Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alaska The Last Frontier

Alaska The Last Frontier is a tag line on all automobile license plates in Alaska and this signature is correct. We took a 6 day land tour and 7 day cruise to Alaska the end of May 2008. We flew from Jacksonville arriving in Fairbanks at about midnight. We flew in a day early to get some extra sleep and try to acclimate to the 5 hour time change. The next day we arrived at the Princes Lodge in Fairbanks and was very impressed with the lodge and spacious rooms with great bedding. We spent the day touring the city including a visit to the local Elks to meet some of the locals and partake in some adult beverages. This Elks is proud of the fact they are the north most Elks lodge in the US. That evening we had dinner in a very good Italian restaurant that looked like it had been moved from Italy to Fairbanks.

Next day we started with a one half day city tour of Fairbanks. The bus driver pointed out stores such as WalMart having electrical outlets in their parking lot. Cars in Fairbanks have electrical plugs hanging out from the front of the hood. During the winter time it gets so cold that cars will not start without an electrical heater to keep the engines warm. So stores such as WalMart have electrical plugs in the parking lot for customers to plug their cars into during the winter time while they are shopping. The bus driver has lived in Alaska for the last nineteen years and told us about living in Fairbanks. There are wet house and dry houses in the area, the difference being the wet houses have running water and the dry houses did not. The dry houses were built on the side of the mountains around Fairbanks and had great views, but the owner has to truck water to his house for drinking, cooking, laundry and to flush the toilets. The morning began with a trip to visit the Alaskan pipeline and a history of the building and maintaining of the pipeline. Then it was onto the El Dorado gold mine for a demonstration on early gold mining and instructions on how to pan for gold. After that everyone was given a bag of dirt and rocks to take their hand at panning for gold. Panning for gold is not as easy as it looks. After a little more instructions we were able to separate the dirt and gravel from the gold. We took our gold to the gift shop where they weighed it and told us what it was worth. I panned about $15.00. At the price of gold at $900.00 per oz it doesn't take much gold to make $15.00.

In the afternoon it was off to another excursion on a stern wheel riverboat cruise. Cruising down the river we were given a demonstration of a water take off and landing of a small private float plane. In Alaska over 50% of the population have their pilots license and float plane flying is necessary to get to some of the outlying populated areas of Alaska to deliver mail and supplies. Then it was to the kennel of a former 4 time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher for a talk by her husband on raising and training of sled dogs for the sled dog races held in Alaska during the winter, the most popular being the Iditarod. Cruising further down the river we visited an Athabascan Indian village to see how they lived and survived in the harsh winters of Alaska. There were stories of the life of the Indians and how they caught wild animals for fur and meat. A women gave a demonstration of clothing that could be made from furs of wild animals. This woman was very talented in the fabrication of clothing and her work is so good she has some of her clothing shown in the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

The next day it was time to board the train for our 4 hour ride to Denali Park. The rail cars had panoramic glass domed windows that gave us an opportunity to view the beautiful scenery with towering snow capped peaks and fast running glacier fed streams. Along the way we kept our eyes pealed for wild life and we were not disappointed. We saw moose and caribou along the way. Arriving in Denali we were met by a bus and checked into the beautiful Princess Denali Lodge. What a beautiful lodge with the snow capped mountains around it. At 2:00pm we departed on our 8 hours Denali Tundra tour taking us to the 53 mile marker on a gravel road. The first hour of the ride was uneventful, however after that the wildlife became more abundant. We saw herds of Doll sheep with small kids at their side, moose and caribou. It was very clear that day and we were able to see Mt. McKinley from about 70 miles away. What a fabulous site! However the animal everyone wanted to see was the grizzly bear. After 2 hours we still had no sightings of a grizzly. The action was about to begin when the bus driver a short time later stopped the bus and said I see several grizzlies coming from the left side of the bus and in a minute a mother (sow) with 2 cubs about 2 years old approached the road and proceed to come onto the road and looked around. The bus driver told everyone to be quiet and for the next 45 minutes we followed the 3 grizzlies as they walked down the middle of the road as if they owned the place which they do. We were only visiting. I have some beautiful pictures of the grizzlies. Needless to say that was the highlight of the trip! We did not get back to the lodge until about 10:00pm and it was still daylight. It usually did not get dark until about 11:30pm. What also made the trip memorable was the knowledge of the driver who lived in the area all his life. He was able to talk in depth about Alaska wildlife, history and life in Alaska.

The next day we spent sight seeing in the area including the Denali Natural Wildlife Museum and hiking some of the trails in the area. A very interesting item we found while at the Denali Natural Wildlife Museum is that the Federal Park Service raises and maintains a kennel of sled dogs to patrol Denali during the Winter time. We were permitted to mix with the dogs, pet them and take some great pictures. The Park Rangers hitched a team of dogs to a sled with wheels and gave us a demonstration of dog sledding and driving. It was quite a show. That night we decided to venture to a local restaurant for dinner and enjoyed a great salmon dinner in a rustic building with a nice fire. What a way to end a great day.

The next day it was time to board the train for our 4 hour trip to the Princess Mt. McKinley lodge. Another fabulous trip with spectacular mountain scenery and wild animals. We arrived at Talkeetna and had a one and one half hour bus ride to the lodge. We arrived and what a site! The mountain was a little clouded in but it still looked magnificent. We ate dinner that night in the lodge and our window looked out at the mountain ranges surrounding the lodge. Again the sun didn't set till about 11:30pm.

Next morning we were out early to see "The Mountain" McKinley which means "The Great One" and it was out in all its magnificent stature, not a cloud covering the mountain. We took several great pictures of the mountain and the surrounding range of mountains and it looked awesome. We were over 40 miles from the mountain and it looked huge. We decided to leave the lodge early and travel to Talkeetna and roam the town and see what it had to offer. One of the first things the bus driver told us was to eat at a restaurant called The Roadhouse.

Our daughter has a friend who has lived in Alaska for over 10 years and she joined us for breakfast at the Roadhouse. What a place, everything is home made from the bread to the pastries, if you get there you have to try the cinnamon rolls, to die for. The special of the day was black and blue pancakes which was a whole wheat pancake made with fresh blackberries and blueberries and the pancake cover the entire large plate. During breakfast the friend of our daughter's talked to us about living in Alaska. Her and her husband live in a dry house. They cut up trees during the summer to heat the house in the winter time. They also have a salmon wheel to catch salmon during the salmon run and they smoke and can the salmon for eating in the winter. They also kill caribou for meat to freeze and can. She says they buy very little meat except for chicken occasionally. Her husband had just purchased some land and staked his claim for mining gold and they were beginning to work there claims. They live a very interesting life but do not have all the luxuries some of us have in the lower 48, but have a very beautiful country to view.

After a great breakfast we visited the Park Ranger office that is the checking in point for anyone climbing Mt. McKinley. They gave us a talk on their operation. The day we were there they were very busy, two Japanese mountain climbers were due back a week ago and they had not shown up. So they were in the process of trying to find out what happened to them. We proceeded to walk through the town and visit the craft stores in town to get a feel for life in this part of of Alaska.

At noon we had to be at the bus stop for transport to the train station for our 6 hour ride to Whittier and board the ship. Again we were able to see some very beautiful scenery and wildlife such as caribou, moose and eagles. At Whittier we boarded the beautiful Island Princess for a relaxing 7 day cruise to Vancouver.

The first full day on the ship was spent cruising through College Fjord and then the next day to Glacier National Park. It took over 10 hours to sail into and out of the park, but what sites! We were able to see seals, whales and eagles during the cruise. During the sailing Rangers from Glacier National Park were on board the ship to give lectures on the park and the formation of glaciers and also a running commentary pointing out points of interest and wildlife they spotted as we sailed. The ship spent over 90 minutes parked less then a 1000ft from a glacier that was over one mile wide and over 250 ft. sticking out of the water. While parked we saw several large pieces of the glaciers split off or calve from the glacier creating a loud sound and a big splash. The glacier is continuously moving up to 8 inches a day according to the park rangers. As it moves it creates very loud sounds like a shotgun firing. There was another glacier 90 degrees from the main glacier, however it was completely covered with rock and dirt from its grinding through the mountainous valley to the ocean.

The 3rd day of the cruise we stopped at Skagway, known as the "Gateway to the Yukon" during the Klondike Gold Rush. We enjoyed taking many hiking trails and enjoyed the magnificent wild nature surrounding the town. The sidewalks are still made of wood just like the early gold rush days. They have several saloons with old gold rush themes and we partook of beer brewed locally which was very good. This is also a port of call where you could take a helicopter ride and land on a glacier and walk around or they would ferry you to a sled dog kennel in the mountains where you could take a dog sled ride on the snow. There were many activities on shore including some very interesting museums to view at your leisure.

The 5th day the ship ported at Juneau, the capital of Alaska. While in Juneau my daughter and I went sea kayaking on the Mendhall River. The area is rich with wildlife and we were able to view an eagle up close setting on a buoy in the river, and several pairs of harbor seals who watched us as we paddled our kayaks. The biggest thrill however was seeing a sperm whale swan within 150 feet of the kayak. We sat and watch him for over 15 minutes as the whale surfaced and blew water from his spout and dived to try to catch his dinner. My wife and other daughter took an excursion to a sled dog kennel where they were able to pet the dogs and were given a lecture on sled dogs and there training to be sled dogs. As part of the tour they were given a ride on a sled with wheels through the forest. We all met in the city and then went to the Red Dog Saloon for some old time piano music and good locally micro brewed beer. We had been to Juneau about 8 years ago on a cruise and we were amazed at the change in the city. The downtown has expanded and although there is still some local craft stores it also now includes allot of the same stores you would see in the Caribbean, such as jewelry and trinket shops.

The sixth day we stopped in Ketchikan, a narrow picturesque city with a large population of fishing boats and sea planes. This city is also noted for rainfall averaging about 160 inches per year. It had not rained there for over a week and the locals were upset because they had to generate electricity with diesel power rather than using hydroelectric power. The result was a much higher electricity bill. My daughter and I decided to try some zip lining. What a blast! We traveled outside the city about 5 miles where we loaded into a special truck to take us about 400 ft on the top of a mountain. We then received about 15 minutes instruction on how to take off and land when we were zipping across the mountain. You are given a harness which is like a seat made with straps and attached to the harness was a pulley which then attached to a cable strung between two trees in the forest. First you did a little practice run to get your technique down. Then it was off to the real zip. There were about 8 people in each group and you would all gather on a platform attached to a tree anywhere from 50 to 75 ft. above the ground. You would stand on a step and the attendant would attach your pulley to the cable and then tell you to sit in the harness and off you would go to the next tree. The highest point we were off the ground was 170ft. The longest zip was about 750 ft. and you could get up to speeds of 35mph. We had 6 different zips and each one was exciting and the scenery was fantastic. This is something you must try once in your lifetime, but do not try it if you are afraid of heights. This was the best shore excursion of the vacation. Leaving Ketichkan we sailed past a pod of Orcha whales. What a site to see!

The final day of the cruise was spent cruising the inside passage with its many pristine forest and mountains. It was a day to relax before disembarking from the ship in Vancouver. We booked an excursion of the city that was very interesting and enlightening. The city is very clean and has some very interesting neighborhoods and shops.

Now I would like to give you a little information on our ship "The Island Princess." The ship was built to sail through the Panama Canal and therefore is narrower and smaller than some of the other Princess ships in Alaska which we liked. The ship was beautifully decorated and in great shape. The staterooms were very comfortable and well appointed. You could not have asked for better service from the dining room staff, buffet staff, or our cabin steward. Our room was always made up and kept very clean.

One of the big features of cruising on Princess to Alaska is their local menu items served during the cruise. Several mornings we had the choice of reindeer sausage as one of the items for breakfast. Every evening there was alaskan salmon on the menu and on some evenings halibut was offered as a selection. One day for lunch the buffet was a "Taste of Alaska" that was spectacular. The menu offered items such as reindeer chili, fresh salmon, rockfish chowder, barbecue fish, king crab and fresh wild berries. And if you had a balcony stateroom, Princess offers a Glacier Bay Champagne Brunch that is served on your balcony.

Alaska is truly the last frontier! It is a state that every person should make an effort to visit in their life time. To me cruising with a land tour is the only way to see the spectacular snow covered mountains, beautiful glaciers, wild life that is abundant with magnificent eagles, caribou, moose, whales and of course grizzly bears. I have visited Alaska 3 times, twice on a cruise and last year on a fishing trip. It is a great vacation for the whole family. I am ready to go back!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Antarticia Expedition

Antarctica is described as the coldest, windiest, driest and highest continent in the world but also one of the most picturesque. Antarctica is approximately twice the size of Australia and records temperature of up to -50 degrees C. The continent consists of mountains of ice and snow measuring approximately 7200 feet in thickness. If all the ice and snow would melt in Antarctica the level of the ocean would increase approximately 200 ft.

Our expedition began with a flight from Orlando to Miami and then to Buenos Aires. It was cold when we left Florida and hot and humid when we arrived in Buenos Aires. The cruise package included a 2 day pre cruise stay at the Sheraton downtown on the water, a beautiful setting. During the 2 day stay we took a city tour with stops at the "Pink Palace", the seat of government for the country. The capital building is coated with pink paint reminiscent of the way Buenos Aires looked in the 19th century when building were painted with cattle blood and limestone to preserve the exterior of the building. The smell had to be horrible in the summertime. Another of the many stops was at the tomb of Evita Peron, a national hero in Argentina and the story line for the Stage play "Don't Cry for me Argentina."
Day 2 we took a tour to visit a Gaucho Ranch in the country where we able to ride horses or take buggy rides. The tour included a sumptuous lunch consisting of barbecued chicken, beef, pork and blood sausage along with salad and good Argentinean wine. After the wonderful lunch they presented a show with Tango dancers and a burello show. The next presentation was of Gaucho Cowboys showing their skills at herding cattle and followed by skilled cowboys riding and capturing a small ring mounted on a stand with a 12" rod.
After 2 days in Buenos Aires we flew by chartered 747 to Ushuaia, Argentina to board our cruise ship "Marco Polo." The Marco Polo is a ship built in East German in the
60's for the Soviet Union as a cruise ship to sail in their ice laden waters. After the fall of the Soviet Union the ship was stored and later was purchased by a cruise line (Orient) and upgraded. The ship is small, 22, 000 tons, and is noted for its excellent service and food. Unfortunately the ship has been sold and will not be sailing under the Orient flag.
We spent the first night and day crossing The Drake Passage. During the day a series of seminars were given by noted lecturers on the following topics; "Ecology of Antarctica, Seabirds of the Southern Ocean, Antarctica Sea Mammals, and The History of Exploration of the Antarctica Peninsula. As you can see our sea day was very busy.
Day 4 we arrived in the morning at Deception Island which is a horseshoe shaped volcanic island about 8miles in diameter. The island was formed by a volcano and is still considered alive. The volcano erupted in 1967 and 1969 destroying a British and Chilean research station. The last eruption was in 1970 and damaged some remaining whaling stations. The island is home to many birds and chin strap penguins. The yellow, black, and red volcanic rocks form sheer cliffs and are snow capped for a most spectacular sight.
After leaving Deception island we sailed for Cuverville Island arriving there in the late afternoon. During the day lectures were given on The Geology of Antarctica and The Penguins of Antarctica. After arriving at Cuverville Island, the Zodiacs were placed in the water and each passenger had an opportunity to cruise around the island.
Culverville island is very small but is striking for its dramatic cliffs rising from the water. This island is the home to a large number of Antarctic birds and also the home to the largest colony of Gentoo penguins, around 5,000 pairs. During our cruise around the island we were able to see the many penguins, in and out of the water. A penguin is very agile in the water and can swim at speeds of up to 8 miles per hour. We also saw leopard seals up close and personal as one swan along side the zodiac. During the previous zodiac cruise one of the leopard seals attack the Zodiac and bit the rubber portion of the boat damaging the exterior. We were also able to cruise very close to some very large icebergs.

Day 5 we stopped at Paradise Harbor noted for its snow covered peaks and surrounding glaciers mirrored in the quiet waters where we did a zodiac landing. Paradise Harbor was first explored by The Belgian Antarctic Expedition in 1897-99. This site is presently the home to the Chilean President Gabriel Gonzalea Videla Station. This site is manned during the summer by Chilean research personnel. The island is the home to Gentoo penguins and Kelp Gulls and Skuas. The Skua is an enemy of penguins. They work in pairs to lure a penguin off its nest and the other Skua swoops in and picks up a penguin egg to eat or picks up the young hatch penguin to eat. This happened to us while we were on the island, a skua kill a young penguin and then proceeded to eat it beside the path we walked on. Not a very pleasant site, but that is the environment of the wild. We were able to walk within 2 feet of penguins and they were not afraid of us. One of the first things you are aware of is the smell of penguin droppings call guva. You can't help stepping in it. As we left the island the staff from the ship scrubbed our boots before we entered the zodiacs for our return trip to the ship.
Day 6 we stopped at Port Lockroy on the west side of Wiencke Island. This island is noted for its large population of whales. It is estimated that over 3000 great whales were cut up for their oil. In 1944 Britian's Royal Navy built a string of look out posts to provide meteorological information and to keep a watch for German ships(none came). We landed in our zodiac at Jougla Point where we observed another rookery of Gentoo penguins estimated at over 2200 pairs. We also observed a set of whale bones which were quite large. Eggs had begun to hatch and we saw many young hatchlings. Most penguins produce one egg, however a few produce 2 eggs and we seen several nest with 2 young hatchlings. The bay is surrounded by 80 to 100 ft ice cliffs which were very picturesque.
After everyone was aboard we started to sail to the Lemaire Channel noted for its sheer icy cliffs and snow capped mountains. During our approach to the channel we passed some large icebergs. During the sailing to the channel we also observed number of Aero (killer) whales and a number of sperm whales. However as we approached the channel the captain made an announcement because of the amount of icebergs in the channel we would not be able to sail into the channel. This marked our closest point to the South Pole at 93 miles from the South Pole.
We then sailed to Half Moon Island arriving the next day and our final Zodiac landing. The first recorded visit to Half Moon Island was in 1820 by the famous American sealer Nathaniel Palmer. This island was a haven for sealers and many thousand of Antarctic Fur Seals were killed in this area. In 1956 the Argentina government built a research center on this island. Half Moon Island offered us the opportunity to see the "Chinstrap Penguin" The Chinstrap penguin differs from the Gentoo in that its breast is completely white up to its beak, however there is a little strip of black under its chin like a strap holding on a hat and therefore the name chinstrap. The chinstrap penguin is much nosier than the Gentoo Penguins we observed at the other islands. The population of chinstrap penguins on this island is over 3400 pairs. It was interesting to note all the moss that was growing on this island.
Some notes about penguins that are of interest.
When penguins mate they remain together till the young penguin can take care of itself. When one of the penguins leaves the nest to feed and gather food for the baby penguin, the other penguin remains with the nest to protect the young from vulture birds such as the skua. The adult penguin gathers food from the ocean such as fish and krill and stores it in a sack. When it returns to the nest it regurgitates the food from the sack through its beak and into the mouth of the young penguin. If one of the mate abandons the nest the young penguin will die. Some penguin pairs remain together for years.
The penguin eggs take about 30 days to hatch and from baby penguin to almost full grown takes about 90 days, a phenomenal growth rate. But they must grow up fast to survive the harsh winter. The penguins main enemies after they are grown are killer whales and leopard seals.
After leaving Half Moon Island it was time to head back to Ushuaia, Argentina via the Drake Passage toward teh West which allows us to sail around the Cape of Good Horn. Usually teh waters are very rough, however we were fortunate to have faily smooth sailing. Old folk lure from the pirates says you can wear an ear ring in your left ear after sailing around the Cape. However I did not add an ear ring to my left ear.
Arriving back in Ushuaia we were all ready to fly back to Buenos Aires when we found out there was a strike at the airport and our flight could not leave. The strike was finally settled and we were able to fly out arriving too late to catch our flight back to the US. The cruise line reserved a room for us at the Sheraton at there expense until 2 days later when they could schedule our flight back to the US.

This cruise is definitely a cruise of a lifetime. The scenery, wildlife, galciers were spectactular. I would highly reccommend this cruise, however you must be physically fit. Climbing in and out of the zodiacs is not easy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cost Comparison of a Meeting at Sea and on Land

The following is some information that maybe helpful in your decision process whether to consider a meeting or conference at sea versus a meeting or conference on land. The following comparison is an overview of items that are needed to set up a successful meeting and what are charges on land vs on a ship.

The following items are offered at no charge when holding a meeting or conference at sea and are charged when a meeting is held on land.

1. Complimentary 24 hour room service
2. Complimentary in Room Movies
3. All meals
4. Baggage Handling
5. Complimentary coffee 24 hours a day
6. Broadway Entertainment
7. Meeting and Breakout Space
8. Audio Visual Equipment
9. Airport meet and greet and transfer
10. Midnght mini buffett
11. Welcoming cocktail party

Additional benefits of a meeting or conference on a cruise ship
1. Exciting ports of call to exotic and historic places
2. Full casino, duty free shopping and spas
3. Sports activities such as basketball, ice-skating, rollerblading, rock climbing and golf
4. Requires less planning than a land based program
5. Higher participation of the attendees, cannot be interrupted by phone calls or other distractions.

In conclusion meetings and conferences at sea are less expensive to hold, easier to plan, have a greater participation by the attendees, boost morale leading to improved performance in the work place, and create a far more conducive atmosphere to do good business.

For additional information on setting up a meeting or conference at sea contact Bill at CruiseOne, 904-278-1105 or toll free 877-365-3159. Our e-mail address is

Friday, November 02, 2007

Advantages of Meetings at Sea

There has been an explosion in the popularity of conducting business meetings and conferences at sea. The cruise lines have responded by building new ships with dedicated conference rooms and large theater conference rooms that rival the best hotels have to offer. The cost savings of a meeting at sea can be substantial in comparison to a like meeting at a land based facility. On a cruise ship the meals (all you can eat), AV equipment, meeting rooms, and entertainment are included in the cruise fare.

The decision to conduct a meeting or conference at sea on a cruise ship, the following are some questions a company needs to answer
1. What type of meeting, at sea or on land, will attract a larger target audience
2. What type of meeting will leave the participants more energized
3. Which type of meeting will provide the greater value to the company in helping them to attain the goals set out to be accomplish by this meeting
4. What type of meeting will have the greatest cost/benefit ratio for the company

If you are thinking of setting up a meeting or conference at sea click on the link at the left. We will be glad to assist you and make your meeting or conference a great success.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Conference at Sea

October is the time of the year for our annual CruiseOne sales conference. This year the convention was held aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines beautiful Pearl for a 5night cruise to Cozumel, Mexico and Grand Cayman. The Pearl is a 93,530 ton ship designed for Freestyle Cruising with innovative amenities such as a four lane bowling alley, rock climbing wall and two very Deluxe Owners Suites each measuring over 535 sq, ft. with commanding views of the ship and the surrounding scenery.

The Pearl was built for truly free style dining that features anytime dining in 10 unique restaurants, 3 of which have an additional charge. They are Cagney’s Steak House, Blue Lagoon, and LeBistro. The free style no charge restaurants are the Summer Palace, Indigo, Lotus Garden, Mambo’s/Latin Tapas Restaurant, La Cucina Italian Restaurant and The Garden Café. We ate in Cagney’s Steak House and the tuna was spectacular, I definitely would suggest a meal at this restaurant. We also dined at the La Cucina Italian Restaurant and the seafood marinara sauce was outstanding with lots of shrimp, mussels and calamari. We enjoyed more traditional dining in the Indigo, great lamb chops were served the night we ate there, and the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is a more dress up restaurant, no jeans are allowed. The Garden Café offered a wide selection of entrees and side dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was very well presented and always looked fresh and was tasty. A big hit was the ice cream counter that served free ice cream all day and offered a wide selections of flavors

Entertainment is a great part of cruising and NCL has some of the best. They feature the Jane Ryan dancers who always put on a fabulous show. Norwegian also offers the Second City Troupe for comedy and they offer several show during the cruise.

Our first stop was Cozumel and I marveled at the improvements in this port over the years. We berthed downtown and as you walked off the pier you were close to the shopping and also near Carlos and Charlies, a hang out for many cruise passengers. The stores were very modern and offered a lot of good merchandise. We did some shopping for Christmas ornaments, didn't find any, guess we were too early.

Our next stop was Grand Cayman and as usual we had to tender into the port. With the large tenders the lines were very short and we arrived on the island very easily. This is another island that has seen many improvements over the years. They are still upgrading some of the side streets and when completed, it will be a great place to visit and shop. We were successful and found the Christmas ornaments we were looking for. Both Grand Cayman and Cozumel offer some of the best beaches for swimming and snorkeling.

Attending a conference on a ship is the way to go. The facilities and meeting rooms on the Pearl have all the audio visual equipment needed to put on a first class conference. CruiseOne had over 400 attendees on the ship and they were able to accommodate this large group for their meetings. There were several smaller meeting rooms for the break out meetings.

The classes we attended covered such topics as Luxury Cruising, Blogging, and destination cruises in the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand. Executives from all the major cruise lines gave presentation covering all their ships and destinations they sail. Each cruise line has several new ships entering their fleet over the next several years. It was interesting to note that from now till 2011 there will be 39 new ships entering into service with an additional 78,000 plus new berths. It was reported at this conference that approximately 15% of the U.S. population has taken a cruise. The addition of all these new ships will open up some new and exciting ports all over the world for passengers to visit.

The annual conference is when the sales awards for the past year are presented. We were fortunate to recive an achievement award for our cruise sales over the past year.

For more information on a meeting or conference at sea call Bill and Joan Aselage at CruiseOne, 904-278-1105 or toll free at 877-365-3159. Visit our web site at or e-mail us at

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Girls Take to the High Seas!
For the second year, we organized our Girls Cruise. Bill opted out of this trip (I wonder why?) and Joan hosted more than 70 women from across the county.

This was a special trip because two of the cruisers were our daughters – Kay & Maria. Kay traveled all the way from Indianapolis. Maria lives in the Jacksonville area. All of us met in Port Canaveral and we spent three fun days on Royal Caribbean’s Sovereign of the Seas.

This ship is special. Two years ago, it underwent a complete renovation. Its face lift was fabulous. The public areas are warm and welcoming. The ship now boasts a Johnny Rockets, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Our itinerary kept us moving during the three days. The first stop was Nassau. Even though the weather was rainy and gray, it didn’t damp the spirits of these women. Almost everyone got off the ship and explored the famous straw market or toured the beautiful Atlantis Resort. Our second stop was Cocoa Cay – Royal Caribbean’s private island. The sun shinned on the group as they enjoyed a day of swimming, sunning and snorkeling.

The food on this trip was incredible! Each night at dinner, everyone raved about the delicious five-course meals and excellent service. The casual dining area has a variety of stations where diners can sample foods from around the world. Our favorite was the pesto mashed potatoes!

If you’re looking for a relaxing three or four days away, then consider a trip on this ship. The food, service and stops make it the perfect escape – if only for a few days. For more information on this trip or to organize your own group cruise, check out our website at You can also contact us at (904) 278-1105; toll free at (877) 365-3259 or at CruiseOne - Get On Board!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cruising the Caribbean on the Caribbean Princess!
Big Screen, Big Buffets and a Big Time
After our activity packed cruise to Asia, we decided to take a more relaxing cruise this fall. From September 2 - September 9, we spent seven days aboard Princess' Caribbean Princess. Our itinerary took us to three ports of calls including St. Thomas, St. Maartin and Princess Cays, Princess' private island.
This was our first trip aboard this particular Princess super ship. Our balcony cabin gave us a private perch to enjoy the view whether we were at sea or docked in port. The Sailaway Buffet was not to be missed. It included a wide selection of seafood including shrimp cocktail, lobster claws, king crab legs and smoked salmon. At night, passengers had the chance to enjoy a five course dinner. Princess offers Personal Choice dining or traditional dining so everyone had the chance to eat incredible food at the time most convenient to them. Once dinner was over, passengers could enjoy Broadway shows, comedians or dance in one of the many lounges. Those who wanted a more laid-back evening could watch a movie on the Caribbean Princess' huge outside movie screen. What's better than watching some of your favorite movie stars under the Caribbean stars?

Our three diverse ports of call had a little something for everyone. While in St. Maartin, it's definitely worth taking a bus to the French side of the island. There you can peruse the fabulous shops, eat French food or buy unique wines. In addition to wine, you should definitely buy any liquor on this island. Prices are low! There is only one word to describe St. Thomas -- SHOPPING. Spend your vacation money here on beautiful clothes and extraordinary jewelry. If you prefer to be outside instead of inside, take a water tour. Exploring this island by sea will give you the most breathtaking views of the Caribbean. While on Princess Cays, you can either relax on a hammock near the water or speed by the shoreline while riding a waverunner. While there, the Princess staff will provide a delicious BBQ buffet. Whatever activity you choose, your day on Princess' private island will be one to remember -- unless you fall asleep underneath a palm tree.

The staff aboard Princess cruises are professional and pay close attention to detail. The cabins are spacious, the service is extraordinary and the food is always delicious. Princess cruises gives passengers unique activities including movies under the stars (on certain ships) and the chance to experience the champagne pyramid. This is an elegant event and a great photo opportunity.

If you want to experience the Caribbean, check out our website at You can also contact us at (904) 278-1105, toll free at (877) 365-3259 or at CruiseOne - Get On Board!