Disney Dream: Cruising with a turtle, a duck and a celebrated rat

I spoke with a sea turtle, rode a fast duck and ate at a gourmet restaurant that celebrates the culinary skills of a gutter rat. Encounters with these vacation animals seem rather natural on the new 4,000-passenger Disney Dream, which began cruising out of Florida to the Bahamas in January. Typical of a Disney product, the Dream is a ship like no other. It promises interactive, animated, imaginative vacations at sea from Port Canaveral, about an hour’s drive …

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Azamara passengers like wine and gratuities changes

Voyages end.  Our bubble of civility burst in Miami, as Azamara Journey docked after two weeks at sea from Rome last December. We arrived in Miami, about 600 of us aboard the cruise ship (right, docked in Tenerife) that had become a temporary home. An old friend once described traveling in luxury as being a part-time millionaire. One day you are treated like royalty, cruising or resort-sitting where your comforts and attitude are someone else’s concern, your …

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Cruising the new Oceania Marina in (almost) luxury

With the launching of the Oceania Marina, there’s a new leader in a relatively new niche in cruising. The niche, somewhere between the high-priced luxury brands and the big ships of the premium lines, is called upper premium or maybe ultra deluxe or, my favorite because it’s mine, “almost luxury.” The cruise line is Oceania. The celebration party is just beginning, because its newest ship, the Marina, already is the belle of the ball. The 1,250-passenger Marina, …

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So, are the larger Seabourn ships a clear improvement over the smaller ones?

If you were to design the ideal new luxury ship from scratch, it might look a lot like Seabourn Odyssey, though not necessarily from the outside. Cruise ships these days are more chubby than sleek, what with the need for big balcony cabins and more interior space for expanded spas, entertainment, and dining. Inside, however, the classically elegant Seabourn Odyssey shines. Size matters. The cruise line’s first three highly-rated luxury ships, designed some 20 years ago, are …

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Cruising to fish in the Turks and Caicos

Off Grand Turk, in the Turks and Caicos islands, south of the Bahamas, I went fishing. Anybody who knows me might wonder about that decision, but the simple truth is that I saw “Light Tackle Fishing” on the shore excursion list during a Caribbean cruise on Holland America’s new Nieuw Amsterdam. I thought, why not? I can tackle some light fishing. I had fun, thanks partly to the luck of the draw. Six men from a ship …

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New pirate ship bar greets cruisers to Holland America’s Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Make no mistake: The new bar on Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas may look like a pirate ship, but it has never been to sea, and it’s not going anywhere. The Captain Morgan on the Rocks Island Bar was built from scratch on bedrock, 9 feet below the sand, and those wood planks on the ship’s hull were nailed together – in the fall of 2010. Still, it’s a pirate ship in form, …

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Riding AquaDuck on a Disney Dream cruise…fun, wet and easy

Like nearly every other passenger on the new Disney Dream cruise ship, I rode the AquaDuck water coaster during a recent preview sailing. The Duck was fun, wet, and easy. I liked it so much I did it twice. You sit on a raft similar to an air mattress, with pockets for one or two riders, front and back. The raft is propelled by jets of water through a tube that drops, twists, turns, and then, ingeniously, glides along a clear, …

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