Welcome to the January edition of the LezCruise newsletter. We were too busy cruising (and recovering from cruising) to send out a newsletter in December, but we hope some of you were able to follow our virtual cruise.
In this issue we report on our recent cruise, give you some cruise info, and tell you about a less well known cruise line. In addition, we're introducing a modification to our LezPoints program.
Report on Our December Crystal Cruise
7-night Western Caribbean on the Crystal Serenity
In December, we sailed for the first time on Crystal
, and had a fabulous time. The ship was beautiful, the food was astoundingly good - best either of us has ever had on a cruise ship - and our stateroom was lovely. We didn't realize until we got home how much we loved the shower. It had a removable shower head that also moved up and down so tall Mary and shorter Lis could each adjust it to the perfect height. The water pressure was excellent and we loved the big 4 oz. bottles of Aveda shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and lotion. Well, when I say we, I mean me, Lis. I'm all about the bath amenities.
We plan to post a succinct review soon, but for the full long story, you can read our Virtual Cruise Blog
. We also brought home menus and daily activity guides and are happy to share with anyone who's interested.
And if you're enticed, remember we still have space and special amenities on a Crystal Mexican Riviera sailing leaving Los Angeles on February 25.
Cruising 101 - Formal Night
How to make it through
The statistics we gather when you register on our web site tell us that many of you have never cruised before. So we thought it might be helpful to run a series of articles addressing the questions we had the first time we cruised. Our biggest worry? Formal night. Some people love to dress up, and do it well. We're learning to enjoy it actually, but I kind of doubt that we do it well. However, we've learned how to fit in on a cruise ship. Now, not all cruise ships have a formal night, or even a dress code, but many do and here's how we handled it our first couple of cruises: Cruise 1 - order room service on Formal Night. Do not venture out of the room under any circumstances. Cruise 2 - Eat in the alternative restaurant. Look at all the ladies and think, "Hmmm. All it takes is something sparkly. I MIGHT be able to do that." Cruise 3 - Buy an outfit for formal night!!!
Let me backup a little, though. For those first 2 cruises we still had to dress up, certainly more than the pajamas we sometimes wear to dinner at home. (The other night, we almost went to a restaurant with Mary still in her pajamas - luckily we noticed just as she was getting in to the car.) What we did was buy a few skirts. The best were the reversible skirts we got at Nordstrom. We each bought one, so between the two of us we had four skirts. I also bought a black skirt and black pants and a black top at Chico's. If you haven't discovered Chico's and you are not a hot young thing, you really should check it out. Their clothes are extremely comfortable and surprisingly flattering for someone whose weight is no longer what it was when she was a cross-country runner. Also the sizes are 1,2, and 3, so you can pretend you are really tiny. A couple black and white v-neck t-shirts and a black sweater for me and I was set. Certainly not the most creative or stylish dresser on the ship but as far as I know no one pointed at me and said, "Look at THAT inappropriate clothing!"
In anticipation of formal night, we went to that bastion of high fashion, Sears, and bought REALLY CHEAP sparkly clothing. Mary bought a dress and I bought a top to go along with my black skirt. My top was not just REALLY CHEAP, but REALLY REALLY CHEAP. The sparkles rained down onto my body and the floor every time I took the scratchy blouse off and I had to shower before climbing into bed after formal night was done. But, dressed up with some nice inexpensive jewelry loaned to us by a friend who has more fashion sense than us, we fit in just fine on formal night. And it was totally worth going to the dining room for the amazing chateaubriand.
We have a special section in our closet for cruise clothes, and we really don't wear them any other time, but we've come to love packing our cruise clothes, unpacking them on the ship and picking out what combination we will wear each evening. It's so easy now, it's practically GarAnimals!
Norwegian Coastal Voyage
Not your average cruise line
Another thing we've decided to do in this newsletter is introduce you to some of the smaller, less well-known cruise lines that we are really interested in. This month we've chosen Norwegian Coastal Voyage
, not to be confused with Norwegian Cruise Lines - very different experiences! One of the things we don't particularly like about cruising is that we never really get a feel for the countries we visit on a cruise. Big cruise ships visit big ports which have been "Americanized" or "touristized" for cruise ship passengers. It's not very easy to get a true sense of the country you are visiting.
Norwegian Coastal Voyage is a cruiseline where this is not an issue. Their tagline is "The World's Most Beautiful Voyage" and they travel weekly along Norway's 1,250 mile west coast, stopping at 34 ports of call between Bergen and Kirkenes. What makes them very different from most cruise ships is that they are both a cruise ship and a working cargo ship. At each of the 34 ports they load and unload cargo. Also some of those stop are during the middle of the night, so if you want to see all 34 ports of call you either need to never sleep or take the complete roundtrip voyage that begins and ends in Bergen. Otherwise you can choose the Voyage North from Bergen to Kirkenes or the Voyage South from Kirkenes to Bergen. The ports that are visited in the middle of the night in one direction are visited during the day when sailing in the other direction.
This is not a luxury cruise line and neither is it a cruise line with lots of activities. The ships have a fitness room, a sauna, and some have a jacuzzi, but there is no rock-climbing wall, no broadway shows in the evenings. The draw here is the scenery, which is breathtaking. Most people want to visit Norway in the spring when the days are very long. This is when Lis' father and his wife took a NCV cruise and they came back excited and ready to go again in the opposite direction. Lately, Norwegian Coastal Voyage has begun promoting winter cruises, which are less expensive than other times of the year. They have some special theme cruises - some in search of Northern Lights and one that ends with 2 nights at the Northern Lights Festival in Tromso. Two interesting 2007 theme cruises are one which offers classes in Watercolors and art to all on board and one called Choirs at Sea. On this cruise, interested passengers work with a choir-master to form a choir that performs at the end of the cruise for the rest of the passengers.
We're very interested in Norwegian Coastal Voyage and are thinking of putting a group together for 2008. The Northern Lights voyages particularly interested us but when we talked with Lis's father he said he wouldn't want to go in the winter because it would be cold and dark for most of the day. Then, on our Crystal cruise, we talked with an American woman who has lived in Bergen for the last 3 years. She said she would rather cruise in the winter. She described the light in winter as magical and said there are beautiful lights all over Norway, plus the chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
To give you an example of pricing, the Northern Voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes starts at $2895 per person in a double cabin. This price includes RT airfare from New York, 6 nights on the ship, 1 night's accomodation and breakfast in Bergen prior to the cruise, a domestic flight from Kirkenes to Oslo at the end of the cruise and 1 night's accomodation and breakfast in Oslo at the end of the cruise.
New Caribbean and Alaska cruises
The two most recent cruises posted at LezCruise are a 10-night Caribbean on Crystal Serenity in December of 2007, posted by a couple of lovely ladies that we met on our recent cruise, and a 7-night Alaska on NCL's brand new Pearl in May of 2007, hosted by our friends Pam and Elise at 2 Girls Travel
LezPoints 4th Quarter winner
This quarter's winner - Idgie
Our fourth quarter user with the most points was Idgie, who won her Amazon gift certificate for posting to our user forums and posting her most excellent review of her cruise on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas. Congratulations Idgie!
We introduced the LezPoints program in September in an attempt to bribe you to post reviews, cruises, and messages to the LezCruise web site. With this program, we award a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate each quarter to the user who has accrued the most points. So far, the program hasn't been a rousing success in terms of increasing user participation, and that's okay. We are world-class lurkers ourselves on all the other web sites we visit, so we certainly can't expect you all to be constantly posting to the LezCruise web site.
However, we have decided, just for the purposes of our bank account, to now require a user to earn a minimum of 15 points in order to win the gift certificate. That means that if no one has earned 15 points in a quarter, we don't have to fork out for the gift certificate!
By the way, a really easy way to earn points is to post a new cruise on our web site - one that you are either going on or interested in. And that's really what our site is about - helping women find cruises that other women are on.
So if you've scheduled a cruise and you'd like other lesbians to join you, post the cruise and earn 5 LezPoints! Or mark yourself as booked on or interested in an existing cruise and earn 2 points.