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
Seems like a wonderful vacation idea for a cruise ship stop. Rent a moped or scooter and breeze around a beautiful Bahamas island.
But many cruise lines, as well as the U.S. Department of State, are warning against that choice.
“Serious injuries and deaths have resulted from accidents involving the rental of mopeds or scooters,” noted the FunTimes newsletter on my recent Carnival Cruise Lines voyage. “ We strongly discourage their rental.”
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.’”
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
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
The view was breathtaking. As was the ride to get to the top of St. Thomas Island.
Whenever I return, this will be an island trip I will have to take again. And again.
First, we caught an island shuttle for a winding trip to the top of St. Thomas Island, appropriately named Mountain Top. Our driver “Toothpick” (“because I’m so skinny”) expertly guided the vehicle up the narrow road to the highest peak on the island and gave us a history lesson at the same time.
Carnival Cruise Line has seen a lot of additions and changes over the last couple years. New sports bars, craft beer on ship, a Guy Fieri signature burger place on many ships… but the main dining rooms could be seeing a major upgrade soon.
Flying is stressful enough. Unpredictable weather and delays can turn a dream trip into a nightmare quickly, especially if baggage gets misplaced or lost. There’s no worse feeling than sitting in a hotel without much besides what came with you on the plane, waiting for a bag to show up so that you can get a change of clothes or take care of something else essential. Here in the office, we’ve thought quite a bit about this lately – and we’ve come up with a list of some of the essential items that every carry-on bag should have that can be lifesavers when the checked bag doesn’t make it to your destination when you do.
Shortly after entering my luxurious suite with its marvelous ocean view – all guest rooms aboard the Seabourn Odyssey are suites and all have marvelous ocean views – I was greeted by a knock on the door from my room attendant Timea.
She was carrying a tray with caviar hors d’ouevres, a glass of champagne and some special bath soaps. Gifts from her to welcome me aboard.
We like to look ahead in the office, and when it comes to ship announcements – we sometimes like to look far ahead. Royal Caribbean’s last big unveiling was three years ago with the Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, and we’re about a year away from Quantum of the Seas, the largest ship to ever be homeported in the New York area. But last week, more plans for the Anthem of the Seas – scheduled to launch sometime in 2015, about 18 months away.