Well we are finally approaching the end of 2020. It has definitely been a year that no one foresaw and had lots of ups and downs. Many of us have missed out on trips, family gatherings, and other special events due to quarantine or restrictions. However, we all have gotten the opportunity to spend quality time with our families, enjoy the company of our coworkers and neighbors, and grow as a civilization. Recently we have started to see COVID immunization begin and we all hope that the world can begin to return to normal in the near future.
While we await for the world to settle and return to a pre-COVID state, Let's take the next week to enjoy our families and the good things we have in our lives. Whatever holiday you are celebrating, I wish everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! Please know that we are always here for anything you may need, and will be standing by when the time comes for you to travel again.
With this week’s headlines, and your upcoming travel plans, I know that the CoronaVirus is on your mind. I’m sure you’re getting questions from friends and family, and you are looking for the most up-to-date, unbiased information that you can find. I can assure you that, as a travel professional working with many clients departing on trips within the next few weeks, I am closely monitoring this situation too.
Here's what I can tell you:
Your health, safety and well-being is my top priority, and I will be happy to answer any questions that you have. I will, of course, let you know if there are any cancellations/disruptions that will directly affect your plans. And you can feel free to reach out to me at any time.
Everyone is always excited about their upcoming travel, but lately a lot of people are talking about the Coronavirus and its spread in Asia. There are just a handful of cases in the US, but many are congregated to the middle east. Please remember that "fear of Coronavirus" is NOT a valid reason to cancel a trip that is under penalty. If you have a "Cancel for Any Reason" policy, the policy will cover this as a non covered reason. Refer to your policy for details on the coverage in this case. Whenever traveling and in your day to day routines, remember to wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and do the same with any kids. This helps prevent the spread of any disease/illness and can minimize this years terrible winter cold/flu season as well.
I've shared some basic information, but here are some of the current guidelines provided CLIA, the professional cruise line association for agents and cruise lines. (Released 1/30/2020)
The safety and health of passengers is the number one priority of CLIA members. CLIA and its member lines maintain close contact with health professionals and regulators around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), and are continually assessing and modifying policies and procedures as developments emerge. This includes the modification of itineraries, where needed, in light of evolving circumstances, as well as health, travel and contact screening where appropriate, for guests and crew who have recently traveled from or through the affected area consistent with prevailing guidance from global health authorities. Screening protocols allow for informed decisions on a caseby-case basis whether a guest or crewmember will be denied boarding.
CLIA Members have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual, whether guest or crew, who has travelled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days.
Importantly, the cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of passengers and crew. Cruise lines take precautions to conduct passive as well as active screening of passengers and crew for illness prior to boarding when circumstances demand. Furthermore, CLIA members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities, shipboard and shore side medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and prevent disease transmission.
What is a coronavirus? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause respiratory illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
What is 2019 novel coronavirus? A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The virus at the center of the current outbreak is an example of a novel coronavirus, as the virus does not match any other known virus. This new virus is referred to by health authorities as the 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV for short.
Which countries have been affected? The 2019 Novel Coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, where the vast majority of confirmed cases have occurred. According to global health authorities, additional cases have been confirmed around the world, including in North America and Europe, however the majority of confirmed cases remain confined to Asia.
What are the symptoms of 2019-nCoV? Patients with the 2019-nCoV have reportedly experienced mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms including: • Fever • Cough • Shortness of breath • Breathing difficulties Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization
What steps can travelers take to protect themselves from 2019-nCoV? Leading health authorities are urging the same personal best practices that are standard for a typical flu season, such as the following: • Avoid close contact with people who show signs of illness, including coughing or sneezing • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization
Are cruise lines changing their itineraries due to 2019-nCoV? CLIA cruise lines are continually assessing and modifying policies and procedures as developments emerge. This includes the modification of itineraries, where needed, in light of evolving circumstances in some cases. Cruise passengers are encouraged to consult with individual cruise lines via their websites to be informed of the latest guidance available.
How are cruise lines screening passengers for illness? Consistent with the CLIA Public Health Policy for all oceangoing cruise ships within the CLIA fleet, all embarking persons are subject to pre-boarding health screening to assist in preventing the spread of communicable diseases. Pre-boarding health screening can include non-touch temperature readings—where appropriate, for guests and crew who have recently traveled from or through the affected areas consistent with prevailing guidance from global health authorities. Any reports or detection of symptoms of illness during pre-boarding screening can be managed by medical professionals from the cruise lines which allows for informed decisions on a case-by-case basis whether a guest or crewmember will be unable to board.
Have there been any cases of 2019-nCoV onboard a cruise ship? To date, there have been no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV onboard a cruise ship.
What measures are in place onboard cruise ships in the event of passenger or crew illness? Importantly, the cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of passengers and crew. Cruise lines take precautions to conduct passive as well as active screening of passengers and crew for illness prior to boarding when circumstances demand. Furthermore, CLIA members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities, shipboard and shore side medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and prevent disease transmission.
Are cruise lines offering refunds to passengers whose trips has been impacted by 2019-nCoV? Passengers are encouraged to consult with individual cruise lines with regard to compensation policies.
What guidance are cruise ships following when making determinations regarding route restrictions? CLIA and its member lines maintain close contact with leading global health authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the World Health Organization and others. CLIA and its member lines are also in contact with port authorities around the world to ensure alignment on guidance and procedures.
Where can I find additional information about the 2019 novel coronavirus? Please visit the following websites for more information: • World Health Organization (WHO) • WHO Travel Advice • United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
Here is some additional information provided by the World Health Organization
Mike O'Connor, travel consultant and owner of Second to None Vacations LLC has been designated as a Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA) Cruise Counselor after recently completing the organization’s Certification requirements. Mike is now recognized within the cruise industry as an Accredited Cruise Counselor.
Mike has achieved Cruise Counselor Certification through completion of a comprehensive program of cruise sales training and product instruction, delivered through a combination of extensive classroom training and personal cruise experience. CLIA’s Certification program graduates are widely recognized as the foremost cruise vacation experts among American travel agents.
Second to None Vacations, LLC is one of more than 16,000 North American travel agency members of CLIA. According to CLIA statistics, the overwhelming majority of travelers – about 90% – book their cruise through a travel agency and for a good reason – travel agents understand the products they recommend and excel in finding the perfect cruise to match their clients’ needs, lifestyle and budget.
CLIA’s Certified Counselors are the cruise industry’s premiere travel agents and can arrange all of your vacation needs while providing the greatest service and value for your vacation dollar.
About Second to None Vacations, LLC
Second to None Vacations, LLC is a corporation that was incorporated in 2017. Mike O'Connor is the managing partner and family travel consultant. He works with clients from all over the world and turns their ordinary plans for a vacation into an extraordinary experience. Mike is a certified agent with many cruise lines including: Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, Paul Gaugin, Holland America, Disney, UniWorld, Viking, and AMAwaterways, etc.
Have you considered a romantic getaway to a Sandals destination? Have you dreamed of a 5 star Luxury family vacation to Beaches? Then you need to tune in! Join us on May 22nd at 7:45 PM Eastern Time for a webinar all about Sandals and Beaches. Our Sandals/Beaches rep Jenny will be telling you all about both products and you can sit at home in your PJ's to watch! So click the button below and sign up. This is going to be a really informative night.
After the webinar is over, give me a call and we can discuss how to get you there! We can package together everything you need to make the vacation of your dreams.
In part 1 we showed you around the cabins on board the Norwegian Escape. Now we are going to discuss and show you some of the public spaces and activities on board.
Public spaces and activities
The Escape is full of activities and spaces to keep busy. Activities vary from the pools and slides to dangling on the ropes course. The little ones will enjoy their own water play area and the programming of the respective kids club. As you head inside the ship, the beautiful layout and colors of the atrium extend into the dining venues and public spaces. The ship is easy to navigate around and has a comfortable feel to it. Lets take a look at some of these great spaces.
The pool and water activities aboard the Norwegian Escape are pretty extensive. Between the main pool deck with associated whirlpools, the kids splash park, and the multiple water slides, everyone in the family will have plenty to do on those nice days at sea. We toured the ship during February in New York, so you have to use your imagination for the splash park. I was very impressed as they even had a slide that was tamer which would be good for the younger kids.
On the Lido deck you'll find plenty of wet fun and activities, but their are also some other options as well. The Norwegian Escape features a mini golf or putt putt course as well as a ropes course. As well, the ship features an enclosed sports court which is a great spot to shoot some hoops or kick a ball around while the world sails by.
Other public spaces
As you navigate around the ship you will come across some great public spaces. The common spaces of the lower decks are home to many of the ships restaurants, entertainment venues. and the casino. Here are some of pictures we took while exploring.
At the rear of the ship is an adults only area called Spice H20. This area features a big screen, comfortable seating, whirlpool, water feature, and its own bar. In the evening, this area turns into a fun outdoor club area on certain nights.
The Casino featured all the popular table games and a good selection of slots to meet any passengers desires. The casino is centrally located on the ship and had a simple layout to it.
What about the young sailors?
Don't worry, we didn't forget about the little ones either! As a proud parent myself, I make sure to tour the children activity areas to insure that there is stuff to do for everyone. I always stress how important it is to take the kids when we travel, but I want to make sure they have something to do. On Norwegian Escape, there are three different kids venues, split up by age group:
Guppies Nursery- 6 Months (12 for transatlantic sailings) to Age 2
Splash Academy- Age 3 to Age 12
Entourage Teen Lounge- Age 13 to Age 17
The Guppies Nursery features childcare for your tiniest sailors. This venue is additional to your cruise fare but allows you to enjoy the amenities on board without towing your infant around. Inside the venue features separate areas for napping as well as play time. The counselors in this area will follow directions for your child and also insure they participate in group play when the children are awake. Its a great option for those who still want to travel with the little ones.
-One thing to note, this is the ONLY ship which has a nursery on board. The other ships feature infant play rooms which are NOT staffed. They host group play sessions but the rooms are open typically all day for you to bring your own child in and supervise them playing.
Splash Academy is the normal kids club you have on multiple ships. The certified counselors host activities for kids split up by age groups to insure the activity is both age appropriate as well as fun. These programs are included in your cruise fare, however there are some late evening programming which is available for an extra cost. Note that the kids clubs print their own daily itineraries outside of the Freestyle Daily you receive in your cabin. Make sure to grab one if your kids want to participate so they don't miss out!
For those worrying about security, the ships have strict policies about check in and check out at the clubs. As well, all kids are required to be checked in and out by the designated persons. These people must display their room key for identification as well as the security password you provided at registration. No child will be released to unapproved or any person without the key cards for identification purposes.
The Entourage Teens Lounge is a teens only area where you can kick back and relax. It features comfortable seating, open space, music, and video games. The Teen Lounge organizes group events like basketball games, theater classes, scavenger hunts, evening pool parties and other things to keep everyone involved. Note that the Entourage Lounge allows teens to come and go at their own discretion, they are not required to be picked up or dropped off by an adult. The only thing required is the key card of the teen to sign in. So if your teen is looking for somewhere to meet other kids or just to escape the family craziness, have them check out Entourage!
So there is some of the highlights of the public spaces and programming on the Norwegian Escape. This ship currently sailing from New York has lots of fun and entertainment on board. Check back for the next post about the dining options on board. If your looking to book your next trip on this amazing ship, give us a call and we will make sure to find you the best deal.
Norwegian Cruise Line was kind enough to welcome us aboard this winter to tour the beautiful Norwegian Escape. This ship, currently sailing from the New York Port is doing Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda itineraries until September. This ship has lots of great public spaces, dining venues, and well laid out cabins which will suit guests of all ages. Lets take you through some of the sections we were able to visit and discuss what you might expect on board. Part 1 we will discuss the staterooms and Haven Complex and then in Part 2 we will talk about the public spaces on board.
Norwegian eSCAPE aCCOMODATIONS
The Norwegian Escape basic accommodations provide a variety of options from the entry level inside cabins (Pictured Top Right) through the upper level mini suite cabins. The cabins are modern in feel with nice touches of decor to satisfy most. The rooms feature ample storage space between the dressers, closet, and under the bed storage spaces. As well, the Norwegian Escape has the single occupancy cabins, know as the Studios, where single passengers can sail without paying for a double occupancy cabin. These cabins also include access to the Studio Lounge where singles can mingle and make plans with new friends they meet on board.
These photos were taken during our ship tour. Note that the bathroom here was typical in all classes of regular staterooms except for accessible rooms.
The Haven accomodations
The Haven is the suite product aboard Norwegian Cruise Line. These accommodations feature butler and concierge service on all ships, and their newer ships feature access to the Haven Complex. The Haven Complex is a private retreat for suite guests where they can enjoy a small plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna in a private covered atrium. As well, these ships feature a private sundeck area, Haven lounge, and the private Haven Restaurant. The restaurant features its own special menu that is not available elsewhere aboard the ship and is open for all meals.
Additional Haven Guest Amenities include:
hAVEN cOMMON AREAS ON ESCAPE
These photos were taken during our ship tour. The Haven Complex features a enclosed plunge pool, whirlpools, sauna, and plenty of lounge chairs to relax. As well, there is a outdoor sundeck area reserved for Haven guests that adjoins the enclosed space. The complex also features a private lounge with bar and a full service restaurant, The Haven Restaurant, which is available for all meals.
Note: We were not able to tour the Haven Staterooms as the guests were already on board in this area. We will have more information in September after I sail in the Haven on this ship. Keep an eye on our social media and the blog after the trip for pictures and reviews!
Escape Stateroom final thoughts
I was really excited to tour the Escape and got to see a lot of cabins. I was impressed by the layout of the standard rooms. Despite being similar to other ships, I felt the rooms were spacious and used space in a good way. As well, the decor and atmosphere was really warm and welcoming. I could easily see myself spending a week on board in a standard room.
For those of you that are looking to have the "VIP" experience, the Haven complex is absolutely amazing. Anyone sailing in this category would be spoiled by its amenities and the cabins live up to that point. These cabins allow the guests who want an elevated experience to not lose out on all of the fun and family friendly activities that Norwegian Cruise Line is known for. Most of the upscale lines reduce or eliminate much of the family fun options, like water slides or ropes courses, to put in other spaces. So if your traveling with family and want something that high end with all the fun things to do, I highly recommend you take a look at the Haven with Norwegian Cruise Line.
That's it for today, check back next time where we will show you some of the public spaces aboard the Norwegian Escape.
Traveling with our kids is always a debate in some way. We either are arguing about the destination, activities, or even the basic concepts of how we get there. But why do we argue? Our kids are the most special thing in most of our lives and we always want to make them happy and to make sure they are safe. But how do we keep them safe during air travel? Lets discuss a few things to consider:
The safety of your child is every parents biggest concern. I understand that some people have budget and other concerns to consider, but I hope you find this information helpful.
I have eagerly been working day and night to bring you a new website experience. My old site was not a true depiction of what I believe in and the reality is, family is everything! I am all about Family Travel and truly enjoy helping you share the gift of travel with your family. Don't worry if you're one of my valued customers that doesn't have kids, I am not throwing you away! Over the next few days you will see new updates and content added as we put some finishing touches here. Thanks for visiting!
Disney with my son Aidan, May 2018
That smile is what it's all about!