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Crown Cruise Vacations | August 29, 2015

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Grande Caribe can nestle into shore for unexpected stop

June 8, 2015 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

Carol Schreck had never been fishing in her life. But when the Grande Caribe made an unscheduled stop at a lovely marina known for its many fish, Carol decided to give it a try.

She pulled in a whopping two fish – a smallmouth bass and a catfish. “It was beginner’s luck,” Carol said modestly. Her prize catches were released back into their watery home.

Although the Grande Caribe was due to dock and spend the night at Cuba Landing Marina in Waverly, Tennessee, the river was so high that ship captain David Sylvaria decided to tie up at Buzzard Rock Marina instead. Located in Kuttawa, Tennessee, the marina is nestled in a quiet cove on beautiful Lake Barkley.

A short canal a few miles from Buzzard Rock connects Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake for over 4,000 miles of shoreline and 220,000 acres of water surface. The river system winds around the Land Between the Lakes and connects to the intercoastal waterway reaching all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

No one knows how Buzzard Rock got its name but one tale involves an Indian princess and some bad luck. For Carol, however, the site was a lucky spot. “It was fun,” she said of reeling in her two catches. “It was a surprise, something I never expected.”

When the ship made its detour stop, cruise director Jenn McDaniel thought that passengers might enjoy some afternoon fishing from a bass boat or from the docks. Marina maintenance manager Dave Shelton was happy to oblige and provided complimentary fishing equipment and bait.

“The fishing is really good here,” Dave said. “We got a big variety of fish so it’s a prime fishing spot.”

Among the fish in Lake Barkley are largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, white bass and catfish. Lake Barkley is a favorite for bass tournaments with anglers catching bass that average four pounds each.

Although her fish didn’t approach a record size, Carol says she is proud of her catch and hopes to fish again. “It was definitely life changing.”


Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch



Carnival Cruise Guarantee

June 2, 2015 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

Carnival Cruise Lines has long promised that travelers will have a wonderful cruise on their ships or get their money back. Last year, Carnival ramped up that promise even more with its “Great Vacation Guarantee.”

Now Carnival has announced that its popular guarantee will be offered again in 2015.

The deal guarantees that passengers who are not enjoying the cruise can notify the ship’s management within the first 24 hours of the voyage and receive a 110 percent refund plus complimentary transportation home. The guarantee also adds $100 shipboard credit for a future cruise.

Carnival is proud to carry nearly 4.5 million satisfied guests each year and is very confident in the quality of the vacation experience provided on board the 24 ships of Carnival Cruise Lines, officials said

The “Great Vacation Guarantee” is designed to provide an assurance to those consumers who may be considering a cruise that the company stands behind its and, if they are dissatisfied for any reason, passengers have a simple and hassle-free means for receiving a full refund and more.

Carnival will fully handle all the necessary travel arrangements to make it a truly hassle-free experience. In the event the cruiser drove to the port of embarkation, Carnival will arrange complimentary transportation back to that port.

If other guests in the same party do not want to exercise the Carnival Great Vacation Guarantee, they can stay aboard and continue their cruise.

To make the deal even sweeter, all incidentals will be refunded as well – 100 percent of the cruise cost, plus government fees and taxes, the Vacation Protection Plan, prepaid gratuities, and unused pre-purchased services such as the spa and unused shore excursions.

Then Carnival will top that with an additional 10 percent, which will be mailed via check. Or disgruntled travelers can receive that 10 percent as cash at the Guest Services desk.

Why is Carnival taking this gamble?

As the Carnival Cruise Lines website notes, “We believe, and have so much confidence in our product, that we felt it was appropriate to make our guarantee even stronger. We’re proud of the experience we deliver to the millions of guests who cross our gangway each year.”

Story By Jackie Sheckler Finch

MSC Divina offers two mini bowling alleys for sportsters

April 28, 2015 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

A bowling alley on a cruise ship? Why not? The mini-bowling alley on the MSC Divina certainly has its happy competitors.

The small twin alleys are located in the ship’s Sports Bar, an American-themed spot where passengers can watch pro sports on big-screen TVs while they munch on American food and quaff drinks.

The bar has two lanes with mini-pins and balls. Scoring is done electronically on a big screen. Every aspect of the ten-pin bowling has been carefully designed for fun and easy use on a cruise ship. That includes a traditional-looking bowling surface that is actually made of a tough phenol compound which allows passengers to join in the play without changing shoes.

The more compact size is also a plus for youngsters. But don’t fool yourself. It is still a bowling alley and someone has to be the winner.

Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Monkey and Mice

April 22, 2015 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

When ships stop in Heidelberg, Germany, passengers can see an unusual sight down by the Old Bridge. The unusual sculptures are of a monkey and two mice.

I wasn’t with a tour guide when I saw the sculptures so didn’t know the story of the strange critters. But I was lucky enough to be on the edge of a tour group where the leader was explaining in English.

The story she told is that the monkey holding a mirror in his left hand is meant to remind people not to get too full of themselves. No one is better than anyone else, the guide said, and no one is safe from making themselves a monkey’s rear if they aren’t careful. The monkey actually has his behind turned toward the river and the bridge, all the better to moon approaching visitors.

The bronze sculpture was installed in 1979 by Professor Gernot Rumpf. But there had been a bridge monkey in Heidelberg as far back as the 15th century, according to historic records.

A plaque next to the statue read, the guide said, something along the lines of “As you look at me, don’t laugh because if you were to look at other human beings or even into a mirror, you might just see something equally funny.” Good lesson.

The sculpture was created with a big empty space in the monkey’s head. That way people can stick their heads inside the monkey’s head, making it quite a popular photo spot.

According to legend, if you touch the fingers of the Bridge Monkey, it will ensure your return to Heidelberg. If you touch the mirror, you will have money in your future. If you touch the mice, that is a guarantee of fertility. I think I touched all of them so who knows what my future holds. Returning to Heidelberg would be my hope.


Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch