Category Archives: Cruise Tips

Will Cruise Ships Wait For You

Will Cruise Ships Wait For You?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

There are certain circumstances when a cruise ship MAY wait for you, but in most cases it will not. Here are some tips to avoid being left up the creek without a paddle.

Let’s look at the good, better and best options.

The main reason people tend to veer away from the cruise line packages is down to cost. Booking things separately might save a few quid, but you have to weigh up the true cost if things don’t go to plan.

EMBARKATION

Drive To The Port The Day Before

If your departure port is within driving distance the best option is to drive to the port the day before. This way you will avoid any traffic delays or breakdown issues. You can arrive the night before, stay in a hotel and be refreshed and de-stressed for embarkation day.

Coach Transfer

A better option is to arrange a coach transfer with the cruise line on the same day of departure. The coach will be designated for cruise guests. That means if the coach is delayed for any reason, the cruise line is more likely to wait for you. If they are unable to delay departure, the cruise line will make all the arrangements to get you and the other guests to the next port of call. They cover the expenses for any accommodation, transport and meals required until you step foot onboard the ship.

Allow For Delays

If you can’t go the day before or get a coach then at the very least, leave plenty of time for delays. If you are driving yourself on the day of departure and miss the cruise, it will be completely down to you arrange and pay for flights to the next port of call. Also check with your travel insurance provider what is covered otherwise this could be an expensive mistake.

Fly Cruise

With a fly cruise, it is without doubt the best option to book the cruise line package. This can still be done through a travel agent, you just need to make it clear to them that you want the cruise lines package and not one that they have packaged themselves. It doesn’t mean that it is risky booking a package with another ABTA or ATOL protected operator, it just keeps things super simple. A fly-cruise package usually include an overnight hotel stay the night before the cruise. It should also include transfers from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the port and the port back to the airport, but clarify this when you get a quote as some cruise lines are different. You can add on extra nights before and after the cruise for an extra cost, if you want to extend your holiday.

Another thing I love about packaging everything with the cruise line is that it is just one set of documents.

A better option is to book a package with an ABTA or ATOL protected operator. They have to stick to certain parameters which will include flying you out the day before and allowing plenty of time to get to the airport when you disembark the ship.

If you absolutely must do your own thing, then the good option again is to fly the day before.

SHORE EXCURSIONS

Getting off at the ports is the main cause of passengers missing the ship. This can happen for a variety of reasons but the most common is that guests either lose track of time, or forget that the ship and local time are different. Unforeseen delays such as heavy traffic and even getting lost can contribute to guests missing the ship.

The best option is to book one of the shore excursions offered by the cruise line. Shore excursion staff will keep an eye on the time for you and as there’ll be other passengers on the excursion. In the event that anything should happen, the ship will usually wait or make arrangements to transfer guests to the next port of call.

Some private tours will guarantee to get you back to the ship, although I don’t know how they can do this. If you are doing a fairly local tour and it will get you back to the ship midday giving you 4 more hours until departure, then this is a better option. However, if you are an hour and half or more away from where you want to visit, I would think twice.

A good option and most definitely the cheapest, is to walk around the local town for an hour or so.

Check your travel insurance

Some insurance policies especially the free ones may only give you a basic cover. Check your policy covers you for missing the ship and under which circumstances, so you are not in for a shock later on.

Keep Copies Of Important Documents And Phone Numbers With You

Take photocopies of your passport, and both sides of your driver’s license and credit cards (unless you have the originals with you) when you go ashore. You should also have a copy of the phone numbers for your ship, port agent (printed in your daily onboard schedule) and your cruise line’s customer service department. It’s also worth having the address and phone number of your country’s embassy in the port you’re visiting.

This information will be essential for helping you figure out what to do if you miss your cruise ship.

Ship Time Vs. Port Time

Ship time and local time are often different. Make sure you know exactly what time to be back onboard and if it’s the ship or port time. Get a cheap watch that you can wear in port and keep it in sync with the ship time.

What to Do If You Miss the Ship

Find your port agent

Most cruise lines have port agents stationed in the port area to assist if your ship has left without you. Sometimes the ship’s crew will remove the passengers’ essential items from the ship to leave with the port agents. These officials can help you contact your ship and making travel arrangements.

Make travel arrangements

If you miss the ship, you’ll have to either join it at another port of call or return home. Your cruise line, travel agent or travel insurance provider might be able to help you make the plans; otherwise, you’ll have to make arrangements on your own. Either way, you’ll be responsible for any costs incurred.

Retrieving Your Belongings

The cruise line will ship your belongings home for you which can be expensive.

Will Cruise Ships Sail In Bad Weather?

Cruises are rarely cancelled due to bad weather.
Itineraries may be changed during hurricane season or bad storms, but a cancelled cruise is an extremely rare occurrence.
It’s more uncomfortable for the guests, but ships are built to handle rough seas.

Monitoring The Weather

If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting the bridge on a cruise ship, you will have seen the huge array of equipment, which is constantly monitored by the crew and officers. The navigational systems include weather maps, satellite images, computer models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and third-party meteorologists. 

Behind the scenes at The Bridge of Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.

In January 2017, Royal Caribbean International appointed TV meteorologist James Van Fleet to head up operations at the Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami. Part of Van Fleet’s job during the hurricane season, is to monitor a 25-foot wall of weather screens and share information with the crew of all the Royal Caribbean family of ships and the executive team.

Carnival Corporation monitors weather from its multi million dollar command centre. The first facility of its kind in Southern Florida is staffed 24/7 and has a 74-foot-long video wall with 57 LED screens that shows the status of all the line’s 27 ships, including weather and safety updates.

Making The Decision

The number one priority for cruise lines is guest safety. It is not just the decision of the onboard crew, it’s a team who makes that decision based on the latest weather patterns, based on the options or other alternatives.

Cruise Lines will reroute the ship if the forecast is serious enough. Ship captains study forecasts and will alter course to avoid storms. Sometimes rough seas are unavoidable or storms are worse than expected. On rare occasions, a ship may have to go through the outer bands of a storm to reach safe haven in a port. Most times however, the ships will go out to sea to avoid storms.

Safety

All modern cruise ships have stabilisers to keep rocking and rolling to a minimum. Cruise ships can typically “outrun” most storms, passengers may still experience rough seas as their ship skirts the edges of a storm. 

MSC Grandiosa docked in Southampton

Cruise ships are made of heavy steel that’s even heavier with a full load of passengers and crew onboard. With all that weight, they can roll with the waves. In the roughest seas a ship may list, or tilt to one side, but even that’s unlikely. Shipbuilders test things such as buoyancy and centre of gravity during construction. This includes putting scale models of ships through all sorts of storm simulations.

What To Expect If Your Ship Hits Bad Weather

A cruise ship can list enough to send deck furniture skidding and bar glasses crashing. While passengers might be scared or uncomfortable, the ship is typically not in any actual danger of capsizing.

If you’re already on a ship and meet rough conditions, listen to the instructions of the captain and crew. It’s common for the crew to put down non-slip mats and add signage reminding you to exercise caution when walking. Van Fleet says part of his job is communicating with the crew when such procedures may be necessary.

All is calm on the Allure of the Seas

Listen to the captain’s report from the bridge everyday which will include a description of sea conditions. This will help you to decide what preparations you need to make for the day. If you get seasick, be prepared with over-the-counter motion sickness medications, homeopathic remedies, or a prescription patch from your doctor.

Alternative Plans

Note that attractions such as the pool and water slides may shut down, or the outdoor decks may be closed altogether. In very rare situations, the Captain may require all passengers stay in their cabins. In general, you’ll likely feel some rolling, but that goes for the entirety of your trip, too. 

Seasickness

Even if you’re not usually prone to seasickness, cruising through rough waters can test even the strongest of stomachs. Effective solutions to seasickness include acupressure wristbands, antihistamines and Dramamine. If you didn’t bring any with you, the ship’s store will have some in stock, and the purser’s desk will usually have Dramamine for free. Once you start feeling the symptoms it might be too late, so don’t delay!

What To Do If Your Itinerary Changes

Listen to the ship’s intercom for announcements of port or itinerary changes. You may also receive information via a letter delivered to your stateroom. Even if it’s not cancelled your cruise may be affected. Ports that require tendering often have to be skipped because high winds make the process unsafe.

Although cruise lines don’t generally issue refunds for missed ports, they do have to refund port fees.

The cruise line or organisers may cancel your excursion, even though the port may not be skipped. The cruise line will issue refunds automatically, private operators will usually issue a refund if your ship never docked, however you may need to contact them to request it.

Look for alternatives to outdoor activities like spending an afternoon at the gym or the spa. The cruise line will usually put on extra activities. Make reservations for a speciality restaurant or a show immediately to avoid disappointment.

Suggested Reading

Essential WAVE Season Survival Guide

Disclaimer: This post includes amazon affiliate links which I receive a small commission on purchases made through the link.

 

A Guide To Cruising with Royal Caribbean

If you are new to cruise here is an easy guide to cruising with Royal Caribbean that answers the most frequently asked questions.

Cruising With or Without Kids

The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of Royal Caribbean, is kids. Whether you are travelling with or without children, there is still a Royal Caribbean cruise for you.

Every Royal Caribbean ship (unless otherwise stated below) has a sports court, FlowRider, rock climbing wall, in-stateroom movies, family events, and the Adventure Ocean kids club. This is a fantastic facility for kids which both of my children loved. So there is certainly plenty on board to keep them entertained.

Tips For Avoiding Kids on a Royal Caribbean Cruise

If you are not looking to cruise with kids, and the idea of having them onboard fills you with dread, don’t worry because not all Royal Caribbean cruises are the same.

First of all, the smaller ships are less likely to have as many young families on board, as all the exciting new features such as Splashaway Bay, Laser Tag, Bumper Cars, Trampolining, and water slides are mainly on the larger ships.

Secondly, if you avoid school holidays, you will not find too many kids onboard anyway. If you do book a larger ship during the school holidays, then you need to expect a lot of kids around.

Which Ship Should I Choose?

People cruise for different reasons. Not everyone wants to get off at every port and explore. For those with mobility issues, a cruise offers a great way to enjoy a resort-style holiday without staying in the same place. As a single mum, I would relish the port days when I could enjoy the pool deck all to myself while my kids were having fun in Adventure Ocean.

So before choosing a ship, you need to decide what you are looking for in a cruise. If you are going to be getting off at every opportunity, the chances are you will not have time to enjoy the vast array of activities onboard the larger ships. Some ports are only accessible by smaller ships, so that will also play a role in your decision.

If your cruise is more about spending quality family time together, with a bit of time to relax and unwind, then you may want to spend more time onboard the ship. This is when you should take a closer look at the onboard facilities.

What Are The Different Classes of Ship?

The first Royal Caribbean ships were called Sovereign Class and Vision Class. These ships are classic in design and feature a rock climbing wall.

Radiance Class ships are known as “ships of light”. This is due to their outward facing lifts and floor to ceiling glass windows in the atrium. Royal Caribbean introduced the sports court to this class of ship.

Voyager Class were the first ships to introduce the Royal Promenade. A street inside the ship with shops and bars. They also introduced an ice rink for guests to enjoy skating at their leisure and stunning ice show performances.

Freedom Class introduced the FlowRider surf simulator.

Oasis Class are the largest cruise ships in the world.  They introduced an aquatheatre, a zip line, a carousel, 7 different neighbourhoods including Central Park.

Quantum Class take technology to a whole new level. The north star is a glass capsule that lifts guests 300ft above sea level. Guests can try the iFly skydiving simulator, drive bumper cars, roller skate and much more. Quantum Class ships do not have an ice rink.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships Newest to Oldest

Empress of the Seas – June 1990

A maximum guest capacity of 1840. Empress of the Seas does not have a sports court, FlowRider or Adventure Ocean kids club.

Majesty of the Seas – April 1992

A sovereign class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2767. Majesty of the Seas does not have a  sports court, FlowRider or Adventure Ocean kids club. 

Grandeur of the Seas –  December 1996

A vision class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2446. Grandeur of the Seas does not have a sports court or FlowRider.

Rhapsody of the Seas – May 1997

A vision class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2416. Rhapsody of the Seas does not have a sports court or FlowRider.

Enchantment of the Seas – July 1997

A vision class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2446. Enchantment of the Seas does not have a sports court or FlowRider.

Vision of the Seas –  May 1998

A vision class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2514. Vision of the Seas does not have a sports court or FlowRider.

Voyager of the Seas – November 1999

A voyager class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 3138.

Explorer of the Seas – October 2000

A voyager class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 3114.

Adventure of the Seas – November 2001

A voyager class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 3114.

Radiance of the Seas – April 2001

A radiance class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2501. Radiance of the Seas does not have a Flowrider

Navigator of the Seas – December 2002

A voyager class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 4000.

Brilliance of the Seas – July 2002

A radiance class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2501. Brilliance of the Seas does not have a

Flowrider.

Mariner of the Seas – November 2003

A voyager class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 3114.

Serenade of the Seas – July 2003

A radiance class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2490. Serenade of the Seas does not have a Flowrider.

Jewel of the Seas – May 2004

A radiance class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 2501. Jewel of the Seas does not have a Flowrider.

Freedom of the Seas – May 2006

A freedom class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 3634.

Liberty of the Seas – May 2007

A freedom class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 3634.

Independence of the Seas – April 2008

A freedom class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 4370.

Oasis of the Seas – November 2009

An oasis class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 6780.

Allure of the Seas – November 2010

An oasis class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 6780.

Quantum of the Seas – October 2014

A quantum class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 4905.

Anthem of the Seas – April 2015

A quantum class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 4905.

Ovation of the Seas – June 2016

A quantum class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 4905.

Harmony of the Seas – May 2016

An oasis class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 6780.

Symphony of the Seas – March 2018

An oasis class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 6680.

Spectrum of the Seas – April 2019

A quantum ultra-class ship with a maximum guest capacity of 4905.

Newest Royal Caribbean Ships

Odyssey of the Seas – Scheduled November 2020

Quantum Ultra Class

Wonder of the Seas – Scheduled March 2021

Oasis Class

Where is Royal Caribbean Headquarters

3, The Heights, Wellington Way, Weybridge KT13 0NY

1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL 33132, United States

How to Contact Royal Caribbean

UK 01932 834200

USA (305) 539-6000

 

     (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

What Is a Guarantee Cabin on a Cruise Ship?

What Exactly Is A Guarantee Cabin?

Everyone is looking for a deal, so it’s easy to be seduced by the offers that include free drinks, wifi, specialty restaurants, free parking, free flights and anything else that the cruise lines can think of to throw in. But you may find that you are better off getting a guarantee cabin.

The word guarantee can be confusing. It does not mean you are guaranteed a particular room. So let’s take a look and see what it does mean. A guarantee cabin means that if you book a balcony cabin, you are guaranteed to get at least a balcony cabin. In other words, you would not get an inside cabin. This sounds pretty straightforward but there are exceptions to the rule and here’s how to figure them out.

Check the Deck Plan

When you are booking your cruise, take a look at the deck plan. It is best to view this on the website of the cruise line itself to ensure you are looking at an up to date version. Check that the dates of the deck plan apply to the date you are sailing. In some cases, you may only have one option, but if the ship is due to enter dry-dock, there will be two sets of deck plans, before the refurbishment and after. Make sure you select the one that you will be cruising on. Familiarise yourself with the different categories of cabin on the ship and what they mean. This is where you will be able to figure out which cabins are classed as an upgrade.

For example, some cruise ships have suites that do not have a balcony. So you may have your heart set on a balcony, book your guarantee but get an amazing upgrade to a suite. However, not all suites have balconies, but you might find you can live without that balcony after all.

This means that a guarantee inside is a bit pointless because you can’t get a lower cabin type than that, but it is likely to be the cheapest cruise fare for that sailing, so well worth a try. The really important thing to remember about the guarantee cabin, is that you are agreeing to accept any cabin the cruise line gives you within that category or above. Expect it to be right at the back or right at the front of the ship because it probably will be. Booking a guarantee cabin means you have agreed to accept whatever the cruise line offers you. Bear in mind that it might be noisy, it might be obstructed or have an overhang.

What If I Really Don’t Like The Cabin I’ve Been Given?

If you really don’t like the cabin, check the prices of other cabins around 50 days prior to sailing. Cruise may reduce prices of remaining inventory and you might get an upgrade for a little bit extra.

I’ve Been Told I Might Get A Free Upgrade

Yes, that is true. There are cases where people have booked a guarantee inside and ended up in a balcony cabin. It does happen. But don’t take it personally if it doesn’t happen to you and don’t expect it. In most if not all cases the selection is purely at random.

Recommended Reading 5 Tips on How To Get Free Cruises

Great Gifts For Cruisers from £3 – £50

Cruise Themed Presents

Here are a few of my top picks that I think make great gifts for cruisers. They are all available on Amazon, so you don’t need to spend a day searching the shops for ideas, just a few minutes of online shopping and you will be putting a big smile on that cruise loving face of theirs.

£10 and Under

1. Cruise Ship Lapel Pin Badge 

A great little cruise ship lapel pin gift for adults, but the kids love to put these on their lanyards too.

2. Home Is Where The Anchor Drops – Wall Sign 

This wall sign serves as a reminder of the beauty of cruising.

3. World Famous Ships Top Trumps Game for Kids or Adults 

These top trump cards make a great Christmas Day game or to prevent boredom on long journeys.

4. Life Ring Light Pull (Red) 

Another nautical reminder when you turn on the light with this life ring light pull.

5. Nautical Socks 

The perfect gift for first time cruisers, to navigate around the ship with these port and starboard socks. Just makes sure they are on the right foot.

 

6. Beaded Lanyard 

Add a touch of class with this pretty beaded lanyard and keep your cruise card away from your phone.

 

7. Wooden Tissue Box Cover 

I think this is a lovely gift for the home or office. More details can be found here

£20 and Under

8. Baby Girls Sailor Dress 3 – 24 Months 

This cute girl’s sailor dress and hat comes in white or navy and is totally adorable.

 

9. Propeller Cufflinks 

These cufflinks just make me want to wear a dress shirt.

10. Captain Wine Bottle Holder 

Put this Captain wine bottle holder on your table at a dinner party to get the conversation going on your cruise adventures.

 

11. Maxwell & Williams porcelain mug in gift box 

Enjoy your morning brew in one of these gorgeous porcelain mugs. 6 designs to choose from.

 

12. The Joy of Cruising: Passionate Cruisers, Fascinating Stories

13. Poop Deck Door Sign

A bathroom sign with a difference.

14. Anchor and Compass Sterling Silver Pendant 

Just remember we are looking at gifts for other people. But why not  grab one for yourself while you are at it. Order here to get it before Christmas

 

Under £25

15. Anchor and Wheel Design Braces 

Hold Up! These nautical braces will put a smile on your ship mates face. Available in two designs.

16. Dancing Days The Vice Sailor Anchor Vintage Ladies Handbag

 

Recommended Reading Allure of the Seas Christmas Cruise Review

First Carbon Neutral Private Cruise Island

Royal Caribbean Announce World’s First Carbon Neutral Private Cruise Island

Royal Caribbean have announced their second ‘Perfect Day’ resort will be in the heart of the South Pacific. Perfect Day at Lelepa in Vanuatu, will be the first carbon neutral* private cruise destination in the world.

Created in partnership with the local community, it will provide fantastic employment and education opportunities.

“Vanuatu is a true paradise for both our people and the visitors we welcome to our shores each year. Today marks a major step forward in our island nation’s close relationship with Royal Caribbean and one that will support sustainable growth for future generations. The Ni-Vanuatu people look forward to welcoming Royal Caribbean guests from around the world to enjoy extraordinary adventures and relaxation during their Perfect Day at Lelepa.”

Vanuatu Prime Minister Salwai

Perfect Day at Lepela will be built with sustainable features designed to protect the island’s ecosystems.

Perfect Day at Lepela will be located in the South Pacific Vanuatu Islands.

The new destination will have a different look and feel to Perfect Day at CocoCay. The

‘Anyone who has encountered the tremendous natural beauty of Lelepa, can understand why it is the perfect setting for ‘Perfect Day’. Our guests who travel to the South Pacific are seeking authentic adventures and genuine relaxation, and they will find both here.’

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO, Michael Bayley

*Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at Lelepe will be audited and certified by an independent third-party expert to ensure it meets the standards for carbon neutrality. Details on the extensive and innovative techniques used to achieve carbon neutrality will be released soon.

This announcement is further evidence that Royal Caribbean are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. It is a big challenge for the cruise industry as a whole, but new technologies are making this a reality.

Recommended Reading Royal Caribbean Brands Increase Sustainable Tours

Royal Caribbean Brands Increase Sustainable Tours

ROYAL CARIBBEAN BRANDS OFFER SUSTAINABLE TOURS 

Sustainable Tours Increase Across Royal Caribbean Brands

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has announced 1,400 sustainable tours for the Caribbean, Mediterranean and beyond.

These special tours are available across all Royal Caribbean brands, and are offered by certified sustainable tour operators. Experiences include kayaking along Majorca’s west coast, underground Mayan River Cenote in Cozumel and grape harvesting at Pizzorno Winery in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Commitment to Sustainability

The initiative began as part of the company’s 2020 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) target. Royal Caribbean’s goal was to offer guests 1,000 tours, provided by operators certified to the UN-created Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standard.

Educating Tour Operators

Engaging with its global independent tour operators was a key part of the programme.

RCL’s Global Tour Operations team and GSTC conducted educational sessions for its tour operators. They educated on the company’s commitment, the importance of certification and sustainable operations, and the process to become GSTC certified.

GSTC Criteria consists of four main themes;

  • effective sustainability planning
  • maximising social and economic benefits for the local community
  • enhancing cultural heritage
  • reducing negative impacts on the environment.

Unprecedented Scale and Scope

“The scale and scope of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ commitment to sustainable shore excursions and accomplishments to date, are unprecedented,” says Jim Sano, VP for Conservation Travel, WWF.

“GSTC commends Royal Caribbean for taking these important steps, encouraging tour operators to adopt–and seek GSTC accredited certification for sustainable tourism practices,” stated Randy Durband, GSTC CEO. “Royal Caribbean’s efforts to boost the global supply of certified sustainable shore excursions is a watershed moment for the cruise industry. Having almost 1,400 tours in Royal Caribbean’s portfolio is an important milestone, and we congratulate them for their ongoing efforts.”

In 2016, RCL announced a partnership with WWF to take its sustainability performance to the next level. This partnership set ambitious sustainability targets in three key areas:

  • emissions reduction
  • sustainable food supply
  • destination stewardship

This takes the company beyond its self-contained operations, with the support of sustainable travel and livelihoods at RCL destinations.

Recommended Reading: Cruise People – Interview with Marc Walker – Royal Caribbean Cruise Director

How To Start Your Own Cruise Blog

8 Steps To Your Own Cruise Blog

First you need a name that is going to be easy to remember and describes what your blog is about. It is a good idea to have the word cruise in it, to help Google find you. Buy your domain name at a website like Go Daddy and type in the name you want. Do this before you go any further, as the name you want may not be available. It is always best to get a .com address as people tend to trust them more and if you are writing a travel site, why limit yourself to the UK? Having said that, it’s a good idea to buy the .co.uk site aswell and you can redirect it to the .com site when you are up and running. Or at least it ensures no one else copies your idea and creates a website with the same name.

Setting Up Your Cruise Blog

You can go to sites such as WordPress or Wix to start building your blog. They are both really easy to use if you allow some time and patience to learn them. There are plenty of tutorial videos on their support pages and on YouTube. This is going to be the most stressful part if you lack patience (like me), or are not very good at picking up this kind of stuff. You can hire a Web Developer to do it all for you and you can get these fairly cheap at Fiverr.com If you want to go down that route. I suggest you write up 20 blog posts with high resolution images and a plan of how you want your blog to look. Then get the developer to do it all in one go, rather than keep reverting back every time you need another post added. Once you are set up, you will probably find it a lot easier to just add a post yourself.

Cruise Blog Writing Tips

Firstly, always write your draft post in a word document backed up by a virtual folder. I have seen many posts from frustrated bloggers who have somehow lost hours of work due to the website or internet crashing.

If you want Google to rank your site as a good source of information, you need to make sure you write in a specific way. This is called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It’s not something to get too hung up on, but it’s worth learning to write in such a way to increase your chances of being seen. You can get plug ins that give you a traffic light indicator as to how readable your text is. I use Yoast as it also gives you tips on where you are going wrong. Sometimes it can be the formatting where you just need to split a large body of text up with a new heading. All of this adds up to making it a better read for your audience, so it’s going to benefit you in the long run.

Some bloggers are also contributors to cruise publications. If this is something that appeals to you, it is imperative that you get your punctuation, spelling and terminology correct. Always read over it. If you took heed of my first writing tip and started in an external word document, use the spell checker!

Sharing Your Cruise Blog on Social Media

Chose a blog theme that has social media share buttons on each post. This will make it easy for readers to share your content. You also want to encourage readers to follow you on social media, so ensure you have follow buttons somewhere on every page.

When you share a post on social media ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS tag the cruise line. That way they can see that you are supporting them. It’s also a good idea to use their hashtags.

Timing is everything. There are various ways to find out the best times to post. You can Google ‘best times to post on social media’ for insights. If you find you are not able to post at the recommended times, you can use a scheduling website such as Hootsuite, which give you additional benefits such as insights and reports.

Organising Your Cruise Blog

Just because you know where to find your posts, it doesn’t mean your reader will. It’s a good idea to enlist a few friends and family members to look around your site to see if it is easy to navigate. If not, tweak it until it does. The best way to do this is to categorise topics using the menu bar at the top of the page. Look at what other bloggers have done and take the ideas from the ones you like best.

Cruise Blog Mailing List

You will want to give people the option to sign up to your mailing list. This will help grow your audience as you can notify them every time you have a new post. Some people prefer to put a sign up box somewhere discreet and others like to use a pop up (like me). It’s up to you. This is a bit of a minefield as there are many options available. If you prefer, just get the one that comes with your website theme and fine tune it when you are more familiar with the workings.

Consistency

You will grow a much steadier audience if you are consistent. It is useful to have a content calendar to help you plan what you will blog about each week for the next 4 – 6 weeks. This doesn’t have to be rigid, but having a basic plan is always good.

You might want to blog more than once a week, but you will have press releases from the cruise lines you may want to publish in between times. Some bloggers simply copy and paste these, others change them slightly. Ideally,  you should rewrite it in your own words, but in reality our busy lives don’t always allow time for this. My opinion is that it’s better to get it out quick, than be sending out a well written piece of ‘old news’. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and the seasoned journalists can turn a press release around in about 15 minutes!

Making Money From Your Cruise Blog

There are a number of ways to make money from your cruise blog. Some are more lucrative than others, but ultimately how much you earn depends on you.

Google Adsense

Once your blog has been up and running for a while, you can apply to Google Adsense for a publisher account. You see the ads on my blog? They are Adsense ads. Some people like them and some people don’t. You won’t earn a lot of money from these unless you are driving hundreds of thousands of people to your blog each month. However it’s quite nice when you get that little bit of extra cash just for adding a bit of code onto each post.

Affiliate Links

Affiliate schemes are where you sign up to the brands you feel fit well with your blog. I have Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Florida Tix. If someone makes a booking using one of these links, the publisher (you) earn commission. This is the second best way for bloggers and influences to earn an income.

You can also sign up to Amazon Associates and when you buy something from Amazon for your cruise, just write up a review with a link to the website. If someone clicks onto your Amazon link and makes a purchase, whether it’s the product you linked to or something else, you will get paid commission.

Sponsored Posts

This is where the money is. Once you have created your audience, you may be approached by brands to write a review about their product. This is one of the reasons bloggers get free cruises. It is instead of payment from the cruise line. However other brands may be willing to pay you for working with them. I have had posts from £60 to £600, just for writing 300 – 500 words with a link to their website to book. Obviously don’t work with brands you don’t like, because your audience will see through this. I have turned down offers purely for that reason. Don’t sell yourself out.

Recommended Reading 5 Tips on How To Get Free Cruises

5 Tips on How To Get Free Cruises

So You Want To Cruise For Free?

There are a few ways to get concessionary cruises which I will cover in later posts, but with the exception of being a Captains’ wife, a cruise ship Godmother or winning a free cruise in a competition, there is only one way I know to actually cruise for free.

Free cruises are usually given by the cruise line to members of the press or media. This falls under five categories. A journalist, a photographer, an influencer, a blogger or a vlogger.

So let’s take a look at these in more detail.

1. Journalists and Photographers

The first two are really career paths. Something you have to train for and work your way up to over years of hard work.

Even then, only the creme de la creme will be selected for press trips. So there is no guarantee, if you do become a journalist or photographer, that you will ever get an invitation to cruise for free.

If you do want to take this route, there are plenty of resources online these days, so you can learn remotely. You don’t necessarily have to attend a college or university anymore, and if you really put in the work and have a natural flair, you may get there quicker. It’s a changing world and if you can prove you have exceptional writing or photography skills you don’t necessarily need a degree. You will, however need a platform to showcase your work and this is where your own blog can help.

2. Cruise Line Employee or Travel Agent

Most cruise lines will offer their staff stand-by cruises. These are free cruises but you do have to pay port taxes, fees and gratuities. I managed to cruise on Allure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas when I worked for Royal Caribbean.

You also get familiarisation cruises when you are a travel agent as well as working for the cruise line. These are usually a portion of a whole cruise which is part of an escorted group by the cruise line. It gives staff and travel agents the opportunity to experience the brand for themselves, which helps them sell it more effectively to customers.

3. Blogging

Blogging is a great way to put yourself in the game, if you have a serious passion for cruise. However, I don’t recommend you start blogging with a sole aim to get free cruises. If you do this, your content will be flat and uninteresting and your audience will see through it.

Do it because you have a burning desire for cruising. Your passion and your experience is what makes you unique, and this is how to grow a loyal audience.

You don’t have to be an amazing wordsmith or a whizz at building websites. It’s all done-for-you these days. You do need the patience to learn by your mistakes and the determination to see this through until you succeed.

Why do some bloggers get invited on cruises and others don’t? You need to have two things. Good engagement with your cruise audience, which gives you influence, and a good relationship with the cruise lines’ Public Relations or Media team (use Google to find these but don’t do it until you have something worth showing them). Pick up to five cruise lines in your niche and build up your relationship both online and offline. Ask to be added to press distribution lists and share the cruise lines’ updates with your audience.

It is important to note that PR and Media Teams get bombarded with email requests, as you can imagine. Get your blog right first. Start getting them to notice you by posting your content and tagging the cruise line in it. Once you have built up your audience, you need to put a media pack together and then send this along with a covering letter introducing yourself and explaining why you see that cruise line as a good fit for your blog.

4. Vlogging

Imagine being able to invite someone onto your cruise ship and in return they create an amazing video that shows off your ship, and then make it available to millions of cruise fans. Why wouldn’t you want them on your ship? Look at the value the cruise line is getting by giving them a free cruise.

Who are you most likely to trust when it comes to getting honest cruise reviews? The cruise line or a cruiser? That said, there are many cruise vloggers nowadays, but in my opinion only 2 or 3 really great ones. So if you have a keen interest in videography and editing, this could be your niche.

5. Influencers

If you think being a blogger requires dedication and commitment, you ain’t seen nothing yet. An influencer is someone of virtual celebrity status on social media. Generally they are the people who take 500 photos to get that perfect selfie.

They are experts in social media algorithms and work, work, work to grow their audience, consistently and relentlessly.

So now you know how to get free cruises, you might want to check out my post on  How To Start Your Own Cruise Blog

Barbados – Sustainability for a Greener Future

Barbados embraces sustainability and looks forward to a greener future

Barbados continues to strive forward with its sustainability initiatives in 2019. With the likes of David Attenborough’s Our Planet and the Extinction Rebellion that overtook many capital cities in May, it is obvious that people’s attitudes to the planets’ general health and wellbeing are changing.

People, governments, and countries are doubling efforts to encourage a more sustainable environment; and Barbados is at the forefront of the movement.

This April the country enforced a ban on single-use plastics, meaning that there will be no more importation, retail, sale and use of petrol-based, single-use plastic on the island. Barbados attracts 623,293 visitors every year, which inevitably incurs environmental challenges.

Banning single-use plastics goes some way to ensuring the protection of our pristine beaches and crystal clear waters that we are famous for. As a destination however, we realise that our sustainability efforts cannot stop there and we are proud to say we are embracing many conservation projects and methods across the island, from driving electric cars to biodynamic farming, we are excited for a more sustainable future”. Cheryl Carter, UK Director, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, commented.

Barbados is already hailed as one of the world’s top users of electric cars. As the island receives over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, the destination saw fit to harness the sun’s energy in 2013 and has been doing so ever since. The island now boasts over 350 solar powered cars, dramatically reducing the islands’ emissions.

2019 also marks the Year of Wellness and Soft Adventure; a theme that ultimately embraces the idea of its locals and visitors exploring the islands’ natural offerings and truly immersing themselves in the healing powers of Barbados’ paradise vibe. Many view the Caribbean islands as solely sun, sand, and sea destinations but Barbados’ offering is so much richer. With a wealth of activities to choose from, including hiking, horse riding and running, to road tennis, island safari and car racing.

The island offers a diverse landscape; from hidden caves, to lush forests, and rolling sugar cane fields; to winding valleys, rugged coastlines, glittering beaches, and peaceful bays. There is a vast amount to explore be it on foot, bicycle or on all fours (in the case of Harrison’s Cave).

Visitors to the environmentally conscious island can enjoy a number of eco-focused attractions and accommodations such as:

  • Welchman Gully: contributes to the islands’ cultural and natural history, by providing an ecological research space for conservationists. The gully itself is home to many monkeys, birds, butterflies and majestic rainforest trees as well as delicate native plants.
  • PEG Farm: encourages visitors to embrace their surroundings and the concept of sustainable living. The biodynamic farm brings new agricultural and holistic lifestyle practices to the island through permaculture and free range animal husbandry. The farm also boasts wonderful medicinal gardens onsite that nurture a large variety of plants sourced from across the island. The sole focus of biodynamics is to restore the Earth’s capacity to heal and regenerate, which are achieved through the farms sustainability initiatives.
  • As Barbados has become more environmentally conscious so have many of the resorts, leading to establishments such as the Eco Lifestyle Lodge and Naniki offering guests retreats and holidays with an eco-conscious focus. Many of the menus feature delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes, with activities centering on the guests’ health and wellbeing, such as sunrise yoga and sunset hikes. Forest bathing is also very popular in the 53-acre rainforest atCoco Hill Forest.
  • The Barbados Sea Turtle project is another initiative close to the island’s heart. The project has been involved in the conservation of the endangered marine turtle species for more than 25 years. Its long term vision is to restore the local marine turtle population through research, education and public outreach. Barbados is currently home to the second-largest hawksbill turtle nesting population in the Caribbean, with up to 500 nesting females per year.
  • Carlisle Bay in the south west of Barbados has recently become a designated marine-protected area, popular with divers, swimmers and snorkelers. Preserving Barbados’ coastline, the marine environment, the health of its reefs and habitats of the marine plants and animals is a continuous focus. It will ensure sustainable use and development of the fisheries, marine assets, resources, minerals and species for sustainable recreation and the livelihoods of those that make a living from the sea.

For more information see: www.visitbarbados.org

Recommended Reading: Corky’s Garage – The Best Bar In Barbados

5 Ethical Commitments From Fashion Brands

5 Ethical Commitments From Fashion Brands You Need To Know About

Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of pre-cruise shopping? This guest post by Wayne Thomas gives you a few things to consider if you want to make ethical choices.

Ethical concerns are becoming an integral part of the way fashion retailers do business. As more information comes to light about the negative impact fast fashion has on the environment and those who work in the industry, consumers are driving demand for ethical commitments from the brands they know and love.  

From raising money to fund causes they care about to addressing human rights issues in the manufacture of their products, we are asking more than ever of the world’s biggest producers and retailers. In this post, we look at five ethical commitments from brands you need to know about.  

Fundraising  

One of the simplest ways brands can commit to a more ethical way of working is by raising money for causes their customers believe in. Did you know that high-street giant Debenhams has a £1 million fundraising target each year? This is alongside the many other steps Debenhams have taken in recent years to make their operations more ethical.  

Reduction In Landfill  

Much of what we buy and wear ends up in landfill. It is a sad byproduct of our throwaway culture, but one which brands are now starting to address. Clothing brand Nobody’s child have committed to reducing landfill as much as possible. They only manufacture their collections in small runs, reuse fabric where possible and donate any excess fabric to local colleges. Also, at & Other Stories, Monki, and other H&M Group brands, customers are able to recycle old textiles in store and receive discounts and incentives.  

Ban On Animal Testing And Use 

Some of the biggest brands have now committed to banning animal testing, fur (including feathers) and angora in all of their productions. Big names which have recently committed to stopping the use of angora wool include Gucci, Calvin Klein, Gap and Ralph Lauren.  

This is not only reserved for the fashion space, but in the beauty industry too. There has been a significant increase in the number of vegan and cruelty free brands on the market which has forced even the biggest beauty houses to consider their animal testing practices and the ingredients they use in their products.  

Eco Packaging  

It is not just the goods themselves, but the production and disposal of packaging that is causing major disruption to the environment. You may have already noticed how much excess packaging comes with your favourite parcels, but did you know many brands are now taking measures to reduce the packaging used? For example, the cult skincare brand Glossier now allow you to decline their signature pink ziplock and sticker pack to reduce the carbon footprint of their packaging.  

Sustainable Supply Chains  

Ethical concerns go further than the store you buy from. Brands are now committing to ensuring that their ethical commitments extend through to manufacture and sourcing of materials. According to charity The Chain, who monitor supply chain practices, Adidas, Lululemon and Primark are leading the way when it comes to rectifying human rights issues, listening to the voices of workers and overall monitoring of supply chain practices. For example, Adidas has long-term relationships with most of its suppliers. 

What commitments do you like to see from your favourite brands? Let us know. 

Here are some of our favourites;

7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

World First Hybrid Electric LNG Icebreaker

Fred Olsen Guests Fund Fifth RNLI Lifeboat



How I Lost Weight On A Royal Caribbean Cruise

It’s Not All Gravy On A Cruise

Did you know that the average person puts on 7 pounds of body weight on a seven night cruise?  It’s hardly surprising with the abundance of food available onboard a cruise.

That’s pretty scary right? I imagine that would put a lot of people off booking a cruise in the first place!

As I write this post, I am sitting next to a lovely lady by the name of Patti Klepic. We have just met at a conference about ketones and ketosis, in Orlando, Florida and naturally I started talking about cruising. “Do you want to know how I lost weight on a Royal Caribbean cruise?” Patti asked me. She then proceeded to tell me how she lost 5 pounds in weight during a 10 day Royal Caribbean cruise on Serenade of the Seas.

So How Did Patti Do It?

When you were on the cruise what did you have for breakfast?

I didn’t, I only ate one meal a day

Do you do that when you are at home?

Yes. I do that at home because I drink exogenous ketones which control my appetite and give me energy. So I’ll drink one in the morning and then I’m good to go all day. I’ll drink coffee with full fat cream and then I eat one meal a day, dinner or if I eat lunch then I eat a big lunch and only have a snack at night. So on the cruise I ate two appetisers . . .

What time did you have dinner on the cruise?

8 o’clock at night.

The late one?

Yes because I don’t like to come off an Island in a hurry to get ready to eat, I want to have a relaxing dinner.

So you are telling me that you would get up in the morning, at what sort of time would you get up?

Eight, nine.

You would get up you would not have any breakfast and you would go out?

No. I would have coffee with fat cream.

Did you make that yourself or did you take that on with you?

No, I drank my own ketones and went to the onboard Lattitudes cafe and I would have basically a Starbucks. I would have an Americano with heavy whipping cream in it.

And they provide that on the cruise?

Yep, you just ask for it.

So you had your coffee in the morning, then you went off the ship and went exploring for the day and you didn’t feel tired or hungry?

No.

And you didn’t at any point feel tempted to . . .

No I didn’t eat anything when I was out because i wasn’t hungry. I would take water off and buy it if I ran out.

Meal Time

So then you’d eat eat at 8.30 So you’ve had your ketone in the morning, you just had one so far right?  Then you had your dinner at 8.30. What did you have?

I would have either a double caesar salad without croutons but with full dressing. Or I would have a caesar salad and a shrimp cocktail.

Then I would order two main course entrees, I would not have a starch I would order double vegetable on my plate, and then I would ask them for a separate plate of the seasons vegetables for the night.

So you said you ordered two starters and two entrees?

Yes Ma’am.

Wow! Ok so what would you have when you say two main courses?

I would have maybe prime rib and the vegetables that went with that, then pecan crusted salmon with whatever vegetable that was. So I would mix a beef with a foul or a beef with a fish. So yeah that’s what I ate.

What about alcohol, do you drink at all?

I don’t drink alcohol because I don’t drink the sugar.

Would you have another ketone later?

I would have one when I went back to my room usually right before bed, a non caffeinated one.

I guess your exercise was walking around the Islands?

Yes and I didn’t take the elevators. I was on the eighth floor and I walked the stairs until I couldn’t walk up.

Patti’s Top Tips

You know the average person puts on 7lb on a seven night cruise? So for people who don’t do keto, have you got any advice for them?

Yes. Don’t eat the bread, don’t eat the potatoes, don’t eat the rice, don’t eat the buffet unless you know exactly what you’re going to eat on it. Take a walk around, decide what you are going to have, and fill your plate once, go sit down and leave the dining room. Forget about the desserts, they may look good but they won’t feel good on your butt when you get home.

Some people would say, yeah but Im on holiday, I can have what I like.

Health doesn’t take a vacation.

You mentioned ketones? Do you have to be on the keto diet for that?

No you do not. In order to be in nutritional ketosis, all you have to do is drink one of the exogenous ketones and within 45 – 60 minutes you will be in nutritional ketosis whether you are on a keto diet or not.

So if somebody is going on a cruise and doesn’t want to put on the weight, maybe it’s a good time to try the ketones. Maybe they could take it with them as a sort of deterrent?

Well actually my suggestion would be start taking them 6 weeks before the cruise. so you got the pool body that you want to have and then take them with you.

Check out more information on ketones.

Recommended Reading: Interview with Royal Caribbean Cruise Director – Marc Walker

How to Plan a Romantic Cruise Holiday 

I’m thrilled to be able to share with you another great post by guest blogger Wayne Thomas.

There can be few things in life as romantic as life on the open sea. Cruising is growing in popularity year-on-year and with so many destinations now available for you to cruise to, it’s easy to see why.   

Some 27.2m people cruised in 2018, up 10% in 2016, and with facilities improving and service standards on the rise, that boost in numbers is set to continue.  

With lavish dinners, stellar entertainment and a myriad of activities to do – and that’s just on board – cruising has long been the choice for couples and families looking to escape. But cruise companies are increasingly catering for romantic getaways.  

Cruises are, in many ways, inherently romantic by their very nature. The itinerary is decided – a combination of cities and the open sea. You share new experiences and adventures with the person you love, as the ship takes you to the places along the route and sets you up for another day where you can create endless memories. Couples’ private dining options, tailored massages, exclusive entertainment, cruises have it all.   

And to help you book the perfect trip, here are our key tips on how to plan your next adventure.  

1. Pick a point on the map 

The sheer variety of options you have are extraordinary. Venice, the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, Norway, California. The options are extraordinary and apparently endless.

Cruise ships now visit more than 100 countries across the world and allow you to explore stunning white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, incredible and varied wildlife and animals, as well as some of the most celebrated cities on earth. So, before you do anything, decide what kind of cruise holiday you want to go on, narrow down the options and make your choice. You can even go on round-the-world cruises for up to 245 days a year. 

2. Get the boring bits taken care of 

Once you have booked, you will no doubt daydream about all the magnificent experiences that await, but before you get carried away make sure you have everything taken care of. Do you need inoculations where you are going, have you taken care of your travel insurance? In some countries, such as Thailand, travel insurance is now mandatory, so please make sure you check and get it booked – especially as you’ll be visiting different countries.

Once these bits are arranged, you can relax and start researching the wonderful destinations that await, so that once your cruise liner drops anchor you can make the most of your time on dry land. 

3. On-board extras  

Once you have chosen your destination, make sure you spend some time looking at all the options your cruise company offers once you are on board. Many will arrange private, romantic sunset dinners, others will offer special couples’ massages.

There will be plenty of options for you and your loved one, but don’t leave it until you get on board or you may find you have left it too late and availability is limited. You have been warned. 

More by Wayne Thomas: The Best Destinations To Cruise To On Your Babymoon

Best Destinations For Your Babymoon

That’s me onboard Royal Princess when I was expecting Josh. There is nothing like a cruise when you are pregnant. You can just sit back, relax and switch off.

Each cruise line has different policies on how many weeks pregnant they will accept women to sail with them. Check the terms and conditions, or mention it to your travel agent prior to booking. Most cruise lines allow women up to 24 weeks pregnant, however others will go as far as 28 weeks. In this guest post, Wayne Thomas shares tips on the best destinations to cruise to on your babymoon. 

If you’re looking for the perfect way to relax whilst pregnant, then look no further than a cruise holiday. With every opportunity for Mum to kick back and lots for the rest of the family to do, plus plenty of ports to head into, it’s a vacation that will make everyone happy.

by Wayne Thomas

So, the question is, where to go? Here are the best destinations to cruise to on your babymoon.

Caribbean Dreaming

Caribbean cruises stop off at some wonderful family-friendly locations. The stunning beaches and relaxation spots of the likes of St Lucia and Antigua compete for your attention with the duty-free shopping mecca that is the Cayman Islands. The islands are all swarming with cultural hotspots too, from the Spanish colonial buildings of Havana to the plantations of Barbados.

Enjoy the romance of Havana, Cuba

What all these destinations are well-equipped to do is minimise the stress of holiday making. If your travelling companions want a bit more excitement, there are plenty of diving opportunities available while you sit back and take it easy on white sands or put your feet up on a deck chair. With a gentler pace of life, a tropical paradise might just be the perfect tonic for you.

Beauty of the Baltics

If you’re a fan of history and culture, then a cruise in the Baltic sea could be right up your street. Admire incredible Russian churches before making your way to bustling cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm for a taste of the cosmopolitan lifestyle. There’s incredible architecture just about everywhere on this journey, not to mention Oslo’s glittering window lights that reflect on the water’s surface.

Nyhavn buildings in Copenhagen, Denmark.

You’ll get to experience the best cuisine from so many different countries, which is great for all those cravings you’ll no doubt be having. Sample dumplings stuffed with meats and tossed in thick stews and broths, or give pickled vegetables a go and choose from cabbage, beans and beetroot. Do be careful, though, as there are some foods you should avoid when pregnant. These include things like certain soft cheeses, partially cooked eggs, pâté, and raw fish; make sure you research risky foods thoroughly before travelling.

In terms of scenery, you really won’t find better than this. Experience archipelagoes and stretches of beach, which contrast with Soviet landmarks dating back to WWII.

Escape to the Fjords (with a taste of the arctic)

To experience natural wonders like nowhere else, set off on a cruise to the Fjords. The northern lights are simply unmissable. They are nothing short of magical as they paint the night sky different shades of green and pink. You’ll stop off in picturesque towns with cobbled streets and cathedrals after drifting past snow-capped mountains along still, reflective water.

As you head further north, the cooler climate provides the perfect excuse to wrap up warm and cosy up under blankets on the deck of the ship. Alternatively, watch the world pass you by through your cabin window while holed up with a comforting warm drink – the ultimate way to relax!

Aurora borealis above the snow covered mountain in Lofoten islands, Norway.

My Top Summer Cruise Destinations

My Top Summer Cruise Destinations

As the nights begin to get a little bit lighter and temperatures start to rise, it’s only right that we start to think about the summer months ahead.

With children on an extended school holiday and warm temperatures arriving, summer is a great time to set sail on the cruise of a lifetime.

There are a great range of summer cruise destinations for you to explore. To help you decide which is right for you, here are my top summer cruise destinations for you to consider as you start to plan your summer break.

Western Mediterranean

Packed with world wonders, the western Mediterranean is equal parts enticing, charming and magical. Plus, in the summer months, the temperatures reach the mid-20s, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use the ship’s pool as you port-hop.

From the Coliseum and the ruins of Rome to the ancient streets of Cadiz, and the party island of Ibiza, on a western Mediterranean cruise, you can have a little bit of everything – sampling history, architecture and sun-kissed shores in the process.

One of the great joys of a western Mediterranean cruise is that you can be as flexible as you like. Itineraries stretch from as little as three days to as long as two weeks. Plus, with specialist sites such as www.cruisedeals.co.uk, you can compare a wide range of holidays and find which works best for you and your budget.

Canary Islands

If you’d like your summer holiday to be all about the sun, then the Canary Islands are the place to go. Although they’re a go-to cruise destination all year round, the average temperature in the Canary Islands in August is 24°C, so you’re practically guaranteed the weather. This makes the Canary Islands perfect, regardless of whether you’d like to explore at your own pace, take it easy on the beach, or get the adrenaline pumping.

A cruise to the Canary Islands offers a little bit of something for everyone. You can climb Mount Teide, witness the lunar landscapes of Lanzarote, or even go camel-riding in the desert. There’s always an option for you in the Canary Islands. Each island allows you to top up your tan and tick unforgettable experiences off your bucket list. The only problem you’ll have is narrowing down which ones to visit!

Alaska

If you’re looking for an adventure like no other, then a cruise to Alaska is the perfect choice. In the winter months, temperatures in Alaska can reach -10°C in some places, which makes the summer a much better time to travel. Plus, thanks to extended daylight hours, you’ll have a better chance of spotting wildlife.

A cruise to Alaska can be as rewarding as it is fascinating. With stunning scenery and lush landscapes, Alaska provides you with unspoilt views of glaciers and forests. The Glacier Bay National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is a particular highlight, but you can also take in other great Alaskan experiences, such as fresh seafood, dog-sledding tours and lumberjack experiences.

If you’d like to extend your Alaska cruise, you can also add stops in America and Canada.

The Baltics

During the summer sailing season, temperatures in the Baltics reach a pleasant 15°C to 20°C, which make these cities and ports the perfect location if you don’t like it too hot.

On your cruise, you’ll be surrounded by world-famous landmarks, breathtaking scenery and historical attractions. Plus, if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the stunning Northern Lights one evening.

The Baltics are a cultural paradise for people who love to explore, and with top destinations such as St Petersburg, Denmark and Finland all available, a summer cruise to the Baltics allows you to explore the iconic landmarks of northern Europe and beyond.

The British Isles

If you’re looking for a summer getaway that won’t break the bank, then why not consider a cruise around the British Isles? It’s the perfect starting point if you’ve never been on a cruise before and you’d like to test the waters.

The British Isles actually consist of over 6,000 islands, and there’s no better way to see them all than on a cruise. There’s so much to see and do. The port of Southampton gives you access to London and Stonehenge, while a stop at St Peter Port in Guernsey lets you visit the historic Candie Gardens. You can even sample the Guinness in Cork or Dublin – the choice really is yours.

Plus, depending on the itinerary you choose, you can even tag on a visit to mainland Europe.

Whether you’re looking to book for this year, or if you’re planning ahead for 2020, my top summer cruise destinations are sure to provide you with unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. So, which one will you choose?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored guest post on behalf of www.cruisedeals.co.uk

Visit Destinations You’ve Never Been To Before

If you want to visit numerous destinations then why not book a cruise? Here are 5 simple steps to help you, including where to find the best deals.

1.Where Do You Want To Go?

Write down a list of places you would love to visit.

2.What Time Of Year Are You Looking To Travel?

If you are restricted to particular travel dates this will get your long list down to a handful of options as some destinations are seasonal.

3.Who Are You Travelling With?

Do the people in your party have particular needs? Maybe someone has mobility issues or you are travelling with children. If you need a wheelchair adapted cabin or kids clubs, these are things that need to be taken into consideration from the outset.

4.What Is Important To You In Terms Of Onboard Experience?

Are you a night owl, culture vulture or triathlete? Cruise lines offer such a vast array of onboard experiences now.  Expert lectures, sports and fitness facilities, entertainment, spa and much more, so you can tailor your cruise to the lifestyle you love.

Does the idea of being overcrowded concern you? Generally speaking cruises are not crowded. On the larger ships, there are certain events onboard that do attract a lot of guests. To avoid this completely, either stay away from these areas at specific times, (which also means other areas are quieter) or don’t choose a cruise that is aimed at a party crowd. This is usually dictated by destination, time of year and price.

Once you have drawn up your list and narrowed it down, you are ready for the fun part, finding your perfect cruise. You can choose to do this yourself by researching online, or maybe you will want a travel professional take care of everything for you.

5.Cruise Deals and Promotions

If you are looking to travel during peak times, I suggest booking as early as possible. This will help you  to secure exactly what you want.

Promotions are generally available every few months for bookings made in advance. These more inclusive deals could include a drinks package for just a little more than the original price advertised. For those of you who like to relax with a glass of wine could find this a great cost saving.

Please note, the cruise line will not allow you to swap a free drinks package for something else or reduce the cost of the cruise if you want to exclude this package.

Your promotion could include free spending money, which you can use towards purchases onboard. This can be anything up to $1000 per stateroom, which offers amazing value for money. Examples of onboard purchases are spa and beauty treatments, shore excursions, shopping, duty free and on some cruise lines you can use it in the casino. Other promotions might include complimentary shore excursions, free flights, upgraded stateroom, free wifi, speciality dining and more. Each cruise line will offer different promotions, so be sure to check each one to see what deal suits you best.

Deals are usually on sailings closer to departure. As a result there may be limited availability, which means you may have to compromise your wish list slightly.

Essential WAVE Season Survival Guide

What Is Wave Season?

It’s the time of year that the cruise industry goes into overdrive.  January and February (fondly referred to as ‘Wave’ Season, are the biggest booking months of the year. Many cruise lines and cruise agencies impose a holiday embargo on their staff during this period as they want all hands on deck. Why? Because what happens in these two months, will have a huge impact on the sales strategy for the rest of the year.

How Does Wave Season Work?

It’s no surprise that the objective of any cruise line is to sell every cabin on every sailing at full price right? So, that is the aim of Wave Season. Here are the 4 key steps to ensuring its success.

1. Cruise lines create a sales strategy otherwise known as a Wave Campaign. This consists of booking incentives for customers and sales incentives for travel agents.

2. Travel Agents are bombarded with information daily if not hourly, about the offers and deals from cruise lines and seduced by irresistible booking incentives. These are very generous and vary greatly from cruise line to cruise line. Some offer between £20-£100 per booking on a pre-paid MasterCard (in addition to the usual commission). Others will tempt agents with the opportunity to win free cruises, or gain access to special events. Or they might be in with a chance of getting the latest Apple device, concert tickets, shop vouchers and more.

3. Direct and electronic mail is sent out by cruise lines and travel agencies, to coincide with tv, radio, newspaper and social media adverts. With a multi-channel approach, they inevitably generate enquiries from potential customers.

4. The result is, the customer is prompted to call a travel agent or cruise line as they have seen an offer that they like, the agent is looking to get that incentive so does everything in their power to turn that enquiry into a booking with them. The customer gets a great deal on their cruise, the travel agent gets the incentive and the cruise line has one less cabin to sell. Win, win, win. Or is it?

Is It Best To Book In Wave Season?

When is the best time to book a cruise? This has to be the most frequently asked question other than Should I prepay gratuities? I can only give you my opinion on this, based on my 10 years experience as a cruise agent.

The answer is YES if;

There is only one particular cruise you want to go on.

You are travelling in peak seasons such as school holidays or Christmas.

You MUST have a particular cabin type; i.e non obstructed, accessible, midship. (See Can My Cruise Cabin or Flight Change Without My Knowledge?)

You want to guarantee the flight cost and know the cruise line will look after you if there are any issues with the flights.

You want to have as much included in the price as possible, such as drinks, parking etc.

Your party wants to dine at a specific time.

The answer is NO if;

You want the cheapest cruise fare no matter what.

You are happy to book a guarantee cabin. (See What Is A Guarantee Cabin)

You don’t mind what time you dine in the main dining room.

You can go last minute.

If you don’t drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day (on a cruise that is).

What Happens After Wave?

The honest answer to this question is that no-one really knows. I imagine a handful of top executives have plans in place depending on the outcome of Wave, but the travel agent (see Who Should I Book My Cruise With) that you speak to has no idea what is coming until the day it arrives. The top cruise agencies and cruise line staff may be told one or two days in advance about an offer at best, but the truth of it is, the next offer will depend on how many cabins have already been filled.

Here Is My Advice To Booking A Cruise

I believe there are two things to think about before you make your final decision to book your cruise. Firstly, if you can’t make your mind up between Cruise A or Cruise B, I always suggest imagining that both cruises are free. Then you can find out which one you REALLY want. I believe it is worth paying a little bit extra for the cruise that you want, rather than comprising your total satisfaction for the sake of saving money.

Secondly, you may have decided on which cruise you would like, but think it will be better to hold off to see what happens with the prices. Before you decide to put yourself through months of checking prices, the stress of waiting to see if it will go down in price, and hoping there will still be availability, think about the fact that you could get the booking done and then relax in the knowledge that you are going on a cruise.

My Advice to Cruise Agents

If you give your best to your customers, the rest will follow. Don’t be distracted with the carrot of a freebie or the temptation to feed your ego and be at the top of the sales chart. Think about your relationship with your customers. If you can gain a trusting relationship with one customer, they will be yours for life. Not only that but they will tell their friends about you. In the long run, you will have a solid business which you can take with you anywhere. This will give you value as an employee and longevity in the business, as well as respect within the industry and amongst your customers. Reputation is key.

7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

MSC Cruises Have Launched A Worldwide Commitment To Eliminate Single-use Plastics Throughout The Fleet

It is the topic of the decade, reducing ocean pollution and MSC Cruises are taking a big step to ensure they are making changes across their family owned fleet. MSC Cruises’ commitment will see the phasing out of all single use plastic straws by December 2018. This is followed by a further pledge which will se the removal of virtually all single-use plastics fleetwide by March 2019.

  • MSC Cruises’ Plastics Reduction Programme plans to phase out or replace virtually all single-use plastic items by March 2019 across its entire fleet .
  • The first milestone will be reached by the end of 2018 which will see all plastic straws replaced with 100% compostable and biodegradable alternatives.
  • The company is exploring end-to-end recycling solutions and for remaining plastic items to get certification by global organisation.

Antonio Paradiso, MD for MSC Cruises UK & Ireland said of the commitment “At MSC Cruises our passion is the sea and we are always working hard to grow and evolve our business with a mind-set to respect the environment and the oceans which we operate in. Our plastic reduction programme aims to move at a very fast pace and by end of December 2018, we will already reach a first milestone by phasing out all single-use plastic straws, followed by another milestone in March 2019 when virtually all single-use plastics will be removed or replaced if alternatives are available.

The depth and diligence of this programme is exceptional and unique: it is not only about single-use plastic straws, or small ‘visible’ restaurant items, the Programme also looks at eliminating ALL ‘invisible’ single-use plastic items from the entire supply chain. At MSC Cruises we are driven by innovation and development and are working with thousands of partners and suppliers to ensure that our Environmental Stewardship Programme matches the innovation of our next generation smart fleet.”

World First Hybrid Electric LNG Icebreaker

Ponant Reveal New Ship to be named Le Commandant Charcot, a tribute to Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot

Ponant, the global leader in luxury expeditions and the only French-owned cruise line, has revealed the name of its polar exploration vessel, Le Commandant Charcot. A world first, this hybrid electric icebreaker, powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), has been named after Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot, as an homage to the man known as “the gentleman of the poles”.

Photo Credit: PONANT – Le Commandant Charcot

A tribute to the famous French polar explorer, Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot

The new vessel will bear the name of a great French explorer: Le Commandant Charcot. An explorer by vocation with a true passion for sailing, Jean-Baptiste Charcot is an emblematic figure of French polar expeditions. By naming its forthcoming polar exploration vessel after him, PONANT is paying tribute to this “gentleman of the poles”, who was respected by everyone. This choice is even more significant since this new ship will be fitted with the latest technology for minimising environmental impact, as well as a scientific laboratory for conducting operational oceanography missions and research.

Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot, the gentleman of the poles

Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot

1867    Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

1873    At school, he drew boats on all his exercise books.

1892    For his 25th birthday, he received a small boat as a gift from his father.

1902    He crossed the Arctic Circle and travelled to the Arctic for the first time.

1903    From 1903 to 1905 aboard Le Français and from 1908 to 1910 aboard Le Pourquoi-Pas, he reached the Antarctic regions.

1909    He located Graham Land on navigation charts, dropped anchor near Alexandra Land, and discovered the island that would bear his name.

1920    From 1920 to 1936, his scientific cruises led him from the Hebrides to the east coast of Greenland.

Sustainable development is at the core of the design of the polar exploration vessel

Powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Le Commandant Charcot will be fitted with the latest environmental protection technology:

Advanced “Cleanship” equipment exceeding the requirements imposed by current environmental regulations:

  • Reduction of SO2, NOₓ, CO2 and particle emissions thanks to the use of LNG
  • Zero emissions in hybrid electric mode

Energy management:

  • Energy optimisation system with precise consumption measurement and optimisation of ship sailing methods
  • Energy recovery system
  • Consumption optimisation with latest-generation electric batteries that make it possible to stop the engines for 2 to 3 hours

Water treatment:

    • Advanced waste-water treatment system

Photo Credit: PONANT – Le Commandant Charcot

Pre-bookings can be made from 6 September 2018

Bookings for cruises aboard Le Commandant Charcot will open on 4 April 2019, but pre-bookings may be made from 6 September 2018 to secure a stateroom and the early bird price. A chance to discover the Geographic North Pole (latitude 90 degrees North) or parts of Antarctica, such as the Ross Sea, Charcot Island and Peter  Island, that were inaccessible until now… Passengers booking these itineraries will be in for veritable polar odysseys rather than cruises.

Outstanding Complimentary Amenities

Oceania Cruises Offers the Ultimate in Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, New Zealand and the South Pacific

OLife Ultimate Campaign Provides Guests with Outstanding Complimentary Amenities

Oceania Cruises has extended their popular OLife Ultimate promotion to selected 2018 and 2019 sailings in some of the world’s most coveted destinations. The offer by the world’s leading culinary- and destination-focused cruise line, gives guests unlimited internet, up to eight free shore excursions, a free house alcoholic beverage package, up to $800 shipboard credit and free gratuities per stateroom.

Enriching Immersive Destinations and Experiences

One of Oceania Cruises’ most generous ever offers, OLife Ultimate applies to 18 cruises, not only to the stunningly exotic South Pacific Islands, but also now to cruises which take in both the North Island and South Island of New Zealand, eastern Australia and Tasmania, the tropical havens of the Caribbean and fascinating Asian ports from Dubai to Japan and beyond. The full list of applicable cruises can be found at OLife Ultimate Sailings.

New Zealand and Australia

Tasman Traveller offers guests the chance to see the best of the North and South islands of New Zealand; Sydney and Eden on Australia’s east coast; and the energetic seaside town of Burnie in Tasmania. The 16-day cruise sails 30th January 2019 on board Regatta.  Highlights of how guests can use their eight free shore excursions include trips to glow worm caves and kayaking adventures at The Bay of Islands, New Zealand, or wild kangaroo spotting and fresh oyster sampling in Eden, Australia.

South Pacific

Two Sparkling South Pacific cruises on board Marina are 10 days long, sailing on 21st and 31st January 2019. They both highlight French Polynesia, round trip from Papeete, visiting the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and pristine ecosystems of Moorea, Fakarava, Huahine and Raiatea among others.  Six shore excursions could see guests sailing a lagoon by catamaran off the most romantic island in the world, Bora Bora, or learn how to grade pearls on a visit to a black pearl farm in Rangiroa.

Safaris, Sands and Splendours

Sailing 20th January 2019 for 30 days, the epic Safaris, Sands and Splendours cruise on board Nautica covers 11 countries from South Africa to Singapore. The sailing stops at Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Seychelles, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia in an astonishing itinerary of contrasting cultures, which guests will be able to delve deeply into with eight free shore excursions.  An overnight stay in Cape Town means travellers can take advantage of their free shore excursions with a tour of local winelands or visit Robben Island. Or they can use their shore excursions later in the cruise, visiting the Black Lemur Sanctuary in Madagascar, enjoying an insider’s tour of a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, or experiencing a cave and mangrove adventure in Langkawi, Malaysia. There are also a number of pre-cruise land programmes for guests to enjoy, if they choose to, for an additional cost. These include the four-day Winelands & Wildlife tour which showcases picturesque landscapes and renowned wines of the Cape Town region, as well as offering the chance to see lions, zebras, giraffes and more in one of Africa’s pristine wildlife reserves.

Caribbean

Guests could also experience a Caribbean New Year on board Insignia sailing from Miami to New York for 15 days on 27th December 2018.  Ringing in the New Year with an overnight stay in Orangestad, Aruba, the ship also visits Santa Marta, Colombia; Willemstad, Curacao; Kralendijk, Bonaire; St. George’s, Grenada; Castries, St. Lucia; Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe; Gustavia, St. Barts; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Explorers can use their eight shore excursions to marvel at the spectacular Quebrada Valencia waterfalls in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park in Colombia, partake in a 4×4 Land Rover adventure across the rugged eastern shore of Bonaire or discover the rum-making process during a tour of Old San Juan and the Bacardi Rum Distillery. Also, Insignia will be better than new following a re-inspiration of dramatic on-board enhancements, elevating every facet of the guest experience.

Ultimate Amenities on Five Oceania Cruises Ships

OLife Ultimate gives guests a number of free amenities to enjoy on board Oceania Cruises’ Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, Marina and Riviera. Not only will Insignia attract the free amenities, but the ship will also have benefitted from the recently announced OceaniaNEXT $100 million re-inspiration initiative, with her guests among some of the first to enjoy 342 brand new designer suites and staterooms as well as stunning new décor in the restaurants, lounges and bars.

A house beverage package affords guests free and unlimited champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner, which can be enjoyed with the Finest Cuisine at Sea in a variety of complimentary dining venues.  Sumptuous dining options include authentic Italian, classic French, Asian-fusion and American Steakhouse.

Guests will also receive up to $800 shipboard credit which can be spent in any one of the ship’s luxurious facilities on board.  This could be while enjoying a refreshing cocktail in one of many salubrious bars or perhaps a relaxing treatment in the Canyon Ranch Spa.  On board Marina and Riviera, guests could even expand their culinary expertise by taking a class in the Culinary Centre which teaches pupils a variety of skills and specialities from ancient cuisines, to magical dishes from Morocco and Turkey, to knife skills.

OLife Ultimate, which must be booked by 30th September 2018, also gives guests complimentary internet as well as free gratuities.

About Oceania Cruises

Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2018, Oceania Cruises is the world’s leading culinary- and destination-focused cruise line.  The line’s six intimate and luxurious ships which carry only 684 or 1,250 guests offer an unrivalled holiday experience featuring the finest cuisine at sea and destination-rich itineraries that span the globe.  Expertly crafted voyages aboard designer-inspired, intimate ships call on more than 450 ports 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.

About OceaniaNEXT

You can read more about the OceaniaNEXT re-inspiration of the iconic Regatta-Class ships here.

Mia Tui Travel Bag Review – Jennie and Alex

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 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 has a strap, allowing it to fit over your suitcase handle. If you are going to and from the airport this is great. However, don’t overload the bag even though it will be able to hold it, you may not.

  • 1 Clear internal bag with hand strap
  • 1 Matching clutch bag with hand & X-body strap
  • Insulated water bottle holders (bottles not included)
  • Key clip
  • Phone pocket
  • Pen holder
  • Hands-free shoulder strap
  • Metal studs on base of bag for protection
  • Turquoise interior

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.

The internal bag that comes with the Jennie bag in rose gold

I took this little bag everywhere with me on the cruise and still do every day.

Lightweight Beach Bag

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.

The Alex Folding Bag in Green Flower design

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.

Wearing my Mia Tui bag at Mercedes Benz World

Taking my Mia Tui bag out when meeting friends for coffee

Mia Tui even saved the day when I forgot to take Sam’s lead to watch the Farnborough Air Show

To get 20% off your first purchase simply enter discount code SAC20 at checkout.

Home – Mia Tui

Jennie Bag – Mia Tui

Alex Folding Bag – Mia Tui