The traveldoctor's Weblog

Travel Tips and How to Travel Smart!

Archive for the ‘disabilities’ Category

My Cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of The Seas

Posted by thetraveldoctor on August 11, 2009


Alan & Lil on The Tender with the Mariner in the background

Alan & Lil on The Tender with the Mariner in the background

This is my second time on The Mariner of The Seas and my 87th cruise over all. With all these cruises under my belt, I feel that I have a good Idea of what makes a great cruise vacation.

My wife and I departed on July 12, 2009 from the Port of Los Angeles on Royal Caribbean’s  Mariner of The Seas. We were very excited to be on the Mariner again and were looking forward to a great vacation at sea. We sailed away from the dock at 5:45 PM and headed south from LA to Mexico in the crystal blue Pacific Ocean.

We Unpacked and settled into our stateroom.  We headed to the dinning room at 555PM, as we had first seating dinning. Royal Caribbean has instituted a “As You Like it Dinning” as an option for people that don’t like  early or late set dinning times. This option gives you the choice to come to the main dinning room at anytime between 6PM and 8:30PM and you are seated as if you were at a restaurant. I personally like the fixed seating at the same table, waiters and people at my table all week. We were seated at a table for 6 with two other couples. One couple was from the Chicago area and was also in the cabin next to us we discovered. The other couple was from Big Bear California. Really very nice people and we had a great conversation at dinner. But that’s what dinner on a cruise ship is really all about. Meeting new people, great food and great conversation. The food was excellent, which was nice to see that Royal Caribbean had not cutback on the quality of the food during these trying economic times.

After dinner it was off to the Savoy Theater for the welcome aboard show. We met our Cruise

The Parade on the Mariner of The Seas

The Parade on the Mariner of The Seas

Director Abe who gave us a rundown of what to expect during the upcoming week. Then we were entertained by a juggler and a comic, who were both very good. The evening ended with a great “Welcome Parade” on the Royal Promenade. So for the first day, things looked pretty good.

Since we had travelled with Royal Caribbean on more than 24 cruises, we are considered Diamond Plus members in their Loyalty program, which is the top tier of the program. Along with being in the top tier brings some perks, such as a special on board coupon book. Now it’s been 18 months since our last Royal Caribbean cruise and we were expecting the same perks in the coupon book we received in February of 2008. Well they have decided to change the coupon book and take away a lot of the “Perks” that they gave to their best customers. This did not make much sense to me. Why would you take away perks to your best customers. Things such as a free 8” X 10” photo is now gone and replaced by a 20% off coupon on a special type of 8” x 10” photo. Gone also is a free 30 minutes of internet usage, replaced by a $10 off coupon for internet usage. At a ridiculous $0.55 per minute (OUCH!) you will use that $10 credit up real quick, as the internet connection on this ship is so slow, you could finish the novel War and Peace before you could send your email.

Gone is the “Ship Shape” program. This program got people involved in the fitness activities aboard the ship. You would earn Ship Shape dollars for participating in the activities and you would then be able to redeem them for “Ship Shape” gifts at the end of the cruise. A really great program that I really was sorry to see it eliminated as I was on the ship that they started the ship shape program back in the 1980’s. I guess the one thing that Royal Caribbean eliminated that I was really sad to see go was the Mint and Saying on the Pillow at night. Did I eat the mint every night, no, but It was like a warm fuzzy that I had come to expect on Royal Caribbean ever since we sailed on our first cruise on the Song of Norway in 1978.

To be continued……..

Posted in airlines, airports, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, Coach, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, economy, Europe, food, gas, islands, luggage, lunch, Mexico, Panama Canal, pillows, restaurant, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Disney Names New Ships

Posted by thetraveldoctor on April 6, 2009


 

Disney Ship in Port

Disney Ship in Port

Disney Cruise Line has named it’s two new ships. The cruise line began construction on the two new ships in March. The ships are being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. The delivery dates for the ships are 2011 and 20012. The new ships will weigh in at 128,000 GRT’s and will have 1,250 staterooms. The new ships will be named The Disney Dream and The Disney Fantasy. A Disney spokesperson called the names “a natural choice for our ships.”

Posted in airlines, Art Auctions at Sea, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, economy, food, Hotels, investments, islands, luggage, Med, Mexico, news, Panama Canal, restaurant, sailing, ships, tickets, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Vacations, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Delta Queen Reborn As Chattanooga Hotel

Posted by thetraveldoctor on February 11, 2009


 

The Delta Queen On The Mississippi

The Delta Queen On The Mississippi

A welcome befitting a Queen, the 82 year-old Delta Queen Steamboat arrived in Chattanooga on Wednesday February 11. Hundreds of people turned out to welcome the Queen to Chattanooga which will be it’s new home as it will become a floating hotel.

 

Ambassadors International, which owns the Delta Queen has chartered to Harry Phillips, owner of Chattanooga Water Taxi and Fat Cat Ferry. Mr. Phillips has hired  Sydney Slome, owner of Chattanooga’s Stone Fort Inn, to manage the Delta Queen Hotel. The hotel is slated to open to the public in April. The hotel will have 87 cabins and can hold 174 guests.

The Delta Queen was built in 1926 and has a steel hull and a wooden superstructure. Currently the Delta Queen cannot legally operate overnight cruises at present because its congressional exemption from fire safety laws was allowed to expire on Oct 31, 2008. 

The Delta Queen will host Dixieland jazz bands, cabarets and musical revues. Tours of the vessel will also be available.

So if you are planning on visiting Chattanooga this summer, you may want to book a cabin on the historic Delta Queen.

Posted in bags, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, economy, first class, food, Hotels, luggage, news, pillows, restaurant, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Royal Caribbean New Ad Campaign A Real “Dud”

Posted by thetraveldoctor on December 13, 2008


 

At Sea on Royal Caribbean

At Sea on Royal Caribbean

You have probably seen the new Royal Caribbean commercial called the “Nation of Why Not?”  This is the new ad campaign for Royal Caribbean. I cannot tell you that who ever came up with this campaign should be FIRED! What a DUD! It is so bad that I have to change the channel every time it comes up on my TV. It looks like a really bad Magic Kingdom commercial. If this what Royal Caribbean thinks will get people to sail on their ships, well they have another thing coming. 

The past campaign was “Get Out There!” Now that was a great campaign as it showed that you could do anything on a cruise vacation. A real upbeat campaign. It made you say “That looks like FUN!” 

But now the powers that be have come up with this terrible campaign that is driving people away from the brand. My advise to Royal Caribbean, dump this campaign and regroup and come up with something GOOD! After 37 years in the travel industry, I think I know what I am talking about.

Posted in airplane, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, disabilities, Europe, first class, investments, luggage, Med, Mexico, news, Panama Canal, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Wifi | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Royal Caribbean Creates “Youth Zone” On Oasis

Posted by thetraveldoctor on November 8, 2008


 

Oasis of The Sea

Oasis of The Sea

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line will introduce the “Youth Zone” on it newest ship, The Oasis Of The Sea debuting December 12, 2009. The Youth Zone will be one of the 7 “Neighborhoods” on the ship. The Youth Zone will include, Kids Avenue and Central Boulvard which will connect various themed play areas. And Adventure Ocean Theater, a theater just for kids. Plus a first for Royal Caribbean a Nursery for infants at least 6 months old and toddlers.

The Oasis of The Seas is going to be the World’s Largest Cruise Ship at 220,000 GRT and will carry 5400 passengers.

Posted in airlines, airplane, Art Auctions at Sea, Brilliance of The Seas, Business Class, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, Europe, islands, luggage, Med, Mexico, news, Panama Canal, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, Transportation, Travel, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

American Airlines to buy up to 100 Boeing 787’s

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 28, 2008


 

787 Dreamliner

787 Dreamliner

American Airlines announced this past week that they plan on purchasing up to 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners at a cost of $15 billion dollars. This purchase could make American the largest operator of the new Boeing aircraft.

 

“This state-of-the-art aircraft will offer many cost and environmental benefits, particularly fuel efficiency and customer friendly attributes and comforts” said Thomas Horton, executive vice president and CFO during the airlines October 15 conference call with financial analysts.

American plans to buy 42 of the 787 Dreamliners for delivery between 2012 and 2018, with an option for 58 more for delivery between 2015 and 2020.

The first 787 flight was scheduled for August of 2007, with deliveries to begin in May of 2008. But due to delays and a strike at Boeing, the first flight is now planned for the fourth quarter of 2008 and initial deliveries slated for the third quarter of 2009.

The new 787-9 is designed to carry up to 290 passengers, with at range of up to 8,500 nautical mailes. The 787-9 is a stretch version of the 787-8 and will use 20% less fuel then current aircraft flying today.

These are some of the airlines that have ordered the 787 Dreamliner. 

  1. Qantas – 65 planes
  2. All Nippon Airways – 50 planes
  3. Air Canada – 37 planes
  4. Japan Airlines – 35 planes
  5. Etihad Airways – 35 planes
  6. LAN Airlines – 26 planes
  7. Continental – 25 planes
  8. Aeroflot – 22 planes

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, caribbean, Coach, disabilities, economy, first class, gas, investments, luggage, Mexico, news, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Holiday Inn Toronto to become Hyatt Regency

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 25, 2008


 

The old Holiday Inn & new Hyatt Regency

The old Holiday Inn & new Hyatt Regency

The Hyatt corporation is taking over the management of the former Holiday Inn downtown Toronto. The hotel will now be known as the Hyatt Regency Toronto. The hotel is located on King Street in downtown Toronto. The hotel will be closed and renovated before being reopened in January of 2009. This will be the second Hyatt in the city. The current hotel operated by Hyatt is the Park Hyatt. 

 

So if you are a fan of the Hyatt chain, you will soon have a second hotel in downtown Toronto to chose from.

Posted in airlines, airports, bags, disabilities, first class, Hotels, luggage, news, pillows, seniors, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Deuce Bus Las Vegas – Revisited….Or do you Call it The Duce?

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 20, 2008


 

The Deuce on Las Vegas Ave

The Deuce on Las Vegas Blvd

 

The Deuce Logo on the side of the Bus

The Deuce Logo on the side of the Bus

I just returned from my latest trip to Las Vegas and I want to give everyone an update on the great “Deuce Bus” on the Las Vegas Strip. The Duce Bus is the double decker bus that travels up and down the Las Vegas Strip 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is run by CAT, the Citizen Area Transit. The Deuce route begins at the Fremont Street Station downtown and ends at the south end of the strip at the South Strip Transfer Terminal which is on the south side of McCarran International Airport. 

I love this bus. It is easy to use and the buses are brand new! You want to make your way up to the second floor and try to get one of the front seats. This is a great way to see the Las Vegas Strip. The bus makes frequent stops along the strip and you can get to any of the Strip Hotels with the Deuce. The bus also is handicap accessible. So if you have a wheel chair, you can ride the Deuce without a problem.

The one way fare is $2 per ride or save money and buy the 24 hour unlimited ride pass for $5. You can ride all day for $5. The best deal for getting around Las Vegas. You can also use the pass on the other public buses in and around Las Vegas. You will need exact change or you can buy your passes at vending machines along the Deuce Bus route. The machines take cash or credit/debit cards.

UPDATE 5-8-09: There has been a fare increase for the Deuce. The new fare is now $3 one way or $7 for a 24 hour all access unlimited ride pass. They have also added a new pass, a 3 day all access unlimited ride pass for $15. These 3 day passes are only available at the vending machines and not on the bus itself.

I took some great pictures of the Deuce Bus so you can all get a good idea of what this service is all about. So the next time you are in Las Vegas, give the Deuce Bus a try. You will Love it!

 

Second Floor on The Deuce Bus Las Vegas

Second Floor on The Deuce Bus Las Vegas

Posted in airlines, airports, bus, car, Coach, deuce bus, Deuce Bus Las Vegas, disabilities, duce, Hotels, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Strip, luggage, news, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of The Seas – A day at The Panama Canal

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 8, 2008


 

One of the Mules that Pulls the ship through the Locks

One of the Mules that Pulls the ship through the Locks

Alan at the Midpoint at the Gatun Locks

Alan at the Midpoint at the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas exiting the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas exiting the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas at anchor in Lake Gatun

The Brilliance of The Seas at anchor in Lake Gatun

Approach to the Gatun Locks

Approach to the Gatun Locks

 This past January my wife and I took a fascinating cruise thru the Panama Canal on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of The Seas. This is a wonderful ship and a great cruise for anyone that loves cruising. The day we began to  transit the canal started early in the morning just before sunrise. Our pilot arrived at our ship as the sun broke the horizon. We then picked up our two tug boats that would help our ship into the locks.  The total transit took about 3 hours. The pictures below are my “Photo Blog” of our experience through the Gatun Locks on the Caribbean side of the canal.

If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.

If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.

Posted in Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, Europe, gas, islands, luggage, Mexico, news, Panama Canal, pillows, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What Airlines Are Charging Extra For Today

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 5, 2008


 

O'Hare Airport on a typical day

O'Hare Airport on a typical day

Here is a rundown of what airlines are charging extra for. They have raised their fares and now they charge you extra for more and more things that use to be free.

US Airways  Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag, 2nd Checked Bag, Advanced “Prime” Seats, Soft drinks on Board, Pollows & Blankets and Headsets.

United Airlines Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag, 2nd Checked Bag, and Advanced “Prime” Seats.

Northwest Airlines Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag, 2nd Checked Bag, Advanced “Prime” Seats, and headsets.

Continental Airlines Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag, 2nd Checked Bag, and headsets.

Delta Airlines Charges extra for: 2nd Checked Bag.

American Airlines Charges extra for: 1st Checked Bag and 2nd Checked Bag.

JetBlue Charges extra for: 2nd Checked Bag, Advanced “Prime” Seats, Pollows & Blankets and Headsets.

AirTran Charges extra for:  2nd Checked Bag, and Advanced “Prime” Seats.

Frontier Airlines Charges extra for: 2nd Checked Bag.

Alaska Airlines Charges extra for: 2nd Checked Bag. 

US Airways wins the award for the most additional fees charged. I guess that is why in 2007 US Airways was ranked dead last as the worst airline for customer service by consumer reports.

Also in 2007, the Today/Zagat Airline Survey rated US Airways as the worst airline overall in the United States, ranking it 10/30 for comfort, 5/30 for food, 10/30 for service, and 15/30 for its online reservations system. On August 1, 2008, US Airways ceased providing their passengers with free drinks, including water. Passengers must now purchase bottled water or soda for $2 US, or $1 US for coffee and tea.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, Coach, disabilities, economy, first class, Las Vegas, luggage, Med, news, pillows, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »