When life gives you a lockdown, it’s time to escape with a little virtual travel! In real life, you’d be packing bags, but all you need right now is a tablet or laptop, and this collection of links to be an Armchair Traveler.
It’s time to trade that armchair in for a deck chair!
We love setting sail through blue waters to foreign shores! Whether we’re exploring the ship on a sea day, experiencing a new port, or enjoying landside excursions, you’ll see a smile on our face. In short: Any day on a cruise beats a day at a desk. (And here’s why!)
But what if you can’t get to a ship, let alone on one sailing through, say, the Mediterranean Sea? Never fear, mates! All you need is a laptop and these handy links we’ve been curating. From virtual daily agendas and “shipboard” activities, to special events and destination videos, cruise lines have been working hard to keep your sea legs in shape.
We’ll continue to scan the horizon from our cyber crow’s nest, and add new ports to this list as we find them. In the meantime, grab your beach towel and deck chair, and enjoy the Cruise Life at Home!
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Choose Fun
Quick question: Are we the only ones who break into the giggles every time we see Shaq’s commercials for “the Fun Ships”? Just us?
Admittedly, many of the videos on Carnival’s You Tube channel are little more than glorified commercials. But, you know what? A lot of them actually are fun! Our favorite series is called Island Hoppers, a collaboration between Carnival and Thrillist, with James Van de Beek. It has very little to do with actual Virtual Travel: It’s kind of a game show to find the next headline comic. As you might expect, fun ensues.
We’ll rate Carnival low on the actual travel part of Virtual Travel, but they are “The Fun Ships” for a reason!
Crystal @ Home
Cruising is not just about the ports of call. Yes, those distant destinations are a major factor in deciding what cruise to take, but the shipboard experience includes entertainment, enrichment, and at least a pinch of pampering.
Crystal @ Home isn’t just sharing videos from their ports of call, they want to bring the wide range of shipboard experiences to us at home, Thirsty Thursdays, included! The cruise line is collecting videos, podcasts, blog posts, and excursions to their Facebook page in a series of weekly segments. Storyteller Monday features downloadable podcast episodes. Wellness Wednesday features Crystal’s certified fitness instructors. Thirsty Thursday spotlights cocktails from the cruise line’s lounges. Friday Nights at the Galaxy takes you to Facebook and showcases the talents of Crystal’s onboard performers. Our favorite feature is Sail Away Saturday, with guest photos and videos from the #CrystalFamily. Finally, Sunday is for cooking culinary partner Chef John Ashton. (If you want to cook along, visit The Pantry every Tuesday to prep.)
Worth noting: When Crystal’s ships are sailing, the Live Views are well worth tuning into for more sailing fun.
Linblad’s Virtual Expedition
Linblad is well known for their expeditions around the world. So what do they do when they can’t get out and…expedition? They “bridge the distance” with Virtual Expeditions. Daily programs feature video segments that include morning Wake Up Calls, activities, tips, recipes, and Virtual Guest Slideshows. There are also kids’ activities and wellness moments to get you up and out of that armchair.
Ocean View gets included here as a product of Carnival Cruise Lines, the home company for Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Costa, P&O, Cunard, Aida, and Seabourn. If you’ve taken one of their cruises recently, you were probably introduced to Ocean View, either on the TV in your cabin, or on the MedallionClass App, if you sailed with Princess.
Carnival has sponsored and/or produced a variety of television and web shows that they call Ocean Originals. You’ll see some of the shows on ABC and NBC television networks in the USA. That would include Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin, Vacation Creation, and The Voyager with Josh Garcia. Those shows are available to stream on the app and at Ocean.com anytime, plus several more. Two of our favorites: Local Eyes® shows you destinations through, you guessed it, the eyes of a local. GO.™ follows artist and explorer Trek Thunder Kelly in search of his next exotic destination.
You can download the MedallionClass app at the Play Store and Apple App Store.
Princess @ Home
No, this isn’t the time to make Princess your home. But, if you’re really missing that cruise life, you can bring a bit of Princess to your Stay At Home world! The crew and company are posting videos to the Princess You Tube channel using the hashtag #PrincessAtHome. (Warning: Several other people use the hashtag here and there, too, so you’ll get everything from princess parties to wannabe music videos.) You can get cooking classes from the Chefs, kids activities like Storytime with Stanley, music performances, and “Day in the Life” videos from the crew. You’ll also find ship and destination videos on the main Princess Cruises channel. And, if you subscribe to Princess’ newsletter, you’ll get special Princess at Home newsletters with recipes, news, and more videos.
One more Special Mention: Bridge Cams! You can get the Captain’s Eye View from any of the Princess ships. Admittedly, it’s more exciting when they’re pulling into port rather than sitting through No Sail orders.
Tahiti 360 by Paul Gauguin
Been dreaming of taking an iconic Paul Gauguin Cruises around Tahiti? Us too! Even though most of us won’t get to take that getaway in the near future, regardless of raging global pandemics, we can all take that Virtual Cruise! Paul Gauguin has a collection of 360-degree, interactive videos on Experience Tahiti 360. To make the most of it, you might want to download the Tahiti 360 app, but you can enjoy the videos on the web, also. The short videos include many aspects of the cruise experience, from room tours to excursions, in the air, on land, and underwater.
Viking has a full slate of daily programming geared for guests and Armchair Travelers on their own web series, VikingTV. Livestreams run several times daily, with different guests and hosts each day, along with weekly theme shows. Our favorite? Friday at Home at Highclere Castle. Because who doesn’t want to start every weekend in a castle?
Virtual of the Seas
Royal Caribbean Cruise Director Abe Hughes is at the helm of Virtual of the Seas – the virtual vessel delivering a daily dose of Cruise Life with the Daily Compass, Royal Caribbean’s onboard newsletter. His Facebook Live updates include Royal Caribbean trivia, signature recipes, and cruise activities you can do at home.
Cruise Ship Tours
Whenever we book a cruise, much time and attention is spent deciding on which ship to sail on. Amenities and features can really add to a cruise, especially when there are several sea days. Since we typically take some time on every cruise to explore the ship, it makes sense to include that activity in our Virtual Cruising!
One of the best collections of cruise ship tours that we’ve seen is at Talking Cruise. Their collection spans several major cruise lines popular in America, though it does focus just on big ships. If you’re thinking about a cruise, want to see what you might have missed on your last cruise, or just enjoy poking around the boat, this channel is for you! (Note: the have plenty of Sail Away and travel tip videos, too.)
The Final Touch
No cruise is complete without some clever towel animal art from housekeeping! Admit it, you look forward to seeing what they come up with next as much as the next cabin. You’ve no doubt asked yourself, “How did they do that?”
This is how! The Cruise Director and Housekeeping staff from Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Vasco de Gamma happily demonstrate How to Make Towel Animals. What better way to spend any quarantine time than learning a useful – or at least fun – new skill?
A Note from the Bridge
We hope you’ve enjoyed these Virtual Travels and feel just a bit of the Cruise Life. We will keep looking for more from the cruise lines, and may expand to include some passenger videos. If you’d like to help, feel free to drop a link to any Virtual Travel resources you’ve found!
If you liked these Virtual Cruise diversions, check back frequently for updates. Don’t forget to sign up for our emails to find out when new editions of the Armchair Traveler are posted.
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Thanks for reading along.