Tag Archives: cruisers

An Introduction To Anthem of the Seas

,Anthem of the Seas – Introduction

Anthem of the Seas is a Royal Caribbean QUANTUM Class ship. She was built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Her Maiden Voyage was on the 22nd April 2015 from Southampton, England.

Accommodating 4,609 passengers at full capacity, Anthem of the Seas is still not the largest cruise ship in the world.  She is however, a close second to the largest in the world, her sister Oasis Class ships.

Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International – Outdoor Pool Deck and North Star

The 18 passenger decks offer plenty of space, which is great for those looking for somewhere quiet to relax.

Anthem of the Seas Dining

The ship has 17 dining options to choose from, ranging from casual buffet-style to multi-course fine dining and 24 hour snacks. These include an array of international cuisine and most dietary requirements are catered for.

Image CreditL Royal Caribbean International – Onboard Dining Room Chic

Activities Onboard Anthem of the Seas

Anthem of the Seas has plenty of activities for all ages.  High adrenaline activities for thrill seekers, a west end musical for theatre lovers and high tech shows are just some of the things on offer.

Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International – We Will Rock You

Children will love the Adventure Ocean kids club. Free daily sessions are available for children aged 3 – 17. Check your planner onboard as the opening times may vary. These are a pretty good guide to how they usually work.

  • Morning Session 9am – 12pm
  • Afternoon Session 2pm – 5pm
  • Evening Session 6pm – 10pm

Late nights, lunch and dinner sessions are available at an extra charge, allowing the adults to enjoy everything the ship has to offer, without the guilt.

The Vitality Spa and Fitness Centre offers a state of the art gym, a range of fitness classes and some of the most advanced spa services at sea.

At the front of the ship is a stunning glass covered, adults-only solarium.  Cascading pools, whirlpools, luxurious loungers and a dedicated bar, makes it the perfect place to unwind.

Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International – Adult Solarium

Accessibility

Anthem of the Seas is perfectly suitable for people with mobility issues. Corridors built to allow wheelchairs to turn 180 degrees, along with all public rooms featuring entrances with gradual inclines.

A wide choice of stateroom types are available, from single rooms to multi-bedroom family suites and two-storey loft suites. Rooms for five people or more cannot be booked online. Please contact your travel agent or the cruise line directly.

Anthem of the Seas is the perfect multi-generational cruise ship.

Recommended Reading

A Guide To Cruising with Royal Caribbean

Princess Cruises South America & Antarctica 20/21

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

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

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

Coral Princess from the West Coast

Coral Princess at Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pacific Princess from Sydney

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

An Introduction To Oceania Marina

Oceania Marina Specifications

  • Year Built: 2011 / Year Refurbished: 2016
  • Guest Capacity: 1,250 (Double Occupancy)
  • Crew: 800
  • Guest to Staff Ratio: 1.567 to 1
  • Guest Decks: 11 / Total Decks: 16
  • Electric Power or Voltage: 110, 220 AC
  • Cruising Speed: 20 knots
  • Stabilizers: Yes
  • Gross Tonnage: 66,084 / Length: 784.95 feet / Beam: 105.646 feet / Maximum Draught: 24 feet
  • Deck Plan

Oceania Marina is an ultra-luxury boutique cruise ship, which makes this a great ship to experience the destinations in more detail.  Besides you can enjoy the six-star experience onboard.

The magnificent interior. Staircases, mirrors and chandeliers are adorned with Lalique Crystal.

The artwork onboard consists of a four million dollar collection and includes six Picasso sketches.

One of the Picasso Sketches onboard Oceania Marina

Oceania Marina Accommodation

Every stateroom onboard Oceania Marina has a luxurious Prestige Tranquility Bed, dressed with 1,000-thread-count linens. The Owner’s Suites, Vista Suites and Oceania Suites have a King-size bed.  The other suites and staterooms have a queen-size bed, which can be converted into twin beds if required.
Other stateroom features include:
  • Refrigerated mini-bar with free and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water replenished daily
  • Bulgari amenities
  • Twice-daily maid service
  • Full-size bathtub in all staterooms except interior
  • Belgian chocolates with nightly turndown service
  • Complimentary and extensive 24-hour room service menu
  • A flat-screen television with DVD player and extensive media library
  • Wireless Internet access and cellular service
  • Writing desk and stationary
  • Plush cotton towels, robes and slippers
  • Handheld hairdryer
  • Security safe

A full-size bathtub, plush cotton towels and Bulgari amenities

The Oceania and Vista suites were designed by New York designer Dakota Jackson. Three luxurious Owners’ Suites span the entire beam of the ship and are located at the aft of decks 8, 9 and 10. Here you can enjoy stunning wake views, with furnishing from the Ralph Lauren Home Collection.

Owners Suite with Ralph Lauren Home Furnishings

Owners Suite with Ralph Lauren Home Furnishings

Oceania Marina Dining

Oceania Cruises are known as the ‘foodies’ cruise line, which is why twenty-five per cent of its ships’ staff work in the Galley. There is plenty of variety, with 14 dining options. The Main Dining room offers a six-course gourmet experience, in an opulent setting. Polo Grill serves a delicious assortment of steak, along with chops and range of seafood dishes. Toscana offers gourmet, Italian food. Guests can enjoy French country restaurant cuisine in Jaques, or bold, contemporary Asian flavours in Red Ginger. For a special occasion and something more intimate, Privée can host a private party of up to 10 people.
Dining options onboard Oceania Marina;
  • The Grand Dining Room
  • Polo Grill
  • Toscana
  • Jacques
  • Red Ginger
  • Tuscan Steak
  • Waves Grill
  • Terrace Cafe
  • La Reserve
  • Privée
  • Baristas
  • Afternoon Tea
  • Room Service

Jaques Restaurant onboard Oceania Marina. Menu by Master Chef Jaques Pépin

Red Ginger serves contemporary Asian Cuisine

Privée hosts a private party of up to 10 people

In partnership with Wine Spectator, La Reserve offers seminars, tasting and gourmet pairings

This introduction is to give you a brief overview of what you can enjoy onboard Oceania Marina. There are many other features on board too. These include a luxury spa, a culinary centre, and bars and lounges offering incredible sea views. In the meantime, more information on life onboard Oceania Marina can be found here Oceania Marina – Life Onboard

Recommended Reading

A Day Onboard The Elegant Oceania Nautica

3 Norwegian Ships Get Total Refurbishment

Norwegian Cruise Line have completed total refurbishments of three ships, which is further proof of its commitment to extraordinary quality and guest experience. The revitalized ships, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Star, now feature new designs and venues. These include Los Lobos Cantina, an upscale Mexican restaurant; the adults-only enclave, Spice H2O; and Syd Norman’s Pour House – an American rock ‘n’ roll bar and lounge, which makes its debut aboard Norwegian Breakaway.

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway, which was built in 2013, debuts the new American rock ‘n’ roll bar and lounge Syd Norman’s Pour House as well as upgraded accommodations, public spaces and more, following a two-week dry dock in Brest, France.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Syd Norman’s Pour House onboard Norwegian Breakaway

A testament to Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to providing the best entertainment at sea, Syd Norman’s Pour House is an authentic and immersive experience inspired by the greatest clubs in American rock ‘n’ roll history.  Replacing Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, Syd Norman’s is a tribute to the grandfather of “Rock of Ages” playwright Chris D’Arenso and modeled after influential rock houses such as CBGB’s, The Rainbow and the Fillmore.  Vintage décor, diner-style seating and an unforgettable playlist of classic rock from the late 1960’s to 1980’s come together to bring this high-caliber entertainment offering to life. Three times a week, cast members from “Rock of Ages” will treat guests to specialty cocktails named after rock ‘n’ roll classics such as “The Witchy Woman” among others in the interactive Syd Norman’s Experience. Guests will also rock-out to a five-person band playing classics six nights a week.

Additional upgrades include enhancements to Bliss Ultra Lounge with new, premium furniture; new carpet in all 2,014 staterooms and suites; a full transformation of the gift shop; and new carpet installations in the staircases, elevators and lobbies.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Bliss Ultra Lounge onboard Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Sun

Built in 2001, Norwegian Sun underwent a three-week bow-to-stern renovation in Victoria, BC.  As a result, she now features refreshed staterooms and public spaces, and boasts three new venues including Los Lobos Cantina, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spinnaker Lounge.

Los Lobos Cantina is a Mexican restaurant offering a modern take on traditional favorites like guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole and handcrafted margaritas. Replacing Las Ramblas Bar and Restaurant, Los Lobos Cantina features leather banquettes, dark wood tables and seating and ranchero-style design accents.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Los Lobos Mexican Cantina onboard Norwegian Sun

Bliss Ultra Lounge, formerly Dazzles, is the new bar and nightclub where guests can begin or end their evenings. Enhancements include an updated look with new plush seating, cocktail tables, bar stools, chandeliers, wall sconces, wall coverings, ornamental ceilings and a wooden dance floor.

The Spinnaker Lounge replaces the Observation Lounge and showcases a fresh design with a natural color palette reminiscent of blue, beige and tan. New to the venue are leather chairs, carpet, chandeliers, wall coverings and a stone top bar.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Spinnaker Lounge onboard Norwegian Sun

All 968 staterooms were upgraded with smart televisions and USB ports as well as new carpet, artwork and select furniture. The newly revitalized accommodations pay tribute to the beauty of the surrounding ocean with a palette of cool blue hues and silver and turquoise accents. The adorning abstract art within the staterooms and suites are the ideal complement to the new and modern feel.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Balcony Staterooms onboard Norwegian Sun

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Owners Suite Living Room onboard Norwegian Sun

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Forward Facing Penthouse onboard Norwegian Sun

The renovations also touched dining outlets and public spaces including Cagney’s, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Teppanyaki, the Mandara Spa, Stardust Lounge Theater, Splash Academy and more.

Norwegian Star

Following a nearly three-week dry dock in Barcelona, Spain, Norwegian Star underwent extensive enhancements to its staterooms, public spaces, restaurants, bars and lounges. The ship, built in 2001, also unveiled three new venues: Sky High Bar, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spice H2O.

Sky High Bar showcases a new design complete with an updated bar and seating for close to 120 guests.  Replacing Bier Garten, the outdoor bar and lounge offers the best views on board.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Sky High Bar onboard Norwegian Star

Bliss Ultra Lounge replaces Spinnaker Lounge for late-night entertainment and now boasts a light, neutral color palette and a complete redesign with new carpet, custom loungers, seating, an upgraded bar and artwork.

For the first time, Norwegian Star will offer the adults-only enclave, Spice H2O. This well-appointed venue features a private pool, hot tubs, full bar and uninterrupted ocean views. During the day, it makes an ideal spot for sunbathing, and at night, it transforms into an open-air lounge with live entertainment, DJs and energizing themed nights.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – Spice H20 deck onboard Norwegian Star

All 1,174 staterooms and suites were outfitted with USB ports, enhanced with over 1,500 works of art and upgraded with new carpet, headboards and select furniture. The three-bedroom garden villas which feature private deck areas and can accommodate up to seven people were also remodeled to offer a light and airy design.

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa onboard Norwegian Star

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa Living Room onboard Norwegian Star

Photo Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line – 3 Bedroomed Garden Villa Sun Deck onboard Norwegian Star

Additional enhancements were made to the bars and lounges, restaurants and public spaces including Atrium Café & Bar, Garden Café and the main dining rooms. A VIP section was also added in the casino.

About Norwegian Cruise Line

Recently, the line was named “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” for the eleventh consecutive year, “World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line” for the sixth consecutive year, the “Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line” for the fifth consecutive year, as well as “World’s Leading Cruise Line” and “North America’s Leading Cruise Line” both for the second straight year by the World Travel Awards. Norwegian’s newest ship, the highly anticipated Norwegian Bliss, debuted April 2018 featuring many firsts-at-sea for the global market including the largest race track at sea, award-winning Broadway entertainment, two observation lounges for guests to enjoy stunning ocean and glacier views and more.

Norwegian will introduce Norwegian Encore in 2019 and has six additional ships on order for delivery beginning in 2022.

Viking Sea Cruise – Last Day – Barbados

The last day of a cruise is always a sad one. However when it’s your first time in Barbados, it’s hard to be anything but completely excited.

During my cruise on Viking Sea I had met many lovely people. On my second day in Puerto Rico, we were gathered in the terminal to depart for our horse riding adventure, and Julia bowled up to our group to join us. Looking the part in her cowboy boots, I immediately took to Julia and her bubbly personality. We chatted non-stop on the drive to the stables. It turned out that Julia was working onboard Viking Sea as HR Manager. When I told her I was looking to get some amazing beach photos, she kindly offered to help and arranged the whole thing!

I met Cassie Wilcox, Senior Writer for Viking Cruises UK, in the check in queue at Heathrow. After a few days on the cruise, Cassie told me she was desperate to get that soft white sand between her toes asked if she could join us.

TAXIS EVERYWHERE

If you’ve never been to Barbados on a cruise, it is worth knowing that as you emerge from the terminal building you are greeted by hundreds of taxis. There seems to be one person managing the operation. They will ask you where you want to go and find the driver for you. They seem to prefer lots of passengers on shorter journeys, so for three of us looking for a two hour trip we were not getting any takers.

Thankfully Julia sorted it all out and a lovely retired gentleman name Marson said he would be our driver. I needed to be back to the ship by midday as we were flying home, so we didn’t have a lot of time and I wanted to see as much as possible.

BROWNES BEACH

Marson was a real charmer and told us some great stories of his ballroom dancing. The first beach he took us to was Brownes Beach just 15 minutes from the cruise terminal.

Pristine white sand and crystal blue water at Brownes Beach.

Dress: M & S Linen Blend Sleevless Tunic Dress

It certainly ticks all the boxes for that dreamy Caribbean beach. We arrived around 9.30am so we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. Apparently it can get extremely busy so my advice is get there super early and head back to the ship when it gets too busy. All of the beaches we visited had sun-loungers and umbrellas for hire.

Julia and Cassie were really good fun to hang out with.

A big smile from Cassie as she gets that powdery sand between her toes.

I love this photo of Julia laughing at me.

That’s why she’s laughing

What a great shot, even if I say so myself.

From there, Marson drove 5 minutes south to Needhams Point. We stopped at the Hilton Barbados Resort to take in the views and have a quick wander around the grounds.

The hotel has several gorgeous pool areas, it’s right on the beach and offers stunning views.

If you fancy staying there, you can check pricing and availability for the Hilton Barbados Resort here.

I love this hotel.

Get the outfit: M & S Woven Vest Dress, Mia Tui Jennie Bag and Sparkly Fit Flops.

Next stop was Worthing Beach just 10 minutes drive away. Since Marson had told us so much about his passion for dancing, I asked if he would show me a few moves. He kindly obliged.

The best taxi driver in Barbados. Marson Craigwell shows off his moves.

We wandered along the beach and found a great place to stop and reflect.

We stayed there for a while, just soaking up the beautiful atmosphere. What an incredible place Barbados is. I want to go back at the first opportunity. Maybe a Christmas cruise?

Dipping my toes in the water for the last time

Outfit: M & S Wide Leg Beach Trousers and Sparkly FitFlops

There is a great restaurant and bar on the beach called Coast. We met the owner, Anna who bought the bar 4 years ago when she moved over from her home town of Milan, Italy. If you are visiting Barbados, make sure this is on your list of places to visit.

As you can see, I was far from ready to leave. What a gorgeous place. Barbados! I’ll be back!

The clothes in this post are my own and purchased by me. I have not been paid or gifted to endorse any of the products listed below. These affiliate links mean I will earn a small amount of commission on any purchases made via these links, at no extra cost to you.

  1. M & S Linen Blend Dress
  2. Black Beach Dress
  3. Sparkly Fit Flops
  4. Beach Trousers
  5. Hilton Barbados Resort

Recommended Reading: Viking Seas Cruise – Day Two – Puerto Rico

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

Interview with Stacy Shaw – Virgin Voyages

“I do work pretty hard.

It’s just that I don’t usually notice because I’m having a good time.” Stacy Shaw

Stacy Shaw is the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Virgin Voyages, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When Stacy and I met at the #Shiptease event in Genoa last year, I asked if she would answer some questions for my Cruise People series. Thankfully she agreed, so lets find out more about Stacy Shaw.

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

After grad school, I moved from West Virginia to Florida… I was pretty tired of winter weather and wanted to be near my sister. We had been prepped by the Dean of Business & Economics, that it may take time to find a job. So I reached out to a recruiter as soon as I arrived, with the idea that I would wait tables for a while and enjoy some down time.

He sent me for an interview right away for an Accounting position that happened to be at a cruise line. I didn’t intend to start working in a office so quickly but it sounded pretty glamorous (the cruise line part), so I changed my plans. I lasted in that particular job for about six months before I got a little bored (sorry, Accountants) but it was the start to what would become a 23-year (and counting) career in travel and hospitality.

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

I love animals so if I was better at science, I might have been a veterinarian. I always knew I would work in some sort of business, I just didn’t know what. Before I started in this industry, I had traveled to five states … never once out of my time zone.

I’ve now visited many states in all US times zones and more than 65 countries. I have found the education that comes from learning about other people and cultures invaluable and I think it made me a better person. I’m very happy with how things worked out!

Stacy with Boy George at the Virgin Voyages Shiptease

What makes Virgin Voyages stand out from other cruises?

People often ask which cruise line we will be most like and I find it impossible to answer that question. Our goal is to be unlike any other … to create a new category and be the only one in it. We’ve looked more to cool, hip hotel and land experiences for inspiration, so I think you’ll find it very easy to see what makes us stand out … when we can talk about that.

As VP of Sales and Business Development for Virgin Voyages, what is an average day like for you?

We’re a start-up so every day is pretty busy and very different. I try to learn something about Virgin or the other Virgin companies however and whenever I can. We have some great resources in the company who have worked for other Virgin brands, so I’m like a sponge around them. For now, we’ve been putting a strong foundation in place.

So I’ve been working on things like sales and distribution strategy, org charts and operating budgets … thinking about how we can be irresistible to our partners! I’ve also been working on finding a rock star leadership team in sales so there’s been a lot of Skype calls and interviews. We’re so fortunate to have a lot of interest when we post our gigs and we’re very focused on finding the perfect fit for every role.

What was your last holiday?

I tend to do more mini-holidays or weekend getaways than long vacations. I love exploring new places, most recently I went to Nashville for the weekend. It was great … the food, the nightlife, the music, the service, the people … I can’t wait until Virgin Hotels Nashville opens. I’m definitely going back.

I also did my first river cruise last year over New Years with a group of friends and loved that. Prague to Budapest on the Danube with AMA Waterways. We visited four countries that I hadn’t been to before (Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and Austria) … all amazing. I would like to do another river cruise to the wine regions in France. And I love going to Spain any chance I get.

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

I do. I’m going on a safari in South Africa with the same group of friends this summer. We’ll also spend a few days in Cape Town and visit some beautiful wineries. I did a safari in Kenya years ago but it was a site inspection with clients. Still, it was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever taken but I’m very excited to do it again with people I love. That will be really special and a lot of fun.

Stacy hosts VIP Travel Partners at the Keel Laying Ceremony in Genoa.

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 feel very lucky to be in an industry that I love and working for Virgin is a dream come true for me. It’s hard to think about what I do as “work”. I get paid to do the most amazing things and to think about ways that our company can make the world a better place. Don’t get me wrong, I do work pretty hard. It’s just that I don’t usually notice because I’m having a good time.

At Virgin Voyages, we’re creating something really special and I’m surrounded by the most creative, inspiring group of people. It’s hard not to be excited about anything I do in that environment. I would say the things that have helped me most in my career is a never-ending desire to learn, genuinely caring about the people involved with our business, always delivering on commitments, being respectful and a willingness to do whatever needs to be done without hesitation. Oh, and coffee, that helps a lot with focus and energy!

What are your hobbies?

I read and research a lot. More articles and historical info than novels … most everything online. I like to start my day with time to read (and drink coffee). I love learning new things and I like to understand a variety of viewpoints. Obviously, I love to travel and I do as much of that as I can. I’m interested in languages. I speak Spanish fairly well and know bits of Italian and French that I’ve picked up through travel. I find that people genuinely appreciate an attempt to speak to them in their language even if it isn’t perfect. I also enjoy trying local food and drinks wherever I am … always looking for a great restaurant.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Well, I think I’ve got the career and travel things covered. And I’ve met Richard Branson. So I guess the only thing left is an epic love story.

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

I would say take a voyage instead. 🙂

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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 – The Professionals

You Don’t Have To Be A Cruise Fanatic To Cruise

Dave, originally from Yorkshire, and his wife Lorraine, both have office based jobs in Surrey and love to travel. Last year they took their first cruise. I wanted to get their views on cruising for the first time and to see if it is something they would like to repeat.

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

Our first cruise was to Norway, we cruised on Celebrity Eclipse and it was at the end of August 2016.

Celebrity Eclipse in the Norwegian Fjords

What made you book a cruise?

I have always wanted to cruise to the Fjords. It was for my 50th birthday, although I had to do all the booking so it wasn’t a surprise.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

We went from Southampton.  What a great way to start a holiday. No queues, fast check in.  Within 2 hours or so from leaving our house, we were on board.

I liked the variety of things to do on board, the theatre was good although some of the acts were a bit cheesy.  I’m convinced that the the comedian on the first night was made of pure gorgonzola. The best act was a Freddie Mercury Tribute act, closely followed by a British singer from The Netherlands.

It was good to go to a show and then walk to dinner.  Its like living in a ‘happening’ city centre.

I enjoyed the fact that we visited loads of different towns in Norway. Some of the towns were so small that you had to book excursions, if you didn’t you would have been stuck in a small town (although they still had loads to do on board) but I don’t think you go to Norway to stay on board. The service and food were amazing.

As we were in a cold climate, nobody was using the outside space, this meant that at lunch time the buffet was packed.  We had to find a table first, then one at a time we went to get our food.  If we both went they would clear our tables as they thought we had left.  This is the only time we felt a bit packed in.

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

Seeing different places, experiencing different things (with the excursions), and the quality of the food/service etc.  We are not dedicated cruises but will happily go on one but will also do a different style of holiday.

The Flam Railway

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

We are doing the Alaskan cruise.  I am looking forward to the whale watching, glacier trip and zip wire excursions.  Life on board is quite good too, I enjoy the luxury.  I am also excited about the drive around Alaska which we are doing after the cruise.

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?

Do you feel trapped when you go into your local town?  Well the cruise ship is like a small city.  Unless you go on a rowing boat you wont feel trapped.

Do you have an general cruise tips?
  • Yes, quite soon after you set off you will be called for a muster drill.  This is where you have to meet at a certain place and have a roll call.  Before you attend this go to the bar and get a big cocktail. Take the “things to do list that should be in your cabin). When the meeting has finished sit back and relax with your drink.  If you leave at the same time as everyone else it is like being herded like cattle, you also see people at their worst.  After you have finished your drink and read the ‘things to do list’ you can then leave at your leisure.
  • Use your ‘things to do sheet’ and plan your day/evening.
  • Dont be scared to complain.  We did an excursion that was rubbish.  We complained and they offered a partial refund.  We did not accept it and was then given a full refund and asked not to tell anyone else.  We told everyone!
  • The waiters all test the food at the beginning of their shift so when they recommend your meal they are not trying to get rid of food they are really giving you what they think is the best food on the menu.
  • The waiters hold quite a lot of power within the kitchens.  If they think a dish is not up to scratch they will not recommend it and the chefs will change the way it is cooked.
  • Take the recommended wine from the wine waiter also.
Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

Shop around to get the best deal. Pick mid ship cabins to minimise sea sickness. On the Norway cruise it was good to see the fjords from the balcony.  We spent quite a lot of time cruising in places with good views.  If you are going around the Med then I would say an inside room would be best value as the weather is warm so you can see every thing from the decks.

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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.

For the latest deals and special offers with Princess Cruises click here.

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Lee Mudkins – Guest Relations Manager

Guest Relations Manager, Lee Mudkins talks about his life at sea.

A Sailors’ Life For Lee

Lee Mudkins, is the Guest Relations Manager onboard Fred Olsen’s Balmoral. So I wanted to find out what life at sea is really like and to get some good insider tips.

How long have you worked on board ships?

I have been onboard cruise ships for nearly 4 years now but have spent 12 years working in the cruise industry. I took the plunge so to speak and love every minute of it. New places and new friends make it special.

Can you give us an idea of a typical day in the life of a Guest Relations Manager?

For a Guest Relations Manager, no two days are the same. I can be hosting a table of beautiful ladies or escorting guests in port. You never know what to expect and I am on call 24 hours a day for any guest-related issues and emergencies. Generally, though I get to chat with our guests and make sure their holidays are ones to remember.

Sounds like the perfect job. When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?

My first cruise was back in 2008 and was aboard P&O Ventura. I had won a competition and was really excited. We did a 7 day Norwegian Fjord cruise, it was amazing and I made some great friends despite travelling as a solo. I am still friends with a few of these people to this day. The casino was my friend… I won on the last night a large amount and this paid all my bar bill and excursions for the whole trip, Happy days!

What would you say makes Fred Olsen Cruise Lines different to other cruise lines?

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is a unique company without all the razzmatazz of the big liners. I love the friendliness of the crew and management and of course the wonderful guests that sail with us. Oh, and the food. Put it this way, when I went to sea I was a 32-inch waist now I’m pushing a 38 so that must say something.

Friendly staff onboard Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

What did you like about your first cruise?

I loved the way I woke up on a different day somewhere new and exciting, the unknown was drawing me in. The food, of course, was to die for, and the entertainment laid on made sure I never felt bored. I made lots of friends and really got the cruise bug.

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

This year I took a 26-day cruise to Bermuda for the America’s Cup, wow! What an experience, we spent 4 nights in Bermuda during the racing, weather was stunning and I even got to do a tour on a private VIP boat on the course for the final. A truly memorable experience and getting there on a cruise was even more special.

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

Every day is a different day, travelling the world but only unpacking once. Meeting a variety of new people regularly and making long-lasting friendships. I have a couple of friends Enzo & Carolyn, who were on a cruise with me a number of years back, they are great people and we stay in contact and occasionally meet up for lunches out and stuff, it’s always good to have friends like them.

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

Canada has to be high up on my list at present, to watch the autumn fall would be a dream. Also, a trip to Boston and New York. I need to get myself to Macy’s and spend some cash!

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

I investigate the ship, find my way around by getting lost and making sure I then know my way around, I then tend to find a bar with a good view and order a swanky cocktail of some description, that gets my cruise off to a good start.

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

I’ve just returned from a River Cruise in Egypt, we had a great time, but you can clearly see that tourism has dropped in that part of the world. The experience was magical however and for sure I would return.

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

I have friends joining me on a mini jaunt to Roeun in France, and we have some tours to do there which will enhance the experience. I am looking forward to mingling with everybody.

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

Read the daily programme and plan your days, it is invaluable. You get to see what is happening all around the ship and can join in with anything that takes your fancy. Don’t be shy, make friends and just enjoy yourself.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

By booking on-board you can often get better deals and discounts as well as extra’s and this, of course, can be returned to your travel agent so you can keep consistency. It’s a hard line to find the right time to book, I always find the more unique trips sell out fast so you have to be quick.

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?

Go for it! There is plenty of space if you want to find yourself space, plenty of people to assist wherever you may turn, and I truly believe they would never look back.

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SaveSaveRecommended Reading – Great Gifts For Cruisers from £3 – £50

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.

Latest Reveal for Celebrity Edge

Event planners looking for fun corporate event ideas or an unforgettable conference experience, should look no further than The Meeting Place onboard Celebrity Edge.

The latest reveal for the long awaited new class of ship from Celebrity Cruises, is a 1,970 square foot, state of the art meeting venue. The Meeting Place will be located centrally on the ship to allow guests to experience breathtaking views like no other venue at sea or on land.

“Of course, the most advanced ship we’ve ever designed would include the most exciting venues for get-togethers, including The Meeting Place,” said Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President of Sales, Trade Support and Service, Celebrity Cruises. “Imagine the spectacular conferences, trade shows, weddings, and reunions you can plan with the gorgeous Celebrity Edge as your setting and an ocean as your brilliant backdrop.”

If you want to make sure your event is a memorable one that stands out from the crowd, then Celebrity Edge is the place to be. If you are not familiar with what to expect onboard this ship watch the video below.

“When designing The Meeting Place we asked ourselves what would be more appealing; being subjected to lectures in a conference room, or socializing with colleagues in a hip lounge?’ The latter seemed obvious. Thus the flexibility and functionality of a ‘state of the art’ meeting space was designed for pleasure first,” said Scott Butler, AIA, Founding Partner, Wilson Butler Architects. “The word that defines The Meeting Place is ‘connected’. It facilitates guests getting connected to one another; to the latest technology and to the greatest new ideas. It also happens to connect to other venues on the ship that vastly expand the opportunities for groups.”

The Meeting Room Facilities

It is no surprise that Celebrity Edge uses innovative technology.  From wireless microphones to a mini sound board, an electronic whiteboard and a 98-inch LED screen at one end of the room and a 75-inch LED screen at the other.

The room can be set in a variety of layouts. A separate office space is provided for the event planners and the venue has its own pantry and dynamic bar to suit all catering needs.

The venue can transforms into a comfortable lounge area for networking, relaxing and mingling.

Booking enquiries for The Meeting Room onboard Celebrity Edge can be made through your Travel Agent or directly with Celebrity Cruises.

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.

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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