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Bon Voyage – welcome yourself aboard

Bon Voyage – Welcome Yourself AboardNo matter how often you cruise, there is something special about boarding the ship. Wouldn t it be nice to make that initial entry onboard extra special?

Imagine how it would feel to open your cabin door and be greeted with a beautiful bouquet of flowers or an iced bottle of champagne. If there is no bon voyage party or no one to send you off, it s not a problem. You can welcome yourself aboard.

Pre-cruise shopping

All cruise lines have an onboard gift shop with a variety of merchandise at all price points. You can purchase items online to be delivered to your stateroom that will make you and your fellow travelers feel welcome. You can choose from standard fare, such as: flower arrangements, fruit baskets, an array of cheeses, snack packages, champagne, beer, or wines. If you want to get creative, the sky is the limit. Most cruise lines offer specific bon voyage packages. For example, Holland America will provide sparkling wine, a balloon, and a ribbon for $31. Almost all the cruise lines will decorate your room, with costs averaging $35 and $49 for a bon voyage theme. If you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary or this is a romantic getaway, there s a decoration package for you.

If you would like to treat someone in your party, you can purchase gift cards for spa services, specialty restaurants, and drink packages.

Traveling with children and teens

What a fun way for kids and teens to be welcomed onboard with a special something waiting in their cabin. You will find no shortage of clever gifts for your young travel companions. Disney has an array of branded merchandise with Star Wars and Frozen themes while Carnival offers a full range of Seuss at Sea items. Cabin decorations are available with special d cor targeted to children and teens. Other packages will help your kids feel right at home with all the cruise accessories they ll need onboard. Disney has a Mickey cruise kids package including a backpack, character themed sun glasses, water bottle, and more — and Celebrity offers an X-Club Backpack, Visor, Wallet, or Laniard and Key Chain. Carnival and Royal Caribbean offer beach packages that can include anything from sandals, towels, and tote bags to beach games.

Disney offers cleverly packaged bon voyage edibles for kids (or the kid in you), such as Rice Krispy treats in the shapes of Mickey Mouse, a life buoy and sandals, Frozen cookie treats, or a milk chocolate pirate ship.


Signature gifts with the cruise line logo as well as travel-themed towels, totes, robes, and slippers are both festive and useful for your cruise. If you are celebrating a special milestone and have something unique in mind, contact the cruise line directly. They re often willing to work with you. Something as simple as water packs, insulated water bottles, and coolers are welcome items that you will need during your cruise. Carnival offers a Chill Out Water Package with a portable cooler and water bottles for $36.00. Traveling with a special someone? You ll find an abundance of romance packages that often include sparking beverages, robes, chocolates, and flowers.

You can give yourself a special welcome onboard for as little as $25 to $45. What a fun thing to add to your holiday at sea experience.

Official 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang package changes

Detail of the 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang had already been shared in February, although this was not official. However, Ford have deiced to release the official details of the changes, and everything that was shared was spot on, so we thought we would go over those package changes. Ford will now allow their customers to build their 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang cars the way they want to, and the changes that are now available to them do make for some impressive improvements. One of the main benefits with the 2017 model are the performance goodies. Before you had to purchase the Track Package in order to get extras such as MagneRide active dampers, aluminum strut tower brace, rear decklid spoiler and extra coolers was optional. However, all of these features now come as standard.

Official 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang Package Changes

Now buyers are able to opt for the Technology package knowing that they can also enjoy all those features above. The Technology package has also seen changes, as it is now called the Electronics Package instead. So in this new package you now get Sync 3, along with a 9-speaker audio system and navigation. The Convenience Package offers the same as the Electronics Package, but also adds leather power-adjustable sport seats. It s not just changes to the package that Ford have worked on with the 2017 Shelby GT350 Mustang improvements, as there are also new colors that include Grabber Blue, Lightning Blue and Ruby Red Metallic. Sadly, Deep Impact Blue and Competition Orange are no longer an option. For full details please visit Ford1.

Also See: Ford F150 facelift changes may reveal Expedition update2


  1. ^ Ford (
  2. ^ Ford F150 facelift changes may reveal Expedition update (

Ordering Flowers Online: Do the Pictures Match What You Get?

Mother s Day1 is near, and if you re like a lot of people, flowers are your go-to gift. More money is spent on bouquets around mom s special day (about ?2.4 billion last year, according to a National Retail Federation2 survey) than on Valentine s Day3 ( ?2.1 billion).

And more and more of us are ordering our Mother s Day flowers online4. Low prices and convenience are the lure: Virtual flower shops can keep prices down because their website is their storefront, and their flowers are often delivered from central warehouses. (Many of them also keep a portion of the sales placed through their websites that they pass on to local florists.) As a result, revenue for online florists has been growing 2.5 percent annually in the past five years as revenue for walk-in flower shops has dropped by 1.2 percent each year during the same time period, according to market research by IBISWorld5. Ordering flowers online also makes it easy to see a wide variety of bouquet choices. The photos on these sites are lovely: Lush arrangements of fresh flowers in full bloom, expertly styled. The only thing you can t do is take a deep sniff. But how can you know how the photo compares with the arrangement that actually shows up at mom s door? To find out, we ordered similarly composed and priced multicolor long-stem roses as well as mixed-flower bouquets from three popular online sites: 1-800-Flowers6, FTD7, and ProFlowers8. We selected arrangements that were supposed to be delivered in boxes (which usually means they re sent from a central warehouse), representing what many consumers might receive during one of the industry s busiest times of year. Flowers that arrive in a vase are usually arranged by a local florist.

All six bouquets were delivered on Feb. 11, close to Valentine s Day, to match the high-demand Mother s Day moment as much as possible.

Learn how to keep flowers fresh.

When the mixed-flower arrangements arrived, we were surprised to find the ones from ProFlowers and FTD were in a vase. As a result, we didn t include the mixed flowers in our survey because the arrangements represented only what people near our office in Yonkers, N.Y., might receive.

We took pictures of the three bunches of roses in our photo studio. Then we asked 77 staff volunteers to inspect the arrangements and choose which ones they thought represented the best and worst quality, all under the supervision of our lab experts. We followed with an online survey of 162 staffers who were shown the flowers online pictures (we didn t identify the websites) next to photos of the roses that were delivered, and asked how similar they were on a scale of one (not at all similar) to five (extremely alike). FTD roses got the best scores; staffers liked the ProFlowers bunch the least.

Do you use an online flower service?

Tell us about your experience in the comments below.


Ordering Flowers Online: Do The Pictures Match What You Get?

On the left is the photo of the roses we ordered from the ProFlowers website; on the right are the flowers we received. ProFlowers (which was acquired by FTD in December 2014) says on its website that its flowers are hand-picked in fields and sent directly to your door. In our sample of a dozen roses, however, only five were intact. Almost all of our panelists who rated them in person (97 percent) said they represented the lowest-quality bunch. When we asked in our survey how similar the arrangement was to its online photo, 96 percent gave it a 1 out of 5, or a poor rating. When we called ProFlowers to complain, a customer-service10 rep apologized and sent us another bunch of roses the next day at no additional charge. The replacement roses were full and intact.

Total price: ?56.48
( ?34.97, plus ?12.99 for shipping, ?5.53 for tax, and ?2.99 for care and handling”)


Ordering Flowers Online: Do The Pictures Match What You Get?

The FTD roses received the best scores from our survey panelists: 95 percent of those who rated them in person said they represented the best quality of the three rose bouquets we ordered. Sixteen percent of the folks who took our online survey said they were extremely similar to the online picture (on the left); another 36 percent gave them a 4 out of 5.

Total price: ?76.01
( ?49.99, plus ?18.99 for shipping and ?7.03 for tax)


Ordering Flowers Online: Do The Pictures Match What You Get?

The roses from 1-800-Flowers arrived in fine shape, but our survey panelists were less wowed by them than the FTD roses. When judging how similar our delivery (on the right) was to the flowers online photo (on the left), 37 percent of our staffers gave them a good rating (3); 37 percent rated them fair (2). Only three of the 77 people who looked them over in person thought they represented the best quality among our rose bouquets. Only two said they were the lowest quality.

Total price: ?65.01
( ?44.99, plus ?14.99 for shipping and ?5.03 for tax)

Smart Shopping Tips

If you ll be ordering a bouquet for mom online, keep this advice in mind:

Go to online flower-delivery websites a few times before you order. We were offered additional price cuts and coupons the more we clicked on the sites.

Don t forget to factor shipping and taxes into your total cost. Our shipping fees ranged from ?12.99 to ?18.99 for a dozen roses.

Consider having your arrangement arrive a few days before a major holiday. You could save some additional money. Delivery costs escalate in the days leading up to Valentine s Day, as they probably will around Mother s Day.

Ask your mom about the flowers sent. (She may not want to complain to you, or she may just be glad you thought of her.) But if you suspect there was a problem with the bouquet, ask for a photo. Call the company you ordered them from to complain if you or your mother is dissatisfied with a delivery. All three companies we ordered from will replace your flowers or refund your money if you re not satisfied. All three also provide the same options if their flowers don t last for seven days.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the May 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.


  1. ^ Mother s Day (
  2. ^ National Retail Federation (
  3. ^ Valentine s Day (
  4. ^ online (
  5. ^ IBISWorld (
  6. ^ 1-800-Flowers (
  7. ^ FTD (
  8. ^ ProFlowers (
  9. ^ how to keep flowers fresh (
  10. ^ customer-service (