Tag Archives: Cruising

MSC Virtuosa Will Restart UK Cruising

IT’S TIME TO SAIL AGAIN

JUST ONE MONTH TO GO

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

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

Here is a taste of what guests can expect onboard.

EXCLUSIVITY AND PRIVACY AT THE MSC YACHT CLUB

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

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

A PLATE FOR EVERY PALATE

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

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

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

ROB, THE ROBOTIC BARTENDER

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

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

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

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

ALL NEW TEENS LAB

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

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

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

Image Credit: MSC Cruises

A SHOPPING LOVER’S HEAVEN

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

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

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, Sky Lounge

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

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

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

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

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

·        A 112-metre long Mediterranean-style promenade

·        10 restaurants and 21 bars

·        Five swimming pools including an indoor pool

·        The longest LED sky-screen at sea

·        Two bowling alleys and two F1 Simulators

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

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, solarium

Cruise With Confidence – Industry Leading Health and Safety Protocol

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

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, Marketplace Buffet

Environmentally Advanced Technology

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

Find out more about what this ship holds in store

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

Suggested Reading A New Southampton Cruise Terminal

Big Changes to Royal Caribbean Muster Drill

An Entirely New Approach To Delivering Safety Information To Guests

Royal Caribbean Group is replacing the traditional safety drill, with the new innovative Muster 2.0

The process will be faster and have a more personal, which encourages higher levels of safety.

Tested on Symphony of the Seas in January 2020, Muster 2.0 has been more than a year in the making. Guests who took part in the mock process indicated a strong preference for the new approach. They also reported better comprehension and retention of the safety information.

The New Royal Caribbean Muster Drill Approach Will Help Guests Enjoy A Smoother Sail Away

Muster 2.0 enables guests to access the key elements of the safety drill. This includes things like; What to expect and where to go in case of an emergency and life jacket instructions.

eMuster provides information on mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs. Guests can avoid large group assemblies by reviewing the information at their own time prior to setting sail.

The new approach also allows guests to enjoy more of their vacation with no interruption.

After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. The ships will not depart until all guests have completed the drill.

The distributed muster for ocean-going vessels concept is patented in the United States and is patent-pending in major markets around the world, including the various cruise industry flag states. The company has also worked with international regulators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime and government authorities to ensure it meets all safety requirements.

Cruise Lines to Eliminate Crowding By Using The Technology

In addition to introducing the new process on the ships of its own cruise lines – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara – Royal Caribbean Group is offering to license the patented technology to interested cruise operators and will waive patent license fees during the time the world and industry battle the global pandemic. Patent licenses have already been granted to the company’s joint venture, TUI Cruises GmbH, as well as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Recommended Reading

A Guide To Cruising with Royal Caribbean

First Carbon Neutral Private Cruise Island

Royal Caribbean Announce World’s First Carbon Neutral Private Cruise Island

Royal Caribbean have announced their second ‘Perfect Day’ resort will be in the heart of the South Pacific. Perfect Day at Lelepa in Vanuatu, will be the first carbon neutral* private cruise destination in the world.

Created in partnership with the local community, it will provide fantastic employment and education opportunities.

“Vanuatu is a true paradise for both our people and the visitors we welcome to our shores each year. Today marks a major step forward in our island nation’s close relationship with Royal Caribbean and one that will support sustainable growth for future generations. The Ni-Vanuatu people look forward to welcoming Royal Caribbean guests from around the world to enjoy extraordinary adventures and relaxation during their Perfect Day at Lelepa.”

Vanuatu Prime Minister Salwai

Perfect Day at Lepela will be built with sustainable features designed to protect the island’s ecosystems.

Perfect Day at Lepela will be located in the South Pacific Vanuatu Islands.

The new destination will have a different look and feel to Perfect Day at CocoCay. The

‘Anyone who has encountered the tremendous natural beauty of Lelepa, can understand why it is the perfect setting for ‘Perfect Day’. Our guests who travel to the South Pacific are seeking authentic adventures and genuine relaxation, and they will find both here.’

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO, Michael Bayley

*Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at Lelepe will be audited and certified by an independent third-party expert to ensure it meets the standards for carbon neutrality. Details on the extensive and innovative techniques used to achieve carbon neutrality will be released soon.

This announcement is further evidence that Royal Caribbean are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. It is a big challenge for the cruise industry as a whole, but new technologies are making this a reality.

Recommended Reading Royal Caribbean Brands Increase Sustainable Tours

Princess Cruises Names Ship Discovery Princess

Princess Cruises Reveal Name for Next Ship

Princess Cruises Names Ship Discovery Princess

Discovery Princess set to launch on 3 November 2021 will be the 6th Royal Class ship.  She will begin her inaugural season with a series of European Voyages.  She will be a sister ship to Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Majestic Princess, Sky Princess (joining the fleet later this month) and Enchanted Princess (joining the fleet June 2020 and launching in Southampton).

Her maiden voyage is a seven-day Mediterranean and Aegean cruise departing Rome to Athens on November 3, 2021. For those looking for a longer cruise, this can be combined together with the subsequent seven-day Athens to Barcelona voyage to form a 14-day Adriatic & Aegean Medley sailing.

Discovery Princess will include Adriatic and Aegean Itineraries.

On completion of her short season in the Mediterranean, Discovery Princess will reposition to Fort Lauderdale. From here, she will sail a series of roundtrip cruises to the Caribbean, followed by several voyages around South America.  Ports include Buenos Aires, Santiago, Fort Lauderdale, Mexico and California.

Santiago, Chile. One of the destinations Discovery Princess will visit during her inaugural season.

MedallionClass Technology

Construction of the 143,700-tonne Discovery Princess will take place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The ship will feature the ‘MedallionClass’ technology, which gives guests a smoother and personalised cruise experience, including;

  • Expedited arrival and touchless stateroom entry.
  • On-demand services using smart devices to order drinks, food and retail items and have them delivered directly anywhere onboard, including to their stateroom.
  • Interactive game play – digital scavenger hunts, interactive games and turning their smart device into a game controller for interactive gaming on the Movies Under The Stars top-deck screen.
  • Family and friends locator – Easily locate and chat with friends and family onboard on portals throughout the ships and via guests’ smart devices, and seamlessly navigate to their next point of interest.
  • Guests can use JourneyView to digitally browse on board events, which means they won’t miss out.  This is available up to 60 days in advance, allowing for guests to plan ahead.

Future Ships For Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises have two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered ships on order, which will be delivered in late 2023 and spring 2025. More details here.

Cruise on Discovery Princess

Princess Cruises is offering the seven-day Mediterranean and Aegean inaugural sailing on Discovery Princess from £1,389 per person. Departing November 3, 2021 from Rome to Athens, calling at Naples, Crete (Heraklion), Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Istanbul and Mykonos.

The 3,660-guest ship’s maiden season is available to book from October 8, 2019. To book visit princess.com

Royal Caribbean Brands Increase Sustainable Tours

ROYAL CARIBBEAN BRANDS OFFER SUSTAINABLE TOURS 

Sustainable Tours Increase Across Royal Caribbean Brands

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has announced 1,400 sustainable tours for the Caribbean, Mediterranean and beyond.

These special tours are available across all Royal Caribbean brands, and are offered by certified sustainable tour operators. Experiences include kayaking along Majorca’s west coast, underground Mayan River Cenote in Cozumel and grape harvesting at Pizzorno Winery in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Commitment to Sustainability

The initiative began as part of the company’s 2020 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) target. Royal Caribbean’s goal was to offer guests 1,000 tours, provided by operators certified to the UN-created Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standard.

Educating Tour Operators

Engaging with its global independent tour operators was a key part of the programme.

RCL’s Global Tour Operations team and GSTC conducted educational sessions for its tour operators. They educated on the company’s commitment, the importance of certification and sustainable operations, and the process to become GSTC certified.

GSTC Criteria consists of four main themes;

  • effective sustainability planning
  • maximising social and economic benefits for the local community
  • enhancing cultural heritage
  • reducing negative impacts on the environment.

Unprecedented Scale and Scope

“The scale and scope of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ commitment to sustainable shore excursions and accomplishments to date, are unprecedented,” says Jim Sano, VP for Conservation Travel, WWF.

“GSTC commends Royal Caribbean for taking these important steps, encouraging tour operators to adopt–and seek GSTC accredited certification for sustainable tourism practices,” stated Randy Durband, GSTC CEO. “Royal Caribbean’s efforts to boost the global supply of certified sustainable shore excursions is a watershed moment for the cruise industry. Having almost 1,400 tours in Royal Caribbean’s portfolio is an important milestone, and we congratulate them for their ongoing efforts.”

In 2016, RCL announced a partnership with WWF to take its sustainability performance to the next level. This partnership set ambitious sustainability targets in three key areas:

  • emissions reduction
  • sustainable food supply
  • destination stewardship

This takes the company beyond its self-contained operations, with the support of sustainable travel and livelihoods at RCL destinations.

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

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



Celebrity Cruises Offer S.T.E.M Programmes At Sea

CELEBRITY CRUISES OFFER FROST SCIENCE S.T.E.M PROGRAMMES AT SEA

This month sees the launch of a great new experience for kids and teens cruising onboard Celebrity Equinox. Budding scientists, mathematicians, engineers and tech savvy children with have the opportunity to take part in activities focused around S.T.E.M subjects. This is a result of a new partnership with Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.

S.T.E.M Programmes at Sea follows after Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd donated $1.2 million to support ongoing programs at Frost Science earlier in the year. The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami, is a leading science museum. They are dedicated to “sharing the power of science, sparking wonder and investigation, and fuelling innovation for the future”.

First-At-Sea Activites

The first-at-sea activities will be a new addition to the current Camp at Sea on-board programme that provides children and teenagers with opportunities to uncover the world around them through a series of specially tailored activities.

The interactive programming focuses on two science topics – one on the identification of and solutions related to micro plastics and another on the importance and diversity of plankton to the Earth’s oceans and the environment, both designed to nurture the next generation of inventors and innovators.

The micro plastics activity looks at how plastic pollution breaks down over time in the water and how micro plastics form. Tasks for the children include identifying micro plastics, examining filtered samples with microscopes, gathering samples and determining how many micro plastics are in any given area. Activities related to the importance and diversity of plankton include identifying and discussing the form and function of plankton, collecting water samples and looking at live samples.

The newly relaunched Camp at Sea still continues to feature Celebrity Cruises favourites. Young guests can learn how to mix music and take part in the Scratch DJ tournament. Budding film directors can record their own movies using a Go Pro camera and screen the film to their family and friends with the iTake programme. No two cruises offer the same series of Camp at Sea programming, and the on-board youth teams can deliver fun learning across a diverse range of topics to suit the interests of each child on-board.

For more information or to book, call 0800 441 4054, visit www.celebritycruises.co.uk or talk to your travel agent.

Learn more at frostscience.org. Follow Frost Science on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @frostscience.

Related Topics: Celebrity Edge Raises The Bar in Entertainment

Oceania Cruises Announce New Allura Class

Allura Class – Higher Level of Comfort and Amenities

The ultra luxury cruise line Oceania Cruises have announced an order for two new cruise ships. The Allura Class will offer guests an even higher level of comfort and convenience than Marina and Riviera.

The two 67,000 gross ton Allura-Class ships will cost approximately 575 million euros per vessel. The ships will be built by leading cruise ship design and construction company Fincantieri S.p.A.  Each shall accommodate an estimated 1,200 guests. Oceania Cruises want to retain the warmth, design and signature amenities regular Oceania cruisers love about the Marina and Riviera. The new Allura Class will also offer an additional level of comfort and convenience, with new luxury amenities.

The Evolution of Perfection

“This new class of ships will represent an evolution of the Oceania Cruises experience with all the elements our guests treasure – a warm, intimate, residential style; the most spacious standard staterooms afloat; amazing suites, and of course, the finest cuisine at sea,” stated Bob Binder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oceania Cruises.

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd announced; “We are excited to expand the Oceania Cruises fleet with our new Allura-Class ships to meet the strong demand for upscale culinary- and destination-focused cruise vacations around the globe. This new class of ships will further elevate the already best-in-class guest experience at Oceania Cruises and meaningfully strengthen demand from both new and loyal returning guests, which will ultimately drive further returns for shareholders.”

“This new successful project for Oceania Cruises is yet another demonstration of our ability to capitalise on product innovation and diversification to meet the needs of every type of customer, a capability that distinguishes us in the world” said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri.

The ships will be delivered in 2022 and 2025.

Recommended Reading: Ship Tour of Oceania Nautica

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


7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

MSC Cruises Have Launched A Worldwide Commitment To Eliminate Single-use Plastics Throughout The Fleet

It is the topic of the decade, reducing ocean pollution and MSC Cruises are taking a big step to ensure they are making changes across their family owned fleet. MSC Cruises’ commitment will see the phasing out of all single use plastic straws by December 2018. This is followed by a further pledge which will se the removal of virtually all single-use plastics fleetwide by March 2019.

  • MSC Cruises’ Plastics Reduction Programme plans to phase out or replace virtually all single-use plastic items by March 2019 across its entire fleet .
  • The first milestone will be reached by the end of 2018 which will see all plastic straws replaced with 100% compostable and biodegradable alternatives.
  • The company is exploring end-to-end recycling solutions and for remaining plastic items to get certification by global organisation.

Antonio Paradiso, MD for MSC Cruises UK & Ireland said of the commitment “At MSC Cruises our passion is the sea and we are always working hard to grow and evolve our business with a mind-set to respect the environment and the oceans which we operate in. Our plastic reduction programme aims to move at a very fast pace and by end of December 2018, we will already reach a first milestone by phasing out all single-use plastic straws, followed by another milestone in March 2019 when virtually all single-use plastics will be removed or replaced if alternatives are available.

The depth and diligence of this programme is exceptional and unique: it is not only about single-use plastic straws, or small ‘visible’ restaurant items, the Programme also looks at eliminating ALL ‘invisible’ single-use plastic items from the entire supply chain. At MSC Cruises we are driven by innovation and development and are working with thousands of partners and suppliers to ensure that our Environmental Stewardship Programme matches the innovation of our next generation smart fleet.”

The Heart and Soul of Celebrity Edge

Celebrity Cruises Unveils The Breathtaking Grand Plaza.

Welcome To The Grand Plaza

With only three months until the first official sailing of Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Cruises have revealed the heart and soul of Celebrity Edge. The beating heart of the year’s most anticipated new ship will be The Grand Plaza,  a stunning venue that will shatter all expectations and break from traditional cruise ship thinking.

Chic Society

Mixing simplicity and modernity, The Grand Plaza takes inspiration from the glamorous days of transatlantic travel. At a time when cruise ships were at the heart of chic society, the centre of these ships were traditionally spectacular ballrooms, accented with dramatic staircases and ornate chandeliers. They were social places to meet, greet, dine, drink and dance. The Grand Plaza pays homage to these powerful historic spaces and reinterprets them for the 21st century.

The Grand Plaza truly is a grand space. At its centre, on Deck 3, guests will find the breathtaking next evolution of the always-buzzing Martini Bar, one of the most popular venues across Celebrity’s fleet.

A breathtaking chandelier-meets-art installation, immediately draws one’s eye from anywhere in the space. Below its atmospheric glow, the bar curves gracefully around to invite conversation and interaction with Celebrity’s talented flair bartenders who’ll impress guests with their gravity-defying skills.

Guests can choose from a wide variety of martinis, including the brand’s Bella Cera, which blends Chameleon cachaça, Bombay Sapphire gin, lime juice, Angostura bitters, and ginger beer; or try the Marmalade Smash, which fuses Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, orange marmalade, and fresh ginger.

Adorning the edges of The Grand Plaza are intricately hand-stitched mesh screens, combining more than 13,500 pieces of metal, leather, and fabric.

In the morning, The Grand Plaza invites guests to enjoy a cappuccino and a croissant at either of the cafés. Guests can return to The Grand Plaza for afternoon tea or to indulge in a pre-dinner cocktail while enjoying unexpected pop-up performances. At nightfall, the energy transforms completely, and the space becomes the social epicenter of the ship, coming alive with live music.

The Heart and Soul Behind The Heart and Soul of Celebrity Edge

With the aspiration to completely transform the way guests connect to the world, Celebrity sought creative thinkers who were new to the cruise industry to ensure every aspect of Celebrity Edge would be a departure from traditional thinking about cruising.

Turning The Typical Into The Transformative

The Grand Plaza remains a highlight of Jouin Manku’s involvement in the design of Celebrity Edge, but their influence is also strikingly apparent in the Main Dining Atrium on Celebrity Edge, where they’ve taken the concept of a staircase and turned it into a work of art. Hanging three stories between the flights of stairs is yet another meaningful art installation known as The Pendulum. The Pendulum base moves ever so gently to the rhythms of the ocean to remind guests that they are indeed moving and connected to the sea, even when they cannot see it.

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.

World’s First Floating Runway

Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess ‘lands’ on world’s first floating runway in Sydney Harbour

Majestic Princess sailed into Sydney on Saturday morning on the world’s first floating “runway”. The spectacular celebration was held to mark the maiden arrival of the ship, the largest Princess Cruises’ vessel ever to visit Australia.

The 3,560-guest Majestic Princess was filmed arriving into Sydney via the 1,550 metre-long illuminated floating runway, which was created by 62 buoys with red and white flares that guided her path into Sydney Harbour.

The newest ship in Princess Cruises’ fleet, Majestic Princess will be based in Sydney for the next six months, and will join three other Princess Cruises’ ships – Sun Princess, Sea Princess and Golden Princess – in Australia. The vessels will sail from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Fremantle, and Adelaide.

Princess Cruises recently announced its largest ever deployment in the region for 2019-2020. Five ships will travel to more than 100 destinations and carry around 200,000 guests.

The extra capacity will help meet growing demand from the UK. The amount of Brits booking Australia and New Zealand voyages with Princess Cruises has nearly doubled year-on-year in 2018.

Majestic Princess’ current sailing is being filmed as part of series six of ITV documentary ‘The Cruise’, which is due to air on ITV in early 2019. At 143,700 tonnes, Majestic Princess is equivalent to 126 Sydney Manly ferries, while her height of more than 68 metres makes her taller than the Sydney Opera House. The documentary will reveal what life is like for both crew and guests as they sail around Australasia.

Prices start from £2,689 per person for a 13-night cruise onboard Majestic Princess to New Zealand sailing roundtrip from Sydney, departing 1 November 2019.

About Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises operates a fleet of 17 modern cruise ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided with the experience of exceptional customer service. Princess carries two million guests each year to more than 380 destinations around the globe on more than 150 itineraries ranging in length from three to 114 days. The company is part of Carnival Corporation

Recommended Reading:  Princess Names New Ship Enchanted Princess

European Waterways’ Ladies at Leisure Cruises

Flexible Itinerary Options Offer Culinary Excursions, Boutique and Market Shopping, Art, and Well-being Themes

European Waterways is the largest luxury hotel barging company in Europe. For those of you not familiar with the term hotel barging, it is a boutique, unique experience, offering an immersive, all-inclusive “gentle voyage of discovery”, focusing on the culture, history, fine wine and gourmet cuisine of the region.

Travelling in groups is increasing in popularity and European Waterways has introduced 6 night “Ladies at Leisure” hotel barge charter options, offering a wide range of excursions, culinary experiences, shopping and health-conscious themes, such as yoga and walking.

They are a unique way for female travellers to indulge in their favourite activities, while on holiday with their relatives, friends, or social groups in some of the most attractive and exclusive regions of Europe.

Managing Director of European Waterways, Derek Banks, said “Today’s female travellers are more confident and independent. The social nature of hotel barging makes it an ideal way to take a break, or mark a celebration, with like-minded friends in a relaxing setting”.

European Waterways’ Ladies at Leisure cruises can be tailored to meet the special interests of each group. For example, a culinary themed cruise can include private cooking demonstrations, excursions may feature truffle hunting and visits to local attractions such as an artisan chocolatier, or a Mediterranean oyster farm.

Guests can take an educational tour of L’Oulibo, a factory that produces the purest extra virgin olive oil from the famous Lucques olive, one of the hardest from which to extract the oil. They can also enjoy gastronomic excursions to local food markets, accompanied by their on-board master chef, who can incorporate their culinary finds into the evening menu.

Culinary-Themed

L’Impressionniste

The deluxe 12-passenger barge which sails Southern Burgundy on the Canal de Bourgogne – the cruise offers free transfers in chauffeured minivans from Paris

Enchanté

For smaller groups, the ultra-deluxe 8-passenger barge cruises on the famed Canal du Midi, are ideal.

What’s Included

Charter pricing includes:

  • an attentive, experienced crew;
  • transfers from the pick up point to the barge mooring (and return on the day of departure);
  • en-suite accommodation;
  • all gourmet meals; all drinks/fine wines/open bar;
  • all daily, escorted excursions/tours, which are pre-arranged and these are with transport provided;
  • use of bicycles on board
  • Some cruises also feature onboard entertainment by local performers, as well as demonstrations by local craftsmen.

With the charter offer applying, full barge prices for selected Spring 2019 cruise departures aboard Enchanté start from £29,080, based on 8 people, a saving of over £8,000.

Well Being Cruises

Health-themed holidays are also increasingly popular with female travellers, and European Waterways’ cruises offer plenty of opportunities to engage in “gentle exercise”, such as walking on the gentle towpaths that run parallel to the canal, or starting the day with a morning yoga class on deck.

L’Art de Vivre the 8-passenger hotel barge offers Walking Cruises in Burgundy between Auxerre and Chevroches, with the cruises providing countless opportunities to take in the historic Burgundian countryside and picturesque medieval villages along the way.

Wine Appreciation Cruises

The 8-passenger Rosa hotel barge sails through the sun soaked city of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the most famous of the Bordeaux appellations.

The 20-passenger La Bella Vita provides a slice of the good life on her Wine Appreciation Cruise through the Veneto region of Italy. Guests can taste world-renowned vintages as they tour the sprawling Renaissance wine estates en route between Venice and Mantua.

Art Themed Cruises

For more creative groups, art-themed cruises come with an expert “art guide” who shows guests around craft workshops and boutiques and suggests the best painting spots. The hotel barge itself makes an ideal “spot,” and guests can paint on-board while enjoying a cocktail, or chilled glass of champagne.

Onboard Activities

“There is never a ‘what do we do today’ moment on a European Waterways’ cruise, because activities are carefully planned to fill the days,” said Banks. “We also ensure there is plenty of free time for our guests to do nothing at all but enjoy the beautiful countryside as they sit back and sip their favourite wine. For some, that’s ‘activity’ enough!”

European Waterways

With over 40 years’ experience and a fleet that spans nine countries, a 6 to 20-person capacity and 1:2 crew ratio, European Waterways is able to provide an impeccable level of on board service and can transport guests on the intimate inland waterways that are inaccessible to larger vessels.

This fascinating network of smaller canals allows for flexibility, spontaneity and ample opportunity to hop off and explore the beautiful surroundings via bicycle, or on foot.

In addition to this there are daily, chauffeured excursions “off the beaten track” to a wide variety of enthralling locations, from exquisite wine tastings to private tours of stately homes.

Please visit www.europeanwaterways.com for information

Follow European Waterways on Facebook and Twitter and view the YouTube channel.

Recommended ReadingMy favourite travel bags

Celebrity Edge Raises The Bar in Entertainment

Celebrity Edge is poised to raise the bar on entertainment as well as modern luxury travel.

On Celebrity Edge, guests will experience the brand’s most technologically advanced main theatre, the most production shows of any ship in the brand’s history, the largest cast of world-class performers on any premium cruise ship, and more entertainment venues than ever before.

Introducing an Immersive Theatre Experience

The Theatre on Celebrity Edge throws away the curtain altogether, immersing guests in an entertainment experience like no other. With four stage areas and three gigantic, moving projection screens, The Theatre offers an ever-changing canvas for the productions.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Theatre Entrance

The main stage extends into the audience creating a theatre-in-the-round. A rotating platform elevates almost seven feet above the stage to take performances to a whole new level. Two mesmerising rotating spiral staircases, 10 synchronised panoramic projection screens, 16 state-of-the-art video mapping laser projectors, aerial performance rigging, and more, the technology behind the scenes will, at times, steal the show.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Theatre

At The Theatre, guests can enjoy five new full production shows, including:

A Hot Summer Night’s Dream, the Shakespeare-inspired  show where light-hearted theatre meets extraordinary acrobatics;

The Jewelry Box, with its jaw-dropping technological feats;

Kaleidoscope, a high-energy music and dance extravaganza harnessing the stage’s state-of-the-art technology; and two shows as part of Celebrity Cruises’ new Headline Residency program –

Get Up, a dynamic pop concert produced by Black Skull Creative

The Purpose, an uplifting production designed to celebrate the inner self

Welcome To The Club

Brought to life once again in collaboration with the visionaries behind Celebrity Edge’s Eden – The Club on Celebrity Edge is a progressive space that changes its persona throughout the day and night.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Club Bar

During the day, The Club offers experiences such as the Funovation Laser Maze Challenge, the Drone Hunting laser obstacle course, and more.

At night, The Club undergoes yet another transformation. Undercover at The Club puts a contemporary spin on the Prohibition era with 20’s-inspired craft cocktails and an aerial saxophonist. The futuristic body scanner of Andromeda allows guests to become someone else for the evening. And Celebrity Cruises’ Hypno Cam Experience is a first-at-sea dance party featuring a high-tech camera that’s passed around to capture photos, which are instantly displayed on a giant LED screen.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Club

Never The Same Camp Twice

On Celebrity Edge, the brand takes its fully customisable Camp at Sea programme to the next level for younger travellers of all ages with more than 500 activities, including Celebrity Cruises’ first youth coding experience at sea, its innovative STEM programme, and two completely separate contemporary spaces, one for the kids and one for the teens.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge Camp at Sea

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge Camp at Sea

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge Camp at Sea

Entertainment Everywhere

Celebrity Cruises has infused entertainment throughout the ship. At the Rooftop Garden, guests can enjoy experiences such as the Rooftop Concert Series and the Garden Cinema Series, the next evolution of the brand’s Taste of Film experience that’s an under-the-stars movie experience with live musical performances.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge The Rooftop

The iconic Eden will feature evolving entertainment as the space transforms from a “chillful” escape in the mornings to “playful” in the afternoons to “sinful” at night. Daytime experiences include Meditation at Eden and performances from sitar players to aerialists. As dusk falls, Eve at Eden begins. Developed in partnership with Variety Worldwide, this theatrical journey will indulge every sense and put guests at the centre of the experience, for a fusion of culinary exploration, performance art and nightlife – like nothing else at sea, or even on land.

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge Eden

To learn more about the entertainment on Celebrity Edge, visit celebritycruises.co.uk/celebrity-edge/edge-entertainment/.

Oceania Cruises $100 Million Re-Inspiration

Oceania Cruises have announced a new chapter, OceaniaNEXT. 

The world’s leading culinary- and destination-focused cruise line, Oceania Cruises are introducing dramatic enhancements to their fleet. This ambitious brand initiative OceaniaNEXT, will elevate every facet of the Oceania Cruises guest experience to new levels.

Better Than New Ships

The first part of the project known as OceaniaNEXT, will see Oceania Cruises give Regatta-Class $100 Million Re-Inspiration which will result in four ‘better than new’ ships.  Each vessel will emerge with 342 brand new designer suites and staterooms and stunning new décor in the restaurants, lounges and bars. The inspiration for the design comes from the line’s 450 ports of call across Europe, Alaska, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, New England-Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Tahiti and the South Pacific and epic 180-day Around the World Voyages.

Ships and re-inspiration dates;

  • December 2018 – Insignia
  • May 2019 – Sirena
  • September 2019 – Regatta
  • June 2020 – Nautica

Surprisingly New, Delightfully Familiar

Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena will feature richly appointed and stylish new interiors that showcase the best of residential design.  Furnishings from Baker and Donghia along with fabrics from Rubelli and Kravet will adorn the public spaces, with new richly-hued custom-milled carpets lining the floors.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Grand Hall

Effortless style in an elegant atmosphere will be the defining characteristics of the Reception Hall and Upper Hall.  A sparkling new Grand Staircase framed by intricate railings and balustrades inset with crystal accents will welcome guests onboard.  Overhead, a crowning grand chandelier adorned with hanging pieces of smoked and hand-painted glass, will set the space aglow.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Grand Hall

The Grand Dining Room will feature buttery soft cream leather dining chairs accented with metallic bronze threading to catch the light from the stunning new crystal chandelier, which will be the room’s defining centrepiece.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Grand Dining Room

Martinis becomes anew with a palette inspired by the stunning coastline of Santorini featuring hues of deep Grecian blue, sienna and chocolate browns and stately pewter.  Silver-white marble and tobacco quartz will accent the bar while the trademark walnut panelling adds lustre and whispers of familiarity.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Martini Lounge

All-New Suites and Staterooms

Wanting guests to feel at home while away from home, the luxurious brand-new staterooms and suites will be lighter, brighter and even more spacious.  Stripped down to their studs, every ounce of the re-inspired accommodations will be modernised, featuring custom-crafted furnishings, exotic stone and polished wood finishes and designer accessories, creating a harmonious celebration of style and comfort.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Concierge Veranda

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Concierge Veranda

“The staterooms and suites are the most dramatic of the transformation,” added Ruiz. “They now feature a very clean design with a sophisticated air.  Enhanced by nuanced shades of the sea and sky, the tones are warm and soothing, incorporating silvery greys and greens alongside vivid sapphires and taupes.”

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Penthouse Suite

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Insignia Penthouse Suite

For convenience, USB ports will be incorporated in each of the staterooms, as well as a state-of-the art television system with movies on demand in multiple-languages, live stations and a programme guide, plus itinerary information and weather updates.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Sirena Vista Suite #7004

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises – Sirena Owners Suite Living Room #6008

Lustrous New Bathrooms

Every fixture and surface of the bathrooms will be new, with designer fixtures, perfect lighting, lavish vanities and chic glass shower enclosures.  Penthouse, Vista and Owner’s Suites bathrooms become true luxury retreats, offering more space outfitted with Carrara marble, polished granite and sleek onyx.

Re-Inspiration By The Numbers

$100 Million Dollars
1,368 New Suites and Staterooms
1,400 New Marble Bathrooms
8,000 New Light Fixtures
12,000 New Sofas and Chairs
1,000+ Artisans and Craftsmen

For more information visit: Oceania Cruises

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

Viking Sea Cruise – Day Three – St Croix

Waking Up In St Croix

There’s nothing better than having a balcony when you cruise, and on Viking Sea every room has one. Not only did I get a great view of the coastline, but I also got a partial view of the Bridge.

It was warm and sunny outside with temperatures forecast for the high 80’s. I had booked a snorkelling excursion and was excited to try it for the first time.

Waking up to a beautiful view of St Croix

As my body was still on UK time, I felt really hungry as soon as I woke up. I needed to eat something quickly, so I ordered breakfast in my room and enjoyed a delicious feast before getting dressed.

Simple, Beautiful St Croix

I wanted to have a look at Frederiksted before leaving for the Buck Island trip. Thank goodness I did. St Croix is unlike any other Caribbean Islands visited by cruise ships.

There is no big terminal building, you simply walk along the pier into the quaint town of Frederiksted.

The Viking Sea docked in St Croix

As you reach the Customs and Immigration building, there is a small welcome party where you can taste the local rum while the DJ plays Caribbean music.

A warm welcome in St Croix

And if that doesn’t get you in the Caribbean mood, this lady will.

A vibrant welcome to St Croix

Frederiksted Historic District

There is a lovely area just at the end of the pier with benches facing the sea. The red building is Fort Frederik which was built in the 1750’s to guard the island from pirates. It now houses a museum and art gallery which can be visited for a small entrance fee. A clocktower overlooks Emancipation Park where in 1848, Danish Governor Peter Von Scholten emancipated the slaves.

I thought this was a really pretty place and not busy at all. There are a few tents set up with local sellers offering a range of local products but no big tax-free jewellery stores or designer shops, which I find is a refreshing change. It might be different when one of the larger cruise ships visits. If you have any experience of this please let me know in the comments below.

Driving To Christiansted

We were the second trip of the day for our driver Stephen.

Religion is a very important part of Island culture and it wasn’t long before I had a sign from God.

Thankfully it was just the shadow of a window sticker on my leg. Or was it?

The drive to Christiansted, the largest town on the island, took around 20 minutes. En route I was surprised to see an oil production plant on the island, recently sold and renamed Limetree Bay Terminals LLC. More in keeping with the area was the Captain Morgan Rum Distillery, which has a visitor centre if you fancy a look around.

Arriving in Christiansted we gathered on grass area to meet our Caribbean Sea Adventures Crew. I took the opportunity to snap a few photos of the colourful buildings around us.

Our Buck Island Adventure

The sun-kissed crew from Caribbean Sea Adventures, gathered our group together.

We headed to our boat.

Once onboard the boat, it became apparent that I was the only person on board that had never snorkelled before. Many people had brought their own equipment.

Buck Island is a protected National Monument. Two-thirds of the island are surrounded by a coral barrier reef. This provides the perfect ecosystem for a variety of marine plants and animals including endangered species.

I didn’t go too far from the boat for my first snorkel but what I saw and experienced was something I will never forget. It is hard to put into words the peace and tranquillity I experienced even just putting my face into the water, but it moved me to tears when I emerged from the water.

Here is a 3-minute video that I have put together to give you an idea of what it was like. Have you tried snorkelling? If so I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. If you like the video please visit my YouTube channel and give it a thumbs up and subscribe to help me get famous :-). I hope you like the song as much as I do.

Back On Board

Back onboard the Viking Sea, you are handed a much needed chilled flannel to refresh yourself, and a warm smiley welcomes from the crew who greet you by name.

After our wonderful day trip, I was thirsty and needed to cool off a bit. I ordered myself a Margarita on the rocks, no salt, at the Aquavit Terrace Bar, and headed to the infinity pool.

I watched the beautiful sunset as we sailed away from St Croix.

Then it was time for dinner in Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant.

Manfredi’s starter – Calamari

Followed by melt in the mouth Surf n’ Turf

The meal in Manfredi’s was delicious but I was so exhausted after another action-packed day, I could barely stay awake to eat it. So as soon as I finished dinner I headed back to my room and flopped into the incredibly soft, comfy, cosy bed.

Goodnight.

Have you read my Viking Sea Cruise – Day Two – Puerto Rico?

If so, why not read Viking Sea Cruise – Day Four

Thinking of booking your own Viking Cruise? Click My Viking Cruise to visit their website.

Viking Sea Cruise – Day Two – Puerto Rico

A Room With A View

My Penthouse Veranda stateroom was on the starboard side which gave me the best views of the ocean in Puerto Rico. I sat down on my balcony to enjoy a coffee and the sun rising above San Juan and noticed a cruise ship in the distance. I love watching ships come alongside, so I was thrilled to see three other cruise ships entering the port, all from the comfort of my stateroom.

View of San Juan Port from Viking Sea 5011.

It was time for breakfast and to see the ship in daylight.

Taking in the Viking Sea with the beautiful San Juan backdrop.

 

Walking to breakfast on the Viking Sea

 

The main pool onboard Viking Sea

Time For An Adventure

After a quick tour of the ship, we headed out for our horse riding trip. There was no queuing to disembark the ship and we were offered chilled bottles of water to take with us as we left.

We took a minibus to Carabali Rainforest Adventure Park located in Luquillo. Our driver gave us an entertaining guided tour during the 20-minute journey. However, I had met a lovely lady named Julia, who works onboard the Viking Sea. We didn’t stop talking for the entire journey, so I missed the commentary but made a great friend.

Everyone in the group was matched to a horse depending on their experience. Horse riding is second nature to me, so I was matched with Vulcan for the ride.

Not quite Lady Godiva

It was a blazing hot day, so we took it easy and just walked. We stopped to rest and cool off by the river.

Time to cool off

I could have stayed there all-day

 

With my new friends. Our guide, Jonathan and Julia from Viking.

It was a fantastic experience and the guys that took us out were great fun and looked after us. We rode back to the farm, grabbed a beer and returned to the ship.

Thank goodness we were on a Viking Cruises shore excursion as we arrived back dead on 4.30, which was the all aboard time. That was cutting it fine. Had we been delayed though, the ship would have waited for us, unlike if we were doing the trip on our own.

Sailaway

Five o’clock was time for muster drill, so I had just enough time for a much-needed shower. Being a 930 passenger ship, the drill took no time at all and we were soon sipping cocktails and watching the sunset.

The sun setting on San Juan

The waves crashing against the rocks of Old San Juan Fort – Castillo San Felipe del Morro

The dramatic San Juan coastline

Our group met in the Explorers Lounge for a pre-dinner drink. Viking’s ocean cruise ships all have an Explorers theme encapsulated in their interior design.

The Explorers Lounge with maps of star constellations framing the room

The Explorers Lounge Bar with star constellation mirror

Meeting in the Explorers Lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail

For our first night, we decided to have dinner in the main dining room.

Smoked Sturgeon and Sevruga Caviar

Oriental Style Scallops and Lobster

After dinner, we headed to the theatre for the Captains Welcome Aboard Speech.

Champagne on ice to welcome the guests onboard Viking Sea

There was not a spare seat in the house as Cruise Director Mark and the Viking Band kicked off proceedings with a wonderful rendition of Hello, Young Lovers.

The Captain was introduced to the stage and from the outset, he was very funny. There was a lighthearted approach to introducing the rest of the senior management team as they walked onto the stage to the music of Pirates of the Caribbean.

By this time the travelling, jet lag and horseriding had made me feel extremely tired. So it was time for bed to be ready for more exciting adventures tomorrow.

Read Day Three – St Croix

Thinking of booking your own Viking Cruise? Click My Viking Cruise to visit their website.

Cruise People – Marc Walker – Royal Caribbean

What’s Life Like For A Cruise Director?

I recently had the opportunity to meet Marc Walker who is currently the Cruise Director onboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. I’ve always thought it would be such a great job to do, but after speaking to Marc in person, I think I’ll stick to sipping cocktails by the pool while someone else does all the hardwork.

How long have you been a Cruise Director?

I was promoted to Cruise Director in January 2001 after being with the company for 4 years. This is my 22nd year with Royal Caribbean, 17 of them as Cruise Director.

How did you end up working onboard Royal Caribbean ships?

I was a DJ back in England, and when I worked at Butlin’s I met people who worked for Royal Caribbean. At that time there were only 12 ships in the fleet, and there was no no such thing as the internet. So it was purely word of mouth and sending resumes off. A juggler, who still works for us, told me to apply to Royal Caribbean as a DJ. I had never heard of Royal Caribbean, I said Royal who? This was in England and they weren’t even in England at that point, they were just sailing out of the Caribbean. So I got a job interview in London, I was offered the job as cruise staff which is what you do. You call bingo and you socialise, you start at the bottom. My first ship was the Viking Serenade in 19 July 1996.

1996 Marc’s first contract as cruise staff, with Fernando Castro on Viking Serenade

How long do you spend onboard the cruiseship at a time?

We usually do four months on two months off, but depending on business needs or if you have a holiday request it can be longer or shorter. I am doing four months on here then I am going to take only five days off, then I go to our bigger ship the Harmony of the Seas. At the end of the year I’ll be going to our brand new ship the Symphony of the Seas and will take the ship to Miami for the Inaugural Christening.

Do you get to see your family at all when you are working?

Never when I am working because my wife and two kids live in Florida. But they are going to be cruising at the end of November for a one off cruise. Lily will be in school and she is five, so she can only come a few times a year. But they usually have to wait until I get home, which will be January for five days.

I keep reading on social media that you are Roy ‘Catchphrase’ Walker’s son. Is this true? 

I’ve actually met Roy, he does a few comedy shows onboard. He is really nice but I am not related despite the same name.

What is the average Day In The Life for you when you are at work?

8 o’clock every morning my day starts, that’s seven days a week and I usually take a couple of hours off in the afternoon. We call it international nap time where crew members have to sleep for a couple of hours in the day. Then my shift starts again at 4pm until midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning. So 8am until about 1 or 2pm is paperwork and meetings, then the evening is shows, socialising, being out there.

Have you met any Celebrities onboard, and if so can you give us some names?

John Travolta came onboard once. We looked after him for 4 days. He is a really nice man. And Donny Osmond in 2004.

What is your favourite meal onboard?

I should eat salads but I don’t. On this ship I like the roasts because you don’t get them in America. So I go to the Windjammer and have my roasts whenever I can. And then when I go Stateside I just have to have the Mongolian stir fry.

What is your favourite port of call?

Geiranger Fjords.

Do you have any hobbies?

I do flight simulator. I have the joystick, the yoke and the foot pedals and I bring them with me. So I do transatlantic flights when I go to bed at night, and when I wake up I’m landing (laughs). Its very soothing. It sends me off.

Your job is very demanding. Do you have any tips you can share that help you stay energetic, healthy and in shape?

You have to pace yourself especially at my ripe old age of 46. It gets harder the older you get and the ships are getting bigger which is harder to handle, harder to manage. So it’s all in the mind. You can get so stressed out so quickly and it will kill your career. You just have to really take a step back, focus on what the most important things are and then keep everything in a waiting file, don’t do everything at once. But the most important thing is being out there with the guests. If you’ve got that covered then everything else will follow. But we have two jobs, we have administration and we have front of house. There’s no job like it, you have to be good at everything.

If you could do any other job, what would it be?

Television. I actually have a part time job with Home Shopping Network it’s QVC. So when I’m in Florida for a few weeks I tell them I’m coming and they give me a couple of shows. I love it because you are on live television to 97 million people.

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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

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