Voyages of Discovery's mv Discovery goes
to some of the world's most exotic out-of-the-way locations.Photo by Deb Roskamp
Value at Sea
Three Vessels That Fit the Bill by Ringo Boitano
k, let's face it. We're still in a recession. People are working longer
and harder and often times for not as much money. People are forgoing
daily trips to Starbucks and extravagant meals out. BUT what we are
not willing to give up is our vacations. The American vacation is a
sacred institution, and right now we need it more than ever. There was
a period in time when the cruise experience meant white dinner jackets,
skeet shooting and seemingly endless buffets. It was an experience that
many felt only spoke to those with deep pockets and discretionary income.
Cruises still offer those luxurious components. Well, maybe not the
skeet shooting. But today, the cruise also means something else never
more timely: VALUE. I recently experienced three very different cruise
vessels that fit the bill for both: WORLD-CLASS CRUISE EXPERIENCES and
Royal Caribbean's Mariner
of the Seas' Royal Promenade runs nearly the entire length
of the ship.Courtesy: RCCL
Royal Carribean - Mariner of the Seas
The recently repositioned Royal Caribbean Mariner
of the Seas has the distinction of being the largest ship ever to
offer cruise vacations from the West Coast. At 1,020 feet long and 142,000
gross registered tons it is too big to even make it through the Panama
Canal. Quite simply, this floating monster of a pleasure palace is a
destination unto itself. Amenities include a rock climbing wall, nine-
hole miniature golf course, adults-only Solarium, fitness center, 16
bars and themed lounges and seven restaurants, Casino Royale casino,
Broadway- style productions, and an ice-skating rink with performances
by a cast of international skaters on the level of Circ du Soleil. I
must confess I was quite curious, and perhaps a little apprehensive,
upon reading about the vessel's Royal Promenade; a boulevard of shops,
restaurants, bars and lounges that run nearly the length of the ship.
After all, who wants to sit inside when the Pacific Ocean is right out
your door? To my surprise, I spent virtually all of my time sitting
at sidewalk tables at the Promenade's wine bar and the Anglo-Irish pub,
people watching. Did I mention that there's also a Ben and Jerry's on
the promenade? The theatre and ice skating rink are well situated so
that patrons spill out onto the walkway. There's even a parade each
The best view in the house. Passengers ponder Kodak
Alley aboard the mv Discovery.Photo
by Deb Roskamp
The 650-passenger mv Discoveryoffers all the creature comforts and amenities of an upscale cruise experience yet, due to her mid-size, goes to some of the world’s most exotic out-of-the-way ports usually restricted for larger vessels.
to Murmansk, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle, anyone? For
fans of Slumdog Millionaire, there's even a departure from Mumbai.
On my mv Discovery cruise from Ushuaia to the white continent
of Antarctica, I found myself surrounded by a passionate clientele of
repeat cruisers, who were as excited about their time on the vessel
as the destinations. Forget limbo and hairy chest contests, this is
an intimate and sophisticated cruise experience. Easily the most popular
onboard event is the lecturers, conducted by a collection of scientists,
naturalists and historians, who offer insight into the culture, history,
flora and fauna of the destinations. It is not unusual for the events
to be packed. The ship's amenity of three restaurants, five elegant
lounges, library, health club and spa, and two swimming pools only
compliments the experience. After a zodiac landing and trek on Antarctica,
followed by a spa experience and massage, and then an elegant multi-
course meal, I began to wonder what I have ever done to deserve this
The Splendor is the largest Carnival ship
to offer cruise vacations from the West Coast. Courtesy:
I love Carnival. For decades it has been a favorite
cruise line of mine. Carnival has also always screamed value, with an
inclusivity that speaks to a wide demographic of ages and income. The
new 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor represents an entirely
new class of vessel for the line. Like the above mentioned Royal Caribbean
Mariner of the Sea, the 113,300-ton Splendor is also too large
for the Panama Canal, and now constitutes the largest Carnival vessel
to operate in the West Coast. Everything is bigger and better. New additions
include a sliding sky dome over the mid-ship pool which features a massive
LED screen displaying movies, concerts, sports and other programming.
Seeing passengers snuggled under blankets on lounge chairs at night,
with the stars overhead, watching a movie was a first for me.
Miniature golf is one of the many amenities offered
on the Mariner of the Sea.Courtesy:
Another innovation is the largest health and wellness
center in the fleet: The two-level 21,000-square-foot "Cloud 9 Spa"
featuring a thalassotherapy pool, 17 private treatment rooms, and elaborate
thermal suite. Adjacent to the facility are 68 spa staterooms and suites,
another first. Truth be told, the food in the Carnival main dining is
also my favorite on all cruise lines. The menu is fixed (and often unwaveringly),
and the chefs have the dishes down to a science. The new lido food court
is endless, with serving stations devoted to dishes from India and Mongolia,
plus sushi, deli sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, bbq, with
seemingly never a wait. For a touch of elegance there are also as series
of world-class super clubs. The Carnival Splendor is now offering
cruises for the Port of Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera. Now has
never been a better time to book a cruise vacations.
My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my
human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it?
Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks
for blazing the trail!
Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA
* * * *
No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories
about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans
seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to
the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.
Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA
Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.
Key Logger, New York
* * * *
Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within
walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest
Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL
* * * *
Thanks for taking the time
for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo
Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without
a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for
years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.
thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing
that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.
To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories
like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent
relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media
stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then.
The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda"
been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this
to yourself all these many years.
Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.
Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA
Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos,
too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered
the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to
that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.
Mick, Greenbay, WI
* * * *
Now that football season is
over --- Ive often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off
season ---- its great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy.
Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products,
and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant
in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually
uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord
lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down
in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait
a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city
in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations
--- you know, whats a city, which one is a town, ect so
better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to
argue about any subject.
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was
five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the
Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first
became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father
conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the
road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch
The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part
series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin
where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places
in Europe. Here's Why.
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name
of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's
important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around
the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and
they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium.
Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on
the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's
In the 1840s, the population of California was only
14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived
from all over the world and they came for one reason: gold. James
Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutters Mill in El
Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.
Lake Charles Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles,
the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their
childrens eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very
much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from
last years Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little
ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already
fed and are rubbing their stomachs.
Puerto Vallarta: Magic and Mayhem on the Malecon
So I heard that you could spend from dawn to dusk on
the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and never get bored and I thought,
"Okay, I'm up for that challenge." Well, maybe not the dawn part
I'm not a morning person so I had no problem leaving those
early hours to the joggers and those seeking an early start to catch their
red snapper for dinner.