Aug 23

Website Review: Cruise Fish

CruiseFish.Net is a site that tracks the price of your cruise.  You’ve already booked your cruise and don’t want to manually check the price of your cruise, but want any possible credit you can get.  Cruise Fish will do the work for you.

A few years ago a cruise I was taking a cruise and on a whim I checked the price of a the cruise, it had gone down.  When I contacted my travel agent she was able to upgrade us from an ocean view to a extended balcony room.  It’s definitely worth having the price of your cruise checked!

From the Cruise Fish website, here is what they can do for you:

  • You already booked a cruise? CruiseFish notifies you of any price drop so you can get a refund or on-board credit from the cruise line.
  • Your favorite stateroom category is not available yet? Let CruiseFish watch it and send you a note when it comes back online.
  • Want to book early on those hot new cruise dates? CruiseFish will let you know as soon as they appear on the cruise line’s web site.
  • Get lower prices in other currencies? Take advantage of cruise line price differences between currencies and save up to 30%, CruiseFish price tables will show you how.

What does it cost?  99 Cents

I haven’t had the chance to use the service (haven’t taken a cruise since I heard about it). But, I will definitly be using it for my next cruise.

Feb 01

Travel Tip: Labels

Last year I went on a couple trips, one was long, the rest were short.  But no matter the length of your trip managing email is difficult.  Lets face it, most email you get is probably not a priority.  So weeding through your email can be a chore on vacation if you don’t have an effective way to do it.

One of the ways I manage email is by using Gmail Labels.  Yes, it does require you to use Gmail, but as it’s such a robust program you should at least consider switching to it.  And it’s not as hard as you might think to switch.  You can keep your old email account and have Gmail import your email.  You’ll never have to notify anyone.

Why Gmail?  The label system that if offers.  Remember that moment when you realized you could make folders in your email?  Labels are like folders on steroids.

I guess I should first mention that instead of deleting, Gmail leans towards archiving emails.  It hides them away from your view, but keeps them incase you need to reference them.  Yes, you can still delete emails, but since the memory that Gmail allows you to use is so large it will be years and years before you’ll NEED to delete.

So back to labels: similar to folders, but cooler. You get an email, you read it, don’t need it now, but don’t want to delete it.  But you’re not sure which of your “folders” you want to put it into, well with Gmail you don’t have to choose, you can put as many labels on it as you need.  Then when you’re looking for it you can click on any of those labels you used to easily find the email.

How does this apply to your travels?  Well when you get those emails that you don’t need on vacation, but might need when you get home – now you can label them for easy reference when you’re home.  Or maybe it’s emails from the stores you frequent.  You see the email, label it, archive it and move on.  If an occasion comes that you need that coupon code, it’s easy to find.   Now you can focus on the emails from friends and family asking if it’s true that you got robbed in London and need them to wire you cash.

You can set up filters that will automatically label emails (you can also have them auto archived if you have a crazy ex-boyfriend who wont stop email you).  Or you can add the label on when the emails arrive.   I have a lot of automatic labeling done, and it make it easy to archive emails when I’m on vacation, knowing they are not lost, but also not distracting me from the important emails.

If you want more information on how to set up labels, Google has a simple set of directions here.

Nov 21

The Old Days of Cruise Ships

The other day I was listening to a Podcast where they were talking about how it used to be on cruise ships 20 and 30 years ago, and what has changed.  It got me thinking about my memories of cruise ships as a kid in the 80’s.

I took my first cruise in 1987, it was a 6 day cruise to Bermuda on the SS Amerikanis and I didn’t have to look that up, even though I was 11 I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was a budget line and there were 4 of us in an inside cabin and the TV was probably 5 inches and didn’t work.  What a different time, there were no room cards that you paid your bills with cash, no electronic bills to look at on your TV and no freestyle dining.  But I do remember the waitstaff being awesome and taking care of all my 11 year old needs.

But, I also remembered my parents had friends who cruised regularly and I remember going to see them off once, we were able to board the ship and visit in their stateroom and see a bit of the ship.  I remember it being small but luxurious.  Of course I was probably under the age of 10 and my frame of reference wasn’t of a high standard.  After we left the ship my family waited at the dock and waved as our friends set sail.  What happened to the days of having your friends board the ship with you and seeing your cruise ship?  I’ll admit I want that to come back just so I can see other ships.  But it also seems like it would be a great way to interest people in taking a cruise on that ship.  Visit your friend on their cruise and see how cool the ship is and then when the guests are walking off the ship you offer some “fabulous” discount if they book then.  It’s an awesome plan.  I have no doubt it’s because of security that this option no longer exists and never will again.  But it’s a fun idea.

What do you remember about your past cruise experiences?

Nov 02

Epic Entertainment

Yes, I know the name of this post is cheesy, when you name a ship Epic, you ask for it!

When Norwegian launched the Norwegian Epic the entertainment obviously had to match the name, it had to be epic and I thought they did an excellent job!

I’ll start with my only complaint and get it over with.  With so many people on the ship you had to make advanced reservations (pre-boarding or on the first night) for many of the shows if you wanted to guarantee to get in.  However, if you couldn’t get a reservation there was usually a standby line, which I hear got everyone in.  This system, while reducing the chaos at these shows, took a lot of the spontaneity out of the cruise entertainment.

On the first night of the cruise I went to see Cirque Dreams.  This is not a Cirque du Soleil show, but its the same type of performance: acrobatics, music, clowns, and in this case – audience participation. I’m not a huge fan of this type of show.  I enjoy it, but I also get a bored after about 45 minutes.  The nice thing about Cirque Dreams is that it’s a dinner show so you have a little distraction from the show which helped prevent the boredum from setting in.

Cirque Dreams takes place in a Spiegel Tent, whatever that is, the setting is like a theatre in round.  It has two floors and the seats upstairs are cheaper (there is an additional fee for this dinner and show), I also thought they were better as there are fewer sight line issues and you’re not picked for audience participation.  You do need to show up early to get seating, which is especially important if you get the premium seating on the main floor – if you come late you’ll end up in the back of the room and you’ll miss what is going on in the air during the show.  The food was good, very tasty.  I don’t remember what they served, though I know it was a new menu for my cruise, but there was a sampling of different appetizers, main courses and desserts.

Blue Man Group’s Theatre

I would recommend Cirque Dreams to anyone who likes Cirque du Soleil types of shows and to anyone who has considered seeing a show like this.  You can’t beat the price ($20 or $30) on this cruise to find out if you do enjoy it.

Next up is Blue Man Group, I had not seen this before and I enjoyed the show.  I’ll admit I didn’t get the plot of the show, but there were lots of cute and goofy things to keep me entertained.  I know this show isn’t loved by all, but for the price (included in your cruise), it’s certainly worth seeing.  I hear it’s pretty similar to the shows done in the US; however, they do have audience participation.  Consider yourself warned.

Steven Sorrentino as Sonny and Cher

Steven Sorrentino is a Vegas comedian who was on our ship for the summer.  Tickets to his show were particularly hard to get.  I enjoyed his show, I laughed a lot.  His “victims” ranged from the Marx Brothers to famous people in the 1970’s so I would say his audience would primarily be for the 40+ crowd from the US.  I know the British didn’t get most of his jokes.
There were quite a few things that I did not see – some Spanish Ballet, which I heard was very good.  A puppet show, which I heard you couldn’t see the puppets unless you were in the front.  Legends In Concert, which I heard mixed reviews of.  The Second City was not on our ship, they took off for the summer.  I was disappointed by this, they were on my cruise in Hawaii and were very good.

There was a Beatles band, I thought they were very good, but the crowd didn’t seem to get into it so the experience wasn’t great.

But my favorite entertainment was Howl At the Moon where their motto is “it isn’t how well you sing, but how loud.”  In case you’re wondering it’s dueling pianos.  One of the nice things is that there are 3 people so they rotate their breaks and the show never stops!  Maybe I’m a cheesy 35 year old, but I loved just hanging out and singing along.   They took requests and often made funny and entertaining renditions of songs and other times they just did a nice ballad.  Good times!