Category Archives: Mexico

Social Fresh Cruise Recap

Social Fresh Cruise, 11.12.09 – The recap

Cruisedeals.com and Social Fresh, LLC teamed up to bring the 1st Premier Annual Social Media Cruise to the Carnival Destiny on 11.12.09. CruiseDeals.com is a leader in Group and Conference Cruises and Social Fresh is a leader in Social Media Conferences. on 11.11.09, we teamed up with the South Florida Social Media Community to throw the Social Fresh Bon Voyage Tweetup which was the largest Tweetup in Miami history. By the end of the Social Fresh Cruise, we proved that “Social Media and Cruising are like peanut butter and chocolate, two tastes that taste great together”. Most of the Social Fresh attendees have been long-time evangelist for the importance of making online connections stronger by taking advantage of opportunities to meet face to face. On Social Fresh Cruise, we took Face to Face to another level.

Chris Brogan Videoing, Allie Sullivan, Katey Dietz & Kit Mueller Sailing away

We shared many once-in-a-lifetime experiences with those who are equally as passionate about the impacts of Social Media on all aspects of business. We had a diverse group of attendees who create incredible content online for a wide variety of audiences. We even had few owners of Social Media Applications in the mix of attendees. Cruising with a group of people who share a passion whether it is Golf, Poker, Bridge, etc. adds value to the cruise experience. Cruising with some of the most Social people involved with Social Media today, and it was a homerun.

Chris Brogan Questioning the Social Fresh Cruisers

Chris Brogan Questioning the Social Fresh Cruisers

We had 6 hours of Interactive Sessions with content and direction from Jason Keath, Chris Brogan, Greg Cangialosi, Amber Naslund, DJ Waldow, Lyell Petersen, Ryan Wynia, & Katie Morse. We had an impromtu Bloggers Roundtable that was wide open with all kinds of great lessons learned flying around the table. At the bottom of this post are links to the note for all of the Sessions.

Ryan Wynia Presenting Audience to Army at #SoCruise

We were in Cozumel from 7AM – 10PM. We had a 3 hour beach party scheduled from 2 – 5 PM at Carlos and Charlies. Everyone went their own way in the morning and we all met up at 2PM. At Carlos and Charlies, everyone shared fun stories about how they spent the morning in Cozumel. Many like @Kitmueller and I rented scooters and toured the entire Island. @ChrisBrogan and some others ate Fresh Grilled Lobster on the backside of Cozumel. At Carlos & Charlies (Charlos & Carlies according to Greg), 3 hours of Beach + Sun + Cervezas + Social Media Peeps = one of the highlights of the Cruise.

@nikinotes, @ashevilleallie, @Cmajor, & @girlgamy

The Social Fresh Crew at Carlos & Charlies

Each night we ate dinner as a group in our own designated section. The Dinners on the Carnival Destiny were delicious as always. I’m surprised Carnival did not go broke after @DJWaldow and @LuggageBoy put away multiple entrees each night. I can’t talk too much since I did eat two Lobster Tails on the formal dinner night. Social Fresh Cruise is one of the few Social Media Events that your non-social media spouse wants to attend. And with the amount of time that we put into social media, we sometimes need to reconnect with them too.

Dinners on the Destiny were Delicious!

At night, we played together in the Casino, sang Karaoke, danced in the discos, watched Rick Springfield perform on the Lido Deck, and on the last night we all dressed up in our Bathrobes to dance to ‘I’m on a Boat’ in the Piano Bar.

@dougmeacham & @Cmajor Rocking the Mic

For the past 2 years, my big two passions have been Social Media and Cruising. So although I’ve been on a lot of cruises, the Social Fresh Cruise was by far the most fun and valuable. The Cruise attracted the FUN Social Media Leaders who needed a vacation and saw the value in getting away with 50 other Social Media Insiders. By disconnecting for a couple days we actually made our strongest online connections. While the Cruise was close to perfect, we did have some places where we can improve the experience. We look forward to making the Social Fresh Cruise 2010 even better.

@JakRose, Founder of Social Fresh & @Nikisnotes

@LuggageBoy aka @findmespecials and Autumn enjoying the Sunset

All Photos in this post were taken by Steve Hall, @Adrants.

We book 100s of group cruises each year. If you would like to do a conference or themed group cruise please email me at rtucker@cruisedeals.com .

A few of the tweets from attendees after they returned from the 2009 Social Fresh Cruise (#SoCruise is the Twitter Hashtag):

@GeekMommy DITTO! I’m looking forward to CO in Feb, and #SoCruise next year!
Posted By MissKatieMo

Really missing all of my #socruise #sofresh people. I’d break an ankle instead of just sprainig it to cruise w/ them all again. Wild.
Posted By @GeekMommy

@93octane Lyell! I had a blast! Thank you for being such an awesome host! #socruise
Post by @JenChicago

@tomtravel2 Sure thing! Most valuable for me was an informal bloggers roundtable – a great peer-to-peer discussion. Very helpful! #socruise
Posted by @MaidenVoyage

@RichTucker many thanks again for an awesome trip. Finally got to relax for a bit;) #socruise
Posted by Elizabeth Hannan

Links to the Session Notes:

Real Online Communities – Amber Naslund of Radian 6 & DJ Waldow Community Mgr. Blue Sky Factory

The Future of Connectivity – Greg Cangialosi CEO of Blue Sky Factory

Future of MicroBlogging – Lyell Petersen aka @93octane the dotcom in CruiseDeals.com

Reverse Q & A with Chris Brogan Author of Trust Agents

The Recording and Music Industry Today – Katie Morse aka @misskatiemo

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Filed under Conference Cruises, Mexico, Miami, Social Media, Uncategorized

Carnival Cruise Swine Flu Announcement – May 1, 2009

Carnival Cruise Line’s latest announcement for changes due to Swine Flu.  This has created some amazing deals that I will be posting later today. 

 Miami – May 1, 2009 10:00AM Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled all port of call visits in Mexico for 16 of its ships that were previously scheduled to stop in that country. Itineraries for vessels departing between Thursday, April 30 and Monday, May 11 that included stops in Mexico have been modified. In many instances, the modification simply involved substituting an alternate port. Full details on the modified itineraries to date are available by clicking here. Guests who do not wish to sail on a modified itinerary may opt to receive a refund in the form of a future cruise credit equal to the full amount paid for the voyage. The credit may be applied to an alternate sailing departing through the end of 2010. Compensation for missed ports/altered itineraries (where applicable) for guests who sail varies by itinerary. With four and five-day cruises from Galveston and New Orleans that are being converted to seven-day voyages, those guests may opt to receive their refund in the form of a future cruise credit or money back. For cruises departing after May 11, an update will be provided in the near future. Guests are encouraged to check carnival.com periodically for further updates. MEASURES TO SUPPORT A HEALTHY CRUISE ENVIRONMENT Carnival Cruise Lines is dedicated to the health and safety of all guests and crew. The recent emergence of swine flu has caused concern among public health authorities and the traveling public. Although there have been no suspected or confirmed reports of swine flu on any Carnival cruise ship, we have proactively taken increased health and safety measures as a matter of caution. Carnival has developed an aggressive protocol to help prevent the introduction and/or spread of infectious diseases. All guests and embarking crew will be given a pre-boarding health questionnaire and medical staff will be available to conduct additional screening of guests, crew and visitors as necessary. Anyone who has an illness of international public health concern will not be permitted to sail. Carnival maintains close coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and utilizes very stringent recommended sanitation protocols to minimize the possibility of viral transmission of infectious diseases. Our onboard medical centers have supplies of antiviral medications, personal protective equipment and appropriate diagnostic test kits, as recommended by the CDC. For further information on swine influenza, visit the CDC’s web site at http://www.cdc.gov.

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Filed under Carnival, Mexico

Cruise Lines Official Responses to the Swine Flu

I wanted to aggregate all of the latest Cruise Line Responses to the Swine Flu. Just as in Hurricane Season this is the one stop for all announcements from each cruise line regarding the Swine Flu Outbreak. I will keep you updated as this situation progresses.

Royal Caribbean International
Swine Flu Statement
April 27, 2009

We’ve been closely monitoring all developments regarding the Swine Flu, to help ensure the health and well-being of our guests and crew members.

Health authorities from a variety of nations are investigating the situation and we remain keenly attuned to their progress. We maintain close working relationships with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our industry association, and we’re working in close coordination with them.

It is important to note that health authorities have not raised concerns regarding the ports of call we visit in Mexico. None of our sailings have been altered and none are scheduled to be.

Our ships visiting Mexico are taking pro-active measures, such as:
• Placing a notice in the daily, onboard newsletter to provide our guests with basic information regarding this matter.
• Placing a letter, along with a fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in each guest stateroom
• Providing hand sanitizers throughout the ship.
• And, conducting enhanced sanitizing of all high-touch areas.
We’re also asking guests to follow the advice of medical experts regarding the best ways to help prevent flu and other illnesses:
• Washing hands thoroughly with soap and hot water – often.
• Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
• Putting used tissues in waste baskets.
• If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into upper sleeves, not one’s hands.
Like our guests, we take all health matters seriously and we’ll continue to closely follow all developments regarding the Swine Flu. Additional information regarding Swine Flu is available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov

Holland America
Swine Flu Update – Mexico Cruise Itineraries
April 27, 2009 8:45pm PDT
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Advisory recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico due to concerns regarding swine flu. Our office and others in the cruise industry are discussing this Advisory with the CDC as it is not exactly clear how and to what extent they intended it to apply to cruises, and in particular cruises already in progress.
Under the circumstances, however, Holland America Line has decided to cancel the Tuesday, April 28, call aboard ms Ryndam in Mazatlan. We hope to have clarification from the CDC during the day Tuesday, April 27, at which time we will advise regarding the remaining port calls on ships cruising Mexico.
There have been absolutely no reported cases of swine flu on any Holland America Line ship. At Holland America Line, the safety, comfort and security of our guests and crew are our paramount concern.
Swine Flu Reaction – Updated April 27, 2009 – 1:30pm PDT
At Holland America Line the safety, security and comfort of our guests and crew are our top priorities. There have not been any reports of people exhibiting symptoms of swine flu on any of Holland America Line’s 14 ships. No itineraries have been changed.
The Corporate Medical Office, in cooperation with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Canada, are monitoring the current situation closely. Holland America Line has an established robust respiratory (influenza) surveillance and treatment protocol that was developed in conjunction with CDC. The protocol has been in continuous use since its inception more than 10 years ago. Medical staff follow very clear guidelines, with a treatment protocol for the identification of influenza. Our ships can test for Influenza A and B and ships maintain a supply of the recommended anti-viral medications for influenza. Our ships’ cleaning protocols also are effective against surface contamination for
flu virus.
Cruises with port calls in Mexico operate between late September and early May. Guests on the remaining cruises this spring will receive communication on board regarding any special precautions that might become recommended. Guests are encouraged to contact the infirmary should they show any signs of influenza and practice the healthy habits of washing hands, using sanitizer dispensers, covering mouths when coughing and not touching their mouth and eyes

Carnival Cruise Line:

Miami – April 28, 2009 8:00 AM
There are currently no reported cases of swine influenza on Carnival ships or in any of the ports that we visit in Mexico. We are consulting closely with public health officials and government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Homeland Security to monitor the situation.
Carnival enforces the highest of standards for cleaning and sanitation on all of our ships to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We have well trained medical staff and expansive reporting capabilities onboard. Working with U.S. public health officials in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, we have extensive practices and procedures that are effective in mitigating illness aboard our ships. We do not anticipate that our guests’ cruise experience will be impacted by this type of illness.
We are aware that the CDC has recently issued a Travel Health Warning which recommends the postponement of non-essential travel to Mexico. We are currently reviewing the implications of this new development and will provide an update on our plans by 5:00 PM Tuesday evening (April 28, 2009). This information will be available on our website at http://www.carnival.com. For further information on swine influenza, visit the CDC’s web site at http://www.cdc.gov.

Princess Cruises Swine Flu Statement
6:00 pm PDT

The health and well being of our passengers and crew is our foremost priority, and therefore we are monitoring the swine flu situation closely.
Our ships and medical staff are already well equipped to prevent and contain the spread of contagious diseases, including swine flu. Even though the risk of contracting this illness is very low, we will be taking extra precautions, and will be guided by advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Six Princess ships are currently scheduled for calls in Mexican ports through next month. In light of the CDC’s recent travel health warning for Mexico, we are now reviewing our itinerary options, and further information on changes will be available tomorrow. However, some of the actions we are taking onboard all of our ships include:
• We are enhancing our screening practices for passengers and crew embarking our ships.
• We are adhering to CDC guidelines for reporting and treatment of persons with suspect swine flu.
• We will isolate and treat passengers and crew with suspect swine flu. Anti-viral medications that effectively treat the swine flu are currently available onboard all Princess ships.
• We will continue our rigorous cleaning and sanitization of our ships to minimize the spread of any contagious disease. Our ships are routinely cleaned with a disinfectant proven to be highly effective against the flu.
• We are communicating to our passengers and crew that they should take extra care to practice healthy habits such as washing their hands often.
• We are asking passengers and crew to report to the medical center immediately if they exhibit any symptoms of flu.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will do everything possible to protect the health of our passengers and crew.

Celebrity –
Swine Flu Statement – (April 27, 2009) – We’ve been closely monitoring all developments regarding the Swine Flu, to help ensure the health and well-being of our guests and crew members.

Health authorities from a variety of nations are investigating the situation and we remain keenly attuned to their progress. We maintain close working relationships with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our industry association, and we’re working in close coordination with them.

It is important to note that health authorities have not raised concerns regarding the ports of call we visit in Mexico. None of our sailings have been altered and none are scheduled to be.

Our ships visiting Mexico are taking pro-active measures, such as:
• Placing a notice in the daily, onboard newsletter to provide our guests with basic information regarding this matter.
• Placing a letter, along with a fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in each guest stateroom.
• Providing hand sanitizers throughout the ship.
• And, conducting enhanced sanitizing of all high-touch areas.

We’re also asking guests to follow the advice of medical experts regarding the best ways to help prevent flu and other illnesses:
• Washing hands thoroughly with soap and hot water – often.
• Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
• Putting used tissues in waste baskets.
• If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into upper sleeves, not one’s hands.

Like our guests, we take all health matters seriously and we’ll continue to closely follow all developments regarding the Swine Flu.

Additional information regarding Swine Flu is available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov

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Filed under Carnival, Celebrity, Mexico

Trend: Cruise Pricing

We build Deal Pages at Cruisedeals.com for the best deals in cruising.   I have to update the pages as prices change.  In November and December, everytime I would update a deal page the prices were dropping.  Now, I cannot keep up with the prices as they have come off never before seen lows and they have started going back up. 

The last week of December 2008, I told readers that this would be the best week of the year to lock in the lowest prices for 2009 Cruise. Click here to read The Calm before the 2009 Booking Storm.

Even as pricing goes back up, the prices are much lower then they have been the past 3 years.  I will give you some examples of current deals that are trending upward in price.  If you want to go on one of these cruises, I recommend booking it quickly to get these prices. 

Carnival Elation 5 night Mexico out of San Diego on Jan 24th was $239 at the beginning of the week and is now starting at $279.  The least expensive date on this Itineary is now February 2nd starting at $269 per person.

A lot of the price increase are subtle, like the 5-Star Celebrity 5 night Western Caribbean cruise out of Miami on Valentines Day, was $299 yesterday and is $309 per person today. I know that is only a $10 difference, but it illustrates that fact the trend in pricing is upward which we have not seen for a few months.

Typically, the closer in the cruise the faster the prices fluctuate. The sailings that are in peak season from June – August will also fluctuate quickly as families plan their summer vacations.

If you are looking at a particular ship and sail date, you can write a comment in the comments section and I will tell you when I think will be the best time to book that cruise. I am not always 100% accurate, but I am pretty close…

One last deal that is one of my favs that has started slowly trended upward in price: May 24th, 2009 14-night Holland America Alaska roundtrip Vancouver today is at $887 per person with a $100 ship board credit for the cabin. Earlier in the week it was priced at $873.

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Filed under Carnival, Family, Mexico

Carnival Destiny, Final Review

We are done.  4 day cruise, live posting on Twitter from our Vacation, live reviews on CruiseSource.us from the ship, and now all of our photos posted on Flickr. 

You will not find this thorough of a review on a Cruise Vacation anywhere on the internet.  All that is left for me to do is the Final Review of the Vacation. 

So if you followed me on Twitter ( http://twitter.com/cruisesource ), or if you followed my two blog posts from the ship, or if you have checked out our photos from Flickr then you know that we had a great time on the Carnival Destiny. 

From the pictures and live reviews you can tell that we had a ton of fun.  This is post is the overall final review of the Carnival Destiny, 10.16.08.   So, here we go:

1st of all, we missed our original flight out.  I recommend flying in a day early for the cruise.  We did not have that option.  Luckily, we got to the cruise on standby. 

The Carnival Destiny is the largest and youngest vessel doing 4 and 5 night sailings.  If you are 21 – 60 looking to for a quick get-away to let loose and have fun, meet new people, enjoy excellent dinners, and hit 2 fun ports then this is the perfect cruise for you.  The Carnival Destiny traveling with 1000s of fun seekers hit Cozumel and Key West.  Two of the most fun ports of call that I have been to on a cruise vacation.  Cabo on the west coast ranks right up there in the fun-o-meter. 

I am a family man.  we did not bring our kids, but I would have no problem bringing my kids on this same vacation.  We watched 25 kids at camp carnival..they even trick-or-treated around the ship on the last night.  People had fun on the ship, but no one got out of hand or were inappropriate…there are usually bad apples everywhere, but luckily we did not run into any on this cruise. 

So here are my grades on the important aspects of the cruise:

1. Food: B+    Dinners (whichare the most important) were an A+ , Buffets and Late night Pizza a C-, the All you can eat Sushi everday gets a B+

2. Service: A      I am a firm believer that good customers get great service most ofthe time.  I try to be a great customer and enjoy getting to know the ones serving me.   Embarkation, Disembarkation, Robert our Waiter, James the IT guy, Agus our cabin steward, and most of the dealers were all excellent.   The only area I was not happy with the service was at the shore excursion desk.  They were not very knowledgeable on the shore excursion when I was trying to decide between two of excursions.   

3. The Ship Layout: C – Trust me when I say that there is not any other ship that does short cruises that I would rather be on than the Destiny.   And there is not anything Carnival can do about the flow of the ship now, but too many times, I wanted to get somewhere on the ship and I would not be able to get there from where I was at.  By the final day, I started to get the hang of it…but by then it was too late.  I have been on much bigger ships that were easier to navigate….At the end of the day, it is the biggest and best ship doing short sailings.   The flow of the ship between public areas is not very good. 

4. Singles A  – Out of all the cruises I have been on, this ship had the most singles and there were a lot of good looking people (both sexes) on this ship.  If you and a couple single friends are looking for a good cruise to meet some people, I recommend the Carnival Destiny. 

5. Entertainment B+ This is the first cruise where I did not go to any shows…but it is the first cruise where we did Kareoke and the Piano Bar.  Both were very fun.   We also went to the Adult Comedian, who was very funny.

OVERALL – I would go back on this cruise in a heartbeat.  Check out the prices, it one of the top 3 values in cruising today.  It is the best ship doing short itineraries.   If FUN is not you, then the Carnival Destiny is not for you.  Otherwise you need to jump on this FUN SHIP… The Carnival Destiny moving from the 7 night sailing to the 4 and 5 night sailings puts it into a class of its own and I fully recommend you trying her out.   ~Happy Sailing ~Rich Tucker

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Filed under Mexico, Miami, Ship Reviews, Travel Reviews, Uncategorized

Cruising, The Ultimate Departure from Reality

Today at the office we were discussing the economy and my upcoming cruise, which leaves tomorrow, and cruising in general.

One of our Agents said that cruising is the Ultimate Departure from Reality. As we pack this evening, I have to agree with that assessment. And that right now it is one of the best times ever to have a quick get away from reality. We will get to enjoy the company of new friends as we set sail across the Caribbean. We will sit by the pool and enjoy fruity drinks. If I have my way we will be ATV’ing across the beaches in Cozumel. And I will not have to see a politcal ad for 4 whole days!

And after four days of relaxing, playing in the casino, and being adventurous at the ports of Call, I will be ready to get back deal with the current realities. The best news for you is that these short Departures from Reality are selling for unbelievable prices. And I think we all deserve to treat ourselves to one of these short inexpensive vacations to rejuvenate the soul. Check out Cruisedeals.com to find an inexpensive get away for yourself.

I will be on the Carnival Destiny, 10.16 – 10.20. I will be semi live on twitter posting pics and reviews. Follow me @ http://www.twitter.com/cruisesource . I will also be posting daily from the ship to CruiseSource.us…

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Filed under Mexico

Carnival Destiny, getting excited

Carnival Destiny, 10/16….we are really getting excited about our upcoming cruise!! We have purchased our air…I recommend flying in the day before the cruise. Unfortunately, my schedule does not allow for it, so we had the choice of getting into Miami at 8:30 AM or 12:50 PM…..it was a tough choice, the cruise line offers transfers to the ship for flights that get in up to 2:00 PM. If we take the later flight and we are delayed by only 2 hours then we will miss our cruise. I could not risk it…so we will be getting 4 hours before we can start boarding.

We have starting looking at shore excursions. Our plan is to hang outin Key West and do our own thing since neither of us have been there. And in Cozumel, the ATV tour has been recommended by several people so I think we will be doing the ATV tour. This sailing has been priced super low ($199 per person)…that is why we are going…Click here to check out current rates. Reminder, if you go you have to buy us a Fruity Drink!

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Filed under Caribbean, Carnival, Mexico