Sunday, September 25, 2016

Announcing National Plan a Cruise Month

October is National 
Plan a Cruise Month

Explore the World of Cruise Vacationing
October 1 - 31, 2016
If you've ever thought about going on your first cruise, October is the time to begin that journey.

Fall is the Perfect Time for Vacationers to Plan a Trip at Sea  

We're joining with member travel agencies from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) across the US and Canada to host National Plan a Cruise Month. Through a multi-dimensional campaign, the cruise industry has come together to help everyone fall in love with cruising by featuring unprecedented cruise vacation offers – from chances to win dream cruise vacations each day of the month and discovering new cruises and destinations to receiving the best cruise deals and promotions.

Cruising is all about you. You can find adventure, culture and education or, relax the day away. Dine on fine cuisine. Indulge at the spa. Reconnect with family. Share romantic moments. All this, in the destination of your choice, for a few days, a week or more, on a cruise that's right for you.

#CruiseSmile #Sweepstakes – A Cruise-A-Day Giveaway

To celebrate National Plan a Cruise Month, CLIA created #CruiseSmile, a daily chance to win a cruise from October 1 through October 31, 2016. Each day, #CruiseSmile will feature and giveaway a different cruise vacation - a total of 31 cruise vacations for two - showcasing there truly is a cruise for every travel style and budget.

Announcing the giveaway, CLIA said that together with their partner cruise lines they "are excited to give travelers a chance to see the world while discovering the variety of travel experiences the cruise industry has to offer. We know that once a traveler takes a cruise for the first time, they fall in love with the cruise vacation experience. We want to spread the love of cruising through the #CruiseSmile campaign giving everyone a simple way to enter to win a variety of cruise vacations.”

How to Enter #CruiseSmile 

The campaign will offer a chance for consumers to win a different cruise vacation for two each day during the month of October (for a total of 31 cruise vacation giveaways). Every day in October you can upload a photo of a great smile and be entered to win a cruise for two from a variety of CLIA member cruise lines. Participants can also enter by uploading a photo directly to Twitter or Instagram, using hashtags #CruiseSmile #Sweepstakes and can tag a friend for additional chances to win.

Contest entries do not roll over from day to day and entrants must upload a new photo each day to be eligible for that day’s prize. The sweepstakes is open to entrants 13 years of age or older. If a minor is selected, a guardian must accept that day’s prize on their behalf. Winners will be selected at random each day in October. Some blackout dates apply and are to be determined by the cruise lines. Visit CLIA Plan a Cruise Month for additional details.

Cruise Planning Resources

We have a special page with Cruise Line Videos for you to explore. Just click the cruise ship of your choice and watch the video for behind the scenes tours.  We'll also be featuring articles about cruising all month long in addition to our normal blog posts, so be sure to come back often to explore.

National Plan A Cruise Month Promotions 

Cruise lines are offering special promotions and pricing on popular cruises to encourage consumers to plan their next cruise vacation now. We'll be featuring promotions on our website and social media.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet

#FriFotos Photography 
Twitter Forum

This #Friday 16th September the #FriFotos theme is #Tomorrow. Join in - just share your pics with the hashtags #FriFotos and #Tomorrow.  

As we looked through our photo archives for inspiration for tomorrow's theme of #Tomorrow, we found an album of ours from the summer of 2007.  We thought you might enjoy some of these photos.  For a better #Tomorrow ...

Cool Globes Exhibit 
Navy Pier Chicago 

A nonprofit corporation, "Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet" sponsored a Chicago public art exhibit of 125 5-foot-diameter (1.5 m) globes decorated with solutions to global warming, placed in Grant Park near the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and along the lakefront bike path during the summer of 2007.

Click images to enlarge
View Album: 
Navy Pier Cool Globes
If you like Travel & Photography join us each Friday!

Follow #FriFotos on Twitter and Facebook

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Remembering 15 Years Later

President Proclaims Patriot Day, Day of Remembrance Patriot Day - 9/11 
By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day,” and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, the Congress has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized “National Day of Service and Remembrance”. President Obama officially proclaimed September 11, 2015, as Patriot Day.

Patriot DayIn his remarks, the President said "Fifteen years ago, nearly 3,000 innocent lives men, women, and children who had been going about their normal routines were taken from us, depriving families and loved ones of a lifetime of precious moments. But the acts of terror of September 11, 2001, sought to do more than hurt our people and bring down buildings: They sought to break our spirit and destroy the enduring values that unite us as Americans. In the years that followed, our capacity to love and to hope has guided us forward as we worked to rebuild, more sound and resilient than ever before. With the hearts of those we lost held faithfully in our memories, we reaffirm the unwavering optimism and everlasting strength that brought us together in our darkest hour, and we resolve to give of ourselves in service to others in that same spirit."

He continued, "The pain inflicted on our Nation on September 11 was felt by people of every race, background, and faith. Though many young Americans have grown up without knowing firsthand the horrors of that day, their lives have been shaped by it. They hear of the many acts of service that occurred coworkers who led others to safety, passengers who stormed a cockpit, and first responders who charged directly into the fire. Many Americans did everything they could to help survivors, from volunteering their time to donating food, clothing, and blood. And many signed up to don our Nation's uniform to prove to the world that no act of terror could eclipse the strength or character of our country.

View our WTC Memorial Album on Shutterfly
During our pre-conference stay in New York in 2013, we decided to revisit the site of the World Trade Center.  The site was quite different from the last time we were there.   Rebuilding of the towers was moving along nicely.  The 9/11 Memorial fountains had been completed.  Click on the link above to view the album.

click on images to enlarge

Remembering 9/11/2001

Each year we recall where we were when learning about the terrorist attacks.   We were on the inaugural voyage of Norwegian Sun, thousands of miles from home in Paris, France.   Our tour bus was filled with our fellow passengers, the majority of whom lived in New York.  The transatlantic cruise, we were on, was originally scheduled to conclude in New York but ended in Boston instead.

What was to have been a celebration of our 25th Anniversary, quickly became a very unique experience as we observed the hospitality and caring from so many people across the globe as our journey home continued.  Today as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we once again reflect on the moment we learned about the events unfolding thousands of miles away from where we were. 

See our article from 2011, FDNY May We Never Forget, on the 10th anniversary, as we recalled our journey back to New York to visit the site of the World Trade Center attacks.  Should your cruise vacation plans include New York, we recommend spending some time at the WTC Memorial and other historic sites in the city.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Meet Us at Streamwood ChamberFest 2016

Streamwood ChamberFest
& Car Show
What comes to mind when you put "Cruise" and "Cars" in the same sentence?

Normally you'd think about a "cruise night" when owners show off their cars and all the work that they have put into them.

We are taking our "cruise" and vacation show on the road this Saturday as we participate  in the Streamwood Chamber of Commerce (SCC) ChamberFest and Car Show at Hoosier Grove Barn in Streamwood, IL.

It is our pleasure to be part of this annual event supporting the work of SCC, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting, enhancing and supporting the prosperity of its members while also supporting the future of our community through their Scholarship Programs.

There will be several of the local classic car owners in attendance along with several racing cars.  One of the favorites of the children is the D.A.R.E truck from the Streamwood Police Department.  Visitors can get a closeup look at the cars and then vote on their favorites.   Trophies are presented to the winners at the end of the event.
Fun for all, Families, Neighbors and Kids. Come see the Classic Cars, Fire Truck Demonstration, Bouncy House, Clown, Face Painting, Popcorn and more.

Spin To Win

Sign up for our eNewsletter at the Chamberfest and spin our lucky wheel for some prizes.   You could win some logo items or credits towards your vacation.

We will have a selection of cruise and resort vacation dream books on site for you to browse or take with you for planning your next dream vacation.

We look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.   Come see us this Saturday from 10 AM - 2 PM at Hoosier Grove Barn in Streamwood.   More details ... 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hermine Aims for Florida and East Coast

TS Hermine    Courtesy NHC                Interactive
Latest News from National Hurricane Center:

Tropical Storm HERMINE

We are now within the "season with hurricane season".  During this eight week period, we typically see the most activity of the entire hurricane season.   It looks like this year will not be an exception to the norm.   See NOAA: The peak of the hurricane season – why now? for more insight into why.

According to Hurricane Hunter reports, the extent of tropical-storm-force winds has increased significantly in the eastern semicircle.  This has prompted extended tropical storm warnings for Florida and the east coast of the United States.

One of the largest threats from tropical cyclones is Storm Surge.  During Hurricane Preparedness Week, we wrote about this and all threats in our mini series.  2016 Hurricane Preparedness - Storm Surge

The NHC has issued the following interactive graphic for HERMINE

Prototype Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic*

As of this initial posting, the cruise lines have not made any itinerary changes, but they will undoubtedly be keeping a watchful eye on the storm as it develops.


Full coverage of this, and all tropical storms, can be found on our Hurricane Zone page.   There are RSS feeds from the National Hurricane Center posted there giving you up to the minute information.   For storms that impact cruises, we will bring you information on those details as well.  Please bookmark that page for further reference during the Hurricane Season which runs now through November 30th.

Tropical Storm HERMINE
1200 PM CDT THU SEP 01 2016


NEAR 70 mph (110 km/h)... WITH HIGHER

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...
* Suwannee River to Mexico Beach

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...
* Anclote River to Suwannee River
* West of Mexico Beach to the Walton/Bay County line

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Englewood to Suwannee River
* West of Mexico Beach to the Walton/Bay County line
* Flagler/Volusia County line to Surf City

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...
* North of Surf City to Oregon Inlet, including Pamlico Sound
No Cruise Ship Impact Reported
Storm Archive       Graphics Archive



WIND:  Hurricane conditions are expected to reach the coast
within the warning area beginning tonight.  Winds are expected to
first reach tropical storm strength by this afternoon, making
outside preparations difficult or dangerous.  Preparations to
protect life and property should be rushed to completion.  Tropical
storm conditions are expected to begin within the warning area along
the Atlantic coast on Friday, and spread northward through Friday
evening.  Tropical storm conditions are possible in the tropical
storm watch area by Friday night and Saturday.

STORM SURGE:  The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the
tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by
rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.  There is a danger
of life-threatening inundation within the next 12 to 24 hours along
the Gulf coast of Florida from Indian Pass to Longboat Key.  For a
depiction of areas at risk, please see the Prototype National
Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic.  Persons located
within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life
and property from rising water.  Promptly follow any instructions,
including evacuation orders, from local officials.

The water could reach the following heights above ground if the
peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...

Destin to Indian Pass...1 to 3 feet
Indian Pass to Ochlockonee River...4 to 7 feet
Ochlockonee River to Keaton Beach...5 to 8 feet
Keaton Beach to Chassahowitzka...4 to 7 feet
Chassahowitzka to Longboat Key...including Tampa Bay...2 to 4 feet
Longboat Key to Bonita Beach...1 to 3 feet
Florida-Georgia line to Cape Fear...1 to 3 feet

The Prototype National Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning
Graphic is a depiction of areas that would qualify for inclusion
under a storm surge watch or warning currently under development by
the National Weather Service and planned for operational use in
2017.  This prototype graphic is available at

RAINFALL:  Hermine is expected to produce storm total rainfall
accumulations of 5 to 10 inches over portions of northwest Florida
and southern Georgia through Friday, with possible isolated maximum
amounts of 20 inches.  On Friday and Saturday, Hermine is expected
to produce totals of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of
10 inches possible across portions of eastern Georgia, South
Carolina, and eastern North Carolina through Saturday.  These rains
may cause life-threatening flash flooding.

TORNADOES:  A few tornadoes are possible this afternoon into Friday
morning over north Florida and southeast Georgia.  The tornado risk
will continue across the eastern Carolinas from Friday morning into
Friday night.

Historical Notes:

500 PM EDT SUN AUG 28 2016

500 PM EDT MON AUG 29 2016

1000 AM CDT TUE AUG 30 2016


400 PM CDT TUE AUG 30 2016

400 AM CDT WED AUG 31 2016


100 PM CDT WED AUG 31 2016

700 PM CDT WED AUG 31 2016


1000 AM CDT THU SEP 01 2016


Saturday, August 27, 2016

5 Ways to Enhance Your Cruise Ship Dining Experience

click on images to enlarge
Cruise Dining Tips

We've just returned from a fabulous 7 Night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Carnival Magic.   We employed these tips during our cruise and thought we'd share them with our readers.   Even though we'll use the Carnival Magic for examples, the principles can be applied to most contemporary cruise lines.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it's a good start to enhancing your cruise dining.

Navigating the Buffet

Entering the ship's buffet restaurant you may be thinking that you just died and went to heaven or perhaps you are just overwhelmed by the scene in front of you.  

Tip:   Don't just Dive In

One of the main entrances to the buffet is often from the Lido (pool) deck on your ship.  You will notice that shortly after entering, there's a serving station which has a long line.   Do not stop here, but continue further into the restaurant.   On most ships, there are several identical serving lines, many of which may have shorter lines.

Besides the identical lines, take notice of the unique stations.  For example at breakfast, there is usually an omelet station where you can get made to order eggs & omelets.   This line may be long, so be ready to wait.   Check out the signs overhead to help navigate through the maze of stations.
Walk around the buffet to decide on the options that interest you for this meal, and take note for later in the week, when you may want something different.

Instead of waiting in the long serving line one morning, we opted for the much shorter continental breakfast line and then added some bacon from the omelet station (there was a waiter serving bacon and ham - you didn't need to wait in the omelet line).

Poolside Dining

Getting some sun or shade on loungers is one of our favorite relaxing things to do during a cruise.  We typically have breakfast in the buffet and then search out a good spot to camp out for a few hours.    Since prime locations (such as those right by the pool or in a shady location) get taken first, another option is to divide your group and eat in shifts.  (Most lines frown on you just leaving something on the lounger to reserve the chair and they may remove the items if you aren't back within a stated period of time - so be aware of the rules on your ship).

Tip:  Dine by the Pool

Lunch is a great time to eat poolside.  On Carnival cruises you can dine at Guy's Burger Joint or Blue Iguana right by the pool.  While there may be a line, it usually moves quickly, and you can get back to relaxing by the pool in no time.   There is also a 24 hour pizza station by the aft pool.  Most cruise lines have similar options. 

Sea Day Only Options

The reason we selected Carnival Magic for our latest cruise was to try Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse which is only open for limited hours on sea days.  Many cruise lines have similar restaurant venues, so be sure to plan your dining schedule ahead of time.

Tip:  Try the Unique Dining Options

Due to the limited serving hours, you can expect dining venues like these to be busy.  Plan to arrive when they open, or even shortly before that.   In order to keep our poolside loungers,  one person went on a food run for the two of us.   Check out the menu ahead of time so that you know what you want to order. 

Anytime Dining

We've been cruising for over 30 years and grew up on traditional dining where you were assigned a dining time and table in the main dining room.  Every night you went to dinner at the same time with the same people.   Nowadays there are many more dining options and we encourage you to select an option that has some flexibility.

Tip:  Select Flexible Dining

Some people prefer to eat early and others late.  That is why traditional dining over the years had two choices.   There are others, that for health reasons, must eat at a certain time each day.   The good news is that even with flexible dining plans of today's cruises, any of the above schedules can be accommodated.

One big advantage of flexible dining is that you can select your dining time based on evening activities that you want to do.   Some days, after touring, you might be tired and don't want to rush to dinner. The choice is completely up to you each evening during your cruise.

We still enjoy the traditional dining experience because the wait staff gets to know you, making for an enjoyable experience.   On our Carnival Magic cruise, we had the best of both worlds.   The first couple of evenings we arrived for dinner, signed in, and took whatever table they escorted us to.  Then we found the wait staff of Singsoong and Posy.   We really enjoyed them, their service, the hot food, etc., so every night after that, we asked for a table in their section.  They would greet us by name and take care of all our needs very efficiently. 

Specialty Dining

One big draw for cruise vacations is the inclusive dining options.  When we think about dining on a cruise ship we compare it to dining at home.  Some days you opt for fast food while others you want a more relaxing dinner.   For special occasions, you may opt for your favorite steak or seafood restaurant which usually comes with a higher price tag as well.   On a cruise, you can enjoy any or all of the above choices throughout the voyage.   The choice is up to you.

Tip:  Specialty Dining for Lunch

Are you celebrating a special occasion during your cruise?   Why not make at least one night a little extra special by dining in one of the many specialty dining venues on your ship? 

Sometimes you can dine at a specialty restaurant at lunch for a reduced price or even complimentary.   The menu might be simpler than in the evening, but you still get to experience that extra ambiance.  On Carnival cruise ships that have Cucina del Capitano, there is a pasta bar option for lunch which allows you to taste their Italian specialties for no cost.


Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc

How Have You Enhanced Your Cruise Ship Dining? 

Hopefully this article gives you some ideas about options you have when on your cruise vacation.  We'd love to hear from you about your best experiences.   Feel free to contact us via social media or our contact information if you have questions.


Join us every Wednesday evening at 8pm EST for lively conversation about food travel brought to you by It's a tasty world & we're dishing it up!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Departing For Carnival Magic

We suggest traveling  the day before cruise to embarkation city for a stress free start of your vacation.  At least it's the only thing within your control to start things on the right foot.

Following our own advice, we departed for Orlando, Florida midday the day before embarkation.  The flight was on time, which is unusual, so we were off to a good start.   After just over two hours we were in Orlando.   As we exited the plane we saw lightening in the distance.   Because of the storms in the area,the tarmac was shutdown and luggage could not be unloaded from the planes.

We got to  baggage claim and weren't surprised to see the sign indicating bags would be delayed due to the severe lightening in the area.   They wouldn't resume unloading luggage until it was safe to do so.

We waited  for more than hour before bags started appearing on the conveyor belt.   Imagine the stress that would be added if this happened on cruise embarkation day.  We did have two aces in our pocket even if this had been cruise day - travel insurance and cruise line transfers to the pier.   At least we would have had someone to assist us if necessary.

We selected Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando Airport as our pre-cruise hotel because of several factors:  airport shuttle, price, value, and location to food choices.  There are several restaurants within walking distance which is helpful when you are relying on shuttles for transportation.