Posted by: Tom Baker | March 25, 2022

Scenic Eclipse-Wonderful Antarctica February 2022

My Pictures:

I have always had a little fear about cruising to Antarctica hearing so many talks about the potentially rough seas of crossing Drakes Passage from Argentina to the Great White Continent but finally gave in when I felt the right ship and opportunity presented itself.

Scenic Eclipse, part of Australian owned luxury operator, Scenic Cruises, is a 228 passenger, 190 crew ultra-luxury, all-suite yacht introduced in 2018. Scenic Eclipse is a super sleek 551-foot-long vessel, 17,000 ton, and super high-tech, Polar Class designed ship with a hull able to penetrate the Arctic ice. She comes with two helicopters for flightseeing and an amazing 6 passenger submarine (Scenic Neptune) able to dive down nearly 1000 feet! Both carry an additional fee. Scenic presents itself as an all-inclusive line with all meals, tips, beverages, WiFi, and excursions included barring the Helicopter rides and submarine excursions. I will advise you, however, Scenic lives up to its promises! The maximum capacity in Arctic regions is 200. There are 156 passengers on my current 12-day trip to Antarctica. Scenic Eclipse is a green vessel and complies with the highest standard of zero emissions, meets every safety qualification, does not use plastics or pollutants, and recycles everything. She is also one of the smoothest riding ships as her stabilizers are the same size as a 220,000-ton ship keeping in mind this little yacht ship is just 17,000 tons so her large foldable side wings keep her incredibly stable even in the roughest of seas. I can absolutely attest they work like a charm! Scenic Eclipse also assures guest comfort and health with high tech HVAC system with 100% Fresh air pumped into guest suites and all public areas. Th vessel also complies with all Covid safety regulations as set forth by the CDC which on this Covid free sailing includes mask wearing.

This ultra large super yacht is extremely elegant and high tech in its interior design and resembles B&B Italia style throughout. The ships décor is consistent and simple done in tones of black, grey, browns, cremes and a hist of blue here and there. The quality is extremely high, and no corners cut although the décor is not everyone’s cup of tea, I loved it. The extensive and impressive art collection throughout the ship adds a larger color palate and was personally selected by the wife of the owner. While the palate of the ship is similar throughout, each public space does have its own unique feel.

The public spaces are quite large and surprisingly spacious including the Scenic Lounge and Bar, the large Observation Lounge/Library overlooking the ships bow, also open for passengers to walk about to the very forward end of the bow. There is a massive spa with full spa facilities, steam, sauna, infrared sauna, plunge pool, tropical shower, and heated tiled loungers. There is also an aft large, heated spa pool and seating area. A nail and hair salon are also part of the lovely spa which I can attest provides superb services!

If I had one complaint, is the outdoor space is limited to the large open bow, a harder to find far forward-facing deck 10 area with a bar and two large Jacuzzis and a few aft facing decks with open space. This is a small thing though as the large windows and massive balcony doors in each suite provide plenty of viewing opportunities to the scenery one comes to see…

Moreover, with all this luxury and space, the corridors are wide, easy to navigate, there is a well-equipped techno-gym, Yoga center, a high-end gift ship, and many dining venues for guest’s pleasure.

I was impressed at the quality of dining and variety of menu offerings overseen by German Iron Chef Tom Gotter, who has created some 2500 exceptional menu items for scenic Eclipse. The cuisine is of the highest quality and something for everyone. For such a small vessel, I found the array of dining to be equal to that of larger ships carrying thousands of guests. This is most impressive. There is a French (Lumiere), Asian fusion, Sushi, Teppanyaki (Koko’s) , Main dining room (Elements) that includes Steak, seafood, and Italian specialties, a magnificent buffet restaurant (Yacht Club) , and my personal favorite, Azure Café, a coffee bar with lighter breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare, crafted pizzas, and pasties all day from 6am to 9pm. There is also 24-hour room service, and an invitation chefs table… My personal favorites have been the exceptional seafood, Asian fare, Bread, and pasties to die for! There are also culinary cooking classes held in Scenic Epicure!

The Scenic Eclipse boasts its all-suite configuration and does not let down. I am in a Grand Deluxe Suite that measures some 430 square feet. The suite has a very open feeling with a king-sized slumber bed with controls to set your bed to your own comfort, infrared red lighting to help with a good night’s sleep, silky soft sheets, and extensive pillow menu. There are mirrors everywhere including the large 42-inch television with Bose sound system and complete with an array of complimentary films and many satellites television programs built into a large mirror. The lighting is easy to use and controlled air and heating. The living area has a large comfortable sofa with added stool seating and a large marble table. At night, there is push button black out screen to keep one’s suite as dark or as light as you wish depending on the zone you are cruising in. There is ample storage everywhere with drawers, a nice Dyson hairdryer, shelving, a fully stocked bar with one’s libations all stocked by the suites Butler, an Illy coffee machine, bottled water (glass not plastic). I had a walk-in closet with many drawers, sliding shoe racks, more mirrors, and enough space easily for two. The bathroom comes with a large glass enclosed shower with a heavy flow and room to move, separate toilet area and large designer sink which wasn’t too practical but worked. The overhead storage was abundant for toiletries and the fine quality heavy duty W brand (Wonder) towels and soft terry hooded bathrobes were fantastic! The provided body wash and shampoo came in dispensers. I personally prefer bottled toiletries but understand the brand trying to reduce plastics and recycling of such. The Scenic Butler offers a very nice service to help with shoeshine, room service, and refilling of the suite bar.

The ships staff hail from many countries and most experienced staff came from other high end cruise brands like Seabourn, Disney, Cunard, and the like so all are hand-picked for their well-trained skills as well as warm personalities and I am impressed that I am known by name throughout the ship by the first day. The service onboard is as friendly, warm, and professional as I have ever experienced on any ship, and the staff make all guests feel they are welcomed house guests. Scenic gets an A+ on this account alone.

Onboard Scenic Eclipse, on this Antarctica Expedition, there are 19 Destination Specialists that range from helicopter pilots, naturalists, marine biologists, geologists, and the like. They are all highly qualified, experienced and take guests on the varied zodiac, paddle boarding, kayaking, walking tours ashore, bird watching, etc. and like the rest of the crew, all are knowledgeable, friendly, and always on hand helping guests answering questions and take turns holding lectures onboard the vessel in the lovely ships theatre to assist guests procure some added expertise in the expedition experience. Scenic also gets an A+ in this arena.

My cruise was a 12-day program that started with a pre night in Buenos Aires at the Sofitel or Alvear Palace is also one of the host hotels for the required pre night stay, guest check in, and required antigen test taken before boarding the following mornings flight on Aerolinas Argentina to Ushuaia (A 3.5 hour flight).

There were always more than ample ground staff so impossible to get lost and someone to answer your questions. The entire organization was well executed to perfection. Once arrival in Buenos Aires, luggage is sent off to the ship, guests are taken to yet another antigen testing site and once the green light was given, we headed off to a local restaurant and tour on the coach for a local Argentine barbeque lamb luncheon. At around 130, passengers are driven to the ship where check in already took place the day prior and easily board and escorted by one’s butler to your suite and luggage is waiting to be unpacked.

My cruise was different than prior sailings as the Captain and Discovery Team wanted to sail far past the Antarctic Circle into Marguerite Bay at the 66th parallel. This we did by spending two days crossing Drakes Passage in moderate 5-meter seas. Again, this ship due to her heavy Polar designed hull and super-sized stabilizers handled this otherwise uneasy sea like a hot knife through butter. The weather along the way ranged from peaks of blue sky to heavy wind and rain, and even heavy snow at times. It was exciting and varied as Antarctica never ceases to surprise and amaze…

As one might expect, Antarctica weather is unpredictable, this cruise with typically two stops where guests can cruise around on the zodiac’s among glaciers and ice, whale watch, go ashore to see marine wildlife like seals and walk amongst the species of penguins, hike up the side of a glacier or snow-capped hill, take the helicopter tour, kayak, paddle board, or take the sub to see what lurks beneath these frigid waters. All are very exciting and everyday offered something unique whether it was raining, sleeting, snowing, foggy, windy or sunny. This is a voyage of expedition and excitement where one rolls with the activity, weather, and gets out to enjoy mother nature at her finest. This is not a cruise for those wanting loads of entertainment although our cruise director is a fine singer and hosts a variety of activities, some karaoke, games, and although, I am alone on this trip, I have met most interesting people from many backgrounds and ages, but all appreciate nature and that is the key ingredient to this great continent and not leaving a footprint behind.

The dress code is simple and is country club casual onboard. No need for jackets and ties gents or dresses ladies unless you want to. The evenings are nice casual and dress code varied based on the guests desires but most guests dressed appropriately. The excursion outings are different as you need layers. I had three layers for every outing. The under layer was merino wool long underwear that breaths and does not absorb body odor, the second layer was a light fleece top and pants, and the outer layer consists of a waterproof pair of pants with no Velcro (not allowed here as seeds and things harmful to the wildlife can stick to such and be left behind), thermal socks, a gaiter to keep your neck and face warm, and a nice fleece lined parka compliments of Scenic that is the guests gift to take home. In the mud room where preparation for landings or zodiac rides take place, there is a pair of sized rubber boots provided for all guests. Ashore, walking sticks are also provided. It is so highly organized and efficient. I was worried about getting cold and never suffered once even if my cheeks got a little pink on the fast-moving zodiac rides or extended outdoor treks.

Scenic Eclipse is currently the only 6-star luxury ship sailing these waters and she is the finest way to see Antarctica or any destination she may travel to in high style, extreme comfort, and safely…

Posted by: Tom Baker | May 3, 2020

The Cruise Industry & Covid-19. Will It Recover?

I am typically not want to rant but I want to make some facts clear as the business I have been in for 36 years has been under incredible and mostly unfair scrutiny by the media. Cruise ships do not create viruses nor are they a petri dish as many media and misled individuals believe based on a media coined phrase. The current Covid-19 virus was carried onto the ships by infected passengers just like any person who travels by airplane (the biggest culprit of the virus spread and least mentioned), sitting in a taxi or UBER, staying in a hotel room, visiting ones favorite restaurant, retail store, drinking from the office water cooler, pushing that elevator button or anywhere else a virus like Covid-19 can exist or be easily passed on as we have all sadly learned…

There were nearly 500,000 Americans on cruise ships when President Trump asked the cruise lines to shut down in March after the unfortunate Princess Cruises incident took place in Asia. There were a large number of ships like Holland America’s Zaandam, also under media scrutiny, who were already under way just before the forced shutdown so don’t criticize the ships for sailing. By the way, almost every ship sailing after the Trump order was denied entry into cruise ports as the international fear factor for spreading of the virus into island nations and other foreign countries created a bizarre fear as if the ships were Covid-19 themselves. The Diamond Princess event which was a primary media focus created this backlash while in fact, the virus had already been widely spread internationally through international travelers and transmitted person to person or by touching infected surfaces wherever those travelers had unknowingly spread the virus. The Zaandam and her sister ship Rotterdam will dock and disembark mostly healthy passengers. Of the four passengers who passed away on the Zaandam, two of the deaths were of natural causes. As I write this, there have been about 2500 reported cruise ship passenger and crew cases worldwide since late February out of well over a 1,000,000 travelers on ships during this peak spring break period and prior to the industry shutdown. While many criticize as to why the shutdown didn’t happen earlier, we need to look at the fact that there were no shutdowns at the time the ships stopped sailing other than air travel to China!!! The Covid-19 virus hit us all when we least expected and was fast and furious. We also had little to no leadership anywhere to make fast decisions on lockdowns or closures until we were deep in it!

The cruise industry has been hit hard and we will see how it recovers. Time will tell… So many negative comments have been made by many “Subject Matter Experts” and our media but most do not realize that 32 million travelers take cruises a year. The industry also employees nearly 500,000 in the USA alone, sources most of its food, provisions, food, stores, fuel from US based and owned companies, creates substantial income for nearly 15,000 travel agencies, and is almost a $150 billion a year industry! The cruise industry also falls under heavy monitoring of governmental health and safety agencies worldwide (more than any other form of transportation) with SOLAS “Safety of Life At Sea” rules, follows IMO (International Maritime regulations) regulations, has regular department of Health public inspections, follows strict CDC guidelines and protocol, has regular Coast Guard inspections, and maintains the highest of hygiene for its crew and cleaning of the ships. While I will not comment in this post as to why ships are registered overseas (this is a post for another time and there is a damn good reason for it), nor their offshore corporations which I won’t comment on, this is a huge and relevant business and vacation provider for the US traveler and the many people it employs…

I hope the cruise industry recovers quickly as I know most of my followers are avid cruisers and enjoy the pleasure this wonderful vacation experience provides.

Posted by: Tom Baker | March 15, 2019

Symphony of the Seas-A Family Extravaganza

I sailed on a two-night preview cruise of Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s latest mega ship from Miami and its most glamorous ship to date!

This mega liner is a near twin to Oasis, Allure, and Harmony but Symphony was designed wit even more elegant interior touches giving her a more premium class look and feel.

I am not typically a fan of ships carrying close to 6000 passengers but will tell you that RCI has mastered the art of guest movement, ability to design usable spaces, and keep all types of guest happy on this latest incarnation.

This ship offers a superb family experience with something for everyone of all ages and all types of cruisers from multi-generational families, party-goers, and to sophisticates looking for a sublime and spoiling vacation experience.

The entertainment options alone rivals Las Vegas and Broadway with full theatrical productions including Hairspray, Ice shows, multiple entertainment venues to meet all guest needs from Jazz clubs, to piano bars, to rock and roll, or Salsa clubs… The Aqua Theatre gets a special shout out for its water aquatic shows and unique setting at the aft end of the vessel on the Boardwalk deck lined with a full carousel, shops, and dining venues…

My personal favorite is the Central Park area with its lovely tree lined setting and tropical plants. This area hosts the ships best alternative dining venues, world class luxury shops, wine bar, and more. For the luxury seeker, this is the place to be-its also nice and quiet!

Cabins range across the board from interior to balcony, and the top suites have a myriad of amenities based on the price tag and location. There is truly something for everyone on this ship. While priced significantly higher than all the older RCI ships, this class of vessel really does offer a unique experience under the RCI brand. I believe it to be worth every penny more!

Royal Caribbean has also decided to up the stakes on its highest suite guests with private dining and lounging areas like the Coastal Kitchen and making the experience all-inclusive for these luxury seekers paying top dollar. They even have a Royal Genie-a butler designed to cater to top suite guests wishes.

Cruising has morphed into a spectacular vacation with so many options today compared to the companies 70’s and 80’s favorite Song of Norway which at 25,000 tons carried 1000 guests in cabins that were typically 100 or so square feet and overall décor resembled that of an airline waiting lounge.

Today, Symphony is just a spectacular cruise option and the lines revamped Make It A Great Day at Coco Cay reinvents the out-island experience in the Bahamas…

There is truly so much to this ship that once could not soak it all in during a 7-day Caribbean Cruise…

RCI has its own dedicated state-of-the-art cruise terminal that welcomes cruise passengers in a spectacular manner, speeds up the embarkation process enormously, and with its new biometric photo recognition process makes that check in and departure super easy.

I would sail again in a heartbeat and you can check out my photo album on Smugmug from my cruise.

Happy Cruising….Symphony of the Seas

Posted by: Tom Baker | June 18, 2018

Royalty On The River- Introducing Amadeus Queen


The oldest river cruise company, Amadeus River Cruises with over 40 years of river cruise experience just launched its latest and most beautiful river cruise ship in Amsterdam.

The Amadeus Queen was christened in Amsterdam in a blustery April day by the daughter of the family owned cruise line that operates some 15 ships on Europe’s rivers. The Luftner family operate this incredibly well run and best-kept secret of river cruise companies. The Queen is 443 feet long has 4 passenger decks, and caters to a mere 162 passengers is one of the most spacious river ships and decorated in a very modern yet warm style. To put this in perspective, Viking long ships are the same length but carry 190 passengers in the exact same linear space.



  • Larger cabins-average 188 square feet, have electric drop down French balconies, all have walk in closets, and have large bathrooms
  • Well trained European crew-Amadeus Cruises operates its own training school in Malta and has top notch quality control
  • Excellent food quality- The Luftner family are foodies and provision their vessels with top notch European grown food and meals are prepared farm to table!
  • Tours are not included-they are sold in modules with 15% discounts for advance purchase. This allows guests to tailor their experience based on individual desire vs. forcing all guests into the same tours as on other river cruises.
  • Amadeus prices are substantially less than all other competitors as they do not have the massive marketing costs of their competitors
  • This is one of the finest, most affordable, and elegant river cruise products…


Enjoy this 360 degree tour here:

I was privileged with being invited to the christening cruise of this most lovely ship and really though she was beautiful. Besides the appreciably larger staterooms, I enjoyed the glorious indoor/outdoor pool at the aft of the ship which is part club and part pool. This was designed after a Russian Oligarch’s private yacht and is just brilliant! My meals and service were excellent as well and this is a river cruise company not to be missed.

Check out my detailed pictures here:

Happy Cruising!

Posted by: Tom Baker | June 11, 2018





I recently sailed for two days on Norwegian Cruise Line’s beautiful and BEST SHIP to date, the 2018 Norwegian Bliss… The most amazing change besides her stunning interior décor is the amazing forward facing double deck observation lounges found both in the private Haven complex (for suite guests) as well as the massive side flanking and forward facing general public observation lounge which is one of the largest and most elegant complexes at sea…


The 168,600-ton, 1070 feet long, 138 feet wide, 4,200-passenger, and 1716 crew members, 1 billion dollar cruise ship boasts the innovative features found on Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway, as well as a number of new interactive experiences. The new miracle by NCL features an expanded Haven – the line’s concept “ship within a ship”. This space (accessible only by keycard) boast an outdoor terrace, private restaurant, courtyard area with retractable roof pool, whirlpools, spa treatment rooms, separate sauna, private sundeck. Other differences from the Breakaway-class NCL vessels are: more Haven Suites (42 to 55), 26 additional Penthouses, 14 Spa access suites, more Studio cabins (59 to 82). The home port of the ship is Port of Miami.

Bliss itinerary program

Norwegian Bliss itinerary program is based on weekly 7-day Alaska voyages departing Seattle on Saturdays. Passengers experience the wildlife and beauty of Alaska while visiting Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and enjoy the charm of Victoria BC.

Following the inaugural Alaskan season, the ship was homeported in Miami, Florida for the winter season 2018-2019, with scheduled 7-day Caribbean roundtrips to St Thomas USVI, Tortola BVI, Nassau Bahamas.

In January 2018, NCL announced that for winter season 2019-2020, the Bliss ship will be homeported in NYC- New York. From NYC, the ship will operates on roundtrip itineraries to Caribbean (a total of 18 voyages). Ranging from 7- to 14-days, the itineraries visit call ports in Bahamas (Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay), St Lucia, St. Thomas USVI, Antigua, Jamaica (Ocho Rios), Puerto Rico (San Juan), Barbados, St Maarten, St Kitts, Roatan, Mexico (Costa Maya, Cozumel), Belize (Harvest Caye).

Bliss Cabins


Most Norwegian Bliss staterooms are 170-tt2 Balcony rooms (1088). There are a total of 2206 staterooms in 42 categories. 47 are the wheelchair accessible rooms. The largest staterooms are the Haven Deluxe Owner’s Suites (900 ft2). The ship offers 82 single cabins (studio staterooms designed for solo travelers) with virtual views and exclusive Studio Lounge. The ship also features many family cabins (connecting staterooms) across most categories.

Bliss Dining options – Food & Drinks


Norwegian Cruise Line introduced Norwegian Bliss’ à la carte specialty dining at the signature specialty restaurants onboard, providing passengers the freedom to savor gourmet dishes, various tastes and the flexibility to choose the number of courses to enjoy during the meal. On Norwegian Bliss guests can choose between 11 complimentary dining options. They can also experience new flavors at signature specialty restaurants, such as Le Bistro, La Cucina, Cagney’s Steakhouse and Ocean Blue. Norwegian’s signature specialty restaurants feature enhanced menus including favorite dishes and new tastes. Whether passengers prefer a light meal of a favorite soup or appetizer, or indulge in a dinner featuring Maine lobster, with the new à la carte options, they have the opportunity to create their own, desired dining experience.

  • The shipboard dining options feature the new “Q Texas Steakhouse” (barbecue eatery with live country music). The menu includes brisket, chicken, ribs and sausages smoked over oak, pecan and hickory woods. A modern Mexican restaurant is named Los Lobos (first debuted on Norwegian Dawn in 2016). I dined here one night and the food was surprisingly excellent as were the margaritas!
  • Adjacent to Los Lobos is The A-List Bar, serving handcrafted cocktails, premium spirits and wines.

Norwegian Bliss is the first NCL ship with full-service Starbucks store. The first Starbucks at sea was opened in 2010 on Allure of the Seas (Royal Caribbean). Another new for NCL amenity is the chocolate-themed dessert outlet Coco’s (patisserie / treat shop), serving handmade pralines, crepes, truffles and other treats paired with specialty teas and coffees.

Follows the complete list of Norwegian Bliss restaurants and food bars.

  • Private Room at Taste (100-seat, group private dining venue)
  • Savor Restaurant (forward Dining Room, complimentary)
  • Taste Restaurant (forward Dining Room, complimentary, with Your Time dining)
  • Le Bistro (French specialty dinner-only restaurant; reservations-only; US$20 cover charge)
  • Teppanyaki (Japanese Hibachi specialty, reservations-only restaurant; US$25; open for Lunch and Dinner; features live cooking demonstrations)
  • Manhattan Room (aft-location Dining Room; complimentary; Freestyle dining, Dinner only)
  • O’Sheehan’s Neighbourhood Bar & Grill is now called The Local (sports bar, with 24-hour American cuisine – burgers, steaks, desserts; complimentary)
  • Food Republic (via partnership with Pubbelly Restaurant Group; specialty restaurant open for lunch through dinner, offers international cuisine; iPad ordering system)
  • Cagney’s Steakhouse (specialty dinner restaurant for prime steaks and gourmet seafood specialties; reservations-only, US$30 cover charge per person and free Kids Menu)
  • La Cucina (Italian specialty restaurant; reservations-only, US$15 cover charge; with outdoor seating waterfront area)
  • Ocean Blue Restaurant (seafood restaurant)
  • Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville At Sea (debuted in Southampton on October 27, 2015 as a complimentary fast food restaurant; however, in November 2015 NCL confirmed that the first ever Margaritaville at Sea aboard Norwegian Bliss, would operate as a specialty a la carte restaurant, due to “crowd-control reasons”)
  • Garden Cafe (complimentary buffet restaurant with various cuisine stations)
  • Q (Texas barbecue eatery)
  • Los Lobos (Mexican restaurant)
  • Coco’s (chocolate-themed dessert outlet)
  • The A-List Bar (serving handcrafted cocktails, premium spirits and wines)
  • Starbucks coffee shop & store.

Entertainment options – Fun & Sport

The Bliss vessel features expanded 55-suite Haven, a spacious sundeck, 2 whirlpools, private dining and specialty restaurants, expanded courtyard, outdoor terrace, Thermal suite, treatment rooms (14 – suite Heaven SPA) and fitness center.

NCL Bliss is the world’s second cruise ship (together with NCL Joy) featuring a Ferrari racetrack (deck 19). It’s a first for a cruise ship based in North America. The facility is built by RiMO Supply (RiMO Germany Group) and operated via partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Watches. This is also the first ever branded Formula 1 race car track.

  • The 2-level track spans on 2 decks and offers incredible sea views at height of 60 m  (200 ft). It has capacity up to 10 racers at a time on electric go-karts (Ferrari branded).
  • The Go Cars can reach speeds up to 40 mph (65 kph). In comparison to the sister-ship Norwegian Joy, Bliss’ racetrack is 40% longer and has 10 turns (Joy has 8), two of which are cantilevered over the ship’s side.
  • Passengers booked in Concierge and The Haven staterooms enjoy complimentary rides with bookings. The used by RiMO technology ensures optimal usage under intensified UV conditions and saltwater exposure.

NCL Bliss features an open-air laser tag course on the top deck. Other top-deck features are Aqua Park )with 2 multi-deck water slides, one with a hull-extending loop, one with transparent loop section stretching down to the below deck), 2 racing slides (inner tubes with length over 110 m / 360 ft) with a transparent section.

Pool Deck 16 has 2 pools (located away from the deck’s center) and cantilevered whirlpools (hot tubs over the ship’s sides). A water fun kids zone (on top deck) has splash pads, tipping buckets, water cannons and slides.

Follows the complete list of Norwegian Bliss lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens and adults.


  • Bliss Theatre (800-seat; features Broadway-style musical productions; two grand-shows per night). Theater’s signature programming features the new Broadway musical show “Jersey Boys” (“Best Musical” 2006 Tony Award, rock ‘n’ roll themed) and the “Four Seasons” musical (NCL exclusive production show by Warren Carlyle / themed on Cuba’s culture – dancing, music, costumes).
  • The Supper Club (theatrical entertainment dining venue, with grand-style aerial acrobatics; surcharge $30-40 PP)
  • Atrium (3-deck midship hub area – “678 Ocean Place”, with a big-size LED screen, dance area and live entertainment)
  • Atrium Cafe & Bar (specialty tea & coffee bar)
  • The Library; Card Room; Internet Cafe (24-hour)
  • Headliners Comedy Club & Lounge
  • Mixx Bar (live piano music; pre-dinner cocktails); Bar 21; 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar; Tobacco Road Liquor Bar; The Humidor (cigar lounge); The Cellars Wine Bar; Sugarcane Mojito Bar; Prime Meridian Bar; Studio Lounge
  • Carlo’s Bake Shop (cakes, pastries, bakeries; cupcake classes)
  • Art Gallery
  • The Cavern Club replica of the Liverpool music club, Beatles music, tribute bands performances)
  • Bliss Casino (served by Skyline Bar)
  • The District Brew House (craft beer hall featuring a keg room, 24 draft beers on tap and 50 different bottled beers; via partnership with Wynwood Brewing Company, Miami)
  • Dolce Gelato (Italian ice cream)
  • Atrium Boutiques (tax-duty free shops); Photo Gallery & Shop
  • Waterfront Promenade (1320 ft/402 m long; open air dining and entertainment venues)
  • Aqua Park (3-deck, with two pools, 2 racing twist-slides and 5 multi-level waterslides)
  • Kids venues, club lounges (Kid’s Aqua Park, Splash Academy for kids 3-12 yo, Guppies Nursery for kids 6 months to 2 yo)
  • Mandara Spa & Fitness (Thermal Suite, Snow Room, Salt Room, Medi Spa, 24 Treatment Rooms, Beauty Salon, Barber Shop, fitness classes)
  • Spice H2O (adults only; served by Breezeway Bar & Grill)
  • Entourage Teen Centre (jukeboxes, table football, video arcades, teen disco)
  • “The Haven” (Suite- and Villa-passengers only complex; consists of The Haven Courtyard, The Haven Restaurant, The Haven Lounge)
  • Rock Climbing Wall; Jogging Track; Sports Complex (Spider Web – enclosed 24ft/7m tall kids climbing wall with spiral slide, Bungee Trampoline, 9-hole Mini Golf course, the largest at sea Ropes course, Zip Line, The Plank – 8ft/2,5m extending platform)
  • Vibe Beach Club (adults only).

This is a ship for all tastes and budgets and is one of the best ships introduced to date. Please check out my complete photo tour:

Happy Cruising!


Posted by: Tom Baker | April 11, 2018

MSC Seaside-Bella Italia in Miami


MSC Cruises recently made a huge investment in the North American market with a US purpose-built ship, the MSC Seaside. She is a massive line designed architecturally to mirror the exciting condo architecture of Miami’s hip and sexy high-rise condominiums.

MSC will also bring the 2017 built MSC Meraviglia in 2019 as well as the return of the slightly older MSC Divina for longer Caribbean Cruises and the smaller decade old and recently stretched Armonia to sail to Cuba from Miami.

This is good news for cruisers who want something very different. MSC is different from almost every other purpose built Caribbean ship or those catering to the North American client. The primary difference is that this is a European run and styled cruise line with a whiff of amenities catering to a typical US or Canadian Traveler. The MSC client is truly international coming from every part of the world. On my sailing, the clientele was about 40% American and 60% from the rest of globe, there were Chinese, French,  French Canadians, Germans, Swedish, Brazilians, Emirates, Italians, and more… I would say this was truly a United Nations of  globally based guests of all age groups-all getting along famously well.

The first thing people ask me is “does everyone smoke?” The answer is a resounding No. MSC does not allow smoking anywhere inside the vessel or anywhere on a balcony and accesses huge fines if caught. There are two outdoor areas for smokers and I found the odor to not be as pervasive as some other US based ships I have sailed on. This ship also reminded me of cruising back in the 1980’s when people dressed nicely for dinners and going out in the evening. This was refreshing but not at all stuffy or over the top… This was not a ship where many guests show up in their gym clothes for meals.

The MSC Style offers more live music, more dance clubs (3 with DJ’s on my March sailing), a new review show every night that garners rousing standing ovations, a lively cruise staff that keeps things hopping day and night but in a fun way where everyone enjoys it. The White Party held on deck was attended easily by 2000 of the 4500 onboard and it was super fun. The daytime foam party held poolside was also great fun. Oh, by the way- English is the primary language onboard and including all signage throughout. Non English speaking guests have dedicated cruise staff hosts and a TV channel to communicate shipboard activities, safety drills, shore excursions and more..

The service staff are a bit more low key than US based ships and service was not as frantic throughout. Yes, bar service was a little slower paced, but it was pleasant and very efficient as I found everywhere on the ship. The dining room service was paced, and dinners are stretched out not too far from a typical European dining experience where meals last two hours. We Americans like to eat and run so if you don’t like sitting down to a longer meal, maybe this line is not for you.

Being a new ship and a big ship, there are still some teething problems and mechanical issues where an elevator was out of order from time to time, there were some periods where a sewage smell (not a deal breaker but it did appear) showed up in some mid ship areas, and some other smaller service areas where added training will correct. BTW, every ship has these same issues ongoing at some point or another. There is no perfect ship or perfect product!

My only critical points would be the buffet areas were always crowded and full when open like on most ships, the pool area is jammed on sea days so if you do not save a chair early on, you have to look far and wide to find a chair unless you are in the Top 19 (Aurea Class Cabins-These are higher priced balcony cabins and regular suites that include all beverages and have a dedicated sunning area or the MSC Yacht Club, a ship within a ship class for suite guests that has a large and beautiful pool deck and sunning are for its exclusive guests. More about these two classes of service later on in my review…

I will say, I loved this ship. I loved the service, the food, the pizza (yes, it is excellent and addictive), the shows, the kind service staff that I found throughout, the sexy style, architecture of the ship, modern furnishings, the high quality of boutiques, my cabin and its very nice amenities, and the fact that this is a European style ship different from other US Caribbean ships…

As I stated earlier, this giant of a ship was purpose built for Miami and entered service in the North American market in December of 2017. MSC Seaside is 160,000 gross tons, is 1059 feet long, carries 4134 passengers in double occupancy cabins, has 1413 crew to cater to its passenger compliment. MSC Seaside’s Godmother is the Italian actress and personality, Sophia Loren who holds this title for all 14 MSC cruise ships!

This is one of the most technologically advances ships with an incredible jumbotron outdoor TV screen showing movies and perfect sound system, easy to use directory boards throughout the ship where your provided MSC wristband not only opens your cabin door but charges and records all onboard expenses including allowance to book alternative dining and shows. I really liked this tool and aspect.

The ships architecture, wide promenades, two buffet restaurants, 2 main dining rooms,  4 swimming pools, amazing Aurea Spa and massive gym powered by Techno-Gym, multiple bars and clubs, entertainment venues, incredible kids club, Venchi Chocolate shop, café (best Chocolate Martini ever), incredible alternative dining venues (6 in total) that in my opinion are best in class managed by famed Hawaii Chef Roy Yamaguchi, all add up to a fantastic ship and cruise experience if you want something different… Oh, this ship has 322,000 square feet of public spaces!

Cabins and suites rang is square feet of 130 for a typical inside, 172 square feet for ocean view, 226 square feet for a typical balcony and suites range from 250 square feet to almost 1000 square feet including balconies…

MSC separated the class of cabin into these categories:

  • Bella- basic cabins and lower cruise fares
  • Fantastica- a bit higher price range and includes confirmed dining time and some drink vouchers
  • Aurea- higher priced yet and offers open dining, the Top 19 exclusive deck area for sunning, inclusive of almost all beverages, and provides a spa treatment for 2!
  • MSC Yacht Club- high atop the ship and forward facing where suites have card access, private check in area, private 2 level gorgeous lounge, private restaurant where the menus change daily for lunch and dinner (NCL’s Haven menu is the same every day and night), English trained butlers and Concierge service, a private pool, outdoor buffet area, and so much more. Pricing here is the highest, but rates are FAR LESS than their competitors offering similar service i.e NCL!

MSC also allows brand loyalty match so they ill honor their own provided amenities based on your tenure cruising with other brands. Proof of your status must be downloaded on the MSC web site and voila, a few days later, you are confirmed based on approval. I am a platinum Plus member with NCL which gave me Black Status-MSC highest loyalty level. Here is was showered with incredible amenities, champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate model of the ship, dinner for 2 in an alternative restaurant of my choice, and much more..

I loved this ship, the cruise experience, and while MSC has been controversial in some of the cruise review boards, I believe much of the experience is misunderstood by US travelers expecting an all-American experience and this it is NOT!

I think the product in under-priced in the US market frankly and this too creates issues for MSC. If you are a world traveler and want a lovely Italia style cruise with truly and international flare, try this ship.. I would go again in a heartbeat…

See all my pictures here:

Happy Cruising!




Posted by: Tom Baker | November 17, 2017

MSC Meravigila-Wonderful? YES!!!

I h

ave sailed several times with MSC and had mixed experiences from excellent to not-so-good. I decided to give them a try once again and sail in the Mediterranean taking my mother on a special 7-night cruise sailing round trip from Genoa to Naples, Messina, Malta, Barcelona, Marseilles and back to Genoa.

The ship is brand new having been introduced in June of 2017. This ship currently is the largest in the ever-growing fleet of Italian liners built by MSC which stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company. BTW, MSC is the largest container company in the world.

Meravigilia means WONDERFUL in Italian and I will start the spoiler by telling you she was just that!

This magnificent custom-built liner is 1034 feet long, 167,600 tons, carries 4400 passengers, and 1400 crew. The ship is technologically advanced, green, and incredibly well-laid out compared to other modern super liners recently introduced.

This ship has extra wide elevators, three banks of elevators and staircases (almost all other new built ships have only a forward and aft set of staircases and elevators), extra wide corridors, public spaces, and has 5 pools (one with a dome) vs. 3 on most other ships in this size!

I booked one of the last remaining cabins which happened to be in the MSC Yacht Club, coined as a ship-within-a-ship. It is brilliant. I booked the last inside Yacht Club suite which was 182 square feet, elegantly designed, adequate storage, superb Dorelan bedding, pillows, monogrammed sheets, large bath towels, superbly English trained butler service, private concierge desk and services, a Top sail lounge for Yacht club, Private open-seating gourmet restaurant where menus change daily, a private pool, bark grill, and sunning area-all of this in a private key access area on the forward top 4 decks of the ship. MSC has a cool watch tool that acts as your room key, and card throughout the ship. You could even pre-book shows and alternative dining from the electronic reader board using your MSC watch. There is complimentary 25-hour room service, food available 20 hours a day in the Top Sail Lounge, and an incredible menu of pizza delivery that was simply irresistible..

There are just a few MSC yacht Club services:

  • UNLIMITED DRINKS in all bars and restaurants of the ship
  • MSC Yacht Club restaurant with all-inclusive dining at flexible times
  • Priority check-in and check-out in dedicated area
  • Exclusive Top Sail Lounge offering finger foods, desserts, afternoon and midnight snacks
  • Private swimming pool and bar (for those staying in MSC Yacht Club)
  • Luxury suites with Egyptian cotton linens
  • Dorelan pillow menu and bedding
  • 24-hour butler and concierge service
  • And more!

The check in was done shoreside in a Yacht Club tent where guests are met buy shoreside butlers who usher you into a private check in area and onboard the ship within minutes and taken to the concierge where a tour is provided, and your suite is already awaiting you…

I found the Yacht Club quite affordable and my cabin cost around $2200 for 7-days for my interior suite but most Yacht Club suites have private balconies. There are less than 20 interior suites which run about the same price as a standard balcony in the rest of the ship but offer so much more!

I found the ship incredibly clean, the layout excellent, the music varied and entertaining. Moreover, the clientele hailed from every part of the globe. There were plenty of Italians, French, Germans, Spanish, British, not too many Americans but we were about 5% according to the Cruise director, tons of SE Asians, Chinese, and South Americans. I loved the liveliness of the clientele and the amount of activity throughout the ship.

I dined primarily in the Yacht club restaurant where the food was excellent, and the experience was quite luxurious. One night was spent in Teppanyaki which cost an added 24 euro per person and it was the best experience I have had in this type of venue on any comparable ship I have sailed.

There are multiple dining venues including sushi, steak house,  Eataly Restaurant and shop, 3 main dining rooms, the Marketplace buffet (I personally stayed away from this due to the crowds). This venue also had a mozzarella making kitchen-how cool is that? Along the lengthy open colonnade inside the ship and off the atrium, there are plentiful gorgeous shops, bars, clubs, a chocolate shop that is just out of this world, a creperie, gelato shop, shore excursion desk, and more…

The ships spa, gym, and shopping outlets were far more upscale than any other contemporary brand ship. I honestly would rate this ship as premium from my own experience given my experience onboard (Maybe flat out Luxury experience in the MSC Yacht Club).

The shows were amazing with every type of show and NEW production show each night. The entertainers were all quite good and there was even a Puccini opera! MSC has partnered with Cirque du Soleil and has two unique shows which have an added fee of 19 euro per show with champagne and macaroon snack. Both were entertaining and excellent but left the audience wanting more as they were only 45-minutes long each and abruptly ended wherein the audience did not understand that the show was over. You can even have dinner in this spectacular marvel of a venue for an added fee.

The Meraviglia has an amazing indoor sport arena, 4-D theater, massive kid’s area for all ages, slides, outdoor fun activities, and tons of hot tubs and pools everywhere…

While my sailing was packed, I did not find the ship overwhelming, but I don’t like crowds and enjoyed the Yacht club which buffered my experience exponentially.

This ship has a magnificent 3 level atrium which is lined with sparling Swarovski crystal steps that cost 10,000 euro per step. This adds a little more glamour to a stunning ship which has many more sitting areas clubs, bars, and more!

MSC is unique and allows embarkation in each port of call which takes of some of the crush when guests disembark. Early sailing were publicly slammed for absurdly long waits to disembark after a cruise but this never seemed an issue on my sailing at any time.

I would not hesitate to sail this ship again, but it is an international experience, has fewer American’s than most other lines, and is uniquely Italian in spirit and attitude. The Yacht Club remains t be an exceptional experience and one I highly recommend if you want more value and the extra TLC. MSC offers this experience better than any other line who may offer similar suite experiences.

You can see my entire ships photos here:

Read More…

Posted by: Tom Baker | May 26, 2017

The Lovely Seabourn Encore


Another amazing entrant has joined a league of small ships in the luxury sector of the cruise market. Seabourn Encore entered service last December and has had nearly six months of service under her belt as the larger sister to a trio of slightly smaller ships in the Seabourn fleet.

This vessel is incredibly well laid out and offers plenty of space for its luxury seeking guests . Encore is 40,000 plus tons, almost 700 feet long, caters to 600 guests in an all-suite configuration, making her among the most spacious luxury vessels afloat.

My cruise was a March  10-day Indonesian Archipelago cruise sailing from Bali to Singapore stopping at Komodo Island, Celukan on Bali, Probilingo, Sumatra, and Singapore. I had taken a longer version of this cruise on one of Seabourn’s now retired 200 passenger ships in 1993 and loved it. This cruise was quite the opposite as things have changed dramatically in Indonesia with the advent of technology and a flourishing economy… I’m not saying that I did not enjoy this trip but found so much of the exotic charm of Indonesia had been erased. Bali still lured with its exotic charm and incredibly gentle people but the place was radically built up from a few short decades ago and that landscape was clearly changed exponentially. The highlights were the 6.4 earthquake on sailing day in Bali before boarding the ship, the frightening private tour at Komodo Island where the evil dragons do exist and are as dangerous as advertised, and a lovely day to visit the magnificent temple of Borobudur with a lunch at Aman’s amazing resort adjacent to the historic site. Singapore is always amazing regardless and about the cleanest and most organized city on the planet!

About The Ship


Built at Fincantieri shipyards outside of Venice, the Seabourn Encore has a decidedly less Scandinavian feel than her predecessors and more of a yacht like feel with well-built dark wood furnishings and  richer fabrics. Each public space is exceptionally spacious and there is more public room space than on some ship that hold 1400 or more passengers. Famed interior designer Adam Tihany has created exceptional spaces throughout this elegant vessel with highly couture décor.

Seabourn Service


Seabourn has always had the skill set to procure staff that are caring, kind, gentle, and willing to please their sophisticated guests. Encore did not disappoint in most areas although my cruise entailed a major cruise staff change out so there were quite a few staff who did not quite have the companies “knack” u to snuff but the experience was still very pleasing form a staff interaction standpoint.

The staff in the Colonnade Buffet restaurant was exceptional and in Thomas Keller Restaurant. The Main Dining room was where I had quite a few concerns but I found a lovely waitress from Barbados who was exceptional and my entire party gravitated to her as she was exceptional and provided over the top service. A really unique thin that Seabourn has provided its dining staff is a pad that enters your suite number and your picture comes up when the Maitre d’hôtel confirms your table space. The pad logs all your meals, where you sat, who your wait staff were, and who joined you at your table. This is a very good tool for the staff and helps remember guests discerning needs.

The level of bar service was exceptional as this onboard all-inclusive product has an open bar policy where I enjoyed a nightly pre-dinner lovely champagne Kir Royale Cocktail nightly in The Club enjoying live music and having more than my fill of Seabourn’s generous complimentary caviar policy… A quick visit to the small casino was easy as this venue sits adjacent to The Club tempting patrons to drop a few dollars here and there!

Public Space & Entertainment


This ship has a wonderful feature called Seabourn Square that is an enormous lounge that serves as the ships Front Desk, a café, coffee house, library, shore excursion office, all with incredibly comfortable “living room” type of elegant furnishings. While I might ramble a bit about some features in other categories of this short review, this ship offers plentiful space and options for a magnificent spa and gym, observation lounge, huge showroom for Seabourn lectures and nightly entertainment that included excellent and professional review shows, two pools, multiple spa tubs, and a unique new area called The Retreat, where guests can pay extra for exclusive sunning areas, cabanas with TV’s and butler type service. This area has not taken off yet and I am not sure it will but it was drop dead gorgeous…

Encore’s Suites


I was in the lowest verandah suite category on Deck 5 forward and my suite seemed to measure a little over 300 square feet inside and I had a larger balcony than higher suites at 83 square feet although it had a partial metal wall. I did not find this to be a deterrent whatsoever. The average suites are very spacious with oversized queen beds (almost a king), beautiful and bountiful cabinetry, a full sized sofa, vanity, coffee table, two club chairs, a walk in closet, and a stunning dark marble and granite bathroom with separate bathtub and shower stall and twin sinks-all this with ample storage. Movies are on demand and programming is all complimentary and abundant. Internet, however, is not free (not yet anyway). The suite was comfortable, soothing, and simply elegant. The only area I did not have good service was here as my attendant was brand new, never met us on the first day, and became ill half way through the cruise wherein the Chief Housekeeper had to attend her suites which created a long delay of making up the suites and sometimes not cleaning the room at all other than making up the bed and replacing towels…

Seabourn Cuisine


Cuisine onboard was a mixed bag. Sometimes it was exceptional and sometimes it was not. The most disappointing aspect for me was Thomas Keller Grill. Having dined at both Perse and French Laundry, this steakhouse disappointed me hugely in the quality of food provided. Food was limp, under cooked, or even burnt… I tried the venue on 3 occasions during this 10-day cruise and all were a big disappointment. I heard this from many others as well but some thought it was the only place to dine. Go figure. I wonder what Mr. Keller would say if he just showed up… The Main dining room also varied although I always found something to eat. The advertised Sea Bass on formal night arrived as paper thin Barramundi. The complimentary wines were a bit weak. The biggest shock was the delivery of pedestrian Barefoot wine, where the  tried to tell me it was an award winning wine. I advised him I could purchase this for $4.99 a bottle at Costco in the US!!! As the cruise progressed the food did improve. I will add that the food at the outdoor poolside grill and in the Colonnade buffet was simply wonderful-as was the service there. Regardless of my comments, I did manage to gain close to 5 pounds…Perhaps the Kir Royales and caviar???

Please enjoy my Seabourn Encore photo album using this link:

Happy sailing…

Posted by: Tom Baker | February 5, 2017

The Most Luxurious River Ship Yet-Introducing…Crystal Mozart!

While all of the river cruise companies claim luxury and 5-star services, none can compete with the newest entry into the River Cruise market, Crystal River Cruises!

 Crystal Cruises has been the most heralded cruise Line for some 22 years in Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure and decided a little over a year ago to take the 6-star services to Europe’s Rivers with a fleet of newbuilds… The first ship was a rebuild from a hull built in 1989, the largest river ship ever built, the TS Mozart. After taking the vessel down to bare metal and completely rebuilding it at an untold cost with all couture interior decoration, Crystal rechristened this elegant vessel in July of 2016. Crystal Mozart is 395 feet long, 74 feet wide, carries only 154 passengers in an all-suite configuration with an extensive crew of 92 to pamper its guests. To put it in perspective, other luxury competitors have less than 50 crew members to care for roughly the same or more guests…

 I am including a link to my extensive photographs of this gorgeous vessel and my 10-night December 2016 Christmas Markets Cruise sailing roundtrip from Vienna but here are some of the facts that make this vessel extra special…

 The Crystal Mozart is all-inclusive onboard and includes luxury accommodations that range in size from 216-884 square feet, all have butler service, 24 hour room service (unheard of on other vessels), includes gratuities, all gourmet meals, premium beverages, and an extensive list of daily sightseeing excursions!

 The best features are her onboard service and carefully selected genteel crew who hail mostly from Central and eastern Europe. The are about the best I have encountered at sea or on any other river experience. The dining options are taken in three venues (vs. 1 or maybe two on other ships) and offer open seating (also unheard of on other vessels). The food is farm to table and as close to Michelin as one can get. Crystal River Cruises also includes an array of excellent shore excursions and offers guest the chance to book a Michelin Star dining experience in places like Vienna or Budapest, also included in the price. My favorite event was the private evening visit to Belvedere Palace in Vienna wherein the guests were treated to small curated art tours of the extensive Klimt paintings while sipping the adored Adele Champagne and then ending with a classical Austrian concert in the Marble Hall along with ballet and Opera performances-This is a real WOW!!!

 Crystal Mozart will be joined by a fleet of newly built all-suite 80 passenger vessels starting in 2017 that will cruise Europe’s rivers. For now, the Mozart id the Belle-of-the Ball and offers an exceptional cruise experience

Experienced travelers will love this pampering experience on the most stylish of vessels and exceptional crew who will pamper your every need!

 Link to My pictures:



Posted by: Tom Baker | November 9, 2016

Something Special-Something NEW

Viking River Cruises is the undisputed leader in the River Cruise market with 50% of all river cruise inventory. Some competitors refer to this excellent brand as the Carnival of river cruises but that could not be farther from the truth. Viking Cruises is a privately owned and operated company with headquarters in Los Angeles. A few short years ago they announced that they would enter the cruise market place with Viking Ocean Cruises and some 14 months after the launch of Viking Star, Viking has introduced one of the most unique and wonderful cruise products that has already propelled the brand into Travel & Leisure Readers top Spot for 2016…

 At 48,000 tons, 745 feet long, 930 guests in all balcony accommodations the Biking Star introduced in 2015 will be followed by identical sisters Viking Sea (2016), Viking Sky (2017), Viking Sun (2017), and Viking Spirit (2018).

 I was fortunate to sail for 4-days from New York to San Juan in October and had ample time to enjoy this magnificent ships facilities from top-to-bottom and will tell you after some 275 cruises, this is one of the finest, high quality built and designed vessels to EVER enter service! This ship is laden with Scandinavian design with a very modern and light flair, lots of wood, soft leather, tile, Scandic Art, and is perhaps the cleanest ship I have sailed on. Viking Star appears larger indie than her 48,000 tons with most of her finely designed balcony cabins coming in at 270 square feet. The thoughtful design touches are everywhere but all cabins and suites have large screen TV’s with complimentary movie channels, Viking includes beer, wine, and soft drinks at lunch and dinner, and include all alternative dining venues as well as a complimentary shore excursion in each port-of-call. This coupled with pricing that match lesser quality competitors Princess Cruises and Holland America Line give Viking Ocean Cruises a HUGE EDGE over other premium class lines. The companies policy is to under promise and over deliver and that they do!

 I honestly would classify the Viking Star and her sisters in the high deluxe category falling just under luxury brands. The food is excellent in all the venues, the ship has thoughtful library book collections throughout the ship, offers a spectacular pool, solarium, magnificent spa, multiple dining venues that are never crowded, and offers unfailingly polite and well-trained crew to pamper its guests. I would imagine that Viking’s competition must be shaking in their boots…

 Viking claims to be a “Thinking Person’s Cruise” and I agree. Between excellent lectures, great floor shows with terrific singers, and great information provided on ports and the complimentary array of excursions offered, this is a win-win cruise…

 Take some time to review my extensive photos taken onboard this wonderful ship Viking Star. Better yet, take a cruise on here in the Baltic & Norway, The Mediterranean, Cuba, Canada/New England, and yes, even Cuba!!!




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