Tag Archives: Cruise-Expert

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.

Recommended Reading

P&O Cruises drops discretionary Gratuities

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.

Recommended Reading

Wonder of the Seas Sets To Sail In Europe For 2022

Will Cruise Ships Wait For You?

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There are certain circumstances when a cruise ship MAY wait for you, but in most cases it will not. Here are some tips to avoid being left up the creek without a paddle.

Let’s look at the good, better and best options.

The main reason people tend to veer away from the cruise line packages is down to cost. Booking things separately might save a few quid, but you have to weigh up the true cost if things don’t go to plan.

EMBARKATION

Drive To The Port The Day Before

If your departure port is within driving distance the best option is to drive to the port the day before. This way you will avoid any traffic delays or breakdown issues. You can arrive the night before, stay in a hotel and be refreshed and de-stressed for embarkation day.

Coach Transfer

A better option is to arrange a coach transfer with the cruise line on the same day of departure. The coach will be designated for cruise guests. That means if the coach is delayed for any reason, the cruise line is more likely to wait for you. If they are unable to delay departure, the cruise line will make all the arrangements to get you and the other guests to the next port of call. They cover the expenses for any accommodation, transport and meals required until you step foot onboard the ship.

Allow For Delays

If you can’t go the day before or get a coach then at the very least, leave plenty of time for delays. If you are driving yourself on the day of departure and miss the cruise, it will be completely down to you arrange and pay for flights to the next port of call. Also check with your travel insurance provider what is covered otherwise this could be an expensive mistake.

Fly Cruise

With a fly cruise, it is without doubt the best option to book the cruise line package. This can still be done through a travel agent, you just need to make it clear to them that you want the cruise lines package and not one that they have packaged themselves. It doesn’t mean that it is risky booking a package with another ABTA or ATOL protected operator, it just keeps things super simple. A fly-cruise package usually include an overnight hotel stay the night before the cruise. It should also include transfers from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the port and the port back to the airport, but clarify this when you get a quote as some cruise lines are different. You can add on extra nights before and after the cruise for an extra cost, if you want to extend your holiday.

Another thing I love about packaging everything with the cruise line is that it is just one set of documents.

A better option is to book a package with an ABTA or ATOL protected operator. They have to stick to certain parameters which will include flying you out the day before and allowing plenty of time to get to the airport when you disembark the ship.

If you absolutely must do your own thing, then the good option again is to fly the day before.

SHORE EXCURSIONS

Getting off at the ports is the main cause of passengers missing the ship. This can happen for a variety of reasons but the most common is that guests either lose track of time, or forget that the ship and local time are different. Unforeseen delays such as heavy traffic and even getting lost can contribute to guests missing the ship.

The best option is to book one of the shore excursions offered by the cruise line. Shore excursion staff will keep an eye on the time for you and as there’ll be other passengers on the excursion. In the event that anything should happen, the ship will usually wait or make arrangements to transfer guests to the next port of call.

Some private tours will guarantee to get you back to the ship, although I don’t know how they can do this. If you are doing a fairly local tour and it will get you back to the ship midday giving you 4 more hours until departure, then this is a better option. However, if you are an hour and half or more away from where you want to visit, I would think twice.

A good option and most definitely the cheapest, is to walk around the local town for an hour or so.

Check your travel insurance

Some insurance policies especially the free ones may only give you a basic cover. Check your policy covers you for missing the ship and under which circumstances, so you are not in for a shock later on.

Keep Copies Of Important Documents And Phone Numbers With You

Take photocopies of your passport, and both sides of your driver’s license and credit cards (unless you have the originals with you) when you go ashore. You should also have a copy of the phone numbers for your ship, port agent (printed in your daily onboard schedule) and your cruise line’s customer service department. It’s also worth having the address and phone number of your country’s embassy in the port you’re visiting.

This information will be essential for helping you figure out what to do if you miss your cruise ship.

Ship Time Vs. Port Time

Ship time and local time are often different. Make sure you know exactly what time to be back onboard and if it’s the ship or port time. Get a cheap watch that you can wear in port and keep it in sync with the ship time.

What to Do If You Miss the Ship

Find your port agent

Most cruise lines have port agents stationed in the port area to assist if your ship has left without you. Sometimes the ship’s crew will remove the passengers’ essential items from the ship to leave with the port agents. These officials can help you contact your ship and making travel arrangements.

Make travel arrangements

If you miss the ship, you’ll have to either join it at another port of call or return home. Your cruise line, travel agent or travel insurance provider might be able to help you make the plans; otherwise, you’ll have to make arrangements on your own. Either way, you’ll be responsible for any costs incurred.

Retrieving Your Belongings

The cruise line will ship your belongings home for you which can be expensive.

Coral Princess 107 Day World Cruise from Australia 2022

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Coral Princess Sets Sail On Her First 107 Day World Cruise from Sydney in 2022

107-Day Voyage Offers 43 Destinations in 27 Countries on 6 Continents

Princess Cruises have announced a 107-Day World Cruise for the ultimate bucket-list seekers. In May 2022, Coral Princess will be sailing round trip from Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.

The 107-day circumnavigation of the globe will include the Mediterranean, Norway, Iceland and the Arctic Circle. Other highlights will include a transit of the Panama Canal, a firm favourite. In addition, guests have over 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to choose from.

107 Day World Cruise Highlights

The cruise will sail the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Baltic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Panama Canal and Pacific Ocean, covering 34,000 nautical miles.  The epic voyage crosses the equator twice, the international date line and travels above the Arctic Circle.

Thingvellir National Park (Reykjavik)

Guests can depart from one of the three roundtrip departure homeports, with the option of 14 unique itineraries ranging from 19 to 107 days;

Auckland – May 14, 2022
Sydney – May 18, 2022
Brisbane – May 20, 2022

Olden, Norway is one of the 4 maiden world cruise ports.

The Four maiden World Cruise ports are;

  • Sibenik (Croatia)
  • Olden (Norway)
  • Isafjordur (Iceland)
  • Cornwall (Falmouth, United Kingdom)

Access to more than 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including;

  • The archaeological “lost” city of Petra from Aqaba
  • Gorham’s Cave Complex from Gibraltar. A sea-level cave considered to be a last known habitations of the Neanderthals
  • The Statue of Liberty, New York
  • Thingvellir National Park, Reykjavik. See stunning views of the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates

Notable sailing experiences include;

  • Easter Island scenic cruising
  • A full transit of the Panama Canal (including Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun Locks)
  • A Suez Canal transit in Egypt

Guests will benefit from more time in port, with 12 late nights and 4 overnight stays. Princess Cruises’ “More Ashore” promise includes Dubai, Venice, New York and Lima (Callao).

Optional overland tours of Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands are available from Lima (Callao), Peru.

Optional overland tours include the Galapagos Islands

Stay Persistently Connected with MedallionNet – the Best Wi-Fi at Sea

Coral Princess MedallionNet offers fast, unlimited, reliable, and affordable connectivity. Every stateroom has an access point, which allows guests to stream their favourite shows, play games and music; connect to social media sites; and video chat from anywhere on the ship.

World Cruise Early Booking Benefit and Captain’s Circle Savings

Onboard credit and discounts are available to past guests, when booked by April 30, 2021. This offer is combinable with launch and group promotions, but do not apply to third or fourth berth guests.

Prices and availability for the 107 Day World Cruise on Coral Princess 2022 can be found here.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through the company’s website at princess.com.

Actual itineraries may vary from marketing materials.

For the latest updates, click the links below;

Current Travel Advisories
Health & Safety Protocols

Virgin Voyages Announces Sneak-A-Peak Sailings

VIRGIN VOYAGES ANNOUNCES CELEBRATORY MAIDEN VOYAGE EXPERIENCES 

Virgin Voyages have made exciting announcements on what to expect for the Scarlet Lady’s Maiden Voyage. The much-anticipated voyage will depart Miami on the 1st April next year. In true Virgin style, the first celebratory sailing will be an unforgettable experience.  Celebrity guests will be at every turn, and I am sure there will be much speculation as to who will be onboard. Special onboard events with exciting surprises will give Sailors an enhanced Virgin Voyages experience.

TWO NEW SNEAK-A-PEAK SAILINGS

Virgin Voyages also announced two special preview Sneak-a-Peek sailings, so sailors can sample the Virgin Voyages experience. with the first one departing 26 March 2020.

The adult-only cruise promises to be a cruise like no other, with their fresh approach to cruising.  Scarlet Lady officially sets sail on its Maiden Voyage April 1st.

The three-night Sneak-a-Peek Scarlet Lady sailings will feature the ship’s marquee experiences. These include a stunning day at Virgin Voyages exclusive Beach Club at Bimini. Sailors will enjoy a Scarlet Night Party, access to all restaurants and the opportunity to experience complete versions of entertainment offered onboard.

Bookings for Sneak-a-Peak sailings open on VirginVoyages.com Friday, November 15th. The first sailing will run from Thursday, March 26 – Sunday, March 29. The second sailing will run Sunday, March 29 – Wednesday, April 1.

Recommended Reading Mark Ronson Virgin Voyages Minister of Music

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Introducing Wonder of the Seas

Fifth Oasis Class Ship Set For Asia

Royal Caribbean International has announced the name of the next ship to join the fleet. Wonder of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world and will set sail from Shanghai, China in 2021.

Royal Caribbean President and CEO, Michael Bayley, revealed details at a global cruise industry conference event in Shanghai. Wonder of the Seas, will be the first Oasis Class ship to sail the Asia Pacific. This will be the start of a new era of cruising.

Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International at the press conference in Beijing. Photo provided to China Daily

“Royal Caribbean is known for its innovation and constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and an Oasis Class ship in China is proof of that,” said Bayley. “Wonder of the Seas will redefine the ultimate vacation and be revolutionary in her own right, and she marks one of Royal Caribbean’s most exciting chapters to come.”

What to expect on board

Wonder of the Seas will be part of the Oasis class of ships which are the largest in the world. The ship will feature the iconic seven-neighbourhoods and a bold lineup of thrilling experiences, imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology.

Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International Wonder of the Seas will be like her sister, Oasis of the Seas. (Pictured View of Central Park)

Construction

Construction of Wonder of the Seas took place this week, at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Wonder’s keel, a 970-tonne block measuring 155 feet by 65 feet, was lifted onto the building with a 1,400-tonne crane. This ceremony marks the beginning of her construction.

 

The coin ceremony is part of a long maritime tradition that takes place during the keel laying. You can read more about this in  What Is A Keel Laying Ceremony?

Recommended Reading Royal Caribbean Brands Increase Sustainable Tours

Barbados – Sustainability for a Greener Future

Barbados embraces sustainability and looks forward to a greener future

Barbados continues to strive forward with its sustainability initiatives in 2019. With the likes of David Attenborough’s Our Planet and the Extinction Rebellion that overtook many capital cities in May, it is obvious that people’s attitudes to the planets’ general health and wellbeing are changing.

People, governments, and countries are doubling efforts to encourage a more sustainable environment; and Barbados is at the forefront of the movement.

This April the country enforced a ban on single-use plastics, meaning that there will be no more importation, retail, sale and use of petrol-based, single-use plastic on the island. Barbados attracts 623,293 visitors every year, which inevitably incurs environmental challenges.

Banning single-use plastics goes some way to ensuring the protection of our pristine beaches and crystal clear waters that we are famous for. As a destination however, we realise that our sustainability efforts cannot stop there and we are proud to say we are embracing many conservation projects and methods across the island, from driving electric cars to biodynamic farming, we are excited for a more sustainable future”. Cheryl Carter, UK Director, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, commented.

Barbados is already hailed as one of the world’s top users of electric cars. As the island receives over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, the destination saw fit to harness the sun’s energy in 2013 and has been doing so ever since. The island now boasts over 350 solar powered cars, dramatically reducing the islands’ emissions.

2019 also marks the Year of Wellness and Soft Adventure; a theme that ultimately embraces the idea of its locals and visitors exploring the islands’ natural offerings and truly immersing themselves in the healing powers of Barbados’ paradise vibe. Many view the Caribbean islands as solely sun, sand, and sea destinations but Barbados’ offering is so much richer. With a wealth of activities to choose from, including hiking, horse riding and running, to road tennis, island safari and car racing.

The island offers a diverse landscape; from hidden caves, to lush forests, and rolling sugar cane fields; to winding valleys, rugged coastlines, glittering beaches, and peaceful bays. There is a vast amount to explore be it on foot, bicycle or on all fours (in the case of Harrison’s Cave).

Visitors to the environmentally conscious island can enjoy a number of eco-focused attractions and accommodations such as:

  • Welchman Gully: contributes to the islands’ cultural and natural history, by providing an ecological research space for conservationists. The gully itself is home to many monkeys, birds, butterflies and majestic rainforest trees as well as delicate native plants.
  • PEG Farm: encourages visitors to embrace their surroundings and the concept of sustainable living. The biodynamic farm brings new agricultural and holistic lifestyle practices to the island through permaculture and free range animal husbandry. The farm also boasts wonderful medicinal gardens onsite that nurture a large variety of plants sourced from across the island. The sole focus of biodynamics is to restore the Earth’s capacity to heal and regenerate, which are achieved through the farms sustainability initiatives.
  • As Barbados has become more environmentally conscious so have many of the resorts, leading to establishments such as the Eco Lifestyle Lodge and Naniki offering guests retreats and holidays with an eco-conscious focus. Many of the menus feature delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes, with activities centering on the guests’ health and wellbeing, such as sunrise yoga and sunset hikes. Forest bathing is also very popular in the 53-acre rainforest atCoco Hill Forest.
  • The Barbados Sea Turtle project is another initiative close to the island’s heart. The project has been involved in the conservation of the endangered marine turtle species for more than 25 years. Its long term vision is to restore the local marine turtle population through research, education and public outreach. Barbados is currently home to the second-largest hawksbill turtle nesting population in the Caribbean, with up to 500 nesting females per year.
  • Carlisle Bay in the south west of Barbados has recently become a designated marine-protected area, popular with divers, swimmers and snorkelers. Preserving Barbados’ coastline, the marine environment, the health of its reefs and habitats of the marine plants and animals is a continuous focus. It will ensure sustainable use and development of the fisheries, marine assets, resources, minerals and species for sustainable recreation and the livelihoods of those that make a living from the sea.

For more information see: www.visitbarbados.org

Recommended Reading: Corky’s Garage – The Best Bar In Barbados

Andrea Bocelli To Perform At Southampton Ceremony

More Acts Revealed For Ceremony

The much anticipated launch of MSC Bellissima in Southampton is just hours away. The cruise line’s latest reveal, is that World-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli will sing during the traditional Officers’ Parade. This is an emotional and traditional moment that pays homage to the crew from the ship, recognising their service and dedication. During the ceremony, alongside his son Matteo Bocelli, the pair will perform their best-selling duet Fall on Me from Andrea’s new album Sì.

The Bocelli family have a long standing relationship with MSC Cruises. Andrea Bocelli performed at the christening of MSC Poesia in Dover in 2008 and the Naming Ceremony of MSC Seaside in Miami in 2017.  Matteo Bocelli’s performed My Way last year during the Officers’ Parade in Trieste at the launch of MSC Seaview, which I was fortunate to witness myself.

Matteo Bocelli at the launch of MSC Seaview.

Andrea Bocelli Foundation

MSC Cruises supports the Andrea Bocelli Foundation through guest donations on board MSC Seaside. The funds raised support their valuable work in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world facing exceptional challenges. ABF’s Mobile Clinic project delivers free health care assistance and a prevention programme.

It benefits 8,000 people per year in the 5 poorest and most remote areas of the country. The medical staff provide extensive services. These include medical care, immunization for children, monitoring for malnutrition and screening for the most common systemic diseases, health education and family consultations.

MSC Cruises will host a star studded extravaganza. Hosted by ITV’s Holly Willoughby, there will be some incredible performances including Cirque du Soleil at Sea and Nile Rodgers and his band Chic. Ship’s Godmother, Sophia Loren will officially name MSC Bellissima, followed by the traditional ribbon-cutting.

MSC Bellissima Joins The Family

MSC Cruises took delivery of MSC Bellissima yesterday at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The second Meraviglia Class ship, MSC Bellissima is designed for all seasons, offering plenty of outdoor and indoor public spaces. With a length of just 315 metres, she has been designed to be able to access most of the world’s cruise ports.

Cutting Edge Technology

MSC Bellissima pushes the boundaries of ship building and design, with some of the latest environmental technologies available. These include

  • a cutting-edge exhaust gas cleaning system
  • an advanced wastewater treatment plant
  • systems for the prevention of oil discharge from machinery spaces
  • a ballast water treatment system
  • various energy-saving improvements – from heat recovery systems to LED lighting

She is also fitted with cutting edge guest technology, and is the first MSC Cruises ship to feature ZOE, the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant, which has been added to MSC for Me. Every cabin will feature the voice-enabled virtual personal assistant, who can answer hundreds of questions about the cruise.

MSC Bellissima is currently making her way towards Southampton, UK for her Naming Ceremony this weekend. Her maiden voyage departs 4 March to Genoa, Italy to spend her inaugural season, offering Western Mediterranean cruises. In November 2019, she will reposition to the Gulf, providing weekly sailings out of Dubai. In spring 2020 she will be deployed to Asia.

For more information about MSC Bellissima visit MSC Cruises Website

Boudicca to Cruise from Dover 2019/2020

Fred. Olsen’s Boudicca starts 2019/20 cruise season from Dover

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines commenced its 2019/20 cruise season from Dover on 13th February 2019, with a sold out romantic four-night ‘Valentine’s in Antwerp with Amsterdam’ getaway, onboard the 880-guest Boudicca.

After this, Boudicca strategically repositions to the Port of Tyne, Newcastle to use as a vantage point for two 8-night ‘Norway Winter’ adventures.  Boudicca will then return to Dover for a 14-night ‘Landscapes of the Canary Islands’ sailing.

Boudicca will be operating a total of 24 different itineraries in its 2019/20 cruise season, from February 2019 through to March 2020.

Special Sailings

Included in the itineraries are two very special sailings.

D-Day 75th Anniversary Voyage – 2nd June 2019

A special 7 night cruise in partnership with The Royal British Legion, exclusively for D-Day veterans and their carers.

168-night Grand Voyage – 3rd October 2019

The longest, most extensive sailing ever undertaken in Fred. Olsen’s history, visiting 61 different ports, towns and cities around the world.

Justin Stanton, Sales and Marketing Director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:

“When you cruise from Dover with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, aboard stylish, classic Boudicca, you are in for an unforgettable experience from the moment you set sail! After embarking your smaller, friendlier cruise ship, you can settle in on board, relax and watch the iconic white cliffs drift out of view, as you sail away from England’s beautiful South East coast on a memorable voyage to some of the world’s greatest destinations.

“Whichever itinerary you choose, Fred. Olsen is sure to have the ideal holiday for you, from the convenient and accessible Port of Dover.”

In 2019/20, Fred. Olsen’s Dover itineraries offer guests the opportunity to see sights such as the breathtaking Norwegian or Greenlandic fjords, picturesque waterways through stunning cities, such as Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Hamburg and Stockholm, experience cultural and scenic highlights in the Baltic, and attend the thrilling Monaco Grand Prix.

Sample Itineraries

22-night Amalfi, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera cruise

(adult-only, 18+) 

25th April 2019

Prices start from £2,499 per person.

Capri island with Vesuvius volcano

Ports of call: Dover, UK – Malaga, Spain – Mahon (Menorca), Spain – Sorrento, Italy – Naples, Italy (overnight stay) – Amalfi, Italy – Cruising Amalfi Coast & Capri – Civitavecchia (for Rome), Italy – Livorno, Italy – Portofino, Italy – Genoa, Italy (overnight stay) – Cartagena, Spain – Lisbon, Portugal – Vigo, Spain – Dover, UK

For further information: See D1910 – Amalfi, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera

13-night  Icelandic Wonders & Wildlife

18th June 2019

Prices start from £1,899 per person.

Ports of call: Dover, UK – Cruising Reyðarfjörður – Eskifjörður, Iceland – Cruising Eyjafjörður – Akureyri (overnight stay) – Ísafjörður – Reykjavík (overnight stay) – Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, UK – Dover, UK

For further information: See D1914 – Icelandic Wonders & Wildlife

9-night  Scenic Fjords of Norway

28th August 2019

Prices start from £1,299 per person.

Seven Sisters waterfalls, near Geiranger village in western Norway.

Ports of call: Dover, UK – Bergen – Cruising by Strandafjellet Mountain – Hellesylt – Cruising past Seven Sisters Waterfall – Cruising Geirangerfjord – Olden – Flåm – Cruising Naeroyfjord – Stavanger – Eidfjord – Dover, UK

For further information: See D1920 – Scenic Fjords of Norway

All prices listed are based on two adults sharing a twin-bedded, Interior Room, and include accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes.

Guests booking their holidays with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can also benefit from its ‘Book with Confidence’ guarantee. This means that, once a booking is confirmed, Fred. Olsen guarantees that no surcharges or supplements will be added to the cruise price.

Bookings are underpinned by the security of ABTA and ATOL protection, as well as Fred. Olsen’s industry-leading ‘Enjoyment Promise’, giving real peace of mind.

What is more, all cruises, shore tours and purchases made on board Fred. Olsen’s ships are priced in Pounds Sterling – so that guests can explore the world without having to worry about exchange rates.

For further information on Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, visit the website at www.fredolsencruises.com Book online, call Reservations on 0800 0355 242 (Monday – Friday, 8am – 8pm; Saturday, 9am – 5pm; Sunday, 10am – 4pm), or see an ABTA travel agent.

To find out more about Fred. Olsen’s ‘Book with Confidence’ guarantee, visit ‘Book with Confidence’ with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

The Only Dom Perignon Pairing Experience

The First of Its Kind Dining Experience

Oceania Cruises have introduced a brand new dining experience, which is not available anywhere else on land or at sea.

Combining the finest cuisine with Dom Perignon Vintages, Oceania Cruises’ guests can enjoy an intimate six course pairing menu. Oceania Cruises and La Maison Dom Perignon culinary teams worked together to create this extraordinary menu. Available on two of Oceania’s ships, Marina and Riviera, nowhere else in the World offers this experience. The dinner limited to 24 guests, costs $295 per person, less than the cost of one bottle of Dom Perignon Rosé 2004.

Champagne Is All About Celebration

Speaking about the new concept, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oceania Cruises Bob Binder said “We created this dinner to be sophisticated, memorable, a little bit decadent, but also a lot of fun. After all, champagne is all about celebration.”

Image: Oceania Cruises – La Reserve onboard Oceania Marina and Riviera will offer the only Dom Perignon pairing experience in the world

The Dom Perignon Experience Menu

Scallops “Rossini”, mole negro, roasted pineapple
Comme un Rossini de St Jacques, mole negro et ananas rôti
Dom Perignon 2009

Brittany blue lobster in yellow curry broth, coco foam
Curry jaune de homard bleu, nuage de coco
Dom Perignon 2006

Image: Oceania Cruises

Black truffle risotto, aged parmesan
Risotto aux truffes noires et vieux parmesan
Dom Perignon 2006

Image: Oceania Cruises 

Seared wagyu beef sashimi style, sautéed arugula, blood orange-soya jus, caviar perlite
Sashimi de boeuf wagyu, roquette sautée, jus à l’orange sanguine et soja, caviar d’aquitaine
Dom Perignon Rose 2004

Image: Oceania Cruises 

French A.O.C cheese plate, black currant-pepper paste, thyme flower
Assiette de fromage A.O.C, pate de fruit cassis-poivre et fleur de thym
Dom Perignon Rose 2004

Image: Oceania Cruises

Sakura tea “Geisha flower” ice cream, lemon caviar
Glace au thé fleur de Geisha et citron caviar
Dom Perignon 2009

Image: Oceania Cruises

The Dom Perignon Experience is now available on all Riviera voyages, and will be aboard Marina from 31st January 2019 onwards.

Advanced booking is advised and can be made by directly with Oceania Cruises or through a Travel Agent. The Speciality Dining Desk located on Deck 5 will take bookings for guests onboard.

For more information on Dom Perignon visit their website domperignon.com

Recommended Reading: An Introduction To Oceania Marina

Celebrity Transforms Galapagos Experience

After emerging from a seven-day makeover in Panama, the award-winning Celebrity Xpedition is surrounding guests in upgraded comforts as they explore the Galapagos Islands. It’s another bold step in THE CELEBRITY REVOLUTION, beyond the introduction of two industry-changing ships – Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Flora – and the $500 million modernisation of the rest of the brand’s fleet.

Scheduled to make its return to service on 23 September 2018, the revitalised Celebrity Xpedition will debut an array of enhancements across the 100-guest ship, such as redecorated staterooms, lounges and restaurants, and faster and more reliable Wi-Fi. All of which will compliment the natural beauty of the Galapagos, and allow guests to stay connected even as they disconnect.

“Our commitment to the Galapagos Islands has never been stronger, because we know, having sailed these awe-inspiring islands for so many years, what a life-changing experience it is to come here,” noted Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and ceo, Celebrity Cruises. “The upgrades we’re making to Celebrity Xpedition and the upcoming arrival of our new Celebrity Flora, the first ship designed specifically with the Galapagos Islands in mind, will transform the way our guests discover this amazing place and take our unrivalled Galapagos offerings to an entirely new level.”

THE BEST SHIP IN THE GALAPAGOS IS GETTING EVEN BETTER

As part of her modernisation, Celebrity Xpedition will undergo the following enhancements from bow to stern:

  • Suites and staterooms will be stunningly refreshed, adding new carpeting and balcony upgrades to a list of already impressive touches. This includes Celebrity Cruises’ eXhaleTM bedding to create a relaxing atmosphere after a long day’s adventure
  • All suite and stateroom doors will be outfitted with RFID lock technology, making it easier for guests to access their rooms
  • An upgrade to the shipboard IT systems, including the addition of an O3B satellite to improve the speed and reliability of the ship’s full-coverage Wi-Fi. The adjusted bandwidth will enhance both guest experience and crew efficiency
  • The Beagle Grill will be outfitted with new furniture and lighting so guests can enjoy an intimate dining experience under the sun and stars, and new ultra-modern culinary equipment to help bring the menus crafted by Celebrity’s Michelin-starred chef to life
  • In the Discovery Lounge, guests will find a new, state-of-the-art video wall, upgraded finishes and textiles, as well as a new dedicated DJ station to elevate the ambiance of this guest-favourite hangout
  • The Darwin Dining Room will receive similar design enhancements with new lighting, carpet and millwork
  • Water filtration system on every deck for guests to enjoy
  • Crew area enhancements including new mattresses with Celebrity’s eXhaleTM bedding, carpets, and Dayroom TV

Celebrity Xpedition will debut these enhanced suites, services and amenities in June 2019, to coincide with the arrival of the new Celebrity Flora. Suite guests will be equipped with marine binoculars to use on their cruise, as well as premium backpacks and rain ponchos that they can take back home with them. Whilst guests unwind in their suites on-board, stateroom attendants are on hand to help with their packing and unpacking, and are provided with full in-suite dinner service, upgraded premium bathrobes, luxurious Kuno bath products from Ecuador, and many more during their sailing.

FROM BUCKET LIST TO BOOK-IT LIST

With more than 14 years in the Galapagos Islands, Celebrity Cruises remains the authority in the region, offering guests an unparalleled experience in this iconic archipelago of volcanic islands. It offers all-inclusive  holiday packages ranging from seven to 16 nights, each featuring an immersive seven-night cruise and seven certified naturalists on board.

World First Hybrid Electric LNG Icebreaker

Ponant Reveal New Ship to be named Le Commandant Charcot, a tribute to Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot

Ponant, the global leader in luxury expeditions and the only French-owned cruise line, has revealed the name of its polar exploration vessel, Le Commandant Charcot. A world first, this hybrid electric icebreaker, powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), has been named after Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot, as an homage to the man known as “the gentleman of the poles”.

Photo Credit: PONANT – Le Commandant Charcot

A tribute to the famous French polar explorer, Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot

The new vessel will bear the name of a great French explorer: Le Commandant Charcot. An explorer by vocation with a true passion for sailing, Jean-Baptiste Charcot is an emblematic figure of French polar expeditions. By naming its forthcoming polar exploration vessel after him, PONANT is paying tribute to this “gentleman of the poles”, who was respected by everyone. This choice is even more significant since this new ship will be fitted with the latest technology for minimising environmental impact, as well as a scientific laboratory for conducting operational oceanography missions and research.

Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot, the gentleman of the poles

Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot

1867    Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

1873    At school, he drew boats on all his exercise books.

1892    For his 25th birthday, he received a small boat as a gift from his father.

1902    He crossed the Arctic Circle and travelled to the Arctic for the first time.

1903    From 1903 to 1905 aboard Le Français and from 1908 to 1910 aboard Le Pourquoi-Pas, he reached the Antarctic regions.

1909    He located Graham Land on navigation charts, dropped anchor near Alexandra Land, and discovered the island that would bear his name.

1920    From 1920 to 1936, his scientific cruises led him from the Hebrides to the east coast of Greenland.

Sustainable development is at the core of the design of the polar exploration vessel

Powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Le Commandant Charcot will be fitted with the latest environmental protection technology:

Advanced “Cleanship” equipment exceeding the requirements imposed by current environmental regulations:

  • Reduction of SO2, NOₓ, CO2 and particle emissions thanks to the use of LNG
  • Zero emissions in hybrid electric mode

Energy management:

  • Energy optimisation system with precise consumption measurement and optimisation of ship sailing methods
  • Energy recovery system
  • Consumption optimisation with latest-generation electric batteries that make it possible to stop the engines for 2 to 3 hours

Water treatment:

    • Advanced waste-water treatment system

Photo Credit: PONANT – Le Commandant Charcot

Pre-bookings can be made from 6 September 2018

Bookings for cruises aboard Le Commandant Charcot will open on 4 April 2019, but pre-bookings may be made from 6 September 2018 to secure a stateroom and the early bird price. A chance to discover the Geographic North Pole (latitude 90 degrees North) or parts of Antarctica, such as the Ross Sea, Charcot Island and Peter  Island, that were inaccessible until now… Passengers booking these itineraries will be in for veritable polar odysseys rather than cruises.

Celebrity Edge Transforms Youth Activities

Celebrity Edge inspires the next generation of explorers at sea

From tots speaking their first words to teens preparing to leap into university, Celebrity Cruises  is taking learning at sea to the next level for guests of all ages on its new transformational ship, Celebrity Edge.

Younger travellers will be truly spoilt for choice with the ship’s Camp at Sea programme. With over 500 activities to try out, don’t miss out on the chance to take part in the cruise line’s first youth coding experience at sea, create a holiday vlog using a Go Pro camera or master the music decks with a Scratch DJ tournament.

Those looking to become the next Albert Einstein, Bear Grylls or David Attenborough can harness their inner scientist, explorer and adventurer at Anturus Explorer Academy. Navigate the world like an explorer and uncover the Earth’s magnetic field, test out a homemade shelter with a special camp-out evening on the top deck, and test out those commentary skills at The Explorer Olympics. At the end of the sailing, children will graduate from the academy as an Explorer with their very own certificate and badge, and can put their training to good use after their holiday.

Free for all children on-board, the Anturus Explorer Academy sessions will not only help ignite the imaginations of young people, they also bring the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – to life outside the classroom.

Homeporting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Celebrity Cruises’ newest transformational ship, Celebrity Edge, will be making her first sailing in November 2018. Celebrity Edge will spend her inaugural season sailing, alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries before transporting guests to the stunning vistas of the Mediterranean, with a range of seven-to-11-night sailings from iconic cities like Barcelona and Rome in 2018.

Celebrity Cruises’ iconic “X” is the mark of modern luxury, with its cool, contemporary design and warm spaces; dining experiences where the design of the venues is as important as the cuisine; and the amazing service that only Celebrity Cruises can provide, all created to provide an unmatchable experience for vacationers’ precious time.  This is the Celebrity Distinction. Celebrity Cruises’ 12 ships offer modern luxury vacations visiting all seven continents. Celebrity Cruises also presents immersive cruise tour experiences in Alaska and Canada. Celebrity is one of six cruise brands operated by global cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Join Celebrity Cruises for a nine-night Western Mediterranean fly/cruise from £2,659 per person based on two people sharing an Oceanview stateroom. Both guests will receive a free Classic Drinks Package worth £450* per person, along with free soft drinks packages for additional guests.

Departing 10 August 2019, the price includes return flights from London Heathrow airport, transfers, and a nine-night cruise departing Rome (Civitavecchia, Italy), and calling at Naples (Italy), Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Santa Margherita (Italy) and Florence/Pisa (La Spezia, Italy), before returning to Rome for the flight home; meals and entertainment on-board the ship and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

*Subject to availability, prices depending on sailing length

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.

A New Chapter As a Freelance Travel Writer

It’s Anchors Away for Flavia Gray

It’s an exciting day in the Gray household today as I’m embarking on a brand new journey. I really hope you will come along for the ride, as I promise there will never be a dull moment.

This means that I am now officially a Freelance Travel Writer. I no longer have any ties or affiliations with Travel Counsellors or any Travel Agency. The reason I have decided to make the move into journalism is because I am passionate about cruising and travel, but I have never wanted to be in sales. I believe that if there is an element of sales involved, then it can cause bias in what is said and I want to be honest and impartial. I was also prompted to take the leap of faith after the sudden and tragic loss of my writer hero John Honeywell.

It’s Not About The Money

The first thing my customers and friends said to me when I told them the news was “How are you going to make any money?” Well to be quite frank, I wasn’t making any money as a travel agent. I am rubbish with figures, spreadsheets, finances, admin and all of that stuff. Another contributing factor, is that cruise agents seem to be in battle with each other and I refuse to get into a dutch auction. I have read on many forums how people are confused about the variation in pricing. Well I am in the process of putting together a free guide for my subscribers, which will give you everything you need to know to understand how to beat the system. It’s actually very simple and once you know what is going on behind the scenes the power will be in your hands.

So back to the question about making money as a writer. Well the ads you see on my website are hosted by GoogleAds. I get about eight pence for every 1000 views. Not a lot is it? So you can help by sharing my posts with your friends if you think they are interesting, or by letting me know what sort of thing you want to read about. I would love you to leave a comment at the bottom of the page too, so I know you have stopped by and what you think of each article.

All of my travels are self funded unless otherwise mentioned, which means I need to do other work to help raise money for the website. One of them is as a background artists, and I will be sure to let you know if I am scheduled for a tv appearance.

Services and Collaborations

I am a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. If you have a website or publication that you would like me to write for, please email me at shipsandchampagne@gmail.com

If you are a blogger, please feel free to leave any comments with links to your blog and I will be sure to check it out and comment.

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Cruise People – Danielle Fear – Cruise Miss

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

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

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

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

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

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

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

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

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

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

How do you decide which cruises to take?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your dream cruise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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P&O Cruises drops discretionary Gratuities

Cruise People – Ladies Who Lunch

Donna Stoneman Shares Personal Cruise Experiences and Valuable Tips

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

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

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

Onboard Independence of the Seas for New Years Eve

What made you book your first cruise?

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

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

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

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

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

Donna plays shuffleboard as they sailaway from Santorini on Oceania Riviera

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

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

Sailing away from the Hubbard Glacier onboard Celebrity Infinity.

How do you decide which cruises to take?

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

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

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

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

Head to the bar! Explore the ship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donna and Gary on a Mediterranean cruise onboard Norwegian Getaway in the Haven.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try it – you’ll never look back!

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

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Cruise People – Captain Greybeard

John Honeywell aka Captain Greybeard

A man that really needs no introduction, Captain Greybeard is a household name for fans of cruising, and to us all in the cruise industry. I was absolutely thrilled that. So without further ado here is what I found out.

What does Editor at Large mean?

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

When did you start writing about cruising and why?

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

Can you tell us about your very first cruise?

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

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

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

What is it about cruising that appeals to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was your last holiday?

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

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

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

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Antarctica, Galapagos and New Zealand

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

What are you waiting for?

The Captain’s Log

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

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Jewel of the Seas Greek Isles Cruise Review

A Different Kind of Cruise

I wanted to compare my last cruise on Harmony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, to something smaller. Jewel of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Class ship.  Due to their outward-facing glass lifts, they provide stunning views and are fondly referred to as ‘ships of light’.

One benefit of a smaller cruise ship like Jewel of the Seas, is getting access to more ports of call. You will find more detail regarding the onboard experience, at the end of this article. Let’s look at the destinations first of all.

Naples, Italy

The Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus tour was probably the best option for us, due to travelling with a child and an elderly man.

The traffic is slow as you would expect in a city and the bus stops very often and as a result, seems like quite a while at each stop.  It is a great value for money option at 17 Euros per person (Joshua was free). Driving around the city in the sunshine for an hour gives you a sense of the local culture.

My tip would be to fill your bag with essentials such as water and snacks and make the most of the free wifi onboard.

After our bus tour, we took the long way back to the Jewel of the Seas via horse and cart.  For just 20 Euros for 3 of us, it was an incredible experience and one I will never forget.

Santorini, Greece

I have always wanted to visit Santorini. The mode of transport was a choice between donkey (which will hopefully be withdrawn shortly), cable car or a hike up the mountain, so in this instance, I decided against it.  The majority of people disembarked the ship, as a result, I was able to relax by the pool.

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos is stunning, romantic, friendly, quaint and more.  It was a short ferry ride from where we docked to the town.

The bus will take you to one of the stunning beaches.  After the ferry ride, we took the option of wandering around the town, with a quick dip in the sea, followed by a relaxing lunch in a local taverna. The waterfront restaurant we went to was called Kavos. We ordered a bottle of local wine and the most delicious calamari I have ever tasted. It even beats my favourite seafood restaurant at home, Loch Fyne where I told you about the Best Oysters Ever.  So we followed that with another bottle of wine and more calamari.

Athens and Kusadasi

While I love travelling and experiencing new things, cruising became attractive for me because, in addition to offering value for money, being onboard a cruise ship is a safe and convenient option when you are looking for to holiday in the sun with children.  Athens and Kusadasi have amazing sights, but I will return to see them when Joshua is a bit older.

Katakolon, Greece

This was a great place to stroll off the ship and into the local village.  The street is lined with shops selling souvenirs, jewellery, hats, handbags, clothes and various forms of art.  There are restaurants, bars and coffee shops on the water’s edge, for you to sample the local cuisine.  The people are friendly and the goods are very reasonably priced. This is a great place to stock up on all your presents for people back at home.

Pro Tip – this was the cheapest place for duty-free goods compared to everywhere else on our trip.  The shop is right outside the ship as you disembark.

Onboard Jewel of the Seas

The currency used on all Royal Caribbean ships is the US Dollars.

Things to do

Would you?

At the centre of the ship is the atrium which is 9 decks high. When you visit the loyalty desk on deck 12, just outside the Adventure Ocean kids club, you can stand on a glass platform and see the decks below.

Free Champagne

I attended my first art auction purely because free champagne was on offer,  however, I enjoyed it. You get to see a huge collection of amazing artwork.  On entry, you are given a complimentary print to keep and take home with you and some raffle tickets for prizes drawn throughout the auction.  So sit back and relax for an hour with your glass of bubbly and whatever you do, DON’T raise your hand!

Adventure Ocean

Royal Caribbean offer great facilities for children and the Adventure Ocean program is fantastic.  There are three sessions per day which are free of charge for children between the ages of 3 and 17.  Almost all of the larger ships offer a drop off nursery for 6 months – 3-year-olds.  While this was not available on Jewel of the Seas, they did have a play area where parents could come in with their children.  The toys were changed daily in addition to the free toy loan service as well.

Formal Night

I love the formal night. Royal Caribbean doesn’t enforce a strict dress code, so you have the option to dress up or not.  I enjoy it, and although I am not one for souvenirs, I was pleased to add Jewel of the Seas to my collection of photos with the Captain.

In conclusion, Jewel of the Seas is a lovely ship.  With great staff and facilities. We had the added benefit of fantastic ports of call and great weather.  It seems like bigger is not always better when it comes to cruise ship sizes. It all depends on what you are looking to get from each cruise that matters.

Recommended Reading

Independence of the Seas – The Best Cruise Of My Life

Your Guide To Cruise Ship Currency

Onboard Currency

If you are new to cruising, this guide will help you understand how the onboard payment systems work. Cruise ship currency varies from one cruise line to another.  In some cases it can even change depending where the ship is sailing.

Here is a review of the main cruise lines and which onboard currency they use. Of course you are not required to use cash onboard, but it helps to know in advance so you can get the best rate of exchange.

British Pounds

  • P & O
  • Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
  • Cruise & Maritime
  • Noble Calendonia
  • Thomson

US Dollar

  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • Carnival
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Costa – in non European countries
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Cunard
  • Disney Cruise Lines
  • Holland America
  • MSC – in non European countries
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Seabourn
  • Silvers

EURO

  • Costa – in Europe
  • MSC – in Europe
  • Star Clippers

With the fluctuation in currency conversion rates, sometimes it is better to pre-purchase your on board spending money as you will see in my post on How To Get Free Onboard Spend.  Check with your cruise line to see what they are offering at the time.

VIP For A Day Onboard Caribbean Princess

The Cruise Ship

You probably remember the four part fly-on-the-wall documentary about life onboard the Royal Princess, called ‘The Cruise Ship’ which, aired on ITV. Princess Cruises ran a competition for travel agents which was for the best tweet of the week to win a VIP Day onboard Caribbean Princess.  I tweeted like crazy and one of my tweets was picked as a winner.

Caribbean Princess Piazza

Caribbean Princess

On the day, Victoria Sneglar Princess Cruises Sales Communications and Events Executive, met us at the cruise terminal. One of the other VIP’s was Bruno the guide dog, which made the day extra special. Victoria was the perfect hostess and took us onboard.  We entered the Piazza on the Caribbean Princess.  These signature features reflect opulence and beauty combined with a very relaxed atmosphere. This is where you will find the popular International Cafe, serving delicious pastries, paninis, salads, cakes and desserts. Music fills the air as a pianist playing a white grand piano, gives popular songs an elegant twist. The marble floors, glass lifts and sweeping staircases give the air of being in a fairytale.

Bruno the Guide Dog

Bottoms Up

Vikki took us to Crooners Bar for a cocktail to start the day in style. Bruno the Guide Dog was with us for the day and attracted a lot of attention from embarking  passengers.  First of all, we sipped our wonderful cocktails. I ordered a margarita on the rocks, no salt which is my holiday drink. Victoria told us, while enjoying our cocktails, that we would shortly be taken to the Canyon Ranch Spa for a treatment.

Enjoying a 24K Gold Margarita prior to my spa treatment

Aerial view of the Piazza

I thought a neck and shoulder massage or a mini manicure was what we would get, but on arrival we were told we would be having a full body exfoliation and moisturising treatment, followed by a full body massage and a hot stone treatment. Each room has it’s own shower cubicle, so I was able to wash off after the exfoliation before starting the body massage.  All the products are Elemis and smell and feel divine.

Canyon Ranch Spa Treatment Room

After our treatments, we met the Cruise Director who showed us around a few of the staterooms.

A category S7 window suite located on deck 6 319 sq ft but no balcony Room F303

Window Suite category S7

A Galley Tour

We were given a lovely tour of the Galley.  I took this video and if you watch to the end, you will get a little glimpse of the crew mess.

For lunch and we were treated to the Crown Grill menu in the main dining room.  This is a speciality restaurant and there is usually a cover charge, but looking at the quality of the food, it is certainly great value for money.

Mediterranean-Style Spiny Lobster Cake, Tarragon Foam, Cured Olives, Grilled Asparagus

The Grill Salad – Grape Balsamic Dressing, Mesclun Greens, Roasted Bell Peppers, Hass Avocado

Chilean Sea Bass and Brioche Breaded King Prawns, Leeks and Mushroom Ragout, Champagne Mousseline

The Crown Dependence – The Executive Pastry Chef’s Sampling of their Featured Desserts

Bruno is such a good boy, and sits under the table at his Dad’s feet during lunch.

A Journey with a Difference

After eating ourselves silly, washed down with a glass of chilled chardonnay, Vikki told us they had a Chocolate Journeys experience lined up for us.  Ok, I thought, I can handle a couple of little chocolates, but this was more than that. Created by Norman Love, one of the top master chocolatiers in the world, Chocolate Journeys is an experience of chocolates, sweets and cocktails.

Sampling some of the Chocolate Journeys range of sweets

and delicious drinks

Caribbean Princess crew spoilt us rotten and the day, which far exceeded my expectations.  As we disembarked, crossing paths of boarding guests, I was still trying to take in what an incredible day it had been, but most of all, how kind and generous Princess Cruises had been to organise this for us.

It is a day I will never forget.  Thank you Princess Cruises.

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