Monday, January 31, 2011

Best thing I've ever eaten on a cruise ship

One of the many, many reasons I love to cruise is for the food. Each cruise line is different and that goes the same for the cuisine.
I've sailed more than a dozen times in the last few years and one meal stands out in my book.. The Chef's Table onboard the Crown Princess. This is one of the main reasons I sail mainly with Princess Cruise Line. However, Carnival Cruise Line is now offering this as well. For $75 per person you are treated to a night of culinary delight. Before you balk at the price, let me say, it's worth every dime. For the money you get a private tour by the Head Chef and Matre D' of the galley. For about 30 minutes you get to see where the food is made and prepared.
The Head Chef also has hand cooked special appetizers that are not available to anyone else on the cruise. Some of the appetizers include caviar, crab in a martini glass, and salmon tar tar. And that's to name a few. Plus you are sipping on a french champagne while enjoying the food and company in the galley. After your galley taste-fest, you are escorted to the dining room where a special area has been roped off for your small group. (Only 12 people can make up the Chef's Table) This is where the real fun begins. Course, after course is placed before you. We started out with Beef Carpaccio. It was 12 layers of beef, spinach, cheese and bread.
Next we dined on Lobster Risotto. To this day I have yet to taste risotto that has come close--even in Italy!! I still dream about that lobster risotto. We are then offered sherbet to cleanse the palate.
What makes this more fun is that the Chef poured Grey Goose vodka on top of the bloody mary sherbet. After our stomachs are given a very short break the Chef brought out a trio of beef on a spike and the fireworks began.
He lit the meat at our table side. This caught everyones attention throughout the dining room! We were offered veal, pork and beef, along with several sauces to choose from.
Then the waiters brought out the lobster and vegetables.

A cheese course came next followed by dessert. This dessert is a work of art.

The amazing treat was sitting on top of a sugar blown bowl that was also edible. And finally, we were given a chocolate plate. My best advise is first, book the Chef's Table the moment you get onboard a Princess ship, then make sure you eat a very light lunch! Your stomach will thank you in the end.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My favorite cruise ship

As a cruise expert, I'm often asked, "Which cruise ship is your favorite?" In November 2010 I sailed on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. I was amazed by the ship. It offered something for everyone. But my heart is still onboard Princess Cruise Line's Ruby Princess. I was invited to sail on a 2 night pre-inaugural back in 2008. The Ruby Princess was not my first Princess cruise, I had already sailed on the Emerald Princess. All Princess ships are elegant in my book, but the Ruby stole my heart. I loved that some of the staff that had sailed with me on the Emerald and were now working onboard the Ruby, remembered me.
The Ruby also offers specialty drinks such as the Ruby-Tini, Ruby Champagne or Ruby cocktail. The food onboard Princess ships wins my vote. If you get a chance book the "Chef's Table." For $75 per person you get to tour the galley, have special appetizers prepared by the head chef and an incredible dinner.
I also love sitting in the Piazza. I feel like I'm transported to a small Italian village. Princess swimming pools are also fresh water and not salt water like most other cruise lines. It's the little things that go a long way with me. Since the Ruby I have sailed on the Crown Princess, Caribbean Princess and Emerald Princess for a second time. I have loved each and every cruise, but still consider the Ruby Princess as my favorite cruise ship!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Getaway

Last weekend I spent a few days in Virginia visiting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. My husband hadn't seen his twin brother in almost two years, so this trip was long overdue! We took our youngest son with us and enjoyed three nights in Hampton. The boys spent part of Saturday visiting the Air and Space Museum. The three story building was a wonderland to my five year old. He went nuts running around the exhibits. The museum featured lots of interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. The simulators were the big hit. Since both his Father and Uncle are pilots, it's only natural Spencer is preparing for the future. He loves all aspects of aviation.

The next day we spent much of the morning touring Colonial Williamsburg. The historic town gives visitors a look at life in the 18th century. A single day ticket is $22.95.

But if you chose not to enter any of the museum exhibits you can tour Williamsburg for free. You can still tour the shops and taverns at no cost. I loved seeing the townspeople dressed in 18th century dress. Spencer also loved seeing the horses. We had to make sure that he petted every horse in Williamsburg, or the trip would have been a disaster-lol.

I minored in History in college so I was thrilled to visit Williamsburg. We visited in mid-January so we did not have to worry about big crowds. But my brother-in-law tells me that summer offers more exhibits, but crowds as well. If you would like to visit the area, I would recommend the historic Williamsburg Inn. (Pictured below)

I wish we could have spent more time with Glenn and Annie, but our short weekend was filled with fun and laughter. This was my first time to Virginia and I can't wait to go back. Next time we will visit Jamestown and soak up the sun on the beach.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Carnival Cruise Line heading Down Under

I read this morning in USA Today, that Carnival Cruise Line will send a ship to Australia-a first for the cruise line. The world's largest cruise operator says the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit will reposition to Sydney, Australia in October, 2012 and begin offering 8 to 12 night voyages to the Pacific Islands as well as 13-night sailings to New Zealand. Spirit will be the largest ship ever to be based year-round in the country and the first ship based in Sydney that is so big it can't fit under the city's Harbour Bridge. Carnival says that due to its height the Spirit will be based at the only cruise facility east of Sydney's Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay's Overseas Passenger Terminal.

I believe this is a great decision by Carnival. As a cruise specialist more and more travelers are looking for alternatives to just the Caribbean or the Bahamas. Cruising is such an amazing way to see such exotic places as Australia or New Zealand. Australia has become more and more popular for cruisers over the past few years. Many cruise lines already operate year round Down Under. Cruising to Australia and New Zealand is also more affordable than you may think. Cruise fare for an eight night sailing starts around $1200 per person. Please contact me at 321-945-4949 or 800-249-7151 if you would like more information or would like to book an Australia or New Zealand cruise.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why I love short vacations

In a perfect world I'm sure most people would love to be able to take months off at a time for vacation. But in all reality, we can only afford a couple of weeks a year. That's why short vacations are among my favorites!! They can recharge me. I visited family in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago and am still smiling about my adventures.
In only a few short days I took in a Colts game, attended my family's New Year's Eve party and had dinner with dear friends. A vacation doesn't have to last 2 weeks for it to feel special. Just a quick weekend is all it takes to feel like new! I used to work in television many years ago and one of our segments was called "One tank drive". It highlighted great places to see in Indiana that were less than one tank of gas away. Next time you are in dire need of a vacation, try getting away for the weekend to someplace close, but will make you feel worlds away!