Tag Archives: Cruise-Ships

Wonder of the Seas

Wonder of the Seas Sets To Sail In Europe For 2022

Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas Invites Families to

Reimagine What’s Possible starting March 2022

Paving the way for the biggest adventure yet, Royal Caribbean International has announced the world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, will debut in the U.S. and Europe.

Wonder of the Seas is set to sail from its home in Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean on March 4, 2022, before making its way to Barcelona and Rome to kick off summer vacations in May.

An Extra Neighbourhood Added

Families and travelers alike have a new wave of possibilities across Wonder’s eight distinct neighborhoods, an Oasis Class first, that include all-new features such as the Suite Neighborhood, a cantilevered pool bar named The Vue, and Wonder Playscape  an interactive, open-air kids’ play area with awe-inspiring views.

Wonder of the Seas – Suite Neighbourhood Sun Deck

Wonder of the Seas – The Vue

Wonder of the Seas – Playscape

With returning favorites also on deck, like The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; Central Park, the neighborhood filled with real plants from end to end; and the vibrant Caribbean-inspired pool deck experience, the innovative, new ship invites adventurers of all ages to reimagine, explore and make memories once again.

Half The Fleet Sailing Again

“The momentum taking off across bookings and our returning ships in the U.S. and Europe is significant. With half of our fleet sailing again, we are encouraged by what we’re seeing. These regions are in the position to welcome a brand-new, innovative ship like Wonder of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Wonder will shine bright as the world’s newest wonder in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.”

The renowned Oasis Class neighborhood concept comes to life on Wonder with never-before-seen experiences and returning, bolder favorites, including:

New Adventures and Favorites Gone Bolder

  • Suite Class Neighborhood – The eighth neighborhood, only found on Wonder, offers Royal Suite Class guests an elevated Suite Sun Deck in a new location, complete with a plunge pool, bar and plenty of loungers and nooks to kick back; along with favorites such as Coastal Kitchen, the private restaurant, and the Suite Lounge. Plus, the grandest Ultimate Family Suite yet for a family of 10.
  • Wonder Playscape – Joining the lineup of next-level thrills for kids, the underwater-themed play area is a whole new adventure with slides, climbing walls, games, an interactive mural activated by touch and puzzles that will make them wonder if any playground will ever be the same.
  • The Vue – This new cantilevered bar will give the happiest of happy hours. The Vue offers panoramic ocean views from high above on the pool deck all day. After sunset, it shines bright with a colorful mosaic canopy overhead.
  • Pool deck experience – The Lime & Coconut is at the center of the Caribbean vibes, with two poolside bars and live music; while the trio of high-speed waterslides, The Perfect Storm, and kids aqua park Splashaway Bay, keep the young and young at heart entertained, while Casitas, in-pool loungers and more make for a variety of great places to kick back, especially to catch a movie under the stars at the largest poolside movie screen in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Signature Features

At the heart of every Oasis Class ship is a combination of unmatched signature features and experiences found from one neighborhood to the next, including the tallest slide at sea, The Ultimate Abyss; the newly designed, dedicated kids and teens spaces at Adventure OceanSocial100 and The Patio; the FlowRider surf simulator, twin rock-climbing walls and the ten-decks-high zip line. From riding the carousel in the family favorite Boardwalk neighborhood – inspired by renowned boardwalks like Coney Island – to fine dining in Central Park, and the variety of restaurants and show stopping entertainment in between, no day on board will be the same.

Itineraries

The action-packed ship will deliver multiple ways to adventure with 7-night sailings to the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, visiting tropical destinations like Cozumel, Mexico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; San Juan, Puerto Rico, and more. No matter the itinerary guests choose, every sailing will visit Royal Caribbean’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, for a day of thrill and chill unlike any other.

Wonder of the Seas heads for the Mediterranean in May 2022 for its inaugural European season. Travelers can sail from Barcelona or Rome to destinations, such as Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Capri, Italy.

Bookings

Wonder’s Caribbean itineraries are available to book and European sailings will open on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

*Wonder of the Seas will sail in the Mediterranean in 2022 in place of Allure of the Seas. Allure will now sail from Fort Lauderdale on 6- and 8-night Caribbean cruises. Guests currently booked on Allure’s 2022 Mediterranean itineraries will automatically be rebooked to sail on Wonder. Booked guests and travel partners impacted will be contacted with further details. 

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.

Princess Cruises Double Their Wine Selection

Princess Cruises have just given me 76 MORE reasons to cruise with them.  Today the announcement that 20 new spirits, 17 international and craft beers and 39 new wines by the glass are to be added to the menu across its fleet of 17 ships has got me feeling parched.

In the main dining room guests can now enjoy 140 wines including traditional favourites such as pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, merlot and shiraz. This is double the amount previously available onboard and includes more options for those looking for wines which are biodynamic, organic or vegan. To get your tastebuds tingling, there is link to the new wine list at the end of this post, to peruse at your leisure.

Wines include Chateau Lafitte Bordeaux  which sells for a mere £1,250. Those looking for something a little less extravagent will be pleased to know that two-thirds of the bottles are priced at under £40 and one-third under £30.

The cocktail and beer menus have also received a shake up with the addition of 20 new spirits, 17 international and craft beers and 39 new wines by the glass. This is a further enhancement to the culinary-focused shore excursions introduced by Princess Cruises last year, which pairs local food and wine together.

The selection was a result of a year long search led by wine expert, Doug Frost, one of only four people in the world to have both a Master of Wine and Master Sommelier certification. His main areas of focus were;

  • Value for money
  • Variety
  • Quality of the producer

Doug Frost said: “Princess Cruises’ guests have a passion for culinary travel so our goal in creating this new wine menu was to find fascinating wines from some of the memorable destinations Princess visits. This way guests can return from shore and still experience local tastes with exciting wines at all prices. Plus, what better way to celebrate any occasion than with a special bottle of wine that can be shared with friends and loved ones on a cruise.”

UK guests sailing out of Southampton on one of my favourite ships, Sapphire Princess, will be able to try these new menus. The beautiful Sapphire Princess will sail out of Southampton from April to October 2019 sailing northern and southern European itineraries.

The complete wine list can be found here.

A 14-day Baltic heritage cruise on Sapphire Princess, sailing roundtrip from Southampton and departing August 31, 2019, has culinary excursions in both Copenhagen and St Petersburg. The Copenhagen tour combines a traditional smorgasbord lunch in a waterside cafe with local drinks while the St Petersburg tour includes hand-making traditional ‘pelmini’ meat pies in a city centre restaurant along with vodka tasting.

Other ports of call are Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn (Estonia), Zeebrugge (Belgium) and Gdansk (Poland). Prices from £1,298pp.

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


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.

Cruise People – Sheri Griffiths Cruise Tips TV

Sheri Griffiths is the face of Cruise Tips TV. A huge fan of cruising herself, Sheri provides cruisers with answers to all their questions in her YouTube show. She has a great personality and I wanted to know more about her life off-camera.

When was your first cruise?

My first cruise was onboard Carnival Ecstasy in 1991. My Mom accompanied me on a Caribbean cruise as a high school graduation present, along with my little brother. I loved the experience but longed for the time when I’d be able to cruise with my future husband. The best part of the cruise was the resort scuba dive in Grand Cayman. My Mom let me go alone (with a ship sponsored excursion), and it was one of the highlights of my “under 20” life.

Finally, that next cruise happened in 2003 (or so) after my husband I had been married for about 6 years. I was so excited to share the experience with him after scraping and saving for years, but WOW, had cruising changed. Diamond Princess was HUGE, and he was instantly hooked. We’ve never looked back, and cruise as often as we can. We still DO love a good land vacation on occasion as well.

How many cruises have you taken so far?

Somewhere around 28 total to The Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Canada & New England.  We’ve sailed with Carnival, Princess, Holland America, NCL, and Royal Caribbean.

Sheri Griffiths – Cruise Tips TV enjoying the beach with her son

How long have you been doing Cruise Tips TV?

We’re in our 5th year of production. We have just over 350 videos for cruisers, ranging from packing tips to ship tours, and cruise vlogs.

How did Cruise Tips TV come about?

Our channel was born over a dinner table conversation. As cruise lovers, we would always film our trips, shore excursions and activities and create short movies, to preserve the memories. It occurred to us (one evening over chicken casserole!) that we could also create and share information, tips and even full ship video tours, so we decided to take the plunge and chose YouTube as our platform.

Travel had always been the “prime directive” in our family, so it seemed like a natural step to bust out our film equipment and share our passion with the internet world. We’ve changed our approach, style and content many times over the years, based on subscriber feedback and changes in our lives.

How many shows do you do a week? And how long does it take to prepare for each one?

We generally produce two shows per week. Each show takes a minimum of an hour of content prep time. Some episodes can take up to 4 hours of prep time, depending on the amount of research involved. Really, it’s the editing that is time-intensive. Mr Cruise Tips TV edits our content full time and still wishes he had more hours in every day. We try to involve our son in the process when we can. He is learning basic editing skills and helps with ideas. Sometimes, we give him his own camera to vlog with on cruises. He loves the KidCam!

What is an average day in the life for you?

I wake up at 5:15 am, hobble to my kitchen for coffee, and head off to my day job. My husband is self-employed and works from home, so I’m fortunate to have his help with the day-to-day. He does all the laundry, cleans the house, and makes sure that our son is well cared for during the week.

When I get home from work, I squeeze in dinner with my boys, catch up on social media, take a hot bath, and get ready to do it all again the next day. On the weekend, my primary focus is to spend time with my son, get as much exercise and outdoor time as possible, and go live on YouTube every other Saturday.

Sheri on the bridge of Star Princess

Do you have any tips for people thinking about starting their own YouTube channel?

Tip #1:

Be true to yourself. Mr CTTV likes to say “keep your head down”, meaning, don’t look at what other people are doing to develop your content. BE YOURSELF, and don’t compare your ideas and content to others. People want to watch YOU because you offer something unique and individual. At the same time, it’s easy to delay starting a YouTube channel, because it can feel at times like “it’s all been done” already. News Flash – it has! But, you should still go for it!

Tip #2:

Consider whether you can be of service to others. The longer we’ve been creating content through our channel, the more we’ve realized the joy in being a resource. Those people then become a great resource for YOU. Our community of cruise enthusiasts bring ideas and tips to us week after week. We also count on them for honest feedback at times.

Tip #3:

Be Real. When we started our channel, I wanted to read from a teleprompter every episode and sought to control every element of production. As time went by, our subscribers asked us to turn the camera around and vlog our cruises. I thought the notion was crazy. Each time the topic came up, my husband and I would look at each other and say “naaah, nobody wants to see that. It’s too real”. Then, in September of 2016, we finally jumped out of our cosy studio and turned that camera around to capture the day to day of our cruise through vlogs.

As we’ve learned more about what our audience wants since that first cruise, one theme always surfaces. They want authenticity, to see when things don’t go as planned and without makeup (aaah!). The audience want to be told when a shore excursion or experience falls short. They want to trust you to deliver the true experience.

Tip #4:

Expect to evolve. Listen to your audience (not to the trolls, of course) and consider if their suggestions can work for you. You can’t make everyone happy, but the more you expect to re-invent your content often, while staying true to being yourself, the more you can experiment and land on what works.

Sheri with her son in Ketchikan, Alaska

What was your last holiday?

My last holiday was a partial transit through the Panama Canal on Caribbean Princess. It was 10 days of heaven!

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

Our next cruise is on Carnival Splendor, to the Mexican Riviera.

Being a Mum with 2 jobs must require organisation and focus? What is one thing you do that really helps?

I’m a huge list maker. I use my iPhone to make lists for every area of my life, from packing to my weekly objectives to ideas for our next episode.

What are your hobbies?

I love hiking, Zumba, gardening and cooking.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

A holiday to Tahiti and her islands. I must see Bora Bora. We’ve been dreaming of this destination since we were married.

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

I’d encourage them to research, but not to over plan. Pack comfortable shoes. Choose the right cruise line, and…watch lots of YouTube videos.  We have lots of content for newbies!

Recommended Reading 5 Tips on How To Get Free Cruises

Cruise People – Gary Bembridge

Gary Bembridge Talks About What Makes Cruising So Magical

Having recently picked up yet another award for his blog Tips For Travellers, Gary Bembridge tells us how he became hooked on cruising and gives some vital tips for newcomers.

How long have you been writing Tips for Travellers?

I started Tips For Travellers as a podcast in September 2005 and soon added a YouTube channel when that opened in 2006, followed by the blog around the same time.

What made you start it?

I had a global marketing job for a multi-national (Johnson & Johnson) and was travelling all over the world for around three weeks a month. I would try and stay a day or two either side of my work in every place I went to. As I had so little time there, I would research the destination like crazy before I went so I knew what to see, do and how to get around. I thought since I had all the content overlaid with my experiences that I should share it as it would likely be helpful to others. It took off quickly as there were not a lot of travel podcasts or content on YouTube back then. As of today my YouTube channel has 30.2 million views and the podcast over 1.5 million downloads.

Wow, that’s an incredible achievement. So what is an average day in the life for you?

I retired from corporate life in 2012 when I turned 55 and so I do not have a very typical day nowadays, and I can pretty much do as I please which is fantastic. I travel quite often of course and so that is never typical, but if at home I tend to go to the gym in the morning around 8 / 8.30, head to Starbucks and have a coffee while catching up on emails and then head home and spend a few hours writing, editing videos or doing podcasts and then binge watch TV before getting evening meal ready for my partner and I (as he still works full-time as a corporate lawyer and works long hours).

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

My first cruise was a work one. I was invited to speak at a marketing conference being held on board P&O Cruises Aurora. The ship was chartered every year and hosted marketing directors and marketing services companies. We sailed from Southampton and docked near Guernsey. It was just two nights but as we sailed down the Solent and out to sea I realised what was magical about cruising.

What made you book your first cruise?

I was one of those that thought cruising was not for me. So having been “made” to try it through the conference I was speaking at on board “Aurora” I realised it was fantastic. Since a boy I had ways wanted to travel on iconic transportation and so once I realised I like being at sea I immediately booked a crossing on the QE2.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

The feeling of heading out to sea and the peacefulness of being at sea. That as a revelation to me. Gliding through the ocean with nothing around thrilled me. There were only a couple of things I disliked. One was the  fixed time and seating dining, so I now try and only cruise where there is open seated dining.  The other thing is the constant selling. I soon realised that the model for many lines is to get people on ships at attractive fares and then sell and add on charges and you have to keep getting your cruise card out. I tend to prefer and try to cruise more on all-inclusive lines if I can.

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

Silversea Silver Explorer to the Arctic. It was incredible. Sailing right into the polar ice cap and exploring places hardly any people go to felt special, unique and we saw amazing wildlife. I am a keen photographer and like photographing wildlife and landscapes and so this was just perfect for that. It was also a luxurious and an attentive way to see the place. There were 120 passengers and basically the same amount of crew, with 15 being the Expedition team.

Image: Gary Bembridge

Sounds absolutely amazing. What is it that appeals to you about cruising in general?

Travelling has become very stressful and time-consuming. Flying especially. I like to see lots of places when on a trip rather than staying in one place as I want to see and do so much, and so cruising makes that easy and much less stressful. The cruises I like most, are the ones that take me to regions and places I have not been to so I can get a flavour of them and decide where to go back to explore much more. I also like that cruises can take me to and let me experience things you cannot really do easily other ways like the Arctic, Alaska, Panama Canal, Antarctica and so on.

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

Antarctica, Alaska (going there in May 2018) and Polynesian Islands

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

Eat! Usually one boards after my usual lunchtime and so am starving after travelling there. Then I run about the ship taking it all in. I love exploring ships and finding out what they have to offer.

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

My music and speakers. I love music and have to have it playing all the time and so always take my portable BEATS speakers so I can have good quality music through the cruise. I also always take earplugs and eye shades as I sleep best with them. The other item I always take is a tooth repair kit as while you can get medical help on board, there is no dentist and it can be an ordeal if something goes wrong on sea days or based on the ports and days of week you are calling on. It has helped me big time!

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

Windstar Gaelic Explorers from Edinburgh to Dublin. I prefer being on small ships and this is a luxury experience but very informal and friendly. The cabins are huge, food good and really interesting people and crew. Getting into smaller and more unusual places is another plus. Dislike was probably that the fitness centre is a bit dated and has low ceilings so they cannot fit a cross trainer in which is my cardio of choice!

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

Heading off shortly on Avalon Waterways Rhine cruise from Cologne to Amsterdam. I have only been on a handful of river cruises and keen to see what they offer and how they are different. River cruise lines do seem to be fairly similar and offer much the same thing and so eager to try different ones and see what they do well. This is something that my followers and audience also like to hear so I know it will be welcome content for them too.

What is your dream cruise?

I did 10 weeks of a world voyage in 2016 and we want to do a whole world cruise in the next few years. It was such a remarkable experience and we met and made some great friends as there were such interesting people and crew. doing the world voyage.

Image Credit: Gary Bembridge

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?

You won’t! Everyone thinks that and once they go they all come back saying their biggest frustration was not having time to do everything there was to do. I always say that if you are worried, remember that the longest you will spend on most ships will be from about 6pm to 8am and during that time you will be eating, drinking, watching shows, partying and sleeping. There will be no time to feel trapped.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise

Always use a cruise agent. They will help guide you towards the right cruise line, ship and itinerary based on what you like – and also will know the best and latest deals and offers. They will also often have additional perks or benefits to include. I have been cruising for over a decade and have been developing content for that same time – and I still book through an agent.

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

Before you go make sure you know exactly what is (and is not included) in your fare and prepare for everything that is excluded (especially drinks, internet, excursions, transfers, speciality dining and gratuities). Set a target budget for on board and track it. Estimate what you think you will drink, how much you will use the Internet and other items not included and then cost and compare with the packages the line may be offering. Only buy them if they will actually save you, as for example to save with some drinks packages you have to be a VERY heavy drinker! Review your bill regularly to check how you are doing.

Image Credit: Gary Bembridge

For the latest news and information from Tips For Travellers click on the links below.

Tips For Travellers – YouTube

Tips For Travellers – Website

Gary Bembridge – Flickr

Tips For Travellers – Facebook

Recommended Reading Cruise People – Captain Greybeard

Cruise People – Tony Roberts – Princess Cruises

Tony Roberts Reveals He Wanted To Be A Lumberjack

Vice President of Princess Cruises UK and Europe, Tony Roberts, talks about his career, his favourite destinations and Henry & Roxy.

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

I started my working life in Finance, working as a Management Accountant for a Fund Management company, and then a company that made Industrial Filters. I was looking for a new challenge and within a week I was offered finance roles at P&O Cruises, Anderson Consulting, IBM and a company that made storage heaters. I took the job at P&O Cruises as I wanted to work somewhere that I could get excited about the product.

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

When I was (really) young, I wanted to be a lumberjack and live in Canada.

What makes Princess Cruises stand out from other cruises?

There are lots of things I could mention about Princess Cruises, such as our fantastic food and drink, amazing entertainment, immersive experiences and our focus on bringing the destination to life. But for me it’s the warmth and hard work of our conscientious crew – they really do a fantastic job and create truly memorable experiences.

As Vice President of Princess Cruises, what is an average day in the life for you?

My job means I’m travelling or away from the office about half of the time, both in the UK and overseas. When I’m in the office, I spend a lot of time with my team and I ask lots of questions.

What was your last holiday?

I went to Corsica and stayed in a villa for a week in August, I can recommend it. All the things I love about Southern France but with a bit of an Italian feel too.

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

I’m heading to Singapore for Christmas to go on a cruise on Sapphire Princess visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. We’re taking the whole family including my Mum so will have three generations of Roberts’ onboard.

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

I try to only touch things once, rather than looking at something and then thinking I’ll come back to it. I’m also a ruthless delegator!

What are your hobbies?

I like cycling, and spending time with my family and two Cocker Spaniels.

Tony’s adorable pups, Roxy and Henry

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

I want to go to Alaska – maybe in 2018.

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

I would say that they should go for it as cruising really does offer something for everyone and it’s a great way of seeing lots of places whilst being really well looked after, and only unpacking once.

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Cruise People – The Retired Police Officer

After their first cruise on Grandeur of the Seas in 2011, they were hooked.

James Manson is a retired Police Officer and lives with his wife Pamela in South Ayrshire. I was keen to find out what it was that appealed to them about cruising, and what makes them take two or more cruises every year.

What brought you to the decision to book your first cruise?

Our first cruise was booked after lengthy discussions with friends who are to say the least regular cruisers. My wife and i gave it some thought, and we decided to give it a try. I personally thought that in 2011 cruises were like going on a OAP holiday, stripped deck chairs, knotted handkerchiefs and tea dances. However, after several more discussions I was ordered to go to a travel agent and book.

What was your first cruise like?

Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, which departed from Palma. On arrival at the port we were in awe at the sight of this magnificent ship. We had booked an oceanview stateroom which was very comfortable, but couldn’t really see much due to the height of the porthole. We cruised the Spanish Mediterranean and return to Palma. It was a very enjoyable experience.

We could not fault anything regarding the cruise. Every aspect of the cruise was tremendous. On return we called RCCL and booked another for 2012.

Since then, you have cruised many times. What are your favourite destinations to visit and why?

The Cruise we favour most is the Greek Isles and Turkey /Greek Isles and Croatia which now we have done 8 times 14 days at a time. We love the ports of call and the people and excursions in those ports are wonderful.

Can you tell me what it is about cruising that attracts you?

We love the totally relaxed atmosphere that cruises give and being spoiled with the attentive staff on board. We also love the varied choice of food in the many restaurants. It is just wonderful rising from the table and not having dishes to do or house work each day.

How do you decide which cruise you are going to book next?

We always listen to others experiences while on board, and then choose a different itinerary. We have never set out certain destinations, we just peruse the detailed information outside the sales office on board and go from there.

What is the first thing you do when you get onboard?

When we arrive on the ship we always check in detail the ships’ emergency procedures, and encourage others to do so as well. However, I have a pet hate of those people who turn up late, or stand there and yawn when the crucial speech is delivered by the safety officers on board. It should be recognised by everyone, PERSONAL SAFETY is of paramount importance.

Are there any special items that you always take on a cruise?

The only special item we always carry is my wife’s Clarins, as use of this maintains her youthful looks.

What was your last cruise?

Our last Cruise was 17 June 2017 on the Independence of the Seas, and to our surprise we met Captain Iv, whom we had sailed with 8 times while he was the Captain of the Splendour of the Seas. This is a tremendous cruise with great ports of call.

We have also cruised on the Allure of the Seas on two occasions and the Vision of the Seas.

Do you have another cruise planned?

We have re booked again for June 2018 for 14 night Mediterranean Cities and a 14 night Southern Caribbean.

What would be your ‘dream cruise’?

We have one special cruise that someday we will go on and that is the Panama Canal. It is our lifelong ambition and will take the opportunity when Royal Caribbean have an itinerary. The other is the Far East.

Photo By Stan Shebs

Can you offer any tips when it comes to booking a cruise?

In 2012 we booked a cruise on the Splendour of the Seas. We were about to leave when we had a call to get an upgrade to a Family Junior Suite. The agent sewed the seed as we took up this offer, and now we always have a Junior Suite at the aft of the ship. We now only book when one of the 6 Junior Suites are available.

Again, through our experience we use the same agent as to us loyalty is important. The advantage of booking on board is that the staff in that office have all availability on a screen in front of you.

As we have been loyal to Royal Caribbean we have made many good friends in the staff and some lifelong friend from fellow travellers. We could spend all day naming Crew members who have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure your cruise has been enjoyed.

What advice would you give to people thinking about booking their first cruise?

From a personal point of view, I would encourage any intending cruisers to try a four or five night cruise first, to gain an unforgettable experience and to allay any fears of being crowded and feeling trapped. You will have a different perspective.

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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What Is A Keel Laying Ceremony?

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

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

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

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

Harmony of the Seas – Art Collection

The Art of Harmony

During the inaugural cruise on Harmony of the Seas, I saw so many incredible works of art, I felt the collection onboard the world’s largest cruise ship, required a page of it’s own.

The 3,000 piece original art collection includes contemporary art work and modern art sculpture. Curated by International Corporate Art, they worked with artists from over 60 nationalities.

“Jeanne”

Scott James Gundersen created this portrait of his wife using recycled wine corks. This was one of my favourite pieces of art.  Vintages Wine Bar is where you will find the portrait.

His concept came from a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Gundersen was inspired by the resourcefulnes of the Congolese people who reuse everything.  For more information on his work visit scottjamesgundersen.com

“Young, Wild and Free”

Artist Javier Vazquez’s artwork is themed on the young people of today, and how they are affected by the use of stereotypes in mass media.  This painting made me stop and smile.  It reminds me of how I feel inside. I should imagine alot of people feel like this when they are on the world’s largest cruise ship.

Mixed media on wood

The artist collaborated with Galeria Trama for this and other pieces of his artwork.  So next time you are looking for something to do in Barcelona, why not visit the Galeria Trama yourself?  You can follow them on their facebook page.

“Rose Colored Glasses”

Pretty as they are, I don’t think that was the artist’s intention when creating this sculpture.  Desire Obtain Cherish, otherwise known as Jonathan Paul is another artist who likes to challenge convention.  His other work includes a painting of three babies in cots, each being drip fed by different designer brands.

My interpretation is that Desire Obtain Cherish is suggesting the media feeds everything to us through a big pair of rose tinted glasses.  What do you think? Find out more on his facebook page Desire Obtain Cherish

Ol’ Blue Eyes

Whether it is classed as part of the collection or not, I thought this definitely needed a mention.  The jokes start before you enter this new venue.  The Attic is a new adult entertainment venue which hosts comedy nights and muscial performances.

Quotes from the great Aristotle, Voltaire and Sinatra.

“Busby’s Chandelier”

I could have stared at this for hours.  British artist Claire Shegog, created this artwork to reflect the impressive choreography Busby Berkeley was known for.

Up close you can see the tiny detail that has gone into creating each individual dancer.  The piece contains Swarovski crystals and goldleaf.

“The Wonder of our World ….

The world we live in …….. people, places, what we do, what inspires us.”

That is the title given to this incredible 3,000 piece collection.  Here is a short video of a few of the other pieces I saw onboard the world’s largest cruise ship.

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MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship Review

The Med Way of Life aboard MSC Magnifica

This was my first cruise with an Italian Cruise Line and the value for money was incredible.  I couldn’t have stayed in a Travelodge for £105 for 3 nights, let alone take a cruise. We topped up with the Allegrissimo drinks package which was around £25 per person per day.  It included Prosecco, speciality coffee and gelato.

MSC Magnifica

Not A Great Start

After a hellish flight with a wriggly, impatient toddler, an absent A2B transfers driver and a journey to 2 wrong destinations, we FINALLY arrived at the cruise terminal.

It All Changed

As we stepped onto the pavement with our cases, pushchair and bags,  we were approached by a lovely Italian lady who kindly checked our cases were labelled correctly and showed us where to leave them.

We connected with my friends’ friend and her 5-year-old daughter and joined the rather long queue for check-in.  We were given priority boarding having the pushchair with us and checked in.  A handsome young man in a blue blazer greeted us and said “see you onboard”. I was already impressed.

As we boarded the ship, wristbands were put on the children. After the journey we were hungry so we headed straight to the restaurant. The buffet-style restaurant on the MSC Magnifica was by far the largest I have EVER seen. Spread into 2 rooms with fruit and salad stations at each end.  By the time I’d seen everything, I’d forgotten what was at the start. Having said that, once I knew how good the freshly made pizza was……….. nothing else mattered.  The plates are huge as well so you end up putting a lot more than intended on your plate.

Our Cabin

I must admit to looking for the ‘catch’.  I was expecting to find something that would explain the low cost of this cruise.  We went to our rooms to see what they were like. They were lovely, spacious, nicely decorated, nothing wrong with that at all, in fact on a par with the other mainstream cruise lines and better than some.  The bed was comfy, pillows lovely and plump, a good amount of hanging space and drawers for your clothes.

Baby Club

I familiarised myself with the baby club and made sure I checked Joshua in for the drop off times.  For under 3’s they offer baby drop off onboard MSC Magnifica which is one hour at 1 pm and one hour at 6 pm. Perfect for parents to indulge in some time in the jacuzzi in the afternoon or a spa treatment, and an hour to get ready for dinner in the evening.  There is no charge for this and you can access the baby club all day if you want to let your little one run wild.

This was Joshua’s 3rd cruise and I had taken my daughter 4 times prior to that.  As a single parent, you can often feel like you are on the outside watching everyone else have fun.  I do believe that the best holiday you can have as a single parent is a cruise, but there are still some activities you feel you cannot be part of.

Family Fun

As I was walking through the main lounge known on MSC Magnifica as the Tiger Bar, a member of the entertainment team invited me to join them for the sailaway party.  I couldn’t think of anywhere else I needed to be, so I pulled up the pushchair put my bag down, ordered a drink from the waitress standing nearby, took off my jumper and sat down. Joshua took great delight in walking around the lounge, so with Prosecco in hand (mine), I followed him.

People were really friendly and by their friendly reaction, you would have thought they’d never seen a baby before.  One thing I will say about Mediterranean cultures is that they embrace the presence of children which is refreshing.

The entertainment team got up on stage and the music started. People of all ages took to the dance floor, so I picked up Joshua and joined them.  He loved it, I loved it. I couldn’t believe it was 6 pm and the party was in full swing, what a great bunch of people.  My friends came along and we all danced together.  My friend and I both looked at each other and agreed that this was fantastic.

Early Dinner

So now I was in the holiday frame of mind, and I’d danced off the stresses of the day, it was time to get ready for dinner.  We didn’t have long so I figured we would just freshen up, grab dinner and an early night.

We met in the main dining room and did our best to get through 7 courses including steamed mussels, salad, soup, an extensive choice of delicious entrees, cheese and biscuits, dessert and coffee.  Joshua was grumpy as it had been a long day and I was exhausted, so we ate what we could and we went back to our room.

One of the many benefits of cruising is that you end the evening when you are ready rather than have to do everything as a group.

Exploring Magnifica

The next two days were spent enjoying quality time with Joshua, eating whatever I wanted, meeting new people and chilling out.

My three favourite areas of the ship were the pool with its retractable roof, the Tiger Bar and the nightclub, which didn’t start until 11 pm but Josh and I went in during the day and had a good look around.  There are plenty of lounges on board and they all have great and varied entertainment to offer.

 

Tips For Cruising With A Baby

I found it worked best to give Joshua breakfast in the buffet first. Then I would go to the coffee and chocolate bar for a speciality coffee where Joshua could run around safely.  After that I would push him around in his pushchair until he fell asleep. Once he was off I could go into the main dining room for my favourite dish of eggs benedict.

Lunch was in the buffet. After the first two nights, I decided it was better for us and other guests if we also had dinner in the buffet.  The problem with eating at the buffet is that you can go back for more.  But afterwards, I would let Joshua fall asleep in his pushchair and sit in the evening by the undercover pool and read and relax with another glass of prosecco.  My friends always seemed to find me and would join me for a while and then they would go off and do their thing.

To sum up, my short cruise on MSC Magnifica far exceeded my expectations.

You really get the feeling of the Mediterranean way of life. The people are friendly, positive and ready to enjoy themselves.  It’s a place where age means nothing, old people don’t act old, in fact they act younger then the youngsters.  They are living life to the full with the people they love and it shows through. For more information go to MSC Cruises


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