Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cruising 101 Part 1: Intro to Cruising

  
Cruising 101: Top Ten Facts to Know


Editorial Purposes only
This blog entry is for travelers who are beginners in cruising.

1. Cruising used to be expensive. Now, it can be downright economical. You can plan well in advance and pay in installments. You need to know when you want to go, for how long, from where and to where. Also, check out the class of ship you might want and the activities and dining it offers. (What to Know When You Book).

2. You need a passport for most cruises. It should not expire within 6 months of the end of the cruise. You can use that or other photo ID to get back on board after visiting the ports. Take the passport with you if you want to get it stamped.


Editorial Purposes Only

3. What's included? Your basic meals, most entertainment, the passage itself and your stateroom. Drinks (see below about soft drinks), excursions (the activities when you dock at ports), spa packages, casinos, bingo, some events, gratuities, taxes and fees are not automatically included. You can opt to pay for the gratuities when you pay for your passage or to leave an envelope with cash at the service desk with the amount of your choice (they put this information at the very end in teeny, tiny print). 




Carnival Breeze (editorial purposes only)

4. Most cruise lines charge for soft drinks and all charge for the hard stuff. Many lines offer coffee, tea, lemonade, iced tea and water (from the fountain) for free. Some beverage packages are priced per person, per day. Some say that if one adult in the stateroom buys the alcohol package, all have to do so.



Editorial Purposes

5. You choose your dinner time: early, late or flexible. Flexible dining (just show up anytime between 5 and 10PM, or so) can result in long lines or wait times. Some ships have 24 hour eating: the dining rooms close, but sandwiches or pizza might be available. At the formal dining, you can order more than one entree, but I advise you to wait rather than do it all at once. It's not polite to leave all that food wasted. 




Editorial Purposes


6. What's in a Day at Sea: this is the time to explore and enjoy the ship for itself: the activities in the daily newsletters, swimming, eating, the parties and events, the sales and the shops, sunning on the deck. Deck chairs go FAST! You won't feel like getting up at 10AM (after all, you are on vacation) but if you mosey on the deck around noon or so, you may not get a lounge chair.



Editorial Purposes

7When in port: remember that sometimes an entire port's economy depends on tourism. They are eager and it is very overwhelming when you dock. Stay street smart. Watch your bag, don't be flashy with expensive items and walk as if you know the place, even if you don't. If you are touring on your own and want a cab, go past the first group you see as soon as you get off and walk a little toward town.


Grand Turk (for editorial purposes only)


8. Excursions are activities sponsored by third parties at the ports. If you are savvy and bold, you can explore the ports on your own. Just download a travel book or pick up pamphlets when you get there. There will be plenty of locals waiting to help. Bargain graciously but firmly. The first price will be too much, don't go for it. Some excursions are worth it, though. But if you explore on your own know that... 






9. You can get left behind. Leave at least 90 minutes to get back. You will have to pay to get to the next port or to get home. You have to have ID to get back on anyway, but also have a credit card and a phone, just in case. If a ship-sponsored excursion is late, they'll wait for you.


Editorial Purposes




10. You have to pay customs for purchases that total over a certain amount. Fill in your customs slip at the end of the cruise. Be honest, there are agents when you get back to the home port. By the way, on board shops are only open at sea. No cash is accepted for purchases on board, you have to set up an account with a credit/debit card or deposit cash at the service desk.

                                      




Cruising Part 2, by the NYC Traveler

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Intro to...Christmas at Rockefeller Center NYC

Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

 This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).

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THINGS TO KNOW TO SEE THE 
TREE AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER (AND MORE)



Rockefeller Center, New York City
1. Tree location: the square block of 5th and 6th Avenues between West 49th and West 50th Streets. The tree is chosen, cut down, transported and decorated culminating with a nationally televised tree-lighting televised ceremony. The ceremony is very well attended, in case you would like to go. 

Rockefeller Center ice rink


2. Tip: The crowds are massive so try to time it. Go before a show lets out, or early in December or even after January 1; the tree is up until @January 6. the tree stays up a couple of days after the New Year, so the crowds will be significantly less.

St. Patrick's Cathedral Nativity scene

3. If it seems like the lights are not as brilliant as they used to be, they are LED. Also, they do not burn 24 hours a day. They go off at 11:30PM (probably for environmental as well as security reasons). 


Rockefeller Center

4. Ice skating is available in the rink. The lines tend to be long at peak times. For an alternative, check out Bryant Park (the square block of 42nd and 41st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues) or Wollman Rink in Central Park.


Wollman Rink, Central Park

5. What else is there to do? St. Patrick's Cathedral at 5th Avenue between East 50th and East 51st Streets is open to the public and is especially beautiful at Christmas time. The light and sound show on the face of Saks Fifth Avenue (611 5th Avenue between East 49th and East 50th Streets) draws a massive crowd. There is a countdown clock so that you can catch it from the beginning.  


Light and sound display, Saks Fifth Avenue, NYC

6. Take in a show at Radio City Music Hall, 6th Avenue between West 50th and West 51st. Streets. Across the street from there, admire the decorations. 


Rockefeller Center


www.rockefellercenter.com/tour-and-explore/the-tree-at-rockefeller-center/.  Subway: E, M to 5th Ave/53rd St; B,D,F,M to 47-50th Rock Center; Bus: M5, M7, M50.


Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

 This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jazz at the Blue Note

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Get your Jazz on at the Blue Note

Blue Note Jazz Club, New York City

If you decide to spend an evening taking in some cool jazz, the Blue Note is a nice way to do it for locals and tourists alike.

1. Their schedule is posted on their website, so that you can plan your evening well in advance which is strongly advised: either by reservation or purchasing tickets outright. Planning in advance will help your budget also: be forewarned, this is not a cheap date! 

2. Try to choose a table rather than sitting at the bar. The bar is at the door of the club, which translates to the back of the viewing area. The view is not the best unless you are right at the front of the bar.

Fourplay at the Blue Note, NYC

3. Like many clubs, the set-up is very cozy. At the tables, you are right on top of each other, with most tables seating 6-10 persons. When you come in, they direct you to the coat check: it is not mandatory and there is a $1 charge. Because of the lack of seating space, it is advisable to check your coat.

4. The wait staff is pleasant, cordial, and attentive without being overbearing. Because some artists are so popular, the Blue Note makes sure there is enough staff for each section, so you won't have to search for your server.

5. Food and drinks are offered. Check out the menu and prices before going. Be aware there is usually a minimum cover charge in addition to the ticket price. You will have to order something. Their choices were varied, with appetizers, soup, salads, entrees and desserts. 

If you want to party some more, The Village Underground (with a good house band) is right across the street.

So treat yourself to an evening at the Blue Note in NY (they have locations in Tokyo, Milan and Nagoya). BlueNote.net, 131 West 3rd St., off 6th Ave. Subway stop: West 4th Street (A, B, C, E, D, F, M). 
Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

 This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Welcome to The NYC Traveler

Disclaimer

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Booking.com

Welcome to the NYC Traveler!


This blog will is about touring and sightseeing within the New York City metropolitan area and traveling throughout the world as a New Yorker. I live in the City of New York and I am one of its biggest fans. I have lived in the NYC area all my life and I was introduced to its cultural wonders as a child. 

Many people live in wonderful places and do not tour their own areas. Throughout the years, as I have posted in social media, people have asked me for information about touring and sightseeing right in their own hometown. Hopefully, for New Yorkers and visitors alike, you will enjoy the little tidbits, fyi's and advice that will come forth from here.

I have liked to travel since taking family road trips as a kid. I enjoy seeing new places, sightseeing famous and little known sites and taking travel photos. This blog is strictly from the perspective of the ordinary traveler. From time to time, I will refer you to experts.

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Happy Travels to All!!