Tag Archives: Cruise-Tips

Will Cruise Ships Wait For You

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.

Details of Partnership With P&O Cruises and Gary Barlow

British singer, songwriter, producer and musician Gary Barlow is to make his debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on contemporary new P&O Cruises flagship, Iona.

Member of one of the biggest groups in British music history Take That, is set to make Iona’s intimate music bar the most exciting live music venue at sea. The atmospheric late-night music venue will showcase an eclectic range of performances. In keeping with P&O Cruises traditions, the shows will be curated to appeal to British music lovers. Up-and-coming musicians will get a chance to play, which could give them their lucky break.

Naming Ceremony Performance

Gary’s role with P&O Cruises will also see him performing at Iona’s naming celebration which kicks off IonaFest, the UK’s most exciting new floating festival which is a seven-night cruise to the Norwegian Fjords from Southampton on July 4, 2020.

P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “We are immensely proud to have someone of Gary’s stature and talent working with us as the brand ambassador. Gary’s impressive career speaks for itself and he will bring his vision and personality to our new The 710 Club; from guiding the resident band, selecting future performers and playlists and even shaping the interiors and signature cocktails.

“We’re excited that our guests can be a part of it and they will have the opportunity to watch Gary light up Iona’s theatre for some extraordinary performances in dazzling surroundings. This collaboration highlights our commitment to providing world-class entertainment on Iona that places music firmly at its heart.”

Image: P&O Cruises. Gary Barlow is to make his debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on contemporary new P&O Cruises flagship, Iona.

Gary Barlow added: “I want The 710 Club to be a celebration of great music and great talent. As its musical director, I want to give a unique experience for people who love music as much as I do.”

“Music has been such a massive part of my life – and taken me on so many journeys and adventures. I’m hoping to pass this on to all the guests in my club.”

Cruises With Gary Barlow

Gary will also join guests on two Iona holidays in 2020 for exclusive performances;*

  • Iona G018 departing Southampton on 29 August for the Norwegian Fjords
  • Iona G025 departing Southampton on 31 October for Spain and Portugal

*Tickets for the performances are limited. They will go on sale prior to the holiday, on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost will be £25 per person with a maximum of 4 tickets per holiday booking. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to two charities; Child Bereavement UK and Teenage Cancer Trust.

Recommended Reading

MSC Magnifica Restyled for UK Guests

What Is a Guarantee Cabin on a Cruise Ship?

What Exactly Is A Guarantee Cabin?

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

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

Check the Deck Plan

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve Been Told I Might Get A Free Upgrade

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

Recommended Reading 5 Tips on How To Get Free Cruises

Amazing Features for Odyssey Of The Seas

Royal Caribbean International recently announced details on the newest Quantum Ultra Class ship Odyssey of the Seas.

Decked Out

Odyssey of the Seas is the 27th vessel to join the Royal Caribbean International fleet and looks like it is going to have the most action-packed top deck to date.

Amazing features for Odyssey of the Seas include a two-level pool deck with two open-air resort-style pools and four whirlpools. The new design provides plenty of sunny and shady space, so guests to soak up the sun and relax and cool off in the shade.

The two-storey Lime & Coconut has a tropical vibe with pool-front views, which replaces the old style pool bar. This will be a great place to hang out during the day and in the evening.

Image: Royal Caribbean International

El Loco Fresh, serves poolside authentic Mexican food, from tacos and burritos to quesadillas and fresh salsas. This provides guests with a convenient food option without having to leave the poolside.

Splashaway Bay features waterslides, fountains and water cannons, giving kids hours of fun.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Splashaway Bay

The Adult only Solarium has an exclusive space on the top deck, offering a retreat for some quiet time, with dedicated swimming pools and whirlpools. Daybeds and hidden nooks will be the ultimate place to relax whilst sipping on a drink from the full-service bar.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Solarium

Kids Play

Young cruisers will be able to choose their very own immersive experiences, as Adventure Ocean will have a whole new layout.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Adventure Ocean

The teen lounge will be maxed-out with gaming consoles, music and movies, which will provide endless hangout options.

Entertainment

Entertainment across the ship will include Royal Caribbean’s signature theatre productions and mind-blowing high tech shows in the innovative Two70.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Two70

Boasting 270-degree panoramic windows with sweeping ocean views at the aft of the ship, the expansive open area living room transforms into a 135-foot-wide and 22-foot-tall screen.  At night, the iconic venue becomes a multidimensional theatre – where six Roboscreens come to life in sync with the music, special effects, live performers and aerialists.

I recorded this video onboard Anthem of the Seas in Two70. It was an afternoon show, which I will never forget.

The Music Hall provides the perfect place for a variety of live performances.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Music Hall

The Bionic Bar with robot bartenders allows you to order from an iPad, choosing your favourite drink from the menu, or design your own cocktail.

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade will be found in the SeaPlex. Sports fans can follow all the sports action, with TVs at every angle. The club-level views will offer great vantage points of the competition below. Guests can enjoy an ice-cold beer and order a range of bar food including the Playmakers Burger, buffalo wings and sliders. There will be a selection of classic board games available, trivia quizzes and pool tables. For an extra special experience, guests can reserve the Owner’s Box VIP area.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Playmakers Sports Bar

Dining

Odyssey of the Seas will have diverse dining to suit all tastes.

Serving Far East flavours, Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant will make its first appearance in North America.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Teppanyaki

Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, will serve rustic Italian dishes with a contemporary flair, from hand-tossed pizzas fresh out of the oven and made to order, to charcuterie delights including a wide selection of wines and limoncellos, from many of Italy’s well-known regions.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Chops Grille

Onboard restaurants include Izumi, Chop’s Grille, Chef’s Table and Wonderland.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Izumi

Fun For All The Family

Odyssey’s top deck SeaPlex is the largest indoor activity space at sea, offering fun for all the family. Drive the only bumper cars at sea, soar from a flying trapeze at circus school or battle for survival in a glow-in-the-dark laser tag arena.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Seaplex Bumper Cars

The upper level of SeaPlex will be dominated with the most interactive arcade at sea. Virtual Reality games offer individual and group play, with augmented reality walls and floors, for high-tech competitions and family experiences.

There is plenty on offer for thrill-seekers including the FlowRider , Rock Wall, RipCord by iFly and SkyPad.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – SkyPad

The iconic North Star boasting 360-degree views, will share a whole new perspective of some of the world’s most legendary shores from 300 feet above sea level.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – North Star

Recommended Reading Marc Walker – A Day In The Life Of A Cruise Director

Check the website for updates on their operations – Royal Caribbean Latest Travel Updates

How To Start Your Own Cruise Blog

8 Steps To Your Own Cruise Blog

First you need a name that is going to be easy to remember and describes what your blog is about. It is a good idea to have the word cruise in it, to help Google find you. Buy your domain name at a website like Go Daddy and type in the name you want. Do this before you go any further, as the name you want may not be available. It is always best to get a .com address as people tend to trust them more and if you are writing a travel site, why limit yourself to the UK? Having said that, it’s a good idea to buy the .co.uk site aswell and you can redirect it to the .com site when you are up and running. Or at least it ensures no one else copies your idea and creates a website with the same name.

Setting Up Your Cruise Blog

You can go to sites such as WordPress or Wix to start building your blog. They are both really easy to use if you allow some time and patience to learn them. There are plenty of tutorial videos on their support pages and on YouTube. This is going to be the most stressful part if you lack patience (like me), or are not very good at picking up this kind of stuff. You can hire a Web Developer to do it all for you and you can get these fairly cheap at Fiverr.com If you want to go down that route. I suggest you write up 20 blog posts with high resolution images and a plan of how you want your blog to look. Then get the developer to do it all in one go, rather than keep reverting back every time you need another post added. Once you are set up, you will probably find it a lot easier to just add a post yourself.

Cruise Blog Writing Tips

Firstly, always write your draft post in a word document backed up by a virtual folder. I have seen many posts from frustrated bloggers who have somehow lost hours of work due to the website or internet crashing.

If you want Google to rank your site as a good source of information, you need to make sure you write in a specific way. This is called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It’s not something to get too hung up on, but it’s worth learning to write in such a way to increase your chances of being seen. You can get plug ins that give you a traffic light indicator as to how readable your text is. I use Yoast as it also gives you tips on where you are going wrong. Sometimes it can be the formatting where you just need to split a large body of text up with a new heading. All of this adds up to making it a better read for your audience, so it’s going to benefit you in the long run.

Some bloggers are also contributors to cruise publications. If this is something that appeals to you, it is imperative that you get your punctuation, spelling and terminology correct. Always read over it. If you took heed of my first writing tip and started in an external word document, use the spell checker!

Sharing Your Cruise Blog on Social Media

Chose a blog theme that has social media share buttons on each post. This will make it easy for readers to share your content. You also want to encourage readers to follow you on social media, so ensure you have follow buttons somewhere on every page.

When you share a post on social media ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS tag the cruise line. That way they can see that you are supporting them. It’s also a good idea to use their hashtags.

Timing is everything. There are various ways to find out the best times to post. You can Google ‘best times to post on social media’ for insights. If you find you are not able to post at the recommended times, you can use a scheduling website such as Hootsuite, which give you additional benefits such as insights and reports.

Organising Your Cruise Blog

Just because you know where to find your posts, it doesn’t mean your reader will. It’s a good idea to enlist a few friends and family members to look around your site to see if it is easy to navigate. If not, tweak it until it does. The best way to do this is to categorise topics using the menu bar at the top of the page. Look at what other bloggers have done and take the ideas from the ones you like best.

Cruise Blog Mailing List

You will want to give people the option to sign up to your mailing list. This will help grow your audience as you can notify them every time you have a new post. Some people prefer to put a sign up box somewhere discreet and others like to use a pop up (like me). It’s up to you. This is a bit of a minefield as there are many options available. If you prefer, just get the one that comes with your website theme and fine tune it when you are more familiar with the workings.

Consistency

You will grow a much steadier audience if you are consistent. It is useful to have a content calendar to help you plan what you will blog about each week for the next 4 – 6 weeks. This doesn’t have to be rigid, but having a basic plan is always good.

You might want to blog more than once a week, but you will have press releases from the cruise lines you may want to publish in between times. Some bloggers simply copy and paste these, others change them slightly. Ideally,  you should rewrite it in your own words, but in reality our busy lives don’t always allow time for this. My opinion is that it’s better to get it out quick, than be sending out a well written piece of ‘old news’. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and the seasoned journalists can turn a press release around in about 15 minutes!

Making Money From Your Cruise Blog

There are a number of ways to make money from your cruise blog. Some are more lucrative than others, but ultimately how much you earn depends on you.

Google Adsense

Once your blog has been up and running for a while, you can apply to Google Adsense for a publisher account. You see the ads on my blog? They are Adsense ads. Some people like them and some people don’t. You won’t earn a lot of money from these unless you are driving hundreds of thousands of people to your blog each month. However it’s quite nice when you get that little bit of extra cash just for adding a bit of code onto each post.

Affiliate Links

Affiliate schemes are where you sign up to the brands you feel fit well with your blog. I have Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Florida Tix. If someone makes a booking using one of these links, the publisher (you) earn commission. This is the second best way for bloggers and influences to earn an income.

You can also sign up to Amazon Associates and when you buy something from Amazon for your cruise, just write up a review with a link to the website. If someone clicks onto your Amazon link and makes a purchase, whether it’s the product you linked to or something else, you will get paid commission.

Sponsored Posts

This is where the money is. Once you have created your audience, you may be approached by brands to write a review about their product. This is one of the reasons bloggers get free cruises. It is instead of payment from the cruise line. However other brands may be willing to pay you for working with them. I have had posts from £60 to £600, just for writing 300 – 500 words with a link to their website to book. Obviously don’t work with brands you don’t like, because your audience will see through this. I have turned down offers purely for that reason. Don’t sell yourself out.

Recommended Reading 5 Tips on How To Get Free Cruises

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

Take a Look At MSC Cruises New Bahamian Island

MSC CRUISES NEW BAHAMIAN ISLAND DESTINATION, OCEAN CAY

MSC Cruises have released a new rendered video of its exclusive Bahamian island destination, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

The video gives guests a taste of what they can look forward to while visiting the island. Ocean Cay will be part of itineraries exclusively for MSC guests in the Caribbean region.

Restoration

Ocean Cay is in the Bimini chain of islands in western Bahamas. It was previously an industrial sand extraction site, but has now been restored to pristine condition. The 120-square-acre island is surrounded by a 64-square-mile marine reserve and four smaller cays.

The first guests will step onto the island on November 9, 2019. They will experience the white sandy beaches, beautiful blue water and lush Bahamian greenery. Guests can seamlessly pass directly between the ship and island throughout the day and evening to take advantage of all of the facilities available onboard and ashore.

In the video, viewers can see some of the island’s key areas including:

  • Many unique beaches including the Great Lagoon Beach: Located in an inlet at the center of the island, this is the largest single beach area and offers a haven with shallow crystal-clear water perfect for swimming and water sports.
  • The iconic Lighthouse: A striking 30m tall landmark with a Hemingway-style bar and a terrace, where guests can enjoy incredible sea views with a cocktail and live music. After sunset, guests can gather to watch a breath-taking light show.
  • Seakers Food Court: A buffet restaurant that offers freshly prepared meals from a variety of international culinary traditions.
  • Ice Cream Parlour: An ice cream shop and café that serves a wide variety of ice cream flavours and coffee drinks.

Responsible Tourism

One priority for MSC Cruises on Ocean Cay is the restoration of the coral. As an integral part of the marine ecosystem, it needs to be protected. Coral ensures biodiversity, provide a habitat for marine life and protect coastlines.

From November 2019, all MSC Cruises ships from Miami will call at Ocean Cay as part of the Caribbean itineraries.

For more information about the island and to book your trip, please visit: www.msccruises.co.uk/cruises/destinations/caribbean-southern-caribbean/bahamas/ocean-cay-msc-marine-reserve

Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort – St Pete Beach

If you are planning a trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida and looking for a hotel recommendation, read on.

The Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort is situated on St Pete Beach just 25 miles from Tampa International Airport. The colonial style decor is fresh and tropical and has a sense of grandeur. It is a popular choice for beach weddings and there is a strong sense of occasion about the place.

Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort Entrance Lobby

Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort Entrance Lobby

The pool is right on the beach, which gives a nice little breeze and front row seat to the gorgeous sunsets.

All set up for a sunset wedding.

All the rooms have balconies, but we opted for a double balcony suite. It was huge and had incredible views of the gulf.

The two beds were in one bedroom which also had incredible views and a balcony.

This was our Queen Bed

There was also a double bed on the other side of the room.

The living area had a sofa and dining table and chairs, with a kitchenette, with sweeping ocean views from every room.

It was the perfect place to enjoy a glass of bubbly and watch the sunset.

Picture perfect sunsets every night.

The morning views weren’t too bad either.

Walking down onto the soft white sandy beach, you can see how the trees form perfectly for a wedding ceremony.

 

Bongos, the beach bar and restaurant has ample seating with live music from the afternoon until late.

Level 11 is the rooftop bar. Here you can enjoy 360 degree views of the Gulf and the Bay.

When it comes to cocktails, I head straight for the Margarita (no salt). I’ve had a few over the years, but the Spiced Mango Margarita was amazing.

Location

5250 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706

Phone: (727) 360-1811

You can follow them on social media and share your photos when you visit

Facebook – The Grand Plaza

Instagram – The Grand Plaza

5 Ethical Commitments From Fashion Brands

5 Ethical Commitments From Fashion Brands You Need To Know About

Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of pre-cruise shopping? This guest post by Wayne Thomas gives you a few things to consider if you want to make ethical choices.

Ethical concerns are becoming an integral part of the way fashion retailers do business. As more information comes to light about the negative impact fast fashion has on the environment and those who work in the industry, consumers are driving demand for ethical commitments from the brands they know and love.  

From raising money to fund causes they care about to addressing human rights issues in the manufacture of their products, we are asking more than ever of the world’s biggest producers and retailers. In this post, we look at five ethical commitments from brands you need to know about.  

Fundraising  

One of the simplest ways brands can commit to a more ethical way of working is by raising money for causes their customers believe in. Did you know that high-street giant Debenhams has a £1 million fundraising target each year? This is alongside the many other steps Debenhams have taken in recent years to make their operations more ethical.  

Reduction In Landfill  

Much of what we buy and wear ends up in landfill. It is a sad byproduct of our throwaway culture, but one which brands are now starting to address. Clothing brand Nobody’s child have committed to reducing landfill as much as possible. They only manufacture their collections in small runs, reuse fabric where possible and donate any excess fabric to local colleges. Also, at & Other Stories, Monki, and other H&M Group brands, customers are able to recycle old textiles in store and receive discounts and incentives.  

Ban On Animal Testing And Use 

Some of the biggest brands have now committed to banning animal testing, fur (including feathers) and angora in all of their productions. Big names which have recently committed to stopping the use of angora wool include Gucci, Calvin Klein, Gap and Ralph Lauren.  

This is not only reserved for the fashion space, but in the beauty industry too. There has been a significant increase in the number of vegan and cruelty free brands on the market which has forced even the biggest beauty houses to consider their animal testing practices and the ingredients they use in their products.  

Eco Packaging  

It is not just the goods themselves, but the production and disposal of packaging that is causing major disruption to the environment. You may have already noticed how much excess packaging comes with your favourite parcels, but did you know many brands are now taking measures to reduce the packaging used? For example, the cult skincare brand Glossier now allow you to decline their signature pink ziplock and sticker pack to reduce the carbon footprint of their packaging.  

Sustainable Supply Chains  

Ethical concerns go further than the store you buy from. Brands are now committing to ensuring that their ethical commitments extend through to manufacture and sourcing of materials. According to charity The Chain, who monitor supply chain practices, Adidas, Lululemon and Primark are leading the way when it comes to rectifying human rights issues, listening to the voices of workers and overall monitoring of supply chain practices. For example, Adidas has long-term relationships with most of its suppliers. 

What commitments do you like to see from your favourite brands? Let us know. 

Here are some of our favourites;

7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

World First Hybrid Electric LNG Icebreaker

Fred Olsen Guests Fund Fifth RNLI Lifeboat



How I Lost Weight On A Royal Caribbean Cruise

It’s Not All Gravy On A Cruise

Did you know that the average person puts on 7 pounds of body weight on a seven night cruise?  It’s hardly surprising with the abundance of food available onboard a cruise.

That’s pretty scary right? I imagine that would put a lot of people off booking a cruise in the first place!

As I write this post, I am sitting next to a lovely lady by the name of Patti Klepic. We have just met at a conference about ketones and ketosis, in Orlando, Florida and naturally I started talking about cruising. “Do you want to know how I lost weight on a Royal Caribbean cruise?” Patti asked me. She then proceeded to tell me how she lost 5 pounds in weight during a 10 day Royal Caribbean cruise on Serenade of the Seas.

So How Did Patti Do It?

When you were on the cruise what did you have for breakfast?

I didn’t, I only ate one meal a day

Do you do that when you are at home?

Yes. I do that at home because I drink exogenous ketones which control my appetite and give me energy. So I’ll drink one in the morning and then I’m good to go all day. I’ll drink coffee with full fat cream and then I eat one meal a day, dinner or if I eat lunch then I eat a big lunch and only have a snack at night. So on the cruise I ate two appetisers . . .

What time did you have dinner on the cruise?

8 o’clock at night.

The late one?

Yes because I don’t like to come off an Island in a hurry to get ready to eat, I want to have a relaxing dinner.

So you are telling me that you would get up in the morning, at what sort of time would you get up?

Eight, nine.

You would get up you would not have any breakfast and you would go out?

No. I would have coffee with fat cream.

Did you make that yourself or did you take that on with you?

No, I drank my own ketones and went to the onboard Lattitudes cafe and I would have basically a Starbucks. I would have an Americano with heavy whipping cream in it.

And they provide that on the cruise?

Yep, you just ask for it.

So you had your coffee in the morning, then you went off the ship and went exploring for the day and you didn’t feel tired or hungry?

No.

And you didn’t at any point feel tempted to . . .

No I didn’t eat anything when I was out because i wasn’t hungry. I would take water off and buy it if I ran out.

Meal Time

So then you’d eat eat at 8.30 So you’ve had your ketone in the morning, you just had one so far right?  Then you had your dinner at 8.30. What did you have?

I would have either a double caesar salad without croutons but with full dressing. Or I would have a caesar salad and a shrimp cocktail.

Then I would order two main course entrees, I would not have a starch I would order double vegetable on my plate, and then I would ask them for a separate plate of the seasons vegetables for the night.

So you said you ordered two starters and two entrees?

Yes Ma’am.

Wow! Ok so what would you have when you say two main courses?

I would have maybe prime rib and the vegetables that went with that, then pecan crusted salmon with whatever vegetable that was. So I would mix a beef with a foul or a beef with a fish. So yeah that’s what I ate.

What about alcohol, do you drink at all?

I don’t drink alcohol because I don’t drink the sugar.

Would you have another ketone later?

I would have one when I went back to my room usually right before bed, a non caffeinated one.

I guess your exercise was walking around the Islands?

Yes and I didn’t take the elevators. I was on the eighth floor and I walked the stairs until I couldn’t walk up.

Patti’s Top Tips

You know the average person puts on 7lb on a seven night cruise? So for people who don’t do keto, have you got any advice for them?

Yes. Don’t eat the bread, don’t eat the potatoes, don’t eat the rice, don’t eat the buffet unless you know exactly what you’re going to eat on it. Take a walk around, decide what you are going to have, and fill your plate once, go sit down and leave the dining room. Forget about the desserts, they may look good but they won’t feel good on your butt when you get home.

Some people would say, yeah but Im on holiday, I can have what I like.

Health doesn’t take a vacation.

You mentioned ketones? Do you have to be on the keto diet for that?

No you do not. In order to be in nutritional ketosis, all you have to do is drink one of the exogenous ketones and within 45 – 60 minutes you will be in nutritional ketosis whether you are on a keto diet or not.

So if somebody is going on a cruise and doesn’t want to put on the weight, maybe it’s a good time to try the ketones. Maybe they could take it with them as a sort of deterrent?

Well actually my suggestion would be start taking them 6 weeks before the cruise. so you got the pool body that you want to have and then take them with you.

Check out more information on ketones.

Recommended Reading: Interview with Royal Caribbean Cruise Director – Marc Walker

How to Plan a Romantic Cruise Holiday 

I’m thrilled to be able to share with you another great post by guest blogger Wayne Thomas.

There can be few things in life as romantic as life on the open sea. Cruising is growing in popularity year-on-year and with so many destinations now available for you to cruise to, it’s easy to see why.   

Some 27.2m people cruised in 2018, up 10% in 2016, and with facilities improving and service standards on the rise, that boost in numbers is set to continue.  

With lavish dinners, stellar entertainment and a myriad of activities to do – and that’s just on board – cruising has long been the choice for couples and families looking to escape. But cruise companies are increasingly catering for romantic getaways.  

Cruises are, in many ways, inherently romantic by their very nature. The itinerary is decided – a combination of cities and the open sea. You share new experiences and adventures with the person you love, as the ship takes you to the places along the route and sets you up for another day where you can create endless memories. Couples’ private dining options, tailored massages, exclusive entertainment, cruises have it all.   

And to help you book the perfect trip, here are our key tips on how to plan your next adventure.  

1. Pick a point on the map 

The sheer variety of options you have are extraordinary. Venice, the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, Norway, California. The options are extraordinary and apparently endless.

Cruise ships now visit more than 100 countries across the world and allow you to explore stunning white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, incredible and varied wildlife and animals, as well as some of the most celebrated cities on earth. So, before you do anything, decide what kind of cruise holiday you want to go on, narrow down the options and make your choice. You can even go on round-the-world cruises for up to 245 days a year. 

2. Get the boring bits taken care of 

Once you have booked, you will no doubt daydream about all the magnificent experiences that await, but before you get carried away make sure you have everything taken care of. Do you need inoculations where you are going, have you taken care of your travel insurance? In some countries, such as Thailand, travel insurance is now mandatory, so please make sure you check and get it booked – especially as you’ll be visiting different countries.

Once these bits are arranged, you can relax and start researching the wonderful destinations that await, so that once your cruise liner drops anchor you can make the most of your time on dry land. 

3. On-board extras  

Once you have chosen your destination, make sure you spend some time looking at all the options your cruise company offers once you are on board. Many will arrange private, romantic sunset dinners, others will offer special couples’ massages.

There will be plenty of options for you and your loved one, but don’t leave it until you get on board or you may find you have left it too late and availability is limited. You have been warned. 

More by Wayne Thomas: The Best Destinations To Cruise To On Your Babymoon

Best Destinations For Your Babymoon

That’s me onboard Royal Princess when I was expecting Josh. There is nothing like a cruise when you are pregnant. You can just sit back, relax and switch off.

Each cruise line has different policies on how many weeks pregnant they will accept women to sail with them. Check the terms and conditions, or mention it to your travel agent prior to booking. Most cruise lines allow women up to 24 weeks pregnant, however others will go as far as 28 weeks. In this guest post, Wayne Thomas shares tips on the best destinations to cruise to on your babymoon. 

If you’re looking for the perfect way to relax whilst pregnant, then look no further than a cruise holiday. With every opportunity for Mum to kick back and lots for the rest of the family to do, plus plenty of ports to head into, it’s a vacation that will make everyone happy.

by Wayne Thomas

So, the question is, where to go? Here are the best destinations to cruise to on your babymoon.

Caribbean Dreaming

Caribbean cruises stop off at some wonderful family-friendly locations. The stunning beaches and relaxation spots of the likes of St Lucia and Antigua compete for your attention with the duty-free shopping mecca that is the Cayman Islands. The islands are all swarming with cultural hotspots too, from the Spanish colonial buildings of Havana to the plantations of Barbados.

Enjoy the romance of Havana, Cuba

What all these destinations are well-equipped to do is minimise the stress of holiday making. If your travelling companions want a bit more excitement, there are plenty of diving opportunities available while you sit back and take it easy on white sands or put your feet up on a deck chair. With a gentler pace of life, a tropical paradise might just be the perfect tonic for you.

Beauty of the Baltics

If you’re a fan of history and culture, then a cruise in the Baltic sea could be right up your street. Admire incredible Russian churches before making your way to bustling cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm for a taste of the cosmopolitan lifestyle. There’s incredible architecture just about everywhere on this journey, not to mention Oslo’s glittering window lights that reflect on the water’s surface.

Nyhavn buildings in Copenhagen, Denmark.

You’ll get to experience the best cuisine from so many different countries, which is great for all those cravings you’ll no doubt be having. Sample dumplings stuffed with meats and tossed in thick stews and broths, or give pickled vegetables a go and choose from cabbage, beans and beetroot. Do be careful, though, as there are some foods you should avoid when pregnant. These include things like certain soft cheeses, partially cooked eggs, pâté, and raw fish; make sure you research risky foods thoroughly before travelling.

In terms of scenery, you really won’t find better than this. Experience archipelagoes and stretches of beach, which contrast with Soviet landmarks dating back to WWII.

Escape to the Fjords (with a taste of the arctic)

To experience natural wonders like nowhere else, set off on a cruise to the Fjords. The northern lights are simply unmissable. They are nothing short of magical as they paint the night sky different shades of green and pink. You’ll stop off in picturesque towns with cobbled streets and cathedrals after drifting past snow-capped mountains along still, reflective water.

As you head further north, the cooler climate provides the perfect excuse to wrap up warm and cosy up under blankets on the deck of the ship. Alternatively, watch the world pass you by through your cabin window while holed up with a comforting warm drink – the ultimate way to relax!

Aurora borealis above the snow covered mountain in Lofoten islands, Norway.

5 Reasons To Cruise From Sicily

5 Reasons To Cruise From Sicily

If you want to visit numerous destinations and travel without the stress of getting from one spot to the next, a cruise is a wonderful way to travel. Some of the best cruise companies have itineraries that start and end in one of my favourite places, Sicily.

Before embarking on a cruise, it is so lovely to be able to relax in a beautiful spot (especially if you’ve never been there before), and when a destination is as gorgeous as Sicily is, it is a must! If you choose to do so, you’ll want to set up comfortable accommodation for yourself before being at sea. Luckily, there are many locally owned villas where you can stay on the island. Tools like WishSicily can help you find the perfect beach villa for your holiday. Then you can set off on your cruise relaxed and ready to go.

That being said.. there are many good reasons as to why one should go to Sicily a few days early and enjoy the island before embarking on a cruise. Here are 5 of them:

1. Beaches

The island of Sicily has over 1,000 kilometers of coastline. So naturally, if you love to spend some time at the beach and relax with some sea views, you’ll be very happy in Sicily. You can find sandy beaches all the way up to those with dramatic rock formations.

2. Archaeological Sites

If you spend some time on the island, visiting some of the archaeological sites is a must. There are 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the island, including an active volcano called Mount Etna and the Valley of the Temples, which will ignite your imagination as to what the site looked like in its prime.

3. Cuisine and Wine

Italian food and wine is famous worldwide. Sicilian food, in particular, has something extra special to it with a mix of influences from different cultures. You can happily spend a significant amount of time eating and drinking your way through the island and tasting the true flavours of Sicilian cuisine. A couple Sicilian dishes to try are: caponata (eggplant stew), arancini (stuffed rice balls) and cannoli (ricotta-filled sweet).

4. Intricate Culture

Sicily has a rich and intricate culture unlike anywhere else in the world, including the rest of Italy. Mediterranean culture historically met in Sicily, mostly due to its location, and the island has seen civilizations ranging from Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Norman, Arab, to Catalan. The civilizations that once inhabited the island have each left their mark on the Sicilian culture, creating this beautiful blend of something purely.. Sicilian.

5. Beautiful Borghi

There are 19 borghi (very small towns) in Sicily that are quaint and sure sights to see. They were once designated among Italy’s most beautiful towns by I Borghi Piu Belli d’Italia. You’ll see a lot of port cities while on a cruise, so taking the time to visit the smaller villages adds something extra special to a trip.

Spending a few days on this wonderful island is a great way to set the mood for a great holiday. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time in Sicily, you’ll be in holiday mode before you board your cruise!

Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Emily Jones.

My Top Summer Cruise Destinations

My Top Summer Cruise Destinations

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

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

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

Western Mediterranean

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

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

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

Canary Islands

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

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

Alaska

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

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

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

The Baltics

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

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

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

The British Isles

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

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

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

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

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

Essential WAVE Season Survival Guide

What Is Wave Season?

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

How Does Wave Season Work?

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

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

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

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

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

Is It Best To Book In Wave Season?

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

The answer is YES if;

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

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

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

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

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

Your party wants to dine at a specific time.

The answer is NO if;

You want the cheapest cruise fare no matter what.

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

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

You can go last minute.

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

What Happens After Wave?

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

Here Is My Advice To Booking A Cruise

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

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

My Advice to Cruise Agents

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

Princess Cruises 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


Most Beautiful Ship 100 Days from Southampton

100 Day Countdown To The Launch of MSC Bellissima

MSC Cruises has started to reveal details of what guests can look forward to on MSC Bellissima. Their flagship will be named in Southampton, England on 2nd March 2019.

MSC Bellissima to be the biggest cruise ship named in Southampton.

MSC Bellissima will be the biggest cruise ship ever to be named in the UK’s cruise capital, with a maximum capacity of 5,686 guests and gross tonnage of 171,598,

FIRST AT SEA

Guests taking a cruise on board MSC Bellissima will be the first to experience the world’s first digital cruise assistant. Zoe will be available in seven languages and is designed to answer the most commonly asked questions all from the comfort of your cabin. The custom designed voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence device, will elevate the guest service experience to enhance and enrich life on board.

HOLA! Tapas Bar – New Dining Venue

At the heart of the ships’ iconic Galleria, HOLA! Tapas Bar welcomes you into an amazing new culinary experience created by the two Michelin starred chef Ramón Freixa. Designed to be a social dining experience, guests will be able to enjoy shared plates in a traditional celebration of the Mediterranean way of life.

Flavia with Michelin Starred Chef Ramon Freixa

 

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, HOLA! TAPAS by Ramon Freixa

Ramón Freixa explains, “I want guests to enjoy a true taste of Spain through appetising tapas and a cheerful bar atmosphere.” Freixa continues, “I am delighted to be collaborating again with MSC Cruises. This partnership is special to me as we have such strong shared values and this new restaurant embodies our passion for sharing the joys of Mediterranean food.”

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, HOLA! TAPAS by Ramon Freixa

12 Dining Venues and 20 Bars

In addition, guests will have a further 12 international dining venues and 20 bars to choose from, including the new French speciality restaurant L’Atelier Bistrot.

Anyone with a sweet tooth can enjoy unique and elegant chocolate creations and desserts at the Chocolaterie and Chocolate bar designed by acclaimed pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury.

World-Class Entertainment

Two brand new exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea performances will be available onboard MSC Bellissima. The new show concepts will be revealed next month.

NEW MAGIC THEMED KIDS’ PROGRAMME

A giant children’s play area will host LEGO® and Chicco activities, and a brand-new School of Magic programme and weekly Magic Talent Show.

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, Doremiland

Environmental Responsibility

To reduce her environmental footprint, MSC Bellissima will be equipped with the most modern environmental technology, energy-saving features and innovative technology.

Some of the things she will be equipped with include: an exhaust gas cleaning system for cleaner emissions; an advanced wastewater treatment system; smart heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) to recover heat from machinery spaces; and LED lighting and smart devices. These measures will save significant energy.

This all comes as part of MSC Cruises commitment to provide guests with the best holiday experiences at sea in a sustainable way.

MSC Bellissima lives up to her name meaning “most beautiful” by offering guests a beautiful and memorable cruise experience.

MSC Bellissima will feature a brand new Grand Canyon theme for the aquapark with three exhilarating water slides.

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, Arizona Aquapark

Photo: MSC Bellissima, Arizona Aquapark

A full-size bowling alley, F1 simulator and an XD cinema are just some of the other onboard attractions to ensure guests of all ages will have fun.

The ship introduces six brand new West-End style shows, as well as a full programme of activities.

At the heart of MSC Bellissima is a stunning Galleria with an 80-metre LED sky screen. The shopping gallery has over 200 brands, bars and restaurants will stunning projections throughout the day.

Photo: MSC Cruises

The Balinese MSC Aurea Spa offers 79 different treatments. It includes a stunning thermal area which will be the perfect place to relax.

MSC Bellissima will offer 7-night Mediterranean cruises for her inaugural season. After which she will move to the Emirates for Winter 2019/2020.

Watch MSC Bellissima coming together in this incredible timelapse video.

Recommended Reading

Will Cruise Ships Sail In Bad Weather?

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.

Norwegian Encore Hull Artwork Unveiled

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed that Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, the award-winning Spanish artist, created the hull artwork for the fourth and final ship of its Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Encore, debuting in Miami in November 2019.

A representation of his modern and abstract style, the ship’s hull will feature a labyrinth of color inspired by Arranz-Bravo’s life by the sea in Barcelona and paying tribute to the vibrant guest experience for which the Norwegian brand is recognized.

“Norwegian Cruise Line is a dynamic, pioneering company known for its innovative experiences and breathtaking collection of beautifully designed ships,” said Arranz-Bravo. “I am honored to not only bring that vibrancy to life even more on Norwegian Encore but also showcase my love for the ocean and my hometown of Barcelona.”

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, played a key role in the selection of Arranz-Bravo as the hull artist for Norwegian Encore, having been inspired by his work for many years. Del Rio’s passion for the arts has helped elevate Norwegian’s on-board experience, most recently with the multi-million-dollar-art collection curated for Norwegian Bliss.

“We are well-known for our iconic hull designs and know that Arranz-Bravo’s lively design will complement the colorful destinations in the Caribbean that Norwegian Encore will visit when she debuts next year,” said Del Rio.

Recognized for his inventive and humanistic approach to abstract art, Arranz-Bravo’s work is showcased throughout the world and portrays a constant evolution that some refer to as futuristic.  He is highly regarded, having been the recipient of countless awards and accolades, and was one of three artists chosen to represent the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona.

“Eduardo’s design will be a perfect complement to the collection of hull artwork within our fleet and is a testament to the dynamic experience our guests will have on board,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.  “We are proud to welcome him to our Norwegian Cruise Line family.”

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating up to 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will complete the Breakaway-Plus class, the most successful class in the company’s history. She is currently being built at Meyer Werft, in Papenburg, Germany and will feature many innovative dining, entertainment and recreational activities that guests have come to expect from the industry-leading brand.

Following her unveiling, she will cruise out of Miami every Sunday and sail seven-day voyages to the Eastern Caribbean, beginning with her first journey on November 17, 2019 through April 12, 2020.

More details on the ship’s design, accommodations, dining and onboard offerings will be shared in the coming months.

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

Mia Tui Travel Bag Review – Jennie and Alex

A few months ago, Mia Tui sent me a couple of travel bags from their extensive range, to try out and review. Their timing was perfect, as the bags arrived just in time for me to take on my trip to the Caribbean with Viking Cruises. 

Mia Tui Travel Bag Review

The Mia Tui Jennie bag was clearly designed by a Mother as it combines style with functionality. It is extremely well made and comes with detachable straps for your comfort. The bag itself is huge and I was excited to be able to fit my laptop into it. There is a pocket on the back of the back which has a strap, allowing it to fit over your suitcase handle. If you are going to and from the airport this is great. However, don’t overload the bag even though it will be able to hold it, you may not.

  • 1 Clear internal bag with hand strap
  • 1 Matching clutch bag with hand & X-body strap
  • Insulated water bottle holders (bottles not included)
  • Key clip
  • Phone pocket
  • Pen holder
  • Hands-free shoulder strap
  • Metal studs on base of bag for protection
  • Turquoise interior

The internal bag is fantastic as you can keep your passport, purse, phone and other little bits in it for easy access.  It can be worn as an across the body bag, keeping your hands free for other things. It’s also great when you are on a flight because you can still keep those things close to you, without having to keep pulling your bag out from under the seat or the overhead locker.

The internal bag that comes with the Jennie bag in rose gold

I took this little bag everywhere with me on the cruise and still do every day.

Lightweight Beach Bag

For daytime by the pool or going to the beach, I used the Alex Folding Bag. I absolutely adored the pattern but there are quite a few options available if you prefer something a bit different. This bag also has the strap that fits over the handles of your suitcase so you can use it for travelling as well. It is extremely lightweight and folds up neatly into a nice little pouch.

The Alex Folding Bag in Green Flower design

Having tested these bags for nearly 6 months now I can give you a first hand, honest Mia Tui travel bag review. I love the design options, I love the quality and I love the fact that they are suitable for vegans (to wear not eat).  I use the internal Jennie bag every day and it shows no signs of wear whatsoever.

Wearing my Mia Tui bag at Mercedes Benz World

Taking my Mia Tui bag out when meeting friends for coffee

Mia Tui even saved the day when I forgot to take Sam’s lead to watch the Farnborough Air Show

To get 20% off your first purchase simply enter discount code SAC20 at checkout.

Home – Mia Tui

Jennie Bag – Mia Tui

Alex Folding Bag – Mia Tui