Learn More About the Carnival Fascination Ports of Call – Half Moon Cay, Key West and Grand Turk

When you sail aboard the newly renovated Carnival Fascination, you will have the trip of a lifetime! This “fascinating” ship sails out of Jacksonville, FL and offers 4-5 day Bahamas cruises which include Freeport, Nassau, Half Moon Cay, and Key West. You could also choose a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise, which includes many of the same ports as well as Grand Turk. This article will discuss some of the many options available for you at the breathtaking ports of Half Moon Cay, Key West and Grand Turk.

Half Moon Cay is quite often referred to as cruisers “favorite” port. As the sign on the beach says, you will “never want to leave here!” It is spectacularly beautiful and offers a perfect beach day with rich greenery, cornstarch sand and warm, turquoise waters. This island has been rated “best private island” by porthole magazine for the last four years. It is a private island used by the cruise lines and includes a breathtaking beach, restaurant, shops, excursion activities, playground and a open air area for lunch. Take a walk around the paths on the island for great views and discover a playground, shops and stingray habitat.

At Half Moon Cay, most people choose this amazing stop as a beach day, but others choose to take one of the many excursions that Carnival offers. One of the best is the private cabanas. One of the best benefits of this “excursion” is that you get to be one of the first off the ship. As unloading takes hours and this is a world-class stop, you will want as much time there as possible. The cabanas offer shade, misters, some snacks and drinks, snorkel equipment, comfy chairs and some floaties. Other excursions offered by Carnival include horseback riding, nature walks, eco lagoon tours, glass bottom boats, sting ray encounters and deep sea fishing.

Key West, the southernmost city in the continental U.S., is the largest and most vibrant of a chain of tiny islands called the Florida Keys. Closer to Cuba than to Miami, Key West, dubbed the “Conch Republic,” is a very popular destination on Western Caribbean itineraries — and is easily one of the funkiest and wackiest ports of call in all of cruising. Key West is famously appealing for all types of folks — and especially is a magnet for artists and hippies as well as cruise ships. It’s a colorful and magical visit any time of year. Duval Street is considered the main thoroughfare and is a must-see. Most of the most popular bars, shops and art galleries can be found here, as well as restaurants and museums. This street has all the magic and color that is Key West…make sure to try some key-lime pie! You can easily walk here, but may choose to rent bikes or mopeds, which are the most popular modes of transportation. Your best bet for a great island overview is hopping on and off the open-air Conch Tour Train. Buy the tickets onboard or at Mallory Square, where it departs. If the weather is poor, take the covered Old Town Trolley which also departs from Mallory Square. The trains often provide you with a tour of the city as well, which usually includes a view of Earnest Hemingway’s house.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is a great stop. A tour will take you inside his writing studio filled with tons of books, past the old typewriter where he wrote “Farewell to Arms” and out to the swimming pool (the first one in Key West). You’ll also see some 60 well-cared-for felines, descendants of the many cats that lazed on Hemingway’s lap while he wrote, that now roam throughout the property. You can also cross the street and climb the nearly 90 steps to the top of the Lighthouse Museum for jaw-dropping views or go and get your picture taken at the marker that is the southernmost in the United States. If you are lucky enough to see a sunset, they are especially spectacular here and are often a beautiful red color. Carnival offers excursions in Key West such as glass bottom boat, catamaran sail, snorkeling, historic homes and garden tours, conch train, city tours, snorkeling, kayak tour, parasailing, and even a pub crawl!

Grand Turk is a Caribbean port of call, that is perfect for lazy days on the beach. This is where you can enjoy a slow pace of life, and it is the capital of the Turks and Caicos. It is a small Island with no fast food restaurants or chain hotels. You can visit the narrow alleys in historic Cockburn town, but most choose to stay at the brand-new cruise terminal that is a destination in its own right, with retail shops, a recreation area right on the beach and a huge pool. The beach chairs are lined up and waiting for you on the white sands as you walk off the ship. Carnival’s Grand Turk Cruise Center also has a FlowRider where you can practice the perfect curl, or you can relax poolside with a cold drink from Margaritaville. Grand Turk became famous for its exceptionally bright-white beaches and tourmaline waters. One of the biggest draws here is diving, with the islands lying along the third largest barrier reef in the world. Carnival excursions offered in Grand Turk include a 4×4 safari, bike & snorkel, fishing, out-island and snorkeling, catamaran, kayaking, conch world, Governor’s beach, scuba diving and much more!

Whether you choose to swim with stingrays in Half Moon Cay, ride the conch train in Key West, or go flow riding in Grand Turk, you will have the time of your life aboard the Carnival Fascination. The ship and it’s ports offer you such a variety of activities that you are bound to find the right day plan to suit your needs. Once back aboard your ship, you can enjoy all of the luxury, amazing service and relaxation that the Carnival Fascination Cruise provides. Enjoy your cruise!

World Cruise Industry Review

As per the world cruise industry review for cruise operators, 2009 was a challenging year. However, the industry worked well despite the economic slowdown bringing in business, keeping costs low, and finding new market areas. The number of ships and passengers grew despite the customers being affected with the economic downturn.

U.S accounts for roughly three quarters of the global shipping industry. Here, the cruise industry more than held its own during the worst of the downturn. 11% of travel agents polled by CLIA expect this year to be better for the global cruise business, as cruising continues to rank number one on many counts, with the value for money.

World cruise industry review indicates that for 2010 there are confirming signs of increase in demand although it is too early to say if we are returning to total wellness. While consumers are starting to show more assurance, they are still holding up their decision to book.

The cruise sector is a significant part of the European marine industry and has made an important contribution to the European economy: 21.7 million passengers called in the European ports during 2008, with the industry bringing in 311,512 jobs, a 66% increase compared with 2005. The entire value of goods and services generated has increased by an astounding 69% in the last three years to more than €32bn.

Europe has been drawing in cruise ships from the U.S., which, conjointly with European fleets, led to a commendable increase in the number of passengers – 4.7 million – joining their cruises in 2008 from a European port, a 68% growth on 2005. The European cruise industry has added €14.2bn in direct expenditure, with cruise lines expending €5.1bn on services, supplies and equipment.

The projection is that the overall cruise passengers are to rise by 6.4% to 14.3 million in 2010. Nevertheless, passenger growth hinges on locations other than the North America or Canada should be threefold to what CLIA expects in North America, at 14.3% against 7%. International passengers will include one third of the global cruise business, from one quarter last year, and less than one tenth in 2000.

Considering the present scenario, it is clear that Europe’s entire potential has not been attained: it has a population of around 500 million likened with 300 million in the US, and most Europeans have more holiday time than their US holidayers. There are also fantabulous and easily reachable cruise destinations.

According to world cruise industry review Asia and Latin America are the future markets which offer excellent long-term business possibilities and it’s impressive to witness the rising economies and individual wealth being generated there. As investments in infrastructure are brought in, these markets will become important world cruise destinations in the times to come.

Dubai Dhow Cruise Dinner

The Dubai Dhow cruise dinner is another must for all tourists visiting Dubai. The Dhow is the traditional boat made out of wood, in the olden days Arabs were mostly fishermen and pearl divers, they built strong wooden boats, the tourism industry in Dubai has now made a tourist attraction out of the dhows and offer a regular tour every evening called the Dhow cruise dinner.

You have the option of being picked up at your hotel or house or showing up at the site of the cruise. Most Dhow cruises start from the deira side of Dubai although there are some that start their journey from the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai creek.

The trip lasts approximately 3 hours, as soon as you embark on the journey the boat starts its ride along the picturesque Dubai creek, you will be able to enjoy the sights of the city from terraces on the cruise, traditional food as well as continental foods are offered at the buffet table and to finish it off you will be given a traditional tea and shisha.

The Dhow cruise dinner is a memorable experience for a decent price. Special facilities are available for individuals who would like to rent half or the entire dhow, which is popular for honeymooners, group outings, and business meetings.

This product is offered by almost every tour operator in Dubai, price and quality of service varies.

Tour Name: Dhow Cruise Dinner

Approx. Time: 2-3 Hours

Approx. Cost: AED 160- AED 240 (US$ 43- US$ 64)

Included: Pick and Drop, Food, Hinna Mehndi, Entertainment

The Search For the Best Cruise Lines

Everyone loves to go on a cruise. It’s one surefire way to relax and essentially get away from all the problems at work and probably at home as well. Some people prefer preferences for the cruise lines. However, it has been a major contention that some cruise are better than the other. So which of them are the best cruise lines?

Cruise lines have different categories for its passengers. There are the cruise that really paper you in luxury while there are those that allow for a more festive and exciting journey. It also has to do with your budget. Most cruise lines are based on their capacity to serve specific markets and niches.

At a glance, here are your best bets for the best cruise lines:

Norwegian Cruise Line

This line has made its cruises around the Hawaiian islands famous. Their ships just keep getting bigger and bigger and the current one is as large as three football fiends. It has over 25 decks as well as 370 rooms inclusive of the suites. Passengers are free to move about and choose their activities on board as well as port visits. The cuisine is international and most of the meals are buffet. Being great supporters of nightlife activities, the ship has over 13 bars where one can drink the night away with friends and family.

All their ships support a variety of on-board activities such as ping-pong, yoga, exercise-aerobics, and others.

This cruise caters to the A, B, C, and D income class travelers.

Radisson Seven Seas Mariner

This line specializes in having various trips to great destinations such as Sydney, Singapore, Peru and Sweden. The ships carry modern facilities for spa and massage as well as numerous sports activities like golf cages for those who cant keep away from golf, a massive library that can allow passengers a bit of peace of mind amidst the partying onboard.

Most of their ships are balcony rooms so you are assured of having a good fresh air view. What makes this cruise stand out is that the cooks and chef on board are specially commissioned from reputable culinary schools to serve onboard.

Seabourn Spirit

This cruise is almost exclusively reserved for travelers who want luxury and the best of everything. The ships are generally small for they cater to a chosen few. The food is rated triple A and not a meal goes by that exotic foods are served. If one desires to travel in style and in privacy, this is the best cruise line to choose.

In the end, it really depends on your preference and budget. Most travelers have tasted different cruise lines and they have all come up with their preference.

The Top Eight Secrets to Enjoying Your Cruise Vacation

  • Get to the cruise terminal early and relax – If your cruise documents tell you boarding begins at noon, do your best to be at the cruise terminal on or before this time. This will ensure you don’t miss your ship by getting caught in traffic or any number of problems with your flight. I also suggest you fly-in or drive a day before your cruise and stay at a hotel the night before. If you’re driving, some hotels allow you to park your car for free in a special lot for the duration of your cruise. So for the price of parking at the port (normally $10 a day) you can book a night at the hotel and relax. The hotel normally drives you to and from the cruise terminal for free before and after your cruise.
  • Use a Porter/Bellman when available – Your on vacation, so be sure to use the resources the hotel offers. The hotel will be able to transport your bags to and from the lobby. Once at the cruise terminal a porter will offer to take your bags from your car (hotel shuttle or taxi cab) to the ship. The suggested tip is $1 per bag, this is well worth it and you will save time, energy and maybe even some future back pain. The next time you will see your bags is in your cabin.
  • Pick the right Cruise Line and Ship for you – Be sure to learn about the cruise vacation product your buying. This is a major purchase so do your homework with your travel agent and also via brochures, cruise line websites and read ship reviews. Your choice will greatly affect things such as the ships decor & ambiance, the level of service from crew, the quality of food in the restaurants and more.
  • Choose the Correct Cabin – Many modern cruise ships hold 3000+ passengers. Unlike a hotel you can actually choose your exact cabin. Will your cabin be the cheapest cabin available, so you can get onboard at the lowest price or will it be something more luxurious? What are your expectations? Is it price or comfort? If you want the best experience aboard your cruise I suggest a balcony cabin. It will cost you on average $30 more per-person, per-day but, it’s worth it. It used to be said that passengers don’t spend much time in their cabin aboard a cruise. This is now a myth; passengers are now spending an ever more increasing amount of time in their cabins. Why is this you ask? It’s because the modern ships have much larger cabin and some upwards of 80% outside cabins with balconies. A balcony cabin rewards you with allowing you to step outside 24/7 and watch the ship sail through the seas, into ports and hear the sounds of the waves. You can also look at the wildlife, sunsets, and more, anytime; even in your pajamas if desired. You can even enjoy the free room service by having breakfast or any other meal on your balcony. These are things you just can’t fully do by booking a standard inside cabin or ocean view (window only) cabin.
  • Participate and Attend – Your cruise vacation is going to offer you many ports of call. You will have both excursions on land and also many shows and events onboard you’re floating resort. The best way to fully experience this is by booking exciting shore excursions and attending the shows, events and classes you’re interested in. Be sure to book excursions either before you sail or the day you get onboard as some of the best shore excursions sell out fast. Then relax and have an experience of a lifetime.
  • Try the Specialty Restaurants onboard – Many new ships now offer reservation only specialty restaurants onboard. These normally come with a per-person charge but, they are definitely worth it. Prices can range from $15 or more per person. The level of service and food are normally incredible, so please consider one of these options for one night onboard your cruise. Each cruise line varies offerings so check with your travel agent and your cruise line brochure. Some examples are Royal Caribbean’s (Portofino’s and Chops Grill), Carnival Cruise Lines (Supper Club, Nick & Nora’s, etc), Princess Cruise Lines’ (Sabatini’s), Holland America Line’s (Pinnacle Grill), Celebrity Cruise Lines (Varies Per ship), Norwegian Cruise Line (Numerous Offerings), etc. Be sure to make a reservation shortly after boarding as these specialty restaurants are indeed special and reservations fill up fast by those in the know. Some guests even eat at these restaurants several times during a normal cruise, because it’s just that good.
  • Read your ships Newsletter/Daily planner – To get the most of your vacation read your ships daily activity sheet when you get it (normally placed in your cabin the night before). It’s a good idea to find events that you are interested in doing and schedule them within your day. Be sure to also know what all your dining options are onboard (Where and when are they?). Your cruise will normally be seven nights long, so the more you know about the services onboard your floating resort (AKA Cruise Ship) the better your time onboard will be. This may seem obvious but, some cruisers miss out on things because they didn’t read the daily planner and know it was available and/or scheduled.
  • Kiss the Ship Good Morning & Good Night – Kissing the ship good morning and good night is advice I was given from a veteran cruiser when I first began cruising. What’s this mean? You basically need to get out of your cabin and walk the outer decks before the rest of the ship wakes up. This time can be as the sunrises and good night when the sunsets. This simply allows you to fully enjoy being at sea. It further lets you enjoy the ship as she sails into a port during these early morning hours. You’ll most likely find that only you and a handful of other passengers are up for this wonderful show. You’re welcome to go back to bed for a nap but, this morning kiss allows you to experience things most passengers miss by sleeping in. Don’t get too busy that you miss the real show given by Mother Nature and experience some of the simple pleasures of life at sea.