By paul motter
CruiseMates, a leading online cruise guide and community of cruise ship enthusiasts is pleased to announce the first CruiseMates group cruise with a culinary theme, Chef Matt Sigel's Cruise with CruiseMates to sail on Norwegian Epic, October 30, 2010.
Chef Matt Sigel gained notoriety as a chef contestant on season four of the highly rated show "Hell's Kitchen." Hailing from Pinehill, NJ, the 35 year old Sigel is a charismatic and passionate chef who can claim the best wild mushroom risotto ever served in Hell's Kitchen history. The show, while based in L.A. is named after the newly gentrified Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City where trendy new restaurants adorn 9th Avenue not far from Broadway.
Matt has a passion for culinary creation but prefers to preach humility. He says any budding professional chef needs to learn to "eat crow and be passionate, having an ego will kill you." He also says "you can even learn from a dishwasher, so always be prepared to learn something new." And for the home culinary experts he says, "Know your ingredients; appreciate where they came from and how they got to your marketplace." When asked to name his favorite ingredient, Matt loves to work with lobster, especially fresh from the waters of Maine.
Chef Matt Sigels' Cruise with CruiseMates will sail Norwegian Epic on October 30, 2010 - the first Halloween cruise for this ship. Pricing starts as low as $599 pp for inside cabins.
In addition, each stateroom will receive a $75 onboard credit, savings coupons and a private cocktail party just for the group and Chef Matt Sigel.
Carnival Splendor in Mexico
One remaining bargain that still has not recovered since the economic meltdown of 2009 is the Mexican Riviera route. Why is it still struggling? It is hard to say actually. Now that H1N1 is no longer in the news, the cost of Mexico cruises should be going higher logically - like all other cruise markets - but if you look to the right you will see that America's Vacation Center has a seven-day cruise on Carnival Splendor, one of the line's newest ships, selling for as low as $369 per person. This is among the cheapest seven-day cruises anywhere - but this is a quality cruise ships - one of the nicest in carnival's entire fleet.
Now, the sail date for this cruise is next October which does have some logic, summer is generally more expensive for Mexico cruises due to demand by families with kids on vacation, and because much of the available capacity moves to Alaska for the summer season. But when fall returns as early as mid-September you can get on Carnival Splendor for under $400 per person. There are even bargains on last minute Mexico cruises available right now, if you book before summer vacation.
The same is true for the other megaship going south of the border, Mariner of the Seas from Royal Caribbean - through the summer the price averages well over $700 per person for a minimum cabin, but come September the price drops under $500.
Freedom of the Seas on Sale!
Before Oasis of the Seas came out, Freedom of the Seas was the hottest ticket in the mainstream cruise industry. It was the largest cruise ship in the world and is still packed with tons of fun action amenities such as the Flo-Rider surfing machines, cantilevered hot tubs, great ice shows and a huge Royal Promenade inside the ship.
You can now book a cruise on Freedom for as low as $549 per person. Once again, prices will go up with summer vacation. This ship is very popular with families, so if you book between June and August you will pay between $800 and $1000. But as early as August 29 the price drops below $600 once again.
Freedom and her sister ship Liberty of the Seas will soon both begin offering shorter four and five day cruises next winter, so you will be able to try out some of the coolest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet at very reasonable prices.
Latest on the European Ash Cloud:
The latest reports predict that European travel could be back to 50% by today, including British Air, but it is a day to day story. Visibility is not the only factor; the dust can get into the jet engines and cause permanent damage. It is said the sand-like ash can actually turn into something like molten glass with the high temperatures generated inside of jet engines. So far, the airlines with cancelled flights include Air Canada, British Air and most European carriers.
But some European airlines have conducted non-passenger test flights and are saying they think it is safe to fly. This includes KLM, British Air and Lufthansa. Each announced that they do not perceive any significant danger with the air up there.
If you are looking to book a flight to Europe, I suggest you plan to leave early, you could find your route changing unexpectedly. For example, flights to Spain have been opened once again so many people are flying into Spain and catching local ships to the U.K.