Mini Cruise Review onboard Celebrity Eclipse

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse Cute Little Boy on Lawn




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On the last night of our 10 night Greek Island cruise last year, my dear friend David announced that he would not be doing anymore cruises unless he was cruising with me. We were onboard Jewel of the Seas which was the first time David had cruised with anyone other than P & O.

So my first thought was that is I now had myself a permanent cruise buddy, I would need to introduce him to something a bit more, erm, refined shall we say. With a young child in tow, this was exactly the excuse I needed to “jump ship” to Celebrity Cruises.

David and I have a lot in common. We enjoy good food, wine, conversation, luxury décor and refinement. There is a good choice of cruise lines that tick the boxes, but the key combination for me was the kids club facilities.

Now most travel agents will let their customers know when there are great deals to be had. Not me. I have great customers that find the deals and call me to book. They are so good at knowing a deal that when I see what the price is, I want to book it for myself! This was the case with the two-night taster cruise. Kat emailed me or messaged me on Facebook and said she wanted to book this cruise for her and her friend. When I checked the price I went into overdrive and held off her cabin and two cabins for David and I.

Fast forward to 19 May 2017 and we boarded the elegant Celebrity Eclipse. We were welcomed onboard with a glass of champagne. I knew then that there would be no turning back for David.

As we walked towards the atrium to get our bearings, we spotted the speciality restaurant staff, taking reservations. I took the opportunity to get our dining times sorted as we were not able to get the times that worked with the nursery online.

With that done, we headed for the pool deck.

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse watching the water fountains

The dancing fountain display was beautiful and had a very calming effect on me. We found a nice little spot to set up camp and distracted Josh with an extra large chocolate chip cookie, while we flagged down a poolside waiter.

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse Poolside Lounger

After a few glasses of Prosecco (all included in the drinks package), and the mandatory dip in the pool, followed swiftly by a warm up in the hot tub, we headed back to our rooms to prepare for the compulsory muster drill.

Celebrity Cruises have adopted a different approach to the muster drill, which caused some controversy between passengers. It was presented as a kind of James Bond spoof, where one of the agents was on a mission and in order to complete it, they were put through a series of emergency procedures. Personally, I thought this was a refreshing change to the usual safety video, but some other guests, including my dear friend David, thought it was ridiculous. I guess you can’t please everyone.

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse Grass Lawn

We took a stroll to the Sunset Bar at the aft of the ship for spillway, passing the stunning lawn club. If you ever cruise with Celebrity, you really must do this, it was absolutely breathtaking. People were sitting on blankets on the lawn and chatting and taking in the view. The glass balcony means you can sit on the grass on what feels like the edge of the ship and look straight down to the water as you start to move away from the dock. Cafe del Mar style upbeat jazz tunes play through speakers located around the lawn, and there is a kind of cool, sophisticated, buzz in the air. The diversity of people was refreshing and ranged from my 3 year old running around on the lawn, to romantic couples of all ages. There was a group of same sex couples chilling out together and ladies letting their hair down for a well deserved weekend away. Some of which had never cruised before, and others who were almost part of the furniture.

After sailaway, I dropped Josh off at the X-Club and David and I excitedly headed to a restaurant I have always wanted to try, Qsine.

Taster Cruise Celebrity Eclipse Qsine Disco Shrimp
Trying the disco shrimp in Qsine

I think the Celebrity Cruises trainer, Leon Hand, aptly describes the experience as Heston Blumenthal meets Willy Wonka. That’s probably as close as you can get to an insight into this crazy, fun, delicious, quirky experience.

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse Sushi Lollipops
Sushi Lollopops in Qsine onboard Celebrity Eclipse

DAY 2

We docked in Le Havre but I decided I would rather stay onboard and enjoy the facilities on the ship. So did most others and the Solarium was quite full. I didn’t mind it too much until a lady opposite me decided to FaceTime someone, only they didn’t answer the first three times she called them. I politely GLARED at her when she first started calling, but I think that just made her more insistent that she would proceed with the call.

That is the one downside of a taster cruise. You do get a higher proportion of inconsiderate passengers. I don’t know why that is, but it’s just the way it is. Now one of the big benefits of a taster cruise, means you can book your next cruise whilst onboard and get a lower deposit, extra on board credit and cheaper prices (because you are booking earlier). We booked balcony cabins for a 10 night Canary Island Cruise in October. It cost us around £1300pp. I checked the prices yesterday and although the cruise is almost sold out, what balconies are left are starting at £1900pp. So there is a good booking tip for you. Make sure you put it in the name of your travel agent who should be able to give you a loyalty discount for booking with them.

So, after wandering around the ship and bumping into some familiar faces, we found the lawn club was once again the place to be. It was tranquil and spacious. The grass has a surprisingly calming effect on people for some reason. The pool area with the hot tub was more of a party atmosphere, but the lawn club was a real retreat from it all. We bumped into my friend and customer, Kat and her friend and sat on the grass having a good old chat. It threatened to rain for a moment, but fortunately it passed.

Taster Cruise Onboard Celebrity Eclipse Lawn Club

That evening David and I enjoyed a meal in Murano. Known for its fine dining, we opted for the wine pairing menu which was magnificent. The food, the staff, the service and the ambience was exceptional, so I knew David would be thrilled to hear I had booked our next cruise onboard. We raised a glass to the next cruise and enjoyed the rest of our evening.

Taster Cruise Celebrity Eclipse
Scallop Wellington was an excellent starter.

The after dinner plan was to visit the Martini Bar where we knew other people onboard would be. After bumping into a couple of familiar faces, we headed to the shops to spend our remaining on board credit. With cap in hand and a bag of goodies we were still left with some change. So we payed what was supposed to be a quick visit to the Roulette table. It seemed it was my lucky night, not because I was stood next to an extremely inebriated ex-colleague, but because I kept winning. David perched on a stool behind me and I just kept passing him the winning chips. Eventually we had to go because the kids club was closing. It was 1am!!

So it was no Martini bar for us on this occasion, but a great couple of days spend onboard a stunning ship and two (and a half) very excited people to be hopping back on board for 10 days in October.

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Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers Let Guests #SeekDeeper

Royal Caribbean's SeaSeekers




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The Ultimate Immersive Experience with Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers

Once again Royal Caribbean have taken the latest technology and media trends to another level. Passengers are now able to enjoy the beauty of the marine life around them on the ocean floor, without even dipping a toe in the water.

Adopting the cutting-edge application of Snapchat Spectacles, Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers are the focus of a vibrant aquatic event being held by the cruise line that enables the viewers to explore the mysteries of the deep. This five day event was launched on the 21st of June and you can follow it on social media channels using #SeekDeeper.

Royal Caribbean's SeaSeekers

Royal Caribbean’s SVP of Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer, Jim Berra said “The SeaSeekers will enable all adventure-seekers to get a front-row seat to the thrilling adventures found underwater in a way that has never been possible before. Snapchat continues to be a favorite channel for curious travellers and is the ideal platform for this first-of-its-kind undersea exploration. We are excited to find an innovative way to use the Snapchat Spectacles with our SeaSeekers mask so that we can bring the underwater experience to our guests as they visit the incredible destinations we sail to.”

Meet the Divers Behind Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers

Roberto Ochoa is a well known Conservationist and Marine wildlife photographer, He will be giving viewers the very rare glimpse of the annual migration of Whale Sharks as he dives into the Mexican waters of Cozumel. After which, guest will then be shown a coral reef restoration project by Marine Biologist Gabriela Nava.

Royal Caribbean's SeaSeekers

To top off the incredible experience, free diver Ashleigh Baird visits the Great Blue Hole In Belize. It is believed to be the largest underwater sinkhole of its kind.

Royal Caribbean are hoping to offer this event exclusively to it’s guests and have applied for a patent for the SeaSeekers mask.

“Our event promises the participants the blood-rushing excitement as in the aquatic adventure events. We are organizing this event to raise the awareness on the underwater kingdom. We are overwhelmed with the reaction of the participants. The credit for the success of this event is completely owed to the participants who have been out patron to crown this effort of us with success. The success of this event will motivate us to conceive more such events in the forthcoming time”, stated the spokesperson.

Although this five day experience draws to a close today, we very much hope that Royal Caribbean will look at bringing more events like this to it’s guests.

Cruising With Royal Caribbean

If you are new to cruise, here are my top 10 reasons for taking a cruise.  Or have cruised before but not tried Royal Caribbean, take a look at my Allure of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas cruise reviews for insights. I love them, they are one of my favourite cruise lines. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions you would like me to answer.

Royal Caribbean Weekly Deals

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

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Body Confidence – The Best Bikini

Best Bikini for Body Confidence




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Finding The Best Bikini for Body Confidence.

I had to share this with you all today. I have found the best bikini online and have just ordered one for myself. To all my male readers, you owe it to your female friends and relatives to share this article with them.

“To look good in the water you have to pick the right swimsuit. I own close to 500.” – Amanda Beard ( seven-time Olympic Medalist)

Sexy photo of Amanda Beard in a bikini on the beach
“To look good in the water you have to pick the right swimsuit. I own close to 500.” – Amanda Beard

When I am on a cruise, I do avoid the chips (french fries for my US friends) and cookies (thats biccies for the Brits), but for some reason the salad REALLY bloats me! So the odd gelato and a few beers isn’t going to hurt is it?

“What woman doesn’t want to feel comfortable in a swimsuit? It’s incredibly empowering.” – Sara Rue (American TV Actress)

Sara Rue in cute bikini
What woman doesn’t want to feel comfortable in a swimsuit? It’s incredibly empowering.” – Sara Rue

There are loads of colours and patterns available, so there is something for everyone. But the key selling point to me has to be that lovely loose fitting top.

Now THIS bikini design is perfect to hide that little bulge and I think it is very cute. So save yourself a day of walking around the shops to find your perfect holiday bikini and buy yours online now.

Nicetage Women’s Two Piece Floral Luau Beach Love Bandeau Halterneck Swimsuit Tankini Top

“I always say, ‘Do you have a body? Then you’re swimsuit ready.’ That’s all you need to worry about.” – Emily Ratajkowski (American Model and Actress)

“I always say, ‘Do you have a body? Then you’re swimsuit ready.’ That’s all you need to worry about.” – Emily Ratajkowski

To browse the various styles of this bikini or to buy click here.

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WOULD YOU LOVE TO WORK ON A CRUISE SHIP?

How To Work on a Cruise Ship




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HОW TO GET WORK ON A CRUISE SHIР

I have lost count of the amount of times people have asked me to do a blog about how to get work on a cruise ship. It’s no inѕidеr’ѕ secret but I guess when you have so many agencies online it can be daunting. If you have read my post about my journey in the industry, you will know how much I loved every minute of it. So here is a guide to avoid the scammers and improve your chances of a life at sea.

Finding work on a cruise ship

Cruise line or Agency?

Whеn it соmеѕ tо finding wоrk on a сruiѕе ѕhiр, thеrе аrе a numbеr оf thingѕ that you саn dо tо inсrеаѕе уоur сhаnсеѕ. It iѕ a соmреtitivе induѕtrу, аnd anything thаt you саn dо tо win thаt drеаm jоb should be саrеfullу considered. One of the best thingѕ thаt you can do iѕ tо get an agency to help уоu tо find a jоb.

Bесаuѕе of thе high volume of jоb аррliсаnts, thе cruise lines use аgеnсiеѕ tо hеlр thеm find the best candidates. They will interview the аррliсаntѕ аnd do all thе hiring on behalf of the cruise lines.

Agencies make their money by еаrning commission whеn you start wоrking, so their goal is to get you that job. They also hаvе thе contacts tо make thingѕ hарреn, аnd thеу will рrоbаblу knоw thе right реорlе tо аррrоасh tо find уоu thе wоrk, whiсh iѕ a hugе advantage fоr someone starting off in the business.

You can also send аn аррliсаtiоn dirесtlу to a сruiѕе linе. There are some useful links at the end of this post. If you do decide to use an agency, make sure you use the ones that don’t charge you any fees as thеу will receive a commission when they have secured you work on a cruise ship.

Smile!

Work on a cruise ship

Onе thing you must do to inсrеаѕе уоur сhаnсе of getting your dream job iѕ tо inсludе a photograph with уоur cv. Thiѕ аlwауѕ goes dоwn well with сruiѕе linеѕ аѕ it оffеrѕ ѕоmеthing a littlе bit extra, especially if you are applying for a position that is front of house. A warm genuine smile goes a long way. You would be surprised the amount of people who do not send a photo, so give yourself the best chance of success and include one in your application.

It doesn’t have to be a professional photograph. Aѕ long аѕ it is a рlеаѕаnt рhоtоgrарh that ѕhоwѕ you looking ѕmаrt аnd ѕmiling, thаt’ѕ аll they are lооking for. After all you will be representing the brand as a crew member, so look at it from their point of view.

What Sort of Work on a Cruise Ship Can I Do?

Work on a cruise ship

Thеrе are so many different jоbѕ to сhооѕе frоm, with so many ѕhiрѕ аt ѕеа these days. For instance, certain сruiѕе linеs will hаvе more “еntеrtаinmеnt” jobs, whereas others will have mоrе “hotel ѕеrviсеѕ” роѕitiоnѕ available fоr уоu to choose frоm.

Obviously уоu’ll bе working, but уоu’ll also bе trаvеling. Tо gеt dауѕ off in роrtѕ аnd ѕреnd аѕ much time аѕhоrе as possible, wоrk оut ѕсhеdulеѕ with your fеllоw со-wоrkеrѕ. You mау bе thinking that ѕоundѕ like a daunting task, but trust mе, it’ѕ nо biggiе аnd tаkеѕ аbоut thirtу ѕесоndѕ bеfоrе еvеrуоnе iѕ hарру. If уоu wоrk in сеrtаin dераrtmеntѕ, likе the еntеrtаinmеnt department, your department gеtѕ tо mаkе уоur оwn ѕсhеdulе. Othеr departments, likе саѕinоѕ аnd ѕhорѕ аrе nоt аllоwеd to wоrk whilе in роrt (not a bad jоb tо hаvе). If уоu саn, trу tо gеt a jоb on a ѕhiр that hаѕ a big flееt or thаt hаѕ a lot of dеѕtinаtiоnѕ.

Websites To Apply For Work On A Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean Shipboard Careers

Carnival Careers At Sea

MSC Cruises Careers

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What Is A Keel Laying Ceremony?





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A keel laying ceremony is carried out by the owners of the shipyard and the vessel and is formal recognition that the ship’s construction has begun.

Before we modernised ship building with pre-fabricated sections, the keel laying was the action of placing the first section of timber or steel in the building dock. This served as the backbone of the ship and referred to as the keel.

Sometimes coins are placed under the keel or in the hull for good luck at the keel laying. This is known as a coin ceremony.

It’s not usually a glamorous event as it will be held in a shipyard and for health and safety reasons, guests will be required to wear hard hats.

Keel Laying Coin Ceremony

Handy Tips to Get The Most Onboard Credit




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How Much Do You Spend On a Cruise

Why would you need free onboard credit on your cruise? Well, despite having your food, entertainment and activities included in the price, there are many non essential extras on offer.  You could try a shore excursion or two, maybe have some professional photos to take home and treasure, or treat yourself to a relaxing treatment which is hard to resist when you have access to a spa like this one on the Allure of the Seas.

Certainly they are not an essential part of your cruise, and many people prefer to simply do their own thing in ports.  With the introduction of all-inclusive you won’t even need to pay for drinks or gratuities in some cases.  So why would you want free on board credit? The trouble is, the better value for money you get with your cruise fare, the easier it is to excuse that little treat, like this Dreamworks character breakfast on Christmas Morning.

Best Dollar Rate For Holiday Money

Firstly you need to check the type of currency that will be used onboard. Here is my currency guide to help you. It used to be advantageous to buy extra on board credit with the cruise line before you travelled. However since the fall of the sterling rate to the dollar, this may not be the case. For example, Royal Caribbean have dropped their rate for pre purchasing onboard credit, to approx $1.25 to £1 GBP.  If you settle your on board account by credit or debit card, you may be given an option for the currency to be converted by the ship or your bank. It is always far better for you to allow your bank to convert the currency. They give you a much more favourable rate of exchange.

Cash Out in the Casino

So, what if you have qualified for free onboard credit at the time you booked your cruise, but there is nothing you want to spend it on?  This is what I did on my last cruise on Celebrity Eclipse. The casino will give you $5 promotional chips to use on the roulette tables or you can use the credit for slot machines.  This was my first time on the roulette table and although it can appear quite intimidating, once you get comfortable, you get to meet some really fun and lovely people.

The Sting (well not quite)

So, stick to betting on black or red. Watch a few spins until the same colour has appeared two or three times, then start betting on the opposite colour. There’s no guarantee that you will win, but the law of average is the opposite colour will come in soon. Remember the zero can put a spanner in the works. Here you can either start again from scratch or carry on. I tend to carry on. Place your $5 promotional chip on your chosen colour when you are ready. If it wins, you get to keep your promotional chip and are given an additional $5 casino chip, which can be cashed out. Put that chip aside and continue to play with your promotional chips until you’ve lost them all. Hopefully, you’ll have converted some of your promotional chips to real chips.

If your colour doesn’t come in the first time, simply double your bet each time to cover your loss. So your first bet will be $5. If no win, place $10, then $20, then $40. If you start with $200 on board credit in chips then that should give you a run of up to 6 bets on any one colour. Please remember that this is not risk free if you want to keep your free on board credit, however it will not cost you anything from your own pocket. Be prepared to lose the entire $200 on board credit. My suggestion is to quit after 4 bets in a row and then start again from $5.

Image of Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas Casino
Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship Casino

For a guide to cruise ship casinos, check out my post here.

*Information is accurate as of 0900 28 September 2017 and is subject to change at any time.

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Which is the Best Cruise Line For Vegans?

Vegan Salad




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A Culinary Journey for Vegans

Deciding which cruise line is best for vegans, has become a lot easier since Oceania Cruises announced the introduction of an extensive vegan menu. Oceania already boast the only cold-pressed raw juice and vegan smoothie bars at sea. These are located on the pool deck onboard Oceania’s Marina and Riviera ships.

From 7am until 11am, guests can choose from an extensive menu, which includes options such as

  • Rise & Shine juice
  • Coco Island juice
  • Tropical Green smoothie
  • Sweet Green juice
  • Yellow Sunshine smoothie
  • Cacao Joy smoothie
  • Cold Brew latte
  • Acai Berry bowl
  • Chia Cashew Yogurt bowl
cruise line is best for vegans
Terrace Cafe will be serving a wide range of vegan food.

In addition to its already extensive vegetarian meal options, Oceania is the first cruise line to introduce a vegan menu of over 250 dishes. These are available in the Grand Dining Room as well as the Terrace Café on Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, Marina, Riviera, and Sirena.

President & CEO of Oceania Cruises, Bob Binder said “We are delighted to expand our culinary offerings to please an even wider array of palates and offer our guests more diverse choices to suit today’s wellness-focused lifestyles. Whether guests are looking for a healthy and invigorating start to their day or a refreshing and rejuvenating mid-day pick-up, the Raw Juice & Smoothie Bar has something to delight every palate.”

Examples of What To Expect on the Menu

cruise line is best for vegans
Versace charger plates in the Grand Dining Room onboard Oceania Marina.

Breakfast

  • Vegan Tortilla Española with potato, onions, and tofu
  • Vanilla waffle with freshberries; apricot and pistachio muffins
  • Cream of wheat or oatmeal served with cinnamon powder, organic sugar and choice of nuts
  • Vegan link sausage and Lyonnaise potatoes

Side dishes always available include: grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms,

Lunch

  • Tuscan-style bean soup with garlic croutons
  • A Fantasia Italian salad with assorted greens, roasted bell peppers and toasted garlic bread
  • A succulent Involtini stuffed with tofu, spinach, and capers served with pasta and olive tapenade sauce
  • Italian chocolate vegan-ricotta pie with vanilla and raspberry sauce.

Dinner

  • Quinoa salad and vegetable tartare
  • Creamy truffle flavoured parsnip soup with chopped tarragon,
  • Thai red vegan curry with steamed jasmine rice
  • A decadent dessert of vegan strawberry sable,
  • A shortbread with passion fruit cream and strawberries.

Do you agree that Oceania Cruises is the cruise line is best for vegans? Would you like to see more cruise lines make these menu additions? What would be your ideal vegan meal to be able to order onboard a cruise? Please share you comments or ask any questions below.

If you would like to see more of Oceania’s ships, take a look at my photos taken onboard Marina and Nautica.

Recommended Reading

 

RAW CAKE

by the Hardihood

 

 

 

DELICIOUSLY ELLA EVERY DAY

by Ella Woodward

 

 

 

 

PROPER HEALTHY FOOD

by Nick Knowles

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Lunch at The Dorchester Grill Room

Ships-and-champagne-the-dorchester-grill-room-london




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May-Fair Lady

It’s easy to get yourself out of bed when you know you are have a luxurious lunch at the Dorchester Grill Room to look forward to. If you haven’t been to the Dorchester Hotel, it is located on Park Lane in Mayfair, opposite Hyde Park. There is valet parking on site, so we just pulled up, got out of the car and walked straight in. Look for the huge Plane Tree (named one of the Great Trees of London) towering outside the front of the hotel, you can’t miss it.

One of the great Plane trees of London outside The Dorchester Hotel
One of the great Plane trees of London outside The Dorchester Hotel

Ain’t Misbehavin’

I thought I had high expectations of the most prestigious and expensive hotel in London, but these were surpassed the moment I emerged from the revolving door into the lobby.

The revolving door leading into the marble lobby at The Dorchester
The revolving door leading into the marble lobby at The Dorchester

Retired doorman of 50 years Ted Whitcombe, has seen some of the most famous stars and royalty arrive at the hotel. In an interview in 2008 he recalls “Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin had brought cases of rare Jack Daniel’s but were asked to leave because they were misbehaving with women in the corridors. They went to the Savoy and never came back for their case. It took us ages to get through all that booze.”

Afternoon Tea on The Promenade

The Promenade at The Dorchester is famous for it's afternoon tea
The Promenade at The Dorchester is famous for it’s afternoon tea

On entering the lobby you find yourself standing at the entrance to the promenade adorned with green and white blooms. We had arrived early so we walked the length of the promenade to find a coveniently located cocktail bar at the end. A refreshing gin and tonic was the order of the day, and although it was midday and quiet, within ten minutes the bar was buzzing with businessmen and ladies that lunch, as well as the occasional hotel guest.

The Grill Room

Designer Bruno Moinard worked with the Grade II Listed gold ceiling and doors to create a contemporary elegance.

Grade II listed gold doors at The Dorchester Grill Room
Grade II listed gold doors at The Dorchester Grill Room
An ornate hand blown Murano glass chandelier hangs from the grade II listed gold ceiling in The Dorchester Grill Room
An ornate hand blown Murano glass chandelier hangs from the grade II listed gold ceiling in The Dorchester Grill Room

Food That’s Better Than……..

Yes, I’m not going to say it, but it’s true. I must have sounded like the lady in the Herbal Essences advert with every dish I tried (who remembers that?). It was a gastronomic delight as I worked my way through the recommendations made by Arthur, our charmingly French waiter with good looks to go with it.

I grilled him (excuse the pun) on the source of the ingredients for every dish. Since they boasts on their website of the use of finest locally sourced ingredients where possible, I wanted to know the origin of the food.

We selected the set menu which is amazing value for money. An à la carte menu is also available.

The set menu is amazing value for money.
The set menu is amazing value for money.

Bon Appétit

A selection of bread includes their own recipe stilton bread. Arthur proudly informed me that some guests of the Dorchester Grill Room come to the restaurant purely because of this bread. I don’t know what they do to that bread, but with a smattering of butter, it is dangerously divine.
The Grill Room's freshly baked stilton bread is dangerously divine
The Grill Room’s freshly baked stilton bread is dangerously divine
Raw and cooked beetroot and goat's curd salad complimented with a lovely french dressing
Raw and cooked beetroot and goat’s curd salad complimented with a lovely french dressing
Delicate chicken liver terrine with red oignon chutney
Delicate chicken liver terrine with red oignon chutney
The 24 hour braised Scottish beef just melts in the mouth
The 24 hour braised Scottish beef just melts in the mouth
The Dorchester Grill Room have created a sweet soufflé menu which is the first of its kind in London
The Dorchester Grill Room have created a sweet soufflé menu which is the first of its kind in London

Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse’s protégé, Guillaume Katola is the executive chef leading the talented Grill Room team. Thanking him for a delicious meal, he insisted it was a combined effort and gave credit to his Pastry Chef, Ludovic Cuny and the rest of the team. We were honoured to be taken for a tour of the kitchen which is so big it is on two floors has an escalator to take you down to the lower level.

Chef’s Table

If you are looking for an immersive dining experience, you can book a meal at the Chef’s Table. This is located on the lower floor inside the kitchen. The glass windows are frosted, but with the press of a button they become transparent. The entertainment for the evening is a front row seat at the creation of your meal.

A unique dining experience inside The Dorchester kitchens at the Chef's Table
A unique dining experience inside The Dorchester kitchens at the Chef’s Table

The Girl Who Had Everything

Elizabeth Taylor was a frequent guest at the hotel in the 60’s and 70’s, so much so that it was like her second home. It was during a stay in the rooftop Harlequin Suite that she received news that she was to become the first actress to be paid $1 million, for her role as Cleopatra.

Entrance to The Harlequin Suite (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
Entrance to The Harlequin Suite (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The Harlequin Suite Master Bedroom where Elizabeth Taylor's second home (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The Harlequin Suite Master Bedroom where Elizabeth Taylor’s second home (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The Harlequin Suite living room (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The Harlequin Suite living room (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)

A pink marble bathroom was installed in the second bedroom especially for Elizabeth Taylor. It remains the same to this day.

The original pink marble bathroom installed especially for Elizabeth Taylor (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The original pink marble bathroom installed especially for Elizabeth Taylor (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)

You make your dining reservations at the Dorchester Grill Room via Bookatable. They offer excellent deals on all dining venues at The Dorchester Hotel, including Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, one of only four 3-Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK.

Hotel information:

The Dorchester Hotel, 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA
Switchboard: +44 (0)20 7629 8888.   Reservations: +44 (0)20 7317 6530

Recommended Reading

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Britannia Rules The Waves




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9 Things I Love About Britannia

So it wasn’t actually my first time onboard Britannia, but as you can imagine, the launch event was pretty hectic. An opportunity to revisit P & O’s newest ship came up, so I jumped at the opportunity to take another look.

1. Grand Atrium

If you have been on any of Britannia’s predecessors, you will notice the difference in her interior design. The atrium is contemporary and more luxurious than the rest of the fleet. The chandelier dominates and wow’s you as you walk in. The bar looks lavish with its sparkly lighting and black marble top. In my opinion, a ship’s atrium sets the scene for the rest of the cruise experience. It kind of gets you in the mood.

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The Atrium onboard Britannia has a contemporary and more luxurious feel.
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The glitz and glamour of the atrium bar is a new addition to P & O cruise ships

2. The Pool Deck

The most important part of any cruise ship in my opinion, is the pool deck (ok apart from the lifeboats). Britannia offers two pools in this area, as well as jacuzzis, attractive sun loungers, a platform/stage which has been graced by Ant and Dec in the Saturday Night Takeaway hosted onboard, and of course a pool bar.

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Britannia’s Main Pool as seen on Saturday Night Takeaway
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Relax in one of the Jacuzzi’s onboard

3. Cabins and Staterooms

The main difference between Britannia and the other P and O ships, is that there are no oceanview staterooms. What I mean is that you can have an inside, or a balcony but nothing in between. They do have single cabins and accessible cabins available, but these do get booked up quickly.

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A nice seating area in the balcony cabins.
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A very comfy looking bed in the balcony cabins

4. The Crow’s Nest

It wouldn’t be a P and O ship without one, and Britannia is no exception. The Crow’s Nest is a real favourite with the regular P and O cruisers, and it’s not hard to see why. With stunning views of the ocean, ample seating, a piano and a bar, it is the perfect place to relax and take in the scenery as you cruise to your next destination.

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The Crow’s Nest offers amazing sea views
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Enjoy the views while a pianist plays your favourite tunes
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A great place to sit and enjoy panoramic ocean views (have I mentioned the views?)

5. Luxuriate in the Retreat

Whether you are looking to get away from the kids or just like that bit of extra luxury, the Retreat is a private adult only area to relax and unwind.

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Relax and enjoy the serenity of the retreat
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Cool down with a dip in this pool of tranquility
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Relax in bistro style 
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What could be more luxurious than a treatment in this outdoor spa room

6. Relax in the Oasis Spa

So you are not a sun worshipper, or the itinerary you are sailing on is not quite warm enough. This is a great excuse to take a trip to the Oasis Spa. With hundreds of different types of treatments on offer, you can pamper yourself to your heart’s content.

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Feel the warmth penetrate your back muscles as you relax on one of these heated loungers
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Step into thalassotherapy pool as your cares melt away

7. A Food Hero for Everyone

We all need a hero, but P and O have five of them. I’ll take James Martin and you can all fight over the rest. In fact, we heard James was onboard the same day as us and I was hoping to say hello, but it wasn’t to be. We can but dream. Having said that, my knees did buckle when I came face to face with Marco Pierre-White on Ventura once, but to me James seems more of your boy next door type. Oh what am I talking about, I’d accept a date with either of them! 

The Cookery Club

This is a great addition for P & O but they won’t let me onboard when James or Marco are hosting their cookery classes. 

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The Epicurean

A speciality restaurant that offers an afternoon tea created by French Pastry Chef Eric “Cake Boy” Lanlard. This is a not-to-be-missed experience whilst cruising onboard Britannia, and comes at a fraction of the price you would pay in a London Hotel. And it includes champagne.

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Enjoy Eric Lanlard’s afternoon tea at the Epicurean

The Glasshouse

One of my favourite features onboard P & O ships is Olly Smith’s  Glasshouse. Find out more when I took part in a wine tasting class onboard Ventura.

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The perfect place for your #shipsandchampagne moment

Sindhu

As a cruise line that caters primarily for the British market, P and O made a good call when creating the onboard Indian restaurant Sindhu with 2 Michelin Star chef Atul Kochhar. 

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Beautiful mahogany decor at Sindhu adds atmosphere to the fine dining Indian cuisine

8. The Limelight Club

This is my favourite feature onboard Britannia. It was first described to me as a sort of Ronnie Scott’s at sea. There is a cover charge for this venue and you can enjoy a beautiful meal, followed by performances from first class musicians. 

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The Limelight Club invites you to enjoy an evening of fine dining and live performances.
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A lovely atmosphere awaits in The Limelight Club

When I attended the Britannia launch event, I was adamant not to miss out on seeing Jaki Graham performing live. As an 80’s chick, it was a big deal to me.  

 

ships and champagne luxury cruise blog Britannia

9. I Love P & O’s No Hassle Caribbean Fly Cruise

P & O have designed a unique hassle free Caribbean fly cruise experience. Depart from your preferred regional airport and once you check in your luggage, you won’t see it again until you get onboard the ship. You fly out the same day and as the aircraft is chartered, everyone is going to the same destination. There is no need for an Esta as you are not visiting the United States and no need to overnight in a hotel before your cruise.

The Best Bit – You can upgrade to Premium Economy for extra legroom and luggage allowance. 

Flavia’s Top Tip – Get yourself an airport lounge pass for maximum relaxation pre flight. 


Recommended Reading

 

 

PLATES, MATES AND AUTOMOBILES

by James Martin

 

 

 

WHITE HEAT 25

by Marco Pierre-White

 

 

 

 

 

AFTERNOON TEA

by Eric Lanlard

 

 

30 MINUTE CURRIES

by Atul Kochhar

 

 

 

 

DRINKING FOR CHAPS

by Gustav Temple and Olly Smith

 

 

Celebrity Edge Closer To The Ocean




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Introducing Celebrity Edge

Celebrity Cruises have kept us waiting for 10 years to find out how they could create something more impressive than a real grass lawn on a cruise ship. So what makes Celebrity Edge a revolution in cruise ship design?

Well over the coming weeks and months, Celebrity Cruises will reveal more of what’s to be expected. But for now they have done a pretty good job of making the cruise industry sit up and pay attention.

Unique Experiences

So let’s start with the Magic Carpet. This multi purpose cantilevered platform the size of two tennis courts, extends out from the starboard side of the ship.

Celebrity Edge Luxury Cruise Blog Magic Carpet

On port days the Magic Carpet provides an enhanced tender experience for guests. This is something Royal Caribbean President and CEO, Richard Fain has been looking to improve for a long time, rather than the traditional metal gangway. However, once the idea started to become a reality, he didn’t stop at that?
Celebrity Edge Luxury Cruise Blog Magic Carpet

The Magic Carpet provides luxurious seating, a dining area and a cool and trendy bar. During the day, the platform is positioned on deck 5 for Al Fresco dining. Later in the day guests can board the Magic Carpet off the renamed resort deck and enjoy a sunset cocktail with live music. In the evening Deck 16 is the place to be, where guests can experience evening culinary events and enjoy Dinner on the Edge.

Croydon born architect Tom Wright who’s work includes the Most Luxurious Hotel In The World – Burj Al Arab, can be credited for the design of the Magic Carpet, as well as the Rooftop Gardens, which replace the Solstice Class Lawn Club. This groovy looking space was created for guests as an area to get away from it all. The tree sculptures incorporate a small platform for musicians and dancers to provide a unique entertainment venue. With it’s own movie screen, the Rooftop Gardens is the perfect place for Celebrity’s new dining concept Taste of Film.

Celebrity Edge Rooftop Garden Luxury Cruise Blog

New Suites

No one designs cruise ships like Celebrity Cruises. The mix of sleek, contemporary luxury is what gives Celebrity it’s Modern Luxury uniqueness. To guarantee their new ship class took the experience to another level, one of my favourite female entrepreneurs, British Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen MBE, created the most luxurious areas of the ship for guests occupying a suite.

The Iconic Suites and Edge Villas have been designed to give the feel of your very own luxury home. The two 2,600 sq.ft Iconic Suites with two bedrooms and two bathrooms are located above the ship’s bridge. The panoramic windows offer breathtaking 270 degree views that will take your breath away.

Celebrity Edge Iconic Suite Luxury Cruise Blog

The other addition to the suite class are these gorgeous six, two-storey Edge Villas. As well as stunning views, each one has it’s own private plunge pool.
Celebrity Edge Villa Luxury Cruise Blog

Celebrity Edge Villa Luxury Cruise Blog

Innovative and Spacious Staterooms

A new class of stateroom has been created with the introduction of the Infinite Veranda. The rooms offer 23% more footage and the bathrooms are 10% larger. The room can transform at the touch of a button. Watch the video below to see it in action.

Price Tag

Celebrity Edge’s inaugural sailing will be from her homeport of Fort Lauderdale on December 16, 2018. The itineraries will alternate 7 night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

These one of a kind suites are being snapped up quickly, with the two Iconic Suites already booked up for the Christmas 2018 cruise.

We know you can’t put a price on experience, but if you were looking to book an Iconic Suite today, you would have to wait until 3 February 2019 for the first available room. Yes they are all booked up until then. But based on 3 February 2019 sailing for a 7 Night Western Caribbean cruise here are today’s prices based on two people sharing.

Iconic Suite £16,979pp* including gratuities, wifi and drinks.

Edge Villa £8,079pp* including gratuities, wifi and drinks.

Infinite Veranda £1413pp* including drinks.

Interior Stateroom £1013pp*.

*prices subject to availability and change at any time. Prices correct at 0700 GMT on 16 March 2017

Emirates – Ultimate Luxury Business and First Class

Emirates Business Class




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Emirates Business Class Lounge

I always recommend using a business lounge when travelling and find the No.1 Lounge at Gatwick airport is perfect for when I go on holiday or if I’m flying out to take a cruise from to the Mediterranean or Caribbean.  However on this occasion I was boarding Emirates A380 at Heathrow airport which gave me the opportunity to experience the luxury of their business lounge.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
London Heathrow Terminal 3

All Business Class travellers receive a complimentary chauffeur up to a 70 mile radius of the airport, regardless of the fare and ticket type purchased. So no need for an expensive airport taxi cab.  There is also a website where you can see how much extra it will cost for distances further than 70 miles.

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Emirates Meet and Greet Chauffeur Service Terminal 3 Heathrow

Inside the arrivals area is the Emirates Business arrivals lounge.  Daily papers, internet cafe and light refreshments can be enjoyed as well as a concierge service for any assistance.  There is a lovely, relaxing and friendly atmosphere.

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Arrivals Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Heathrow’s Busy Runway

Daylight streams through the floor to ceiling windows inside the Business Lounge. With incredible views of one of the busy Heathrow runways, it is the perfect place to relax pre departure.

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Emirates Business Lounge Terminal 3

One of the A380s went by in it’s fabulous England Rugby World Cup livery, dwarfing the neighbouring Boeing 747.

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Emirates A380 Taxiing at Heathrow

The Emirates Business Lounge extends the luxury of their in flight facilities to provide everything you would want and expect as a luxury traveller.

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Emirates Business Lounge Dining area

There was plenty of time …………………………..

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury

Great Runway Views

The lounge offers luxurious bathroom and shower facilities.

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Private Shower
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Buffet Area

There is large variety of refreshments available.

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Enjoying a glass of bubbles
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A selection of starters
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Fillet Mignon?
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A selection of pasta, thai curry and other lovely hot food.
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Salad….. and cakes

After a delicious lunch I boarded the aircraft.

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Stairs to upper and business class

Once onboard, I climbed the staircase to the Business and First Class section of the plane.

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The Bar Area for Business Class
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If travelling with someone you can choose seats together
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If you are travelling alone, you can choose seats apart
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The same applies to the window seat if you want privacy or want to talk to the person across the aisle
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Flat bed buttons, ipad and a mini bar together with all the plug sockets you could want.
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Pop your feet in there and recline into a flat bed.
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Here you can see how each row alternates so look for the configuration you want when checking in on line.
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Now you’re in First Class
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This is the luxury you deserve.
Emirates First Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
There are two shower rooms available on board the A380 for First Class travellers.

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It was only polite to say hello to the flight deck


Ponant – Luxury and Expedition Cruises

Luxury Cruise Blog Ships and Champagne Le Ponant




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WHY PONANT?

If you love the idea of an adventure or expedition cruise, but want an intimate and luxuriously elegant onboard experience, then you’re going to love this.

A luxury cruise onboard these French-style Ponant ships, combines chic with casual to provide a je ne sais quoi more familiar to that of a private yacht.  With one staff member for every two guests, you will find yourself being welcomed onboard by name. The personalised service continues throughout your cruise, as the staff will remember your food and drink preferences from day one.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

The intimate ships are small with the largest having just 132 staterooms. Interior decor for four of the ships is contemporary with a nautical feel.

In the evenings there is entertainment which includes parties outside on the top deck.  Music is provided by a DJ who plays Mediterranean club style music.

On selected sailings during the summer, children of the ages 4 and over are catered for with a small kids club, and children onboard tend to be well mannered and well behaved.

Destinations and Themed Cruises

Thanks to a reinforced hull, Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial have been awarded Ice 1C certification. This gives the ships access to polar regions that are not readily available to most cruise ships.

Due to their size, not only are these ships able to reach every corner of the globe, but they can get much closer to the most stunning scenery.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

Destinations for 2017 include The Arctic, Northern Europe and The Baltic, Asia, Oceania, Mediterranean, Canada and North America. 38 destinations include visits to Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Some of the themed cruises available range from Opera and Mozart to Wine and Gastronomy. A golf themed cruise will take guests to four of the best golf courses in Spain. Starting in Malaga with Torrequebrada Golf Course, you can enjoy your favourite game whilst taking in the stunning Andalusian landscape. Following a day at sea, the cruise docks in Valence, where guests will play at El Salem Golf Course, one of the top three golf courses in Europe. The next stop on this luxury cruise is Palma and a visit to the Son Gual Golf Course, considered to be the best in the Balearic Islands. Finally it’s off to Barcelona for the PGA Catalunya (stadium) Golf Course regularly ranked among the top ten courses in Europe. You can relax on the last day of your cruise and take a leisurely wander around the picturesque French seaside town of Sanary.

Fleet

The four sister ships Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial are joined by the cruise lines flagship Le Ponant. With only 32 staterooms, this sailing ship is a truly exquisite experience.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

In 2018 the fleet will be expanded with two of its four new explorer ships, Le Laperouse and Le Champlain with two to follow in 2019. These incredible ships will be smaller then their four predecessors and combine the sleek, contemporary design of the current fleet, with new environmentally-friendly equipment. New features also include a modular marina platform and infinity pool.

Accommodation

Onboard accommodation comprises 2 berth Deluxe and Prestige staterooms, 3 berth Superior staterooms, 2 berth Deluxe suites and 4 berth Prestige suites. The top suite is the Owners Suite which has the capacity for two guests.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
PRESTIGE SUITE (Image credit: PONANT)

All rooms are equipped with:

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
PRESTIGE STATEROOM (Image credit: PONANT)

Individual Air Conditioning

  • King Size or Twin Beds
  • Shower (and Bath in Owners Suite)
  • French bath products
  • Mini Bar and 24 hr room service
  • Flatscreen
  • Satellite TV and video on demand
  • Desk with stationary, Internet access wifi
  • Ipod players
  • Safe, Hairdryer and Bathrobes
  • Satellite direct line telephone
Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
OWNERS SUITE (Image credit: PONANT)

Onboard Facilities

An onboard theatre provides a venue for talks and lectures as well as shows, musical performances and film screenings. The fitness room with state of the art gym equipment, will ensure your workout regime doesn’t get disrupted whilst you are busy travelling the world.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

Of course no luxury cruise ship would be complete without a spa to pamper and indulge. The well-being centres onboard Ponant ships provide an extensive range of treatments using only the best French Sothys products.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
TREATMENTS IN THE WELL-BEING CENTRE IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOTHYS Paris ™. (Image credit: PONANT)

Luxury lounge areas decorated in soft nautical tones and sumptuous seating, allows you to relax during your cruise and take in the incredible views.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

Dining

The ships offer two restaurants onboard. The Grill Restaurant on deck 6 has an open air dining area. The relaxed buffet restaurant serves a variety of delicious cuisine for guests looking for a faster meal service.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
GRILL RESTAURANT (Image credit: PONANT)

On deck 2 is the gastronomic restaurant. Here you will experience the sophisticated elegance of traditional French service and cuisine, combining the best of the local flavours and fine wines.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
GASTRONOMIC RESTAURANT (Image credit: PONANT)

An extensive complimentary room service menu is available 24 hours a day.

Environmental Commitment

Ponant are members of Charge Bleue d’Amateurs de France and IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators). They actively support Le Cercle Polaire and donate 10 Euros to Fablab every time a guest opts to receive electronic documents rather than paper copies.

The four sister ships use electric propulsion systems which are quiet and economical. The engines use less polluting Marine Diesel Oil which has earned them “Clean Ship” status.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

In summary, Ponant’s French refinement combined with expedition and adventure cruising, makes this a firm favourite on my bucket list.

For More Information

Please get in touch by email to:  flavia.gray@travelcounsellors.com

Further contact details can be found here