Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Carnival Cruise Lines made an exciting announcement this morning regarding a new ship renovation, and my favorite cruise port — New Orleans, Louisiana.

    Growing up with the stories of Mark Twain and living on the Mississippi River, there’s nothing more beautiful than cruising down Old Man River as the sun sets and the moon rises, passing into the Gulf of Mexico with a glass of Champagne in hand. If you haven’t already taken a cruise from New Orleans, I highly suggest you add this departure port to your bucket list.

    Moonrise on Cruise down Mississippi River from Port of New Orleans

    This morning, Carnival Cruise Lines announced they will rename the Carnival Destiny to the Carnival Sunshine, after a $155 Million refit in 2013. This makeover will include all of the Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements that we love, and it will also add 182 cabins to the ship’s layout.

    From February to April 2013 the Carnival Destiny will go into drydock with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to undergo this extensive renovation and be renamed the Carnival Sunshine. The Sunshine will enjoy April through October 2013 with Mediterannean itineraries and then will reposition in her new home port of New Orleans, Louisiana in November 2013. She will replace the Carnival Conquest which is currently in New Orleans.

    The new additions include the Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements that were revealed on the Carnival Magic, the Carnival Liberty, and the soon to launch Carnival Breeze. But the fun doesn’t stop there with Carnival. Some of these newer additions caught my eye:

    Dining

    Fahrenheit 555, a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks and gourmet appetizers, entrees and desserts, all enhanced by understated ambiance and impeccable service (venue will carry a surcharge consistent with other steakhouses in the Carnival fleet)

    A stunning new full-service Asian restaurant inspired by the line’s popular Mongolian wok casual eateries that will feature an extensive menu of delicious favorites from the Far East, along with a striking Asian-themed décor (no charge for lunch with a nominal fee for dinner)

    A new casual dining option, “The Comfort Kitchen,” located within the Lido Marketplace and offering a tempting array of American-style “comfort food” entrees and side dishes.

    Bars and Lounges

    An exciting new lounge, Havana Bar, a tropical-inspired nightspot located aft within Lido Marketplace featuring a panoramic ocean view from its floor to ceiling windows and offering a unique and memorable venue for cocktails, live Latin music and dancing

    A new cigar bar concept, with plush, comfortable surroundings, along with fine cigars and a variety of brandies, cognacs and liqueurs, ideal for pre- or post-dinner drinks and conversation

    Outdoor Fun and Relaxation

    Carnival’s first three-deck-high Serenity adults-only retreat, an oasis of tranquility offering plush chaise lounges and chairs, a whirlpool, a cascading waterfall, teak-planked decks, a pool, a complimentary dining area with freshly made salads that can be customized by guests, and, of course, magnificent sea views

    An All New Thrill Ride as part of the classic WaterWork’s area.

    Of course, this is all in addition to the already amazing Fun Ship 2.0 lineup that we know and love. I’m so excited that Carnival Cruise Lines is investing in the travel and tourism of my home state of Louisiana. This announcement is a testament to the growing number of visitors to Louisiana that have rediscovered what we have to offer as a destination.

    For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com. Be sure to check out all of our articles on TravelingMamas.com past cruise travel experiences.

     

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  • Yesterday Carnival Cruise Lines announced they  would be offering an extended program on the Carnival Legend with departures from the UK and Barcelona in 2013. The schedule will feature a variety of itineraries, including the line’s first Norwegian fjords cruise. I’m so excited about this announcement and hope to experience at least one of these new itineraries on the Carnival Legend.

    The official word from Carnival Cruise Lines:

    In total, Carnival Legend will operate 17 European cruises between April 22 and Oct. 31, 2013, visiting 34 ports across 18 countries.

    “For the Carnival Legend’s 2013 European season, we’ve assembled a truly outstanding collection of ports that offer our guests an exciting diversity of experiences, from viewing breathtaking Norwegian fjords and the lush Irish countryside to visiting centuries-old landmarks and exploring UNESCO World Heritage cities such as St. Petersburg and Tallinn,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.

    For the first time, Carnival Legend will offer an extended series of voyages from Dover (London) with 12-day cruises to Norway/Western Europe, the British Isles and the Baltic, each offering a spectacular array of interesting and awe-inspiring ports of call, from quaint villages to cosmopolitan cities.

    The program includes a “Norway & Western Europe” cruise offering a unique combination of ports, as well as the unforgettable experience of sailing the Norwegian fjords. The voyage will operate Sept. 1-13, 2013, and visit Alesund, Bergen, Stavanger, and Oslo, Norway; Hamburg, Germany; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Zeebrugge (Bruges), Brussels, Belgium; and Le Havre (Paris), France.

    A “British Isles, Norway and France” voyage will depart Sept. 13, 2013, and feature stops at Stavanger, Norway; Edinburgh, Invergordon, and Glasgow (Greenock) Scotland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; and Le Havre (Paris), France.

    Six “Baltic Wonders & St. Petersburg” cruises will also be offered, visiting Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia (overnight call); Tallinn, Estonia; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Departure dates include June 21, July 3, 15 and 27, and Aug. 8 and 20, 2013.  The June 21 departure will visit Zeebrugge (Bruges), Brussels, Belgium, instead.

    12-day Mediterranean Cruises

    Several different Mediterranean cruises will also be offered, providing guests an opportunity to experience and explore some of the region’s most popular and picturesque ports of call and enjoy a wide variety of dining, shopping and sightseeing choices.

    The schedule includes 12-day cruises from Venice to Barcelona departing May 4 and 28, and Oct. 31, 2013.  On these voyages, guests can tour medieval castles, sample delicious local cuisine, and marvel at ornate churches and other historic architecture as they visit Dubrovnik, Croatia; Messina, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome), and Livorno, Italy; and Marseilles, France.  The May 4 and Oct. 31 departures also include Athens, Greece; and Izmir, Turkey; while the May 28 voyage stops at Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

    Carnival Legend will also operate 12-day Western Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona to Dover June 9-21 and from Dover to Barcelona Sept. 25-Oct. 7, 2013.   These cruises offer guests the chance to sample all the region has to offer with extended visits to stunning seaside destinations in five countries, including Marseilles, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Livorno and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Malaga, Spain; and Lisbon, Portugal.

    Also featured are three “Grand Mediterranean” voyages sailing from Barcelona to Venice April 22, May 16 and Oct. 19, 2013.   These voyages feature stops at Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Marseilles, France; Livorno, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Messina, Italy; and Dubrovnik, Croatia, along with an overnight call in Venice to provide guests with ample opportunities to explore this world-class city. The Oct. 19 voyage will include a stop at Olbia (Sardinia), Italy, instead of Monaco.

    Rounding out Carnival Legend’s 2013 Europe program is a 12-day voyage round-trip from Barcelona Oct. 7-19, 2013, with calls at Marseilles, France; Livorno, Civitavecchia (Rome), and Naples, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Venice (overnight call) and Messina, Italy.

    15-Day Transatlantic Crossings in April and November 2013

    Carnival Legend will operate a 15-day transatlantic crossing departing Tampa on April 7 and arriving Barcelona April 22, 2013.  Featured ports on this voyage include King’s Wharf, Bermuda; Ponta Delgada (Azores), Portugal; and Malaga and Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

    Following its European schedule, the ship will operate another 15-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to Tampa Nov. 12-27, 2013, calling at Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Spain; Funchal (Madeira), Portugal; Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands; and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay.

    From Tampa, Carnival Legend will sail on a special four-day cruise before resuming seven-day Caribbean service Dec. 1, 2013. The week-long cruises call at Half Moon Cay; Nassau, The Bahamas; and Key West, Fla.; or George Town, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; Mahogany Bay, Roatan; and Belize City, Belize.

    For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com.  Carnival can also be found on:
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/
    Facebook Fan Page: 
    Flickr:  
    www.flickr.com/photos/carnivalcruiselines/

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  • Major travel search site KAYAK.com recently announced the decision to discontinue support and maintenance for their BlackBerry travel application. The basis for the decision was the significant decline in users, making it cost prohibitive for the company.

    The site will still be available for browsing on a BlackBerry, but there will be no new features, updates or fixes to problems that are on the KAYAK BlackBerry app. KAYAK will continue to support their free travel app on iPhone, Google, Android, Windows Phone 7 and Nokia devices. For the official announcement, visit KAYAK.com’s news area.

    This news follows RIM’s CES 2012 announcement of the BlackBerry Travel app and the BlackBerry Travel Portal, but is this too little too late? The company’s marketing verbiage is that the app allows users to book travel and connect with LinkedIn contacts that are in the same location. Isn’t the BlackBerry Travel app just a RIM version of TripIt, which has been around a while?

    Shannon Hurst Lane and Gary Vaynerchuk (taken with a BlackBerry)

    Image taken using RIM Blackberry

    I had a BlackBerry for a few years and used the heck out of it until the roller ball fell off. Then I went to Apple’s dark side with an iPhone 4. I’ll admit, there was a bit of a learning curve going from RIM’s BlackBerry to the Apple iPhone 4, but the ease of use when traveling with the iPhone, coupled with better photo capability blew the BlackBerry out the water in my book.

    The Apple iPhone is not the end all be all for travelers (especially those who work from the road), but it’s much better than my experience with RIM’s BlackBerry. I completely understand why KAYAK has discontinued support for their BlackBerry travel application and this is a sign that smartphone users are migrating away from RIM devices. I also wonder how many other independent application developers will discontinue support of BlackBerry apps.

    2012 Volkswagen Beetle aka RedBugg II taken with Apple iPhone 4

    Image taken using Apple iPhone 4

    What will be the next big player in the smartphone game? I’m placing my bet on Nokia and plan on snagging a Lumia 900 as soon as it’s available at AT&T. After using the Nokia N8 with Carl Zeiss optics during CES 2011 I fell in love with Nokia and was crushed that I couldn’t use it on my current network. Now that AT&T is bringing Nokia back to the US market with Windows Phone 7.5 (with a very affordable price tag), I can’t wait to take it on the road to capture all of my travel adventures.

    Cajun Converse image by Tracey Clark of http://ShutterSisters.com taken on Nokia N8 with Carl Zeiss Optics

    Image taken using Nokia N8 w/ Carl Zeiss optics (image by Tracey Clark of ShutterSisters.com)

    I’m on a quest for the ultimate smartphone that allows me to ditch all my other equipment when I’m working on travel stories. What is your smartphone of choice and which travel apps work for your adventures?

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  • This just arrived in my inbox and I wanted to share information about Carnival Cruise Lines‘ New York cruise offerings on the Carnival Miracle.

    As part of its new Land vs. Sea marketing campaign, Carnival Cruise Lines has unveiled a massive billboard in Times Square that promotes the line’s new year-round departures from New York aboard the Carnival Miracle, which kick off in April.

    Located at the corner of Broadway and 49th Street, the colorful billboard features a shot of a Carnival “Fun Ship” with the New York skyline on one side and an image of a tropical destination on the other.

    A smaller billboard with the words “The Caribbean Is Closer Than You Think – Cruising from Midtown” – reflective of the Carnival Miracle’s eight-day Caribbean sailings from the Big Apple – is also featured.

    The billboard is part of a new multi-channel campaign designed to promote the quality and value of “Fun Ship” cruising versus traditional land-based vacations. Created by the line’s advertising agency, Boston-based Arnold Worldwide, the multi-channel campaign began December 26, 2011, and blends national and regional executions across TV, out-of-home (billboards) and on-line media, all in an engaging and often-humorous way.

    Carnival Miracle’s new year-round schedule from New York begins April 12, 2012, and encompasses three different eight-day Caribbean and Bahamas/Florida itineraries that feature some of the region’s most beautiful and popular destinations.

    20120111-063255.jpg

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  • Today is the first official day of exhibits for CES 2012. This event is so large that it fills up the entire Las Vegas Convention Center Hall and the conference space at The Venetian Sands Expo Center.So far I’ve only managed to see the South Halls of LVCC.

    This morning I opted for the monorail since last year I learned just how long one has to wait for a taxi or official shuttle to LVCC. The line to get into the monorail station was already extremely long and was a good indication of how my day would be. Fortunately, Nokia had a promotional dance crew providing entertainment.

    CES 2012 South Halls

    Getting into CES wasn’t as crazy as last year for me and I made my way to the South Halls before heading towards the rest of LVCC. My first stop was the Nokia booth so that I could see the legendary Lumia 900 in real life. It was gorgeous!

    CES 2012 Opening Day

    Then I set off exploring the rest of the South Halls and these are a few of the travel related finds that caught my eye:

    CES 2011 South Halls

    M-edge – Last year I was introduced to m-edge and man have they grown since then. Their previous lineup was ebook reader covers that could be customized. They’ve expanded their line with phone cases, custom ebook cases, and these funky military inspired canvas ebook bags.

    CES 2012 Opening Day

    Golla – Last year I discovered this brand which introduces a new lineup each year. The new products include iPad cases and bags for all your gadgets.

    CES 2012 Opening Day

    Zagg – This company offers accessories and protective covers for touchscreen devices. They also offer a line of products to keep those devices powered up when your juice is low.

    CES 2012 South Halls

    Samsonite – Most everyone is familiar with this brand, but they’ve introduced a number of new product and showcased some of their classic best selling items. The three-in-one travel pillow is one of their top sellers due to affordability and variety of functions. I was glad to see their new backpack, the Viz Air which provides a number of compartments for electronics, and even provides a layer of cushion at the bottom for safety in transporting a laptop.

    CES 2011 South Halls

    Verso – I was drawn to this booth due to the tablet covers in various designs. My favorite is the Vera Bradley collection. I can’t wait until this comes to the market because I’ve been hoping Vera Bradley would release a proper tablet cover. Plus, they also have a line of ebook reader lights in a select few of Vera Bradley patterns.

    CES 2011 South Halls

    Jaymo – Jaymo is a mom owned company providing custom phone and iPad cases that allow you to insert a favorite photo to display on the back of your device. It’s a cute way to personalize your phone or iPad and showcase your kids.

    CES 2011 South Halls

    iBrag – This mom owned company offers fashionable cases for tablets and phones and also provides compact storage options. The phone case is a practical item to take to the theme parks if you no longer have to worry about a diaper bag. It holds the phone, has a photo and wallet area, and wristband.

    CES 2012 South Halls

    These are just a smidgen of the many consumer electronics being showcased at CES 2012 this year. Of course there are home and lifestyle products, a plethora of phone cases, and so much more. I’m heading out again in search of interesting travel gadgets during my CES adventure.

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