Tag Archives: Cruise-from-Southampton

MSC Virtuosa Will Restart UK Cruising

IT’S TIME TO SAIL AGAIN

JUST ONE MONTH TO GO

MSC Virtuosa will restart UK cruising from Southampton on 20th May 2021. British guests will be first to discover one of the newest and most innovative ships in the UK this summer.

Initially, the cruise will offer 3 and 4 night mini cruises from Southampton to the isle of Portland, Dorset. From the 12 June, guests can enjoy 7 night cruises calling at Portland and Belfast. These will have embarkation points in Southampton, Liverpool and Greenock.

Here is a taste of what guests can expect onboard.

EXCLUSIVITY AND PRIVACY AT THE MSC YACHT CLUB

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, MSC Yacht Club Duplex Suite

Spread over three upper decks and linked by glittering MSC Cruises signature Swarowski crystal staircases, the MSC Yacht Club, offers the exclusive luxury of a private club. Located in the front of the ship, guests can experience the best view on board across the bow and out to sea. Two MSC Yacht Club Royal Suites with a private balcony whirlpool bath are among the gorgeous accommodation. Guests can dine in style at the exclusive, 120-seat Top Sail restaurant,  with a curated à la carte gourmet menu paired with a wide selection of wines.  The Top Sail Lounge has it’s own private pool and spacious sun deck.

A PLATE FOR EVERY PALATE

An unparalleled dining experience awaits guests on board MSC Virtuosa. There are five main dining restaurants, five specialty restaurants, 21 bars and lounges both indoor and outdoor, and globally inspired menus from all corners of the Earth. Whether guests are looking for a steakhouse, fresh seafood, Mediterranean cuisine or sushi and Asian dishes, every taste bud will be satisfied.

Making their debuts on MSC Virtuosa are two new speciality restaurants: Indochine and HOLA Tacos & Cantina. Indochine combines two culinary heritages as it brings together savoury Vietnamese classics and gives them a contemporary French twist. At HOLA Tacos & Cantina, MSC Cruises introduces its first street food dining concept, offering Latin American and Mexican inspired dishes with a selection of Tequilas and Mezquals to be savoured alongside.

For those with a sweet tooth, two-time World Champion in Pastry, Jean-Philippe Maury returns on MSC Virtuosa with Chocolat & Café and Crêpes & Gelato, two mouth-watering concepts for pure indulgence.

ROB, THE ROBOTIC BARTENDER

The star of the MSC Starship Club is Rob, the robotic bartender.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, MSC Starship Club

Rob is a humanoid robot with different facial expressions and a voice. He can move his arms, body and head just like a real person as he prepares your cocktail.

He can speak eight languages according to the language chosen when the guest makes the order.

ALL NEW TEENS LAB

This will be an immersive, tech-filled space with the latest games consoles, virtual reality and music, all just for teenagers.

Driven By The Music combines a silent disco with a juke box for kids and teens to dance their hearts out.

For young Sherlocks, Junior Detective is a game of wits, observation, and puzzle-solving, as they collect clues in search of the truth.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises

A SHOPPING LOVER’S HEAVEN

MSC Cruises’ has received accolades for Cruise Retailer of the Year 2020 and Cruise Retail Environment of the Year 2020 at the Travel Retail Awards. MSC Virtuosa, will have 11 state of-the-art boutiques housing 250 brands spread over 1,168m2 of dedicated space – the largest retail area at sea.

The ship will feature a branded MSC Foundation shop, which was the winner of the Judges’ Gold Seal for “CSR or Sustainability Initiative of the Year” at the Frontier Awards 2020. The shop offers a selection of specially crafted, high quality, sustainable pieces made from recycled plastic.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, Sky Lounge

Here are some of MSC Virtuosa’s highlights in numbers:

·        A 1,100 m2 spa with more than 20 massage treatments for the ultimate in relaxation

·        More than 17 hours of entertainment each day and over 210 different activities to choose from on a 7-night cruise

·        A 975-seater theatre with West-End style original productions and entertainment each night

·        164 slot machines and 12 tables in the Red Gem Casino

·        A 112-metre long Mediterranean-style promenade

·        10 restaurants and 21 bars

·        Five swimming pools including an indoor pool

·        The longest LED sky-screen at sea

·        Two bowling alleys and two F1 Simulators

·        A Himalayan Bridge adventure rope course 80 metres above the sea

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, solarium

Cruise With Confidence – Industry Leading Health and Safety Protocol

There are comprehensive health and safety measures in place that are designed to protect the guests and crew. However, MSC Cruises aim to preserve the unique holiday experience at every step, so guests are able to relax and enjoy their holiday with the confidence. To find out more visit: www.msccruises.co.uk/health-and-safety-measures

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, Marketplace Buffet

Environmentally Advanced Technology

As one of MSC Cruises’ most environmentally advanced ships, MSC Virtuosa reinforces MSC’s commitment to protect the seas and communities. The ship is highly equipped with advanced cutting-edge technologies, this will ensure cleaner air emissions and improved overall environmental performance.

Find out more about what this ship holds in store

To find out more about MSC Virtuosa this summer in the UK visit here.

Suggested Reading A New Southampton Cruise Terminal

Sapphire Princess Cruise Part Two ‘The Love Boat’

Day Four – At Sea

One of the handy things that Princess Cruises offer, is the ability to view the daily planner on your phone. There is no charge for this. I found it automatically brought up this page when I opened my safari app. One of the really cool functions on this, is the ability to message other people on the cruise. I didn’t set mine up, but I thought it was an excellent idea.

You can also check your stateroom account to see how much you have spent, and keep a schedule of the activities you want to do. That way you don’t miss anything, and don’t have to keep looking at the daily guide to remind yourself what is going on.

I needed to take some dollars out of the cash machine, which is located in the casino. Most of you probably already know this, but for those of you who don’t, children are not allowed in the casino and they are only able to open when at sea. As this was a sea day, the casino was open early. I dropped Joshua off at the kids club and went to get my money.

If you are wondering what I needed dollars for, it was because I chose to pay my onboard account in cash. I had registered a credit card, but didn’t want it charged. Also, I like to tip my stateroom attendant and restaurant staff in cash. So I remove the gratuities and pay them directly.

With a fistful of dollars in my hand, it was hard to resist the temptation of a quick flutter. I decided to put $20 into a machine and just leave it at that. The casino was very quiet at the time, I think it was about 9.30am. I played away and then had a little win. The only problem was the machine lit up like Blackpool Illuminations, and played lots of bells and seemed to go on forever. Very embarrassing.

I finally escaped the casino, with a bit of extra cash in my hand, and paid my room bill. Then it was time for a massage. This is the one I opted for. It was amazing.

Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow with Massage
50 minutes
An exotic exfoliation ritual that will invigorate and revitalize your body.
Warm oil is dripped luxuriously over your body before our Lime and Ginger Salt Glow is applied.
We then apply our Elemis Exotic Island Flower Body Lotion, leaving skin replenished and vibrant.
After rinsing away the salts, you will receive a Deep Tissue Muscle Massage

I picked Joshua up and we went off for lunch, quickly passing these gorgeous desserts.

The buffet is great, especially with kids, as you can see here Josh was tucking into pasta, roast potatoes and eating watermelon. This was after demolishing a bit bowl of egg fried rice.

I had to get Joshua back to kids club quickly as I had plans to do some filming for my video of the cruise. So we shall have to fast forward to the evening which was a formal night.

The group met in Crooners Bar. I love seeing everyone dressed up on formal night, I think it’s a lovely tradition. It doesn’t have to be black tie and ballgowns. In fact no-one was THAT dressed up. The Captain came over and spoke to our group, but I didn’t dare get my camera out after all the snaps we took on the Bridge.

The atrium looked lovely and colourful, ready for the balloon drop. I have never experienced this before and was excited for Josh and I to see it.

For dinner we were booked into Sabatini’s, the speciality restaurant. I even put a shirt on Joshua and brought him along.

Even in Sabatini’s he still had his milk.

Ben from Honest Cruising gives Josh a little practice at filming.

Once again, the food was delicious.

 

After a wonderful meal, we had half an hour before the balloon drop. So Josh and I went to the theatre to see some of the show.

Then it was all ready for the big balloon drop. It is a popular event with people of all ages. A DJ played music in the atrium and there was lots of people dancing waiting for the countdown.

At the end of a longer than usual day for Josh and I, we went back to our stateroom and flopped into our comfy bed.

Day Five – Le Havre

Despite a late night, I still woke up early to watch us sail into Le Havre. I just love watching the sun rise or setting from my balcony, with the sea stretching out all around us.

I enjoyed breakfast on the balcony, with a reminder in the Princess Patter that it would soon be time to say goodbye.

For our last day, I made the most of the sunshine.

The majority of our passengers were from Australia and the United States, so it was no surprise they all wanted to take the trip to Paris. This gave me the opportunity to kick back and relax for one last time, having the ship virtually all to myself.

The Love Boat

As I mentioned earlier, I had spent some time filming for my cruise review video. So to try and bring to life the experience of being onboard the Sapphire Princess, here is a video which includes many of the ships’ features, and a few special guests.

Day 6 – Southampton

Before we disembarked, there was just enough time for one last delicious Princess Cruises chocolate chip muffin.

Someone looks happy

To sum up our time onboard Sapphire Princess, it was absolutely wonderful. Princess Cruises are really a cruise line for everyone, every age, new cruisers or those who have been doing it for years.

Recommended Reading: Sapphire Princess Part One 



Mini Cruise Review onboard Celebrity Eclipse

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse

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

Fast forward to 19 May 2017 and we boarded the elegant Celebrity Eclipse. We were welcomed onboard with a glass of champagne.

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

With that done, we headed for the pool deck.

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

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

Celebrity Cruises have adopted a different approach to the muster drill, which caused some controversy between passengers. It was presented as a kind of James Bond spoof, where one of the agents was on a mission and in order to complete it, they were put through a series of emergency procedures. Personally, I thought this was a refreshing change to the usual safety video.

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

After sailaway, I dropped Josh off at the X-Club and excitedly headed to one of Celebrity’s speciality  restaurant I have always wanted to try, Qsine.

Trying the disco shrimp in Qsine

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

Sushi Lollopops in Qsine onboard Celebrity Eclipse

DAY 2

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

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

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

That evening we a meal in Murano. Known for its fine dining.  We opted for the wine pairing menu which was magnificent. The food, the staff, the service and the ambience were all exceptional. We raised a glass to the next cruise and enjoyed the rest of our evening.

Scallop Wellington was an excellent starter.

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

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

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So Do You Think Britannia Rules The Waves?

9 Things I Love About Britannia

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

1. Grand Atrium

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

The Atrium onboard Britannia has a contemporary and more luxurious feel.

The glitz and glamour of the atrium bar is a new addition to P & O Cruises design.

2. The Pool Deck

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

Britannia’s Main Pool as seen on Saturday Night Takeaway

Relax in one of the Jacuzzi’s onboard

3. Cabins and Staterooms

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

A nice seating area in the balcony cabins.

A very comfy looking bed in the balcony cabins

4. The Crow’s Nest

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

The Crow’s Nest offers amazing sea views

Enjoy the views while a pianist plays your favourite tunes

A great place to sit and enjoy panoramic ocean views (have I mentioned the views?)

5. Luxuriate in the Retreat

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

Relax and enjoy the serenity of the retreat

Cool down with a dip in this pool of tranquility

Relax in bistro style 

What could be more luxurious than a treatment in this outdoor spa room

6. Relax in the Oasis Spa

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

Feel the warmth penetrate your back muscles as you relax on one of these heated loungers

Step into thalassotherapy pool as your cares melt away

7. A Food Hero for Everyone

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

The Cookery Club

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

The Epicurean

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

Enjoy Eric Lanlard’s afternoon tea at the Epicurean

The Glasshouse

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

The perfect place for your #shipsandchampagne moment

Sindhu

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

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

8. The Limelight Club

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

The Limelight Club invites you to enjoy an evening of fine dining and live performances.

A lovely atmosphere awaits in The Limelight Club

 

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

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

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