Gratuities will no longer be added automatically on P&O Cruises
Gratuities have been a bone of contention for cruisers far and wide. Someone only has to mention the word on social media and the flood gates open.
So today’s announcement from P&O Cruises that the daily on board discretionary Service Charge will be removed across the fleet on cruises departing from May 2019, has been welcomed with open arms.
Guests will pay one set price which will include luxury accommodation, award-winning dining in a range of restaurants, complimentary children’s clubs and a wide choice of entertainment options including theatre shows, comedy and headline performers.
P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said: “We take huge pride in giving guests a holiday experience that’s truly memorable and special. By removing the daily discretionary Service Charge, P&O Cruises will make enjoying a cruise holiday an effortless experience, knowing that great service comes as standard.”
From May 2019 the daily discretionary service charge on board will be removed from the following cruises and all thereafter;
Oceana E911/A 2 May 2019
Azura A911 4 May 2019
Britannia B912 4 May 2019
Arcadia J903 5 May 2019
Ventura N910 5 May 2019
Oriana X907 11 May 2019
Aurora R907 13 May 2019
P&O Cruises Facebook page has already received 342 comments in two hours. Here are some of the cruise line’s responses;
Rest assured, our wonderful on board staff will not lose out
We will be making up any difference in wage to them.
We have listened to guest feedback regarding this
Cruises will not be going up as a result of this, please note we do operate fluid pricing, meaning they can go up or down at anytime due to demand and other reasons.
We do not plan to introduce any gratuity on our drinks on board.
On board spend should also remain the same across Select fare bookings (where applicable).
About P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises fleet of seven ships offer holidays tailored to British tastes. Their newest ship, Iona, a 180,000 ton LNG-powered ship is on order for delivery in 2020 with a similar ship on order for delivery in 2022.
Princess Cruises have announced today its fifth Royal-Class ship is going to be named Enchanted Princess.
The 143,700-tonne, 3,660-guest Enchanted Princess is scheduled to launch on the 15 June 2020. She will be sailing on a series of European voyages and will be a sister ship to Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Majestic Princess and Sky Princess (joining the fleet in October 2019).
Excited guests will soon be able to book sailings for Enchanted Princess’ maiden season, as they go on sale from 8 November 2018.
Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said: “The name Enchanted Princess is captivating and conveys the elegance and grace of our new ship which will introduce more travellers to the pleasures and value of cruising. We are certain Enchanted Princess will exceed the expectations of our guests, ensuring they have the most memorable cruise.”
There is more to come from Princess Cruises as Enchanted Princess will be followed by the debut of their sixth Royal-Class ship in 2021. The cruise line also has two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered ships on order to be delivered in late 2023 and spring 2025, bringing its new ship order to five ships in six years.
Construction of the new ship will take place in the Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard. Enchanted Princess is set to feature an evolution of the current Royal-Class design platform.
The Princess Cruises fleet currently consists of 17 modern cruise ships, sailing to over 380 destinations across all 7 continents.
Michael & Colin are Climbing 6189m to raise funds for Reubens Retreat
Michael English (Celebrity Cruises) and Colin Jones (Royal Caribbean International) are setting out on an incredible expedition that will be the biggest mental and physical challenge the pair have ever faced. Michael and Colin’s 15 Day Expedition to Stok Kangri will be their personal best reaching the summit.
Their training started back in January and has included climbing Snowdon four times, Ben Nevis once, Winter Survival Training and 100km walk. They are both now on final countdown to their summit attempt.
Snowdon 1089m v Stok Kangri 6189m
“Provided we get the right weather and our acclimations goes to plans Team RCL UK will summit Stok Kangri @ 6189m the morning 7th September and raise a Royal and Celebrity flag. This will be highest mountain climbed for Reuben.” said Michael.
Stok Kangri is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas, the journey to the summit is 15 days, their summit day will be a gruelling 14hrs to reach the summit.
Michael said “Colin and myself would love it if you could share this on your Facebook and Twitter accounts to get as much sponsorship for Reuben’s Retreat as possible.
We will be posting while we are away and you can follow our journey via facebook/instragram. This is Celebrity Cruises chosen charity and one which is very personal to both of us and so many in the UK Travel Industry.”
About Reubens Retreat
On Friday 31st August 2012 Reuben’s family Mike, Nicola and Isaac Graham said their final goodbye to their gorgeous 23 month old son and little brother during a beautiful ceremony in their home village of Mottram 11 miles from Manchester.
Reuben had suffered an ATRT which is Atypical terratoid rhabdoid tumour, it is a very rare and aggressive form of Cancerous tumour, only 4 to 5 children will be diagnosed with this tumour in the UK per year and there are very few symptoms.
Despite the devastating grief that comes when a quarter of your family is gone, his brave and inspirational parents have set up a charity in his name, they plan to have a retreat in the north west countryside for children with life limiting and life threatening illnesses, with a bereavement support and counselling centre for Mummy’s, Daddy’s and Siblings who have lost their precious children. A place where families can take in the rolling hills and countryside, a place of comfort, peace and tranquillity, a place where memories can be built.
Princess Cruises Introduces Tea and Coffee Making Facilities in All Staterooms on UK-based ship
Princess Cruises has recently equipped the 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess with kettles and tea and coffee making facilities in all staterooms. As the main Princess ship sailing from the UK both this year and in 2019, the new amenities onboard will appeal to the British market and in particular their taste for tea.
Sapphire Princess underwent an extensive two-week refit earlier this year, which included the introduction of a new luxury bed in every stateroom. The new in-cabin tea and coffee making facilities will further enhance each room.
Guests on Sapphire Princess and all other Princess ships can also continue to order complimentary tea and coffee in their stateroom via the onboard 24hr room service.
Sapphire Princess is currently sailing roundtrip out of Southampton up to October 2018, followed by an April to October season in 2019. A variety of voyages are on offer, largely to the Mediterranean and northern Europe, as well as a 24-day Canada & New England voyage in 2019.
Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice president UK and Europe, said: “We fully appreciate how much Brits all enjoy drinking tea and coffee. While it’s still easy enough for guests to order complimentary hot drinks via room service or our onboard restaurants, introducing kettles will give them an extra coffee and tea-making option when it’s time to rise and shine or they’re sitting back and relaxing in their stateroom or balcony.”
Helen Mirren“I drink just as much tea when I’m in Los Angeles as I do when I’m in London. I take my tea bags with me wherever I go.”
Sydney Smith“Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea! How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.”
David Letterman“If it wasn’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsover.”
William Ewart Gladstone “If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.”
Sandra Bullock“I gave up coffee. It’s almost worse than giving up a lover.”
Bear Grylls “I was always brought up to have a cup of tea at halfway up a rock face.”
Lin Yutang“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson“Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”
Princess Cruises is offering an 11-night Canary Island Interlude cruise, roundtrip from Southampton, on Sapphire Princess from £999 per person with $100 free onboard spend. Departing Tuesday April 16, 2019, ports of call include Vigo (Spain), Funchal (Madeira), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain), Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), and Arrecife (Lanzarote). Click here for more details
It’s the last instalment of the Sassoli-Walkers bucket list cruise as they spend a day in Victoria, Canada before taking the train from Vancouver to Seattle.
Andrew’s photographs never fail to amaze and this cruise has certainly given him the platform to show his skills at their best. If you have enjoyed the first three blog posts, you are going to love Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 4 just as much.
Here it is in Andrew’s own words and pictures.
A visit to charming Victoria in Canada on our last evening onboard Emerald Princess which rounded off our Alaskan adventure very nicely indeed!
The cruise might be over, but for us we still have another day in Seattle followed by a 3 night stay in Vancouver.
So, normally a cruise comes to it’s conclusion and one disembarks with a tinge of sadness that it’s over. Not for us, as we decided on a one night stay in Seattle followed by a trip to Vancouver for a few days!
Instead of going to admire the view from the Space Needle, we opted for the Sky View Observatory at the Columbia Tower which happens to be the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest.
Whilst up there we had a grandstand view of Emerald Princess departing on another Alaskan cruise.
Another highlight of our adventure was taking the Amtrak Cascades train from Seattle to Vancouver.
Anyone familiar with the line between Exeter and Teignmouth will always be impressed when the line hugs the coast around Dawlish. Well this was the same but magnified to an phenomenal scale! We opted for business class which, was worth the extra as the train was packed solid. Certainly a trip I would wholeheartedly recommend!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about Andrew’s family cruise. Links to parts 1, 2 and 3 are below, in case you missed them.
Andrew has his own website and is available for professional photoshoots. Details can be found at solentphotographer.com
Celebrity Edge is poised to raise the bar on entertainment as well as modern luxury travel.
On Celebrity Edge, guests will experience the brand’s most technologically advanced main theatre, the most production shows of any ship in the brand’s history, the largest cast of world-class performers on any premium cruise ship, and more entertainment venues than ever before.
Introducing an Immersive Theatre Experience
The Theatre on Celebrity Edge throws away the curtain altogether, immersing guests in an entertainment experience like no other. With four stage areas and three gigantic, moving projection screens, The Theatre offers an ever-changing canvas for the productions.
The main stage extends into the audience creating a theatre-in-the-round. A rotating platform elevates almost seven feet above the stage to take performances to a whole new level. Two mesmerising rotating spiral staircases, 10 synchronised panoramic projection screens, 16 state-of-the-art video mapping laser projectors, aerial performance rigging, and more, the technology behind the scenes will, at times, steal the show.
At The Theatre, guests can enjoy five new full production shows, including:
A Hot Summer Night’s Dream, the Shakespeare-inspired show where light-hearted theatre meets extraordinary acrobatics;
The Jewelry Box, with its jaw-dropping technological feats;
Kaleidoscope, a high-energy music and dance extravaganza harnessing the stage’s state-of-the-art technology; and two shows as part of Celebrity Cruises’ new Headline Residency program –
Get Up, a dynamic pop concert produced by Black Skull Creative
The Purpose, an uplifting production designed to celebrate the inner self
Welcome To The Club
Brought to life once again in collaboration with the visionaries behind Celebrity Edge’s Eden – The Club on Celebrity Edge is a progressive space that changes its persona throughout the day and night.
During the day, The Club offers experiences such as the Funovation Laser Maze Challenge, the Drone Hunting laser obstacle course, and more.
At night, The Club undergoes yet another transformation. Undercover at The Club puts a contemporary spin on the Prohibition era with 20’s-inspired craft cocktails and an aerial saxophonist. The futuristic body scanner of Andromeda allows guests to become someone else for the evening. And Celebrity Cruises’ HypnoCam Experience is a first-at-sea dance party featuring a high-tech camera that’s passed around to capture photos, which are instantly displayed on a giant LED screen.
Never The Same Camp Twice
On Celebrity Edge, the brand takes its fully customisable Camp at Sea programme to the next level for younger travellers of all ages with more than 500 activities, including Celebrity Cruises’ first youth coding experience at sea, its innovative STEM programme, and two completely separate contemporary spaces, one for the kids and one for the teens.
Celebrity Cruises has infused entertainment throughout the ship. At the Rooftop Garden, guests can enjoy experiences such as the Rooftop Concert Series and the Garden Cinema Series, the next evolution of the brand’s Taste of Film experience that’s an under-the-stars movie experience with live musical performances.
The iconic Eden will feature evolving entertainment as the space transforms from a “chillful” escape in the mornings to “playful” in the afternoons to “sinful” at night. Daytime experiences include Meditation at Eden and performances from sitar players to aerialists. As dusk falls, Eve at Eden begins. Developed in partnership with Variety Worldwide, this theatrical journey will indulge every sense and put guests at the centre of the experience, for a fusion of culinary exploration, performance art and nightlife – like nothing else at sea, or even on land.
Oceania Cruises have announced a new chapter, OceaniaNEXT.
The world’s leading culinary- and destination-focused cruise line, Oceania Cruises are introducing dramatic enhancements to their fleet. This ambitious brand initiative OceaniaNEXT, will elevate every facet of the Oceania Cruises guest experience to new levels.
Better Than New Ships
The first part of the project known as OceaniaNEXT, will see Oceania Cruises give Regatta-Class $100 Million Re-Inspiration which will result in four ‘better than new’ ships. Each vessel will emerge with 342 brand new designer suites and staterooms and stunning new décor in the restaurants, lounges and bars. The inspiration for the design comes from the line’s 450 ports of call across Europe, Alaska, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, New England-Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Tahiti and the South Pacific and epic 180-day Around the World Voyages.
Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena will feature richly appointed and stylish new interiors that showcase the best of residential design. Furnishings from Baker and Donghia along with fabrics from Rubelli and Kravet will adorn the public spaces, with new richly-hued custom-milled carpets lining the floors.
Effortless style in an elegant atmosphere will be the defining characteristics of the Reception Hall and Upper Hall. A sparkling new Grand Staircase framed by intricate railings and balustrades inset with crystal accents will welcome guests onboard. Overhead, a crowning grand chandelier adorned with hanging pieces of smoked and hand-painted glass, will set the space aglow.
The Grand Dining Room will feature buttery soft cream leather dining chairs accented with metallic bronze threading to catch the light from the stunning new crystal chandelier, which will be the room’s defining centrepiece.
Martinis becomes anew with a palette inspired by the stunning coastline of Santorini featuring hues of deep Grecian blue, sienna and chocolate browns and stately pewter. Silver-white marble and tobacco quartz will accent the bar while the trademark walnut panelling adds lustre and whispers of familiarity.
All-New Suites and Staterooms
Wanting guests to feel at home while away from home, the luxurious brand-new staterooms and suites will be lighter, brighter and even more spacious. Stripped down to their studs, every ounce of the re-inspired accommodations will be modernised, featuring custom-crafted furnishings, exotic stone and polished wood finishes and designer accessories, creating a harmonious celebration of style and comfort.
“The staterooms and suites are the most dramatic of the transformation,” added Ruiz. “They now feature a very clean design with a sophisticated air. Enhanced by nuanced shades of the sea and sky, the tones are warm and soothing, incorporating silvery greys and greens alongside vivid sapphires and taupes.”
For convenience, USB ports will be incorporated in each of the staterooms, as well as a state-of-the art television system with movies on demand in multiple-languages, live stations and a programme guide, plus itinerary information and weather updates.
Lustrous New Bathrooms
Every fixture and surface of the bathrooms will be new, with designer fixtures, perfect lighting, lavish vanities and chic glass shower enclosures. Penthouse, Vista and Owner’s Suites bathrooms become true luxury retreats, offering more space outfitted with Carrara marble, polished granite and sleek onyx.
Re-Inspiration By The Numbers
$100 Million Dollars
1,368 New Suites and Staterooms
1,400 New Marble Bathrooms
8,000 New Light Fixtures
12,000 New Sofas and Chairs
1,000+ Artisans and Craftsmen
Norwegian Cruise Line have completed total refurbishments of three ships, which is further proof of its commitment to extraordinary quality and guest experience. The revitalized ships, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Star, now feature new designs and venues. These include Los Lobos Cantina, an upscale Mexican restaurant; the adults-only enclave, Spice H2O; and Syd Norman’s Pour House – an American rock ‘n’ roll bar and lounge, which makes its debut aboard Norwegian Breakaway.
Norwegian Breakaway, which was built in 2013, debuts the new American rock ‘n’ roll bar and lounge Syd Norman’s Pour House as well as upgraded accommodations, public spaces and more, following a two-week dry dock in Brest, France.
A testament to Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to providing the best entertainment at sea, Syd Norman’s Pour House is an authentic and immersive experience inspired by the greatest clubs in American rock ‘n’ roll history. Replacing Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, Syd Norman’s is a tribute to the grandfather of “Rock of Ages” playwright Chris D’Arenso and modeled after influential rock houses such as CBGB’s, The Rainbow and the Fillmore. Vintage décor, diner-style seating and an unforgettable playlist of classic rock from the late 1960’s to 1980’s come together to bring this high-caliber entertainment offering to life. Three times a week, cast members from “Rock of Ages” will treat guests to specialty cocktails named after rock ‘n’ roll classics such as “The Witchy Woman” among others in the interactive Syd Norman’s Experience. Guests will also rock-out to a five-person band playing classics six nights a week.
Additional upgrades include enhancements to Bliss Ultra Lounge with new, premium furniture; new carpet in all 2,014 staterooms and suites; a full transformation of the gift shop; and new carpet installations in the staircases, elevators and lobbies.
Built in 2001, Norwegian Sun underwent a three-week bow-to-stern renovation in Victoria, BC. As a result, she now features refreshed staterooms and public spaces, and boasts three new venues including Los Lobos Cantina, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spinnaker Lounge.
Los Lobos Cantina is a Mexican restaurant offering a modern take on traditional favorites like guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole and handcrafted margaritas. Replacing Las Ramblas Bar and Restaurant, Los Lobos Cantina features leather banquettes, dark wood tables and seating and ranchero-style design accents.
Bliss Ultra Lounge, formerly Dazzles, is the new bar and nightclub where guests can begin or end their evenings. Enhancements include an updated look with new plush seating, cocktail tables, bar stools, chandeliers, wall sconces, wall coverings, ornamental ceilings and a wooden dance floor.
The Spinnaker Lounge replaces the Observation Lounge and showcases a fresh design with a natural color palette reminiscent of blue, beige and tan. New to the venue are leather chairs, carpet, chandeliers, wall coverings and a stone top bar.
All 968 staterooms were upgraded with smart televisions and USB ports as well as new carpet, artwork and select furniture. The newly revitalized accommodations pay tribute to the beauty of the surrounding ocean with a palette of cool blue hues and silver and turquoise accents. The adorning abstract art within the staterooms and suites are the ideal complement to the new and modern feel.
The renovations also touched dining outlets and public spaces including Cagney’s, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Teppanyaki, the Mandara Spa, Stardust Lounge Theater, Splash Academy and more.
Following a nearly three-week dry dock in Barcelona, Spain, Norwegian Star underwent extensive enhancements to its staterooms, public spaces, restaurants, bars and lounges. The ship, built in 2001, also unveiled three new venues: Sky High Bar, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spice H2O.
Sky High Bar showcases a new design complete with an updated bar and seating for close to 120 guests. Replacing Bier Garten, the outdoor bar and lounge offers the best views on board.
Bliss Ultra Lounge replaces Spinnaker Lounge for late-night entertainment and now boasts a light, neutral color palette and a complete redesign with new carpet, custom loungers, seating, an upgraded bar and artwork.
For the first time, Norwegian Star will offer the adults-only enclave, Spice H2O. This well-appointed venue features a private pool, hot tubs, full bar and uninterrupted ocean views. During the day, it makes an ideal spot for sunbathing, and at night, it transforms into an open-air lounge with live entertainment, DJs and energizing themed nights.
All 1,174 staterooms and suites were outfitted with USB ports, enhanced with over 1,500 works of art and upgraded with new carpet, headboards and select furniture. The three-bedroom garden villas which feature private deck areas and can accommodate up to seven people were also remodeled to offer a light and airy design.
Additional enhancements were made to the bars and lounges, restaurants and public spaces including Atrium Café & Bar, Garden Café and the main dining rooms. A VIP section was also added in the casino.
About Norwegian Cruise Line
Recently, the line was named “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” for the eleventh consecutive year, “World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line” for the sixth consecutive year, the “Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line” for the fifth consecutive year, as well as “World’s Leading Cruise Line” and “North America’s Leading Cruise Line” both for the second straight year by the World Travel Awards. Norwegian’s newest ship, the highly anticipated Norwegian Bliss, debuted April 2018 featuring many firsts-at-sea for the global market including the largest race track at sea, award-winning Broadway entertainment, two observation lounges for guests to enjoy stunning ocean and glacier views and more.
Norwegian will introduce Norwegian Encore in 2019 and has six additional ships on order for delivery beginning in 2022.
P&O Cruises have revealed that its new 180,000 ton LNG-powered ship Iona, to be launched in 2020, will sail exclusively to the Norwegian Fjords during the inaugural season.
A destination that is best experienced by sea, Iona will be able to show off her impressive design which focuses on maximizing the views.
P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow said: “SkyDome, with its glass roof and temperature control will ensure that guests have an unrivalled viewpoint as the ship sails through the breathtaking vertical expanses of narrow gorges and blue sky and past mountains, glaciers and wildlife.
“Iona has been designed to make the sea the star. With incredible views guaranteed from all over the ship, the whole season of Fjords itineraries will enable guests to have the choice of when they want to travel to this spectacular area.
In all ports of call P&O Cruises has developed a diverse range of excursions and activities for guests.
Active adventure: For spectacular views over the Fjord landscape guests can take a trip on the dramatic Leon Skylift that carries them up to the summit of Mount Hoven.
Epic vistas: From Olden visit the unmissable sight of the Briksdal glacier – part of the famous Jostedal ice field, the largest in continental Europe.
Active adventure: Adrenaline junkies will enjoy seeing the sights on Norway’s fastest zipline, which soars 300m from Mt Ulriken 643m high to Mt Floyen.
Cultural encounters: From Edvard Munch’s iconic Expressionism to today’s contemporary culture Bergen is the centre of the Norwegian art scene. History comes alive in Bryggen, Bergen’s UNESCO-listed wharf area where most of the 60 buildings are 300 years old.
Epic vistas: For a different viewpoint guests can enjoy Bergen’s beautiful setting by helicopter. Fly over Fjords, mountains and glaciers and look down on one of Norway’s largest Fjords, the Sognefjord.
Local flavours: A visit to Bergen Fish Market gives a snapshot of Norway’s foodie culture. It has been a gastronomic destination since 1200 when it was a meeting place for merchants and fishermen.
Active adventure: Guests can take a fast paced rafting adventure along 8km of fast flowing river followed by lunch around a bonfire.
Active adventure: Those in the mood for a two-wheeled adventure can descend the 17km by bike from the shores of a lake more than 1000m above sea level.
Active adventure: Guests can see one of nature’s masterpieces from the water with a kayaking experience that will float them past the amazing waterfalls this Fjord is famous for.
Cultural encounters: known as the ‘Cradle of the Vikings’ this small city is packed full of history and heritage.
Epic vistas: Take a helicopter ride over Stavanger’s most iconic natural wonder – Pulpit Rock (a 604m-high flat-topped cliff rising out of the Lysefjord).
Active adventure: The Lysefjord RIB ride will give guests an alternative and unforgettable view of Pulpit Rock.
Local flavours: Fishing for crayfish is a traditional pleasure for the Norwegians and guests will be able to enjoy this surrounded by stunning mountains.
Cultural encounters: Alesund offers visitors views of the best preserved examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Europe.
Epic vistas: Enjoy the beauty of Norway’s second longest Fjord by light aircraft.
Iona has been designed to maximise views from three storey high glass walls in the Grand Atrium, to the innovative Conservatory Mini-suites. Guests are guaranteed an immersive experience as they cruise through one of the planet’s most spectacular regions on a cleaner and greener LNG- powered ship.
Iona will offer seven day holidays to the Norwegian Fjords from May 2020, each leaving from and returning to Southampton.
Carnival Corporation has also been a leader in the cruise industry’s use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – the most environmentally friendly advanced fuel solution available and the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, resulting in significantly reduced air emissions. The company has ordered 11 next-generation “green” cruise ships fully powered by LNG in port and at sea with expected delivery dates between 2018 and 2025.
Over 40 percent of the company’s fleet has “cold ironing” capabilities, enabling ships to use shoreside electric power where available while in port. The company has also implemented broad initiatives to optimize onboard energy usage and innovative hull designs and coatings to reduce fuel consumption by minimizing frictional drag.
Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020. Holidays on Iona will go on sale in September 2018.
If you read my last post, you will know that cruise photographer Andrew Sassoli-Walker and his family, are currently onboard Emerald Princess cruising around Alaska. It is an honour to be able to bring you Andrew’s stunning images on my blog as you will see they are pretty sensational. So sit back and enjoy a few more photos and a bit of an update in Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2.
Our first day at sea started with seeing humpback whales whilst enjoying breakfast. Once the sea fog had cleared, a most beautiful afternoon and evening at sea. Enjoyed the “Movies under the stars” in the evening.
Ketchikan, which is one of the wettest cities in the world greeted us with brilliant sunshine! Sea planes, fishing boats and pleasure craft were all out and about very early.
Within minutes of disembarking this wonderful town, we saw bald eagles, seals and salmon in the creek.
Although only a half day visit, there was more than enough time to soak up the atmosphere of this great little Alaskan town.
My expectations of this cruise have been constantly exceeded so far. The crew of Emerald Princess are a happy bunch and nothing is too much trouble.
Royal Caribbean International has designed and built a first-of-its-kind tool that transforms holidaymakers’ most memorable photos into an original, shareable soundtrack, with a video to match.
SoundSeeker is the latest technological advancement Royal Caribbean have introduced. With a legacy of nearly 50 years of innovation, the cruise line has pioneered many technological “firsts.” These include: VOOM, the fastest internet at sea; Virtual balconies, giving interior rooms a view; a mobile app that boasts smart features like expedited arrival and X-ray vision into behind-the-scenes areas of the ship, such as the navigational bridge; RFID technology, cocktails served by robots at the Bionic Bar and SeaSeeker, a custom-engineered scuba mask for Snapchat Spectacles.
Royal Caribbean teamed up with experts from Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA), Unit 9 (London) and Plan 8 (Stockholm). The innovative tool is specifically designed to use machine learning to seamlessly create original soundtracks based on the content of each photograph.
Users can upload three photos of their choice, and the AI analyses them based on colour, landscape, backdrop, emotion, body language and facial expression. SoundSeeker then turns them into a shareable and one-of-a kind soundtrack – virtually DJing life’s most brag-worthy moments. Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s social channels, and by searching #SoundSeeker.
The Technical Bit
SoundSeeker uses machine learning, an artificial intelligence technique that enables computers to simulate human intelligence and make decisions on their own without explicit instructions. The learning process entailed more than 600 hours in which Royal Caribbean and a team of musicians and technologists reviewed hundreds of music tracks along with 10,000 photos, matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 10 moods.
The AI in SoundSeeker uses Google Cloud Vision to identify objects, facial expressions and colours in a user’s photo by referencing the roadmap developed by the leaders in music theory at Berklee. SoundSeeker then finds the musical elements corresponding to each mood in the photo to compose a genuinely distinct audio and visual photo album. The Royal Caribbean tool is equipped to generate over one million unique tracks, based on custom base tracks, composed exclusively for the cruise line. The customised tracks take inspiration from a wide variety of music, including 90s hip-hop, rock, modern and electronic dance music.
Berklee leveraged music theory to create a roadmap for the tool that helps determine the musical pairing to photos, accounting for pitch, tempo and instrumental combinations, among others.The contributors from Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) – an on-campus initiative that promotes entrepreneurialism in part by engaging Berklee students and faculty with emerging creative technologies – included Electronic Production and Design Chair Michael Bierylo, associate professors Ben Hogue and Michael Sweet, and assistant professor Jean-Luc Cohen.
“We were excited to work with Royal Caribbean International on this new technological innovation, and in the process, redefine what creative collaboration means,” said Panos A. Panay, Berklee vice president for Innovation and Strategy and managing director of BerkleeICE. “The work of BerkleeICE expands our students’ definition of what can be accomplished with music education by pushing the boundaries of creative expression utilising technology. By harnessing AI to develop customised soundtracks for treasured memories, together, we have created a new way for people to share their experiences with one another.”
Give It A Go
I have played around with Soundseeker and here is my favourite video.
Andrew Sassoli-Walker is a very talented photographer and keen cruiser. He is currently cruising onboard the Emerald Princess with his wife and two small children to Alaska, a destination he has dreamed of visiting since he started cruising decades ago.
I asked Andrew if he would mind sharing his journey with us and I was thrilled when he agreed to do so. When he sent through the first few photos of his journey, I was stunned, and he hasn’t even arrived in Alaska yet! With a few words from Andrew, here is a glimpse of the story so far.
It was a very long day, but very good. Our flight with Virgin Atlantic was faultless, the service onboard attentive. A few crew members asked about our Alaskan adventure.
The grandeur of Greenland was as astonishing as ever, the views were breathtaking. It was the ideal start to our Alaskan adventure!
On arrival at Seattle Airport, a Princess Cruises representative was there to greet us and very efficiently dispatched us onto a bus to the Doubletree SeaTac where another Princess Cruises representative greeted us.
We had a comfortable stay at Doubletree SeaTac.
Embarkation the following day was extremely smooth and well organised from the moment we were picked up right to the time of getting onboard. From getting off the bus to stepping foot onboard it took no more than 15 mins!
It was a gorgeous day weather-wise and an added bonus was that the annual Seafair festival was on, so we were treated to an air display by the famous US Navy “Blue Angels”!
Departure soon followed, and our Alaskan adventure truly began. Emerald Princess is in superb condition and is well looked after.
Princess Cruises are offering up to $1000 spending money on more than 130 Alaska voyages departing between April and September 2019. Deposits are reduced to just £50 per person during the promotion, but be quick as the offer only lasts for bookings made by 10 August 2018. The full range of cruises on offer can be found here
Princess Cruises have been making one amazing announcement after another lately. New images and information is coming out about their next ship the 3,600-guest Sky Princess, which includes the first-ever ‘Sky Suites’. These 700 square feet suites will serve as an opportunity for its residents to host celebrations and catered events by the award-winning chefs onboard. The centrally located suites on the highest decks of the ship will offer panoramic views, with the largest private balconies Princess Cruises have offered on any other ship.
There will be just two sky suites onboard the Sky Princess which will accommodate up to five guests. The panoramic view will provide an uninterrupted 270-degree view with a private vantage point of the ship’s Movie Under the Stars screen.
Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said: “Our two new Sky Suites reflect Princess Cruises’ continued commitment to offer new and expansive accommodations that meet the needs of our guests who wish to explore the world in ultimate comfort.”
Sky Princess launches in the Mediterranean in October 2019. Other new additions include a Wakeview pool on its aft decks, two new deep-tank top deck pools with cantilevered whirlpools over each one, a Retreat Pool, and even more Jacuzzis than the previous Royal-Class ships.
One of the design features of Sky Princess is to introduce more ways for guests to unwind. The ships relaxing Sanctuary area boasts a new contemporary design offering twice as many private cabanas as its sister ships.
Guests will also be able to enjoy the new look of the ship’s Vista Lounge complete with a full bar and a new café in the Princess Live venue, serving barista made coffee, tea and quick bites.
Princess Cruises Vice President UK and Europe, Tony Roberts has been tweeting his thoughts about the announcement. “Stunning Sky Suites on extensive and private outdoor space at the top of the ship and the perfect spot to relax and enjoy Movies Under the Stars or to entertain family and friends. The pool area on looks very inviting. The Sanctuary on the perfect spot to relax on a sea day.”
Princess Cruises is offering a 7-night Mediterranean cruise on Sky Princess, sailing from Barcelona to Rome. Prices start from £1409 per person with $100 onboard spending money per person*. Departing Sunday October 27, 2019 ports of call include Gibraltar, Toulon/Provence (La Seyne), Genoa and Florence/Pisa (Livorno). More Info
A few months ago, Mia Tui sent me a couple of travel bags from their extensive range, to try out and review. Their timing was perfect, as the bags arrived just in time for me to take on my trip to the Caribbean with Viking Cruises.
Mia Tui Travel Bag Review
The Mia Tui Jennie bag was clearly designed by a Mother as it is combines style with functionality. It is extremely well made and comes with detachable straps for your comfort. The bag itself is huge and I was excited to be able to fit my laptop into it. There is a pocket on the back of the back which is also a strap that fits over your suitcase handle. This is great when you are going to and from the airport. However be careful not to be tempted to overload it as the bag will handle the weight but you may not be able to.
1 Clear internal bag with hand strap
1 Matching clutch bag with hand & X-body strap
2 Insulated water bottle holders (bottles not included)
Hands-free shoulder strap
Metal studs on base of bag for protection
The internal bag is fantastic as you can keep your passport, purse, phone and other little bits in it for easy access. It can be worn as an across the body bag, keeping your hands free for other things. It’s also great when you are on a flight because you can still keep those things close to you, without having to keep pulling your bag out from under the seat or the overhead locker.
For daytime by the pool or going to the beach, I used the Alex Folding Bag. I absolutely adored the pattern but there are quite a few options available if you prefer something a bit different. This bag also has the strap that fits over the handles of your suitcase so you can use it for travelling as well. It is extremely lightweight and folds up neatly into a nice little pouch.
Having tested these bags for nearly 6 months now I can give you a first hand, honest Mia Tui travel bag review. I love the design options, I love the quality and I love the fact that they are suitable for vegans (to wear not eat). I use the internal Jennie bag every day and it shows no signs of wear whatsoever.
To get 20% off your first purchase simply enter discount code SAC20 at checkout.
Princess Cruises Celebrates 50 Years of Sailing in Alaska
If Alaska is on your bucket list there is no better time to book your cruise. Princess Cruises are offering up to $1000 spending money on more than 130 Alaska voyages departing between April and September 2019. Deposits are reduced to just £50 per person during the promotion, but be quick as the offer only lasts for bookings made by 10 August 2018.
Think of all the shore excursions you can book with that sort of on board spending money. You can experience wildlife tours, try your hand at gold panning, explore the incredible glaciers and enjoy a spot of fishing.
Princess Cruises proven track record in Alaska is reinforced by these prestigious cruise industry awards.
Best Cruise Line – Alaska
– Travel Weekly, 14-time winner; Women’s Choice Awards
Best Alaska Cruises
– Cruise Critic and Travel Channel
Best Alaska Itineraries
– Porthole Magazine
Best Alaska Cruises for In-Depth Exploration
– USA Today
Best Overall Education Program – North to Alaska
– Travel Weekly
From £689 Per Person
Example sailings in the offer are:
Island Princess departing May 8, 2019 7-night Voyage of the Glaciers cruise. Sailing from Vancouver ports of call include Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Anchorage and scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord. Prices from £689 per person. More details.
Grand Princess departing June 5, 2019 10-night Inside Passage cruise. Sailing round trip from San Francisco, ports of call include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and scenic cruising through Tracy Arm Fjord. Prices from £1299 per person. More details.
Ruby Princess departing September 14, 2019 7-night Inside Passage cruise, Seattle to Vancouver. Ports of call include Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Victoria, Vancouver and scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park. Prices from £879 per person. More details.
The full range of cruises on offer can be found here
Princess Cruises have also been recognised for their environmental efforts. Their awards include:
Port of Seattle – Green Gateway Award
– Gold Level Award– Recognizes comprehensive environmental achievements
Port of Vancouver – Blue Circle Award
– Recognition for highest emissions reduction achievements
Port of San Francisco Cruise Ship Environmental Awards
– Gold Award, Silver Award
Port of Los Angeles – Vessel Speed Recognition Award
– Recognition for all homeported vessels for being 100% compliant with port speed limit to reduce air emissions
Venice Blue Flag
– Awarded for efforts to safeguard the city of Venice, Italy, by burning low sulfur fuel in port to reduce air emissions
FOLLOW THE SASSOLI-WALKER FAMILY ALASKA CRUISE NEXT WEEK
Andrew Sassoli-Walker is a well known photographer in the cruise industry. For many years Andrew has wanted to cruise to Alaska, and next week his dream will come true. With his wife Cherie, and their two boys aged 11 and 6, the family will be cruising onboard the Emerald Princess from Seattle for 7 nights. They will visit Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau and Skagway with a final stop at Victoria before returning to Seattle.
Andrew is no stranger to cruise as this will be the 25th time he as set sail. The couples’ honeymoon was onboard Caribbean Princess, which was their first time cruising with the line. “We were supposed to do a 7 night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, but it turned into a 9 night Western Caribbean itinerary due to Hurricane Jeanne.” recalls Andrew. Next week will be his 4th time sailing with Princess Cruises.
I will be tracking Andrew’s progress to see how he and the family are getting on, and sharing his comments and photos on my blog and social media channels. So if you need a bit more convincing that Alaska should be on your ‘must do’ list, keep an eye on the blog and Facebook and Twitter pages where I will share everything from Andrew.
More photos on my blog from Andrew can be found here or you can visit his website
Princess Cruises to Build Two Next-Generation LNG Cruise Ships
Princess Cruises have announced today it’s plans to build two next-generation LNG cruise ships with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. The two ships will be 175,000 gross tonnes and accommodate approximately 4,300 guests (lower berths), the largest by capacity in the fleet. Delivery is expected in late 2023 and spring 2025 and will be built at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.
Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said: “This revolutionary platform for next-generation, LNG-powered cruise ships will introduce innovative design and leisure experiences driven by the future holiday and lifestyle trends of our guests – further evolving the already best-in-class Princess Cruises experience we deliver today. We look forward to collaborating with Fincantieri to bring our vision for this next-generation premium cruise ship into service.”
Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, said: “We are proud to extend our long-established partnership with Princess Cruises, a brand we have been tied to since our return to the cruise ship building industry in 1990. After so many years, we are ready to enter, together, a new era of this industry, increasingly aimed at reducing even more of our environmental impact. We proudly do this with an all-time record project, both in terms of size and technology. We believe that there are no more significant milestones than these to reaffirm our market-leading position. This builds upon the solid partnership between our country and Carnival Corporation – the largest foreign investor in Italy – while at the same time building upon our technological strength and increasing employment.”
Princess Cruises currently has three new Royal-class ships on order with Fincantieri. Sky Princess is currently under construction and scheduled for delivery in October 2019, with two more Royal-class ships planned for delivery in 2020 and 2022.
This week at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Genoa, Italy, Sir Richard Branson revealed his first Lady Ship has been named Scarlet Lady. This is a tribute to sister company Virgin Atlantic as the name appeared on one of the first of its fleet.
Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin and American private equity investor and co-chairman of Bain Capital Stephen Pagliuca arrived by speedboat to an excited crowd of international cruise industry professionals.
Ban on Single Use Plastics
The company announced they will eliminate the use of single-use plastics for sailors as part of its commitment to be one of the cleanest fleets at sea.
This plan includes banning onboard items such as straws, bottled water, other beverage bottles, condiment packets, shopping bags, food packaging, stirrers, and take-away coffee and tea cups.
“Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world we live in,” said Branson. “Business is a force for good and can and must be the catalyst for global change.”
“We believe that in order to fulfill our purpose of creating an ‘Epic Sea Change for All,’ we must make a commitment that is bigger than just eliminating straws,” said McAlpin. “We must make a commitment to building ships and experiences that do everything possible to look after the well-being of our precious oceans. We are delighted with what we’ve achieved so far and will continue to push ourselves to look for innovative ways to do things that will make a difference.”
Another exciting reveal of the day were new renderings and animations of nine new public spaces and innovative well-being programming for sailors, referred to by the cruise line as ‘Vitamin Sea.’
Virgin Voyages has committed to delivering an “Epic Sea Change for All” which will include transformational and rejuvenating experiences for its sailors. The ‘Vitamin Sea’ ideology is inspired by the oceans and their important role they play in the health and well-being for our planet and our daily lives. The approach also places healthy travel at the forefront of the delivery of its ‘Adult by Design’ experience for the 18+ sailor.
“We are all so busy with life, work and family that vacations are critical for us to be able to rebuild our energy, so that we can live our best lives,” said McAlpin. “With well-being at the heart of everything we do at Virgin Voyages, sailors will come back feeling rejuvenated, not like they need a holiday from their holiday.”
Virgin Voyages also revealed their plans to launch the ‘Scarlet Squad’ program aimed at recruiting, supporting and mentoring female shipboard talent, and growing opportunities to access leadership roles in onboard areas such as marine, technical and hotel management, that statistically show low numbers of female leadership. Virgin Voyages will release more details on the program in the company’s sustainability and social impact report later this year.
“Across the maritime industry, we can do better in onboard recruiting and leadership representation for women,” said McAlpin. “I want all future crew to know that Virgin Voyages will create an onboard environment that is fair, inclusive and where everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential.”
The event celebrated several construction milestones including the flooding of the ship’s drydock, and a ceremony to cut the first pieces of steel for Virgin Voyages’ second ship, which is due for delivery in 2021.
Celebrity Cruises are calling their $500-million reimagining of the fleet The Celebrity Revolution. Set to transform the cruise industry the project, in partnership with more than 500 leading architects, designers, and engineers, is designed to bring the rest of the brand’s award-winning fleet to the Edge.
When redesigning the accommodations, every detail was carefully thought through with guest comfort at the front of mind. Celebrity collaborated with renowned international hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) to transform the staterooms as part of THE CELEBRITY REVOLUTION.
All staterooms will feature a fresh, chic design, rivalling the world’s best boutique hotels. They will also be fitted with Celebrity’s eXhale bedding featuring exclusive luxurious cashmere mattresses and RFID locks.
THE SUITE LIFE JUST GOT SWEETER
Revolutionizing the brand’s award-winning ships gave Celebrity Cruises the opportunity to bring its already world-class suite experience on board Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Infinity, and Celebrity Summit to lavish new heights with the help of visionary designer Kelly Hoppen, MBE, who redesigned the Sky Suite. She will also infuse the Reflection Suite and Signature Suites, found today on Celebrity Reflection, and newly added to Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Equinox, and Celebrity Silhouette, with her signature style – a subtle, coordinated fusion of East meets West, with clean lines, neutral tones, and a warm, inviting opulence.
With Celebrity Edge, the brand introduced an exclusive new sanctuary for all Suite Class guests called The Retreat. And now, Celebrity Cruises is bringing its most luxurious experiences fleet-wide. Every ship will offer The Retreat Sundeck and The Retreat Lounge, both strikingly designed by Hoppen. In imagining The Retreat Sundeck, she has created a chic, open-air hideaway with the feel of a high-end resort, where guests can unwind on plush loungers, sip tantalising cocktails, and savour refreshing treats. At The Retreat Lounge (formerly Michael’s Club), Hoppen has designed a warm and sophisticated atmosphere.
Celebrity Cruises is always looking for new ways to open the world, not only through the places the brand visits, but through globally inspired culinary experience, as well.
Guest-favourite restaurant Qsine will be added across the fleet and completely renovated, now offering the brand’s virtual Le Petit Chef experience, created by the world-famous artists of Skullmapping and presented by TableMation exclusively for Celebrity Cruises. Oceanview Café will be redesigned with an open, airy, marketplace-inspired design offering guests island after island of international delicacies, while the already-stunning Main Restaurant will undergo a beautiful redesign, with new textures and new finishes added throughout.
EVERY DETAIL IS BEING TAKEN TO THE EDGE
Even more groundbreaking innovations are on the horizon with THE CELEBRITY REVOLUTION, including:
Expansion of the new SEA Thermal Suite – first introduced on Celebrity Edge – to offer an indulgent array of therapeutic spa experiences at sea
Exclusive new shopping experiences featuring sought-after brands and designers, such as Shinola, John Hardy, and Hublot, plus state-of-the-art digital photo galleries that make browsing vacation memories a snap
Elevated bars and lounges, including the newly reimagined Passport Bar and an expansion of Celebrity Cruises’ popular Gastrobar concept, serving more than 40 craft beers, creative cocktails, and gourmet comfort food
More exciting upgrades to public venues all throughout each ship, including The Hideaway, Team Earth, The Library, and more
CONSERVING OUR SEAS
Celebrity Cruises will be using advanced silicone-based paint to coat the underwater hull of the ships and their goal is to increase fuel efficiency on Celebrity Millennium Class ships by 20% and reduce emissions fleetwide.
The first “revolutionary” revitalisation will take place in 2019, beginning with Celebrity Millennium, and will continue across the fleet until 2023.
Have you ever wondered how they pick a cruise ship Godmother? Cruise lines generally look for a Celebrity who is known for qualities that are in line with the ship’s ethos. In 2008 Royal Caribbean introduced Independence of the Seas, which at that time was the World’s largest and most innovative cruise ship. The cruise line decided that the Godmother for their newest ship should be an ordinary woman who was doing something extraordinary in her community.
After running a national competition and narrowing down the 1700 entries to just four finalists, the judging panel, including Sir Steve Redgrave, decided that Elizabeth Hill should be the special lady to carry the honour.
I met up with Elizabeth recently, while she was visiting relatives on their country farmhouse, to hear all about her experience of becoming Godmother to the UK’s favourite Royal Caribbean ship.
How Did You Become Godmother of Independence of the Seas?
“It was a series of good connections in a way. I actually didn’t know I had been entered into the competition. Sir Steve Redgrave had retired from rowing and set up his own sports foundation which was being sponsored by Royal Caribbean, at the same time Independence of the Seas was being built. Royal Caribbean had already ran a search for an “ordinary” Godmother in America and it had been very successful.”
“For the UK competition they were asking for the public to nominate an ordinary woman who had done extraordinary things for the community. At the time I was running a charity and I guess I was pioneering what I was doing, lots of people do it now but nobody had seriously done what I was doing which is called care farming now. So my daughter who was 12 was poorly and at home one day watching daytime tv and Sir Steve Redgrave went on This Morning and Loose Women and he put out this call on both shows I think.”
“All I know is that Alicia had seen Loose Women and she got on the computer and sent off this email. She said to me later “Well, I fancied a holiday Mum” However, in the email she told them that the day of the naming ceremony was her 13th Birthday.”
“Well I knew nothing about it so when they actually rang me to tell me they had sifted through thousands of entries and got down to the last six and they were doing a telephone interview, I thought one of the kids had entered me into something like Big Brother. So I said “Oh I am really sorry I don’t do reality television” and they said “No no no don’t put the phone down let me explain what it is” so then they explained and I was gobsmacked because I had no concept of it, I had not seen it, I had no idea about the ship and cruising was not in my experience, I knew nothing about this at all. I explained this to the woman that rang me, and she thought it was hilarious.”
“She asked if she could go through some questions as they had got 1700 entries down to six but were trying to narrow it down to four. So she asked me a series of questions and that was it as far as I was concerned.”
“A few days later I got a phone call and they said “have you got a passport because we’ve narrowed it down to four and we’d like to take you to Finland to see the ship and the handover”.
“I was shocked again. But the funny thing was, after I said “yes that would be fantastic”, I went to get my passport and it was out of date! So it was a mad dash to the passport office to get all the stuff within two days.”
“We got down to Stansted and were flown in a private jet to Finland, the four of us and Richard Fain were onboard. That was fabulous because we were in this private jet and he talked to all of us. He tended to talk to me more than the others and I know why, because my husband is a farmer but he also loves engines and engineering, so he had asked me all sorts of questions about the ship which I asked Richard Fain. Richard Fain is not just the Chair, he likes to take interest in every little part of it and particularly the engineering side of it. He spent most of the time explaining to me in great detail about the engines, what sort of engines they were, the stabilisers, and all the innovative things that were on this ship. It was absolutely fascinating, he knew everything.”
“When we arrived, Captain Tao met us and we went onboard the ship”.
Was this your first time on a cruise ship?
“Absolutely I had never seen anything like it, I’d never even seen one! Yes It was gobsmacking I absolutely could not believe the size of this ship. It was so fabulous, so beautiful, such a fabulous feat of engineering and I just thought it was absolutely wonderful”.
“I got chatting to Captain Tao and told him I had a daughter. He also has a daughter the same age as Alicia and his family were farmers so we had some things in common. Things just fitted into place”.
“We had a wonderful night onboard and we were at this lovely ball and had a meal to celebrate the handover ceremony from the Shipyard to the Americans. We were all involved in that and had been told to take an evening dress so it was fabulous.”
“Then we came back. We weren’t flown back on the jet but went back to the office in England and were interviewed by the panel with Sir Steve Redgrave. He was really interested in what I did, which was to have kids who had been excluded from school coming up onto the farm and we were doing recognised qualifications with them without them knowing that they were actually doing it. They weren’t in a classroom we were doing literacy, numeracy in all sorts of innovative ways that involved animals, tractors, Land Rovers, woodwork, metal work and all those sorts of things.”
“They were mainly boys all of whom had been in trouble with the police. Most of them had got tags on. We were just being very successful because they didn’t want to be in a classroom, they hated being in a classroom and it wasn’t meeting their needs and we ended up giving them skills to go and get jobs which a lot of them did. So a lot of them just needed somebody to find what they were interested in and tap into that.”
“Throughout the whole experience we were treated so wonderfully well and the other three were lovely, lovely women. So that would have been enough for me because I’d had this exciting few days, it was fabulous.”
“They said they would let us know the outcome the following day. At about 8am the next morning I had a telephone call to tell me I had won but it didn’t enter my head that I had actually won. I thought someone else had won. I said oh that’s absolutely fabulous, I had such a lovely time oh please send her my congratulations. She said no Its YOU. I said me? Oh! She said yes we have rung you early because when we release it, we think you might be inundated. We have spoken to the local television crew, we’ve spoken to the local radio we’ve spoken to the local newspaper, we think you are going to be inundated... and yes we were.”
“The television crew were there around about 9 o’clock and local radio station arrived shortly after. Talk about fifteen minutes of fame, well I certainly had it. It literally was madness, being thrown into this world that I had no experience of whatsoever.”
“Then it was only a few days until the naming ceremony. They said put your list together of guests you would like to bring. So I said obviously I would like to bring my husband and my daughter. It’s our second marriage so we’ve got children from other marriages. So we ended up bringing our own parents, who were alive then, and our extended family and their partners. I cant remember how many of us there were but possibly at least 15 of us. Edward (my husband) and I, my Mum and sister, Edward’s parents and Alicia and her friend, were all put in the Presidential Suite and all the rest of the family were in nice suites not far away. They all used our suite. It was one big party for my family because literally as one bottle of champagne was emptied they had another one. I don’t drink so it was wasted on me, but I didn’t get to be part of the party because once I got onboard I just had time to do my things in my cabin and then I had to go through the rehearsal. Sir Steve Redgrave was held up so we didn’t have time to go through the whole rehearsal. I actually pressed the red button on stage and broke the champagne in the rehearsal, so I did it twice!”
“They do it from the stage electronically so you see the champagne smashing on the hull of the ship from a big screen. It’s a spectacular thing to be part of it’s total razzmatazz. What they had forgotten to do is tell me I had to say something and I hadn’t even got a speech or anything. So Richard Fain actually called Alicia up onto the stage because it was her birthday and got everyone to sing her happy birthday to her and he gave her a little pendant with a heart and a diamond in it and then he gave me a diamond brooch and I just said thank you and went and sat down. Then Captain Tao said to me its your turn to say something now. Anyway I don’t know how my legs carried me back to the front of the stage I have absolutely no idea and apparently there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, so I didn’t say very much but what I said was very emotional for people. They always have celebrities like footballers and television people that you see on a regular basis, Coronation Street people, there were quite a few faces that I recognised and I signed my autograph for them. My family was getting peoples autographs and they were getting mine which was funny.”
“After that we went to a cocktail party, and the owner of the shipyard was there and they presented me with a gold and diamond necklace, and there was a little plaque in the box saying who I am and what I did and that was a real surprise that was wonderful. Then we went off and had the dinner and Richard Fain sat one side of me and Sir Steve Redgrave sat the other.”
“I’ve always been treated extremely well and when I speak to some of the seasoned people their ambition has always been to work for Royal Caribbean because they always say its best.”
What are you doing now?
“I take my job as Godmother seriously. I do get some perks so I try to give back wherever I can, by answering things on blogs or giving talks to ladies groups, I feel then that I’m not getting something for nothing.”
“I still get involved in Volutary work. I am involved with our local church, I’m the president of our WI, I run and organise an older peoples group and I volunteer for home start. I may be retired but I still want to do things so I do something for the local community and its good because I meet new friends.”
“Because I am on the speaker circuit for the WI, I do go around and do a talk Five Things I Learned from being Godmother of the Independence.”
“I know that some people have booked cruises as a direct result of my talk. Because my husband has Parkinson’s Disease, I do a talk to the Parkinson’s group. I explain to people that being disabled is brilliant being on a ship. There are plenty of things to do onboard if you don’t want to get off the ship and there is food 24 hours a day.”
“When I am onboard the staff are always trying to do nice things for me like get the best table and I say no no no I am going to do my Godmother duty and I am going to sit at shared tables and talk to people every night. If I’m in a really nice suite I will invite people back who aren’t in suites for afternoon tea so they can see what a suite is like and once we were lucky enough to have the Presidential Suite I invited loads of people back. I want Royal Caribbean to think that they have chosen the right person.”
“When I get onboard they always meet me I never have to queue to get onboard. I’m always escorted off, so they do treat me in a very special way. And they always say if we are in Southampton that we must come onboard. So the crew very much want me onboard and there is a huge superstition which is quite interesting because one of the officers saw me and said oh The Godmother, the Godmother, Elizabeth I can say good morning to you in person because I always say good morning to your picture and he said he and his partner do that and it brings us good luck and it’s true because one day I was so busy and I didn’t do it and my day was such a terrible day that I never want to do that again.”
“Because theres a huge superstition around it. The Godmother is supposed to be keeping the ship safe, she is the mother that keeps the ship safe. That’s how I interpret it. I’ve researched it and that’s the best I can find. If you go back to the days of the Vikings they used to have women carved on the front. Its always a woman and the ship is always female. They really do take it very seriously.”
Have You Kept In Contact With Any of Your Care Farm Children?
“We are still in touch with some of them and they still come and visit us its great they’ve got jobs and homes and families and were really proud of that and i did it for nearly twenty years and in that time we were employing 20 people so it was pretty big.”
What would you say to someone who is thinking of taking their first cruise?
“Do it because it suits everybody from the youngest to the eldest. People are very surprised what its like, the fact that you get all this wonderful treatment. It’s better than all your top class hotels. You don’t have to get off the ship if you don’t want to. Your holiday starts as soon as you get onboard the ship.”
Cruise Like A Godmother
Elizabeth has recently started a blog which includes insights into her daily life as well as stories of her role as a Godmother. You can subscribe to Elizabeth’s blog and read articles here
Celebrity Cruises have always been known for producing incredible onboard cuisine. The cruise line gave Londoners a preview of what can be expected in some of the 29 dining venues onboard their new ship, Celebrity Edge.
Michelin stared Chef, Cornelius Gallagher hosted the exclusive tastings at the foodies favourite Taste of London Festival in Regents Park last week. Dishes were perfectly paired with wines selected by Amelia Singer from the Wine Show.
I tried dishes from the Cosmopolitan Restaurant which is American inspired new cuisine. The starter of Grilled Carrot and Mozzarella Salad with smoked trout, fresh herbs and a delicious carrot vinaigrette was paired with Hugel Pinot Blanc from the Alsace region. It was a mouthwatering combination and the smoked trout gave a lively kick to the dish.
For main course it was the popular Grilled New York Strip Steak, served with roasted baby vegetables, parsnip puree, caramelised onions. The perfect pairing came with a Sonoma County Decoy, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Celebrity Cruises really have gone beyond borders with the dining offerings on their new class of ship. Check out the video below for more information.
Celebrity Edge will be larger than the Solstice Class ships at a size of 129,500 Gross Tonnes. At 1,004 feet long, 128 feet wide a draught of 27 feet, a cruising speed of 22 knots and a total of 4,694 horsepower, Celebrity Edge will have the capacity to carry a total of 3,373 guests.
Celebrity Edge will spend her inaugural season sailing alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries before transporting guests to the stunning vistas of the Mediterranean with a range of seven- to 11-night sailings from iconic cities like Barcelona and Rome in 2019.
Homeporting in Fort Lauderdale, FL., Celebrity Edge will be making her first sailing November 21, 2018, andwill be joined by three sister ships in 2020, 2021 and 2022.