You are in for a treat if you are in the NYC area on January 13. The three Queens – Queen Mary II, Queen Elizabeth II and the new Queen Victoria will sail out of New York harbor with fireworks in the background. The best place to see this historic event, which is scheduled to happen around 7:00pm is from the following vantage points:
Battery Park: On the southern shoreline of Manhattan, www.thebattery.org
Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park: Overlooking the Hudson River with great views of the Statue of Liberty. Getting there: Just south of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. By subway: 4 or 5 to Bowling Green, or N or R to Whitehall. The Esplanade: Running the entire length of Battery Park City, along the Hudson River from Stuyvesant High School on the north end all the way south to Battery Park. Hudson River Park: 550 acre park extends for five miles along the Manhattan shoreline from Battery Place to West 59th Street.
For more info: Cunard Rendezvous.
Freestyle 2.0 on NCL ships.
Sound like web standards? Maybe so, but Freestyle 2.0 just seems so much more real and a lot more fun than Web 2.0. We take web standards for granted, but can’t take NCL for granted any longer. With Apollo Management on board comes a billion dollars earmarked for improvements on all ships. Some of these improvements like escorting balcony and suite guests to their staterooms and offering a welcome glass of champagne, a hint that NCL wants to change its image. Whether this is for better or worse is yet to be seen, but results aren’t too far off as all improvements should be in place by the end of the Summer of 2008.
Several of the changes involve dining. More money will be invested in food, but whether that increase relates to quality or quantity remains to be seen. One change that many passengers will approve or is known as Lobster Galore (sorry, but this reminds me of some porn star’s name). Lobster will be served in one restaurant every night of the cruise and in the main restaurant several days of the cruise. I have never figured out the attraction of what I refer to as cockroach of the sea and overrated as well. I predict that lobster lovers everywhere will flock to NCL just for the privilege of eating Lobster everyday. I will use the opportunity to attract friends and influence cruisers by offering my lobster to any willing takers.
I really do like meat, but perhaps NCL has gone overboard with offering a 48oz Porterhouse steak in their signature steak house. Personally, I would prefer a smaller cut of meat, although size really does matter to some and that three pound slab of meat will keep the most demanding cruiser happy and full. Full of what, you ask? Sounds like the makings of an eating contest.
Each dining room will have a specialty dish, like the whopper steak or the chocolate fondue that will be in the action station restaurant, aka, the buffet. And that buffet will take on a different look in the evenings when tables get draped in table cloths, the lights get turned down low and the service is enhanced. Sounds like a big improvement, especially for a ship like the Star, which has the most unattractive buffet dining area imaginable.
On embarkation day, the specialty restaurants will be offering samples of their dishes, a good way to give cruisers a chance to taste the food before committing their extra dollars to these dining venues. A few of the specialty restaurants will open for lunch on sea days.
NCL will also transform the staterooms, upgrading the bedding, towels, bathrobes and coffeemakers; improving the tv offerings and adding sofabeds to the suite category.
Balcony and mini-suite guests will receive a specially colored key, recognizable throughout the ship. I guess this means that if you are in one of these staterooms, you can flash your special colored card to impress other guests. On our last cruise on the Star, we each had a different colored card, but never figured out the reason why. If I had the pink card and he had the blue, I could have made a guess. I can’t wait to see those balcony and suite cards. Maybe the Garden Suite guests will have colorful cards that play tunes. Why not?
Suite and Villa guests all have concierge and butler service along with priority embarkation and disembarkation, a private concierge lounge amongst other perks.
Onboard activities improvements include more learning opportunities through NCL U; a pool deck experience with upscale entertainment, drink flags on all chairs, quiet times and cold towels.
There are many other changes that will surely enhance the NCL experience. We are looking forward to seeing the results of Freestyle 2.0 and so should you.