Category Archives: Ship Reviews

NCL Epic Courtyard Complex Review, Video, and Pics

Detailed Overview of the NCL Epic Courtyard Complex by Liz Finn of NCL:

On the NCL Epic, the Ultra-Exclusive Private Courtyard Complex only accessible by passengers booked in the courtyard level suites sets the Epic apart from the rest of the industry. As Liz Finn, from NCL explains in the video below the courtyard suite accomodations are a one-of-kind option for multi-generational families. For the young kids to be able to get all of the entertainment options that the NCL Epic offers while the grandparents get an exclusive high-end experience in the courtyard complex is not found on any other ship. Some of the cabins in the courtyard complex like the Owners Suite’s offered plenty of square footage. The Penthouse suite in the courtyard complex that we toured lacked a little in size but was still very luxurious. You will see in the videos below that the NCL Epic suites have some of the most beautiful and innovative bathrooms that we have seen at sea. The reality of the courtyard complex is that with a private Sun Deck, Courtyard Pool, Dinner Club, Lounge, & Workout Facility the courtyard suite passengers have 2 private decks to roam that becomes their luxurious home away from home. For those looking for a private experience with tons of amenities, there is very little need to leave the courtyard complex if you did not want too.

899 Balcony Cabin with $175 Onboard Credit

NCL Epic Owners Suite Video from the Exclusive Courtyard Complex:

NCL Epic Penthouse Suite Video from the Courtyard Complex:

NCL Epic Courtyard Villa Private Pool Video:

Click to enlarge Photos from the Courtyard Villas, Suites, and Pool

Luxurious Epic Owner Suite Picture

Luxury + Privacy + Exclusivity = NCL Epic Owners Suite

NCL Epic Courtyard Pool Pic

Epic Private Courtyard Villa Pool

NCL Epic Penthouse Picture

NCL Epic Penthouse Photo

Video Epic Courtyard

Videoing the NCL Epic Courtyard Photo

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Filed under Family Cruising, NCL Epic, Ship Reviews

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

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

Costa Deliziosa Videos

Costa Deliziosa Videos: I’ve been slowly updating the CruiseSource Youtube Station with short, raw videos from the Costa Deliziosa Inaugural Event. The primary purpose of the videos is to give those of you thinking about booking the Deliziosa an idea of the decor, design, and the entertainment on the ship. If a picture is a worth a 1000 words then a video should be worth 10,000 words. Below, I’ve embedded a few of the Costa Deliziosa Videos. Please visit CruiseSource TV on Youtube to see all the videos of the Deliziosa and many other cruiseships.

Costa Deliziosa Golf Simulator Video

Costa Deliziosa Atrium Video with Musicians

Costa Deliziosa Video: Mini-Suite

Check out the Full Costa Deliziosa Review.

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Filed under Costa, Ship Reviews, Travel Reviews

Costa Deliziosa, CruiseSource Review

Famous Costa SmokeStack

Costa Deliziosa

The Costa Deliziosa is a Premium Italian cruise ship designed by legendary architect and designer Joe Farcus. The Deliziosa represents Farcus’s best work yet. I loved all the beautiful marble, tile, and wood intertwined with the patterns and lighting comparable to a Carnival Cruise Ship. The Food: The Dinners on the Deliziosa were excellent with a variety of offerings from authentic Italian pastas, veal, steak, seafood and more creative dishes like rabbit & pigeon. I’d categorize the Costa Deliziosa’s dinners in the main dining room as premium thanks to the presentation, quality, flavors, and service. It’s tough to go to Italy without enjoying some Italian Wine and Costa offers an incredible selection. We didn’t get an opportunity to eat at the Deliziosa’s only specialty restaurant, Club Deliziosa. Club Deliziosa offers a more intimate setting with an ala carte menu with the average ticket price of $30 per person. On the inaugural sailing, the Costa Deliziosa’s Breakfast & Lunch buffets were not on the same level as their impressive dinners. Of course, the pizza which was available almost 24/7 was delicious.

OnBoard Entertainment
The Deliziosa offered some cool twists to onboard entertainment. The 4-D cinema sits 20 with 3D visual effects, motion, and other sensory effects to give the viewer the feeling that they are part of the movie. They offer a F1 racing simulator and the best golf simulator at sea. On the Costa Deliziosa’s Sports Deck, passengers can put the Quadline Skorpian Skates over their shoes and skate around the Costa Smokestack. They also offer the only Sugar Cafeteria at Sea with a chocolate fountain for dipping an assortment of fruits. The chocolate covered bananas and figs were my favorites.

Costa Deliziosa Chocolate Fountain - Sugar Cafeteria

The live musicians playing harps, violins, saxophones and pianos found in the atrium, the lounges, and the piano bar were some of the best I’ve found on one cruiseship. We attended one of the after dinner shows which was a musical variety show… it is rare that I find musicals to keep my attention and this was not any different.  

Club Deliziosa - Specialty Restaurant

Authentic European Experience
If sailing outside the Caribbean on Costa Cruise Line, Italian is the primary language. The Cruise Director as well as most of the staff speak multiple languages and most announcements are repeated in several languages. Costa Cruise Lines send all of their onboard employees to training before working on ships to learn the basics of the Italian language and culture.

The Costa Deliziosa will be sailing to the safe regions of the Middle East for the next few months and then she we will be completing Northern European Voyages.

Is Costa Cruise Line in Europe & Middle East for you: When you travel abroad do you like to fully immerse yourself in the European Experience? Do you mind if Americans are in the minority on the ship? If you are looking for an authentic European Cruise Vacation then I fully recommend Costa Cruise Line for you. If you want to tip-toe in the European Experience when off the Cruise Ship and be able to re-enter an Americanized Cruiseship then Costa is not the Cruise Line for you.

Full Disclosure: I work for CruiseDeals.com and we sell Costa Cruises along with all other Major Cruise Lines.  Want to Checkout Costa Deliziosa for yourself? Click here to Check all the 2010 Costa Deliziosa departures. The Inaugural Event was an industry event and was non-revenue generating for Costa (except for the few Euro I lost in the Casino)… For a second opinion, Check out the review of the Costa Deliziosa written by my friend Ralph Grizzle, The Avid Cruiser. ~ Happy Sailing, Rich Tucker

If you have questions about Costa Cruise Line or the Deliziosa please leave a comment.

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Filed under Costa, Europe, Ship Reviews, Travel Reviews, Uncategorized

Major Snow Storm – Most Flights Cancelled

Charlotte Airport after Snow Storm 2010

Sitting at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport, we are very fortunate that our flight is not cancelled. Most flights out of Charlotte have been cancelled, but our Lufthansa flight to Munich then on to Venice is on schedule. I can’t stress the importance of Travel Insurance for protecting your Cruise Vacation from the unkown. You can search the web and find that 99% of anyone who writes about travel recommends travel insurance. We were stressed about our flights, so I called Lufthansa multiple times in the last 24 hours and their service has been amazing!

I will be posting pictures, videos, and writing about our trip here at CruiseSource.us so stay tuned by subscribing in the top right hand corner of the blog! Happy Sailing ~ Rich Tucker

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Filed under Costa, Ship Reviews, Travel Insurance

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