Moola In Roatan, Honduras

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With our cruise being just a little over a month away, I’ve started the task of checking the “lay of the land” on the ports that I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting yet.  Here’s a tidbit I gleaned off of Cruise Critic regarding money in Roatan, Honduras:

I would recommend against planning to use credit cards on Roatan, for a couple of reasons:

1. Many of the smaller places do not accept credit cards at all
2. Most, perhaps all, of the places that DO accept credit cards add on a surcharge (basically, they pass on the "vendor fee" that is charged by the bank/Visa/MasterCard/AMEX that is traditionally eaten by the vendor in the US).

Plan to pay with cash, using small denominations of US Dollars (I typically bring nothing over 20s). Expect to receive your change in lempira.

Travelers checks are widely accepted. Again, plan on small denominations & expect your change in lempira. Also, most places require that you show your passport for identification purposes.

Hat tip to SeaPA1 for posting this advice.

Personally I believe SeaPA1’s advice is good for any foreign port and maybe even in some US cities that I’ve been too!  Generally the Pursar’s desk can break larger bills into change and cash traveller’s cheques.

 

MIAMI - November 16, 2007 - In an effort to deal with the sharp increase in fuel prices, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced the implementation of a fuel supplement of $5 per guest per day for sailings that depart on or after February 1, 2008.

“I thank our guests for understanding our need to implement this fuel supplement,” said Brian Rice, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We have gone to great lengths to minimize the impact of rising fuel costs, for example, designing and building more fuel-efficient ships, installing energy-saving lighting, and using air conditioning more efficiently. Unfortunately, as fuel prices have reached record highs, we are forced to take this extraordinary step to offset those costs.”

The company has taken measures to soften the impact of this decision. For example, the company will not apply the supplement on any bookings where the guest has already paid the full cost of the cruise. In addition, guests who were booked before November 16, and who do not agree to pay the supplement, may cancel their reservation prior to December 7, 2007, for a full refund of all monies they have paid to the company, and they will not be subject to any cancellation charges that would normally apply. Those guests who do not cancel their reservation and pay in full will receive one logo item per stateroom, onboard their cruise. Finally, the supplement will apply only to the first and second guests in each stateroom and will not exceed $70 per person, per sailing.

The supplement will assist the company in offsetting the widespread increases in fuel prices, which have more than doubled in recent years. The supplement will be periodically reviewed, with the intent of being temporary, and may be adjusted as fuel prices fluctuate.

“We know the rising cost of fuel has affected everyone, and, unfortunately, our company is no different,” Rice said. “We hope the options we are providing, including additional time for guests to finalize vacation plans, will underscore our commitment to our guests.” The supplement is effective for new and existing North American bookings. The company cannot predict the impact of the fuel supplement on its earnings, as it does not know the number of new or existing bookings that will accept the proposed supplement.

Roatan, Hondurus

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Roatan, Hondurus is one of the many Caribbean Islands that I haven’t had the pleasure or displeasure of visiting.  I was pleased to see some information turn up on CruiseCritic.com regarding Roatan.  Click on the link below for your viewing pleasure:

Cruise Critic Information on Roatan, Hondurus

Crazy Cruise Club Member Forum

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Here’s the link for the Crazy Cruise Club Members Forum, just click on the link below:

Crazy Cruise Club Forum

Once I figure out this Movable Type 4.0 program that I’m using here, I’ll link the two together.

Here’s an interesting and amusing post about cruising on Royal Caribbean that I stumbled across tonight while surfing cruise sites. Hope you enjoy it!

Yes, you can wear jeans (or shorts) in the dining room, but preferably not on formal nights.
Yes, you can smuggle alcohol on board.
No, it is not necessary to pre-tip the cabin attendant.
The aft balcony will fit lounge chairs. Regular balconies will not.
Yes, aft cabins are great. Yes it’s a long walk. No, you can’t hear noise from the club/Windjammer below/above. (ok maybe a little) It is not necessarily better or worse for movement. It’s all about the view.
Yes, hump cabins are great. No, you don’t hear noise from the elevators. Yes, some balconies are (slightly) bigger.
If you reserve pool lounge chairs, people will be upset with you and might move your stuff.
Yes, the ship may rock. The ocean is not under RCI’s control. Some people get seasick…most don’t.
Fly in a day early just in case. Don’t book a return flight too soon after disembarkation.
Yes, you can board earlier than the “scheduled” time.
Sometimes you can get a bathrobe if you ask.
The weather in the Caribbean in winter is good (despite forecasts of rain).
Choose the early seating if you have children. Stay home if they are under 2.
Read the Ports of Call board if you have excursion questions.
Yes, you can book excursions outside RCI. Most people do, for less money.
Yes, most ships have smoking areas. No, it won’t bother you unless you sit there.
No, you cannot remove balcony dividers.
No, you can’t skip the muster.
Yes, all the rooms have ice buckets, hair dryers, soap and coat hangers.
Yes, Royal Caribbean customer service is a nightmare.
Bring duct tape, bungee cords, Ziploc bags, magnets, less clothes, more money.
Buy the drink of the day to save money.
There is a (slim) chance of being upgraded at the pier.
Yes, Chops and Portofino’s are worth the extra $20.
Buy lanyards and disposable cameras at Walmart/Target/Kmart, not onboard or in port.
Yes, people disappear from cruise ships, some on purpose I suspect.
You can’t take a cruise and not have a good time.
NOT ALL CABINS have a safe.
Johnny Rocket's charges $3.95 per head, but C&A members get a coupon for one free visit, and the soda card doesn't work in there.
OH, you forgot the long, boring, detailed description of soda cards/stickers/cups AND the fact that it's stealing to share.
THERE ARE NO IRONS ON ANY RCCL SHIP
Bring a pen and some Post-It notes (for leaving notes)
RCI does not owe you a refund of your cruise fare if a port is missed for reasons beyond their control....
The cabins have shampoo.
Your baby/toddler/elderly parent cannot go in the pool even with swimmy diapers.
The Solariums are not for children except during certain hours during inclement weather.
RCI does not have a topless/nude sunbathing deck.
You can have "nookie" on your balcony, but sometimes other people can see you.
Sodas/bottled water/alcoholic beverages are not included in the cruise fare.
RCI does not have self-serve laundry or ironing facilities.
You can smuggle an iron onboard in you really want one.
The hair driers do not have much power.
Children under 3, even if potty-trained, are not allowed in Adventure Ocean.
RCI coffee does not taste like Starbuck's (or anything else drinkable!).
RCI does not serve lobster during formal night on 3 or 4 night cruises.
Quest is fun, but it's a secret why.
You can order more than one entree, dessert, soup, etc. during dinner.
You can get a price reduction on your cruise if the price drops and isn't a happy hour special.
Book your own air if you are concerned about stops, flying day of departure, certain airlines, etc.
The ship does not wait for you if you are late boarding unless you are on an RC excursion.
You can get cash from the casino using your Sea Pass.
The internet is not free onboard.
Passports are the recommended form of ID.
If you are a woman using your married name, sometimes they ask for your marriage certificate with your birth certificate, sometimes they don't. No one knows why. See above.
Sometimes the itineraries change without notice. Again, no one knows why.
Travel during hurricane season at your own risk. RC cannot control forces of nature (yet).
Buy insurance.
Not all ships have safes, and on some ships you have to have a card that has a magnetic strip. Bring an expired gift card that can be left in the room.
No candles
Yes, you can hear noise from your neighbors.
no, four adults cannot fit comfortably in an inside cabin
no, elevators do not get you from aft to forward
yes, RCI excursion have first tender priority
yes, carlos n charlies has reopened in Cozumel
cozumel, costa maya and grand cayman ports of call are often cancelled due to rough tendering conditions
tip your servers even if you eat in the Windjammer every day
keep your butt in your poolside lounger or let someone else use it
if you think no one's watching...there's probably a camera
yes, take your mints out of the bed before going to sleep
yes, check your account daily (especially if you have teens or a gambling spouse!)
no, sea lice, bed bugs, jellyfish, botfly, mosquitoes & sand fleas are probably not going to affect you
yes, tip your friendly bartender a little extra
no, the production shows are not Broadway quality
no, the food is not worthy of any Michelin stars, but you're not gonna starve
no, you're not going to find an authentic Picasso for $10 at the art auction
people can be rude...ignore them and focus on your own fun
if you sign up for your M&M, go to it!
no, you cannot fish from or barbeque on your balcony
if you get too drunk or spend too much money it is not the cruise line's fault
Only a Wonka-vator (Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory) can get you between fore & aft or between port & starboard. I don't think this cruise line has installed them yet on their ships
No jr. suites do not get perks....just two cruise credits
No you cannot bring friends or relatives into the concierge lounge if they haven't booked a suite.
The concierge may or may not email or call you prior to the cruise to set up spa appointments etc - and no one knows why some get a call and some don't.
The pina coladas they "serve" in the windjammer on sail-a-way day are not free.
You can request a small table for your family or party....but there is no guarantee.
Yes there is dry cleaning services
Yes there are ATM's BUT a very high sur-charge applies
Think twice about blowing into that Whistle on your Life Preserver
Yes they do connect beds to make a queen size bed
No you will not FALL through the cracks in between the 2 beds
Yes you can fall overboard (voluntarily or if you piss someone off-- maybe pushed)
Yes if you are Scottish or want to be it's ok to wear Kilts to the dining room (going commando is your choice)
Yes there is a Doctor and a Nurse on board
Yes you can order room service (Full Menu)
Depending where the ship is and who your carrier is, you might be able to use your cell phone.
You can use your laptop in your cabin, but it costs extra.
No you can't "Drive" the ship
Yes the ship has Auto-Pilot
Those funny things that help keep the boat stable, well they are called Stabilizers
Yes there are lots of Photographers on the Ship
Left Side of Ship is called PORT
Right Side of Ship is called STARBOARD
Rear of Ship is called AFT
Front of Ship is called BOW

You Wouldn't Have Said It If You Didn't Mean It: Interesting Cruise Info.

Passport Requirements

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Here is the latest information on Passport requirements as posted this week by Royal Caribbean.

Traveling with a valid passport isn't just a good way to go. It's the only way to go.

New Passport Requirements

If you are planning travel for 2007 or beyond, please take a minute to review the passport policy below. If you don't already have a valid passport, be sure to avoid the rush and give yourself plenty of time to apply for one. Once you've got a passport in hand, the whole world is yours to explore.

U.S. Citizen Passport Requirement

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) once fully implemented will require all travelers entering or reentering the United States to be in the possession of a valid passport.

Anticipated Implementation

* October 1, 2007 - The departments of State and Homeland Security reestablished the valid passport requirements for air travel. Valid passports are required for air travel to / from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

U.S. lawful permanent residents will continue to be able to use their Alien Registration Card (Form I-551) issued by the Department of Homeland Security or other valid evidence of permanent residence status to apply for entry to the United States.

* As early as Summer 2008 - A valid passport will be required for all sea and air travel. And subject to U.S. Government amendment, U.S. and Canadian citizens 15 or younger with their parents consent may cross the U.S./Canadian border by land or sea with a certified copy of their birth certificate

Until that time

Sea Travel Only

* For domestic travel which includes: the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico, a passport (valid or expired) is highly recommended.
* In the absence of a passport, a birth certificate (original or certified copy), plus laminated picture ID card issued by a federal, state, or local government agency is required. Note: Baptismal papers and hospital certificates of birth (except for new borns) are not acceptable.
* For U.S. Naturalized citizens, in the absence of a passport, Naturalization papers (either original or notarized copy) plus a picture ID card issued by a federal, state, or local government agency is required.
* A voter registration card or Social Security Card are not considered to be proof of citizenship. Children under 16 years of age do not require a picture ID.

International Travel
o A valid passport is required; visas are required where they apply. This includes Europe, Asia, Central and South America.

For additional passport information visit U.S. Department of State website Or if you prefer, contact Passport Express website for applications and assistance.

Non-U.S. Citizens
You will need a valid passport and, in some cases, a visa. If you live in the U.S., you will also need the original copy of your Alien Registration Card (ARC or "Green Card") and any other documentation the countries on your itinerary require due to your alien status.

Canadian Landed Immigrants
All Canadian Landed Immigrants (inclusive of those who are citizens of the British Commonwealth countries) who reside in Canada must have valid passports and US visas. Also required is your original Permanent Resident Card (PR Card) formally the IMM 1000 or with respect to any country on the itinerary any other travel documentation required because of alien status.

Visas
Please contact the Embassy (Consular Services) of each country on your sailing itinerary or the visa service of your choice for specific visa requirements, information, forms and fees for your nationality

Visa Waiver Program
Citizens from the Visa Waiver Program countries of: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunel, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom seeking to enter the United States will be required to have in their possession a machine readable passport valid for the duration of the voyage.

A machine readable passport is one having an alpha-numeric code on the bottom of the picture page. Example:

P<<UKDOE<<JOHN<<1234567890M1234567890M1234567890<<1234567890

Visa Waiver Program travelers arriving in the U.S. on or after October 26, 2005 with passports issued on or after this date must present passports with a digital photograph.

Visa Waiver Program travelers arriving in the U.S. on or after October 26, 2006 with passports issued on or after that date must present a biometric passport or obtain a visa for entry into the United States.

For a printable file for your records, click the link below:

File Attachment: Passport_New_07009637_NEWPassportRq.pdf (67 KB)

Royal Caribbean is growing!

Miami—September 13, 2007—Continuing its expansion in Europe, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today it is launching a new cruise brand, CDF Croisières de France, committed to the French market. The new brand will begin sailing its first ship, Bleu de France, in May, 2008, after the ship has completed extensive renovations and undergone a cultural transformation wholly adapting the brand experience to French tastes.

The new line will operate one ship initially when it begins operations. The 376-cabin ship was the former luxury liner Europa when it was owned by Hapag Lloyd. Currently, it is Pullmantur’s Holiday Dream. As the flagship of the new brand, Bleu de France will benefit from a €30-million overhaul, significantly altering many of the ship’s public spaces, guest accommodations, entertainment venues and dining options.

The onboard experience of Bleu de France’s guests will be totally French, from cuisine to entertainment to decor. French will be the language used on the ship as well. The ship will sail a Mediterranean itinerary, departing from Marseille, France, starting in Spring, 2008. It will shift to a Caribbean routing, sailing out of La Romana, Dominican Republic, beginning in Winter, 2008-2009.

"We are thrilled with this opportunity to enter the French cruise market with a custom-tailored brand for French cruisers,” said CDF Croisières de France Managing Director Brigitte Tissier. “Our start-up efforts will clearly benefit from the global success and experience of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s family of brands, and we look forward to launching another stellar brand into that circle of excellence.”

Equally enthusiastic about the new brand, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain, added, “We are very excited about bringing French cruising to the French market. We have a high demand for the product, a ship tailor-made for the market, and a highly talented team to lead the effort. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

 I read the following interesting story today about RCI’s decision to terminating relations with “card mill” scammers.  You know the spill….. Become a travel agent for $599 and get your travel free.  From experience, I can tell you if a deal seems too good to be true; it usually isn’t a good deal.

I’ve seen the “sweat equity” and hard work associated with arranging travel for customers and it isn’t an easy job nor is it a “license to travel free.”  If you are not going to book your travel yourself, make sure you deal with a reputable travel agent!

Agents Hail Royal's Card Mill Cut

By Carol Eannarino

The travel agent industry is hailing Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s decision to begin terminating business relationships “with certain travel-related companies that we have concluded are in the ‘card-mill’ business (selling ordinary consumers access to benefits designed for actual agents).”

Read the complete story at the link below

Travel Trade: Headline News
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Here’s a good informative article in the Houston Chronicle regarding the Voyager of the Seas

VOYAGER OF THE SEAS

Some ships merely sail from one destination to another. Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas is a destination.

Continue Reading “Texas-size playground” by clicking here.

Cruise Packing Tips

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Here’s some timely tips that will help making packing for your upcoming cruise easier.

File Attachment: CruisePackingEssentials.pdf (142 KB)