This week on The Joy of Cruising Podcast, I am delighted to welcome Patricia Nicholson Yarbrough, founder of Festival at Sea, the nation’s oldest and most successful African-American cultural cruise. Patricia is also President, Blue World Travel in San Francisco.
In The Joy of Cruising amzn.to/3lAfyON I wrote extensively about theme cruising in a section called “Theme Cruising: Two Passions In One.” I featured Patricia and Festival at Sea, and writing that profile was indeed a labor of love—one of my favorite writing projects ever. It was made all the more sweeter by the fact that I experienced a Festival at Sea cruise during writing. A favorite anecdote I wrote about in the Festival at Sea feature was about a man I sat next to in the Celebrity Equinox buffet shortly after we embarked. I told him it was my first Festival at Seacruise and asked him how many times he had been. ‘15,’ he told me. Immediately, I thought that I had found a potential person to feature in the upcoming The Joy of Cruising—a seasoned cruiser with dozens of past cruises. I assumed that this individual was a very experienced cruiser given how many times he had been on Festival at Sea. I said, ‘Wow, 15 times on Festival at Sea! How many cruises have you sailed on altogether?’ He said, ‘15.’
That’s the kind of intense loyalty Festival at Sea garners. And why the majority of the following years’ cruise is booked before the current cruise is over. Toward the end of my cruise, I stood in a long line to book Festival at Sea for the following year. After a while, I decided I would just book online. When bookings opened up, I procrastinated for a couple days. Then I received a notification that next year’s Festival at Sea was sold out! That's how it is every year.
www.thejoyofcruisingpodcast.com or Home
This week on The Joy of Cruising Podcast, I am delighted to welcome Julie and Art of The Places Where We Go podcast and accompanying YouTube and blog. The Places Where We Go chronicles Julie and Art’s reflections of traveling throughout the world and across the US. Their mode of travel varies—cruises, land resorts, road trips, and hikes—and the places where they go are just as diverse.
Julie and Art recently returned from an almost month-long dream trip beginning with five days in London. They then boarded Princess Cruises Island Princess in Southampton for a 14-day Baltic and Scandinavia cruise. What an itinerary: Bornholm, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, Lithuania; Gdansk, Poland; Visby, Denmark; and disembarking in Copenhagen, Denmark. Julie and Art capped off their trip with five days in Copenhagen before flying back to their home in southern California.
I was excited when Julie and Art indicated they were available to share a recap and highlights of their journey. I wanted you the listeners to enjoy the trip through Julie and Art’s eyes and words, and selfishly speaking it’s a part of the world that I am unfamiliar with and am anxious to get some insight about..
www.thejoyofcruisingpodcast.com or Home
I am delighted to welcome Captain Peter Bos to The Joy of Cruising Podcast this week. In a section called “Ship Life” in the just-released The Joy of Cruising Again I tried to provide readers a sense of what life onboard a cruise ship was like for crew, staff and officers, and wrote about several past and present cruise line employees. I am honored Captain Peter Bos agreed to be featured in the book.
Captain Bos retired from Holland America Line (HAL) in March 2018, after 37 years with HAL and 44 years at sea. He was the longest-tenured Captain at HAL when he retired. At the time he retired, Captain Bos was the captain of the Vista-class MS Noordam. Captain Bos traversed the world regularly, as Captain on ships with world cruise itineraries such as Rotterdam and Prinsendam. However, he is known best by HAL fans for his travels to Alaska, garnering the nickname, Captain Alaska, not just because of how much time he spends taking ships there, but the knowledge he routinely shares with his passengers about their surroundings in Alaska—wildlife and glaciers. As one Captain Bos fan I quoted in The Joy of Cruising Again said, “He makes you feel like he’s found something wonderful and can’t wait to show you.”
Captain Bos lives with his wife Kathryn on Lake Hickory in North Carolina, not that far from where I live, so a couple of our interviews for The Joy of Cruising Again were in person. When I was trying to get an official headshot from HAL of Captain Bos in uniform, because he lives so close, he offered to get dressed in his uniform and take a photo. I declined that gracious offer and ultimately did receive a photo from HAL. I told Captain Bos “I wish I could fit in my work clothes four years after retirement!”
www.thejoyofcruisingpodcast.com or Home
I am delighted to welcome this week on The Joy of Cruising Podcast, Nancy and Robert (Dale) Houchens. I found out about Nancy and Dale when I read articles about them in both USA Today and Miami Herald. The Houchens retired in 2015 to a life—planned well before their last day at work—of living on cruise ships. I wrote a feature about the Houchens, Living On Cruise Ships in my new book, The Joy of Cruising Again in a section called “Cruisers Like You and Me…Sort Of.” I have been intrigued about this burgeoning trend for people to live largely, or entirely on the ocean.
It is not a new thing. Cruise fans who are “loyal to Royal” know about Mario Salcedo, aka Super Mario who left the work world in the 90s and has been cruising continuously on Royal Caribbean ever since. Or “Mama” Lee Wachstetter who started living on cruise ships in 2005 and has cruised continuously into her 90s. There are numerous others, and I love to have you on The Joy of Cruising Podcast to share your story with our listeners!
After the pandemic, retiring on cruise ships seemed to become a thing, and I would see media accounts of passionate cruisers who have made that move on a more regular basis. Retirees' desire to get closer to the ocean manifests itself in many ways: ranging from equity ownership or long-term lease arrangement with one of the firms selling purpose-built ocean-borne condominiums; retirees who cruise much of the year while maintaining a home on land; to cruisers like Nancy and Dale, who choose to sell their home and possessions and cruise most of a year. Nancy and Dale cruise mostly on Carnival—so much so that they have a "parents/children" relationship with numerous Carnival staff across the fleet, as well as rich friendships developed with other Carnival cruisers. However, they are by no means exclusive to Carnival as you will hear.
Retiring to live on cruise ships remains an option financially out of the reach of most retirees inclined to trade their retirement home for the ocean. Nevertheless, many of us cruisers are fascinated by such retirees. Such a life is the embodiment of the joy of cruising. I suspect that, like me, many fantasize about doing the same thing. I think I could rationalize a virtually full-time life on cruise ships, but I don’t think my wife would approve. Nancy says tell her about no cooking and cleaning--maybe I'll try that in a couple of years!
I am delighted to welcome this week to The Joy of Cruising Podcast, Ben and David of the massively successful Cruise With Ben and David. With 200,000 followers on YouTube and over 500 videos, only since starting the channel in 2015, landing Cruise With Ben and David as the #3 cruise channel in their native UK, and #6 worldwide. To garner those kinds of numbers in that time means Ben and David are constantly cruising. It seems any ship I am considering—they have already sailed it. So, I watch every one of their videos. Not just because they are topical and relevant to me as a cruiser willing to try different lines. Ben and David’s videos are also incredibly informative and entertaining. Married since 2014. they sprinkle their banter with irreverence, ‘We are two queens on Princess,’ and double entendres; David might do an impromptu dance like he did when demonstrating Virgin Voyages ‘get it on mode’ music and lighting scene on Scarlet Lady; and they clearly love food; watching themsample eating venues and then listening to Ben’s reactions: ‘Fireworks in my mouth;’ ‘Oh Mother Goose that’s good;’ ‘We’ll probably die from overeating;’ ‘Hit me with a carrot and call me a snowman” has become a standard anticipated feature for me.They feature pristine video and photography so stunning that they generate comments from the audience about technique. That clearly is due to their professional background which I will ask them about.
Cruise With Ben and David has been featured in some of the top publications and news outlets globally, such as The Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USAToday and The Mail on Sunday. And, they have made a memorable appearance on the BBC's "The One Show".
Prepping for this show, I have been gorging on Cruise With Ben and David videos. That has been great fun—not just because their videos are excellent, but they’ve recently done a series of videos about their 16-day Hawaii to Alaska cruise aboard NCL Spirit. As you know Cheryl and I were on that sailing, so it has been joyful to relive that bucket list experience!
Finally, if the above is not enough to explain why I could not wait to host Cruise With Ben and David; in The Joy of Cruising books, and on the podcast, I have interviewed several UK Wave Award winners and finalists. The Wave Awards is the UK cruise industry’s premier award. But I never have had the honor of talking to a two-time winner like Cruise With Ben and David --winning Favourite Cruise Travel Blogger in both 2019 and 2021.
www.thejoyofcruisingpodcast.com or Home
Tips for Fun and Stress-Free Travel with Kids, Guest Post by Sarah Bull, Your Economy Mom, EconomyMom.com
Image via Pexels
Tips for Fun and Stress-Free Travel with Kids
Traveling is a great way to explore new places, bond with your family, and create life-long memories. Taking a vacation with your family has numerous benefits beyond just getting away from your normal routine. It provides a chance for adventure and the opportunity for kids to learn about different cultures and ways of life. It also gives families the chance to bond and create lasting memories.
But when you have young children, it can seem like an overwhelming challenge. However, with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can make traveling with kids easier and more fun for the whole family.
Packing smart is an essential element of making traveling with kids easier and more fun. Be sure you pack essential items such as diapers, wipes, medicines, and snacks. Pack a few toys and games to keep your kids occupied and bring a change of clothes in case of accidents. Packing smart will help ensure a smooth transition from one place to the next.
Set Time Limits on Transportation
When you're traveling with young children, it's important to keep driving and flying times to a minimum. Kids can get restless during long car rides and flights, so it's best to take frequent breaks to stretch, eat, and use the restroom. Consider breaking up long drives with stopovers at kid-friendly parks, playgrounds, or restaurants.
While on vacation, try to keep the same routines as you have at home. Follow your kids' typical schedules for meals, naps, and bedtime. This will help them feel more comfortable and make the transition easier. Consistency will give them a sense of security and they will be less likely to get overwhelmed.
Visit Kid-Friendly Attractions
When planning the trip, consider visiting kid-friendly destinations. This includes amusement parks, water parks, and beaches. These places are often geared towards families and provide plenty of activities for kids. Make sure to research the venues before adding them to the trip itinerary.
Disneyland, of course, is a great family-friendly option, but it can be a little expensive. Fortunately, there are hacks and discounts, like using Disney Vacation Club points, to make a family vacation there less intimidating.
Create a Flexible Itinerary
Creating a flexible itinerary will help you avoid overbooking and provide you with the chance to relax and enjoy the trip. While having a plan in place is essential, it’s also important to remain flexible. This will help you adjust to any unexpected situations that might arise.
Find Suitable Accommodations
Finding comfortable accommodations is an important part of traveling with kids. Consider whether you want to stay in a hotel, a vacation rental, or a campsite. If you're staying at a hotel, look for family-friendly rooms that offer separate sleeping areas for children. Many hotels now offer amenities such as children's programs and activities, pools, and playgrounds, so research your options and ask for recommendations from friends and family.
If your family loves this particular destination, you might want to consider buying a vacation home there. Having a consistent place to stay can really help with routines and even food budgets. And you can rent the place out when you’re not using it to help cover costs.
Plan Ahead for Meals and Snacks
Planning ahead for meals and snacks is an important element of traveling with kids. Pack plenty of snacks such as dried fruit, crackers, and granola bars. Look up family-friendly restaurants in your destination ahead of time to avoid unexpected dining experiences. Also, consider bringing a few dishes your kids are familiar with to avoid any surprises.
Keeping everyone safe is crucial when traveling with kids. Always keep an eye on your children and teach them the rules of the road. Make sure that they know their surroundings and stay within eyesight. Be cautious of unfamiliar areas at night and keep your children close to avoid any accidents.
Use Travel Hacks for Successful Family Vacations
While traveling with kids may bring some challenges, it's all worth the effort as it creates bonding moments and wonderful memories. Remember to pack smart, keep routines consistent, visit kid-friendly destinations, and ensure safety at all times. And if you’re taking a newborn along, consider investing in a comfortable nursing bra. By following these tips, you will be able to make traveling with kids easier and more fun for the whole family.
Are you looking for a great vacation read for while you’re traveling? Then check out The Joy of Cruising!
I am delighted to welcome this week on The Joy of Cruising Podcast,, Ken Byrne, known to his legion of fans who cruise on Carnival Cruise Line as The Singing Maître D’. I had the pleasure of writing about Ken in my new book, The Joy of Cruising Again, in a section call Ship Life, which was intended to provide a perspective of life onboard cruise ships through the eyes of current and former crew and staff.
Ken Byrne is a consummate professional within the hospitality industry. He started off in the hotel industry in Dublin, Ireland in 1975. He was serving a gentleman in the hotel where he worked who was recruiting waiters for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. He offered Ken a job. Ken started at Royal Caribbean in 1986 as a busboy on The Song of Norway. Given his skills and experience attained from his hospitality background, Ken quickly moved up to waiter, and then became head waiter on the Sun Viking. Ken also served on the Nordic Prince, Song of America, and Sovereign of the Seas—which was my wife and my first cruise in 1988. After Ken’s four years between Royal Caribbean and Premier Cruise Lines, The Big Red Boat, where he was a head waiter on Atlantic, Majestic, and Oceanic, he decided to go back to Ireland and the hotels. His respite from working on cruise ships was short-lived. He told me that after five months he got hungry for the sea. He was about to come back to Royal Caribbean when an opportunity arose to join Carnival instead. Carnival hired Ken in 1990 as a busboy, then waiter, then in 1994, he became maître d’ on his first new ship to take out, the Fascination.
The first time Ken sang in public was on the Carnival Triumph in 1997 when a couple was celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Ken recalls. ‘I was about to make the nightly announcement and was walking by their table with a microphone when the man grabbed my arm and said, ‘Hey Ken, you’re Irish. Sing us a song for our anniversary.’ Ken belted one out. The rest is history. Within a couple of weeks after his impromptu performance, Ken’s singing in the dining room—and even in the theater—became a regular fixture on Carnival for the ensuing 26 years and he became known as The Singing Maître D’..
www.TheJoyOfCruisingPodcast.com or Home
This week on The Joy of Cruising Podcast, I am delighted to welcome Dennis Littley, better known as Chef Dennis to his prodigious fan base— 830,000 followers on his Facebook account, A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis, 73,000 on Twitter and 72,000 on his Instagram accounts Ask Chef Dennis & Chef Dennis Travels. Chef Denniswas featuredin my second cruising book, Cruising Interrupted amzn.to/3seFU8y in a section called “Cruisers Like You and Me…Sort Of.” By 2019 when I interviewed him for Cruising Interrupted, Dennis had gone through an amazing career journey—and I longed to share his story with the cruise community. Chef Dennis epitomized a “Cruiser Like You and Me…Sort Of.” He had only done his first cruise--Disney Dream a couple of years prior—but did he ever have a story to tell.
That career journey I mentioned was from professional chef to culinary instructor, to food blogger, to travel blogger, to global brand ambassador for the likes of Visit Spain, Madrid Tourism, and Barcelona Tourism; Discover Atlanta, Visit Greensboro, and Visit Florida; Waldorf Astoria Orlando; Margaritaville Resorts, Omni Resorts, Disneyworld, SeaWorld, and numerous others. And, Chef Dennis had a particular focus on small-ship luxury cruising. From the time of that first cruise in 2017 to when I met him in 2019, Chef Dennis sailed exotic itineraries on behalf of Viking—several river cruises; a European Waterways Northern Burgundy Barge Cruise on La Belle Époque; CrosiEurope; and UnCruise.
Here is a brief excerpt from Ask Chef Dennis, Cruising Interrupted: http://www.cruisinginterrupted.com/blog/excerpt-chap-13-ask-chef-dennis-cruisers-like-you-and-mesort-of
www.thejoyofcruisingpodcast.com or Home