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Crown Cruise Vacations | November 1, 2014

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Keeping track of passengers with the S.S. Legacy magnet board

August 27, 2014 | Heidi

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY - In keeping with its 1900s theme, the S.S. Legacy has a simple way to keep track of passengers who are ashore and those who are aboard.

Each time we leave the Legacy for a shore excursion, we look for our cabin number on a large magnetic board and move our little magnet from the “aboard” column to the “ashore” column.

If there are two of us sharing a cabin, there are, of course, two magnets – one for each passenger. One person might go ashore and the other might not.

When we return to the Legacy, we move our little magnet again. The board also has a separate list for crew members.

Does it work? “We’ve never left anyone behind,” said Julie Kehr, assistant heritage leader on the Legacy. “There is usually a crew member around to remind you to move your magnet when you’re coming or going.”

On larger ships, the tracking system is usually done via computer. When passengers leave a ship for a shore visit, each passenger slides a personalized cruise ID card through a machine. A crew member is always there to make sure no one leaves the ship without sliding the card.

Upon return, a passenger goes through a security check and slides the personalized cruise card again.

At boarding at the beginning of every cruise, passengers on the large vessels have their photos taken and are given a cabin cruise key must like a credit card.  The “key” is used to enter the passenger’s cabin as well as to exit the ship (and often to charge important items aboard ship, such as cold cocktails or beer). That way, the computer knows who is aboard and who is ashore, as well as what that person looks like.

Does that work? A carnival cruise director told me it is an excellent system but there are sometimes still cruisers who are having so much fun ashore that they lose track of time.

If passengers are not back at the well-publicized time that the ship is set to leave, those tardy passengers are on their own.  Sure wouldn’t be fun to have to find a way to get to the next destination where the cruise ship is due to dock.

Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

Cruise Ship Trivia: It’s a Whale of a Tail

August 20, 2014 | Heidi

If you’ve cruised the ocean wide, you’ve probably seen that tall “whale tail” decorating ships belonging to a famous cruise line. The red, white and blue funnel with fins on both sides is both decorative and useful.

For a bit of cruise ship trivia, do you know what cruise line uses the distinctive tail atop its ships? A hint – the name is often associated with clowns, appropriate enough because the cruise line’s vessels are often known as “The Fun Ships.”

Don’t look at the answer below until you have formulated yours.

If you recognize it, congratulations. If not, might be time to book a fun ship cruise.

 

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(Answer) The “Whale-Tail” is a funnel design used on Carnival cruise ships. It is actually a Carnival patent.

The wings are functional as well as eye-catching. Made of a fiber glass composite, the wings are designed to help direct the flow of exhaust gases from the diesel engines, generators and other equipment. The wings direct the exhaust flow away from and over the aft decks and fun-loving passengers.

The first Carnival whale tail appeared on the new ship Tropicale launched in 1982. It is said that longtime Carnival designer Joe Farcus created the unusual funnel.

Called “The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line,” Carnival now has 24 ships with the company’s 25th, the Carnival Vista, scheduled to enter service in 2016.

Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

Cruise Ship Thrills: Drive a race car onboard the MSC Divina

August 4, 2014 | Heidi

ABOARD THE MSC DIVINA - Sandy Sherma could barely see over the steering wheel of her Formula One race car. But she put the pedal to the metal and off she went.

A few spinouts later, the Florida woman emerged from her sleek Ferrari and proclaimed, “Whew! I need a drink!”

The race car simulator on the MSC Divina is so realistic, Sherma said, that she was breathless as though she had been running a marathon instead of just sitting in a stationary vehicle.

“It really gets your adrenaline going,” she said. “You feel as though you are actually out there racing.”

The Formula One racecar simulator was getting a workout itself on our three-day voyage aboard the MSC Divina. The state-of-the art simulator reproduces driving conditions in one of the fastest cars in the world. Wrap around video screens and vehicle movement makes it feel as though the driver is tackling some of the world-famous racecourses from Monte Carlo to Montreal.

“It’s even harder than it looks,” said MSC Divina crewmember Nelson Torres, in charge of the simulator experience.

It looked plenty tough enough to me. “A lot of people wreck,” Torres said. “It is a professional car and handles like one so people are sometimes surprised at how hard it is.”

The vehicle is an actual Formula One car, a single-seat, open cockpit, open-wheel racing with substantial front and rear wings. In the true racecar, the engine is positioned behind the driver.

In the simulator, “drivers” get to experience the thrill of traveling at high speeds. From the flash of the green light to the pit stop and to overtaking a rival, the goal is to safely and quickly make it to the checkered flag and be the winner. Not many simulator drivers accomplish that.

The Formula One Simulator on Deck 16 of the MSC Divina costs $9 for a seven-minute drive. “It’s something you have to do,” said Sherma. “It’s hard to describe unless you’ve done it.”

Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Fin

Carnival Cruises Musical Revues- All Your Favorites

July 17, 2014 | Heidi

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL FREEDOM - Are you a fan of rocking piano music made famous by the likes of  Jerry Lee Lewis? Maybe your tastes run more to 1980s pop from Cindy Lauper and Michael Jackson.

Or could be the smooth soul songs of Otis Redding that soothe you. Then there’s the feel-good beach music for island time with Jimmy Buffet, the Beach Boys and more.

Four brand new production shows featuring cutting-edge technology and live performances amid towering LED screens are now part of the Carnival Freedom’s extensive multi-million dollar makeover. The major renovations took place while the ship was dry docked in April and May 2014.

The new revues are presented in Carnival Freedom’s 1,400-seat Victoriana Show Lounge. In addition to the four spectacular Playlist Productions revues, Carnival Freedom’s theatre productions also include Hasbro, the Game Show. Fact paced and hilarious, the live game only offers larger-than-life adaptations of Hasbro’s iconic games.

Audience members volunteer to participate in the game shows, the only live game show of its type in the cruise industry.

A quick glimpse of the new shows includes:

 Heart of Soul – Groove to popular R&B and soul hits from legendary singers such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Al Green.  Six lucky couples will have a dream date for the show with VIP seats, champagne and flowers.

80s Pop to the Max – Remember the era of Day-Glo, Spandex, big hair and “when video killed the radio star?” Relive yesteryear with the hottest music video hits from the 1980s, including Duran Duran, Cindy Lauper, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and more. 

Getaway Island – It’s always 5 o’clock on this special island with its hi-tech recreation of 1960s beach movies. Cruise away to the music of  Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley, the Beach Boys and others. As a nod toCarnival Freedom’s new RedFrog Pub, the show also features a cocktail glass-spinning bartender and talented guitar soloist.

88 Keys: The Rock n’ Roll Piano Show – Tickling the ivories will make your toes tap in this show with hits from Billy Joel, Little Richard,  Jerry Lee Lewis and others, plus Carnival Freedom’s own piano bar pianist.