Shipmates: Photographer helps make cruise picture perfect

Taken by passenger James Ingle, the photograph shows a quintessential New Orleans scene. A wrought iron balcony, strolling French Quarter visitors and passing motorists combine for a lively photo. But with one click of a button, Joe Restuccia III makes the photograph brighter, more colorful and more concentrated on the balcony. “That’s much better,” James agrees. On our 12-day cruise aboard the Grande Caribe, an extra benefit is a resident photographer. Joe is giving three classes on …

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Shore Excursion: Civil War sites preserved at Shiloh Battlefield

  SHILOH, Tenn. – On this lovely spring afternoon, it is hard to believe such a beautiful pastoral place was once a bloody battlefield. Even the name doesn’t suit it. Shiloh means “place of peace” in Hebrew. What happened here was anything but peaceful. On a shore excursion from the Grande Caribe to Shiloh National Military Park, the horrors of war were brought home. “It was the first great battle of the Civil War,” said Shiloh tour …

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Shipmates: Cruise director known for hair accessories

I’ve been on cruises where they had classes in napkin folding. I learned how to turn a simple dinner napkin into a candle, a fan, a tuxedo or some other fancy shape. I’ve also learned towel art on cruise ships. Cruise directors and cabin attendants would demonstrate how to create an elephant, swan, monkey or numerous other critters out of white bath towels. But a scarf folding class on the Grande Caribe was a first for me. …

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Shore Excursion – Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville

The handwritten notes on cheap lined paper gave me chills. Dated Jan. 26, 1947, they are the words scrawled by Hank Williams for his classic, “I Saw the Light.” Then there’s the more-than-half-century-old suit — the one decorated with musical notes on the sleeves — that I’ve seen in so many photographs of the legendary Hank. At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, visitors come face to face with the greatest names in county music. …

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Shipmates: Surprise overnight stop brings fun fishing

Carol Schreck had never been fishing in her life. But when the Grande Caribe made an unscheduled stop at a lovely marina known for its many fish, Carol decided to give it a try. She pulled in a whopping two fish – a smallmouth bass and a catfish. “It was beginner’s luck,” Carol said modestly. Her prize catches were released back into their watery home. Although the Grande Caribe was due to dock and spend the night …

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Shipmates: Foot cast doesn’t stop cruise for Smithsonian tour leader

A 12-day cruise on the Grande Caribe from New Orleans to Nashville was a dream trip. And Toni Thomas was so ready to start on the wonderful journey. But a few weeks before her departure date, Toni felt a twinge of pain in the side of her right foot. Thinking it would go away, Toni ignored the discomfort. “Then it got worse and starting hurt more and more. I knew I had to go the doctor,” she …

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Shipmates: ‘Volunteering’ to be a chef

A Blount Small Ship Adventures cruise can be full of pleasant surprises. For passenger Billy Burdell of St. Simon Island, Georgia, “volunteering” to be a chef’s helper during a shipboard cooking demonstration turned into a lot of stirring. “You have to stir it constantly,” Chef Michael W. DeVidts instructed as he showed Billy how to make pralines. “I am stirring,” Billy replied, keeping his wooden spoon moving as the sweet syrup began boiling. A Creole favorite, pralines …

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Our first shore visit: The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park

MOBILE, Ala. — For more than three and a half years, Bob Feller called the narrow metal bunk his home. With scarcely enough room to move his lanky frame, Feller probably spent countless nights dreaming of his family and the Iowa farm where he was born. A record-breaking baseball pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, Feller also might have pondered what his future could have held if not for World War II. Two days after Japan attacked Pearl …

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All aboard Blount’s Grande Caribe, for a very different small ship experience

I’ve never met a boat I didn’t like. From huge ocean liners to historic paddle wheelers, if it floats on water, I’ll probably enjoy it. Each vessel seems to have its own charms and I always leave a voyage ready to take another one. So I was curious to try Blount Small Ship Adventures. Someone described it as sort of like having a friend who has a wonderful yacht and invites you on a cruise. A talented …

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New Carnival Magic dazzles with Water Wonders

Story and photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch It  doesn’t look all that scary. But when you are up there standing on a thin rope with the vast sky overhead and the deep sea beneath, it can be quite exhilarating. And a bit frightening, I must admit. A first for cruise ships, the ropes course aboard the new Carnival Magic offers outdoor adventure suspended above deck with spectacular views. Hooked to a safety harness, passengers can participate in …

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