Category Archives: Miami

NCL Epic, Miami Inaugural Guide

We’ve been selling the NCL Epic for what seems like an eternity. During the buildout, NCL has done an excellent job keeping the travel agency community excited about all of the innovations that will make up the NCL Epic. This week NCL took ownership of the NCL Epic from STX FRANCE SA . Weighing in at 153,000 gross tons, the NCL Epic is the largest ship ever built by the STX shipyard. The NCL Epic is crossing the Atlantic in time to be Christened by Godmother Reba McEntire on July 2 and to be the host for the 34th Annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks event in New York City.

The NCL Epic will then sail down to her home port of Miami, Florida. I will be attending the welcome party in Miami on Wednesday, July 7 at Bicentennial Park from 2-4 pm. The NCL Epic will sail by Bicentennial Park at 3 PM. For all the details on the NCL Epic welcome party checkout http://epic.ncl.com/epicmiami .

After the Bicentennial Park Epic Welcoming, I will be co-hosting a NCL Epic Inaugural Bon Voyage Happy Hour at the Bleu Moon located on the Double-Tree Grand Biscayne Bay Property at 1717 North Bayshore Drive (5 mins. from Bicentennial Park). The Bon Voyage Party will go from 5:30 – 8:30PM. More details about the NCL Epic Bon Voyage Party to follow next week. Click on Map to Enlarge:

Map Bicentennial Park to Bleu Moon

Follow along on Twitter, Flickr, CruiseSource.us, and CruiseSource TV July 8th – 10th while I update you live from the NCL Epic. CruiseSource has been the leading source in providing live content & review from Inaugural Cruises including the Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Costa Deliziosa, and now the NCL Epic. For the Oasis of the Seas Inaugural, the Miami Herald wrote an article that featured the @CruiseSource Live-Tweeting.

While planning my Miami NCL Epic Inaugural Trip, I found that the Double-Tree Grand Hotel has an awesome rate ($89 per night) in honor of the NCL Epic coming to Miami. Use Epic Code, EPC to receive this special rate. From the Hotel, you’ll be able to see the NCL Epic make her maiden voyage into the Port of Miami.

NCL is one of the best cruise lines at generating lots of media hype with their new ships. With all of this coverage, you can count on rates going up. The best deal on the NCL Epic is currently, $599 inside cabins with a $100 onboard spending credit.

Please share in the comments other events in Miami on 7.7.10, so that the readers of CruiseSource.us will feel like Miami Insiders.

$89 Double Tree Grand Epic Special

Full-Disclosure: I’m paying for my own flight to Miami, the NCL Inaugural 2 day cruise is free for all travel agents invited, and I do not make a dime if you book at the Double-Tree Hotel. My employer receives commission for booking clients on NCL Epic.

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Filed under Miami, NCL Epic

2009 – Year of the Tweet

2009 was my best year ever, and I owe most of it to the incredible relationships I’ve made on the Social Media platform Twitter.

2009 started with me winning a Shorty Award for providing the best travel content on Twitter with the Twitter ID @CruiseSource. On February 11th, 2009, I accepted the award in NYC, and in my 140 character acceptance speech I announced that we would be planning the premier cruise for social media professionals — the Social Fresh Cruise (hashtag #SoCruise). The Wall Street Journal got a real kick out of me using my acceptance speech to promote the Social Fresh Cruise.

Shorty Awards with @MCHammer @misskatiemo & @kitmueller

At the Shorty Awards Gala in NYC I got to meet and connect with tons of amazing people including @MCHammer, @GaryVee, @WaltRibeiro, @AlohaArleen, @KitMueller, @girlwithnoname, @pawluxury, @danzarrella, my NYC Tour Guide @misskatiemo and many more. Vote now for 2010 Shorty Awards.

A couple of weeks before my trip to NYC, I volunteered to be the lead planner for Charlotte Twestival, the local event of the Global Charity event organized and promoted via Twitter scheduled for February 12th, 2009. Thanks to Twitter we were able to quickly assemble a team of amazing volunteers who organized a very successful event in barely 2 weeks. It was a powerful display of the power of Twitter and the strength of the Charlotte, NC, Twitter community. The awesome team included some of the earliest adopters of Twitter in Charlotte who’ve helped the local social media community flourish. The team included @jakrose, @NathanRichie, @jruckman, @kateydietz, @jarodhillerman, @CLTNightLife, @crystaldempsey, @DavidKyle, @mtyndal and others.

@NathanRichie and I at the #CLTwesitval

In July, I live-tweeted and videoed 4 different Carnival cruise ships including the Carnival Freedom and the Carnival Liberty.

In August I live-tweeted during a 7 night Hawaii cruise aboard NCL’s Pride of America. This was an incredible cruise vacation that I was able to share with my wife — a great chance for us to reconnect as she was beginning to feel like a “Social Media Widow.”

Jess and I on Hawaii ATV Tour

As soon as I announced plans for the Social Fresh Cruise at the Shorty Awards, I teamed up with @ChrisBrogan, @93octane, @jakrose, @CruiseDeals, and @GregCangialosi to plan and promote this unprecendented conference. It was an invitation-only social media conference at sea for leaders and influencers in the industry who wanted to get away, unplug and focus on creating some of their strongest relationship with their peers. So the 1st Annual Social Fresh Cruise departed Miami November 12th, 2009, with 50+ Twitter Rockstars on board, was a huge success and plans for a 2010 repeat about to be released.

The Social Fresh Crew at Carlos & Charlies

But what would a social media cruise be without a huge Bon Voyage Tweetup the night before? I co-hosted the largest tweetup in Miami history with help from the local social media luminaries including @yvetteferry, @miamiandbeaches, @alexdc, @refreshmiami, @smcsf and many more! While at the tweetup I enjoyed meeting and hanging out with online friends @CouchSurfingOri, @ViceQueenMaria, @steph_rose and so many more.

I was also fortunate to be invited on the inaugural cruise of the Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship. Prior to the inaugural the Miami Herald wrote an article about the cruise industry’s use of social media, and in the article the Miami Herald instructed their readers to follow @CruiseSource for live tweets from the Oasis during the inaugural. My quote from earlier in the year that “Social Media and Cruising are like Chocolate and Peanut Butter, two tastes that taste great together” made it into the article.

I also live-tweeted from the Celebrity Century that sailed to Jamaica and Grand Cayman. I was on board to teach other travel agents “Social Media 101,” which of course included a heavy dose of Twitter training.

Of course throughout the year on Twitter I posted the best cruise deals on the Internets! — and we were recognized by AARP Magazine, CRM Magazine and other publications for providing the Best Travel Deal Tweets.

2009 was a success because I was able to use Twitter to team up with smart, energetic people to accomplish BIG goals. @93octane was the only friend mentioned above that I knew prior to Twitter…he was the evangelist who introduced me to Twitter… Thanks, Lyell!

2010 is looking like it will be bigger and better, and none of it would be possible without my friends, my community of readers, Twitter, my followers and the CruiseSource.us blog. The Best part is that I have a ever growing list of online friends who I can’t wait to meet Face to Face. Traveling with online friends, sharing a once in a lifetime experience creates life long friendships and I hope to share that gift with many more people in 2010!

You can nominate @CruiseSource for this year’s Shorty Award in the Travel Category by Tweeting the following message (click on it for a quick two click process):

I nominate @CruiseSource for a Shorty Award in #travel because [your reason here] http://bit.ly/CShorty

My Office At Sea - Celebrity Century

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Filed under Carnival, Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line, Social Media, Travel Reviews

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.

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

Celebrity Century 5nt. Cruise to Jamaica & Grand Cayman

I’m in the airport getting ready to head to Miami for the 8th time this year. Those of you who have been following along know I have had a blessed year. Jess and I cruised 7-nights around Hawaii on the Pride of America. I was one of the first on the Oasis of the Seas for a 2 night inaugural sailing. I’ve toured 4 Carnival ships including the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom. And my personal favorite, I was the lead organizer of the 1st Annual Social Fresh Cruise which is the Premier Social Media Conference at Sea.

Today, I’ll be boarding the Celebrity Century for a 5-night cruise with stops in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. This will be my first Celebrity Cruise Line experience so I am very excited. In full disclosure, this is a work trip. I will be teaching a Social Media class to other Travel Professionals. So, I am not paying for the trip, but it is in not what I would consider free as I will hopefully be earning my keep.

While in Jamaica we will be doing the Dunn’s River Falls tour and in Grand Cayman we will be swimming with the Stingrays at Stingray Island. Grand Cayman is a new Island for me and I hear it is beautiful. I will be posting videos on the CruiseSource TV Channel on YouTube. Follow along to see the Celebrity Century for yourself. If the videos get you excited about trying the Celebrity Century for yourself, I have good news: In January and February 2010 you can sail on the 5 star Celebrity Century for 5-nights for only $295 per person.

Jumping on the plane now! Please forgive any grammar or typos I did not have time to edit. ~ Happy Sailing ~ Rich Tucker

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Filed under Caribbean, Conference Cruises, Miami, NCL Pride of America, Ship Reviews, Shore Excursions, Social Media

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

2009 Social Fresh Cruise Bon Voyage Party Recap

I apologize for being silent at CruiseSource.us for a week, but what an amazing week it was. I had been planning the Social Fresh Social Media Cruise for 9 months and last week I got the opportunity to see my dream come to life. The Date of the Cruise was 11.12.09 on the Carnival Destiny. I will recap the Cruise in the next couple of posts.

Social Fresh Bon Voyage Tweetup, 11.11.09:
When members of the Miami Social Media Community heard that we were bringing 50 Social Media Leaders from across the US down to Miami to Cruise the Caribbean for 4 days, they contacted me immediately. They wanted to take the opportunity to meet as many of us in person and send us off properly with a big Tweetup. As written in the Miami New Times By Maria De Los Angeles, I worked with the South Florida Social Media Community and the Greater Miami Conventions and Visitors Bureau to throw the largest Tweetup in Miami history! There was no way that a “Cruise” Dude from Charlotte, NC could have been the catalyst to such a successful event in Miami without social media. The event truly displayed the power and collaborative spirit of Social Media. The South Florida Social Media Community shined by helping host such a successful event.

Social Fresh Bon Voyage Party, DoubleTree Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay

Awesome Photo by Francisco Jose Palacio

The Venue, the DoubleTree Grand Biscayne Bay Hotel could not have been a more gracious host providing the event with complimentary wine all evening. The DoubleTree Hotel is where the Social Fresh Cruisers stayed the night before the cruise and we all had a very nice stay. Their facilities are excellent for conference events and mixers with emaculate views of the Marina.

Great Twitter People I got to work with on the event included @miamiandbeaches @yvetteferry @AlexDC @BrianBreslin @SMCSF @AWCSF & @refreshmiami.

One of the highlights of the Social Fresh Bon Voyage Party is that I got to meet Online Friends who I have been following for years like @CouchSurfingOri @Uftukel and @Steph_Rose. Social Media facilitates quick connections, but meeting face to face moves a weak connection to a strong connection almost immediately. If you are not meeting the people you meet online, you are missing out on what makes it special.

I have a ton of content from the Social Fresh Cruise and from Oasis of the Seas coming in the next couple of weeks, Subscribe here to get all the posts from the Social Media Leader in the Cruise Industry.

Social Fresh Cruisers at the Bon Voyage Party

@CruiseSource with @Uftukel at the #SoCruise BonVoyage Tweetup

@CruiseSource @93Octane & @CouchsurfingOri

All Pictures taken by Blancastella.

Happy Sailing,
Rich Tucker
@CruiseSource

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Filed under Miami, Social Media, Travel Reviews

Hurricane Ida, Cruise Impacts

As of 6PM ET, the Cruise Lines do not have any official announcements for impacts to itineraries due to Hurricane Ida. Timing is pretty good because alot of the Ships departed this weekend ahead of the Storm. I’ve heard stories of some rocky seas on Twitter. If you are cruising this week, pick up some Bonine for motion-sickness just in case. I am watching this one very closely, as I am scheduled to depart on the Carnival Destiny out of Miami for the Social Fresh Cruise on Thursday 11.12.09. This has been one of the calmest hurricane seasons ever for the Caribbean and Gulf Coast. Just my luck that a rare late season hurricane is churning in the Gulf of Mexico right before the Social Fresh Cruise.

Monday Morning, I will aggregate all the Cruise Line Hurricane announcements into one post. Hopefully, Ida is another non-event for the Cruise Industry and for the Social Fresh Cruise.

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Filed under Carnival, Miami