Tag Archives: Caribbean-Cruises

Flavia Gray Cruise Blogger sitting in Coast Beach Bar in Barbados

Viking Sea Cruise – Last Day – Barbados

The last day of a cruise is always a sad one. However when it’s your first time in Barbados, it’s hard to be anything but completely excited.

During my cruise on Viking Sea I had met many lovely people. On my second day in Puerto Rico, we were gathered in the terminal to depart for our horse riding adventure, and Julia bowled up to our group to join us. Looking the part in her cowboy boots, I immediately took to Julia and her bubbly personality. We chatted non-stop on the drive to the stables. It turned out that Julia was working onboard Viking Sea as HR Manager. When I told her I was looking to get some amazing beach photos, she kindly offered to help and arranged the whole thing!

I met Cassie Wilcox, Senior Writer for Viking Cruises UK, in the check in queue at Heathrow. After a few days on the cruise, Cassie told me she was desperate to get that soft white sand between her toes asked if she could join us.

TAXIS EVERYWHERE

If you’ve never been to Barbados on a cruise, it is worth knowing that as you emerge from the terminal building you are greeted by hundreds of taxis. There seems to be one person managing the operation. They will ask you where you want to go and find the driver for you. They seem to prefer lots of passengers on shorter journeys, so for three of us looking for a two hour trip we were not getting any takers.

Thankfully Julia sorted it all out and a lovely retired gentleman name Marson said he would be our driver. I needed to be back to the ship by midday as we were flying home, so we didn’t have a lot of time and I wanted to see as much as possible.

BROWNES BEACH

Marson was a real charmer and told us some great stories of his ballroom dancing. The first beach he took us to was Brownes Beach just 15 minutes from the cruise terminal.

Pristine white sand and crystal blue water at Brownes Beach.

Dress: M & S Linen Blend Sleevless Tunic Dress

It certainly ticks all the boxes for that dreamy Caribbean beach. We arrived around 9.30am so we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. Apparently it can get extremely busy so my advice is get there super early and head back to the ship when it gets too busy. All of the beaches we visited had sun-loungers and umbrellas for hire.

Julia and Cassie were really good fun to hang out with.

A big smile from Cassie as she gets that powdery sand between her toes.

I love this photo of Julia laughing at me.

That’s why she’s laughing

What a great shot, even if I say so myself.

From there, Marson drove 5 minutes south to Needhams Point. We stopped at the Hilton Barbados Resort to take in the views and have a quick wander around the grounds.

The hotel has several gorgeous pool areas, it’s right on the beach and offers stunning views.

If you fancy staying there, you can check pricing and availability for the Hilton Barbados Resort here.

I love this hotel.

Get the outfit: M & S Woven Vest Dress, Mia Tui Jennie Bag and Sparkly Fit Flops.

Next stop was Worthing Beach just 10 minutes drive away. Since Marson had told us so much about his passion for dancing, I asked if he would show me a few moves. He kindly obliged.

The best taxi driver in Barbados. Marson Craigwell shows off his moves.

We wandered along the beach and found a great place to stop and reflect.

We stayed there for a while, just soaking up the beautiful atmosphere. What an incredible place Barbados is. I want to go back at the first opportunity. Maybe a Christmas cruise?

Dipping my toes in the water for the last time

Outfit: M & S Wide Leg Beach Trousers and Sparkly FitFlops

There is a great restaurant and bar on the beach called Coast. We met the owner, Anna who bought the bar 4 years ago when she moved over from her home town of Milan, Italy. If you are visiting Barbados, make sure this is on your list of places to visit.

As you can see, I was far from ready to leave. What a gorgeous place. Barbados! I’ll be back!

The clothes in this post are my own and purchased by me. I have not been paid or gifted to endorse any of the products listed below. These affiliate links mean I will earn a small amount of commission on any purchases made via these links, at no extra cost to you.

  1. M & S Linen Blend Dress
  2. Black Beach Dress
  3. Sparkly Fit Flops
  4. Beach Trousers
  5. Hilton Barbados Resort

Recommended Reading: Viking Seas Cruise – Day Two – Puerto Rico

Viking Sea Cruise – Day Five – St Lucia

It looked like we were in for another gorgeous day in the Caribbean as I enjoyed breakfast on my balcony. I woke up early again, partly due to jetlag, but also because of my excitement for the day ahead.

I visited St Lucia with my family back in 2009. We had such an amazing time there and we still talk about it now.

Room Service Breakfast in St Lucia

For those of you who regularly read my blog posts, you will already know how much I love being in, on or by the water. When I saw the option for whale and dolphin watching in St Lucia, I didn’t hesitate to book it. Although it is worth mentioning at this point, that the excursion was full and had it not been for the gorgeous Becky Wiggins (English Mum) letting me take her place on the trip, I would be looking at her photos instead of mine. So a HUGE thank you Becky for giving me this amazing opportunity.

Like most cruises, shore excursion groups meet in the theatre at the time specified on the ticket. Once everyone has arrived, they are escorted off the ship to meet their tour guide. The great thing about this trip is that the boat is a five minute walk from the cruise ship. So before we knew it, we were all aboard and sailing out to sea.

We sailed three miles off the coast while the two crew members made us feel welcome. There was plenty of room on the boat for people to move around and a choice of seating downstairs in the open or covered, and upstairs in the open or under cover. The crew frequently offered us refreshments which included Rum Punch and the most incredible bananas. I know you would expect St Lucia to offer great tasting bananas, but they were so delicious I turned to my neighbour and said “you don’t get these in Tesco’s do you?”

There was a fair bit of movement in the boat, so it is not for those of you prone to motion sickness and your safety is really down to your own common sense. This is a trip for the semi adventurous. It’s not exactly mountain climbing (Michael English), but if you are someone who always thinks the worst is going to happen, I’d suggest giving this one a miss.

The Time Of My Life!

I told one of the crew members that I would be videoing the experience for my blog and could he give me an idea of the best place to stand. Well be careful what you ask for, because no sooner had I said that, I was following him along the side of the boat to the front. I sat up on the ledge for a while and took in the breathtaking view. This was an experience that I will never forget. It was one of those moments when you just can’t believe it is really happening. One where you feel truly alive and you want to try and share it with the world.

The trip lasted four hours in total. I moved to the upper deck after a while where I felt better positioned to enjoy a rum punch. During the trip we saw dolphins, pilot whales and a rare spotting of false killer whales. Here is a short video which condenses the sightings and hopefully gives you an idea of the incredible experience it really was.

If you are visiting St Lucia without a cruise, you can book this excursion directly with Captain Mike’s.

Last Day Onboard

Back onboard for what was to be our last afternoon on the Viking Sea. I grabbed some more of the delicious food at the Pool Grill for a late lunch and met with the rest of our group by the pool. A steel band came onboard to entertain the guests. They were very good and did a great rendition of Take On Me by Aha.

I love the fact that the pool area is used in many different ways. All the seats were turned towards the band, similar to the set up for when they have a  movie night.

Final Sunset and Sea View

It was that time that we all dread, that last day of the cruise, but inevitably it had arrived. I took one last wander around the decks while the sun was setting. Desperately trying to capture the feeling of that moment in a photograph, which is impossible. You know what I’m talking about don’t you? All cruisers do.

With bags packed, it was time for dinner. We had chosen to try another alternative dining venue. This time it was Chef’s Table, a five course wine pairing menu.

First Course – Lobster and Chicken Shu Mai

Having tried a variety of dining options during our Viking Sea cruise, I have to say that my two favourites were the main dining room and the seafood and sushi buffet. However, there is no additional charge to eat in alternative restaurants, so you can choose whichever you feel suits your palette.

Woah – It’s Not Over Yet

So the last day had finally come to an end and it was time for bed, but with one consolation – Barbados tomorrow!

Have you read Viking Sea Cruise – Day Four

Thinking of booking your own Viking Cruise? Click My Viking Cruise to visit their website.

Interview with Stacy Shaw – Virgin Voyages

“I do work pretty hard.

It’s just that I don’t usually notice because I’m having a good time.” Stacy Shaw

Stacy Shaw is the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Virgin Voyages, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When Stacy and I met at the #Shiptease event in Genoa last year, I asked if she would answer some questions for my Cruise People series. Thankfully she agreed, so lets find out more about Stacy Shaw.

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

After grad school, I moved from West Virginia to Florida… I was pretty tired of winter weather and wanted to be near my sister. We had been prepped by the Dean of Business & Economics, that it may take time to find a job. So I reached out to a recruiter as soon as I arrived, with the idea that I would wait tables for a while and enjoy some down time.

He sent me for an interview right away for an Accounting position that happened to be at a cruise line. I didn’t intend to start working in a office so quickly but it sounded pretty glamorous (the cruise line part), so I changed my plans. I lasted in that particular job for about six months before I got a little bored (sorry, Accountants) but it was the start to what would become a 23-year (and counting) career in travel and hospitality.

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

I love animals so if I was better at science, I might have been a veterinarian. I always knew I would work in some sort of business, I just didn’t know what. Before I started in this industry, I had traveled to five states … never once out of my time zone.

I’ve now visited many states in all US times zones and more than 65 countries. I have found the education that comes from learning about other people and cultures invaluable and I think it made me a better person. I’m very happy with how things worked out!

Stacy with Boy George at the Virgin Voyages Shiptease

What makes Virgin Voyages stand out from other cruises?

People often ask which cruise line we will be most like and I find it impossible to answer that question. Our goal is to be unlike any other … to create a new category and be the only one in it. We’ve looked more to cool, hip hotel and land experiences for inspiration, so I think you’ll find it very easy to see what makes us stand out … when we can talk about that.

As VP of Sales and Business Development for Virgin Voyages, what is an average day like for you?

We’re a start-up so every day is pretty busy and very different. I try to learn something about Virgin or the other Virgin companies however and whenever I can. We have some great resources in the company who have worked for other Virgin brands, so I’m like a sponge around them. For now, we’ve been putting a strong foundation in place.

So I’ve been working on things like sales and distribution strategy, org charts and operating budgets … thinking about how we can be irresistible to our partners! I’ve also been working on finding a rock star leadership team in sales so there’s been a lot of Skype calls and interviews. We’re so fortunate to have a lot of interest when we post our gigs and we’re very focused on finding the perfect fit for every role.

What was your last holiday?

I tend to do more mini-holidays or weekend getaways than long vacations. I love exploring new places, most recently I went to Nashville for the weekend. It was great … the food, the nightlife, the music, the service, the people … I can’t wait until Virgin Hotels Nashville opens. I’m definitely going back.

I also did my first river cruise last year over New Years with a group of friends and loved that. Prague to Budapest on the Danube with AMA Waterways. We visited four countries that I hadn’t been to before (Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and Austria) … all amazing. I would like to do another river cruise to the wine regions in France. And I love going to Spain any chance I get.

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

I do. I’m going on a safari in South Africa with the same group of friends this summer. We’ll also spend a few days in Cape Town and visit some beautiful wineries. I did a safari in Kenya years ago but it was a site inspection with clients. Still, it was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever taken but I’m very excited to do it again with people I love. That will be really special and a lot of fun.

Stacy hosts VIP Travel Partners at the Keel Laying Ceremony in Genoa.

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

I feel very lucky to be in an industry that I love and working for Virgin is a dream come true for me. It’s hard to think about what I do as “work”. I get paid to do the most amazing things and to think about ways that our company can make the world a better place. Don’t get me wrong, I do work pretty hard. It’s just that I don’t usually notice because I’m having a good time.

At Virgin Voyages, we’re creating something really special and I’m surrounded by the most creative, inspiring group of people. It’s hard not to be excited about anything I do in that environment. I would say the things that have helped me most in my career is a never-ending desire to learn, genuinely caring about the people involved with our business, always delivering on commitments, being respectful and a willingness to do whatever needs to be done without hesitation. Oh, and coffee, that helps a lot with focus and energy!

What are your hobbies?

I read and research a lot. More articles and historical info than novels … most everything online. I like to start my day with time to read (and drink coffee). I love learning new things and I like to understand a variety of viewpoints. Obviously, I love to travel and I do as much of that as I can. I’m interested in languages. I speak Spanish fairly well and know bits of Italian and French that I’ve picked up through travel. I find that people genuinely appreciate an attempt to speak to them in their language even if it isn’t perfect. I also enjoy trying local food and drinks wherever I am … always looking for a great restaurant.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Well, I think I’ve got the career and travel things covered. And I’ve met Richard Branson. So I guess the only thing left is an epic love story.

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

I would say take a voyage instead. 🙂

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There’s A Cruise For Everyone

The London Cruise Show 2017, is promising its biggest and most exciting luxury cruise show ever.  If you don’t think cruising is for you, I challenge you to go to the show and see what’s available. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

Star Clippers

There are expedition cruises, adventure cruises, luxury cruises, river cruises, family cruises, informal relaxed cruises.  You can choose your itinerary too. So if you want to have lots of days relaxing at sea, or experience a quick overview of many places, or if you prefer to take your time and immerse yourself in the local culture with a few days at the same port, it’s up to you.

If you can’t or don’t want to fly, you can cruise from the UK, choosing to take adult only cruises or family cruises. There are short breaks for a taster to see if you like it, or just a fun weekend away with your mates.

With so many cruise styles and so many destinations around the world, I will eat my hat if you can’t find something that tickles your fancy at this show.

My London Cruise Show 2017 top picks are:

  • Avalon Waterways
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Silversea
  • Star Clippers

READER’S TICKET OFFER

I am able to offer my readers reduced price advance tickets to the show with a 2 for 1 offer of just £6. Get your tickets for only £3 each (that’s a saving of £7 off the door price!!) by quoting
‘S&C’ when booking tickets online at www.cruisingshow.com or when calling 
0871 620 4024. (Calls cost 13p per minute plus network extras).

Opening Times and Getting There

 

Haven by Norwegian – Luxury Cruising

If you like the idea of a large family ship but want that extra special luxury and a VIP area to get away from it all, look no further than The Haven by Norwegian Cruise Line.

The Haven by Norwegian Cruise Line

With keycard access, this private, ultra luxurious area has been a place for Celebs such as Oprah Winfrey and the well loved Donny and Marie Osmond.  24 hour butler service, a courtyard with private swimming pool, sun deck, loungers (some in the pool to cool off and refresh), fitness room and sauna are some of the features and benefits of this wonderful area.

The long list of benefits and amenities reads as follows:

  • Exclusive access to The Haven Courtyard area with private pool, sun deck and fitness area as well as a private restaurant on some ships
  • White tablecloth in-suite dining
  • 24-hour certified butler service
  • Distinctive platinum key card for shipboard recognition
  • Concierge service and Courtyard valet
  • Priority embarkation and disembarkation
  • Escort to your Suite on embarkation day
  • Priority boarding of tenders
  • Complimentary private car from pier to airport for guests in Garden Villas*
  • Champagne, custom selection of liquor, fruit, bottles water and soft drinks on embarkation day for guests in Garden Villas and (Deluxe) Owner’s Suites
  • Sparkling wine, bottled water and fruit on embarkation day for guests in Family Villas, Spa Suites and (Courtyard) Penthouses
  • 24-hour room service with exclusive Haven menus
  • Mini-bar and espresso/cappuccino machine
  • Gourmet treats delivered to your Suite each evening
  • Invitations to an exclusive breakfast and lunch
  • Cocktail party with ship’s officers
  • Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress
  • Fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu
  • Plush bathrobes, slippers and over sized towels

*Not available on cruises shorter than three nights

Photos of Family Haven Villas which sleep up to 6 people.  These were taken recently on Norwegian’s newest ship Getaway.

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Ship Review

So the day had finally arrived. Wow! What can I say this ship is amazing.  As we drove through Dock Gate 10 to City Cruise Terminal in Southampton, I saw the most incredible sight I had seen, since I my visit on Independence of the Seas here three years ago.

With my cruise virgin friend Alex in tow, we embarked the brand new Norwegian Breakaway and headed to the buffet to beat the crowds. There was a fabulous selection of foods on offer, so I endulged in a bit of everything. From salads to burgers, stir fry’s to curries, hot dogs, filled croissants, a carvery, freshly made pizza and chilli, the hardest part was choosing what to eat. Then came the desserts. Freshly sliced melon, fruit salad, no added sugar deserts, gluten free jelly, chocolate praline cake, passion fruit cake, apple pie and an ice cream parlour with sprinkles, it was heaven.

We took on the marathon challenge of trying to see as much of the ship as possible before settling down at the bar for a well deserved drink. Alex seemed to fair better with his sense of direction which I put down to beginners luck. So we managed to see the aqua park and sports complex, The Haven by Norwegian, Mandara Spa with barbers and hairdressers, thermal suite and fitness centre. Splash Academy kids club, Breakaway Theatre, Maltings Beer Whiskey Bar and a selection of staterooms.

Having seen as much of the ship our legs could bear to take us, we sat by the pool on deck 15 and enjoyed a nice cold drink. If only this was my office everyday!

That evening we headed down to the Atrium for a pre-dinner aperitif and enjoyed the sounds of one of the regular duo performing acts.  The bar was buzzing with people and had a great atmosphere. Some people were dressed up to the nines and others had taken a more casual approach. But they all had one thing in common, a smile, great conversation and a glass of something nice in their hand. 

The Atrium is a great place to meet up before or after dinner with friends. I can imagine on one of the Southern Caribbean cruises, it would be a place where people would exchange their experiences and views on the port of call they have visited and perhaps giving tips they may know about tomorrow’s port.

After our drink we headed for the Manhattan Restaurant where we were greeted by friendly, first class waiters. There was no doubt that Norwegian Cruise Lines had picked the cream of the crop from the other ships, to work on their latest pride and joy.We were lucky to get a table by the window in the main restaurant.

The selection on the menu was fantastic and as it was so difficult to chose I opted for two starters a main course and a dessert, whereas my guest, Alex save the double servings for pudding.
For main course I chose the surf and turf which was lobster tail and steak, however not being too much of a meat eater but a huge fan of lobster, I asked if I could instead have surf and surf and replace the steak with a second lobster tail. “Of course Madam” was the waiters reply.
 I would like to thank Norwegian Cruise Lines for a wonderful day and evening, and for the opportunity to experience this wonderful ship.
We laughed and joked with the head waiter and his assistant throughout the meal who gave an excellent service whilst remaining friendly and relaxed. The cost of the meal?… well those of you who cruise frequently will know the answer, nothing. This is all included in the cost of your cruise.
Following our delicious meal, we took a stroll around the ship and decided we would visit Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Bar. By this time it was around 9.30pm and on entering the bar we found it was full of people of all ages seated at tables enjoying the music and singing along. It was really like a smokey old Jazz Club only without the smoke. Great atmosphere, great band and great choice of music. I really felt like I had stepped back in time and was experiencing something that I would never have done otherwise. For more information on the band have a look at their website www.slamallen.com


At around 10.30pm I was flagging and I had to leave Alex in the bar to enjoy the rest of his evening and go off to bed. Knowing that I had such a comfortable freshly made bed waiting back in my room for me, made it a very easy decision to make.

I would like to thank Norwegian Cruise Lines for a wonderful day and evening, and for the opportunity to experience this wonderful ship.