The Ultimate Christmas Gift for Your Retired Parents: Consider a Cruise

Read to find out how you can give your retired parents the ultimate Christmas gift – a personalized cruise vacation – without paying an arm and a leg.

Autumn, always too short, has folded into winter. Christmas is just around the corner, and that means gift-giving is imminent. We’re gonna need some good Christmas gift ideas for retired parents to get the old brain juices flowing.

This year, I feel like it’s time to give something a little different. Rather than an ugly sweater or just another DVD, I want to do something really exciting for my parents. Something that will send an important message that I’ve been meaning to send, in a way, all my life.

Affordability is key, true, but this time it’s gotta be BIG – an unforgettable experience. When it comes to my family, the people who mean everything to me, I can’t help but overflow with generosity. But I don’t want to go broke either – something must fit the bill.

Why not an affordable cruise vacation?

That’s the ticket! A voyage to the Caribbean, somewhere warm? Perhaps an elegant luxury ship on which to sip bubbly champagne and share a romantic moment for New Year’s Eve? My head swims with the possibilities. I’m sure whatever we cook up here at the Starboard Cafe, they’ll love it. That’s the kind of people they are – never taking for granted what is freely given out of love.

Read on to find out how you can give your retired parents the ultimate Christmas gift – a personalized cruise vacation – without paying an arm and a leg.


perfect unique christmas gift idea for senior parents


A superior bang-buck ratio

Cruising has what I like to call a superior bang-buck ratio. You get more out of it than any other kind of vacation—and then it surpasses your expectations even more. It’s a slam dunk every time, like mac and cheese for dinner.

That’s partly because cruises aren’t as expensive as they used to be. We’ve all noticed prices rising in recent years as the recession carries on, but the cruise lines stand out for having lowered their rates.

Lines like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are betting people with moderate incomes have just as much as a need to get away as anyone else. I know it’s true because I’m one of them. I don’t have to be rich to cruise or, for that matter, to give the ultimate Christmas gift!

At Starboard Cafe Cruises, we are currently focused on the next round of holiday special offers coming from a swath of big, midsized and small cruise lines. There will be many opportunities to win onboard credits and snag discounts on 2015 cruise vacations in the coming weeks.

When paradise is on sale, that’s the time to give the ultimate Christmas gift, so stay tuned or get in touch right away. Time is of the essence!

Why give the ultimate gift?

My parents are getting older, and my relationship with them is changing. No, they haven’t asked me to do anything for them, not yet — but that’s part of why I want to thank them. Ever selfless, they have always made giving with generosity a priority.

last minute cruise vacation deals for christmas cruises
Yum! If you insist…

Anyone who selflessly and graciously gives the gift of life deserves to have their dreams fulfilled, because life is the ultimate gift-that-keeps-on-giving. Being a good parent is no small thing. Now that I’m grown and have my own kids, I know how easy it is to mess it all up. That’s why I believe my parents deserve recognition for their labors of love that have sustained me over a lifetime.

I must apologize. During the holidays I get a touch – okay a lot – sentimental.

I blame all those warm, gooey choco-chip cookies and and cups of homemade egg nogg – mmm, just right. My mom has her own (alcohol optional!) recipe she’s been using for years, so now I’m spoiled and can’t drink any of the store-bought stuff.

Free Offer!

A gift-wrapped token of your exciting purchase

Since it’s just not practical to steer a huge cruise ship into the living room on Christmas morning, we will provide a handy token of your purchase that can be presented as a symbol of the greater gift to come.

All cruises booked as a holiday gift with the Starboard Cafe this season include a FREE elegantly personalized brochure describing the cruise sailing gift, pre-wrapped as a cheery Christmas package that’s ready to place under the family tree.

A cruise offers so many delicious perks. Cool (and safe) adventures abroad, landlubbing and seabound alike. Nothing but sky and open water, a light breeze and warm sun. People-watching, sight-seeing, or doing nothing at all but kicking back. Now that’s my definition of a great time.

♥ ♥ ♥

W hat could be more gratifying than giving an absolutely stunning holiday gift to the folks who have given me so much for so many years? To the folks who inspired me to be the kind of person that does the same?

I wonder which corner of the earth my parents have always dreamed of seeing. Where would your folks like to travel, if they could go anywhere? Old Europe, perhaps, or a Caribbean paradise?

Let us know. We can make it happen at your desired price point.

Call (615) 689-5864 to book the ultimate Christmas gift for your retired parents.


Happily Ever After: Top 3 Reasons to Have a Caribbean Cruise Wedding on Disney’s Castaway Cay

One of the most beautiful landscapes in the Caribbean, Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island. Why get hitched in this tropical paradise? Here are the top 3 reasons to get married on the beaches of Disney’s beloved Bahamian retreat.

You may already know the benefits of getting married on a cruise vacation. You can save a bundle of money, not to mention wedding planning stress. You can let your travel agent and personal wedding coordinator handle all the details. With concierge service, champagne, strawberries and a stunning honeymoon, a cruise wedding is one way to have both a luxury wedding and honeymoon for less than the price of a typical, land-lubbing ceremony.

caribbean cruise wedding
Romancing the Sea

Many cruise lines offer weddings at sea and ports-of-call, and Disney is no exception. Here, we’d like to highlight the most popular way of tying the knot with Disney Cruise Line: on Castaway Cay – Disney’s own private island in the heart of the Caribbean.

Castaway Cay is a 1,000-acre wonderland of leisure and all-natural elegance. Only Disney guests can visit the remote island. Those that do tend to come away from the experience with big smiles and joyful memories. One of the most beautiful landscapes in the Bahamas, the Cay is like a giant outdoor resort, complete with its own little escapes for couples who want to get away from the crowd for a bit.

Why get hitched in this tropical paradise? We’re glad you asked – here are the top 3 reasons to get married on Castaway Cay, Disney’s beloved Bahamian retreat.

#3 – You Can Have All The Ingredients

How do you ensure the perfect romantic wedding? Like a flawless wedding cake worthy of being a centerpiece, you must have all the right ingredients to make it happen.

The perfect wedding must be in an idyllic locale. Castaway Cay fits the bill. It’s a remarkable place, laced with sugar-white beaches and golden surf, and lush, untouched rainforest. Unlike Disney World, it’s not a theme park or a conventional resort, but an intimate port-of-call tailored to promote warm memories and happy days under the sun.

caribbean cruise wedding
Castaway Cay

The perfect wedding should accommodate the couple and their guests down to the last detail. Disney does a fine job of minding the details of your Caribbean cruise wedding for the convenience and pleasure of everyone.

When you arrive on Castaway Cay, for instance, your ship pulls right up the island; there’s no silly boating back and forth. What if you need to relax before your ceremony? You don’t even have to leave the beach to unwind with a Swedish massage in a delightful open-air cabana under the palm trees. The port has its own postage, so you can send off a flurry of postcards to folks back home. Hopefully, that won’t be too many people, since you can have up to 100 guests attend your event.

Once everyone is back onboard, you and your friends can dance your hearts out at a lively cake-and-champagne reception. Later in the evening, you can enjoy a private romantic dinner with your lover in a fine restaurant on the ship. It’s all included in Disney’s Castaway Cay cruise wedding package. A Disney-hosted ceremony on the Cay assuredly has all the ingredients for the perfect romantic wedding.

#2 – Disney Practically Invented ‘Happily Ever After’

caribbean cruise wedding

Castaway Cay is 100% owned and curated by Disney Cruise Line, and every grain of sand bears the evidence of the all-American company’s reputation for fun-loving genius. There’s no better cruise line to choose for a Caribbean cruise wedding that celebrates not only love, but the joys of life, togetherness and natural beauty. Disney offers a truly magical moment for saying ‘I Do.’

It’s worth noting that the cost of that magical moment is remarkably competitive. The price tag on a Castaway Cay wedding and honeymoon with Disney is just $4,000 plus cruise tickets – quite the steal considering the average wedding in America costs $30,000, not including the honeymoon.

#1 – You Can Get Married on the Beach!

As in real estate, the key to a romantic union is location, location, location. Is there anything more romantic than a Caribbean cruise wedding on the beach? Not much!

caribbean cruise wedding

Few scenes capture as much romance as a shoreline wedding on a beautiful island like Castaway Cay. Crystal-clear blue waters blended with swirling Caribbean greens, the blue sky overhead, and an unforgettable barefoot ceremony by the sea. Of course, the tropical eye candy makes an ideal backdrop for your wedding photo shoot. Castaway Cay is its own little slice of heaven. A beach wedding here easily feels like a dream come true.

caribbean cruise wedding

Does Castaway Cay sound like something you might be interested in? Give Starboard Cafe Cruises a call today at (615) 689 – 5864 or send us a message for trusted cruise wedding planning services. It’s our specialty!

caribbean cruise wedding


The Woman on the Bridge: Introducing the Female Captains of Cruising

When Captain Karin Stahre-Janson was a little girl growing up on Sweden’s west coast, she didn’t know she would become the world’s first female cruise ship captain. What she did know was how to defy the confines of dry land by fearlessly taking on the sea.

Breaking Out of Deck-Swabbing

 “I’ve always said I know what I’m doing.”

And so she does. When Captain Karin Stahre-Janson was a little girl growing up on the Nordic beaches of Sweden’s west coast, she didn’t know she would become the first of the world’s female cruise captains.

female cruise ship captains
Special thanks to photographer 
David Paul Ohmer on Flickr

But she did know how to defy the confines of dry land by fearlessly taking on the sea. By the time her parents bought Karin her own little boat to rig and sail at the age of seven, she was hooked for life—head over heels for exploring the world with the wind and sun in her face, out on the open water.

I didn’t want to swab decks for the rest of my life. I wanted to be on the bridge and navigate.”

Fast forward to 19-year old Karin, who’s taken a bold job on a small petrol tanker in the seas of Northern Europe. A master sailor, she’s thoroughly learned and taught her craft, and has been known to sail to victory in heady tall-ship competitions. Now, she’s scrubbed decks and picked rust long enough to know that she wants to move up, and not just halfway. She dreams of navigation.

With that, Karin enrolled in Cadet school. She knew the key to her dreams would involve incredible commitment and an investment in her education.

“I didn’t want to swab decks for the rest of my life. I wanted to be on the bridge and navigate,” she told USA Today’s cruise blogger in an interview.

Karin earned a bachelor’s degree in Nautical Science and the Unlimited Masters License she would need to command a ship of any size – even, say, a sophisticated ocean liner. She then buckled down and put her certifications to work in the cargo sector, an industry in which less than 1% of seafarers are women.

In 1997, Karin tucked nine years of heavy-duty shipping experience as a Chief Officer aboard chemical and petrol tankers into her CV, and turned towards a new era with Royal Caribbean.


BACK TO BLOG                 |                 NEXT


Red Carpet Chatter with Kristin Chenoweth: One ‘Quantum’ Leap Forward for Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean blew us away last night at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony, when fair-haired Broadway actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth was revealed as the godmother of the upcoming Quantum of the Seas.

new royal caribbean commercial 2013

Royal Caribbean at the Oscars


Royal Caribbean blew us away last night at the 85th Academy Awards when fair-haired Broadway actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth was revealed as the godmother of the cruise line’s upcoming cruise ship Quantum of the Seas.

Quantum of the Seas will be the namesake and first ship in Royal Caribbean’s new sub-fleet. Though we’re still mostly in the dark, at least now we know exactly who to ask for updates as Royal’s “Project Sunshine” develops onward.

Thanks to Sunday’s Oscars telecast, we now know why Royal Caribbean has been so secretive about its all-new Quantum class—They wanted the talented and quirky Miss Chenoweth to first introduce herself as the spokesperson for Quantum’s rollout.

Last night at the Oscars, Kristin emerged gracefully from a limousine onto the red carpet and announced herself as the new godmother of Royal Caribbean’s 2014 Quantum of the Seas—only to collapse in a dainty heap as the commercial closes. See for yourself:


 All-New Royal Caribbean Commercial (2013)


Royal Caribbean hasn’t been entirely hush-hush about what the upcoming class will be like, though there have been some notable snippets: The first two ships to bear the Quantum flag will be Chenoweth’s Quantum of the Seas, setting sail in the fall of next year (2014), and Anthem of the Seas, debuting sometime in the spring of 2015.

These two new ships aren’t trying to out-do the enormity of the Oasis class. Ton for ton, they slot in between the Oasis and Freedom classes in terms of size. Still pretty big, but both ships will carry nearly 1,500 less passengers than the Oasis and Allure ships. But just wait for the next Oasis-class ship thats scheduled to follow Quantum and Anthem in 2016. We don’t know much about this one yet, either, but we have heard engineers plan to go BIG, perhaps to set a new record. 

A good idea? Maybe. Time will tell. Meanwhile, we’re pleased to watch Royal Caribbean open a new chapter in its cruise ship portfolio. Given the ever-booming popularity of the hot ticket Oasis-class ships, we trust that Royal knows knows how to make a high-quality plan and execute it expertly.

new royal caribbean commercial 2013

“That’s one small step for ship, one giant leap for Royal Caribbean kind”

Judging by the names and sparse information released so far, Quantum cruise ships, now in German production, are going to be altogether different. Think innovative ship design, geared towards eco-friendly energy efficiency and optimized hydrodynamics on the high seas. Reportedly, the ship’s plan revolves around the related goals of low fuel consumption and breakthrough structural integrity.

Think a whole new world of guest amenities and adventures – a “quantum” leap that underscores Royal’s extraordinary creativity when it comes to cruise-building. RCCL has confirmed there will be an array of new onboard goodies, in keeping with the line’s penchant for setting up the coolest toys at sea.

Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean International’s president and CEO described the naming rationale on his blog“The new ship will be such a leap forward in terms of vessel design and guest experiences that we thought the name Quantum of the Seas was perfectly appropriate.”

Commenting on the Anthem of the Seas slated for 2015, he noted: “The word anthem is defined as a song of praise and Anthem of the Seas is indicative of many of the best qualities and features of Royal Caribbean International. Quantum represents a step change in cruising and anthem is a song of praise for that step.”


In a year that has already featured a carnivalesque FAIL on the ironically named Carnival Triumph, it’s nice to know that when Royal Caribbean upgrades their ships, they actually upgrade them. Shame on Carnival for letting us all down in the Gulf of Mexico.

Our travel agency would like to extend our sincere sympathies to folks that suffered under Carnival’s watch in recent weeks. The nasty event has only affirmed our long-standing policy of recommending against Carnival Cruises.

new royal caribbean commercial 2013

Anyhoo, kudos to Royal Caribbean on their new partner in crime, Kristin Chenoweth, and of course the new baby on the way. What kind of features would YOU like to see on the new ships by Royal Caribbean? Let us know in the comments!

[suffusion-widgets id=’5′]



A Photo Essay of Little Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s Unique Cruise Port-of-Call

Check out these awesome Labadee bytes we culled from the web while doing research for our post about Royal Caribbean’s Labadee Cruise Port


Love Me Labadee: Royal Caribbean’s Tuckaway Beach Haven

Royal Caribbean claims a little slice of paradise for cruisers on the Haitian northwest coast, where the private peninsula of “Labadee” juts abruptly out into the Caribbean Sea. Once upon a time, Christopher Columbus’ and his seasick crew of 1492 laid eyes on the very same shoreline—the first they had seen after months of wandering the grey Atlantic in search of the East…

Summer Breezes, Then and Now

A Labadee Cruise Port Review


UPDATE: Check out the beautiful Labadee photo essay that goes with this post!


When I cruise to the Caribbean, I usually have something in mind like what Seals & Crofts were singing about back in 1972—summer breezes to make me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind

One of the best ways I know of to ensure my cruise in the Sea to the South is similarly breezy is by picking an itinerary that swings me by one of the private cruise line-operated islands in the Caribbean.

Labadee Cruise Port Haiti Royal Caribbean excursions

Once upon a time, Christopher Columbus’ and his seasick crew of 1492 laid eyes on the very same shoreline—the first they had seen after months of wandering the grey Atlantic in search of the “East.”

Perhaps entranced by the lush tropics before them, the land-happy seamen ran their boss’ expensive European ships aground not far from Labadee cruise port where Royal Caribbean’s cruises now dock—ready or not for the mysterious and ‘hidden’ New World.

The men’s eyes drank in the cloud-tipped vistas and gushing mahogany forests.

When they finally trod on solid land, the weathered troops walked off their sea legs on Hispaniola’s pristine white beaches, naively claiming the infinite sky, sand and trade winds as their own.

At night they lit fires in celebration of landfall, dancing nostalgically to the rhythms of their native Cádiz. Then, the revel bowed to the persistent midnight music of the rainforest.

You may have heard of Castaway Cay, Disney’s own tropical port-of-call, or Cococay, a.k.a. the “Little Stirrup,” where Royal Caribbean calls with guests ferrying through the Bahamas.

These special resort areas enable cruise lines to offer a full day in the sand and sun, free from the sometimes overjostled public beaches of traditional ports.

Royal Caribbean claims a little slice of paradise for its Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries on the Haitian northwest coast, where the private peninsula of “Labadee” juts abruptly out into the Caribbean Sea. 


Why I Love Labadee

Labadee was introduced to the West as a destination in the most intense sense of the word.

After toil and misery, a long suspension of personal freedoms for pitiable wages, the Spaniards found themselves face-to-face with, of all things, an astonishing tropical paradise for their troubles.

Not the worst possible outcome for a crew lost at sea, blindly hoping to bump into Asia.

Luckily, today’s vacationer need not undergo such trials to make landfall on a secluded creole beach they can call their own, if only for a day.

And while you are certainly welcome to treat yourself to some cool coconut water fresh from the palm trees, modern cruise visitors need not hunt for amenities or worry about their means of survival like those poor Spaniards.

At Labadee cruise port, the sand is seashelled and white, the trees are strung with rope hammocks, and there is space for the kids to run. Local musicians play melodies on the beach.

Other sections of the open-air resort have a theme park-esque feel, with different chunks dedicated to neat activities for a range of tastes.

Labadee excursions include kayaking, oversea zip-lining—even a roller coaster that zooms down from Santa Maria’s lookout mountain towering above the village, giving riders a thrilling panoramic view of the peninsula all the way down.

Labadee Cruise Port Haiti Royal Caribbean excursions
Labadee Roller Coaster, “Dragon’s Tail” | Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

There are numerous al fresco restaurants, fully-stocked bars and spacious beaches, all within walking distance. We’re talking about half a square-mile. Down at the shoreline, banana boats bob in the surf, looking silly alongside the rumbling SeaDoos.

Catamarans float nearby, getting ready to embark from the shallows and take travelers for a winding spin down the coast to check out indigenous wildlife or one of the several out-of-the-way oceanside spots for a heavenly retreat from the main stream. Malfini Beach and Paradise Cove are particular gems.

Labadee Cruise Port Haiti Royal Caribbean excursions
No Worries in the World | Special thanks to photographer Michael Bentley on Flickr

Each Royal Caribbean call includes scheduled activities for children at Luc’s Splash Bash, one of two fully staffed water parks at Labadee cruise port.

Kids go nutso for the—arrrrrgh—pirate-themed play area, flush with water geysers, cannons, archways and huge, toppling buckets atop a “sunken” pirate ship. Here, young buccaneers can follow a giant treasure map and (safely) reenact legendary battles on the high seas.

The resort’s other water funzone, Arawak Aqua Park, has colorful inflatables and a giant floating trampoline, much to the delight of kiddoes and even many adults spending time in Labadee cruise port.


Details, Details

Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean (the brands owned by Royal Caribbean International) are the only cruise lines allowed to call on Labadee. Royal Caribbean has arranged it so that cruisers can skip the passports despite being on Haitian territory, since passengers don’t leave the hermetic coastal town during their stay.

This is also the reason Labadee cruise port is considered safe and secure for visitors. The resort is secluded, well-guarded and fenced off so that tourists need not worry about security.

Nevertheless, it is always a good idea while traveling to new places to keep your eyes on your belongings and loved ones. It’s the best way to make sure everything turns out all right, so you can relax, let your hair down and never have to regret a moment of it.

View Cruise Critic’s Labadee Haiti Cruise Port Map


Read More Labadee Cruise Port Reviews on TripAdvisor

The Labadee cruise port must be booked as a shore excursion from your Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Several activities—the zip line, for instance—can be booked and paid for in advance. Check with your travel agent as soon as possible, since many activities fill up quickly. Of course, since it’s Labadee, there’s also plenty to do that doesn’t require payment or reservations.

My advice is to pick two, possibly three, activities you’ve got your heart set on and leave the rest of the schedule open. That way you have some quiet, relaxing down-time on the beach no matter what. It’s MY favorite part.

Labadee Cruise Port Haiti Royal Caribbean excursions
Labadee Cruise Port in Haiti | Special thanks to Ricymar Photography Bentley on Flickr

As relaxing tropical stopovers go, Labadee cruise port is ideal. The private peninsula-resort offers something for everyone. It delivers when you’re counting on the perfect cruise to the Caribbean: blue waters, beach hammocks and a light summer breeze to make you feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in your mind… 

The Starboard Cafe enthusiastically recommends a hiatus in Royal Caribbean’s private coastal resort. Memories of Labadee promise to warm the heart and sweeten the tongue long after your cruise has passed. 

[suffusion-widgets id=’5′]


Romancing the Sea: a New Royal Caribbean Cruise Wedding Package

The benefits of the ‘Sweethearts’ package – like other Royal Caribbean cruise wedding packages – include being able to watch all the food, cocktails, cake, music, flowers and other details fall into place before your very eyes—at a fraction of the cost of the average at-home wedding ceremony no less. Not to mention, a personal wedding coordinator on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly, so it’s the Big Day you’ve always wanted.

Sweethearts at Sea:

Free Royal Caribbean Cruise Wedding Packages

with 12 or more Booked Staterooms


Royal Caribbean has recently joined the weddings-at-sea club, having gotten the nod from Bahamian authorities to legally marry couples on its ships in international waters. The well-known Big Ship brand joins premium-class cruise lines Princess and Celebrity with its newfound ability to fully stock, cater and perform wedding ceremonies at sea, anywhere in the world.

With enough guests, you can now get married at sea through an exciting new addition to the array of Royal Caribbean cruise wedding packages: It’s called the “Sweethearts at Sea” special, and it’s all about getting married on the open sea for free. How do you get it? Bring your friends.

The benefits of the ‘Sweethearts’ package – like other Royal Caribbean cruise wedding packages – include being able to watch all the food, cocktails, cake, music, flowers and other details fall into place before your very eyes—at a fraction of the cost of the average at-home wedding ceremony no less. Not to mention, a personal wedding coordinator on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly, so it’s the Big Day you’ve always wanted.

As a way of promoting its new bridal powers, Royal Caribbean has put together the “Sweethearts at Sea” special offer for wedding parties filling 12 or more staterooms on a 2013 sailing. The offer stands for new group bookings made up until June 30, 2013.

royal caribbean cruise wedding packages

Get married by the Captain, enjoy professional event photography, live music and wine sourced from the best vineyards, stateroom decor, a free specialty dinner for two, a Royal bridal registry, the full range of wedding planning services and more as part of the complimentary package. 


The list of freebies, in full:

  • Wedding planning services
  • Onboard Royal Romance Coordinator
  • Boutonniere & 12 long-stemmed roses
  • 8″ white fondant cake
  • Recorded music plus live soloist during the ceremony
  • Wine at the ceremony
  • Royal Wedding Registry
  • Dinner for the bride and groom at a specialty restaurant
  • Stateroom decorations, including fresh flowers
  • Photography service, including thirty (30) 8×10 prints and one (1) CD with 15 images
  • Ceremony performed by the ship’s captain
  • Keepsake certificate
  • Champagne and strawberries in the stateroom
  • Breakfast in bed 

Will your wedding guests fill more than 24 staterooms? If so, you’ll qualify for the Premium version of ‘Sweethearts at Sea.’ That means a further polished, hour-long wine and hors d’oeuvres reception for the bride, groom and up to 48 guests—and the bride and groom get a free stateroom upgrade.

Remember that wherever you get married at sea on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, your wedding license will be from the Bahamas. It’s where the Royal fleet is registered. Don’t forget to ask your travel agent if this license will be accepted in your state. 


royal caribbean cruise wedding packages

Royal Caribbean does a good job focusing on the extra touches that make your Big Day special, from long-stemmed roses and chocolate-covered strawberries to champagne breakfast in bed (hair ‘o the dog, perhaps?). And where better than a cruise ship to stage an awesome wedding reception party? The cruise line simply does what it does best – as a floating resort fully equipped with staff and facilities for epic celebrations as well as more intimate gatherings. 

Generally I recommend Royal Caribbean cruise wedding packages because they are a really impressive value and represent affordable access to a dream destination wedding for ordinary working people. If having the bulk of arrangements professionally executed on your behalf sounds like your cup of tea, you’ll have the time of your life on a romantic wedding cruise at sea courtesy of RC staffers.


Utilize our free cruise vacation planning services to book a group cruise today: Call or Email us (see below), or send us a request form and we’ll respond swiftly

royal caribbean cruise wedding packages

Royal Caribbean cruise vacation packages

[suffusion-widgets id=’1′]


Cafe Infographic: Should I Book a Cruise through a Travel Agent?

A common question from folks shopping for a cruise vacation is: Do I need to book a cruise through a travel agent?

This is a good question. The content and structure of the economy is always changing, and many traditional careers have been transformed by the spread of web-based operations.

There’s a Reason that Over 3/4 of Cruisers Book with a Dedicated Travel Agent:

How to Book a Cruise Through a Travel Agent
According to CLIA‘s 2008 Market Profile Study, over 75% of cruise travelers book their cruises with travel agents.


An awful lot goes in to making an extraordinary cruise vacation.


A common question from folks shopping for a cruise vacation is: Do I need to book a cruise through a travel agent? This is a good question. The content and structure of the economy is always changing, and many traditional careers have been transformed by the spread of web-based operations. It makes sense to ask – Are travel agents – and in particular cruise-only agents – still relevant, now that it is a simple matter to book directly with the major cruise lines on the Internet?

The Short Answer is Yes.

Buying a cruise vacation right off one of the cruise line websites is like paying the full sticker price for a car without regard for the value of the purchase.

Value = $ + Quality Assurance | PRICE OR VALUE?

Online bookings show fare prices of tickets for that day, but prices tend to change often. Not to mention the surprise element of specials and discounts released, sometimes without fanfare, up the day a ship sails. Who wants to be ones at dinner who failed to take advantage of all the giveaways up for grabs? These items are available for those whose interests are protected by a great cruising advocate.

Online booking engines are often billed as the only guaranteed way to get the best price. But this is simply not true. According to The Travel Insider, it is a myth that any online company can offer the best prices across the board. No one website can guarantee the best deal at all moments – the price fluctuates constantly! This is true of hotels, flights and many other sorts of tickets, fares and packages.

Skip to Infographic

What is the best price one moment may not be so the next, which is why it is so very helpful to have an agent whose job is to keep abreast of the latest deals and specials, as soon as they become available. That way, you never miss out. And you know you’re getting the best deal for your cruise vacation – not just for the day you happened to order it.

Have you ever been told that a hotel or flight is out of available seats? With a knowledgable travel agent, you can get rooms, seats and tickets unavailable to the public which are set aside for travel agency reservations.

There’s a reason agents still sell 51 % of all airline tickets, 87 % of all cruises, 81 % of all tours and packages, 45 % of all car rentals and 47 % of all hotels. It’s because folks everywhere rely on agents to do the dirty work for them, while lines and operators rely on agents to introduce customers to them, so they can best meed the needs of travelers. It’s a truly symbiotic relationship.

Cruise lines ensure that loyal travel agents have access to the best deals and offers, in addition to flexible pricing. That means we can negotiate on levels that are not accessible through a typical online booking engine. The more experience an agency has with a cruise line, the better the prices and perks. Hire a cruise agent to haggle on your behalf.


Best Value, Guaranteed


While important, getting the best price is only a part of the cruise vacation planning process. You wouldn’t go out and get the cheapest car you could find regardless of other factors, would you? When you invest in something big, like a vehicle or cruise vacation – something that must be trusted to keep you, your friends and family, and belongings safe and secure – while ensuring access to the quality leisure and adventure you seek – you want overall value that’s proportionate to your investment.

The best deal is important. But it is no substitute for the best value​. ​Book a cruise through a travel agent so you know for sure that your shopping around actually nets you the best deal and the best value for your money. While times are certainly changing, one thing has not changed a bit: There’s no substitute for the guidance of a genuine cruising advocate, for when things don’t go as smoothly as expected, and also for when they do. Ask veteran cruisers – Travel agents make it happen.


Don’t Buy the Cruise Right Off the Lot


Don’t pay sticker price for your cruise vacation! You’ll also want to avoid agencies that charge extra fees for their services. Savvy veterans of the crusing world (that’d be us) know how to work magic with the cruise lines without passing the bill on to the customer. We’ve been doing it the smart way since 1989.

Should you choose to book a cruise through a travel agent, do consider partnering with the Starboard Cafe to get that convenience and great deal you’re hunting, without worrying if you have traded quality for convenience. 

How to book a cruise through a travel agent should i book cruise through travel agent or cruise official

Back to Top

Learn About Our Features & Services


Booking with a Travel Agent Could Be the Smartest Thing You Do All Day

Why You Need A Travel Agent, Part I

Why You Need A Travel Agent, Part II

[suffusion-widgets id=’1′]

Cruises for Foodies: The 2017 Summer of Culinary Arts

Like watching Rachel Ray bake up tempting wonders on the Inside Dish? Are you or someone special you know huge fans of Cake Boss and Top Chef?

Among the most exciting trends in the cruising industry is the renewed focus on gourmet food and the culinary arts. Holland America is ahead of the pack in their addition of world-class show kitchens to each of their 15 ships – and they’ve got big plans for them for the summer of 2012.

Like watching Rachel Ray bake up tempting wonders on the Inside Dish?

Are you or someone special you know huge fans of Cake Boss and Top Chef?

Among the most exciting trends in the cruising industry is the renewed focus on gourmet food and the culinary arts. Holland America is ahead of the pack in their addition of world-class show kitchens to each of their 15 ships – and they’ve got big plans for them for the summer of 2012.

Holland America’s savory array of kitchens, called “Culinary Arts Centers,” are sponsored by Food & Wine Magazine and equipped for all genres of advanced cooking. These fancy showcases are not only for entertainment. Cruise guests are encouraged to get interactive with live demonstrations, food and wine tastings, and themed cooking classes taught by professional performance chefs.

Adults and kids alike are invited to try their hand at styles of food that match the ports-of-call where the ship docks during the cruise. Holland’s user-friendly styling makes it easy to learn everything from which foods and flavors match each other perfectly to little-known tricks of the trade shared by the world’s top cuisine masters.

Featured Guest Chefs

If you’re a Food Network junkie or an aspiring pro chef, read about the top featured acts coming to select cruises this July and August. Checking into one of these summer cruises is a chance to gain expert insider’s knowledge from the world of performance cooking and be audience to some of the best cooking shows on earth.

  1.   The ms Noordam’s 10-day Roman Empire cruise departing July 17 will play host to Chef Kevin Sbraga, a chef hailing from Pennsylvania’s Avenue of the Arts, where he operates his premier restaurant “Sbraga,” home to award-winning foie gras soup and possibly the world’s best Eggplant Terrine. You may have heard of Sbraga from his big win on the 7th season of Bravo’s Top Chef.
  2.   Celebrity Chef Denise Vivaldo, author of the The Food Stylist’s Handbook and bestsellers on the catering business, will be bringing her special expertise to ms Westerdam’s July 21 7-day Alaskan Explorer cruise. Vivaldo has made a name for herself styling food for the likes of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Jay Leno’s “The Tonight Show,” the Academy Awards – even Prince Charles and Cher.
  3.   The beautiful culinary entrepreneur Sonia Hunt will be bringing her unique expertise in food performance to ms Oosterdam’s 7-day Alaskan Explorer cruise departing July 22. When Hunt isn’t taking the world of digital technnology by storm, she can be found on radio and TV, serving up healthy huevos rancheros and insights about eating and living in a world of food issues and allergies. In her own words, Sonia says of her upcoming voyage with Holland America: “You know I’ll be cooking up something healthy & spicy! So plan a vacation and I’ll see you in Alaska!
  4.   Book a cruise on the ms Prinsendam for its 2-week voyage through Norway and the British Isles, leaving August 8, and you are in for a real treat. Perhaps no guest will be able to enchant aspiring foodies as much as All-star Chef Angelo Sosa as he generously shares his ability to transform truly inventive food concepts into a masterpiece that can be made at home by anyone. A man who fantasizes about how coriander pairs with lemongrass, Sosa is a charming philosopher of flavor and food culture who can be relied upon to change not only the way you create meals but also how you think about food as a part of the lives we build together.
  5.   Ensure your ride on the ms Zaandam’s 7-day Alaska Inside Passage cruise leaving Aug. 19 to get a chance to mingle with Chef Jonathan Sawyer, a Cleveland, Ohio native whose restaurant the Greenhouse Tavern was celebrated by Bone Appetit Magazine as among the Top Ten Restaurants in America. As featured on shows such as Iron Chef America, Sawyer has a green thumb which he uses to whip up organic, local-fresh servings crafted with the environment in mind. Sawyer offers a window into the wisdom of the “slow food” movement, seamlessly blending the concepts of community, earth and food to inspire a lifestyle both minimalist and rich in positive relationships. This August, have a conversation with Chef Sawyer about creating menus featuring the clean products of sustainable harvests sourced from local communities.

As you can see, the summer of 2012 is shaping up to be a memorable one for the current generation of folks who are both cruise lovers and food lovers in equal measure. Stay tuned for more on theme cruises for foodies!

Contact Us today to secure your spot

on one of these ocean-bound getaways.