Ship News And Reviews

Through April 6, Princess Cruises is inviting everyone to sail onboard with their Come Back New promotion and sweepstakes. Register here and find out how to submit additional entries for a chance to win a choice of worldwide itineraries and lots of other prizes. https://princess.promo.eprize.com/holiday.

Can you believe that Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is celebrating her tenth anniversary?

Wow! Three night cruises from Miami to Nassau starting at just $199! Call Carnival Cruise  Line for details on how you can save up to $400 per person on Caribbean sailings.

If you enjoy planning early and saving money, Norwegian Cruise Line has just released their 2015-2016 itineraries. Book now and save!

We love Viking River Cruises and thank them for providing us with wonderful recipes to tempt us to try their brand of cruising. Thank you Viking for this recipe for Viennese coffee!

Café Maria Theresa

This simple and flavorful coffee recipe is popular throughout Austria and Hungary. It includes whipped cream, a crucial ingredient for coffee drinks in this part of the world, and is named after the beloved Austrian empress Maria Theresa because she so enjoyed the finer things in life. If you prefer, you can make it with rum, in which case it is called a fiaker, named for Vienna’s carriage drivers, who occasionally need something warm to keep going, especially in chilly weather.

Ingredients:

Six ounces freshly brewed coffee
One teaspoon sugar
Two tablespoons fine orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
One tablespoon whipped cream
One-half teaspoon orange zest* for garnish
*Grate the skin of a fresh, clean orange.
Chocolate shavings (optional)

Directions:

Fill your cup with hot water and set it aside for a minute; this will preheat the cup. Remove the water and combine the liqueur and sugar in the cup. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the coffee and top off with a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with orange zest and chocolate shavings if desired. Enjoy!

Makes 1 serving.

From our friends at Viking River Cruises comes a recipe for Hungarian Goulash. Their recipes are wonderful as is the food aboard, from what I hear. If you don’t want to make this yourself, you’ll have to sail with them! Thanks Viking!

Hungarian goulash originated with Hungary’s herdsmen and quickly spread throughout Europe. It is a soup, but its rich combination of ingredients and flavors means that it can be a meal on its own. Viking is sharing this recipe with you to enjoy at home, but we encourage you to visit Hungary with us so you can taste more of the country’s world-famous cuisine.

Hungarian Goulash

Ingredients:

One and a half to two pounds boneless chuck, trimmed of fat
Two medium onions, chopped
Two tablespoons vegetable oil
Two tablespoons sweet paprika
One-half teaspoon whole peppercorns
One-half teaspoon ground caraway seeds
Three large bay leaves
One sweet pepper, seeded and sliced
One large tomato, peeled and chopped into large chunks
Three medium carrots, peeled and sliced
Two medium parsnips, peeled and sliced
Two large boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced
One whole garlic, peeled and finely chopped
One egg
About one tablespoon flour
Salt to taste

Directions:
In a large covered stockpot, sauté onions lightly in vegetable oil with a bit of salt if desired, then cover and leave on low heat for a few minutes until onions are tender. Cut beef into one-inch cubes. Remove onions from heat and add paprika to the pot; stir. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, meat, sweet pepper and tomato. Add enough water to cover and simmer over low heat until meat is soft and tender; allow 1.5 hours.

To make csipetke noodles, break one egg into a bowl and scramble. Remove two-thirds of the egg and add a dash of salt. Add flour gradually and knead with your hands until you have a firm, smooth ball of dough. Dust a plate with flour to prevent sticking; pinch off small pea-sized dumplings from the dough ball, roll each one between your fingers and put on the floured plate.

Uncover the pot and check to see if the meat is tender; if not, continue simmering for another few minutes and check again. Once the meat is tender, add the carrots, turnips, garlic, caraway seeds and enough water to cover (or more if you prefer a more liquid consistency). After 10 minutes, add the potatoes. Continue simmering for 20 more minutes or until all ingredients are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the csipetke noodles 5 minutes before you are done cooking; remove bay leaves before serving.

Makes 6–8 servings

A Jewel of a Ship

If you’ve been reading Cruising With Wrinkles from the beginning, you already know that it was the Norwegian Jewel that completely altered my perception of cruising.

PanamaCanalBuilding

The Panama Canal Visitors Center and the little tram that guides ships through the canal system.

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of NCL, primarily because I enjoy Freestyle Cruising – dine where you like, when you like, and anyway you like. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly fits the bill for me.

This was a 15 night, Panama Canal cruise from Los Angeles to Miami. It was to be our longest cruise to date and we – my husband and I – prepared for the worst – being bored to death. We considered it a necessary burden because it was the only way to cross the Panama Canal off our bucket list. But sometimes life is funny and things take strange twists and turns.

Aboard the Norwegian Jewel, I was with my peeps; cruising with my age group – the over 50 crowd. That experience became the inspiration for Cruising With Wrinkles. But it was more than just cruising with my fellow Baby Boomers that made this cruise special – it was the Jewel itself.

Paella is being served!
Paella is being served!

We booked this cruise almost a year out and our anticipation of it being a great cruise began almost immediately. As our cruise neared, we got emails from NCL asking if we had current passports and reminding us to book our tours. As we got closer, the emails became more frequent and included a countdown of days until we sailed. They would begin with something like, “Are you excited?” and go on to tell us about what we would see and do once onboard. I actually looked forward to their almost daily emails.

From the time we boarded until the moment we left, we never encountered a long wait. There were never long lines and you would think that on a completely full ship – more than 2,300 people – that long lines would prevail, particularly in the dining areas. We ate in every available dining room including all the specialty restaurants. Reservations were required for specialty dining, but in the main dining rooms, even with freestyle cruising, there was never a backup.

When we weren’t at the Steakhouse or dining in Brazilian restaurants, we were in the Tsar’s Palace. We always arrived early to get the seat we wanted – a table for two by the window and every night we were there, that’s exactly what we got. On most cruises, you have to beg for a table for two with traditional seating. At that, you are so close to other diners that it might as well be communal dining. We had breathing room and were able to have a private conversation without fear of being interrupted by someone trying to introduce themselves. Even breakfast in the dining room was amazing.  I wasn’t forced to make conversation with strangers. We requested – and always got – a table for two by the window.

If that’s not your style, you can visit the Azura Dining room where most tables seat eight and you can be seated with strangers or you can request the same at the Tsar’s Palace.

In these days of cutbacks, the food was surprisingly good and selections like steak and lobster were available in the main dining areas. Overall, service was top notch. No matter where you went or where you dined, you never heard the word ‘no’. There’s a real, ‘yes I can’ attitude on board. These are a happy group of employees and that trickles down to passengers in the form of great service.

JewelPool
The onboard pool is always inviting!

I grew to love the almost daily afternoon barbeques. We had everything from a salute to Octoberfest, which featured tasty German sausages and beers, to paella, a wonderful Latin dish with seafood, chicken and sausage on a bed of yellow rice. Not a fan of the barbeque? There is always something exciting cooking whether or not you are in port.

I’ve never used a pool, hot tub or fitness center onboard and perhaps I did it here because I felt less intimidated by the older crowd. I even used the tall slide!

At the Panama Canal, an onboard historian detailed the construction of the canal, bringing its history alive. The Captain opened the entire front of the ship to passengers to get a closer look at our transit. We watched from there as we went through the Miraflores locks. It was exhilarating, but very, very hot. So for the remainder of our transit – and this is where having a verandah comes in handy – we watched from our balcony.  The crew filmed the entire transit and if you were anywhere outdoors, be it on your balcony or hanging out in the front of the ship, you were in the video. Your personalized transit was available the next day on DVD for 19.95. They were swooped up like free candy. The Jewel staff sold lots of Panama Canal t-shirts, a one day only bargain at 2 for $15. Everyone got them. Everyone wore them.

Then there was the entertainment. I’ve been on dozens of cruises and really, how many Las Vegas style shows can you see? I’ve skipped the onboard shows for years for that reason. While I generally love a good comedian, they never appear before 11:30, long after I’ve gone to bed.

On the Jewel, there were two shows nightly: at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The entertainment was wonderful!  We not only had comedy acts – we had comedy acts that had been on HBO. Then there was the juggler/comedian who was once the winner of America’s Got Talent. We saw a couple who previously performed with Cirque du Soleil and did things with the ship moving that most people couldn’t do on dry land. We even had a hypnotist who had us rolling in the aisles in the evening, then came back for an encore when she lead a hypnosis for dieting clinic the next day. Every night brought something new and exciting.

Our stateroom was nicely appointed, but on the small side. Not that it mattered. We had the balcony which put the world in our private backyard. And yes. We used our balcony a lot.

And I wasn’t the only one who loved this ship. I found a large number of people who repeated the itinerary a number of times because they were so fond of the Jewel.

Now I know why.

Have you ever been on a river cruise?

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4 Responses to Ship News And Reviews

  1. Jim says:

    Deb, Jan and I have been on the Jewel also. The shows were always great, we would eat early and go to both shows most nights. Getting a table for two is so easy and like you said no lines. Freestyle is the way to go. Can’t wait to go again.

    Jim Hale

    • Deb says:

      There were many people who echoed your sentiments onboard and everyone felt special because they ‘discovered’ this new way of cruising. And NCL continus to tweek it to make it better. I was on one of their ships when they first implemented it and it was the stuff disasters were made of. Now Freestyle Cruising is great. It makes for a very relaxing, no pressure cruise.

  2. Chris says:

    I have always enjoyed cruising, but as I get older I want to be catered to. I think its great that you have an option to “dine when you like “. From German to Latin food sounds delicious. Your story about the Norwegian Jewel is great.

  3. Beaute MD says:

    Hey there! I’ve been following your weblog for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout
    out from Houston Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

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