Monday, February 28, 2011

Shore Excursions

Now that the cruise is a month away, it's time to start planning your shore excursions - if you haven't already.

First - Be safe, travel with a group. We have two days together on the ship before we reach our first island, if you don't want to go on an official excursion find a new friend to go with to the beach or to explore the shops and sights.

When picking out a shore excursion - read the descriptions carefully.  Are you going to spend 4 hours of your day traveling in a bus? Is the excursion a physically challenging one.  Are there weight or age restrictions?  There may be several different options for one attraction, like the waterfalls in Jamaica - you can climb the waterfall or take an optional tour that doesn't involve the climbing.

Use online resources to learn more about your top picks. To read reviews and tips on shore excursions I like to check out the Cruise Critics' forum.

Another tip - check out youtube or flickr for excursion you are interested in - people post videos and photos from their cruises all the time and it might help you to decide if an excursion is right for you.  Just type in what you are looking for like: 'Dunns Waterfall Jamaica' or 'snorkeling in Cozumel'.

Port Highlights - click on the links below to read about each port and view the excursions.

Editors' pick: snorkeling or spending the day on the beach at Chankanaab.

Grand Cayman
Editor's pick: the turtle farm - you get to hold baby sea turtles! Don't forget to pick up some rum cake from the island - this is where it is made!

Falmouth, Jamaica
Editor's pick: Dunns River Falls - there are a few different excursions, some more strenuous than others for the falls.  This is the highlight of the island.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Featured Sponsor: Artbeads

If you haven't shopped with, I want to encourage you check out this awesome online shop.  And if you have shopped with them, you know they offer great deals, interesting finds and super fast shipping.
I love the Artbeads website and all the inspiration they offer to their customers. In the Learning Center you'll find trends, color palettes, projects, business resources and more. The also have a lively blog and facebook community.  Be sure to visit the Fashion Trends section featuring visual inspiration for what's current in the industry.   

Enjoy 10% off your next purchase from
Coupon Code: ZZ-MEMBER
Expires: 7/31/2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Formal Nights

If this is your first cruise the formal night attire may be on your mind.

What is formal?  Well, on Royal Caribbean you'll find there is a huge variation in what is worn that night.  My rule of thumb - if you could wear it to a wedding, it's formal enough.  Now this is one of the few times you could pull out the sequins or put in some extra hours in your favorite cocktail dress, so if you want to go all out and dress to the nines - this is your chance!

Some things to keep in mind:

We always have a group photo taken on the first formal night, which is the first full day at sea.

On a 7 night cruise there are 2 formal nights.

Wear shoes that are dressy but still comfortable - there is a lot of walking on the ship and you don't want to ruin the fun with painful shoes.

For whatever reason, I guess because cruise lines think cowboys rule Texas, cruises sailing out of Galveston have a more relaxed dress code.  So don't stress about what to wear!

And finally, on formal night - we'll be more interested in your jewelry than your outfit!

(Touch of Russian Elegance Necklace by Beverly Herman - tutorial available in her Etsy shop.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spa Hints

So what's the spa all about on the cruise?  The spa on the Royal Caribbean ships are a little oasis of pampering and relaxation during your tropical vacation.  I love enjoying a day at the spa with my mom while we are on the cruise.  It's such a wonderful experience to sit for a few hours and just have some rare 'me' time.

Don't schedule your spa appointments during our class times - you'll receive a complete schedule when you sign-in with our group on the first afternoon of our cruise. 

Be aware that spa treatments are a separate cost. You can book your appointment once you are onboard.  If you want your hair or nails done for the formal night, book those times as soon as possible.

Here are 5 hints for getting the most out of your spa visit:

1. Schedule a spa appointment during one of our port days.  There are always special deals on those days, you'll have more information delivered to your stateroom about the spa specials while onboard.

2. Enjoy the complimentary sauna and lounge area in the spa.

3. Take a Pathways to Yoga class to get your zen on. 

4. Don't feel pressured to purchase extra items or packages, cruises always try to up-sell.

5. After your spa treatment head to the solarium to sit in the hot tub and then indulge in a tropical drink - complete with umbrella!

Want more details:
Spa Treatments
Fitness Center Information

(Photo credit: The Exo Guy via the creative commons on Flickr)

Friday, February 18, 2011

10 Minutes on a Tropical Island

Need a few minutes on your own private island?

Maybe you just need a break from the snow or  you're dreaming about joining us on our next trip - here is a tiny slice of heaven for you.

Bring your own beer and lime wedges!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Featured Sponsor: Genea Beads

This week's sponsor is Genea Beads.  Bead artist Genea Crivello-Knable offers lampwork beads and soldered components in fun and colorful designs.  Genea  is a mixed media artist who designs jewelry along with creating her unique beads.

Genea's beads are featured in the Spring issue of Stringing magazine.  To see more ideas using her beads, visit her Etsy shop.

"My passion is working glass with fire and creating mixed-media pieces.I love using bright colors, texture, shape, and many different mediums all combined together to create pieces that enhance all of the senses. I love creating pieces that are asymmetrical and intricate so there is a treasure to be discovered in every inch of my work. I use my handmade beads, soldered charms, leather, fibers, metal, rubber and other elements to create my jewelry." - Genea

Get to Know Genea:
Visit her website.
Stop by her blog.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Enjoying Your Vacation

Life onboard a cruise can be enjoyed in so many ways.  For some that includes mixing it up right in the middle of the dances and parties onboard.  For others that will mean spending as much time as possible soaking up rays on the deck, a good book in hand.  There are those who live for the night life; enjoying drinks with friends, watching the shows and having fun in the casino.

For some of us a little of all the above sounds like the perfect trip!  You'll have free time to enjoy whatever you are most interested in during your cruise.  I know for some of you, finally having the time to bead with friends is all you are looking forward to doing on the ship!

For me, my favorite moments are quiet times with friends and family.

Explore the ship with a friend.

Check out upper decks for beautiful views and catch a sunset.

Enjoy the hot tub in the solarium.

Treat yourself to a mini-session in the spa.

Watch the stars late at night on your balcony or on the upper decks.

Visit the piano bar at the end of the evening for a night cap.

What are you most looking forward to about our next cruise?

(Photo credit: Richard SB via the Flickr creative commons and enhanced through Picnik.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Starfish Pendant Free Tutorial

Here is a fun and easy example of a pendant that would be perfect for our Handcrafted Pendant Swap.  Pair up an art bead pendant, like the starfish here, with a cluster of crystal accents and a cute charm. 

To create the wire-wrapped bail:
1. Cut a 5" length of 20 gauge wire and insert it into the pendant.
2. Leave a 2" tail on the back and create a loop, wrap the wire around the loop 2 times, trim excess wire and use flat nose pliers to tuck the end of the wire into the wrap. 
3. With the other end of the wire continue wrapping under the loop, moving the wire up and down as your wrap it to create a random texture.

4. Attach the starfish and the pendant to a 15mm jump ring. 
5. Attach a 10mm etched jump ring with a 7.5mm jump ring.
6. To create the dangles use a 3" headpin and create a wrapped loop, continue wrapping the wire under the loop using the rest of the wire.  I used 6 dangles for this project. Use small jump rings to attach the dangles to the 7.5mm jump ring.  
7. Add a 10mm etched jump ring for the ribbon.

Starfish beads can be found here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cruise Drinks De-Mystified

Here are some drink tips for 1st time cruisers.

Free drinks: ice tea, hot tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juice and non-bottled water.

Soda: You can pay per soda or buy an unlimited soda card for the week.

Alcoholic Beverages - You'll pay for these* and they do add up quickly!

*Except at our Cocktail Party - drinks are free for that hour for Bead Cruise participants.

More Drink Tips:

Treat yourself to the drink of the day and you'll get a souvenir glass to go with it.

The cruise ship sells bottled water when you are getting off the ship to go to the islands or bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up in your room before you leave for the day. 

(Photo credit: Kanaka Menehue via Flickr's creative commons)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sponsor of the Week: Sue Beads

1. How long have you been making beads and is this your full-time job?

As of right now, yes, this is my full-time job. I learned to make beads about 6 years ago at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and have been selling them for about 5 years now. I started on ebay. I don't sell there anymore, but I sell on my web site ( and on etsy ( I also have a blog ( where you can see my new creations!

2. What are some of your inspirations when you create?

I tend to make earthy-type beads, but I have been known to be inspired by flowers, jewelry I see in catalogs, and dreams I have! Other artists also inspire me to go outside my comfort zone at times!

3. Do you have any tips for buying handmade glass beads?

Buying lampwork beads from china means you will not get kiln-annealed beads. These beads will eventually crack and/or explode. They are cheaper than artisan beads, but you get what you pay for! Buying beads from artisans who tell you they kiln-anneal their beads will mean you get genuine hand-made beads that have been properly heat treated in a kiln. You also want to make sure your dimples (the holes in the beads) are not sharp or pointy, they should be smooth. You should check your beads to make sure they are not wonky - that they are even all around and do not look pregnant on one end!

4. What is your favorite vacation spot and do you take beads to play with when you go on vacation?

Any island that is warmer than here is my favorite place! I do not usually take beads along, because all I want to do is read and lay in the sun and drink fruity drinks! If I brought beads, they would distract me from my main pursuits!

(Photo credit: all images from SueBeads)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beads on the Beach Shore Excursion

Well, maybe it should be called "Beaders on the Beach"!  I'm not sure if you will want to bring beads and miss out on all the beauty that can found at Chankanaab State Park.  This is where we will host our optional group shore excursion in Cozumel on the next Bead Cruise.

Enjoy the gardens, beach and more at the park.  There will be time for snorkeling for the adventurous. Cozumel is renowned for it's snorkeling and coral reefs.  The snorkeling is optional.  Walk along the beach or sit under a cabana.  The views here are spectacular.  For an extra fee you can swim with the dolphins! 

After snorkeling enjoy lunch in the restaurant on the beach.  You could also bring beads to play with, if you really can't go a day without them.  The friendly waitstaff will be happy to serve you drinks in a coconut. 

We'll finish this excursion with a little shopping near the pier. 

If you'd like to sign up for the Beads on the Beach shore excursion email our travel agent for more information.  The excursion is a private event for our Bead Cruise participants only.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Faux Patina Pendant Tutorial

Last year on the Bead Cruise I did a make-and-take using Vintaj altered blanks to create faux patina pendants.  Here are the directions.

Vintaj blanks
Rubber stamps
StazOn Ink Pad
Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabbers (Stream, Juniper, Lettuce and Pebble)
Renaissance Wax

1. Dab on the paint lightly, wipe the excess with a tissue.  You can wait for this coat to dry or dab on another one for a mixed paint effect.

2. Stamp with StazOn ink pad and rubber stamp.

3. After the pendant is completely dry, use a tissue to wipe on a thin coat of wax.  Let dry completely.  If you don't have wax you could use Matte Spray.

This example was domed first with a dapping block and punch.  Use an unmounted rubber stamp for domed pieces.

You can use domed pieces turned over as a bezel cup for trinkets and resin. 
1. Paint.  2. Stamp. 3. Add resin, 1/2 way.  Cure.  4. Add trinkets and more resin.  Cure again.

Part 1. Here is the link, in case you can't see the video.

Part 2. And the link.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

8 Ways to Have More Fun on Bead Cruise 2011

We have 8 spaces left - will you be one of the lucky ones to join us? 

Sign up today at

8 Ways to Have More Fun on Bead Cruise 2011
  1. Create a pendant for our pendant swap.
  2. Join in our design challenge onboard.
  3. Bead on the deck with other Bead Cruisers - drinks brought to your table - even better!
  4. Visit us in the evening for demos with the instructors.
  5. Enjoy a day of Beads on the Beach in Cozumel with us - this is our private group excursion.
  6. Make friends with your dinner tablemates, which are all Bead Cruise participants. 
  7. Mingle with your fellow bead obsessed buddies at our cocktail party.
  8. Join in the ship's nightlife - take in a show, visit the casino or attend one the parties on the deck. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sponsor of the Week: Vintaj

We are proud to have Vintaj as a Bead Cruise sponsor for 2011.  Vintaj is the source for natural brass findings, filigree and embellishments.  They also have a beautiful collection of Arte Metal findings in a black metal finish.  They have charms and pendants for any project or theme you can think up. 

Check out this cute project they have on their site - perfect for a cruise, don't you think?