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Celebrity Chef Shivi Ramoutar Joins P&O Cruises

Celebrity Chef Shivi Ramoutar Joins P&O Cruises

Celebrity chef Shivi Ramoutar joins P&O Cruises to create authentic Caribbean dining.

Author and Celebrity chef Shivi Ramoutar joins P&O Cruises culinary line up as a Local Food Hero, as part of the launch of new ship Arvia which joins the fleet in December 2022.

Renowned for her contemporary Caribbean cooking, Shivi joins José Pizarro and Kjartan Skelde to bring alive destinations through authentic recipes.  Shivi will celebrate Arvia’s maiden season from Barbados with her passion for the region’s cuisine.  The exclusive collection of dishes can be found on the menu at Taste 360 and The Beach House

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Shivi’s passion, bold flavour, colourful ingredients and joyful style will bring traditional Caribbean food to our guests.

“As Shivi joins Marco Pierre White and Olly Smith as well as José and Kjartan I am so proud that we have an extraordinary line up of chefs lending their skills and talents to our dining choice.”

Limin’

Shivi grew up in Trinidad and sealed her reputation for exciting Caribbean cooking through two cook books. She is now resident chef on ITV’s Martin & Roman’s Weekend Best as well as many other television appearances.

She said “Caribbean food is proper fusion food, influenced by all the people who have travelled through the region. I hope to make the dining experience on Arvia as much about limin’ (the Caribbean art of relaxing with friends) as it is about the food. The dishes will be my interpretation of the Caribbean flavours which have influenced my life.”

Caribbean Cruises

Arvia’s 14 night Caribbean fly/cruise itineraries run from January 2023 to March 2023 and October 2023 to March 2024.

Example Arvia cruise:

Caribbean, 14 nights, £2,099pp fly/cruise

Bridgetown, Barbados, Curacao, La Romana, St Kitts, Antigua, St Maarten, Martinique and St Lucia.

P&O Cruises is offering a 14-night cruise on Arvia (K302A) for £2,099 per person for an inside cabin.

Departing Jan 21, 2023, the price includes

  • Flights from the UK
  • Kids’ clubs
  • Full board meals
  • Entertainment.

 

More details on this and other cruises can be found here.

About Arvia

In May 2021, P&O Cruises launched Iona, its first Excel class ship. The new LNG-powered ship, with 5,200-guest capacity, is the largest ship built to serve the UK market.

P&O Cruises’ second LNG-powered Excel class ship, Arvia will join the fleet in December 2022. Arvia is the latest evolution in the P&O Cruises experience, embodying the newest trends in travel, dining and entertainment, and will be the epitome of a sunshine resort sailing year-round to the warmest climates.

The 185,000 tons ship, 345m in length, with 16 guest decks will feature Altitude Skywalk a unique high ropes experience, a swim-up bar and stunning infinity pool, a new restaurant Green & Co featuring Mizuhana serving a plant and fish-led menu, Ocean Studios cinema, 1,300sqm of shopping and the Oasis Spa and Health Club.

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P & O Cruises 2023/24 Launch With Free Cruise Places

It’s Launch Time!

P & O Cruises 2023/24 launch with free cruise places for third and fourth guests, both adults and children, in the same cabin on selected holidays.

Past guests can take advantage of a 10% booking discount and a 5% discount applies for new guests.

It’s that time of year again where die hard P&O cruisers get to book their long awaited cruise and make the most of a range of great launch early booking offers. This will include new ship Arvia’s maiden summer season and first full winter season in the Caribbean. Britannia will introduce the new “island vibe” summer itineraries.

Britannia’s new “island vibe” itineraries to include Sardinia.

New ship Arvia will feature up to six of the most popular ports in Italy, Spain and France. Itinerary choices will be a series of 14 night holidays for her first summer sailing from Southampton.

From October ‘23 to March ’24 Arvia will sail her first full season of Caribbean fly/cruise holidays from Barbados.

Pre-registration for summer 2023 and winter 2023 / 2024 holidays opens on November 3, 2021.

Arvia will sail her first full season of Caribbean fly/cruise holidays from Barbados.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “This series of new cruise holidays is an exciting one, with our new ship Arvia, new destinations and new itineraries. Each itinerary is carefully designed to provide the best sight-seeing, beach and culture on shore whilst maximising time on board.

Enticing Itineraries For New To Cruise Guests

“New to cruise guests will also find appeal in our line-up and we are sure that Britannia’s new summer holidays to Ibiza, Palma and Sardinia will be very popular as well as Iona’s season in the magnificent Norwegian fjords.”

Some of Britannia’s island vibe itineraries will include Ibiza.

Summer 2023 and winter 2023 / 2024 summary is as follows:

Arvia

Summer – a series of 14 night holidays to;

  • La Coruna
  • Marseille
  • Seville (from Cadiz)
  • Barcelona (with selected cruises offering an overnight call)
  • Palma
  • Florence and Pisa (from La Spezia)
  • Valencia or Alicante

Winter – 7 and 14 night Caribbean fly/ cruises from Barbados.

Selected Arvia itineraries will include an overnight in Barcelona.

Iona

Summer – 7 night holidays to the Norwegian Fjords round trip from Southampton.

Winter – cruises to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands round trip from Southampton.

Britannia

Summer;

  • 7 night Norwegian Fjords cruises
  • 14 night Baltic cruises, including two day calls to St Petersburg
  • 14 night western Mediterranean cruises with an overnight call in Palma or Palma and Ibiza

Winter;

14 night Caribbean fly/cruises from Barbados.

Britannia will visit St Petersburg, Russia.

Azura

Summer – 7 or 14 nights Mediterranean fly/cruise holidays departing from Malta to;

  • either iconic ports in the Western Mediterranean including Rome (from Civitavecchia)
  • Ajaccio in Corsica and Villefranche
  • or Greece and its islands including Mykonos and Corfu in the Eastern Mediterranean

Winter – Two alternating 7 night fly cruises to Canary Islands from Tenerife, which can be combined to create a 14 night holiday.

Some of Azura’s Mediterranean cruises will include Civitavecchia for Rome.

Ventura

Summer;

  • Atlantic Coast
  • Canary Islands
  • Short breaks to Amsterdam

Winter;

  • Spain and Portugal
  • Canary Islands
  • Caribbean cruises with some itineraries visiting New Orleans.
  • To celebrate New Year 2024 Ventura will sail a special five night cruise to the vibrant cities of Amsterdam and Bruges (from Zeebrugge).

Some of Ventura itineraries will include the Canary Islands.

Arcadia and Aurora

Summer – Arcadia and Aurora will visit;

  • Norway
  • Russia
  • New York
  • Greek islands.

Guests can enjoy some unique destinations with these specifically designed itineraries including;

  • Grundafjordur, Iceland
  • Palermo, Sicily
  • Klaipeda, Lithuania

Arcadia will feature an Iceland and North Cape cruise including an overnight call to Reykjavik and scenic cruising of the North Cape.

Arcadia and Aurora will visit New York.

Aurora will feature a 30 night Canada and USA cruise including overnight calls in Boston and New York.

Winter

  • Aurora will operate two 12 night ‘in search of the Northern Lights’ itineraries with one of these trips taking place over Christmas 2023.
  • Aurora will offer a magnificent 65 night USA, Caribbean and Central America cruise. This will include an overnight call in New Orleans and a partial transit of the Panama Canal.
  • Arcadia will offer a full world cruise of 99 nights, departing January 6, 2024, with ports including Sydney, Auckland, Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • In addition to Honolulu, Sydney, Hong Kong and Dubai, Arcadia will now also make an overnight call in Singapore.

Aurora’s 65 night USA, Caribbean and Central America cruise will include an overnight call in New Orleans.

Example itineraries include:

Iona (G311) Norway, 7 nights, £499

Departing April 22, 2023 the price includes kids’ clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.

Departing from and returning to Southampton, ports of call are;

  • Stavanger
  • Olden
  • cruise by Innvikfjorden
  • cruise by Nordfjord
  • Ålesund
  • Haugesund

Olden will be one of the ports for Iona’s Norwegian cruises.

Arvia (K309) Mediterranean, 14 nights, £999

Departing April 30, 2023 the price includes kids’ clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.

Departing from and returning to Southampton, ports of call are;

  • La Coruña
  • Florence/Pisa (from La Spezia)
  • Marseille
  • Barcelona
  • Seville (from Cádiz)

Arvia’s Mediterranean itineraries will include ports such as La Spezia which is perfect for a day in Florence.

Arcadia (J313) North America and Canada, 24 nights, £2,779

Departing September 26, 2023 the price includes full board meals and entertainment on board.

Departing from and returning to Southampton, ports of call are;

  • Halifax
  • Gaspé
  • Quebec (overnight)
  • Saguenay
  • Charlottetown
  • Sept Iles
  • Sydney – Nova Scotia
  • St John’s – Newfoundland

Arcadia’s 24 night cruise will include an overnight in Quebec.

Iona (G337) Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands, 14 nights, £749

Departing November 11, 2023 the price includes kids’ clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.

Departing from and returning to Southampton, ports of call are;

  • Madeira
  • Tenerife
  • Gran Canaria
  • Lanzarote
  • Seville (from Cádiz)
  • Lisbon (overnight)

Lisbon, Portugal will be featured on some of Iona’s sailings.

Arvia (K324) Caribbean, 14 nights, £1,699

Departing November 24, 2023 the price includes kids’ clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.

Departing from and returning to Barbados, including UK flights, ports of call are;

  • Tortola
  • La Romana – Dominican Republic
  • St Maarten
  • Antigua
  • St Kitts
  • Martinique
  • St Lucia

Arvia’s Caribbean itinerary for 2023/34 will include St Lucia.

For more information visit pocruises.com or send me a message (bottom right of the screen).

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MSC Seaview Will Cruise From St Maarten and Barbados

MSC CRUISES OFFER WINTER SAILINGS IN SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN

As part of a reconfirmed winter 2021/22 programme MSC Seaview will cruise from St Maarten and Barbados. From the 5th December 2021 the line is offering 7 and 14 night cruises. The amended itineraries include up to 12 hours extended stays at each destination.

The authorities in Martinique and Guadeloupe have made the decision not to allow cruise ships onto the islands yet. This decision comes as a result of the pandemic situation ashore as well as the low vaccination rates.

Health and Safety

Following a full evaluation of alternative options, MSC Cruises amended the original itinerary. To ensure a safe and healthy experience, MSC Seaview will cruise from St Maarten and Barbados.

Gianni Onorato, CEO MSC Cruises

Gianni Onorato, CEO MSC Cruises “The southern Caribbean is an area much loved by cruisers from around the world as well as local guests from this region and we have worked hard to find alternative options for the itinerary that would allow us to confirm our usual winter season here, of course supported by our industry leading health and safety protocol.

We would like to particularly thank our airline partners who have amended their charter flight schedules to serve the new itinerary to make it accessible for our guests. For this, we are still able to offer our guests an incredible cruise holiday this winter, calling at some of the most beautiful islands in the South Caribbean on board MSC Seaview – the perfect ship for sailing in these waters.”

Revised Itineraries

The first itinerary will depart the port of Philipsburg, St Maarten’s capital, and Bridgetown, Barbados; with calls at Castries in St Lucia; Saint George, Grenada; Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis, before returning to St Maarten.

MSC Seaview Will Cruise From St Maarten (pictured) and Barbados

The second itinerary will sail from St Maarten and Bridgetown; with calls at Roseau, Dominica; St John’s in Antigua and Barbuda; Road Town in Tortola and then back to St Maarten.

Tortola – One of the ports on the MSC Seaview Winter Southern Caribbean Sailings

Vaccination Requirements for MSC Seaview

All guests on MSC Seaview will have to be fully vaccinated or show a proof of negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to embarkation.

In most ports guests will be able to go ashore independently, however some destinations require guests to go ashore with an MSC Cruises protected shore excursion. More specific details will be available soon from the MSC Cruises website, travel agents and the line’s contact centre.

MSC Seaview with 2,066 guest cabins has one of the cruise industry’s highest ratio of open space per passenger and features a beach condo concept that brings guests closer to the sea thanks to special design elements that make the most of the warmer weather. For more about the ship, please see HERE.

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The Princess Sale offers fares from £499pp

Disclaimer: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but only recommend products that I would buy or have bought myself.

The Princess Sale for 2021

Princess Cruises is offering reduced fares on more than 800 voyages departing from December 2020 – May 2022 as part of ‘The Princess Sale’, with 7-night sailings available from £499pp.

The Princess Sale is open to book from today, May 1 – June 30, 2020, and includes cruises from the UK, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Alaska.

Low Deposit

Offering a low deposit of £50pp means guests don’t have to pay their balance until 90 days before departure.

The applicable voyages departing from the UK are throughout spring, summer and autumn next year. They sail to destinations across northern Europe, southern Europe, the Mediterranean and the British Isles.

The Princess Sale voyages include:

A 14-night Mediterranean Adventurer cruise on Grand Princess, departing July 24, 2021. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton calling at Seville (Cadiz), Barcelona, Marseille, Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Sardinia (Cagliari) and Ceuta. Prices from £1499pp.

·        A 7-night Scandinavia cruise on Grand Princess, departing November 15, 2021. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton calling at Oslo, Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Kristiansand. Prices from £679pp.

Nyhavn buildings in Copenhagen, Denmark.

·        A 12-night British Isles cruise on Crown Princess, departing 26 May 2021. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton calling at Guernsey (St. Peter Port), Cork (Cobh), Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow (Greenock), Orkney Islands (Kirkwall), Invergordon, Edinburgh (South Queensferry) and Paris/Normandy (Le Havre). Prices from £1199pp.

Here’s a little video of Josh and I arriving at South Queensferry during a UK cruise on Ruby Princess.

As previously announced, guests booking a Princess cruise of three nights or longer can choose to add the ‘Princess Plus’ simplified onboard savings package for £35 per person per day. The package covers premium drinks, unlimited WiFi and gratuities – which is worth over £70 for guests who pay for these items in advance of their cruise, or onboard.

For more information or to book visit www.princess.com

Recommended Reading: Sapphire Princess Cruise Part One

European Waterways “break out the bubbly”

European Waterways ‘Breaks Out the Bubbly’ for the New Year With Exclusive Hotel Barge Cruise Excursions in Champagne, France

*Champagne Tastings feature in the expanded ‘Insider Experiences’ Programme For 2020 Season, including Gastronomic Lunch at Famed Chateau*

As the world breaks out the champagne to herald the New Year, European Waterways invites travellers to “break out the bubbly” in the land where it all began – Champagne, France. 

For the 2020 season, launching in March, the luxury hotel barge cruise specialist is offering exclusive experiential excursions in Champagne that now include a tasting of various vintages and a gastronomic lunch at the 18th century Château Les Aulnois in the village of Pierry, just south of Épernay  – the birthplace of champagne.

The opportunity is available when cruising aboard European Waterways’ Panache luxury hotel barge and also includes a tour of the original Champagne Henriot vineyards, one of the oldest family-owned domaines that traces its origins to the late 1700’s.

10% Off Selected Cruises

European Waterways is offering 10% off on selected cruise departures in May and June 2020, aboard Panache in Champagne, valid when booked before January 6, 2020

For departures on June 7 and 28, cabins are available at £4,131 per person, based on double occupancy. This is a saving £459 off the regular price of £4,590.

Twelve-passenger whole boat charters are available at £44,550 for the May 31, June 14, and June 21, 2020 departures.  This is a saving of £4,950 off the regular price of £49,500. 

Celebrating with Panache

Panache cruises through the heart of Champagne from mid-June to mid-July, between Château-Thierry and Châlons-en-Champagne, just weeks before the start of France’s famous grape harvest.  The vessel’s six-night, all-inclusive cruises offer a unique immersion into the celebrated history of the sparkling wine and the famous houses that include Moët & Chandon, Henriot and Pannier.  

Epernay

In Épernay, the champagne house of Moët & Chandon features the largest vineyard in the region.  Guests will enjoy a guided tour of its vast underground cellar, carved into the white chalk under L’Avenue de Champagne, and taste some of Moët’s vintages in a private salon with the cellar master.  A separate excursion to the Domaine of Champagne Henriot includes a stop at its famous vineyard, where a viticulture expert explains their grape selection process. Guests are then treated to a private tour of the Château Les Aulnois. This includes a tasting of the various Henriot champagnes, and a gastronomic lunch in the chateau’s dining room.

Reims Cathedral

Panache’s guests visit the magnificent 800-year-old Reims Cathedral. This Gothic masterpiece is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the coronation of the kings of France once took place.  Guests will also visit Château-Thierry, the scene of many fierce battles in WW1 and where American Expeditionary Forces first saw action.  Guests will also visit the American cemetery at Belleau Wood, where the combined U.S., French and British forces fought against the Germans.

Dom Perignon

“The pioneering innovations in the wine-making processes by the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon led to the invention of champagne in the late 17th century, and the world has been celebrating ever since,” said Banks.  “In 2020, we invite travellers to celebrate with us in the land that made it all possible.” 

Six-night cruise fares, based on double occupancy, include:

  • local, private, chauffeured transfers
  • comfortable, air-conditioned accommodation
  • all gourmet meals
  • fine wines – indigenous to the cruise region
  • an open bar
  • daily excursions and admittance fees
  • use of barge facilities, such as bicycles and hot tub

European Waterways’ Brochure

The full range is available in European Waterways’ colourful new 104-page brochure. The brochure is available online at https://www.europeanwaterways.com/brochure-request/

Please visit www.europeanwaterways.com for information.

With over 40 years’ experience in luxury hotel barging, European Waterways has a fleet that spans nine countries and is the largest luxury hotel barging company in Europe. Hotel Barging is a unique experience for 6 to 20 guests. It offers an immersive, all-inclusive “gentle voyage of discovery” focusing on local culture, history, fine wine and gourmet cuisine.

European Waterways provide an impeccable level of on board service with access to intimate inland waterways. This network of smaller canals allows for flexibility, spontaneity and opportunities to explore surroundings on a bicycle, or on foot. Chauffeured “off the beaten track” excursions to exquisite wine tastings to private tours of stately homes are available daily.

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What Is a Guarantee Cabin on a Cruise Ship?

What Exactly Is A Guarantee Cabin?

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

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

Check the Deck Plan

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve Been Told I Might Get A Free Upgrade

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

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Princess Cruises South America & Antarctica 20/21

Princess Cruises has announced that its full 2020-2021 South America and Antarctica programme are on sale today, Friday July 12, 2019.

Two ships will sail the region: the 2,000-guest Coral Princess and 670-guest Pacific Princess. Voyages will range in length from 14-92 days, with a total of 35 destinations on offer in 17 countries, on eight itineraries.

Guests on select departures will have the opportunity to spend more time ashore with overnight calls in Lima (Callao), Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Coral Princess from the West Coast

Coral Princess at Sea

Coral Princess will depart on a series of voyages from Los Angeles, Santiago and Buenos Aires and will offer a new 15-day Cape Horn and Strait of Magellan voyage, which will give guests the opportunity to view the solar eclipse off the coast of Argentina.

The voyage will sail from Santiago to Buenos Aires on December 3, 2020 and will call at Puerto Montt, Amalia Glacier, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Cape Horn (scenic cruising), Falkland Islands (Stanley), Puerto Madryn and Montevideo. Prices from £1,999pp with up to $375 onboard spending money per person. Click here for details.

Also available on Coral Princess are several departures to Antarctica and Cape Horn.

Each 16-day sailing will feature four days of scenic cruising through the Antarctic Peninsula.

Coral Princess will call at Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Cape Horn (scenic cruising), Falkland Islands (Stanley) and Montevideo.

Prices for January 3, 2021 departure are from £2,799 per person, with up to $375 onboard spending money per person. Click here for details.

Guests wishing to extend their holiday can combine their cruise with land tours visiting Iguazu Falls and Macchu Picchu.

Pacific Princess from Sydney

Pacific Princess will circumnavigate the continent on a 92-day Circle South America voyage, sailing from Sydney to Brisbane, featuring overnight calls in Tahiti, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro – during its annual carnival – and Lima.

Other options include 90-day Circle South America sailing roundtrip from Sydney and an 82-day sailing roundtrip from Auckland.

 

More off-the-beaten-track destinations such as Easter Island and Ilhabela will also be included. Prices for the 92 day sailing from £14,519pp, with $1,000pp onboard spending money and complimentary gratuities*. Click here for details.

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises vice president UK & Europe, said: “Once again Princess Cruises is offering an incredible range of South America and Antarctica sailings.

“Whether you’ve visited the region before and are looking to tick off more bucket list destinations such as Macchu Picchu or Easter Island, or you’re heading to the region for the first time, we have a holiday to suit everyone.”

For more information or to book visit www.princess.com, speak to your local travel agent or call 0344 338 8663.

Marella Cruises Asia and Far East Cruise Deals

Have you ever fancied spending your Christmas break, feeling the sand between your toes on a beach in Thailand? Or sipping a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar at the famous Raffles Hotel? These are a few destinations you can visit on one of the Far East and Asia Cruises onboard Marella Discovery. Enter discount code ASIA100 at checkout. Offer ends Monday 15th April at Midnight GMT. Read on for more information on the ship and destinations. Otherwise you can go straight to the website and start browsing here.

The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, Singapore – 2010

The Ship

The ship offers plenty to do onboard, with a selection of great restaurants and bars; a casino; a giant poolside movie screen; fitness, sport and spa facilities and more. The three deck high atrium is the centrepiece of this magnificent ship, with glass elevators and floor to ceiling windows.

Image Credit: Marella Cruises – Grand Atrium, Marella Discovery

Dining and Bars

Guests can choose from seven dining options.  The main restaurant is spread over two storeys with two speciality restaurants located on the top floor.

Image: Marella Cruises – Main Dining Room, Marella Discovery

Surf & Turf Steakhouse is a meat lover’s paradise. It’s also the place to enjoy lobster tails and other meaty dishes. If you are travelling with vegetarians, there is plenty on the menu for them too.

Image: Marella Cruises – Surf and Turf, Marella Discovery

The Glass House offers deli-style light snacks and freshly-squeezed juices. In the evening, the venue becomes a casual restaurant with a tapas-style menu. You can even try your hand at cooking your own steaks on hot stones.

Image: Marella Cruises – Al Fresco Dining, Marella Discovery

The onboard Sushi Bar serves everyones favourites. Spicy tuna rolls, salmon sashimi and seabass nigiri are on the menu. They also serve Asian beers such as Tiger, Cobra and Singha.

Image: Marella Cruises – Sushi Bar – Marella Discovery

Wellbeing

There are two pools onboard. One outdoor pool with two large hot tubs, and an indoor one.

Image: Marella Cruises – The Pool Deck, Marella Discovery

Image: Marella Cruises – The all-weather pool, Marella Discovery

The Ocean Spa and Beauty Salon offer a wide range of treatments and services.

Image: Marella Cruises – Ocean Spa and Beauty Centre, Marella Discovery

Entertainment

Enjoy high energy entertainment in the 800-plus capacity Broadway Show Lounge. With 11 different shows, you can see something different every night.

Image: Marella Cruises – Broadway Lounge, Marella Discovery

Special Offer

This weekend, Marella Cruises are offering £100 Discount for Asia and Far East Cruises on Marella Discovery departing between 1st November 2019 and 30th April 2020. Simply enter the discount code ASIA100 at checkout, or let your travel agent know at time of booking. You will have to be quick though, this offer expires on Monday. Search the deals here

Destination Highlights

These culturally rich, adult only cruises are the perfect way to tick off your bucket list. Here are some of the amazing places you can visit.

Muscat, Oman

One of the world’s largest mosques, the Grand Mosque can be found in Muscat.  Pay a visit to Barkha Fish Market, where locals haggle for the catch of the day. Take one of the shore excursions to Al Thowarah hot springs and the Nakhl Fort, an enormous castle that sits on a rocky outcrop surrounded by palm trees.

Muscat, Oman.

Browse sailings including Oman.

Bangkok, Thailand

Ornate temples and delicious Thai cuisine are the order of the day in the city of Bangkok. Head to Chinatown for an abundance of both. A huge reclining statue of Buddha is a must see at the Wat Pho Temple as well as the vibrant colours and fragrances at the flower market.

Image: Marella Cruises – Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok.

Floating Food Stalls in Bangkok

Browse sailings including Thailand

Langkawi, Malaysia

Anchored off the west coast of Malaysia, in the Andaman Sea, this laidback town has an element of paradise.

Stunning views Langkawi’s most popular attraction is the mountain-top cable car. This is accessed at the entertainment and shopping complex, Oriental Village which has been themed like a local settlement. For those who prefer to keep to stay grounded, there is the Rice Garden Museum which gives an interesting look at the history and tools used for rice farming.

Image: Marella Cruises – Langkawi Cable Car

Browse sailings including Malaysia

Colombo, Sri Lanka

The busy streets of Colombo are a fusion of classic architecture and modern skyscrapers. The city is home to many Colonial buildings such as the Town Hall and the Old Parliament, as well as tranquil temples and gardens.

 

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Browse sailings including Sri Lanka

Cochin, India

Experience the hustle and bustle of one of the largest ports in India. Visit St Francis Church, the  first European church in India and see wall-sized Hindu murals at the Dutch Palace.

For a more serene experience, take a tour to Alleppey, known as the “Venice of the East”. Take a boat ride along serene waterways lined with palm groves and paddy fields.

Image: Marella Cruises – Alleppey, near Cochin, also known as the “Venice of the East”

Browse sailings including India

Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui is most famous for it’s picture perfect beaches, and has the most beaches out of all the Islands in Thailand. Relax on Chaweng Beach, the island’s longest belt of sand lined with coconut trees. A real tropical paradise.

The explorer types will have plenty to discover with Koh Samui’s abundance of temples. The Big Buddha Temple has its own island and is connected to Koh Samui via a causeway. For far reaching seaviews, climb the hundreds of steps where the huge, golden Buddha statue sits.

Image: Marella Cruises – Koh Samui

Image: Marella Cruises – The Big Buddha Temple, Koh Samui

Browse sailings including Thailand

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Whether it’s sightseeing, shopping or culture, you will find an abundance of it in Dubai. Visit the iconic Burj Khalifa, which stands at 828 metres tall. From the observation deck of the World’s tallest tower, the sights are breathtaking.  If it’s shopping you like then try haggling for gold at one of the traditional Souk’s, or take a trip to the Dubai Mall.

Image: Marella Cruises – Dubai Palace

Image: Marella Cruises – Dubai Skyline

Browse sailings including Dubai

Singapore

From the colourful streets, temples and markets of Little India to the famous Raffles Hotel in the Colonial District, Singapore has a lot to offer.

Talk a walk around the Gardens by the Bay nature gardens. The incredible floral displays and supertrees are a must see.

Image: Marella Cruises – Singapore’s famous landmarks

Image: Marella Cruises – Sri Mariamman Temple, Chinatown, Singapore

Browse sailings including Singapore

Terms and Conditions

USE CODE ASIA100 TO SAVE £100

£100 off per booking: Offer valid on Marella Discovery sailings from 1st November 2019 – 30th April 2020. No minimum spend applies. Use discount code ASIA100 on the booking page of our website or tell your holiday travel advisor if booking in a TUI holiday store. For bookings made via your local travel agent, save £100 off per booking using discount code ASIA100. Offer is not valid on cabin only bookings. Offer must be selected at time of booking and applies to new bookings only, is subject to availability and may be withdrawn without prior notice. The code is not combinable with any other offer. Please see www.tui.co.uk/cruise or the relevant brochure for full booking terms and conditions that apply. Some of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services. Our website and/or brochure will provide you with information on the protection that applies in the case of each holiday and travel service offered before you make your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.caa.co.uk. Marella Cruises is a trading name of TUI UK Limited, a member of TUI Group. Registered Office: Wigmore House, Wigmore Lane, Luton, LU2 9TN. Registered in England No: 2830117. ATOL No: 2524. ABTA No: V5126.

Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post in collaboration with CJ.com. The links contained within this post are affiliate links, which means that a commission for each sale is given to the publisher.

My Top Summer Cruise Destinations

My Top Summer Cruise Destinations

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

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

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

Western Mediterranean

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

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

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

Canary Islands

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

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

Alaska

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

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

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

The Baltics

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

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

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

The British Isles

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

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

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

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

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

Essential WAVE Season Survival Guide

What Is Wave Season?

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

How Does Wave Season Work?

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

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

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

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

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

Is It Best To Book In Wave Season?

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

The answer is YES if;

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

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

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

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

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

Your party wants to dine at a specific time.

The answer is NO if;

You want the cheapest cruise fare no matter what.

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

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

You can go last minute.

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

What Happens After Wave?

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

Here Is My Advice To Booking A Cruise

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

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

My Advice to Cruise Agents

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

Princess Cruises Black Friday Deals

Princess Cruises launches Black Friday deals with seven-day sailings from £549pp

12 UK-based voyages feature in the sale, ranging in length from 7-14 days and departing between April and October 2019.

Seven of the voyages are on the 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess and travel roundtrip from Southampton to destinations across Europe. Fares start at £549 for a seven-day cruise and £1,199 for a 14-day cruise.

Deal fares include:

7- day Scandinavia cruise from £549pp for two people sharing an inside stateroom and £99pp for 3rd and 4th guests.

Departs on either 27 April or 29 June 2019. Ports include Copenhagen, Oslo, Zeebrugge (Belgium) and Skagen (Denmark).

14-day Baltic Heritage cruise from £1,199pp for two people sharing an inside stateroom and £199pp for 3rd and 4th guests.

Departs on 31 August 2019. Ports include an overnight stay in St Petersburg as well as Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn (Estonia), Zeebrugge (Belgium) and Gdansk (Poland).

A summer holiday 14-day Mediterranean Adventurer cruise from £1,399pp for two people sharing an inside stateroom and from £799pp for 3rd and 4th guests.

Departs 17 August 2019.  Ports include Barcelona, Rome, Marseille, Cadiz, Livorno, Sardinia and Ceuta (Spanish Morocco).

The other five cruises are 12-day round-Britain sailings departing from Southampton. All are on the 3,080-guest Crown Princess, which underwent a multi-million pound refit earlier this year. Prices start from £1,299pp.

Deal fares include:

12-day cruise from £1,299pp for two people sharing an inside stateroom and £199pp for 3rd and 4th guests.

Departs 25 May 25 2019. Ports include St. Peter Port (Guernsey), Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Liverpool, Glasgow, Invergordon, Edinburgh and Le Havre (France).

Tony Roberts, vice president of Princess Cruises UK and Europe, said: “Our Black Friday deals always give great value and this year is no different, with a week’s holiday from the UK available for just over £1000 for two. With bucket list destinations on offer including St Petersburg, Rome, Barcelona and Oslo you can now book your dream cruise at a dream price.”

Double Spending on Selected 2019 Alaska

Princess Cruises Celebrates 50 Years of Sailing in Alaska

If Alaska is on your bucket list there is no better time to book your cruise. Princess Cruises are offering up to $1000 spending money on more than 130 Alaska voyages departing between April and September 2019. Deposits are reduced to just £50 per person during the promotion, but be quick as the offer only lasts for bookings made by 10 August 2018.

Think of all the shore excursions you can book with that sort of on board spending money. You can experience wildlife tours, try your hand at gold panning, explore the incredible glaciers and enjoy a spot of fishing.

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

Princess Cruises proven track record in Alaska is reinforced by these prestigious cruise industry awards.

Best Cruise Line – Alaska
– Travel Weekly, 14-time winner; Women’s Choice Awards

Best Alaska Cruises
– Cruise Critic and Travel Channel

Best Alaska Itineraries 
– Porthole Magazine

Best Alaska Cruises for In-Depth Exploration
– USA Today

Best Overall Education Program – North to Alaska
– Travel Weekly

From £689 Per Person

Example sailings in the offer are:

Island Princess departing May 8, 2019 7-night Voyage of the Glaciers cruise. Sailing from Vancouver ports of call include Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Anchorage and scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord. Prices from £689 per person. More details.

Grand Princess departing June 5, 2019 10-night Inside Passage cruise. Sailing round trip from San Francisco, ports of call include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and scenic cruising through Tracy Arm Fjord. Prices from £1299 per person. More details.

Ruby Princess departing September 14, 2019 7-night Inside Passage cruise, Seattle to Vancouver. Ports of call include Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Victoria, Vancouver and scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park. Prices from £879 per person. More details.

The full range of cruises on offer can be found here

ENVIRONMENTAL

Princess Cruises have also been recognised for their environmental efforts. Their awards include:

Port of Seattle – Green Gateway Award
– Gold Level Award– Recognizes comprehensive environmental achievements

Port of Vancouver – Blue Circle Award
– Recognition for highest emissions reduction achievements

Port of San Francisco Cruise Ship Environmental Awards
– Gold Award, Silver Award

Port of Los Angeles – Vessel Speed Recognition Award
– Recognition for all homeported vessels for being 100% compliant with port speed limit to reduce air emissions

Venice Blue Flag
– Awarded for efforts to safeguard the city of Venice, Italy, by burning low sulfur fuel in port to reduce air emissions

FOLLOW THE SASSOLI-WALKER FAMILY ALASKA CRUISE NEXT WEEK

Andrew Sassoli-Walker is a well known photographer in the cruise industry. For many years Andrew has wanted to cruise to Alaska, and next week his dream will come true. With his wife Cherie, and their two boys aged 11 and 6, the family will be cruising onboard the Emerald Princess from Seattle for 7 nights. They will visit Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau and Skagway with a final stop at Victoria before returning to Seattle.

Andrew is no stranger to cruise as this will be the 25th time he as set sail. The couples’ honeymoon was onboard Caribbean Princess, which was their first time cruising with the line.  “We were supposed to do a 7 night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, but it turned into a 9 night Western Caribbean itinerary due to Hurricane Jeanne.” recalls Andrew. Next week will be his 4th time sailing with Princess Cruises.

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

I will be tracking Andrew’s progress to see how he and the family are getting on, and sharing his comments and photos on my blog and social media channels. So if you need a bit more convincing that Alaska should be on your ‘must do’ list, keep an eye on the blog and Facebook and Twitter pages where I will share everything from Andrew.

More photos on my blog from Andrew can be found here or you can visit his website 


Free Tickets To The London Cruise Show 2018

The London Cruise Show is just days away and I am so excited. I will be like a kid in a candy shop having all my favourite cruise lines under one roof. You will have the opportunity to visit all the cruise lines at their stands. They often have members of the Senior Management Team so you can meet them in person, plus all the latest brochures will be available for you to take home. In addition to the cruise line stands there are three theatres for interesting and informative talks, and a tasting area.

Is It For Me?

If you have never been to a Cruise Show, you are in for a treat. This year, Europe’s Largest Cruise Show, celebrates is 10th anniversary and has more to offer than ever. They have cruises for adventurers, explorers, foodies, singles, families, romantics, and even for people who don’t cruise. Yes that’s right, cruises for non cruisers. Well you will have to step onboard a ship, but Azamara Club Cruises are all about destination and experience. Don’t take my word for it, go and speak to them in person.

But I Don’t Want To Book A Cruise

It doesn’t matter, no one is going to force you into booking. In fact those people who do want to book at the show, usually have to get in line. The Cruise Show is a great place to do your research, ask questions, collect information and get an idea of what cruising has to offer.

Maybe you want to know more about a river cruising? Get a great overview by attending the talk on river cruising in Ask The Experts Theatre at 2.00pm. It is on both Saturday and Sunday and you can also visit them at their stands to ask about itineraries, facilities and special show offers.

The Expedition Theatre offers talks on those off the beaten track cruises – from Antarctica to the Amazon. Meet The Cruise Lines allows you to take a seat while a panel of cruise experts talk to you and answer your questions.

Win A Cruise

Some of the stands will be running competitions which range from luxury gift packs to cruises. What’s the catch? There is no catch, it just means you agree to sign up to their mailing list in return for a competition entry. You can always unsubscribe if you feel you are getting too much mail from them.

I will be at the show on Saturday so will tweet about any competitions I find out about.

What If I DO Want To Book A Cruise?

If you do want to book a cruise, I would suggest getting there early and get it done, so that you can enjoy the rest of the day. The offers at the show will be the best available for the year. You will be face to face with an expert who can guide you through the process. They will be able to go through the deck plans and help you pick the room you want.

Plan Your Day

You will get much more out of the show if you plan your day in advance. The Cruise Show has given me 25 free tickets, so you can book yours now and start planning what you want to do. This is my plan for Saturday 17th February. If you are coming along please let me know, I would love to meet you there. You can follow me on twitter on the day @flaviagray

10.00 – Say hello to the cruise lines, meet friends and enter competitions.

12.00 – Ask The Experts Theatre –  Luxury Cruising

1.00 – Gin Tasting with G’Vine (see website for times and registration)

1.30 – Meet The Cruise Lines – Azamara Club Cruises

2.20 – Meet The Cruise Lines – Crystal Cruises

3.10 –  Meet The Cruise Lines – Viking Cruises

All you need to know about the London Cruise Show…

What: London Cruise Show

Where: Olympia London

When: Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th February 2018

Book Your FREE Tickets To the 2018 Cruise Show Now

The London Cruise Show is offering readers of Ships & Champagne the chance to pre-book FREE tickets to the show with no added fulfilment fee or booking fee. Use exclusive code SHIPSANDCHAMPAGNE at checkout at https://cruiseshow.co.uk/london

Take an MSC Cruise To The Taj Mahal

Have You Ever Fancied A Cruise To The Taj Mahal?

Now you can take a cruise to the Taj Mahal with MSC Cruises. They announced today a move to double their sailings from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The totally refurbished MSC Lirica will join MSC Splendida for 2018 to 2019 Winter Season. This comes after continued growth and strong demand for cruises in the region.

MSC Lirica will offer brand new 11 and 14 night itineraries with longer stays in port. There will be an overnight stay onboard in Dubai, allowing guests to enjoy the city by night. The real jewel in the crown however, is the introduction of three new destinations, New Mangalore, Goa and Mumbai. An overnight stay in Mumbai allows guests an opportunity to really explore the treasures of India.

Discounted Shore Excursions

In addition to the new itineraries and excursions, MSC Cruises are offering new excursions on MSC Lirica.

  • Dubai – EXCLUSIVE DUBAI: BURJ KHALIFA & LUNCH AT BURJ AL ARAB     

Visit iconic symbols of Dubai. The Dubai Mall, Burj Al Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Dubai’s famous gold souk to name a few.

  • Abu Dhabi – THE LOUVRE MUSEUM & ABU DHABI EXPLORATION      

 Guests can tour the “Manhattan of Arabia,” with a visit to the new Louvre Abu Dhabi.

  • Bahrain – BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT IN A 4X4  

A real adventure as guests blaze through the Bahrain International Circuit in the Sakhir Desert.

  • Muscat – MYSTICAL MUSCAT     

Guests will have the opportunity to experience Oman’s spiritual and cultural heritage. The tour visits the Grand Mosque, old Muscat and Muttrah Souk. They will stop at the Bait Al Zubair Museum to view the archaeological find and the traditional dress and jewellery of Oman.

  • Qatar – DESERT SAFARI AND RELAX AT THE BEACH

Guests can ride through Qatar’s surrounding desert across the sand dunes. The journey will end up at Gulf Adventure camp. This oasis of tranquillity is located in the Arabian desert, kissed by the blue waters of the Arabian Gulf.

  • Goa – CROCODILES, MANGROVE & RIVER CRUISE  

This one-of-kind river cruise, allows guests to discover Goa’s verdant landscape. As they head down to the mangroves where the Cumbarjua River flows; the will be impressed by the magnificent birdlife and freshwater crocodiles.

  • Mumbai – OVERLAND TO THE TAJ MAHAL       

This incredible three-day tour takes guests through Mumbai, New Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra – where guests will experience the breath-taking Taj Mahal – and Cochin. They will experience an express tour through some of India’s most famous and memorable landmarks and get to spend two nights in luxury hotels.

  • New Mangalore – Jain & Udupi Temples

From the 15th Century Moodbidiri temple, to Udupi’s Krishna Temple, guests will visit the famous Jain temples of Mangalore.

Free Status Match

MSC Splendida will be offering 7-night itineraries in the region, and now is a great time to book. MSC Cruises are currently offering to match your loyalty status with them, to that of your regular cruise line. You just pay for port taxes.

Recommended Reading MSC Magnifica Restyled for UK Guests

Who Should I Book My Cruise With?

Who Should I Book My Cruise With?

I think the most important thing to ask yourself is what do you want from your cruise agent? If you know exactly what you are looking for and are shopping around, then I would be really upfront with your agent and say “I know what I want, this is the cruise and the cabin and this is the best price I have. Can you beat it?” That way, you are saving yourself and the agent a lot of time and that means the agent is more likely to be willing to discount the cruise.

Who You Gonna Call?

If you have no idea what you are looking for, or need two or more options, this is going to take some agents longer than others. If your agent has suggested they get back to you with some details, make sure you mutually agree to a deadline, to avoid any confusion. Everyone’s idea of no rush is different. Something to bear in mind is that call centre cruise agents will be on a basic wage plus commission, therefore regardless of whether you book with them or not, they will still get paid at the end of the month.

Independent Travel Agent

When I was an independent travel agent, we worked on a commission-only basis. The majority of these home working independents will be lucky to walk away with 5% of the cruise fare in commission, after taxes and splitting it with their agency. Plus they have overheads such as franchise fees and marketing costs. So for a £1400 cruise booking, they will make around £70.

That may sound like a lot but when you take into account the time they spend on the phone to cruise lines with booking queries, checking for upgrades, making requests, taking balance payments and the unsociable hours, it is not a lot. Plus they are paying premium rates for calls rather than you, so that is saving you time and money. This does not take into account any discount you may be expecting your agent to offer. When they discount your fare, that comes out of their commission.

On the plus side, if you know exactly what you want and you speak to an independent agent and tell them you are ready to book right now, they are in a position to make a decision there and then as to what they can offer. If you need a lot of information about the cruise line and ship, then it’s a good idea to call the cruise lines directly as they have in-depth knowledge of their own products. Also bear in mind that call centre calls are recorded, so agents are not entirely free to say what they think. Independent agents aren’t always using a system that records conversations and in many cases are happy to give you a mobile number to call.

Things To Avoid

I would avoid paying large deposits, even if it means you get a lower price. I know of an incident where someone paid a huge deposit and intended to take the cruise. There was a communication problem and the guest missed the deadline to pay the final balance as they were overseas. The travel agency cancelled their booking, which was in line with their booking terms and conditions, and the customers lost their cruise and deposit.

Another thing to watch out for is something the cruise lines refer to as cross border selling. In the UK we should only be able to book with a UK agent. Some travel agencies have found a way around this, which means they can sometimes sell a cruise at a cheaper price. There are two problems with this. Firstly and most importantly, they are not covered by ABTA. Secondly their office hours are not in sync with the UK so getting hold of them may be an issue.

I am not saying DON’T book with them, all I am saying is be aware of the potential problems that can occur.

My Recommendation

My advice is to find an independent cruise specialist that you can trust. Someone you have a rapport with and enjoy talking to. If you keep loyal to them, they will be happy to give you discounts and give you the best service too. They will want to make you happy so that you will refer your friends to them. That is what makes their business a success.

Can My Cabin or Flight Change Without Consent?

Can My Cabin or Flight Change Without Consent?

In some circumstances the cruise line can change your cabin or flight without your permission. The golden rule for customers and travel agents is to RECAP. The importance of this cannot be emphasised enough. Before you take or make that deposit, check the details. Apart from the obvious details, it is worth checking to see if the cruise line can change your cabin. This may be ok with you or not, depending on the policy of the cruise line, but please just check.

Changing The Cabin

So for example, P & O will automatically upgrade you if they wish, unless you say otherwise at time of booking. This works for some people, but not for others. You may want a low deck midship cabin and have booked an oceanview, but get upgraded to a balcony. The trouble is it may be right at the front of the ship on a high deck. Not a problem for some people, but if they have walking problems or motion sickness, this is a no no.

MSC used to have a policy that the cabins could be changed at anytime, but I am not sure if this still stands. Terms and conditions change, so please don’t presume things are the same as they were last time you booked. Ask the question even if you feel silly, because it’s your money, your holiday. Likewise if you are a travel agent or work for the cruise line, make sure your guest is aware of these things, otherwise you will lose the most important thing of all, trust.

Changing The Flights and Deposits

Flights also deserve a mention as I have seen first hand what can go wrong with these. I booked a fly cruise for my family a few years ago. I was the customer and the travel agent in this case. I booked a cruise with free flights. I paid the deposit and presumed the normal terms and conditions applied as far as non refundable deposits and cancellation policies were concerned. Apparently this is not the case. A free flight is not a free flight. What actually happens is that the cruise fare is reduced by the cost of the flight. So when you go to cancel your fly cruise within the allocated time, the tickets for the flights may have already been issued. This means you are liable to pay that money. There is a way around this, and that is to make the request for the cruise line NOT to issue the tickets. the drawback of this is that the flights may change or increase in price.

One of my customers also had a situation where the direct flights were changed to indirect. The problem with this was that there was a family group travelling with an adult with special needs. This caused a huge amount of stress to the family as well as the fact that they had medication in their checked in bags which they had no access to at their connecting airport.

So make sure to check everything before you make that booking and ask your travel agent to make a note on the booking of what has been agreed.