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Scooped by Walter Christen

Carnival Vista cruise review

Carnival Vista cruise review | Theme cruises |

Carnival Cruise Line has had much to celebrate in 2016 with the launch of the 25th ship in its fleet, the Vista. We got an insider’s look at the brand new liner on one of its early voyages from Miami to check out the gizmos and gadgets that keep the ship afloat and the party going.


The Carnival Vista was built in Italy, and after its completion in March of this year, it’s made its way from Europe to New York and down to the Port of Miami, where it currently sets sail with a variety of destinations. Cruise date options range from four days to eight days with a price range of $349 to $849 on average per person (taxes, fees and port expenses not included). We joined the five-day, sold out cruise embarking from the Port of Miami and traveling to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk Island. The short trip was just long enough for us to test and enjoy every attraction aboard.


Although most features on the ship come with no additional charge to guests, some entertainment costs extra. Tickets for the IMAX theater are $12.95 for adults, specialty dining ranges from $5 to $35 per person, and internet plans range from $5 to $25 per day. As usual, alcohol and soda cost money unless you have a beverage package, starting from $49.95 per day for alcohol and $6.50 per day for soda for adults.

Walter Christens insight:

I enjoy cruising on the larger cruise ships as the ship becomes an additional destination.  Carnival Cruise Line's Vista has a lot of the amenities and entertainment to keep almost anyone (including the kids) busy on a cruise. I particularly like the IMAX theater and I really want to give the Skyride a try. 

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Cruising the Ohio river

Cruising the Ohio river | Theme cruises |

The Ohio River often seems relegated to play second fiddle to the Mississippi, of which it is a tributary. And while nobody can minimize the awesome power and majesty of the mighty Mississippi, the Ohio River can certainly hold its own as an impressive and captivating waterway with much potential for an enjoyable voyage.

Winding through or alongside six states—and with a drainage basin that flows to more than a dozen states—the Ohio River’s path takes you on a journey through a rich and diverse segment of the country, offering travelers the chance to explore a variety of different landscapes and beautiful views. It serves as a major route through the eastern and central part of the United States, and functions as the boundary marker between several states.

For many centuries, this river served as a favored transportation and trading route used by Native Americans, who also established numerous camps and communities alongside its path. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as calling it “the most beautiful river on earth,” citing the smooth, clear and gentle flow of water the river boasted in a nearly unobstructed and undisturbed path in his day.

Walter Christens insight:

An American Queen Steamboat Company river cruise looks like a cool way to see a historic part of the US.  Many types of music theme cruises plus cruises for autumn color and the history of the region are available. 

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Best Honeymoon Cruises 2017

Best Honeymoon Cruises 2017 | Theme cruises |

You've said your "I dos," you have your first mate, so now it's time to sail off into newlywed bliss aboard a luxury honeymoon cruise. But cruising is for cheesy Hawaiian-shirt-clad retirees, right? Think again. Each of these stunning ships is packed with once-in-a-lifetime amenities, like ultra-romantic rooms (many with private balconies), Instagram-worthy cuisine, full-service spas, and to-die-for destinations.
We hand-picked these bespoke cruises for their unrivaled access to undiscovered cities and deserted beaches, their diverse range of romance-packed excursions, and their opulent onboard set-ups guaranteed to make you feel like a celeb. Best of all, with minimal planning necessary — the logistics of destinations, activities, and excursions are already mapped out for you! — cruising is the ultimate stress-free honeymoon. (And seriously, after all those guest list battles with your in-laws, who needs more stress?)
If you've never set sail before, here's what you need to know: Cruise experiences can differ greatly on a small ship (fewer than 500 passengers), a midsize one (500 to 2,000), and a large one (more than 2,000). If you and your hubby crave energy, people, and nightlife, choose a large vessel, which will have multiple bars and restaurants, plus often a casino and theater for movies and live shows. If you prefer a sense of community and intimacy, stick to smaller boats, where you get to know your fellow cruisers (but also have less privacy, so plan alone time when you're in port).

Walter Christens insight:

My wife and I have met many honeymoon couples on the cruises we have been on. Presented in this article are a few exceptional luxury cruises that would appeal to many different types of travelers. Although pricey, many are all inclusive which could make them the ideal choice.

When my wife and I married we did not take a cruise by instead spent 10 days in Hawaii. I have already started the planning for our 30th anniversary.  Choices right now is an around the Hawaiian island cruise aboard the Norwegian Pride of America, or a cruise to one of my favorite islands Bermuda. Only reason Bermuda may be a no go is that our anniversary is during hurricane season for the region.

Have you taken or booked a cruise for your honeymoon?  What was your thought process in selecting a cruise line and/or itinerary?

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Best honeymoon cruise lines

Best honeymoon cruise lines | Theme cruises |

There's no better way to put your new marriage to the test than by hitting the high seas. And if you think a honeymoon cruise is only for the Hawaiian-shirt-and-crocs-clad crowd, you'd be surprised — there are a number of luxury lines with over-the-top staterooms, Michelin-star-worthy cuisine, world-class spas, and more. Not to mention a cruise itinerary can take you to the hottest cities in the Mediterranean, the sexiest deserted beaches in the Indian Ocean, or the farthest-reaching corners of Antarctica. Here, the top 10 Cruise Lines from our 2016 Honeymoon Awards.

Walter Christens insight:

A honeymoon cruise can be the perfect way to celebrate your new marriage. My wife and I have met many newlyweds of the cruises we have been on.  Presented in this article are 10 cruise lines to consider.

SeaDream Yacht Club
Windstar Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Silversea Cruises
Crystal Cruises
Azamara Club Cruises
Celebrity Cruises
Royal Caribbean International
Star Clippers

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Breaking down American Queen Steamboat Company’s theme cruises

Breaking down American Queen Steamboat Company’s theme cruises | Theme cruises |

Cruises aren’t just about docking at a beach or an island. American Queen Steamboat Company has a wide variety of themed river cruises to choose from that focus on music, history, politics, wine and liquors and so much more.

Wine connoisseurs will love the ‘Vineyards, Vintages and Varietals’ themed cruises that include meeting local wine makers for tastings along the Washington and Oregon regions. Guests will also enjoy meals made with local wines and activities that educate about America’s Pacific Northwest wine country. There are two November voyages to choose from and two in March, 2017.

Walter Christens insight:

American Queen Steamboat Company has quite an assortment of Americana themed cruises.  Whether you are into wine or bourbon, civil war history, Mark Twain (one of my favorite American writers), big band or Elvis music, or seeing the fall foliage they have it covered. In addition, their holiday voyages sound like they would be fun and interesting.

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The 6 best 'Booze Cruises' in the U.S. and Europe

The 6 best 'Booze Cruises' in the U.S. and Europe | Theme cruises |

Get ready to cheers: These grown-up cruises are overflowing with tastings, onboard seminars, and excursions to vineyards, cellars, and breweries.

For cruise lovers, nothing says vacation like the wind blowing through your hair, the horizon hanging just ahead, and perhaps most importantly: your favorite adult beverage, gripped firmly in hand. Happily, many cruises have graduated from the days of "Bahama Mama" umbrella drinks served in tacky souvenir glasses to numerous high-end "booze cruises" that make for surprisingly sophisticated sailings. Here, we round up the most buzzworthy alcohol-themed sailings—whether it's wine, champagne, beer, or spirits that best wet your whistle—spanning a range of ships, large and small. Yes, we'll drink to that.

Walter Christens insight:

Intersting take on adult beverage themed cruises. While my wife and I do enjoy attending wine tasting events on our cruises, It never occured to me to take a theme cruise related to wine, or any other alcohol beverage for that matter.

Whether your passion is wine, champagne, bourbon, or beer the cruise lines have it covered. Reading the descriptions, I could think of quite a few of my friends that would enjoy these themed cruises

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5 mouth-watering themed cruises for the foodie

5 mouth-watering themed cruises for the foodie | Theme cruises |

Forget the buffet line packed with tasteless fruit trays and warmed-over hamburgers. In fact, forget everything you thought you knew about cruise ship cuisine.

Today's travelers are following their gut, ushering in a foodie-centric renaissance across the industry. On cruise ships, this has translated into a complete overhaul of dining options across nearly every line you can think of. But some lines have gone above and beyond in their attempts to entice the epicurean traveler.

Walter Christens insight:

Depending upon your passion, there is a food themed cruise that will satisfy your inner foodie. 

Holland America Line- MasterChef Cruise

Cunard Line - British Isles Culinary Discovery Cruise

Oceania Cruises - Jacques Pepin Cruise

Silversea Cruises - Culinary Expeditions Cruise
Windstar Cruises - James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise of Spain & France

I would enjoy any of these excellent cruises.

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All Cruise Ships Visiting Monaco for Formula 1 Grand Prix 2016

All Cruise Ships Visiting Monaco for Formula 1 Grand Prix 2016 | Theme cruises |

The Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix is a most prestigious race where every pilot dreams of winning and every F1 fan dreams of watching this race.  It is the most difficult and slowest of all circuits in the F1 World Championship. 

Coming to the Grand Prix in Monaco for Formula 1 race is an unforgettable moment where world’s elite comes to show up their Yachts. Literary there are miles and miles of Super Yachts parked one next to other. Cruise ships are also welcomed to this race. This are some of the most expensive cruises during the Mediterranean season starting from $2,699.00 USD for 5 nights cruise per person, not including the F1 ticket.

Walter Christens insight:

I have to admit it, I love to watch Formula 1 auto racing and the Monaco venue is one of the best circuits. Some of the luxury cruise lines will be making a stop in Monte Carlo for the race.

Ships that will be making this unique theme port of call include the Azamara Quest, Silversea Cruises Silver Spirit, Windstar Star Breeze, and Windstar Wind Surf,

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8 cruise lines for dining with celebrity chefs

8 cruise lines for dining with celebrity chefs | Theme cruises |

As cruise lines continually compete to appeal to new customers, dining remains forever in the spotlight, and one of the biggest differentiators in play are partnerships with celebrity chefs, from Guy Fieri to Nobu.

This year in 2015, Norwegian Cruise Line’s collaboration with Geoffrey Zakarian ended, but they added Jose Garces on the new Norwegian Escape. Also, Seabourn Cruise Line picked up Thomas Keller, and Princess Cruises signed Curtis Stone.

Walter Christens insight:

Presented is a pretty good list of what foodie's can expect on 8 of the major cruise lines.

Carnival Cruise Line: Guy Fieri - Guy's Burger Joint is on many of Carnivals Fun ships.

Crystal Cruises: Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa -The Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony are where you’ll find the Asian fusion culinary creations of Nobuyuki Matsuhisa,

Holland America Line: Culinary Council - Holland America takes a different approach and has many world renound chefs (Rudi Sodamin, Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Jacques Torres, Elizabeth Falkner and Mark Best) providing signature to the main dining room.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Jose Garces and the Pubbelly Boys - The Norwegian Escape gets both Jose Garces with his Bayamo and Pincho Tapas Bar and Pubbelly Boys at Food Republic with a international flair menu.

Oceania Cruises: Jacques Pepin - One of my favorite chefs Jacques Pepin is the executive culinary director. His signature dishes are recreated onboard Oceania Cruises ships.

Princess Cruises: Curtis Stone - While Curtis Stones dishes will be in the main dining room of all Princess ships, the real attraction is the Share by Curtis Stone and Chef's Table of select ships.

Royal Caribbean International: Jamie Oliver and Michael Schwartz - Jamie Oliver's italian food is the order of the day for Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. Michael Schwartz supplies pub food and also menus for 150 Central Park.

Seabourn Cruise Line: Thomas Keller - Signature dishes are highlighted across all of Seabourn/s ships.

My mouth was watering just reading this.  I have had the burgers at Guy's Burger Joint and plan to partake of Michaels Schwartz, menu at 150 Central Park on the Oasis of the Seas on my next cruise. I think I would like to add a Crystal Cruise to the list so I can try the Nobu Asian fusion experience.

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Whatever floats your boat - the unstoppable growth of themed cruises

Whatever floats your boat - the unstoppable growth of themed cruises | Theme cruises |

As more and more people go on a cruise aimed at individuals who share a specific interest, we take a look at the increasing phenomenon.

Show-stopping rock band Kiss were always going to go the extra - nautical - mile.

Not content with filling stadiums around the world, and selling more than 100 million records, the face-painted, fire-breathing US hard rockers also have their own navy.

Every autumn Kiss hire a huge cruise liner to sail around the Caribbean for a week with 2,300 of their diehard fans. This year will be their sixth voyage, or Kiss Kruise VI.

The band perform two shows on the ship, and fans get to meet and hang out with the four band members.

Walter Christens insight:

If you can think of a theme, there is most likely a cruise dedicated to it.  Last year when we were leaving a cruise there were a very large group getting ready to get aboard the same cruise ship we were just on who were harley Davidson motorcycle fans. I have seen cruises advertised or Apple geeks, Walking Dead fans,  Star Trek, Nascar, and many different music themes.

I suggest that before booking a cruise you ask your Cruiseable Travel Advocate if there are any themes on the cruise you want to book. On my next cruise aboard the MSC Divina, I did inquire and found that there was a small country western music theme group that will be aboard.

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The best northern lights cruises

The best northern lights cruises | Theme cruises |

Our fascination with nature’s grand illuminations never wavers. An Arctic Circle cruise not only brings the Northern Lights within reach, but also offers a holiday that’s enjoyable in so many other ways, not least through participation in some truly out-of-the-ordinary excursions and activities.

The phenomenon

The Northern Lights can be seen from anywhere in the far northern hemisphere. Only last week, displays were visible in Scotland and northern England. Although present year-round, they can only really be seen when the sky is dark at night – from mid-September to early April.

Much has been said about the intensity and regularity of the Lights – or the aurora borealis. The phenomenon is caused by particles on the solar wind interacting with those in the Earth’s atmosphere, but the extent of the display depends on activity on the surface of the Sun, measured over an 11-year cycle. Solar activity has been at its maximum over the past two winters, resulting in some spectacular displays.


So is it still worth going? Although the Sun’s cycle may have peaked, its descent into a quieter phase is long and gradual and there’s no reason why dynamic displays should not be seen for at least a couple of years to come. Sightings are not unknown even at times of a solar minimum; conversely, when there is a lot of cloud cover, say, you may not see the aurora during a solar max.

Walter Christens insight:

Seeing the northern lights is definitely on my bucket list. In fact both Norway and Iceland are on my list so one of these cruises could satisfy let me tick off more than one item on my bucket list.

Cruise lines mentioned that have cruises dedicated to the northern lights are P&O Cruises, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Saga, Hurtigruten, Quark Expeditions. 

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American Queen Steamboat Co. Christmas market cruises are here!

American Queen Steamboat Co. Christmas market cruises are here! | Theme cruises |

It may seem like the winter holidays are a long way off, but this is actually the perfect time to think ahead and start making your travel plans for that time of year.

One great option: any of the tours offered by American Queen Steamboat Company, which recently unveiled a selection of cruise specials for the 2016 Holidays/Christmas season.

The holidays tend to be a magical time of year anyway, but this is a great way to make them extra special. This is a unique and exciting way to experience the best of the Antebellum South while relaxing aboard the luxury and old-fashioned splendor of the American Queen cruise ship. You will feel like you are traveling as elite adventurers did in years gone by.

Walter Christens insight:

It may be the Summer but it is not too early to think and book a Christmas cruise. I can think of no better way to spend the holidays aboard the American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen.


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Love craft beer? This new cruise ship has its own brewery!

Love craft beer? This new cruise ship has its own brewery! | Theme cruises |

Brewmaster Colin Presby, 31, has a job at sea that no one else has ever had.

He does his beer-making at the Red Frog Pub & Brewery on the new, 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista. It is Carnival Cruise Line's largest ship and the first North American ship to have a brewery.

The action takes place in full view in front of passengers at the Caribbean-themed pub's entrance, on the ship's much-trafficked Promenade Deck.

Mixing grain he just milled into boiling water in one of two large, German-made, copper-topped glass kettles, Presby said his goal is to achieve a "wow" from beer-loving cruisers.

Walter Christens insight:

Living in the Tampa Bay area, it seems that there is a new craft beer brewery popping weekly.  Actually I am surprised that the cruise industry has not done this before.  Carnival Cruise Lines looks like they will have a winner with this brewery on the new Carnival Vista. 

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First NASCAR-themed cruise scheduled for 2017

First NASCAR-themed cruise scheduled for 2017 | Theme cruises |

NASCAR has teamed with Entertainment Cruise Productions to create the first NASCAR-themed cruise featuring Hall of Famers, legendary broadcasters and genuine race cars.

Dubbed “NASCAR: The Cruise,” the themed voyage will take place on the Norwegian Pearl ship and sail through the Caribbean from January 29 through February 3, 2017. The vessel will make stops in Key West, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay.

The six-day, five-night sailing will feature legendary drivers like Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace and Bobby Allison, as well as more recent stars such as David Ragan, Mike Wallace and Ken Schrader. The voyage will also feature broadcasters Jeff Hammond, Doug Rice and Brad Gillie, and will be hosted by television analyst and former driver Kyle Petty.

Walter Christens insight:

I have always been an auto racing enthusiast and have attended a few NASCAR and INDY races. I even did a Richard Petty Driving experience where I was able to drive an actual NASCAR racecar on a track.

When I saw this theme cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl Early next year, I thought what a great idea. Here is a lot of the big names in NASCAR racing and the onboard activities sound like they will be a lot of fun. Add in music from the Beach Boys and .38 Special will make this one great cruise.

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Refurbished Pride of America 'essentially a new ship'

Refurbished Pride of America 'essentially a new ship' | Theme cruises |

The Pride of America, Norwegian Cruise Line's ship in the Hawaiian Islands, has returned from a drydock during which the ship received new venues, redesigned public spaces and refreshed décor.

The cruise line's president, Andy Stuart, calls the Pride "essentially a new ship."

“This is much more than just a fresh coat of paint and new drapes," Stuart said.

Every stateroom received new bedding, new furniture, new flat-screen televisions and updated flooring.

Walter Christens insight:

Read this with great interest.  One of the cruises on my wifes bucket list is to cruise the Hawaiian Islands. We have been to Hawaii, although not on a cruise. The Norwegian Pride of America, is on the top of her list as you can fly to Hawaii and cruise the Islands without the long at sea days from Califorinia.

Nice to see that Norwegian has done a complete update of this cruise ship.

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Silversea expeditions announces wellness theme cruises -

Silversea expeditions announces wellness theme cruises - | Theme cruises |

Travelers looking to recharge both mind and body will find Silversea is offering the perfect blend of enlightening exploration and a holistic approach to rejuvenation with its line-up of more than a dozen wellness-themed expedition cruises sailing in 2016 and 2017.

 The Wellness Expedition Voyages offered aboard Silver Discoverer are designed to provide guests with the opportunity to improve their well-being while journeying to destinations that are well off the beaten path in Southeast Asia, Australia, Oceania, Africa, and the Indian Ocean. On these voyages, guests will encounter exotic landscapes, fascinating cultures, and unique wildlife, returning each day to a ship that is a sanctuary for mind, body, and spirit.

 Silversea has partnered with Technogym, a leading company in the field of wellness and fitness, to create a comprehensive and complimentary program.

Walter Christens insight:

Wellness theme cruises, I believe, will be very popular and Silversea looks to have a winning formula. Not only can you experience wonderful ports of call aboard the Silver Discoverer, you can enhance your wellness with amenities such as special yoga and Pilates classes, fitness and cooking demonstrations, a complimentary spa massage, and Gym sessions led by personal trainers.

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Holland America Line reveals 15 guest competitors for 'Dancing with the Stars: At Sea' champions cruise departing Jan. 10, 2016

Holland America Line reveals 15 guest competitors for 'Dancing with the Stars: At Sea' champions cruise departing Jan. 10, 2016 | Theme cruises |

Holland America Line has announced the 15 winning guest finalists who will compete on the "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" Champions Cruise Jan. 10, 2016, aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Each winner represents one of the ships in Holland America Line's fleet (including the former ms Ryndam and ms Statendam) and was selected via the onboard "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" dance competitions held throughout the past year on every sailing.

The 15 guests and their professional shipboard dance partners will perform and compete in the main show lounge for guests. The winning couple will walk away with the coveted Holland America Line "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" Mirrorball Trophy and title of Holland America Line's "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" Champion.  

"The onboard dance competitions have been fierce this year and we've seen incredible talent among our guests throughout this program," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "These 15 guests rose above the rest to earn their spot on the Champions Cruise, and we look forward to awarding the Mirrorball Trophy to the best of the best at the end of the cruise. Good luck to all of the competitors."

Walter Christens insight:

If your a fan of the "Dancing with the Stars" TV show. this Holland America theme cruise would be fantastic. I find it very interesting that the contestants are representing the different Holland America cruise ships.

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