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Azipods Repaired – Anthem of the Seas Sets Sail Today

By now you’ve no doubt heard about the storm ravaged Anthem of the Seas cruise. The ship returned early from a 7-day Bahamas cruise and has been docked at her homeport of Cape Liberty, New Jersey since late Wednesday. Since returning home we have learned that while the ship suffered mostly cosmetic damage, there was some damage to her port (left) azipod. Specifically, four clutches were burned out and the azipod was shut down as a precaution. Not only are those clutches being replaced, but they replaced the clutches in the right azipod as a precaution. The U.S. Coast Guard has been heavily involved in the inspection process, along with the Bahamian government as the ship is flagged in The…

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Thoughts on Anthem of the Seas

Image of Anthem's Sister Ship, Quantum of the Seas © 2014 - Marshall Jackson

By now, you’ve likely heard at least one of the multiple news reports about the really bad storm Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas managed to sail into this weekend. I was not there, and I will not minimize or question most of what has been said. I will say that I have sailed through higher seas than those that were reported to have been experienced, but nowhere near the wind speeds the ship was reportedly battered with which were in excess of 100 mph. When you combine high seas with winds like that, you’re going to get a bit of rocking. OK, things are going to be rolling…for real. Yes, I’ve seen the pictures. Yes, I’ve read the Tweets.…

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Cruise Deal from Amex Offers

amex offers, holland america, 250 back

A good friend of mine sent along a great deal from American Express this morning. It seems that some have gotten an Amex Offer for $250 back when spending $1000 or more on a Holland America cruise. For the record, he is an American Express Premier Rewards Gold member. I checked and I did not personally receive the offer which kinda caught me by surprise. Still, $250 is $250…..and if you’re planning on taking a cruise, this is worth registering for. Better yet, Holland America participates in the Cruise Privileges Program so this is even better for Platinum and Centurion cardmembers.

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A Global Entry Benefit I Had Not Planned On


Global Entry is one of those handful of things that I consider a “must have” in most travelers’ tool kits. For international travel, the benefits are obvious – access to kiosks to complete your entry requirements when arriving in the USA while avoiding the lines with the masses. As about a once per year international flyer, the biggest benefit of Global Entry for me is having a Known Traveler Number for access to PreCheck. The fact that my Amex Platinum reimburses the $100 fee every 5 years makes it a no-brainer to get and keep Global Entry in my situation. (Feature image credit: Shutterstock) One of the things I’ve secretly wished to see is a Global Entry kiosk at cruise ports. In…

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Closing Thoughts on a Trans Atlantic Cruise

Sunset at sea - © 2015 Marshall Jackson

Allure of the Seas arrived Port Everglades very early this morning. We picked up the harbor pilot at 3am, and were tied up alongside around 3:45am, a very early arrival. Reason: All 2,000 plus crew cleared customs and immigration before the guests as this was the ship’s first U.S. arrival in around 6 months. Guest clearance began around 6:30am, and we walked off right at our scheduled tag number time, 9:30am. Easy, and made better by a little sign that said “Global Entry.” Quick blog post coming on that soon. In any event, our Global Entry cards got us moved to the front of the line, and we were on our way to the airport. Overall Impressions Allure of the Seas…

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Diary of a Trans Atlantic Cruise: Halloween

trans atlantic cruise

If you’ve never cruised on Halloween you may not know that it can be a bit of a scene. I’ve known people that bring extra luggage just for the costumes. As I enjoy my morning coffee at Starbucks, I note that there are far fewer people out and about at 8:30am than I’m used to seeing. Could it be the Halloween party last night? Although I should note that there is one guy nursing a beer at the table next to me. Just in case you were wondering, yes, I dressed….as a pirate. At least there was this sunset to start the evening off. I offer the following video without comment….since there are no words. 🙂

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Diary of a Trans Atlantic Cruise: Rocking and Rolling

Smoother seas ahead? - Image © 2015 Marshall Jackson

Four days into 9 days at sea, I have a few trans Atlantic cruise tips to share. First, Happy Halloween! Allure of the Seas is getting decked out for what promises to be a raucous Halloween party tonight. I’ll be dressing as….wait for it…a pirate! Halloween is almost always a big party night on a cruise, and even with an older than average group of cruisers on board, it appears everyone is looking to have a good time tonight. Now, a few lessons learned. So Far So Good But Seas Have Been Less than Ideal I highly recommend you talk to your pharmacist about a good over the counter remedy to combat motion sickness if you’re the least bit prone…

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Diary of a Trans Atlantic Cruise: The First Day

Image © 2015 - Marshall Jackson

Good morning from Allure of the Seas, somewhere between Gibraltar and Fort Lauderdale. It’s our second day at sea after departing Malaga, Spain the evening of October 27th. I’m reminded of a verse from the old song – “We joined the Navy to see the world. And what did we see? We saw the sea.” 🙂 But before you conclude that’s a complaint, it isn’t. The First Day at Sea At roughly 225,000 gross registered tons, Allure of the Seas, is not a small ship bobbing in the ocean. There is plenty to do, and we will talk about that throughout the week. However, the first day of my trans-Atlantic cruise was focused on something I don’t often get to do…

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Diary of a Trans Atlantic Cruise: The Beginning

Allure of the Seas, trans atlantic cruise

Hello from the world’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas! I am currently cruising from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale, a 12-night cruise with one port of call, Malaga, Spain. We are at sea today after departing Barcelona last night, and will arrive Malaga tomorrow morning. After a full day in Malaga, we will set sail for Fort Lauderdale, spending 9 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Spending 9 days in the middle of the ocean sounds like a good time to me, but I realize not everyone feels the same way. Considering a trans-Atlantic cruise and wondering just what one does during all that time at sea? You have come to the right place! The Details Diary of a Trans-Atlantic…

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NCL Changes Auto Gratuity Policy


If you’ve cruised a mass-market line, you know the deal. That cruise fare may look cheap, and likely is, but tipping service staff is part of the bargain above and beyond the fare. Affectionally known as a daily service charge in some circles, it is now customary for many mass market lines to automatically add anywhere from $12 to $15 per day (an average, perhaps more if you have booked suite acommodations), per person to your on board account to cover tips for housekeeping and dining staff. It is also customary for the cruise line to adjust these charges off your bill if you prefer to tip in cash or have experienced some kind of service failure during your cruise vacation…

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