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    Welcome to FreshCruiser.com!

    Enjoy all the tips, news, insight and advice on cruising focusing on fun, active, and healthy cruising. 

    Whether you’re going on your first cruise or your 100th cruise, the goal is to open your eyes to new adventures and ways to make each sailing fun and different as well as tips to staying active, eating well, and taking advantage of all the opportunities onboard a cruise ship. 

    Monday
    Mar312014

    Heading to Hawaii on vacation with your baby? Rent a cabana. 

    My family recently spent 10 nights at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii.  Traveling with an infant can be challenging. However, if you make a few key decisions, traveling can be a breeze. One of those decisions was renting a cabana at the resort; I’d say that this is a must for traveling with a family as it provides many key benefits.

    Meeting place

    From grabbing food, swimming, to heading out on a walk, the cabana served as a central meeting place for the day.

    This allowed us to be flexible and do different activities while always having a spot to return to. 

    Shade

    Shielding my son from the sun is a priority for me. This was a resounding reason to reserve the Cabana.

    It provided shade from the sun with different blinds to put down depending on where the sun was in the sky.

    Playtime

    The cabana provided a great spot for my son to play. We set-up a play area on a blanket with his toys, giving him plenty of room to stretch out.

    A place to call home

    Every morning, we brought down all the items we thought we may need from our room. With the central place to put our things, we were “set-up” for the day, and had everything we needed.

    Insider cabana tips for Sheraton Maui at Black Rock

    At the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, you can reserve the specific cabana you want as well as reserve it for your whole stay. There are four cabanas. We rented all of them while we were there and felt they all had aspects that I liked. I’d recommend checking them out upon your arrival to see which cabana works for you.

    Cabanas 1 & 2 have close access to the beach and right on the ledge of the pool.  While Cabanas 3 & 4 are by the waiting pool for kids but set back a little.  For a little crawler, I’d recommend Cabana 3 & 4, as you won’t have to worry about them falling into the water. I really enjoyed how the cabanas were quieter than sitting in a lounge chair.

    FreshCruiser Tip: If you’re traveling during a busy time of year, call ahead and have the concierge reserve the cabana for you in advance. 

    Sunday
    Feb092014

    In pursuit of your dream of travel, even with a family

    If you recently entered into parenthood, chances are you feel your days of jet-setting to an exotic location for a quick weekend trip are over. Not only do I encourage you to bring baby along, but there is a new world of traveling open to you. Consider a cruise.  

    A room with a view on the Carnival Paradise

    Cruises are a great way for families to travel as there is such a variety of activities to do. Cruises include your food, which helps with budgeting as well and dreaded wonder of where can I find something that my kids will eat? Cruises are known for their buffets, which in the parenting world is a dream food destination as it makes even the pickiest eaters happy.

    NCL GetawayHow do you choose which cruise ship line to go on? TravelZoo deal expert, Jane Archer recommends, if you’re “looking for a lively holiday on a large family-friendly, resort-style ship, with lots of fun activities and an unashamedly American vibe? Check out Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Lines.”

    Click here to read more of Jane Archer’s TravelZoo article, “Non-cruiser's guide to cruising” which explains everything you need to know of how cruising works and how to pick your cabin and what’s included.

    While on a cruise, you can visit exotic locations around the world without hassles. The ease of unpacking once for your entire family and arriving in a new port each day, allows you and your children to fully enjoy the experience.

    Club HAL on ms RyndamFreshCruiser Tip: When you’re doing your research on which cruise line to book with, make sure to check out the kid’s club offerings.

    Monday
    Nov252013

    Headed to Rome on a cruise? Get off the beaten path and follow these tips from experienced tour guide & scholar, Theresa Potenza

    The port of Civitavecchia outside of Rome is a popular stop for cruise ships visiting the region.  Depending on the type of transportation you use to enter into the city, the ride is about an hour each way, which leaves visitors rushing around to see Rome before heading back to the ship.  Many travelers have previously been to Rome, and are ready to see something new.  But where to begin?  

    Theresa Potenza Inside an Etruscan tombI recently interviewed Theresa Potenza, who has over 9 years of experience leading private educational walking tours in Rome. She gave me her recommendations and top tips for the visiting the region.  If your cruise starts or ends in Rome, she definitely encourages you to stay an extra few days to explore Rome and its outskirts. Theresa is an endorsed tour guide by the United States Embassy in Rome and earned her Masters degree in Art History with a specialization in Renaissance Architecture and the Etruscan Civilization. 

    Theresa's goal as a guide is to expose the glory and history of Rome beyond the city itself.

    Several sites in the city's outskirts were home to Popes and densely populated settlement areas for the Ancient Romans and pre-Romans. I feel these places have a saga all their own, deeply connected with the narrative and development of Rome; yet a unique authentic feel quite different from the bustle of Rome's major tourist attractions. 

    Many cruisers have already visited Rome and are looking for something new to explore.  What would you suggest to someone who only has a few hours in the area to make the most of their time?

    I would like to highlight destinations closer to where the ship docks. The fact that this is a much more convenient option and also much more authentic. It is a region full of amazing places that are Etruscan archaeology sites, Medieval castles, etc.

    Palazzo Farnese in the town of Caprarola in northern Lazio

    Many of the sites I like to feature are ideal especially for cruise ship travelers because they are closer to the Civitavecchia port than they are to Rome.  For example the city of Viterbo, residence to several Popes in the Middle Ages and location of the famous "conclave" Papal election before the building of the Sistine Chapel, is only 35 miles from the port (55 miles from Rome).

    I highly suggest exploring all this region has to offer commuting to the sites closer to the port and saving lots of time and hassle trekking in to Rome, thereby allowing more time to soak in the sun, landscape, and of course, the food.

    What are some highlights to see that are closer to port?

    My favorites sites in the region are Tarquinia, Cerveteri and Tuscania.  All of these cities have amazing Renaissance and Medieval architecture built on Etruscan foundations dating as far back as the 8th Century B.C.  Tarquinia includes the oldest testimony to fresco painting in the world in the Etruscan necropolis, designated along with the archaeological site at Cerveteri a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

    Etruscan tomb in CerveteriCerveteri started a new program at their Etruscan site this past year which makes the visit unprecedented.  The site already offers access to the most unique tomb constructions in the world, but now as part of the "Futuring" program visitors can watch digital reconstructions inside the tombs!

    Why would you suggest visiting these sites rather than Rome?

    These are full of historical attractions and without tourists so you meet a lot of locals, eat great food, aren't stuck in crowds or traffic, etc.

    Roman theater in FiesoleWith these tours in Etruria, coming off the ship you will most certainly save time but also money. These towns offer all the artistic and architectonic splendor of the big cities, but their prices are catered to locals and not tourists.  That means you will also get a very genuine experience, free from maddening crowds.

    What is the food like in the region?

    The region of Etruria which includes Northern Lazio and Southern Tuscany is famous for its food. Tarquinia for example is located in the mountains on a cliff over looking the sea, so most restaurants offer a land menu and sea menu. Not to mention it was the first place in Italy to produce wine and olive oil, the Etruscans having learned the cultivation from the Greeks. 

    In Rome, without a doubt, wood-oven thin-crust pizza is a must! Also the local Frascati white wine produced in the hills outside Rome is very sophisticated and modestly priced. 

    In terms of fitness, are there any places you could recommend for jogging or biking while visiting Rome?

    Visiting the urban centers of Italy can be rigorous in and of itself with many cities including Rome having steep hills.  But for a densely populated country, they are very committed to their landscape and green space. Inside Rome there are 3 major parks, Villa Pamphili, Villa Borghese, and Appia Antica Park. 

    Aurelian walls that surround RomeThere are jogging and biking paths set among aqueduct arches, Baroque and Ancient fountains and Renaissance palaces. 

    What is your favorite place to take friends and family when they come to Rome?

    I love taking family and friends up on the top of Janiculum hill located right above the charming neighborhood of Trastevere. It has a fountain more spectacular than the Trevi and the most spectacular view of all of Rome's church tops and surrounding hills.

    What travel tips do you have for people traveling to Rome with their kids?

    With kids, explore the road less traveled by avoiding the cramped space inside the Coliseum and Vatican and seeking out less crowded museums and sites such as the Capital Museums and Baths of Caracalla.  The park in Villa Borghese is also a great place for kids to let out some energy. 

    Also, in Italy, everyone loves kids, so be prepared for strangers to engage with your child. It is also very common that children stay out late at night, so feel perfectly comfortable bringing your child with you out for a glass of wine!

    About Theresa

    Theresa offers private tours of Rome and the city's outskirts. Visit her blog, www.italywiththeresa.blogspot.it to see her recent articles about Rome news and events, and also to find a list of tours she offers.  She's a contributing writer on Italian travel, culture and art for the New York Post, the Buffalo News and Wanted in Rome magazine.

    FreshCruiser Tip: Time can be limited in a port, make the most out of your time and hire a private tour guide in order to customize the tour to exactly what you want to see. 

    Monday
    Oct142013

    Tips for Traveling Solo with an infant

    My husband and I were planning a trip from the West coast to the East coast for a few days to visit my parents.  However, I decided that I wanted my 6-month old son to spend more time with his grandparents.  My husband couldn’t take more time off of work, so I made a decision.  I was going to fly by myself with our son.

    It would be my son’s third trip back East.  I traveled with him before, but never on my own.  I knew that once I got there, my parents would be waiting for us with open arms, ready to help. 

    Pre-Trip

    My husband and I took a few minutes to review our previous flights to figure out what would be difficult or challenging on my own.  Next, we went through each item and made a plan. 

    Flight Schedule

    I decided that non-stop was the only way to go as that way, it would be only one time getting on and off the plane with him and a little longer flight would be better.

    Although it was a total of about 6 hours on the plane, it was well worth it. We landed at our destination and were there, rather than searching for a new gate, and waiting for the next flight.  We didn’t have to worry about missing a connection either.

    Tip: Consider flying during the early morning or night when your child will be sleeping, and not during their peak awake hours.

    Stroller Preparation

    The last time we traveled, we brought a heavier stroller and gate checked it.  Prior to getting on-board the flight, we put it in a bag, and then had to carry the stroller bag, baby, and our other bags down the jet-way. 

    To make this easier, I brought a nice but inexpensive umbrella stroller, called, "The First Years Jet Stroller - City Chic" that didn’t need a bag and was extremely light.  I kept my son in the stroller until the end of the jet-way and then simply folded the stroller up and on to the plane we went. 

    Tip: When you arrive at the gate, get a gate check tag for the stroller so you don’t have to worry about getting one when you are about to board.

    Car Seat

    Since I was visiting my parents, they borrowed a car seat from my cousin’s son who had just grown out of it.  My parents confirmed the installation was correct at the local police station.  The car seat was in the car and ready to be used when we were picked up at the airport.  This was great, as it was one less thing to bring.

    In the Air

    I did not get our son his own seat, which worked out fine as it wasn’t a full flight.  I got an aisle seat near the back of the plane.  I highly recommend this as it’s easy to get up and down on the aisle, you don’t have the beverage cart in your way, you have quick access to the bathroom, and there’s a great place to stand in the back or the plane.

    Since he was on my lap most of the time, I brought a few toys as well as we did a lot of walking up and down the aisle.  I highly recommend purchasing a Chewbeads necklace. The necklace was something for my son to chew on that I was wearing, so I didn’t have to worry about packing it and was an instant hit. 

    Mental Toughness

    Yes, I was worried about my son crying and disrupting people on the flight.  However, I had to remind myself of how many flights I had been on with crying babies.  It’s part of flying and sharing a close space. 

    My goal was to stay calm and smile as much as possible at people as I knew my son would feel my anxiety.  In the end, it wasn’t the most fun 6 hours I’ve spent, it was work, but, the end result of seeing his grandparents’ faces waiting for us, made it 100% worth every second.

    Changes for next time? 

    I really couldn’t think of anything besides maybe leaving Sophie the giraffe in my packed luggage rather than on the plane with us, as he’s old enough now where he loves to make her squeak!  He sure loved the noise, but unfortunately, the other passengers didn’t share his sentiment.

    I’m hoping this process and what we did will give encouragement for others to do it.  If you have any additional comments or tips, please share!

    FreshCruiser Tip – Grandmas on the flight? People love to hold and talk to babies. At 30,000 feet, there’s no where they can go with your baby so feel free to let them hold him or her for a few minutes while you give yourself a break.  My son was so happy to have a break from me and someone new to look at!

    Wednesday
    Oct022013

    Geared Up – Westin Runs with New Balance

    Traveling and forgot your workout gear?

    No room in your suitcase to bring it?

     

    You can no longer make excuses for neglecting your fitness routine when staying at the Westin Gaslamp in San Diego.  It can be difficult to keep up with your daily routine when on vacation or traveling for work.  How many times during packing have you starred at your full suitcase wondering, am I really going to workout?  Is it worth it to bring the shoes, socks, and outfits with me?

    Westin has found a solution to this and partnered with New Balance to provide athletic shoes and apparel to guests during their stay.

    How it works

    Guests simply call and give their shoe and clothing size and then it’s delivered directly to their room. The fee associated with this program is only $5.00 USD for your entire stay. The shoes come with brand new socks and apparel is made sure to be “fresh and clean.”  When you check-out, you simply leave the items in the room in the bag provided.  Check out the gear here.

    With strict carry-on requirements, $5.00 can be a bargain versus paying the baggage fee. The program is available at many Westins, however call to confirm the Westin you are staying at participates in the program before your arrival.

    To find out more about the program at the Westin Gaslamp, visit:  http://www.westingaslamp.com/new-balance and for more general information visit:  westinnewbalance.com

    FreshCruiser Tip: Start your day with morning walk or jog around the city you're visiting. It's a great way to explore and get acquainted with the city.