Archive for September, 2010

Tis The Season to Book a Royal Caribbean Cruise for a Stress-Free Holiday

September 1, 2010
RCL Freedom of the Seas Flowrider

Families enjoy RCL's Freedom of the Seas signature attraction, the Flowrider. Royal Caribbean is offering special deals on holiday cruises © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This winter, Royal Caribbean International is inviting families to start a new tradition and spending the holidays at sea, with special deals and festivities from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. After all, “Why Not?” as the line’s slogan goes.

“There is really no better holiday value than spending yours aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise with family and friends,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International.  “All too often, people get stressed out with holiday preparation and entertaining. Royal Caribbean takes care of all this work, providing guests the opportunity to relax and truly enjoy the holiday season with their loved ones. Additionally, the Diamond Celebration in December will offer exclusive benefits and programs to our Diamond-status Crown & Anchor Society members to recognize our most loyal guests.”

To kick off the holiday season, Royal Caribbean is pulling out all the stops for guests to enjoy a bountiful and memorable Thanksgiving.  Not only will the chefs in the cruise line’s main dining room feature a gourmet turkey dinner (and take care of the grocery shopping, cooking and dishes too), but the award-winning Adventure Ocean program will provide kids with themed activities including Thanksgiving story time and arts and crafts.

What better way to alleviate the stress that typically comes along with the holiday season than indulging in the Royal treatment?  Guests this winter can enjoy a wide range of exclusive and innovative onboard amenities, entertainment, and award-winning family programming, while observing the season’s traditional festivities.  Most travelers won’t even have to wander much further than their own backyards to find a holiday cruise vacation to suit their interests.  Royal Caribbean’s fleet offers a diverse number of holiday itineraries departing from nine easy-to-reach domestic home ports, including Bayonne, NJ, Baltimore, MD, Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), Miami, Port Canaveral, and Tampa, Fla., Galveston, TX, Los Angeles, Calif. and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A seven-night Eastern Caribbean Thanksgiving sailing is available aboard Freedom of the Seas, departing November 21, 2010, from Port Canaveral, Fla..  Freedom of the Seas offers innovative onboard amenities and entertainment options, such as the FlowRider surf simulator, an ice-skating rink, rock-climbing wall, and street parties and parades in the Royal Promenade, a boulevard that runs nearly the length of the ship, lined with boutiques where guests can get a head start on their holiday shopping.

Royal Caribbean will deck its ships with seasonal decorations to embrace the holiday spirit at sea throughout the month of December.  Royal Caribbean offers Hanukkah-themed festivities lasting all eight days of the holiday, including a Rabbi aboard every ship to conduct a nightly menorah lighting ceremony and services.  For those celebrating Christmas, a Catholic priest also will be aboard to lead the holiday’s observances including a midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Other Christmas festivities sure to get families bonding and into the spirit include: classic movie screenings, guest and crew caroling, cookie decorating, special Christmas-themed Adventure Ocean programming, and holiday ice skating aboard select ships.  Families may still book staterooms aboard the new Allure of the Seas for the seven-night roundtrip Western Caribbean Holiday itinerary departing from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. sailing on December 18, 2010.

In November, Allure of the Seas will join sister-ship Oasis of the Seas, as one of the two world’s largest and most innovative cruise ships.  Allure of the Seas featuring seven themed neighborhoods and unrivaled entertainment options, featuring the DreamWorks Experience, which include characters from hit movies such as Shrek and Madagascar, as well as the Tony Award-winning Broadway production “Chicago: The Musical.”

Ring in the New Year at sea with the Cruise Director and Captain’s Countdown and themed parties in every onboard lounge.  Young cruisers will enjoy the extended late night party zone where kids and teens will be celebrating at their own New Year’s festivities. West Coast vacationers can celebrate the New Year aboard Mariner of the Seas’ December 26, 2010, sailing on a seven-night Mexican Riviera itinerary from Los Angeles, Calif. Mariner of the Seas is the largest and most revolutionary ship to ever sail from the west coast.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 21 ships currently in service and one under construction. The line also offers unique cruisetour land packages in Alaska, Dubai, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and South America. For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit www.royalcaribbean.com or call 800-ROYAL-CARIBBEAN.

See our coverage:

RCL’S DAZZLING FREEDOM OF THE SEAS:
Biggest, Most Innovative Cruise Ship Afloat Offers Everything & More

MSC Cruises Introduces Family Plan for Holiday Sailings

September 1, 2010
MSC Poesia in NYC

The MSC Poesia in New York City. The cruise line is offering a Family Plan for holiday sailings to the Caribbean © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

MSC Cruises is making it easy and affordable for families of four to cruise for the holidays. The line is offering a Family Plan for 7-night holiday sailings to the Caribbean onboard MSC Poesia through December 31, 2010.

Guests who book a balcony stateroom during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve Caribbean cruises can save up to 50 percent off a connecting balcony stateroom for an affordable family vacation.

This special Family Plan offer applies for adjoining Category 9, 10 or 11 Balcony Superior staterooms (accommodating up to four guests) on 7-night, Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises departing from Ft. Lauderdale. These cruises sail November 21 (Thanksgiving), December 19 (Christmas), and December 26 (New Year’s).  Family Plan rates for four begin at $697 per person plus $81.35 per person government fees and taxes (GFTs).

Destinations on the Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises including ports like Key West, Florida; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas.

Family-friendly activities to enjoy during this affordable family vacation include miniature golf, tennis and basketball. MSC Poesia features a pool for children and outdoor play area. MSC Cruises also offers a complimentary kids program filled with entertainment, fun, and games from crafts to treasure hunts. Children’s programs are available for children 3-17 years old and are divided into age-specific groups.

Not only does MSC Cruises offer authentic Italian favorites like pasta and pizza, but also All-American kid-friendly staples like hamburgers, hot dogs, and delicious pastries and desserts.

Rates are cruise only, and subject to availability.

MSC Cruises also has a policy of kids 11 and under sailing free when sharing adults” cabin.

MSC Cruises is one of the fastest-growing cruise lines in the world  with a fleet of 11 shipsMSC Magnifica, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica,     MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica and MSC Melody. The fleet cruises year round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, US and Canada (Fall 2010), South America, the Indian Ocean, and South and West Africa.

For more information, call 877-665-4655, visit www.MSCCruisesUSA.com, or contact a local travel professional.

See cruise coverage at http://www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

Nassau County Museum of Art is One of 1300 Museums Offering Free Admission on Smithsonian’s Museum Day

September 1, 2010
Mort Kunstler's Lion of the Valley-Jackson in Winchester Virginia, 2008

Mort Kunstler's Lion of the Valley-Jackson in Winchester Virginia, 2008, goes on view on Sept. 25, 2010, the same day as the 6th Annual Smithsonian Magazine's Free Museum Day. The exhibit, “For Us the Living” The Civil War in paintings by Mort Kunstler, commemorates the 150 anniversary of the Civil War, and will be on view at NCMA through Jan. 9, 2011 (photo courtesy of Nassau County Museum of Art)

Roslyn Harbor, NY — On Saturday, September 25, 2010, Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) will participate in the 6th annual Museum Day, presented by Toyota on behalf of the redesigned 2011 Avalon. NCMA will join participating museums and cultural institutions nationwide to open doors free of charge to all visitors who download the Museum Day Ticket from Smithsonian.com.  A journey to celebrate our world’s dynamic heritage and cultural life, participating Museum Day venues emulate the free admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities.

Museum Day 2010 is poised to be the largest to date, outdoing last year’s record-breaking event.  Over 300,000 museum-goers and 1,300 venues in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico participated in Museum Day 2009. Last year, two million visitors logged on to www.smithsonian.com/museumday to learn more about the program.

September 25, 2010 is opening day for For Us the Living, NCMA’s major presentation of Civil War paintings by Mort Künstler. The exhibition portrays the sights, feelings and drama of the Civil War. Considered by many to be the leading contemporary painter of Civil War scenes, Mort Künstler’s work is esteemed for its dramatic intensity and for an extraordinary level of authenticity that results from intensive research. The exhibition consists of approximately 50 paintings and a selection of documentary objects including a first-time-ever look into Künstler’s creative process through sketches, drawings, preliminary studies, photographs and props. Many of the paintings are from Künstler’s own collection, others are from various private and public collections.

This year, Toyota will enhance the Museum Day experience both in Smithsonian magazine and online, with elements like the “Featured Five,” a listing that encourages visitors to learn about and visit participating museums and venues. Additionally, for each visitor who inquires about the new Toyota Avalon online, Toyota will donate $1—up to $10,000 total—to museum programming nationwide.

The Museum Day Ticket is available to download at www.smithsonian.com/museumday. Visitors who present the official pass will gain free admission for two people to participating museums and cultural venues. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. Listings and links to participating museums’ and sponsors’ sites can be found at www.smithsonian.com/museumday.
About Nassau County Museum of Art

Ranked among the nation’s most important suburban art museums, Nassau County Museum of Art is located 20 miles east of New York City on the former Frick Estate, a spectacular 145-acre property in Roslyn Harbor in the heart of Long Island’s fabled Gold Coast. The main museum building, named in honor of art collectors and philanthropists Arnold & Joan Saltzman, is a three-story Georgian mansion that exemplifies Gold Coast architecture of the late 19th century. In addition to the mansion, NCMA, which receives nearly 200,000 visitors each year, includes the Art Space for Children, the Sculpture Park, the Formal Garden, rare specimen trees, marked walking trails and the Art School where an extensive array of beginning to advanced art classes are held for all age groups.

Nassau County Museum of Art is located at One Museum Drive (just off Northern Boulevard, Route 25A, two traffic lights west of Glen Cove Road) in Roslyn Harbor. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Docent-led tours of the exhibition are offered at 2 p.m. each day. There is a $2 parking fee on weekends (no charge to members). The Museum Gift Shop is open during museum hours. Grace’s Café is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

About Smithsonian Media

Smithsonian Media comprises Smithsonian magazine, Air & Space, goSmithsonian, Smithsonian Media Digital Network and the Smithsonian Channel. Smithsonian Media’s flagship publication, Smithsonian magazine, is one of the nation’s largest magazines with a circulation of more than 2 million and nearly 7 million readers. Smithsonian Media is a division of Smithsonian Enterprises, the revenue-generating business unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. Approximately 30 million people from around the world visited the Smithsonian in 2009.

About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,400 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers. Toyota directly employs more than 34,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 1.77 million vehicles in 2009.  For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyota.com.

National Park Service Urges Visitors to Fire Island National Seashore to take measures against West Nile Virus-Carrying Mosquitoes

September 1, 2010

Fire Island National Seashore announced today that a sample of mosquitoes
infected with West Nile virus (WNV) has been found on Fire Island.  The
National Park Service collected the mosquitoes on August 20 from a light
trap at the Watch Hill employee housing area.

Residents, visitors and staff are advised to avoid being outside when
mosquitoes are most active (1 hour before sunset through midnight). Wear
protective clothing (shoes, socks, long pants, long-sleeved shirt and a
hat) and use an effective insect repellent, such as one containing at least
30% DEET. Non-DEET repellents (e.g. herbal-based sprays) are also
effective. (Use much less repellent for children; DEET should only be used
with extreme caution on children under age 3.)  People most at risk of
becoming ill from West Nile virus are those over 50 years of age or whose
immune system is impaired.  Such people are advised to stay away from areas with mosquitoes.

The WNV-infected mosquitoes were from a trap set by the Park as part of its
weekly monitoring program.  Testing was done by the New York State
Department of Health, Arthropod-Borne Disease Program, in Albany.  This
program is a collaborative effort between the Park and Suffolk County
Department of Health Services, which announced the positive results on
August 31.  The freshwater Culex species of mosquitoes in the pool that
tested positive for WNV is not thought to generate a major human health
concern, although this species does potentially bite people, and several
human cases of WNV have been documented in Nassau and Suffolk counties this year. No WNV-infected dead birds have been found this year in Fire Island National Seashore.

The National Park Service works closely with the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Suffolk County Vector Control, and local Fire Island and Long Island municipalities to determine the best course of action to protect residents, visitors and employees of the Seashore.  When threats to human health (such as the presence of West Nile virus) occur, actions to protect the public may include control methods such as applying larvicide or spraying.

The public will be notified 24 hours in advance of any spray event.

Information on the date and exact location of any spraying can be found on
the Suffolk County web site at http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/health or by calling
631-852-4939.  Suffolk County Vector Control is currently authorized to
spray within the Fire Island communities using ultra low volume backpack or
truck-mounted sprayers.

The park is continuing its surveillance program to monitor the severity and
extent of West Nile virus in the Seashore. As per the Park’s standard
operation procedures, there will be an amplified surveillance in the area
where West Nile virus has been detected.

Mosquitoes can transmit both West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine
Encephalitis (EEE) from an infected bird to humans and other animals.
However, mosquitoes are a natural part of a healthy salt marsh ecology. The
larvae and adults provide food for many kinds of wildlife, including other
insects, fish, birds, and bats. Some measures taken to control mosquitoes,
such as spraying insecticides, can adversely affect non-target organisms,
possibly affecting fish and other species living in the wetlands.

Therefore, any actions taken to protect human health through the control of
mosquitoes must be weighed very heavily. Suffolk County Vector Control
reports that the materials and techniques they use are thoroughly reviewed
by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and Suffolk County in order to
minimize adverse impacts on fish and wildlife species or groundwater.

For general information on West Nile virus, contact your local
health department.  Information can also be obtained from the CDC, New York State or Suffolk County WNV web sites, or one of the park visitor centers.

For more information about Fire Island National Seashore’s mosquito
monitoring program, visit the park’s web site: www.nps.gov/fiis.