Cruise People – Family Cruising – The Bruce-Low’s





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Family Cruising – Happy Kids Means Happy Parents

Iain Bruce-Low and his partner Anne-Marie own an award winning hair salon in the scenic Scottish seaside town of Oban. With their three lovely children, they find family cruising is the perfect solution to meet their needs.

When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?

It was a Western Mediterranean Cruise in 2013 with Royal Caribbean onboard Adventure of the Seas.

What made you decide to book your first cruise?

Having 3 children all different ages 15, 12 and 3, we wanted to find a holiday that had something to keep everyone happy.

Family Cruising
The Bruce-Low Family
What did you like about your first cruise?

The quality, the service and the amount of things to do for everyone.

What is the best cruise you have been on, and why?

We cruised on Anthem of the Seas in 2015 and the ship is incredible!  It is so modern and new, much more our style, and a lot more options for dining. There is an incredible amount of things for the kids to do, they were never bored!

Family Cruising
The Bruce-Low’s prefer the larger cruise ships
What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

I love the freedom and choices, you can be as active or as lazy as you want. It is by far the most you can ever do on holiday as well as being the most relaxing holiday you’ll ever have.

How do you decide which cruises to take?

For me it’s about the ship. It has to be a good enough size, we have learnt the bigger the better. Smaller ships tend to get more over crowded where bigger ships people spread out more. Having plenty for the kids means they are happy – meaning we are even happier.

Family Cruising on Anthem of the Sea's North Star
So much to do for families. Anthem of the Sea’s North Star takes you high above the ocean waves.
What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?

We go to the Champagne Bar to pick up a drink and then go off exploring.

What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it

It was a Venice and Greek Isle cruise onboard Rhapsody of the Seas. The fact that it was out of season meant the clientele were much older family cruising, and the ship was probably too small for our liking.  However, the smaller ship did allow us to explore a new area of the world, which we loved.

What would be your dream cruise if you could create your own? 

For me it would be from Greenock/Glasgow and all round the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and on to Dubai and Asia.  At least couple of months please?

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

I would always recommend staying the night before the cruise, in hotel near by. It takes out the stress of arriving the same time as everyone else. Also if you prefer not to pre pay gratuities, you can tip the amount you want to the members of staff that have serviced you directly when you are onboard.



Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?

Eat drink as much as you want and remember there is a gym, although I’ve still not seen it.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?

I’ve heard it all before and best thing I could say is book it because you’ll never know until you try it.

For more information on Bruce-Low-Hair Boutique visit their website brucelowhair.co.uk

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Cruise People – Danielle Fear – Cruise Miss





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Why This Young Lady Loves Cruise and The Best Cruise Tip Ever!

Danielle Fear is a young lass from Newcastle. She lives for cruising and this is reflected in her multi award winning blog Cruise Miss. Not one for flying, Danielle is proof that not only is cruising from UK ports the gateway to a world of adventure, it is also an activity that young people do enjoy. So let’s get Danielle’s take on cruising and see what tips she can offer.

When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?

My first cruise was in 2007 aboard P&O Cruises ‘Oriana’. It was a 12-night Canary Islands sailing and I was hooked from the moment I stepped aboard. I’d deliberately booked a cruise that was less than 2 weeks in duration, just in case I didn’t like it, and I regretted it almost immediately as I didn’t want it to end.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

One thing that had always put me off cruising was the dress code. I didn’t want to dress up and be forced into a personality that wasn’t really me. Once onboard, I realised that the dress codes weren’t in fact written into the law books and that you could opt in or opt out, which I thought was great. However, I soon realised that it also meant if you opted out, you would be the victim of the evil eye from several of your fellow passengers and this is still something I don’t like about cruising. We have the right to decide what we want to do and if I decide I don’t want to wear a formal dress on formal night and that instead, I want to go casual and dine in the buffet, then that’s my choice. We don’t need people throwing the stink eye around.

What is the best cruise you have been on and why?

I’ve been on a lot of cruises, but I think I’d still say that my trip to the Arctic Circle remains one of my favourites, followed closely by my sailings to the Caribbean and America. The Arctic was just spectacular and the excursions were more connected to nature and adventure than any others I have ever experienced; husky sledding, reindeer rides and chasing the Northern Lights.

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

Everything appeals to me, even the smell of the ship. It’s no secret that I am happiest when I am at sea and I genuinely do love everything about the experience, well, maybe not formal nights, but everything else. I’d go as far as to say that I am addicted to it.

How do you decide which cruises to take?

I always look for at least 1 new destination. I don’t over analyse these things anymore because being able to travel anywhere is a huge privilege. If there’s 1 new place for me to explore, I’m happy, if not, I’m sure the cruise will be just as much as it would be if I’d never been to any of the ports. I also like to make sure the ship suits me – I don’t like HUGE cruise ships when it comes to my own relaxing time away. I want something I can navigate from bow to stern in under an hour! 😉

Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?

I want to go everywhere. If there’s a port, I want to go there. Simple as that.

What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?

Check to see if my case is outside the cabin so I can unpack. If it’s not there, I’ll likely grab a drink from the bar and mark the start of what is sure to be yet another amazing adventure.

What items do you always take with you on a cruise?

I take the obvious things like hair straighteners and so on, but one thing I started doing in 2016 was taking my own hangers, but with a twist! I don’t just pack the hangers on their own, I pack them with my clothes already hanging on them. It sounds crazy, but it means when I open my case, all I do is grab the hangers and then hang them – the clothes are already on! It makes unpacking your case five times quicker. Obviously, you need to pack them carefully so you don’t damage your clothes, but I’m yet to have an incident.

What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it?

My last cruise was with Saga Cruises and we visited Iceland. The only thing I didn’t like was the wind and rain – I genuinely cannot fault anything about Saga. The ship, accommodation, crew and food are EXCELLENT. The ports on this cruise were nearly all new to me and the choice of excursions was ideal.

What is your next cruise? What are you most looking forward to?

My next cruise is the cruise of all cruises, I’m going around the world with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. It still doesn’t feel real, but it is happening. 108-nights aboard Black Watch. I’m looking forward to everything about this cruise, especially South America, Asia and French Polynesia. There are destinations on the itinerary that I thought I would only ever dream of visiting, but here I am, about to visit them. I think I’m most looking forward to Bora Bora, Mumbai, Havana, Aqaba and Yangon.

What is your dream cruise?

My dream cruise would be the world cruise, but Fred. Olsen’s January 2019 ‘Californian Dream’ sailing is definitely on my radar! Not only is it aboard one of my favourite ships (Balmoral) it’s visiting destinations that are on my bucket list, including San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?

Don’t keep overthinking things, just go and do it. You never know unless you try and with some of the MEGA ships out there, the last thing you will feel is trapped!

Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?

The last thing you do in cruise club is talk about the cost of your cruise. I’ve warned you.

To follow Danielle on her travels around the world and the cruise ships she’s sailed on visit cruisemiss.com

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Cruise People – Guest Relations Manager





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A Sailors’ Life For Lee

Lee Mudkins, is the Guest Relations Manager onboard Fred Olsen’s Balmoral. So I wanted to find out what life at sea is really like and to get some good insider tips.

How long have you worked onboard ships?

I have been on board cruise ships for nearly 4 years now but have spent 12 years working in the cruise industry. I took the plunge so to speak and love every minute of it. New places and new friends make it special.

Can you give us an idea of a typical day in the life of a Guest Relations Manager?

No two days are the same. I can be hosting a table of beautiful ladies or escorting guests in port. You never know what to expect and I am on call 24 hours a day for any guest related issues and emergencies. Generally though I get to chat with our guests and make sure their holidays are ones to remember.

Sounds like the perfect job. When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?

My first cruise was back in 2008 and was aboard P&O Ventura. I had won a competition and was really excited. We did a 7 day Norwegian Fjord cruise, it was amazing and I made some great friends despite travelling as a solo. I am still friends with a few of these people to this day. The casino was my friend… I won on the last night a large amount and this paid all my bar bill and excursions for the whole trip, Happy days!

What would you say makes Fred Olsen Cruise Lines different to other cruise lines?

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is a unique company without all the razzmataz of the big liners. I love the friendliness of the crew and management and of course the wonderful guests that sail with us. Oh, and the food. Put it this way, when I went to sea I was a 32 inch waist now I’m pushing a 38 so that must say something.

Friendly staff onboard Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.
Friendly staff onboard Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.
What did you like  about your first cruise?

I loved the way I woke up on a different day somewhere new and exciting, the unknown was drawing me in. The food of course was to die for, and the entertainment laid on made sure I never felt bored. I made lots of friends and really got the cruise bug.

What is the best cruise you have been on and why?

This year I took a 26 day cruise to Bermuda for the America’s Cup, wow! What an experience, we spent 4 nights in Bermuda during the racing, weather was stunning and I even got to do a tour on a private VIP boat on the course for the final. A truly memorable experience and getting there on a cruise was even more special.

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

Everyday is a different day, travelling the world but only unpacking once. Meeting a variety of new people regularly and making long lasting friendships. I have a couple of friends Enzo & Carolyn, who were on a cruise with me a number of years back, they are great people and we stay in contact and occasionally meet up for lunches out and stuff, it’s always good to have friends like them.

Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?

Canada has to be high up on my list at present, to watch the autumn fall would be a dream. Also, a trip to Boston and New York. I need to get myself to Macy’s and spend some cash!

What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?

I investigate the ship, find my way around by getting lost and making sure I then know my way around, I then tend to find a bar with a good view and order a swanky cocktail of some description, that gets my cruise off to a good start.

What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it

I’ve just returned from a River Cruise in Egypt, we had a great time, but you can clearly see that tourism has dropped in that part of the world. The experience was magical however and for sure I would return.

What is your next cruise? What are you most looking forward to?

I have friends joining me on a mini jaunt to Roeun in France, and we have some tours to do there which will enhance the experience. I am looking forward to mingling with everybody.

Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?

Read the daily programme and plan your days, it is invaluable. You get to see what is happening all around the ship and can join in with anything that takes your fancy. Don’t be shy, make friends and just enjoy yourself.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise.

By booking on-board you can often get better deals and discounts as well as extra’s and this of course can be returned to your travel agent so you can keep consistency. It’s a hard line to find the right time to book, I always find the more unique trips sell out fast so you have to be quick.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?

Go for it! There is plenty of space if you want to find yourself space, plenty of people to assist wherever you may turn, and I truly believe they would never look back.


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Cruise People – Steve Dunlop – The Photographer





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Steve Dunlop – A Proper Photographer

I don’t know the official statistics, but whenever I have been to a significant cruise event, Steve Dunlop always pops up out of nowhere like a stealth meerkat. By the time you’ve noticed him, he’s halfway across the room. When flicking through the weekly trade magazines, you can guarantee to see his name credited to the big events photos. So let’s find out more about the man of mystery.

What was the first cruise ship you photographed and when?

P&O Oriana at the naming ceremony in 1995.

You have been the official photographer for many naming ceremonies. Have you ever met one of the Royals? If so, which one(s) and can you tell me about it?

Her Majesty The Queen on three occasions; with P&O Cruises in 1995 for Oriana and 2015 for Britannia, and with Cunard for the naming of Queen Elizabeth in 2010.

Also there was, Princess Anne at the naming for P&O Cruises Aurora in 2000, The Duchess of Cambridge  at Princess Cruises Royal Princess naming ceremony in 2013, and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall for Cunard Queen Victoria naming ceremony in 2007.

You can’t chat with the Royals so they’ve never had the benefit of hearing about my favourite Draught Bitter.

Many years ago I was photographing The Duke of Edinburgh at his Awards scheme. He unexpectedly asked me directly if I was certain I wouldn’t get the rather voluptuous Rubenesque figures featured on the paintings in the room in any of the shots I took of him.  I didn’t.

Steve in the media throng at the Britannia naming ceremony
Can you name other Celebrities you have photographed? Do you have a favourite to work with and why?

I love Jonathan Ross because he once said I looked like a proper photographer!

As Brucie would say (and I’ve photographed him at The P&O Cruises Britannia Naming), ‘They are all my favourites.”

In cruise I’ve been fortunate to have worked with all the P&O Cruises Food Heroes; Marco Pierre White, Eric Lanlard, Olly Smith, James Martin. Attul Kochhar.

I’ve also photographed many guest celebrity chefs in the Cookery School onboard P&O Britannia, such as Carluccio and Alex James.

Marco Pierre White and Eric Lanlard are wonderfully nice people. I’ve enjoyed many days at sea over many years aboard P&O ships with each.

I once spent a day with Marco, island hopping en route back from a promotional shoot in the Caribbean.  We had 8-9 hours to spare in Antigua before our transatlantic flight. My wife who was also out there working, sourced a beach bar nearby. We  spent the afternoon eating chicken wings and drinking cold beer. He’s great company. At the airport he insisted on sitting with us in the main terminal instead of seeking refuge in the Business Lounge.

I’ve met many famous people attending as celebrity guests at all of the Naming ceremonies.  I’m a  big Corrie fan so meeting Liz Dawn (Vera Duckworth) at the Cunard Queen Elizabeth naming was a biggie for me.. nearly outstripping being part of the Royal Rota photographing the Queen for that ceremony.

Twiggy at Seabourn Sojurn Christening 2010. I had to report to Twiggy’s cabin so that she could OK the pictures I’d taken of her.   Sat with her going through the shots and chatting. I told her I was great fan and that she reminded me of my Aunty Diane. She looked at me (not surprisingly) in a quizzical manner. I had to explain that looking like my Aunty Diane was a good thing…

Some ship Namings:

Dame Kelly Holmes, P&O Cruises Arcadia 2005

Dame Helen Mirren, P&O Cruises Ventura 2008

Darcey Bussell CBE, P&O cruises Azura 2010

Dame Shirley Bassey, P&O cruises Adonia 2011

Nina Barough Celebrity Cruises Eclipse Launch 2009

Emma Pontin  Celebrity Cruises Eclipse 2010

Dame Joan Collins, Uniworld Joie de Vivre Christening 2017

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

Deadlines are usually easy to meet. You can send images immediately so unless someone wants it before I’ve taken it then I should be ok.

Biggest challenge is keeping up with ever changing technology

Is there an occasion that you have worked on that you are most proud of?

P&O Cruises Britannia Naming and being on the Royal Rota for Cunard Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria Namings.

Do you have a favourite photograph that you have taken?

A portrait of Marco Pierre White taken way back in 2006 which was first time I’d met him. The photo was taken at his restaurant in St James’s Street and was used throughout P&O promotional / marketing material for years and years. I still see it in use now. I think it was  because I managed to capture him smiling.  

The Queen smiling at P&O Cruises Britannia naming.

Cunard Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in Southampton from a helicopter.

Steve’s feet in a helicopter taking a photo of Queen Elizabeth arriving Southampton 8th October 2010
If you could do any other job, what would it be?

A gardener.  My younger brother is a gardener by profession. I’d be hoping that I could look as fit, lean, sun kissed & healthy as he does

What is an average day like for you?

If I’m at home in Bayswater like to start at 6.30am with walking our two Tibetan Terriers in Kensington Gardens. It’s the most relaxing start to a day. I take my iphone and shoot the sunrises and misty mornings for instagram & Twitter as I go.

I try to clear as much of a shoot off my desk on the day I shoot it. After a Big Awards Night this can mean working through to 4 or 5am. The incentive for doing this is to start the day relaxed in the park.

Most days I have a shoot during the daytime but  if I don’t then I’m usually at my desk updating social media feeds and website. Equipment needs preparing ready for the next shoot. The dogs will need an afternoon walk… sometimes to the local pub.

Is there a ship that you would love to photograph that you haven’t done yet?

I feel as though I’ve been on the best. I’ve certainly had the Best of Times on the ships I’ve photographed.

Do you cruise yourself?

Yes . I’ve been on two cruise holidays. Both with Celebrity Cruises. 

What was your last holiday

Long weekend in Mykonos in May with my wife.

Do you have your next holiday booked? If so, can you tell us about it?

I will be cruising up the Mekong on AMA Waterways AmaDara River cruise ship. I am travelling with my wife and four other friends we all work in the travel and/or cruise industry. I don’t usually take my camera on holiday but will be making an exception on this occasion.

Do you have a dream destination or cruise?

Would love to cruise the Antarctica or Alaska.

By Andrew Mandemaker
Do you have a funny or embarrassing story to tell?

Not a cruise story but it is water related.  I was shooting Sir Steve Redgrave for the Leander Club Henley Regatta brochure. It was in the days of shooting on film . I think he only had the two medals at the time.  It was FIVE in the morning in Henley. I’d just driven across London from Greenwich. Oooof.  Got some great shots of Steve training on the river from a launch following them tight in their wake .  On reaching dry land I was busy chatting away with them – probably not concentrating enough.  The roll of film dropped from my hands as I unloaded , rolled slowly along the jetty, and dropped into the Thames.  He looked at me with a smile and said “see you here tomorrow then”.

Can you give any tips for people to help capture great moments while on their cruise?

Don’t take too many photos or videos. Enjoy the moment. Live it in real time.   Failing that – step up to your subject and think about what it is you are photographing. That will help you frame & compose the shot to best effect. Don’t just shoot away hoping. Don’t use filters!

Visit Steve’s website for more information stevedunlop.com

Steve Dunlop

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Cruise People – Ladies Who Lunch





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Donna Stoneman Shares Personal Cruise Experiences and Valuable Tips

Although the Surrey mum of three, Donna Stoneman does not confess to be one of the Ladies Who Lunch, ironically the day I asked for her consent to use the title, she had just been to lunch with some friends! As someone who has cruised many times with different cruise lines to all sorts of destinations, Donna gives great insight to anyone who wants to book a cruise but doesn’t know where to begin.

When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?

It was an Eastern Caribbean Cruise, Christmas 2008 on the Independence of the Seas.

Onboard Independence of the Seas for New Years Eve
Onboard Independence of the Seas for New Years Eve
What made you book your first cruise?

It was something we’d wanted to try after a friend told us what a great time they’d had. We went with my three children and mother and father in law. We left on Boxing Day and flew to Miami. It was lovely to have some winter sun and we had a fantastic New Years Eve onboard.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

With three generations holidaying together, trying to keep everybody happy can be quite tricky. However, the ship gave us all independent space to do what we wanted and we weren’t in each other’s pockets. The children were really happy with all the activities organised by Royal Caribbean, and the grandparents were happy to have us all together at dinner. There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about our first cruise, the Independence of the Seas was a new ship at the time, and we thoroughly enjoyed our holiday.

What is was your favourite cruise so far, and why?

Sailing from Venice around the Adriatic on Oceania Riviera in 2012. The ship was beautiful, we met lots of lovely people and the itinerary was fab. It was very port intensive but the ship was slightly smaller so we were able to dock in some lovely ports. The Adriatic coast is stunning and sailing into Montenegro is breathtaking.

Shuffleboard on Oceania Rivera departing Santorini
Donna plays shuffleboard as they sailaway from Santorini on Oceania Riviera
What is it that appeals to you about cruising?
I’ve taken a lot of cruises as a single mum with kids. I always felt safe onboard on my own and, as you know, keeping kids entertained on your own is hard work – especially when you have such a wide age gap like mine. The kids were always happy and safe, which allowed me to have a relaxing time. 
One of the great things about cruising with Royal Caribbean is that their loyalty scheme recognises the credits for cruises the children have taken as youngsters. That stays with them for life.

I love the fact that you see several places without having to constantly pack, check in/out and the travelling is done when you’re asleep. We like to hire motorbikes which allows us to get around quickly. It’s lovely to come back to the air conditioned comfort of your cabin after exploring. Also, it’s great to dress up and have a fab evening, while someone else is taking the strain of getting you to your next destination.

Sailing away from the Hubbard Glacier onboard Celebrity Infinity
Sailing away from the Hubbard Glacier onboard Celebrity Infinity.
How do you decide which cruises to take?

As life progresses, what we look for in a cruise changes. When the children were young it was about keeping them happy with bigger ships and full on entertainment. Now we prefer a bit more luxury and are highly influenced by the itinerary. We’ve done the Med so many times it’s not appealing anymore. We’ve tried several cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Crystal Cruises and Oceania Cruises and they all offer something different. We still haven’t found our perfect line so will just have to keep trying.

Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?

I’d like to do a South American Cruise and a Polynesian cruise

What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?

Head to the bar! Explore the ship.

What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it?

In July, We repeated our cruise from Venice down the Adriatic ending in Athens. Whilst the food was exceptional, we thought that the Riviera had lost a bit of its sparkle for us. There was also a lack of entertainment which spoilt it somewhat. It was full of Americans who are very keen to tour and the itinerary was port intensive so people went to bed early . This was quite an expensive cruise for us and we didn’t think it was value for money. We’d like to find a line which affords us some luxury with good food but also entertainment at night.

What is your next cruise? What are you most looking forward to?

We are going on Norwegian Getaway in November and will be sailing to Mexico and Honduras which we’ve not been to before. Entertainment is fab on NCL and we love Howl at the Moon.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?

I’ve been on some big ships but never felt crowded or herded.

Norwegian Getaway in the Haven.
Donna and Gary on a Mediterranean cruise onboard Norwegian Getaway in the Haven.
Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

Upgrades – We don’t always spend a lot upgrading cabins. Sometimes its worth the price difference but I wouldn’t spend a lot upgrading if the only benefit is a larger cabin. Check which benefits are included with any upgrade and only pay extra if those benefits are worth it to you.

Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line is quite expensive but our cabin was no bigger. The main benefit was a butler we never saw, a seperate restaurant that we didn’t actually eat in and access to posh beach club, which we discovered we could have bought passes for without the need to upgrade to Haven.

I have been in a Grand Suite on Royal Caribbean. Benefits include access to the Concierge Lounge (which was a windowless room on Independence of the Seas that you didn’t want to spend much time in), but the best benefit for me was the separate sun bathing deck which negated the need to reserve a sun lounger at dawn.

We took Concierge the first time we sailed on Oceania but there was no main benefit to the extra price. So this time we had a basic cabin, but it had a huge balcony which to us was more important than a concierge we didn’t actually see.

On Celebrity we had an Aqua Class room but didn’t use the spa facilities so that wasn’t worth it. We ate in Blu once, which is the clean eating restaurant dedicated for Aqua Class guests, but next time we will use the price difference to buy a dining package.

Research – I use the internet to help me choose my cabin. I try to workout which side of the ship will get more sun in the first instance. I also dont want to be under an overhang from the deck above which are on some ships. We sailed on Regal Princess and discovered that two mini suites had balconies which extended over half of the bridge below and could have held a party of 50. It was fabulous. My bug bare is to be opposite a service door. Unfortunately deck plans don’t show their locations but to be on the safe side I only choose cabins with interiors opposite.

Loyalty – Some loyalty schemes are better than others. I’m now Diamond Plus with Royal Caribbean, and this affords me lots of benefits. I think they are one of the better loyalty schemes.

Fly/Cruise – If organising our own flights I feel safer to fly the day before – just to make sure I’m there in plenty of time. I took the children on a two week cruise on the Explorer in Christmas 2010 which sailed from New York. I thought it was silly to fly to New York City and not see any of it,  so we stayed for three nights before the cruise. When we eventually embarked it appeared that half the ship had missed flights because Heathrow was closed due to snow. The next dock they could embark was Barbados which was 5 days into the cruise.

Golden Gate Bridge view from balcony onboard Celebrity Century.
Golden Gate Bridge – Donna enjoying her balcony onboard Celebrity Century.

It is a good idea to combine the flights and cruise with the same travel company and then it is their responsibility to get you on the ship. Sometimes, though, this can be expensive. I took the whole family (6 of us) on a Baltic cruise and the transfer from Copenhagen airport to the ship was £300 and it was only a 20/25 min journey. Not taking the transfer however would have broken the continuity and put the responsibility on us to getting to the ship in time. As we were flying in that morning I felt I had the choice of either pay the transfer or fly in the night before and put us all up in a hotel.

Gratuities/Tips – When we sailed on Seabourn I liked the fact that tips were not required or expected. With free style dining now you don’t have the same relationships with waiting staff that you used to when it was traditional dining.

Drinking Age – If you are travelling with 18 – 20 year olds, check drinking ages for each cruise line in advance as each one is different. I took two 20 year olds on a Baltic cruise with Princess and they weren’t allowed to drink. If we had sailed Royal Caribbean they could have done as their criteria is the drinking age of the country of departure ( which means its 21 if sailing form the states but 18 if Europe)

What would you say to someone who is considering booking their first cruise?

Try it – you’ll never look back!

Royal Princess Mini Suite Balcony
After a day of rib riding in Oslo, Donna enjoys a sailaway drink on her mini suite balcony onboard Royal Princess.

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Cruise People – The Retired Police Officer

Cruise People Retired Police Officer




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After their first cruise on Grandeur of the Seas in 2011, they were hooked.

James Manson is a retired Police Officer and lives with his wife Pamela in South Ayrshire. I was keen to find out what it was that appealed to them about cruising, and what makes them take two or more cruises every year.

What brought you to the decision to book your first cruise?

Our first cruise was booked after lengthy discussions with friends who are to say the least regular cruisers. My wife and i gave it some thought, and we decided to give it a try. I personally thought that in 2011 cruises were like going on a OAP holiday, stripped deck chairs, knotted handkerchiefs and tea dances. However, after several more discussions I was ordered to go to a travel agent and book.

What was your first cruise like?

Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, which departed from Palma. On arrival at the port we were in awe at the sight of this magnificent ship. We had booked an oceanview stateroom which was very comfortable, but couldn’t really see much due to the height of the porthole. We cruised the Spanish Mediterranean and return to Palma. It was a very enjoyable experience.

We could not fault anything regarding the cruise. Every aspect of the cruise was tremendous. On return we called RCCL and booked another for 2012.

Since then, you have cruised many times. What are your favourite destinations to visit and why?

The Cruise we favour most is the Greek Isles and Turkey /Greek Isles and Croatia which now we have done 8 times 14 days at a time. We love the ports of call and the people and excursions in those ports are wonderful.

Can you tell me what it is about cruising that attracts you?

We love the totally relaxed atmosphere that cruises give and being spoiled with the attentive staff on board. We also love the varied choice of food in the many restaurants. It is just wonderful rising from the table and not having dishes to do or house work each day.

How do you decide which cruise you are going to book next?

We always listen to others experiences while on board, and then choose a different itinerary. We have never set out certain destinations, we just peruse the detailed information outside the sales office on board and go from there.

What is the first thing you do when you get onboard?

When we arrive on the ship we always check in detail the ships’ emergency procedures, and encourage others to do so as well. However, I have a pet hate of those people who turn up late, or stand there and yawn when the crucial speech is delivered by the safety officers on board. It should be recognised by everyone, PERSONAL SAFETY is of paramount importance.

Are there any special items that you always take on a cruise?

The only special item we always carry is my wife’s Clarins, as use of this maintains her youthful looks.

What was your last cruise?

Our last Cruise was 17 June 2017 on the Independence of the Seas, and to our surprise we met Captain Iv, whom we had sailed with 8 times while he was the Captain of the Splendour of the Seas. This is a tremendous cruise with great ports of call.

We have also cruised on the Allure of the Seas on two occasions and the Vision of the Seas.

Do you have another cruise planned?

We have re booked again for June 2018 for 14 night Mediterranean Cities and a 14 night Southern Caribbean.

What would be your ‘dream cruise’?

We have one special cruise that someday we will go on and that is the Panama Canal. It is our lifelong ambition and will take the opportunity when Royal Caribbean have an itinerary. The other is the Far East.

Cruise People Ships and Champagne Panama Canal
Photo By Stan Shebs
Can you offer any tips when it comes to booking a cruise?

In 2012 we booked a cruise on the Splendour of the Seas. We were about to leave when we had a call to get an upgrade to a Family Junior Suite. The agent sewed the seed as we took up this offer, and now we always have a Junior Suite at the aft of the ship. We now only book when one of the 6 Junior Suites are available.

Again, through our experience we use the same agent as to us loyalty is important. The advantage of booking on board is that the staff in that office have all availability on a screen in front of you.

As we have been loyal to Royal Caribbean we have made many good friends in the staff and some lifelong friend from fellow travellers. We could spend all day naming Crew members who have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure your cruise has been enjoyed.

What advice would you give to people thinking about booking their first cruise?

From a personal point of view, I would encourage any intending cruisers to try a four or five night cruise first, to gain an unforgettable experience and to allay any fears of being crowded and feeling trapped. You will have a different perspective.

BUY ONE ALL INCLUSIVE CRUISE FARE, GET ONE HALF PRICE ON SELECTED 2017 SAILINGS FROM UK AND EUROPE

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Cruise People – Captain Greybeard

Captain Greybeard - John Honeywell Cruise People Ships and Champagne




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John Honeywell aka Captain Greybeard

A man that really needs no introduction, Captain Greybeard is a household name for fans of cruising, and to us all in the cruise industry. I was absolutely thrilled that John agreed to have a chat to me about his own world of cruising, so without further ado here is what I found out.

What does Editor at Large mean?

I was editor of World of Cruising for two years, and then decided to step down to give someone else a chance. Taking the title Editor at Large permits me to retain my association with the magazine, and allows the publication to continue to benefit from its connection with John Honeywell and Captain Greybeard. I like to think I now have twice the fun with half the hassle.

When did you start writing about cruising and why?

As managing editor of a national newspaper group, I was occasionally given opportunities to take part in press trips and fam trips in my own time. After my first cruise (see below) I began to focus on that niche of the travel business and eventually took cruises almost to the exclusion of any other form of holiday. The long-lost days when I would spend two weeks in the same self-catering resort are definitely a thing of the past.

Can you tell us about your very first cruise?

I joined Fred Olsen’s Black Watch in Egypt, expecting to sail for two weeks to reach the UK. The ship had only recently been acquired by Fred Olsen and was on the last leg of a round-Africa voyage. I was immediately impressed by everything about the ship. It was not all plain sailing, however. A mechanical breakdown meant all the passengers had to fly home from Malta where the ship had to stay for repairs. Nevertheless, I was hooked. A year later I was back in the same cabin on the same ship, cruising from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Things are so much easier now with laptops, iPhones, email and internet. What was the method for producing an article when you first started in journalism and do you miss that?

I started my journalistic career on a local weekly newspaper with a staff of three reporters. We knocked out all our copy on ageing upright Remington typewriters that would look like museum pieces today. I progressed via regional daily papers in Sheffield and Birmingham to a job on the Daily Express, moved to London to join Eddy Shah’s Today, returned to the Express, and then had 13 years with the Mirror Group. I can clearly remember the first time I ever heard the word “internet” – at a conference in Berlin on the future of publishing. Since then, EVERYTHING about modern communications has changed.

Captain Greybeard - John Honeywell Cruise People Ships and Champagne

What is it about cruising that appeals to you?

There’s so much variety. Choose the right ship and the quality of service, accommodation and food is superior to the finest five-star hotel, and the value-for-money is far superior. Choose a different operator and there are opportunities for expeditions and explorations that are impossible to find elsewhere.

As Captain Greybeard, what is an average day life for you?

The best thing about being Captain Greybeard is that there is no such thing as an average day. I could be cruising in the Caribbean, attending a press conference at an Italian shipyard, an industry function in London, or sitting at my desk writing another feature for World of Cruising, the Mirror, the Daily Telegraph, or Cruise Critic.

How did it feel to win the CLIAUK’s Contribution to Cruise Award

One of the proudest moments of my life, after pouring my heart and soul into supporting the cruise industry for almost two decades. To be perfectly honest, there was also an element of “About time, too!” Every previous year the award had gone to a woman writer.

Have you ever met a member of the Royal Family? If so who, why, when and where?

I was a guest at a Buckingham Palace garden party during my time as Managing Editor at the Express. I have attended cruise industry lunches and functions at which The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and the Princess Royal have been guests of honour, but I have never been given the opportunity to speak to any of them. I think I enraged The Queen’s staff when I sneaked a picture of her during Grace on board QM2. Oh, and one year I was a guest at the Cheltenham Festival race meeting when Coral’s bookmakers swapped their box with the Royal Box so that the Queen Mother could get to her seat in the lift.

What was your last holiday?

I don’t have holidays any more, it’s always work. Although work was less important than usual during a cruise to the Seychelles on board Crystal Esprit in March – it was timed to coincide with a significant wedding anniversary.

Have you got your next holiday booked and where is it?

Sadly, I have been ill recently and have had to cancel a planned cruise to the Indian Ocean (back with Fred Olsen) and a Crystal cruise that would have taken me to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. It looks like I will be banned from flying on medical grounds for some time, so I can write off the chance to visit Antarctica next March. If all goes well, I’ll become the ex-UK, no-fly Ninja during 2019, sailing from homeports and getting to the European rivers by Eurostar or coach. Another opportunity to make the most of.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Antarctica, Galapagos and New Zealand

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking their first cruise?

What are you waiting for?

The Captain’s Log

More from Captain Greybeard can be found on the website captain greybeard.com

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Cruise People – Giles Hawke – The CEO

Giles Hawke




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Where Does Avalon Waterways CEO Giles Hawke Like To Go On Holiday?

For those of you who are not familiar with Giles Hawke, let me put you in the picture. He was Head of Sales for P&O Cruises, then became Executive Director for MSC Cruises, and is now the Chief Executive Officer for Avalon Waterways and Cosmos. So to kick off #CruiseMonth let’s get up close and personal with Giles Hawke and find out what makes him tick.

How did you come to work in the Cruise Industry and what was your first job?

My first job in travel was as a nightporter in a hotel in Chamonix straight after I finished my degree. I joined the cruise industry in 2001 as Head of Sales for P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Ocean Village.

If you could have chosen anything else as a career what would it have have been?

I love the outdoors, so a ski instructor and a mountain guide would have been fantastic alternatives.

Have you been on a river cruise? If so, which one?

Yes and with Avalon river cruises out of Amsterdam – a really unique and enjoyable experience and one I will definitely repeat. Although Avalon doesn’t focus on children I could see that my children would love it and will aim to take them soon

What would you say are the benefits of river cruising?

Similar ones to ocean cruising in the sense of only unpacking once and amazing food and service. In addition there are beautiful views constantly as the scenery changes and you are always right in the heart of the destination. There is no sense of motion as you cruise, so it’s perfect for anyone who gets any level of motion sickness. So much is included in the price and the cabins on Avalon with the Panorama balconies are very special.

What makes Avalon Waterways stand out from other river cruises?

The wall to wall floor to ceiling open air balconies, the beds facing the windows, the relaxed luxury approach – no dress codes or stuffy formality but an upmarket and modern boutique hotel type experience, Avalon Active Discovery cruises focusing on much more immersive shore activities.

Jane McDonald on the balcony of her Avalon River Cruise
Jane McDonald enjoying the incredible views onboard her Avalon River Cruise. As seen in TV Series Cruising with Jane McDonald.
As CEO of two companies, what is an average ‘Day in the Life’ for you?

When I’m in the office I’m usually up at 0445 and drive 90 miles to Bromley. I try and have as many meetings and one-to-ones with my team as possible when I’m in the office and make sure I’m up to date on what is happening. I study our sales figures every morning and look for trends and insight. I do send a lot of emails day and night and over weekends, but I try and take personal time too and will aim to get some form of exercise in most days if at all possible. I usually get home around 8 at night three or four days a week but try and work from home a day a week to catch up with everything, have a lie in until 0630 and have breakfast with my family!

How did it feel to win the Cruise Line International Cruise Agent Lifetime Achievement Award?

It was a lovely accolade and I feel humbled by it and a little embarrassed as there are so many people in the cruise industry who have done so much more than me. It does make me worry that I am expected to retire now though when I’m not quite ready!

What was your last holiday?

A week in Cornwall with the family surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking, walking, running, eating and drinking!

Do you have your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

Heading to Italy in October with the family to Capri, Sorrento and Pompei

Your job role must require organisation, focus and a lot of energy. Do you have any lifestyle/ personal management tips you can give us?

My approach is to aim to always be positive and look for what can be done, rather than the challenges and how difficult something is. I enjoy ambiguity and concepts and ideas and trying to bring people and ideas together. In terms of tips, I would say to always keep your email inbox manageable and make time to clear it regularly, try and deal with things once rather than prevaricate, work with people who are real experts and positive, do seat the small stuff as it is important and creates a base for the bigger stuff!

What are your hobbies?

Cycling, skiing, running and latterly swimming as I’ve taken up triathlons in the last two years. I also enjoy good food, socialising with my good friends and reading, although it takes me a long time to read a book these days as I only read when I get to bed and normally only manage a page before I’m out!

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

I’d love to visit South America and do a big tour

Heli-skiing in Alaska

A Rhône river Cruise

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking their first cruise?

What are you waiting for!?

Discover River Cruising

More information can be found at avaloncruises.co.uk

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Fun Corporate Event Ideas with Celebrity Edge




Latest Reveal for Celebrity Edge

Event planners looking for fun corporate event ideas or an unforgettable conference experience, should look no further than The Meeting Place onboard Celebrity Edge.

The latest reveal for the long awaited new class of ship from Celebrity Cruises, is a 1,970 square foot, state of the art meeting venue. The Meeting Place will be located centrally on the ship to allow guests to experience breathtaking views like no other venue at sea or on land.

“Of course, the most advanced ship we’ve ever designed would include the most exciting venues for get-togethers, including The Meeting Place,” said Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President of Sales, Trade Support and Service, Celebrity Cruises. “Imagine the spectacular conferences, trade shows, weddings, and reunions you can plan with the gorgeous Celebrity Edge as your setting and an ocean as your brilliant backdrop.”

Fun Corporate Event Ideas at The Meeting Room onboard Celebrity Edge

If you want to make sure your event is a memorable one that stands out from the crowd, then Celebrity Edge is the place to be. If you are not familiar with what to expect onboard this ship watch the video below.

“When designing The Meeting Place we asked ourselves what would be more appealing; being subjected to lectures in a conference room, or socializing with colleagues in a hip lounge?’ The latter seemed obvious. Thus the flexibility and functionality of a ‘state of the art’ meeting space was designed for pleasure first,” said Scott Butler, AIA, Founding Partner, Wilson Butler Architects. “The word that defines The Meeting Place is ‘connected’. It facilitates guests getting connected to one another; to the latest technology and to the greatest new ideas. It also happens to connect to other venues on the ship that vastly expand the opportunities for groups.”

The Meeting Room Facilities

It is no surprise that Celebrity Edge uses innovative technology.  From wireless microphones to a mini sound board, an electronic whiteboard and a 98-inch LED screen at one end of the room and a 75-inch LED screen at the other.

The room can be set in a variety of layouts. A separate office space is provided for the event planners and the venue has its own pantry and dynamic bar to suit all catering needs.

Fun Corporate Event Ideas at The Meeting Room onboard Celebrity Edge

Fun Corporate Event Ideas at The Meeting Room onboard Celebrity Edge

Fun Corporate Event Ideas at The Meeting Room onboard Celebrity Edge

The venue can transforms into a comfortable lounge area for networking, relaxing and mingling.

Fun Corporate Event Ideas at The Meeting Room onboard Celebrity Edge

Fun Corporate Event Ideas at The Meeting Room onboard Celebrity Edge

Booking enquiries for The Meeting Room onboard Celebrity Edge can be made through your Travel Agent or directly with Celebrity Cruises.

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How To Make An Impression At The Ritz

Oz Clarke and Flavia Gray at the ritz hotel london




Cruise International Awards 2017 at The Ritz Hotel, London

So as if it wasn’t a shock enough to be shortlisted for Cruise Agent of the Year Award for the second time, it was even more surprising when I received my invitation to the Awards ceremony. I checked the date was ok for my Mum to look after Josh and after agreeing she asked me where it was being held. I hadn’t checked the invite as these things are usually held in a nice hotel in London and I was sure this was no exception. Mum was still standing there waiting for the answer, so I rolled my eyes and checked the email.

I read the email again and grinning, I looked up and Mum and said “It’s at THE RITZ!” Mum’s jaw dropped and we turned into a couple of crazy ladies. It was so exciting. It’s times like this when you think, what other job could a single mum possibly have, that would give her the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon at the most famous and poshest (yes I said poshest), hotel in London?

Invitation for Cruise International Awards 2017 at the Ritz

Getting There

I decided to drive up to town. Mainly because I had experienced a weekday 6pm train journey from London Waterloo to Weybridge and after I thought there was no room for any more passengers, another 25 managed to squeeze in. I don’t know how people deal with this on a daily basis. Anyway, I was not prepared to put myself through that again. So for a few extra quid and a bit of traffic, I decided to drive.

Delays

I know the traffic can be heavy in Knightbridge, but it took me 20 minutes of sitting outside Harrods to realise that the only reason the traffic was moving slightly, was due to cars turning away from the queue and trying an alternative route. I like to be early and was on track to arrive at the Ritz at 2.45. The event started at 3pm and the awards ceremony at 3.30pm, so I had plenty of time. In my mind, I had planned on having a sneaky gin and tonic at the bar somewhere before anyone else arrived. However, the sudden road closure put pay to that and I suddenly found it was 3.15!

I did a u-turn and drove around the back of Harrods. I just hoped the satnav would work things out for me. As I got closer I knew I would have minutes to spare if I was lucky, so my plan was to pull up outside the hotel and jump straight out of the car. Then I pictured the front of the Ritz and couldn’t recall there being anywhere for cars to pull up. I was frantic. How could I be late to such an event. I am shortlisted for a prestigious award at the best hotel in London and I am going to be late.

First Impressions

In desperation, I pulled up outside the front door and looked for a Concierge. He was inside the door, on the phone, facing the other way! I had no choice. I bibbed my horn. Not once, but about five times. The glass on the doors must be pretty thick. I was so embarrassed, this was the worst thing I could have done, but I couldn’t think of any other way. The Concierge eventually realised that this bibbing noise wasn’t going away and turned around. I desperately beckoned him over. He reluctantly walked towards the car. In hindsight, I am surprised I didn’t end up being arrested. I asked him where the valet parking was. He looked at my car and it’s driver and questioned “Do you want the hotel ma’am?” I said “yes” and explained I needed to be at an event there. He informed me that I needed to go up the one way system, do a ‘U’ turn at the lights, (you have to have balls of steel to attempt one of those in London), come back along the main road, take second on left, then first right on bleurh-bleurh Street (the noise from the traffic was so loud I couldn’t make out what he had said but I knew I was looking for a road name that started with ‘B’), and that would bring me to the hotel entrance.

I’m Late For A Very Important Date

I looked at the dashboard clock, it was 3.25. I had one shot at this otherwise I was going to be embarrassingly late. I sped down the round, turned around, apologised to a few black cab drivers and flew down the turning. It didn’t look right but I followed the instructions. Then I saw it! The entrance of the hotel and two immaculately dressed and well composed doorman in top hat and tails, standing at the top of the steps greeting guests. I quickly pulled in, oversteering and mounting the kerb. So now they had noticed me but were keeping their distance. I beckoned them over whilst bending down changing my shoes. The bravest of them approached the car with caution. I put the window down and said “I need valet parking, I need to be in there at an event and I’m late”. The poor guy, who obviously stayed polite and professional at all times, and called me ma’am, stood by the drivers door as I handed him a rather worn car key card, held together with parcel tape.

Getting my car parked at the Ritz

Getting Down To Business

I was born in Westminster and come from a family of Londoners, so I am very patriotic. Many London hotels are plush but the Ritz is that and more. Walking into The Ritz makes you feel like you are royalty and is hard to put into words. For anyone looking for a memorable visit to London, afternoon tea at the Ritz is top of the heap.

Union Jack Flag hangs in the hallway at the Ritz

Everything about the Ritz is legendary and fairytale-like at the same time. The grandeur, the opulence and the Britishness.

People waiting in the hallway at the Ritz

Afternoon Tea At The Ritz
This is where afternoon tea is served.

The Music Room

I was directed to the appropriate part of the hotel, and as I entered the room I was greeted by two smiling ladies holding trays of champagne.

The Music Room At The Ritz

The guest speaker was the one and only International Award Winning Wine Writer and Broadcaster, Oz Clarke, also known for his collaboration with Celebrity Cruises. Oz was extremely funny and I thoroughly enjoyed his cruise anecdotes.

Oz Clarke in the Music Room At The Ritz

 

Oz Clarke in the Music Room At the Ritz

Whilst sipping champagne and nibbling on finger sandwiches, I couldn’t help notice the beautiful chandelier, the stunning ceiling and huge draped curtains framing the wall to ceiling windows. I had a wonderful afternoon at The Ritz and it was great to meet new people as well as catch up with a few familiar faces.

And The Winners Are…

Best Cruise Line

Princess Cruises – Winner

P&O Cruises – Highly Commended

Best Luxury Cruise Line

Seabourn – Winner

Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Highly Commended

Best River Cruise Line

Viking River Cruises ­– Winner

Riviera Travel – Highly Commended

Best Luxury River Cruise Line

Viking River Cruises – Winner

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection – Highly Commended

Best for Onboard Activities

Royal Caribbean International – Winner

Norwegian Cruise Line – Highly Commended

Best for Families

Disney Cruise Line – Winner

Royal Caribbean International – Highly Commended

Best for First-Time Cruisers

Princess Cruises – Winner

P & O Cruises – Highly Commended

Best for Adventure

Silversea – Winner

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises – Highly Commended

Best Value for Money

Thomson Cruises – Winner

Saga Cruises – Highly Commended

Best Boutique Cruise Line

Azamara Club Cruises – Winner

Silversea – Highly Commended

Best for Enrichment

Saga Cruises – Winner

Holland America Line – Highly Commended

Best for Wellbeing

Holland America Line – Winner

Oceania Cruises – Highly Commended

Best for Food

Oceania Cruises – Winner

Viking Cruises – Highly Commended

Best for Onboard Entertainment

Norwegian Cruise Line – Winner

Disney Cruise Line – Highly Commended

Best New Ship

Silver Muse – Winner

Seabourn Encore – Highly Commended

Best Product or Service

Ultimate Balcony Dining by Princess Cruises – Winner

VIP Home Departure Service by Titan – Highly Commended

Best Escorted & Specialist Tour Operator

Titan – Winner

Riviera Travel – Highly Commended

Best UK Port

Southampton – Winner

Liverpool – Highly Commended

Best Destination (Europe)

Dubrovnik – Winner

Norway – Highly Commended

Best Destination (World)

New Zealand – Winner

Barbados – Highly Commended

Outstanding Contribution to the Cruise Industry

Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Chairman, Silversea

Cruise Agent Lifetime Achievement Award

Giles Hawke, CEO, Cosmos Tours and Cruises and Avalon Waterways UK ­– Winner

Michael Wilson, Managing Director, Bolsover Cruise Club – Highly Commended

Best Online Cruise Travel Agent

Iglu Cruise – Winner

Bolsover Cruise Club – Highly Commended

Best Cruise Agency

Bolsover Cruise Club – Winner

Iglu Cruise – Highly Commended

Best Cruise Agent

Louise Thompson, Cruise.co.uk – Winner

Jane Chadwick, Go Cruise with Jane – Highly Commended

Best Blogger

Gary Bembridge, Tips for Travellers – Winner

Danielle Fear, Cruise Miss – Highly Commended

Recommended Reading

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Independence of the Seas Refit

independence of the seas refit




I’m So Excited About the Independence of the Seas Refit

Have you heard the news? Are you as excited as I am about the upcoming Independence of the Seas refit? With the Brits favourite Royal Caribbean ship back in the UK after it was greatly missed for one season, we are in for some special treats.

So let’s just recap on some of the incredible things you can already do on Independence of the Seas.

  1. Ice skating and enjoy spectacular ice shows
  2. Surf or boogie board freestyle or take lessons on the Flowrider
  3. Family activies on the full size sports court include basketball and football
  4. Golfing on the 9-hole miniature golf course
  5. Climb the rock wall 200ft above sea level
  6. Workout in the state of the art fitness centre
  7. Stroll along the Royal Promenade or enjoy a parade or street party
  8. A wide selection of dining venues and bars to choose from
  9. Enjoy a show in the Alhambra Theatre
  10. Indule in the spa
  11. Have a flutter in the Vegas style casino
  12. Let your kids loose in the kids club where they will have an amazing time in a safe environment (my number one reason to cruise in my Top 10 Reasons I Choose To Cruise post
  13. Take a dip in one of the 3 onboard pools
  14. Sit back in one of the 6 whirlpools. 2 of which extend 12 feet from the side of the ship

Pretty impressive don’t you think?

Independence of the Seas Activities onboard
Image: Royal Caribbean International

But There’s More …

Aside from these amazing features, Royal Caribbean are going to give our beloved Indy a multi-million dollar makeover. In March 2018, she will enter dry-dock in Freeport, Bahamas. On completion, Royal Caribbean will have added features that have already debuted on newer ships, but Independence of the Seas will be the first cruise ship to have it’s very own Trampoline park. Located on the top deck for extra exhilaration. Trampolining will not be everyones cup of tea, but those brave enough to give it a go will be jumping for joy.

The Escape Room was first introduced on Harmony of the Seas and is now being added to Indy. If you are a fan of mind games then this one’s for you. This is a game where you work as a group to solve clues which lead you to your escape route. It’s great for team work and gives your problem solving skills a workout.

Independence of the Seas Refit Escape Room
Image: Royal Caribbean International

In the Alhambra theatre you will now have the opportunity to experience the West End version of Grease The Musical which has proved a massive hit with the guests during its first season onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Independence of the Seas Refit Grease The Musical
Image: Royal Caribbean International

Even the pool deck is getting some attention in the Independence of the Seas refit as they will be adding Splashaway Bay for the kids to enjoy as well as three different waterslides.

Independence of the Seas Refit Splashaway Bay
Image: Royal Caribbean International
Independence of the Seas Refit Waterslides
Image: Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean are great at finding activities that are suitable for kids as well as adults who want to act like kids again. Laser Tag is perfect for this and will no doubt be very popular with all ages.

Independence of the Seas Refit Girl Playing Laser Tag
Image: Royal Caribbean International

The cruise line have proved they are confident this will generate higher demand for this ship as they also plan to add more staterooms.

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Le Soleal in Pictures by Andrew Sassoli-Walker




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Le Soleal in the Solent

Andrew Sassoli-Walker is an amazing photographer and many of us are already aware of the magnificent images he captures during his day to day life around the Solent, through posts he shares on social media. There are also numerous books Andrew has put together which highlight the P and O and Cunard fleets. These are available to buy online here.

I was thrilled when Andrew agreed to join me onboard Le Ponant’s luxury yacht, Le Soleal when she visited Portsmouth earlier this year. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, and Andrew managed to capture some fantastic images of the ship.

To me, what makes these photographs so special is that they are taken by someone who has a true passion and respect for the vessels themselves. This shows through in the character of the images Andrew took on the day.

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

Le Soleal is more of a private luxury yacht than a cruise ship. She is only 142 metres long and has a guest capacity of 264 passengers.

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

 

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

It was hard to believe we were in Portsmouth but easy to imagine life onboard the luxury yacht basking in the Mediterranean Sun.

Le Soleal Flavia Gray Luxury Cruise Blog

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

Ponant is the only French owned cruise line.

Ponant are very happy to allow guests to view the bridge whenever possible.

The casual dining restaurant onboard Le Soleal.

Spectacular all balcony suites onboard Le Soleal.

Luxurious spa treatments available onboard using Sothys range of products.

The onboard cinema.

My personal favourite, the lounge bar with stunning views, comfortable seating and beautiful skylight.

French bread anyone?

As expected, the food, wine and service was impeccable, with food served under a cloche.

More information can be found on my blog post Ponant – Luxury and Expedition Cruises

You can follow Andrew on Instagram.

 

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