Category Archives: Travel 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: St. Maarten & St. Kitts

Celebrity Solstice, St. Maarten:

A few hours ago we set sail from St. Maarten headed back to Ft. Lauderdale. Luckily, we were the only ship calling on St. Maarten today. Yesterday they were 4 cruise ships docked in St. Maarten. St. Maarten a great inexpensive port for beach lovers and window shoppers. A $6 per person water taxi transported us from the ship to the beach and the Phillipsburg downtown shopping area. For $10 we got 2 lounge chairs, an umbrella, and 2 beers. Dylan got to play on his first white sand beach and splash around in the clear blue ocean. After a few hours on the beach, we hit the shops.
Today, the beach, the taxis and the shopping was not crowded at all. It is probably the complete opposite when there are 4 ships docked in St. Martin at the same time. If you are booking a cruise going to St. Martin, ask your agent to check out how many ships are in St. Martin when you will be there… just something to consider when looking at different options for your next cruise.

Water Trampoline St. Maarten

St. Kitts

Yesterday we visited the Island of St. Kitts. The people of St. Kitts were some of the friendliest I have met in the Caribbean. Not once were we asked to get our hair braided or asked to buy something while we were relaxing on the beach. One of the local guys who rented beach chairs played soccer and cricket on the beach with the tourist kids. We chose to go to Frigate Bay because it was on the Caribbean side of the Island which means that the seas are calm and the water crystal clear. Frigate Bay was not crowded or touristy. There were several bar shacks on the beach. The sand at Frigate Bay was not the pretty white sand and according to one local bartender was the reason that the beach did not get over crowded.
One of the Solstice Black Jack Dealers did recommend the Marriot Resort beach. The Marriot on St. Kitts is a huge property with Golf Course, Casino, impressive pools, and public beaches. The only reason we did not go was because the Marriot resort is on the Atlantic side of the Island. Both the Marriot Beach and Frigate Bay Beach are only a $4 per person taxi ride. Many more pictures and video coming when we get back home!

Apologize about the quality of the video, we only had our Sony Cybershot camera at the beach with us:

Soccer on the Beach with a St. Kitts Local

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Filed under Caribbean, 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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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

Costa Deliziosa – Inaugural Event Update

It is 4:30 AM on the brand new Costa Deliziosa. I woke up wide awake…feeling guilty for neglecting CruiseSource.us by not writing a blog post in two days. I’ve been uploading photos to Flickr from Italy and the Costa Deliziosa. I swear, We have been constantly on the go and I have the pics and videos to prove it! Unfortunately haven’t had the time to get them all up on the internet. On these inaugural events, we try to experience the entire ship in a short period of time. Since this is our first time to Italy, we are also trying to experience as much of the destination as possible. So far we have toured Venice and Naples. This morning we will be exploring Florence and Pisa. What makes Costa different is that when get back on the ship, you feel like you are still in Italy. Most Americans have not heard of Costa, although in the last 9 months they have launched 3 brand new ships, the Pacifica, Luminousa, and now the Deliziosa. I’ve heard that this a record. The Deliziosa is a Joe Farcus designed vessel with lot of Marble, Wood, and a very sensual undertone. It is the Italian Premium FUN Ships. The size and layout of the ship is similar to the Carnival Spirit class of ships. This Italian Itinerary is an opportunity for as much of the country to get to see and visit the ship before she leaves for Dubai. The Deliziosa will be completing 7-night Middle Eastern runs roundtrip Dubai for several months and then she will settle in on a 7-night northern European Itinerary.

Back to bed for me, hopefully I can get an hour more of sleep before we disembark in Livorno.

Jess & Rich with Joe & Jean Farcus on the Costa Deliziosa

Sax Player in the Multi-Level Disco Bar

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Filed under Carnival, Costa, Shore Excursions, Travel Reviews

Costa Deliziosa – Inaugural

Jess and I are preparing to leave for the Costa Deliziosa Inaugural cruise departing Venice on February 1, 2010.  I’ve cruised on several inaugural sailings: the Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, & the Oasis of the Seas.  All of these inaugural events occurred after the ships crossed the Atlantic.  The Costa Deliziosa will be special because Costa is taking ownership of the Deliziosa from the Marghera (Venice) Shipyard on January 29th and we will be among her first passengers on January 31st.   We’ll be giving her a spin up around the Italian Coast, visiting Naples, Livorno, and Savona.  Jess is excited because Italy is her dream destination and she can’t believe we are actually leaving in 4 days… I’m a cruise geek so I am excited about being among the first passengers on the Costa Deliziosa.  And I’m excited to experience Costa Cruise Lines for the first time.  Of course I will be tweeting from the Deliziosa.  I’ll be one of the first to upload pictures and videos from the ship.  The Features of the Costa Deliziosa:

COSTA DELIZIOSA

92,600 gross tons

2,260 Double Occupancy Capacity

Along with her sister ship, the Costa Luminosa, she will be the fleet’s “flagship,” offering the most exclusive and innovative elements in the fleet, designed for Costa’s most discerning clientele.

  • These innovations include the ship’s avant-garde design and the use of premium materials, such as various type of marbles, granite, mother-of-pearl and Murano glass, stucco applied by spatula using the technique known as “spatolato veneziano” and other decorative interior finishes including “parchment scroll” lamé, refined Zebrano wood and Wenge timber.
  • The stunning atrium features fine works of art, including “Sphere” by Arnaldo Pomodoro and a piece by Mario Donizetti.
  • A 4-D cinema, where sight, sound, touch and scent come together to form a multisensory experience for guests. It also features seats that roll in tandem with action as it unfolds onscreen.
  • A rollerskating track will allow guests to try roller skating with strap-and-go “Skorpion” skates that attach to one’s shoes.
  • The golf simulator, where guests will be able to play golf in one of the world’s top 37 most famous golf courses while at sea.
  • A Grand Prix race car driving simulator, one of the most accurate representations of Formula One racing available.
  • PlayStation World areas, exclusive dedicated areas equipped with PS3 consoles and the latest-generation videogames. Themed evenings and challenges on a mega-screen overlooking the pool deck will also be planned with PlayStation and guests may enjoy PS3 games from the comfort of their cabin with on-demand games for rent.
  • The exclusive “Samsara Spa” wellness center, complete with cabins featuring direct access to the spa and Technogym Kinesis rooms.
  • The à la carte restaurant Club Deliziosa will feature the very best traditional Italian cuisine and quality ingredients with menus created by Ettore Bocchia, Executive Chef at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio and a Michelin-Star restaurateur.
  • An exclusive wine selection includes Amarone Stella Aneri Special Reserve 2004, a limited edition wine produced and matured in 15 barrels set aside for Costa’s ships.
  • Entertainment options include the lounge acts in the Excite Piano Bar, dancing in the Sharãzãd disco, a chocolate bar in the Sugar Cafeteria, the Tabac Blonde Cigar Lounge, and Broadway-style revues in the Duse Theatre.

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