Oceania Cruises $100 Million Re-Inspiration

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.

Ships and re-inspiration dates;

  • December 2018 – Insignia
  • May 2019 – Sirena
  • September 2019 – Regatta
  • June 2020 – Nautica

Surprisingly New, Delightfully Familiar

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.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises - Insignia Grand Hall
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Grand Hall

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.

Oceania Cruises Give Regatta-Class $100 Million Re-Inspiration
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Grand Hall

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.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises - Insignia Grand Dining Room
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Grand Dining Room

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.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises - Insignia Martini Lounge
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Martini Lounge

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.

Oceania Cruises Give Regatta-Class $100 Million Re-Inspiration
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Concierge Veranda
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises - Insignia Concierge Veranda
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Concierge Veranda

“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.”

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises - Insignia Penthouse Suite
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Penthouse Suite
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises - Insignia Penthouse Suite
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Penthouse Suite

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.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises - Sirena Vista Suite #7004
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Sirena Vista Suite #7004
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises - Sirena Owners Suite Living Room #6008
Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Sirena Owners Suite Living Room #6008

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

For more information visit: Oceania Cruises

3 Norwegian Ships Get Total Refurbishment

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

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.

 Syd Norman’s Pour House onboard Norwegian Breakaway
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Syd Norman’s Pour House onboard Norwegian Breakaway

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.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - Bliss Ultra Lounge onboard Norwegian Breakaway
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Bliss Ultra Lounge onboard Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Sun

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.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - Los Lobos Mexican Cantina onboard Norwegian Sun
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Los Lobos Mexican Cantina onboard Norwegian Sun

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.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - Spinnaker Lounge onboard Norwegian Sun
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Spinnaker Lounge onboard Norwegian Sun

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.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - Balcony Staterooms onboard Norwegian Sun
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Balcony Staterooms onboard Norwegian Sun
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - Owners Suite Living Room onboard Norwegian Sun
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Owners Suite Living Room onboard Norwegian Sun
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - Forward Facing Penthouse onboard Norwegian Sun
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Forward Facing Penthouse onboard Norwegian Sun

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.

Norwegian Star

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.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - Sky High Bar onboard Norwegian Star
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Sky High Bar onboard Norwegian Star

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.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - Spice H20 deck onboard Norwegian Star
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Spice H20 deck onboard Norwegian Star

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.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa onboard Norwegian Star
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa onboard Norwegian Star
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa Living Room onboard Norwegian Star
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa Living Room onboard Norwegian Star
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line - 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa Sun Deck onboard Norwegian Star
Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa Sun Deck onboard Norwegian Star

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.

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 3

It’s great to see that you are all enjoying these updates as much as I am. Andrew really has an amazing talent for capturing the beauty of the landscape.

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 3, sees the family sail through the Tracy Arm Fjord, visit Juneau and Skagway and enjoy whale and dolphin sightings.

Day Five

Sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord was amazing!

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker - Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 3
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker - Sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord

The liquid sunshine that so often falls in Alaska came down big time in Juneau,

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker - Juneau, Alaska Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 3
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Juneau, Alaska

but that didn’t stop us having a wonderful tour that encompassed a visit to the Meadenhall Glacier,

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Meadenhall Glacier, Juneau
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Meadenhall Glacier, Juneau

followed by whale watching.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker - Whale Watching, Juneau
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Whale Watching, Juneau
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker - Whale Watching, Juneau
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Whale Watching, Juneau

What a day! This cruise is exceeding expectations at every turn!

Day Six

It was a rainy day in Skagway, but we enjoyed a nice wander around this town that made it’s name and fortune from the gold rush.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker - Emerald Princess docked in Skagway
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Emerald Princess docked in Skagway

Rocks around the port are painted with various ships that have visited. One that stood out was a P&O / Princess captain who retired.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker -Skagway rock art
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Skagway rock art with tribute to Captain I.G. Clark

Day Seven

A day at sea, and the sun has finally returned! A Bridge visit and within minutes we saw dolphins off the starboard bow.

Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker - View from the Bridge of Emerald Princess as she sails Alaska
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – View from the Bridge of Emerald Princess as she sails Alaska
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Dolphin spotting from the Bridge of Emerald Princess as she sails Alaska
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Dolphin spotting from the Bridge of Emerald Princess as she sails Alaska

It was a day of relaxing, larking about in the pool and watching some concerts on the screen. In the evening there was a lavish gala dinner followed by another movie under the stars.

This really has been a cruise full of wonderful experiences and memories that will last a lifetime…

Have you read part 1 & 2. If not you can find the links below.

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 1

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Recommended Reading: Princess Cruises to build two LNG cruise ships

Iona To Sail Norwegian Fjords For Inaugural Season

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 - Iona's Atrium
Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Iona’s Atrium with floor to ceiling windows will give guests stunning views of the Norwegian Fjords.

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.

P&O Cruises Iona Coffee Bar
Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Enjoy two deck high views of the Norwegian Fjords from Iona’s coffee bar

“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.

View from Leon Skylift near Olden
Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – The View from the Loen Skylift near Olden

Epic vistas: From Olden visit the unmissable sight of the Briksdal glacier – part of the famous Jostedal ice field, the largest in continental Europe.

Lovatnet Lake near Olden
Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Lovatnet Lake near Olden


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.

Geiranger Norway
Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Geiranger


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.

Geirangerfjord with Seven Sisters Waterfall Norway
Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Kayaking in Geirangerfjord with Seven Sisters waterfall


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.

Alesund Norway
Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Alesund


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.

Recommended Reading: Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 1

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

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.

Day Three

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.

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Day Four

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.

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Within minutes of disembarking this wonderful town, we saw bald eagles, seals and salmon in the creek.

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Although only a half day visit, there was more than enough time to soak up the atmosphere of this great little Alaskan town.

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

Photo Copyright: Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 2

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.

Read the next instalment: Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 3

In case you missed it: Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 1



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.

Buy one all inclusive cruise fare and get another at half price on selected 2018 European & Caribbea

Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walkers Part 1

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.

Day One

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!

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family

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.

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family
Doubletree By Hilton SEATAC Airport
Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family
Doubletree By Hilton SEATAC Airport
Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family
Doubletree By Hilton SEATAC Airport
Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family
Doubletree By Hilton SEATAC Airport

Day Two

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”!

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family
US Navy “Blue Angels”

Departure soon followed, and our Alaskan adventure truly began. Emerald Princess is in superb condition and is well looked after.

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family

Copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker Cruising Alaska with the Sassoli-Walker Family

Read the next instalment here

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

Recommended Reading Double Onboard Spend On Selected 2019 Alaska Cruises

New Spacious Panoramic View Suites for Sky Princess

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.
New Spacious Panoramic View Suites for Sky Princess

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.”

New Spacious Panoramic View Suites for Sky Princess

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.

New Spacious Panoramic View Suites for Sky Princess

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.

New Spacious Panoramic View Suites for Sky Princess

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

Mia Tui Travel Bag Review – Jennie and Alex Folding Bag

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
  • 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.

Mia Tui Travel Bag Review Jennie Bag in rose gold
The internal bag that comes with the Jennie bag in rose gold
Mia Tui Travel Bag Review Jennie Bag in rose gold
I took this little bag everywhere with me on the cruise and still do everyday.

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.

Mia Tui Travel Bag Review
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.

Mia Tui Travel Bag Review
Wearing my Mia Tui bag at Mercedes Benz World
Mia Tui Travel Bag Review
Taking my Mia Tui bag out when meeting friends for coffee
Mia Tui Travel Bag Review
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.

Mia Tui Home

Mia Tui Jennie Bag

Mia Tui Alex Folding Bag

Double Onboard Spend on Selected 2019 Alaska Cruises

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.

Photo Credit: Ciaran McCrickard Photography – Princess Cruises Brand Ambassador Phillip Schofield enjoying a cruise

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


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.

Photo credit Andrew Sassoli-Walker: Andrew and Cheri Sassoli-Walker enjoying a bottle of champagne to celebrate their honeymoon onboard Caribbean Princess.

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 LNG Cruise Ships

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.”

Princess Cruises to build two LNG cruise ships
Photo Credit: Fincantieri – Princess Cruises to build two LNG cruise ships

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.

Photo Credit: Princess Cruises – Sky Princess

Recommended Reading: Cruise People – Tony Roberts Vice President Princess Cruises UK

First Virgin Voyages Ship Named Scarlet Lady

First Virgin Voyages Ship Named Scarlet Lady

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.

Photo by Vincenzo Lombardo/Getty Images for VIRGIN VOYAGES - Sir Richard Branson, Tom McAlpin and Stephen Pagliuca.
Photo by Vincenzo Lombardo/Getty Images for VIRGIN VOYAGES – Sir Richard Branson, Tom McAlpin and Stephen Pagliuca.

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.”

Sir Richard Branson takes a sledgehammer to a plastic bottle to demonstrate Virgin Voyages commitment to creating one of the cleanest fleets at sea.
Sir Richard Branson takes a sledgehammer to a plastic bottle to demonstrate Virgin Voyages commitment to creating one of the cleanest fleets at sea.

“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.”

Vitamin Sea

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.”

Equal Opportunity

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.

Recommended Reading Getting Laid In Genoa

Celebrity Cruises Brings Entire Fleet To The Edge

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.


 CELEBRITY CRUISES - Redesigning accommodations
PHOTO CREDIT: CELEBRITY CRUISES – Redesigning accommodations.

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.


CELEBRITY CRUISES - Kelly Hoppen, MBE adds her signature style to the Sky Suite.
PHOTO CREDIT: CELEBRITY CRUISES – Kelly Hoppen, MBE adds her signature style to the Sky Suite.

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.

CELEBRITY CRUISES - The Retreat Sundeck
PHOTO CREDIT: CELEBRITY CRUISES – The Retreat Sundeck – Kelly Hoppen, MBE has created a chic, open-air hideaway with the feel of a high-end resort.

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 - The Retreat Sundeck
PHOTO CREDIT: CELEBRITY CRUISES – The Retreat Sundeck – Kelly Hoppen, MBE has created a chic, open-air hideaway with the feel of a high-end resort.
CELEBRITY CRUISES - The Retreat Sundeck
PHOTO CREDIT: CELEBRITY CRUISES – The Retreat Sundeck – Kelly Hoppen, MBE has created a chic, open-air hideaway with the feel of a high-end resort.


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.



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


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.

Timeline of The Celebrity Revolution

Ship Completion Dates
Celebrity Millennium® – 09/02/2019
Celebrity Summit® – 23/03/2019
Celebrity Equinox℠ – 25/05/2019
Celebrity Silhouette® – 24/01/2020
Celebrity Eclipse® – 01/04/2020
Celebrity Constellation® – 01/05/2020
Celebrity Infinity® – 14/11/2020
Celebrity Solstice® – 01/10/2021
Celebrity Reflection® – 02/02/2023

To learn more about THE CELEBRITY REVOLUTION, visit www.celebritycruises.co.uk/revolution.

Godmother of Independence of the Seas – Cruise People

Godmother of Independence of the Seas Elizabeth Hill

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”.

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

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.”

Gamelea Farm – The Care Farm that Elizabeth and her husband ran to help young people learn through farming.

“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!”

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

“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

Buy one all inclusive cruise fare and get another at half price on selected 2018 European & Caribbea

Taste Of Edge – Celebrity Cruises

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, and will be joined by three sister ships in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

P&O Cruises Astonishing Entertainment

Last Sunday I attended the Premier of P&O Cruises new show, Astonishing. A red carpet lined with fireworks and bubbles greeted the lucky guests, which included Coronation Street cast members, tv presenters Ben Shepherd, Declan Donnelly and Judith Chalmers, celebrity chef Marco Pierre White and Eighties singer, Chesney Hawkes.

The last time I saw a P&O Cruises show, was onboard Ventura a few years ago. I’ve seen a few cruise shows in my time and as an ex professional singer, I can be quite critical of them. I have to say that after seeing P&O Cruises’ latest show, they have put themselves back on the map for offering world class entertainment.

Astonishing is the culmination of a dream by BAFTA-winning entertainer and presenter Stephen Mulhern, who produced the show with Jonathan Wilkes.  The show has been choreographed by Paul Domaine who has worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Sir Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

P & O Cruises' new show Astonishing
Photo by Flavia Gray

As people were entering the theatre, they were given an envelope. I took one and bravely sat in the front row. No-one knew what to expect, and people were a little apprehensive of sitting up front. I threw caution to the wind and went for it. We had also been given a miniature bottle of Lanson Champagne and a paper straw. This is the first time I have attended a Celebrity Premier, so I’m not sure if this style of drinking is the norm, but I was happy to go with it.

Photo by Flavia Gray

The show started and was captivating from start to finish.

Photo by Flavia Gray

It’s not just a magic show, Astonishing is a production that takes you through eras, emotions and journeys, that completely captivates the audience. The costumes, dancing and vocals are equal to the standard you would expect in the West End or on Broadway. The music is fun and engaging and the cast connect with the audience in a way that makes you love them.

Photo by Flavia Gray

Despite being so close to the stage, I could not see any clues as to how they created the illusions. Even during the mesmerising ultra violet scene, you still couldn’t see anyone on stage other than the dancers. Credit for this goes to Guy Barrett, (son of World acclaimed circus ringmaster Norman Barrett) who is the master illusionist behind the spectacular trickery.

Photo by Steve Dunlop
Photo by Flavia Gray

Here are some photos from the show.

Photo by Steve Dunlop
Photo by Flavia Gray
Photo by Steve Dunlop
Photo by Flavia Gray
Photo by Steve Dunlop

As the show drew to a close, the final trick was the mysterious appearance of Stephen and Jonathan on stage.

Photo by Flavia Gray
Photo by Flavia Gray
Photo by Flavia Gray
P & O Cruises Senior Vice President, Paul Ludlow onstage with Stephen Mulhurn and Jonathan Wilkes
Photo by Flavia Gray P & O Cruises Senior Vice President, Paul Ludlow onstage with Stephen Mulhern and Jonathan Wilkes

After the show, guests were treated to Eric Lanlard’s signature afternoon tea, which is served on all seven P & O Cruises’ ships. In the meantime I went in search for my favourite tv personalities.

Flavia Gray with Declan Donnelly onboard Britannia
Photo by Flavia Gray The lovely Declan Donnelly.
Flavia Gray and Stephen Mulhurn onboard Britannia
Photo by Flavia Gray The talented Stephen Mulhern
Flavia Gray and Chesney Hawkes onboard Britannia
Photo by Flavia Gray It’s Chesney Hawkes!

Astonishing can be seen onboard P&O Cruises ships Britannia, Azura and Ventura this summer. With 7 night cruises from just £549pp. Click here for offers.

Photo by Flavia Gray

Under 18s Race Free with Great British Racing

Did you know that you don’t have to pay for under 18’s at the races?

Image credit: imagecomms

And did you also know that there is a lot more to do at the races than just watch the horse racing?

Image credit: imagecomms

Well if you didn’t then read on.

As a parent myself, and a single one at that, it can be a challenge to find something fun and affordable to do with the family. You really want a good day out don’t you?

So Great British Racing have launched a series of short films with David Walliams and Billy Jenkins, to show the public what they are missing. Joshua and I were thrilled to be invited to the screening at Sandown Park Racecourse last week, to learn more about it.

Image credit: imagecomms Billy Jenkins, David Walliams, Rod Street or Great British Racing and ITV Sports Presenter Ed Chamberlin
Image credit: imagecomms Billy Jenkins, David Walliams, Rod Street or Great British Racing and ITV Sports Presenter Ed Chamberlin talk about making ‘Horsing Around’.

Child actor Billy Jenkins, better known for his role as ‘Young Charles” in The Crown, plays the part of David’s son. The short films are very amusing, and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the part in episode three where David reads out the names of the horses, only to discover its actually the food menu.

I have to admit, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to take Joshua to the races until we went to the event at Sandown Race Course. It was only once we arrived that I remembered the days that I used to go to Sandown as a child with my family. I’ve always loved horses, so I enjoyed going purely to see these gorgeous animals. The great thing about kids is that they love the competition of picking their horse without having to place a bet. You can introduce your own game. Bring a bag of sweets or other treats with you and whoever picks the winner gets a treat.

image credit: imagecomms

Races are very close together, so once it all starts there is no long waiting around for the next piece of action. My suggestion would be to bring a picnic blanket and some food. Sit down a good couple of hours before the race to enjoy something to eat. Pick your horses and take the kids for a bathroom break before everything starts. If you do want to place bets, again I would do this in advance, rather than in between races.

Before the first race, you can all head down to the pre-parade ring so that the children can actually see their horses. At Sandown, it is set out very easily so that we could see the horses in the ring, then walk down to the winning post and enjoy the race from there.

Here is a glimpse of Frankie Dettori riding Without Parole who went on to win his race.

Each event offers different things for the family. For example Windsormania is a family fun day held at Royal Windsor Racecourse on Sunday 1st July and includes a free all day fun fair for the children and after race music with tribute acts including Katy Perry, One Direction and Pink.

A family of 6 can go for £28 and for just £2 more they include 4 ice cream vouchers and a race card.

If you don’t want to take your own food, there is plenty on offer. With restaurants, bars, food trucks and mobile gin, champagne and Pimms bars, they have everything covered.


Jockey David Crosse at Sandown Race Course with Training Horse
image credit: imagecomms Jockey David Crosse gives Joshua a ride on his training horse.
image credit: imagecomms David Walliams talks to Ed Chamberlin
image credit: imagecomms David Walliams talks to Ed Chamberlin
image credit: imagecomms David Walliams at Sandown Race Course with the Jockeys
Image credit: imagecomms Jockey Frankie Dettori

Activity Pack Free Dowloads

Games and Puzzles

Design Your Own Silks

Autograph Card

8 Things To Do At The Races


Find Your Hip Hop Horse Name

Emoji Quiz

Funniest Horse Names

Summer Family Fixtures


A Very Happy Fifth Birthday to the Royal Princess

Royal Princess Cruise Ship Celebrates Her Fifth Anniversary

It was five years ago today that the 3,560 guest Royal Princess cruise ship, was christened by the expectant HRH, The Duchess of Cambridge in Southampton.

Since then, Royal Princess has sailed over 600,000 miles. That is the equivalent of travelling 25 times around the world. 730,000 guests have had the pleasure of cruising onboard this magnificent ship, during which time she has clocked up an impressive 79 ports and 23 countries. Guests have enjoyed18,000,000 onboard meals, 10,000 ‘Royal afternoon teas, more than 10,000,000 slices of complimentary top-deck pizza and 310,000 glasses of champagne.

Bellini's Champagne Bar onboard Royal Princess
Bellini’s Champagne Bar onboard Royal Princess
Chateaubriand, served onboard Royal Princess
Chateaubriand, served onboard Royal Princess

Royal Princess is currently based in Southampton for the summer season, travelling around the British Isles. 

The ship was the first to include signature Princess Cruises’ features such as the SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway that extends 28 feet over the edge of the ship, and Princess Live, a television studio with onboard programming throughout the day.

The Seawalk onboard Royal Princess
The Seawalk

Royal Princess has also become a star of the small screen, as for the past two years she has been the setting for three series of primetime ITV documentary ‘The Cruise’. Set in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, the series offered viewers an insight into life onboard a Princess ship for both guests and crew, and attracted a combined average audience of around 4m per episode.

Image Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker
Image Credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker – Timothy Gallant, star of The Cruise TV show aired on ITV

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ Vice President UK and Europe, said: “Royal Princess’ special ties with the UK mean she is always thought of particularly fondly over here. It’s therefore especially fitting that the ship is spending her fifth year anniversary sailing a season around the British Isles.”

“We wish all the crew onboard a happy birthday and hope guests who have enjoyed spending time on Royal Princess previously, or are booked to travel on her in future, will raise a glass to her next five years setting sail across the world.”

Royal Princess’ sister ship, Regal Princess, was launched in May 2014, followed by another sister ship, Majestic Princess, in March 2017. Three further sister ships will launch in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Hapag Lloyd Cruises Lounge Marquee At Polo In The Park

Award winning Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ are official sponsors of Polo In The Park this year. It’s the perfect fit with their reputation as one of the World’s leading luxury and expedition cruise lines.

Europa 2 sailing past the New York skyline
Image Credit: Hapag Lloyd Cruises – Europa 2 sailing past the New York skyline

A Hapag-Lloyd Cruises lounge marquee area will be located next to the Polo pitch where visitors will be able to find out more about Europa 2 (rated as World’s Best Cruise Ship) and their new state of the art ultra luxury expedition ship Hanseatic Inspiration. Thoughtfully, there will be a phone/tablet charger in the marquee for people to use free of charge.

Hapag Lloyd Cruises - Pool Bar onboard Europa 2
Image credit: Hapag Lloyd Cruises – Pool Bar onboard Europa 2


The leading cruise guide book,  Stern’s Guide to the Cruise Vacation once again awarded Hapag Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2 the highest distinction rating of 6-stars plus. “Having cruised on almost a thousand ships, I can honestly say the Europa 2 is one of the most beautiful ships I have ever seen. From the top notch service, to the luxury accommodations, to the superb gourmet food, the Europa 2 is in a class of her own,” said Steve Stern.

They also won Best Adventure / Expedition Cruise Line category in the 2018 Wave Awards. These are just two of a long list of awards recognising the outstanding level of luxury, service and attention to detail the cruise line are renowned for.

As well as stunning itineraries, details of which will be available at the marquee, there are two unique cruises for lovers of fashion and art.

fashion2sea is an entire cruise dedicated to fashion onboard Europa 2. Travelling from Lisbon to Hamburg, visiting cities with true style in mind. The format for the cruise includes exclusive collaborations with renowned designers, glamorous fashion shows, new collections, a pop-up store, a beauty lounge, make-up workshops, and a fashion dinner.

In partnership with the renowned art magazine Weltkunst the art2sea cruise sails from Monte Carlo to Civitavecchia and focuses on old masters and modern art. There will be guided visits to galleries, exhibitions and museums such as the world-famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Back on board and guests can enjoy lectures and discussions with knowledgeable experts.

Hapag Lloyd Cruises - Europa 2
Image credit: Hapag Lloyd Cruises – Europa 2

New Expedition Class

The 230 passenger Hanseatic Inspiration, sets a new standard for the expedition experience, including retractable glass balconies on the sun deck. These have been designed to give guests the feeling of hovering directly above the water.

The onboard experiences match the incredible design. To find out more, get your Polo In The Park tickets using SHIPSPOLO discount code to save £5 per ticket book now

MSC Seaview – The Biggest Ship Ever Built In Italy


Monfalcone, Italy, 4 June 2018 – Today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, MSC Cruises officially took delivery of another mega ship to add to their growing fleet.

The flag ceremony in which delivery took place for MSC Seaview was held in the presence of the shipowner as well as Founder and Executive Chairman of MSC Group, Gianluigi Aponte.

Also present were Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, other members of the Aponte and Aponte-Vago families, Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, and other authorities and dignitaries.

During the ceremony, an important maritime tradition, Roberto Olivari, Fincantieri’s shipyard director, handed an ampoule over to Pier Paolo Scala, Master of MSC Seaview. It contains the first water that touched the hull when MSC Seaview was floated out last year.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – Fincantieri Shipyard Director Roberto Olivari presents an ampoule of water from MSC Seaview’s float out to Captain Pier Paolo Scala

MSC Seaview has an iconic design, with generous outdoor spaces and will be a game changer for guests who want to make the most of the sun and outdoors. Her inaugural summer season will be spent sailing the Mediterranean from her homeport of Genoa, Italy, repositioning to South America for the winter season. MSC are already the leading cruise line in both destinations, and the addition of MSC Seaview will only strengthen that.

MSC Cruises Seaside Class ships are pushing the boundaries of pioneering ship building and design when it comes to the environmental technology. MSC Seaview will not only comply with the highest international standards, but she will also receive RINA’s Green Star 3 which specifically recognises that MSC Seaview reaches the greatest levels of eco-compatibility due to various innovative measures put in place which help reduce the environmental footprint during operations. These include, the exhaust gas cleaning system, the advanced waste water treatment, systems for the prevention of oil discharge from machinery spaces, the ballast water treatment system, and the ship’s Environmental Management Plan.

MSC Seaside Sea Trials
Image Credit: MSC Cruises

MSC Seaview will be officially christened in Genoa on Saturday 9th June in a glittering ceremony which will feature ship’s Godmother Sophia Loren.

I am flying out to Genoa on Thursday ahead of the event, reporting for the Daily Mirror, so please follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for live updates.

MSC Seaview Delivered
Image Credit: MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises

Discounted Tickets for Polo In The Park 8 – 10 June

Polo In The Park is celebrating it’s 10th successful year at Hurlingham Park in London next weekend.  It’s a fantastic event to enjoy with friends or family on 8 – 10 June. What’s more, when you buy tickets to the event and enter my unique code SHIPSPOLO at checkout, you get a £5 discount.

The award winning London property specialists, Chestertons are the headline sponsor for Polo In The Park for the fifth year running. I met a few of the guys from Chestertons at the team draw recently and what a great bunch they were. It was interesting to hear about the various events they get involved in with the local community. Central Sales Area Director, Corey Askew told me how he had the idea for Chestertons to organise a coat drive. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it is when the employees and community donate coats which are collected and given to those in need.

As well as the London area, Chestertons also have properties for sale and rent all over the world. Even if you are not in the market to buy, sell or rent property right now, I can strongly recommend checking out their website even if it’s just to drool over the beachfront properties in the Cayman Islands. A good place to start for inspiration for your vision board is Chestertons website

Hurlingham Park

This beautiful park in Fulham is also the home of the Hammersmith and Fulham Rugby Football Club. It is thought that Fulham Football Club played here when they were still a church side boys team. The Park is located next to the famous Hurlingham Club, a private members sports and social club, which was responsible for introducing Polo to England in 1869.

Champagne Lanson Garden

Overlooking the playing field will be Lanson’s largest outdoor Champagne Garden. The perfect place to enjoy the match and a selection their finest Champagnes. From legendary full flavour Black Label and delicate Rosé, to the iconic dry White Label designed to work well with a little flavour, such as a slice of strawberry, a sprig of fresh mint or zest of orange or lemon, there is something to suit every palate. I’d certainly be willing to compare a few combinations. Some of you may remember I spent most of the day at the Cruise Show with Lanson.

If you would like to increase your knowledge of Champagne, Lanson have put together a Little Black Book of Champagne secrets, facts and anecdotes. You can order your free copy (UK residents only) here.


Polo In The Park have a fantastic Kids Club on Sunday 10 June open exclusively from 10.30 am – 1.30 pm. In fact it’s worth going just for that. They have a pitch invasion, family olympics, giant slides, tug of war, bouncy castles, obstacle courses, soft play, games, face painting and much more. Top Children’s Entertainers Eddie Catz and Sharky & George will be on hand to ensure everyone has a fantastic day. Ham Polo Club will be giving kids the opportunity to have a go at polo on their wooden horse. In addition Chelsea FC Foundation will be hosting a football skills session and giving away prizes.

Full details of the Family Day can be found here

Shopping and Food

In between games, you can visit the Shopping Village featuring brands such as Boadicea The Victorious, Robusto Cigars, Olivia and Pearl, Vintage Collectable Clothing, Parkers Cufflinks and many more.

The Grazing Paddock is an eclectic mix of London’s best restaurants and street food, so you are sure to find something to get your teeth into.

The Game

Six teams, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Zurich, London, Dubai and Kissimmee will compete over three days. There will be three matches per day and the teams will be playing under new City Polo Series Rules.

This unique format gives the game a fast and furious approach with a smaller playing field, so spectators can enjoy an exhilarating and up close experience of this incredible sport.

Full details of the game, event and timetable can be found here

The Teams

The team draws were made at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park on 9 May. The hotel is also one of the proud sponsors of the event. This is how the playing looks for day one.

Lanson provided a refreshing glass of Champagne to start the proceedings.

It was a great night and if you have never been to the Mandarin Oriental at Hyde Park, here’s a little look inside it’s magnificent interior.

£5 Discount Code

To save money on your Polo In The Park tickets, enter my unique code SHIPSPOLO at checkout and get a £5 discount of each ticket.

Meet Me There

I will be there on Sunday 10 June, I hope to see you there. Come and find me, I am sure to be in the Champagne Lanson Garden, or simply tweet me @flaviagray Book your tickets here