cruiselines market themselves as family friendly, others are not as concerned with capturing that particular demographic. Celebrity, Holland American and Cunard, for example are known for an older clientele, with less children aboard.
Of course, this can also mean the average age for all passengers is higher, so if you happen to be a younger cruiser, you could find there aren’t many people your age and not much going on as far as nightlife (if that’s something important to you). Also, the longer the cruise, the less likely there will be kids.

• Find out if there are any “adults only” areas on the ship and use those, such as the Serenity Deck on some Carnival ships. If sitting outside is important to you, get a balcony room, so even if the upper decks are full of kids, you can have your own private area. And one advantage to the family-friendly lines is that they usually have a well-structured kids/teen programs with special activities, their own staffing and dedicated space, which gives the kids their own place to hang out.

• If you have a choice of “early seating” dinner and “late seating,” take the late dinner. Most people with kids choose the early seating. Another option is to find a cruise that has open (non-assigned) seating, such as NCL’s Freestyle Cruising so you don’t have to worry about being matched with tablemates with a baby.

• Partake in the adult-oriented onboard activities such as the over-18 comedy shows, bar crawls, etc. If you are doing ship-sponsored excursions, choose ones that look like they will be less attractive to kids/people with kids, such as a rum factory tour. Some excursions even have minimum age requirements. Or try booking independently for a private tour or off-the-beaten path adventure that might be less appealing to families. Above all, relax and enjoy yourself. Unless you are on an all-adult full-chartered ship, there will be children on board. A few kids running around on the Lido deck won’t ruin your trip unless you let it. Have a great cruise!

Guest Written by Toryn Stark

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Quick Guide to First Time Cruise Destinations

Many first-time cruisers take their first cruise from the closest port to their home. Cruising is a great vacation value. It is an even better value if you are within driving distance of the port. Being able to get to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, and Central America from many states on the East and Gulf Coasts on a cruise ship for a little more than the cost of what the flight would cost draws many people to going on their first cruise.

In some cases, people have life-long dreams of going to destinations which are very well suited for cruising. Alaska, Panama Canal, Hawaii, Tahiti, South America\ Antarctica, or the Galapagos Islands are great examples of destinations which are well suited for Cruising. In order to see as much as possible of these destinations in a short period of time many people choose to explore it on a cruise vacation.

When choosing your first cruise to do not make the decision as if this is going to be the only cruise you will ever take. You will get all stressed out about the options. Over 60% of all people on a cruise are past cruisers and you will be an experienced cruiser within a couple of years!

Here is a quick guide to destinations:

Bahamas – Great for quick getaways. Touristy, Casinos, Beaches, shopping, bars, and offers most of the ‘typical’ water shore excursions. Most Cruise lines have a private island in the Bahamas that is included on the Bahamas Itinerary. These private islands have the feel of their cruise line. The private islands are more relaxing than some of the Islands because you do not have locals trying to sell you stuff while relaxing on the beach.

Western Caribbean – More adventurous than the Eastern Caribbean. Western Caribbean Ports includes ports like Jamaica, Cozumel MX, Belize, Costa Maya MX, etc.

Eastern Caribbean – Loved by those looking for shopping and beaches. Most Islands in the Eastern Caribbean offer excursions like snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, Stingrays etc.

Mexican Riveria – Departing from California, Mexico is about your only options for 3 – 10 night cruises. Cabo san Lucas is great for Deep Fishing, Shopping, Drinking at Cabo Wabo. Puerto Vallarta has ATV tours and Zip lining which both usually sell out. Mazatlan which is included in most 7-night itineraries is one of my least favorite ports, but Cabo and Puerto Vallarta make up for it.

Use our Easy to use Map to find the best deals for cruises leaving from the ports closest to your home.

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Filed under bahamas, Caribbean, First Cruise

How to Choose Your First Cruise

This is the beginning of a Series of posts on How to decide on your next cruise.


In this down economy many people new to cruising are looking at cruising for the first because of Cruisings great Vacation Value.  This series to help those pick out their first cruise. 


If you are a first time cruiser or even a cruiser who has only been on one cruise line choosing your next cruise can be slightly overwhelming because of all the choices.   This Series of posts that I am going to post daily for the next will help you make the best decision possible when booking your first cruise.  I am assuming this is your first cruise, but even if you have been on several cruises hopefully this will be a useful resource for you. 


The First thing you want to do when trying to decide on your first cruise is find a website with an easy to use search engine to help you search for cruises by destination, date, cruise line, duration, and Home Port. 


There are a lot of factors that go into booking your first cruise…two of the primary factors are budget and the length of time you can get away for your cruise.   These are personal, but if you are working with a good Cruise Consultant you want to be open and reasonable about your budget.  


So the Upcoming Articles in this series which will have a new article posted daily are as follows:


  1. Which Cruise Line is right for my first cruise?
  2. Which Destination is right for my first cruise?
  3. What time of year is the best for my first cruise?
  4. So many Choices for Cabins, how do I choose one?
  5. Money Saving Tips for your first cruise. 

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Filed under Carnival, Celebrity, First Cruise, Royal Caribbean