Four New Cruise Ships Launching Spring 2018

You may have heard that millenials are killing off the cruise vacation, but cruises are only growing in popularity. In fact, the estimated number of cruise ship passengers in 2018 is expected to increase by over a million. This large growth is only possible because the cruise lines continue building more and larger ships. A total of 13 new cruise ships will start sailing in 2018 with 2 of them sailing this week.

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Carnival Horizon

Skyride Attraction On-Board Carnival Horizon

The Carnival Horizon was the first major new cruise ship to set sail in 2018. She was delivered to Carnival on March 28th and started her inaugural sailing on April 2nd. The Horizon will go on 4 Mediterranean cruises before re-positioning to New York for the summer. On September 22nd she will move to Miami and run 6 and 8 night Caribbean cruises. The Horizon is Carnival Cruise Line’s 26th ship and second largest, behind only her sister ship, the Vista.

Carnival Horizon Quick Facts
  • Inaugural Sailing: April 2, 2018 – 13 Night Europe from Barcelona
  • Decks: 15
  • Passengers: 3,954
  • Gross Tons: 133,500
  • Notable Features: IMAX Theater
    Dr. Seuss Water Park
    SkyRide – Suspended bike above the top deck

If you are ready to book a cabin on board the Carnival Horizon, drop us a note and we’d be happy to start helping you plan.

Do I Need a Visa?

Planning an international trip is a very exciting time but it also takes a lot of preparation. You may want to learn a few key phrases in the local language. You might want to stock up on some local currency or map out your planned stops. A passport is definitely a must-have, but is a passport enough? Nothing would be worse than getting to the airport, excited and ready to see another country, and being turned away at the check-in counter. “I’m sorry, but you can’t board. You need a Visa.”

A Visa issued to visit China

What is the purpose of a Visa?

A Visa primarily serves as a way for a country to control who can and cannot enter. Visas often have certain restrictions on them, such as duration or purpose of visit. The specific Visa, if any, required for international travel will depend on three factors. 1) The country where you have citizenship. 2) The country you are traveling to. 3) The reason for your visit. It is important to note that you will need to apply these rules to every country you will be entering, even if it is not your final destination. For example, some countries will require a Visa even if you just have a short layover while flying to another country.

How do I know if I need a Visa?

We will be happy to help you determine the Visa requirements for any travel, but the best and most up to date source is your country’s immigration or consulate department. For United States citizens, this resource is the State Department. You can search for any country on the State Department’s website and find nearly all the travel information you will need. Not only will you find out if you need a Visa, but it will also display any travel advisories that are in effect, how long your passport has to be valid for, how many blank pages are required in your passport, and any monetary limitations on entering or exiting the selected country.

It is important that you check the rules for the country listed on your passport. It does not matter what country you are traveling from, or where you live. The only thing that matters is where you are actually a citizen.

How do I get a Visa?

Typically in order to get a Visa you must make an appointment at an embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting. Some countries also allow for you to apply for a Visa online or when your flight arrives in the country. If you are visiting a country that does not support Visa on Arrival or e-Visa programs, you may also be able to hire a Visa service. These are special companies located in major cities that are home to several embassies and consulates. They can take your passport and Visa application to the embassy in person and complete the process on your behalf. These services do, however, add some significant cost to the Visa application process. Still, if you do not live near an embassy it can be necessary.

Cruises to Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii shoreline
There’s no better tropical escape than a cruise to paradise

Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations in the world, and for good reason. We went to Honolulu ourselves in 2016, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our time on the island. It is a tropical island paradise that can compete with any destination in the Caribbean, yet finding a cruise to Hawaii is surprisingly difficult. Part of the reason for this is Hawaii’s distance from the continental United States; over 2,600 miles as the crow flies from Southern California. This comes out to about 2,250 nautical miles, which will take an average cruise ship between 100 and 120 hours to cross. That comes out to 5 full days at sea to get to Hawaii, and another 5 to return to California.

Distance is not the only problem facing cruise companies that want to visit Hawaii. For various legal, financial, and logistical reasons most cruise ships are foreign flagged vessels. This means that they are restricted by the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886. This law bans any vessel that isn’t built in the US and owned by a US based company from transporting passengers between two different US ports. This act also says that a cruise that leaves from and returns to the same US port must visit a foreign port, so even if a ship were to make a round trip cruise from Honolulu, it would have to visit a port outside the United States. The closest such port is Tabuaeran on the Fanning Atoll, a full 4 days away from Honolulu.

Options for Cruises to Hawaii

Despite these difficulties, many cruise lines do offer cruises to Hawaii. If you want to take one of these magical adventures, you have four main options. A world cruise, a re-positioning cruise, a multi-week California to Hawaii cruise, or a 7 night round trip Honolulu cruise on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.

World Cruises

The most expensive and lengthy option for a cruise to Hawaii is a world cruise. These cruises are measured in months, not days and range from a 59 nights to 161 nights. The price of these cruises range from $22,000 to $80,000 per person. On these cruises, Hawaii is just another port, but what a way to see the islands.

Oceania 85 day Around the World Cruise Itinerary
Re-positioning Cruises

Some cruises are only able to run part of the year, so cruise lines need to move their ships. Alaska cruises are one of the most popular seasonal cruises and can only sail from May through September. When Alaska gets too cold, the ships relocate, often to Asia or Australia. This path across the Pacific takes them right past Hawaii, so it is a natural stop to break up the long cruise. It takes about 6 or 7 days for a cruise to reach Hawaii from Seattle, Vancouver, or Anchorage, and another 7 or 8 days to reach the South Pacific.

These cruises can be run in one of two ways. The first option is a longer cruise, often at least 21 nights with Hawaii as a mid-point stop. The second option is to split the cruise into two separate cruises. The first cruise would end in Honolulu and the second cruise would begin there. Often at least one of these cruises would island hop to multiple cities in Hawaii.

Round Trip California Cruises to Hawaii

These cruises are offered on Princess, Holland America, Oceania, Crystal, and occasionally Celebrity. There are two main itineraries available; a 15-17 night cruise from California to Hawaii, with a stop in Mexico, or a 28+ night cruise to Hawaii, Tahiti, and the South Pacific. Most of these cruises depart from Los Angeles, while a few leave from San Francisco or San Diego. The shorter cruises stop at Ensenada, Mexico, a city known locally as La Cenicienta del Pacifico, or “The Cinderella of the Pacific”. Ensenada is not a particularly popular destination, but it does have its charms. The city is working hard to improve their offerings, and they have some of the best street food in Mexico.

Ensenada, Mexico. Image Credit: By Isaacmoon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Round Trip Honolulu Cruises

There is one, and only one, cruise line that offers regular round trip cruises from Hawaii. If you want to take a typical 7 night cruise from Honolulu to the other islands, Norwegian is it. In order to get around the regulations of the Passenger Vessel Service Act, NCL had to take several steps. First, they had to create a new company, NCL America, that was headquartered in the United States. Second, they had to have a ship that was US built, US flagged, and manned with US crew. Ultimately this ship became the Pride of America. Construction was finished in 2005, and she has been sailing the Hawaiian Islands for the past 13 years.

NCL Cruise Line, Pride of America, Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Pride of America runs the same itinerary year round, leaving Honolulu every Saturday. The cruise overnights in Kahului, Maui, then visits Hilo and Kona on the Big Island, and finally overnights in Nawiliwili, Kauai. Since there is no competition, these cruises can be a little more expensive than other 7 night sailings. At the lowest end you are looking at about $2,500 for two people in an interior room. A balcony room will start at closer to $5,000 for two people.

The Best Time for a Hawaii Cruise

If you are planning on taking a re-positioning cruise to Hawaii you will be severely limited. These cruises are set based on the Alaska cruising season, so your choices are typically March/April or September/October. These months also have the benefit of being in Hawaii’s low season, so flights and hotels will typically be cheaper. If your cruise is one of the ones that ends or begins in Hawaii, this can be really helpful.

If you are planning on taking the Norwegian cruise, these months can still be a great choice. Since airfare is often cheaper in the shoulder months, the higher cost of the cruise can be offset a bit. The rest of winter can be another great choice to escape to a warm tropical paradise. January through March is Hawaii’s high season, so it may be more expensive and more crowded, but it can be a great respite from the cold.

Christmas is a Wonderful time to visit Hawaii

If you’d like to plan your own adventure to Hawaii, send me a request. I’d be happy to find the perfect Hawaiian cruise for you and your family.

15 Great Gift Ideas for Travelers

15 Great Gift Ideas for Travelers

Royal Caribbean 2018 Deployment Changes

Shortly after announcing the 2019/2020 Deployment Royal Caribbean made a surprising announcement. Four ships – the Majesty, Enchantment, Empress, and Vision – were having their deployments changed starting next year. Unfortunately, this also affects a large number of 2018 and early 2019 sailings that have already been reserved. Some of the cruises affected are cancelled, while others will just have itinerary changes or be moved to a different ship. See below for the current list of cruises that are impacted. All cruises affected by this change will be locked until Tuesday, November 21st. At any point after November 21st, you can make a new reservation if you are affected by these changes.

Empress of the Seas

Empress of the Seas will be moving from Tampa to Miami in May of 2018. All Empress sailings from May 9th, 2018 to March 30, 2019 will be changed to the Majesty of the Seas instead. In addition to changing ships, at least five sailings have had their itinerary changed. The sailings on June 25th, August 6th, September 3rd, September 17th, and October 1st will be changed.

Enchantment of the Seas

Enchantment of the Seas was originally supposed to move from Miami to Galveston, Texas in 2018. Instead, it will be moving to Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida. Sailings from May 4th, 2018 to April 19th, 2019 are affected. Most of these cruises, including the 9 Night Panama we were so excited about, have been cancelled. Some others will be moved to the Vision of the Seas instead.

Majesty of the Seas

The Majesty of the Seas will move from Port Canaveral to Tampa starting May 7th. Many of the affected cruises will be switched to the Enchantment of the Seas although some cruises will be cancelled.

Vision of the Seas

The Vision of the Seas will move from New Orleans to Galveston. So far Royal Caribbean has only confirmed that cruises starting in March of 2019 will be impacted. This will leave New Orleans without any ship from Royal Caribbean’s fleet. The Vision of the Seas was also expected to go to Barcelona, Spain for European cruises in 2019; no official confirmation yet how these changes will affect those plans.