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Crown Cruise Vacations | April 25, 2014

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Carnival’s Unexpected Amenities

January 30, 2014 | Heidi

Sounds silly but whenever I check into a Carnival cruise ship, I’m always curious to see what little freebies they have put in my cabin bathroom.

An amenity basket in every cabin is filled with an odd assortment of  toiletries, free samples and money-saving coupons. One time my daughter Kelly and I got men’s aftershave, some chocolate candy,  razors and bottles of sunscreen.

We ate the candy, my daughter took the aftershave and razors home to her son and we used the sunscreen.

On my most recent cruise, the basket on the bathroom counter had two tubes of toothpaste, two packs of motion sickness pills and some hand lotion. My cabin attendant left me several more tubes of toothpaste throughout my week long cruise.

“It’s our way of saying ‘welcome.’ Sort of a hospitality gift,” said Carnival Magic Cruise Director James Dunn.

It is nice. And the small tubes of toothpaste come in quite handy. Since I take only carry-on luggage, I’m always looking for three ounce or less toothpaste tubes. Just another way Carnival Cruise Lines tries to please its passengers. I appreciate it.

By Jackie Sheckler Finch


Ship on a Stick

January 15, 2014 | Heidi

The first person eliminated in the musical chairs competition aboard the Carnival Magic won a consolation prize of a miniature model of the ship.

The last man standing in the musical chairs also got an award – a miniature model of the ship.

“Everyone wins on the Carnival Magic,” cruise director James Dunn explained. “This is a wonderful prize … We call it a ‘Ship on a Stick.’”

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The Eat-talian Cruise Ship

January 13, 2014 | Heidi

Craving some of that delicious pasta served in Eataly restaurant on the MSC Divina?

Now you can buy some in the restaurant shop to take home and prepare yourself.

I knew that the MSC Divina had a top-notch Italian restaurant known as Eataly and I was looking forward to eating there. However, I was surprised at the restaurant’s mini emporium that sells authentic Italian and artisan products, including olive oils, dried pastas, regional sweet and aged balsamics.

“We want to give you a taste of Italy, not just feeding you but showing you where the food comes from, ” said Enrico Borniotto, general manager of Italia Catering.

“This is dedicated to our American passengers,” he said. “It is like a trip within a trip.”

I can certainly agree with that. Sitting in Eataly restaurant, I could easily imagine that I am in Italy. The décor is simple but elegant. White tablecloth, white flowers, wooden floor, exposed brick walls.

And the food. Oh, my goodness, the food.

After the first two Eataly restaurants at sea proved a big hit on sister ship MSC Preziosa, the cruise line decided to offer one on the new MSC Divina, which is now based in Miami. It is the first MSC ship to sail year round from North America.

The popular Turin-based Eataly chain was founded by Oscar Farinette in 2007 and opened in the U.S. in 2010 in partnership with celebrity chefs Marion Batali and Lidia and Joe Bastianich. Eataly now has 16 locations around the world.

“Much like MSC, Eataly is taking its Italian roots and expanding in North America,” said Ken Muskat, senior vice president of sales and marketing for MSC Cruises USA.

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

Autograph Seekers Rejoice!

December 17, 2013 | Heidi

Psst! Want to know a secret? I just found out on my last Disney Cruise Line voyage. Maybe you already know.

I used to wonder why cruisers sometimes carried brand new white pillowcases, white T-shirts and packets of magic markets when they boarded a Disney cruise. Now I know.

The mystery was solved when I asked someone on our cruise.

Turns out that you can have those items autographed by Disney characters aboard the ship and not have to stand in line to get it done.

Just turn in the pillowcase or T-shirt to the guest services desk the first day of the cruise and it will be returned to you the last night with all the character signatures. Or you can request only special signatures like all the Disney princesses.

When youngsters get home after their cruise, they can rest their heads on their signed pillow cases and have sweet dreams about their magical Disney cruise.

Another popular item to have autographed by the characters is the white border of a Disney picture or poster — or the mat inside a frame for your own photo. Be sure to tape off the portion of the mat that is covered by the frame so complete autographs will show through. This is likely to be a more lasting souvenir since it doesn’t have to be laundered.

What a nice program. Just another way Disney has of making cruises more memorable.

By Jackie Sheckler Finch