Starling Travel

February 23, 2015

Star Wars Day At Sea on the Disney Cruise Line

Filed under: Amusement Parks,Cruises — Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am

Chewbacca on Disney Cruise Lines from Starling TravelI haven’t been this excited to go on a cruise in a long time. I usually can’t defend the expense of a cruise when it is so inexpensive for us to hitch up the camper and go, but this one sounds awesome! Disney Cruise Lines is adding a Star Wars Day to some of their cruises!

Star Wars Day at Sea will be available only aboard the Disney Fantasy on select Western Caribbean sailings, January through April in 2016. Star Wars Day at Sea will take place during cruises departing on the following dates:

  • January 9
  • January 23
  • February 6
  • February 20
  • March 5
  • March 19
  • April 2
  • April 16

The Star Wars Day at Sea is a one-day extravaganza during your cruise. For the rest of your voyage, you’ll enjoy the jam-packed itinerary of excitement and adventure you can only get from a Disney Cruise Line sailing. From Broadway-style shows and innovative dining, to a fun-filled visit to the private island paradise of Castaway Cay!

Star Wars Day on Disney Cruise Lines from Starling Travel

I wish they were doing this a few years ago when my boy was young enough to really love it. We took him to Disneyland when he was eleven and he was picked to do the Jedi Training Academy. It was the highlight of our trip.

Jedi Training Academy from Starling Travel

He waited for an hour and a half in the sun in order to be front and center so he could get picked. We kept asking if he wanted to ride Buzz Lightyear or Star Tours and he just stubbornly waited so he could be in the front when the Jedi comes out and chooses the padwans. Fortunately, he got chosen and we loved it. Hopefully, they’ll have something that awesome on the cruises. It is on the list of activities.

I’ve wanted to try a Disney Cruise for a long time, so this just might be the best thing to get me there. I wonder if they choose 46 year old padwans…

October 9, 2013

Little, Yellow, Different Describes Whale Watching

Filed under: Cruises — Laura Moncur @ 7:45 am

Whale Watching in Cabo San Lucas 03-16-11 by LauraMoncur from FlickrErnie went on an Alaskan cruise with his mother and described his reaction:

Seeing a whale is one of those things where even a jaded guy like myself can go from “eh, I can read about these things on Wikipedia” to a manic “ooh, ooh Mommy, whales!” and even I’m amazed at how there can be so much flurry of wildlife: whales, fish, birds, families from Long Island – are in what were previously these still waters. I look over to Mom and I see her back to me, holding on to the railings of the boat. From this angle, she is perfectly calm as she slowly disappears on all sides by families snapping photos and children darting between everyone’s legs, just like the school of fish trapped in the bubble net, only to be momentarily devoured by the same creatures we are watching ourselves.

I felt the same way when we saw whales in Cabo San Lucas. Here is the best video of what we saw:

It is so humbling to be so near a creature who could accidentally kill me without even noticing. I loved our whale excursion and it was completely worth the extra money we paid.

September 18, 2013

Costa Concordia: Finally Upright After Almost Two Years

Filed under: Cruises — Laura Moncur @ 9:53 am

Back in January of 2012, the Costa Concordia became the first cruise ship to sink since the Titanic. It has lain, derelict, in the Italian waters for nearly two years, but it has been parbuckled, which means the ship has been turned upright and supported by six underwater platforms so it can be made sea-worthy once again. Here is more information here:

You can see the parbuckling in time lapse here:

The sinking of the Costa Concordia has been one in a long line of problems with cruise ships. I’ve talked a lot about these problems in the past.

I have been on cruises and I’ve honestly enjoyed them. My favorite thing to do is sit on the deck and REST. It’s something I don’t let myself do when I am at home. I do, however, allow myself to just rest when I’m camping. Once the trailer is setup and in place, I put out my camping chair and rest in my campsite just as much as I do on a cruise ship.

If I could just hire a nice person to bring me fruity drinks every half hour, camping would be just as relaxing and enjoyable as a cruise ship. Maybe that’s a new option KOA could consider for their campgrounds. I would definitely like that addition!

February 22, 2013

Carnival Triumph Stranded

Filed under: Cruises,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 9:18 am

I am seriously disturbed by Carnival’s track record lately. In 2010, an engine room fire stranded the Carnival Splendor off the west coast.

Then in 2012, the Costa Concordia hit rocks and sank, killing thirty-two people.

Now, yet ANOTHER engine room stranded the Carnival Triumph for five miserable days of heat and stench.

Here is a video from one of the passengers, Lance Winder.

It sounds as if the crew did their best to keep things as clean as they could on the boat, but sewage had backed up on the lower decks, so passengers had no choice but to live on the decks under sheets tied up to protect them from the sun. At night, however, it got too cold outside and they retreated inside, where there was hardly any room for them.

Is a free cruise and $500 enough of a compensation? I believe it is, but I would prefer to not have that experience in the first place. At least when my car breaks down on a road trip, it’s my own fault, not something completely out of my control.

I’ve been on a few cruises, the first of which was on a Carnival cruise on a ship with broken stabilizers. I have enjoyed being able to visit many different islands and beaches on one trip without worrying about doing the driving, but in the end, I prefer to be behind the wheel of my vacation. Now that Carnival has a documented history of problems with their ships, I think I’ll avoid them altogether.

December 5, 2012

Costa Concordia: Still A Wreck After Almost A Year

Filed under: Cruises,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 10:37 am

Costa Concordia SinkingLast January, the first cruise ship to sink in a century was capsized off the coast of Isla del Giglio. It was the Costa Concordia and I talked about it here:

Back then, I said:

My first cruise was on a ship with broken stabilizers, so every other cruise has felt smooth as glass. During that bumpy and lilting first cruise, I kept reassuring myself that we could not possibly sink because the last ship to sink was the Titanic. I had convinced myself that it was impossible for the modern cruise ships to sink. Then I heard about the Costa Concordia sinking just off the coast of Italy last night and all my fears resurfaced.

It has been almost a year since that wreck and the boat is STILL there. Its salvage has proved to be quite a difficult problem.

The disaster, which killed 32 people, left salvage teams facing the unprecedented challenge of removing a ship with a gross tonnage of 114,500 GT without spilling its rotting contents into the sea.

The ship has been sitting there so long that you can now see it on Google Maps:

Costa Concordia Sattelite Image

The lawyers for the captain of the Costa Concordia, who is said to have abandoned ship, is placing the blame for the wreck on Carnival and their policies. Here is a news clip from October when they talked about his pre-trial hearing.

Here is another clip highlighting how difficult it has been for their passengers, seeking retribution.

All of this has made me feel less willing to go on a cruise. I think I’ll stick with epic road trips across the U.S.A. and not give our money away to Carnival.

January 15, 2012

Costa Concordia: The First Cruise Ship To Sink in 100 Years

Filed under: Cruises,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:55 pm

Costa Concordia SinkingI’ve been on a few cruises over the years. My first cruise was on a ship with broken stabilizers, so every other cruise has felt smooth as glass. During that bumpy and lilting first cruise, I kept reassuring myself that we could not possibly sink because the last ship to sink was the Titanic. I had convinced myself that it was impossible for the modern cruise ships to sink.

Then I heard about the Costa Concordia sinking just off the coast of Italy last night and all my fears resurfaced.

Here is a video from Sky News in Great Britain:

Just short of the one hundred year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, we are faced with the vision of another cruise ship in dire straits. I had just calmed my nerves enough to feel that going on a cruise was a perfectly safe method of travel, but all of that is gone.

Here is the panicked video of someone on the ship:

Here’s video from the air as the rescue was happening:

Here’s a video of the ship the next day:

The difference between this sinking and the Titanic tragedy is the death count. Even though the listing of the ship disabled many of the life boats, they were able to get many of the passengers off the boat and onto the island. As of this writing, only five people have been confirmed dead and 17 people are missing. That is a far cry from the hundreds who died when the Titanic sunk, but I can’t help feeling that I should just keep on camping instead of luxury cruising for my vacation.

More Info:

Update 07-13-12: Seven months after the sinking of the Concordia and it still sits stranded on the rocks.

The captain of the ship has been charged with manslaughter. He admitted that he was distracted with a phone call that had come in shortly before the crash.

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