Tag Archives: Luxury-Cruise

89 Wine Awards For Celebrity Cruises

89 Wine Awards For Celebrity Cruises

Raise A Glass!

Celebrity Cruises Honored With 12 Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards

With 89 Awards for Celebrity Cruises in Nine Years, the cruise line continues its tradition of excellence with the most awarded wine collection at sea.

The awards for Celebrity Cruises’ onboard wine program continue to flow as the cruise line adds 12 additional Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards to its nearly decade-long list of accolades. Wine Spectator annually recognizes restaurant wine lists which feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.

For nine consecutive years, Celebrity Cruises has set the standard for onboard wine programs, holding more awards from the world’s leading authority on wine than any other cruise line. In addition to receiving 10 “Awards of Excellence” for the second consecutive year, Celebrity received two coveted “Best of Awards of Excellence” for its unique wine lists on the brand’s newest ships — Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Edge — making it the only cruise line among a small, elite group of establishments in the world that have received awards for the past nine consecutive years.

AWARDS

All of the main dining room restaurants on Celebrity’s Millennium and Solstice Series received this year’s “Award of Excellence.”The list of Celebrity Cruises Wine Spectator’s 2021 Restaurant Awards include:

  • Celebrity Apex — Cyprus (“Best of Award of Excellence” since 2020) and Fine Cut (“Award of Excellence” since 2020)
  • Celebrity Constellation – San Marco (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Eclipse – Moonlight Sonata (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Edge – Normandie (“Best of Award of Excellence” since 2019)
  • Celebrity Equinox – Silhouette (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Infinity – Trellis (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Millennium – Metropolitan (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Reflection – Opus (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Silhouette – Grand Cuvee (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Solstice – Grand Epernay (“Award of Excellence” since 2013)
  • Celebrity Summit – Cosmopolitan (“Award of Excellence”)

Celebrity Cruise’s wine collection at sea

Offering one of the largest wine collections at sea, Celebrity Cruises offer over 500 selections. They come from the world’s most sought-after wine regions and some of the most acclaimed labels. An educated and knowledgeable team of Sommeliers onboard every ship help navigate the options. They offer a variety of experiences that immerse guests in wine education and enjoyment including:

  • World Wine Tours – opportunities to sample different wines from across the globe and learn about regional and varietal technicalities
  • Food and Wine Pairing Workshops – samples of contrasting pairings to teach the fundamentals of food and wine chemistry and the way food and wine interact
  • Destination Wine Tours – immersions into beautiful regional wine-producing areas around the world, including winery tours and tastings

Recommended Reading; Celebrity Infinity Cruise Ship Review

MSC Group Launch Explora Journeys

New Luxury Brand

The MSC Group have announced the company’s entry into the luxury cruise market. The launch of a new brand, Explora Journeys has been created for the next generation of discerning luxury travellers.

The first of four luxury ships will set sail in 2023, with the remaining ships ready in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Each will utilise the latest in cutting-edge maritime technology to provide journeys of discovery through destinations on and off the beaten path. Guests will be hosted on a ship like no other, with the highest level of service and amenities.

Ship Design

Designed in partnership with the world’s foremost superyacht and luxury hospitality designers, the innovative ship will seamlessly blend elegant Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship. With 461 oceanfront suites and residences, guests will enjoy striking views at sea and in port from their floor to ceiling windows and personal private terrace. Suites will start at 35 square metres which is among the most spacious for the category in the industry.

Fourteen decks will provide ample indoor public space, maximising guest choice and seclusion. Generous outdoor decks will boast more than 2,500 square metres overlooking the sea, with 64 private cabanas across 3 outdoor pools. A fourth pool, with a retractable glass roof, will allow swimming and poolside relaxation in any weather. Combined with various indoor and outdoor whirlpool baths on the ship’s promenade deck, the ship was designed with water as a focal point to put guests in an ocean state of mind.

“Explora Journeys was designed for guests who want to stay longer, leave later, and travel deeper,” said Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys. “Explora Journeys will bring a new perspective to the travel industry, reinventing the classic cruise experience for the next generation of luxury travellers.”

Exceptional Service and Dining Options

With the perfect blend of intimate and vibrant spaces, a guest to crew ratio of 1.25 to 1 ensures anticipatory service at every turn. Tailored to suit personal preferences, flexible dining times at nine distinct restaurants will provide unrivalled variety at sea. Each venue will celebrate global culinary talents, with a focus on wholesome ingredients sustainably sourced from local partners. To make sure guests are spoilt for choice, several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges will also be available. Relaxation begins the moment a guest steps aboard, not having to reach for their wallet for any additional costs.

Wellness

Personalisation continues in wellness with a spacious indoor/ outdoor spa and fitness area on board. From treatment rooms to state-of-the-art fitness equipment, group workout classes to personal training appointments, tailor-made programmes make staying well while on holiday easy and enjoyable. Bespoke wellness experiences in each destination will make relaxation and rejuvenation easily accessible onboard and ashore.

Guided By The Sea

In partnership with Fincantieri, Explora Journeys is building ships for tomorrow, utilising the latest in environmental-supporting technologies, while being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available. The design incorporates provision for battery storage allowing future hybrid power generation, as well as the latest selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, enabling a reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90%. Built with ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth and powered by marine gas oil, all four ships will be RINA DOLPHIN certified for reduced underwater noise. Single-use plastics will not be used onboard the ship, nor will they be offered during land-based experiences, as Explora Journeys is focused on leaving a positive impression on the places and people visited.

“The MSC Family knows the sea like few others, and with that knowledge comes passion, love and most of all, a deep respect,” continued Pierfrancesco Vago. “Our ships will utilise state of the art technology to ensure we are leading the movement towards a more sustainable future. Together with our partners, we’re currently developing ground-breaking technologies that will elevate the status quo, not just for this generation but also beyond.”

Itineraries

With journeys starting at 7 nights, a best-in-class guest experience will ensure relaxed mornings and exciting evenings. Non-conventional arrival and departure times combined with overnight stays will allow Explora Journeys to offer guests exclusive access to once in a lifetime experiences. With ships that travel far north and south of the equator, itineraries in the inaugural collection will offer the ideal blend of celebrated destinations such as Saint Tropez, Bordeaux and Reykjavik, and hidden gems such as Kastellorizo, Bozcaada and the Lofoten Islands. Explora Journeys will bring guests to lesser-travelled harbours to enjoy a more authentic experience and a slower pace of travel.

A Symbolic Emblem

CFO of the MSC Group, Alexa Aponte-Vago designed the Explora Journeys logo. The pattern represents a journey of personal discovery and fulfilment. Illustrations of the lotus flower symbolise purity of body, speech, and mind, while a nod to the fleur-de-lis represents humility and a connection to European heritage. A sophisticated typeface alludes to the subtle curves of the sea.

Bookings for the 2023 Inaugural Collection will open in Autumn 2021. To learn more about Explora Journeys, please visit ExploraJourneys.com, or join the conversation @ExploraJourneys.

Recommended Reading: 7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

Disney Teases New Design of Disney Wish

Disney Cruise Line Unveils New Design of Disney Wish, Due Summer ’22

With less than a week to go until their grand ship reveal, Disney teases new design of Disney Wish.

The fifth ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, will introduce a brand-new concept unlike anything at sea. Enchantment will be the design theme,  weaving imagination, emotion and adventure into every corner of the ships’ unique personality.

Imagineering an Enchanted Ship

Enchantment is that special ingredient of Disney films.

Inspired by nearly a century of Disney fairytales, Walt Disney Imagineers have captured the essence of enchantment, using:

  • fairytale castles, emulating the classic storybook charm at the core of many enchanted tales;
  • forests and animals, bringing to life fascinating natural worlds and the animals that inhabit them; and
  • spirit of the sea, embodying the magic and mystery of the watery world below.

A wide range of stories that will be represented on board, from Disney and Pixar to Marvel and Star Wars.

Designed with Character

The Disney Wish will continue the Disney tradition of incorporating an elegant, classical exterior design.

Every Disney cruise ship features two character art pieces on the hull of each ship. For the Disney Wish, elegant artwork on the bow, will feature Captain Minnie Mouse.

The stern of the ship will feature a custom sculpture of the optimistic and adventurous Rapunzel. The Disney Princess will be suspended by her golden tresses and appear to be “decorating” the exterior of the ship with the help of her chameleon pal, Pascal.

Imagineers have taken it one step further. By adding a whimsical curvature to the deck edge along both sides of the ship, they have created a sense of magic and visual movement both inside and out.

A Castle on the Seas

Image Credit: Disney Cruise Line – The Grand Hall onboard the Disney Wish

The spellbinding Grand Hall is a bright, airy and elegant space that will greet guests the moment they step on board. The fairytale castle-inspired atrium is touched with Gothic, Baroque and French Rococo influences that gives life to the columns, carvings, trimmings and adornments.

The Grand Hall will be Disney Cruise Line’s castle on the seas. An enchanted realm where glittering trails of pixie dust climb majestic columns, spill across the ceiling and animate the shimmering chandelier  with a burst of magic. The chandelier is the manifestation of wishes come true.

Cinderella stands at the base of a grand staircase, beneath the glow of the wishing star. The story of Cinderella is the epitome of magic transforming wishes into dreams and dreams into reality. The beautiful bronze statue of this beloved princess is just one of many tributes to her story in the Grand Hall’s design. Others include railings that glisten with elegant stained glass, and sophisticated nods to her carriage and glass slipper in the delicate metalwork and light fixtures.

The Grand Hall will be the enchanted gateway to everything that awaits on board the Disney Wish including;

  • fairytale worlds
  • heroic challenges
  • epicurean indulgences
  • thrilling adventures
  • galactic encounters
  • peaceful escapes

Details on the experiences, itineraries and booking dates for the Disney Wish will be revealed next week. For more information, visit the Disney Parks Blog.

Recommended Reading Disney Magic Cruise Ship Review

Queen Mary 2 World Voyage for 2022

Cunard announces Classic World Voyage on Queen Mary 2 for 2022

Queen Mary 2 charts a stunning 104 night escape through Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe

Cunard’s 2022 classic World Voyage on their iconic flagship Queen Mary 2 goes on sale today (September 8 2020).

The ocean liner will make calls to Greece, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia and Bali, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Italy and Portugal. The World Voyage will cruise through the Suez Canal on both the outbound journey and return.

Intrinsic Glamour and Heritage

Cunard president, Simon Palethorpe, said, “Our guests have told us they want memorable destinations which combine intrinsic glamour and heritage.” Spanning 16 countries, this unique cruise offers 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The 104 night voyage departs Southampton on January 10th 2022 and returns on April 24th 2022. The itinerary will include overnight stops in Haifa, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore. In addition, Columbo will offer a late night departure.

Choose From Six Sectors

Palethorpe continued, “This 104 night voyage can be split into six sectors and booked individually, which is tailored to those who want to fully immerse themselves in the Cunard experience for just a portion of the journey. It truly is the ultimate exploration of east meets west experienced from the magnificent setting of the world’s only ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2.

“Guests on board will be able to take advantage of a multitude of luxurious offerings whether they want to be entertained, learn something new, get active or simply relax, while the ambience throughout the ship is warm, friendly and inclusive.”

Those sailing the full World Voyage will enjoy a welcome on board reception, plus all the services of a World Voyage Concierge. These include the use of a private lounge, a gala event ashore and complimentary daily gratuities.

Prices for an inside stateroom for the complete 104 night voyage start from £11,499 per person.

For the latest information about the steps Cunard are taking to ensure the very best protocols are in place to guard against Covid-19, visit www.cunard.com/sailing-with-confidence

Countdown to Enchanted Princess 

Princess Cruises has commenced the one-year countdown to the launch of the 3,660-guest Enchanted Princess in Southampton on June 30, 2020.

Construction of the 143,700-ton ship is currently under way in the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, where it will take a total of three million construction hours to build. On completion, the vessel will sail from Southampton for an inaugural season in the Mediterranean before heading to the Caribbean in autumn 2020.

The keel of Enchanted Princess at Fincantieri, Trieste.

Enchanted Princess will have a top speed of 22 knots (25 mph) and 15,000KW of transverse (sideways) thruster power. Princess Cruises’ original Love Boat, Pacific Princess, had a forward propulsion power of about 13,500KW, meaning Enchanted Princess can go faster sideways than the original Pacific Princess could travel forward!

Its maiden voyage will be a 10-night sailing to Rome, calling at Bilbao, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Barcelona, Toulon/Provence (La Seyne) and Florence/Pisa (Livorno), departing on July 1, 2020. Click here for details.

Enchanted Princess is the sister ship to Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Majestic Princess and Sky Princess, which joins the fleet in October 2019. Royal Princess was the most recent vessel from the line’s fleet to be named in Southampton, in 2013, by Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge.

Enchanted Princess will be an evolution of her sister ships with enhancements, which are also set to feature on Sky Princess, including:

Two ‘Sky Suites’, which have the largest balconies at sea and will be centrally located on the top decks. Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite) the balconies will provide a private vantage of the top deck Movies Under the Stars cinema screen, offer 270-degree panorama views and sleep up to five guests. They will feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a dining area with skylight as well as a host of exclusive amenities.

Princess MedallionClass experience, featuring the complimentary OceanMedallion wearable device, which is the same size as a 10p piece, delivers an entirely new level of service and creates a holiday that is more simple, effortless and personalised with:

  • Expedited arrival – Guests who arrive at the terminal with travel documents (i.e. passports) uploaded to their profile enjoy a streamlined and expedited check-in process that gets their holiday started even sooner.
  • On-demand services – Food, beverage, retail order and hospitality services delivered to your location: Using smart devices, guests have the ability to order drinks, food and retail items like suntan lotion and have them delivered directly anywhere onboard, including to their stateroom.
  • Family and friends locator – Finding travel companions and directional ship information: Accessible on portals throughout the ships and via guests’ smart devices, OceanCompass leverages the OceanMedallion to easily locate and chat with friends and family onboard. OceanCompass guides guests throughout their journey, providing directional information so they can seamlessly navigate to their next point of interest.
  • New entertainment such as jazz lounge Take Five, a redesigned Vista Lounge and an enhanced Princess Theatre

More than 25 dining venues and bars including the World Fresh Marketplace and speciality restaurants La Mer (French bistro), Crown Grill Steakhouse and Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria

A redesigned Sanctuary area, the spa-inspired top deck retreat reserved for adults. The Sanctuary will feature an enhanced, contemporary design including twice as many private cabanas as its sister ships, as well as new lounge furniture and the option for guests to indulge in a spa treatment.

Tony Roberts with Master of Sky Princess, Captain Tuvo from tv series The Cruise.

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises vice president UK & Europe (pictured), said: “With just one year to go until the launch of Enchanted Princess in Southampton this is an exciting time for Princess Cruises as we prepare to add another ship to our fleet. Enchanted Princess will showcase our continued commitment to offering premium services and features  for our guests, as well as maintaining the signature Princess experience that our guests have come to know and love.”

Princess Cruises is offering a 7-day Mediterranean and Aegean voyage on Enchanted Princess departing September 12, 2020. Sailing from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Athens and calling at Naples, Kotor, Corfu, Chania and Mykonos. Prices from £1,099 per person, with up to $250 onboard spending money per person*. Click here for details

Interesting Facts about Enchanted Princess

  • With a length of 1083 feet, Enchanted Princess is longer than the height of The Shard, the tallest UK building
  • At 217 feet tall, Enchanted Princess is around the height of 15 double-decker buses stacked on top of one another
  • There will be 2,500 miles of electrical cabling in Enchanted Princess equivalent to the distance between London and Cairo
  • 100,000 gallons of paint will be used in the construction of Enchanted Princess, more than 10 times the amount required annually to paint the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Enchanted Princess will feature 200 tons of marble, 30 times the amount used in Michelangelo’s statue of David
  • Enchanted Princess’ anchor is 14 tons, twice the weight of an elephant

My very own piece of Enchanted Princess and an Ocean Medallion.

Join Me On A Princess Cruise

Want to try a Princess Cruise, but don’t want to go alone? Come and join me on Sky Princess next year. Click here for details.

Mark Ronson Virgin Voyages Minister of Music

“Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin brand were legendary game-changers in the music industry and it’s a thrill to join them as they bring that same spirit to sea travel,” Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson Takes Role as Minister of Music for Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages have announced that Academy, Grammy and Golden Globe-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson to be ‘Minister of Music’ for Virgin Voyages.

The role will see Ronson creating a series of pre-voyage and onboard playlists for Sailors. He will also curate the vinyl record selection in the RockStar Suites and in Voyage Vinyl, the ship’s vinyl and music shop. Ronson will be working with Virgin Voyages’ music teams to define the brand’s sound both at sea and at their exclusive luxury resort, The Beach Club located in Bimini in the Bahamas.

Ronson has committed to four performances at The Beach Club at Bimini in 2020. To experience Ronson’s July 9 poolside performance, guests need to book the July 5, 2020 Mayan Sol sailing featuring stops in Costa Maya, Mexico and Bimini, Bahamas.

Diplo Joins On Deck Residency Program

Virgin Voyages also announced that legendary DJ and record producer, Diplo, will perform at the Beach Club in 2020.

At The Beach Club so that Sailors can experience moments of relaxation and serenity as well as high-energy excitement. Mornings will begin with yoga and meditation. The energy will be gradually amplified as the day progresses, reaching a crescendo in the afternoon with DJ-led pool and floatilla parties at the centre of the club. Day will cascade into night with a calming fire ritual where Sailors will enjoy acoustic tunes over an open bonfire.

Scarlet Night- A Party to Remember 

One of Virgin Voyages signature onboard parties Scarlet Night, will take Sailors on a journey around Scarlet Lady. Scarlet Night was conceived, designed and produced by award-winning producer Randy Weiner. It is a glamorous occasion of awe and mystique that pushes the boundaries of entertainment. Groundbreaking music will set the mood, as Sailors dance the night away. The experience will be out of this world, with art installations and performances throughout the ship as the night progresses.

House of Yes from Brooklyn, New York will create an unrivalled after party. They were recently named the number two Best Thing To Do in the World by Time Out, known for their theatre-infused nightclub. A fabulous outfit is a must in here, and guests should expect the unexpected, including circus spectacles, immersive cinema, cabaret performances  and beyond.

For one night only! A taste of the unique onboard experiences come to London with a star-studded Scarlet Night event.

For one night only, Londoners will experience a taste of Scarlet Night as the event comes from sea to land. The event held this evening (Tuesday 21st May) will bring to life the energy of Scarlet Night. Guests can expect extraordinary music and performances along with a featured guest performance from Mark Ronson. The special event will be attended by VIPs, celebrities and more. The likes of which include Geri Horner and Holly Branson.

Scarlet Lady to visit the UK

Scarlet Lady will visit Dover and Liverpool in late February 2020. A number of exclusive events for First Mates (travel advisors), media and VIPs will be hosted onboard. Scarlet Lady will make her way across the pond, to her new home of Miami.

More than 2,770 sailors and 1,160 amazing crew from around the world will be on each sailing from Miami to the Caribbean in 2020. Keep watch on virginvoyages.com for more updates.

VIP Tours at Renowned Champagne Houses

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This insightful observation from the renowned American writer is behind the latest luxury VIP Champagne Cruise.

With over 40 years’ experience, European Waterways operate the largest luxury hotel barging company in Europe. The all inclusive, boutique luxury experience focuses on local culture, history, fine wine and gourmet cuisine. Guests are transported through intimate inland waterways, whilst experiencing an impeccable level of service.

Raising The Bar

Panache, the luxury 12 passenger hotel barge, already visits well known wineries and Champagne houses such as Maison Pannier. Now they have added exclusive VIP experiences at prestigious Moët & Chandon and Henriot champagne houses.

Champagne House Maison Pannier

“European Waterways’ Panache hotel barge offers some of the most diverse programmes in our fleet, with Tulip cruises through Holland in the spring, Champagne Cruises in May and June, and a beautiful route across Alsace & Lorraine through the summer and into the Autumn,” said Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. “These new VIP excursions reflect our continuing focus on providing luxurious, memorable experiences with a real difference.

More Moët

Founded in 1743, the Moët & Chandon brand is one of the best-known and most exclusive in the world.  Located on the famed Avenue de Champagne in the city of Epernay, in France’s Champagne region, the domaine features 200-year-old tunnels carved out of the area’s white chalk stone and spreading for 17 miles under the city.  They provide the perfect temperature and humidity necessary for the slowly maturing process of the famous wines.

Image By Palauenc05 of Orangerie de Moët & Chandon on Avenue de Champagne in Épernay, France

On a Panache Champagne Cruise, European Waterways’ guests enjoy a private tour of Moët & Chandon’s vast underground cellar and its much-admired, bubbly treasure. This is followed by an exclusive tasting of some of their renowned vintages, which takes place in an elegant private salon, hosted by an experienced cellar master.

The Panache Champagne Cruises also includes a visit to the domaine of Champagne Henriot. Guests can tour the vineyard and discover the fine art of grape production and selection. There is also a visit to the nearby village of Pierry for a private tour of the winery’s 18th century Château Les Aulnois. Guests will then enjoy an exclusive tasting of various Henriot Champagnes in the Chateau’s dining room, followed by a gastronomic lunch.

A trip to La Maison Pannier is another integral part of the upgraded itinerary for Panache. Founded in 1899, it is the largest Champagne house in the valley.  Following the tour of its medieval labyrinth-like cellars, guests will be treated to a private tasting.

Double Bubble

“After these exclusive tastings, the Champagne flows freely aboard the hotel barge, too, where we don’t spare the bubbly!” said Banks. “Our guests are also treated to the finest gastronomic experiences onboard, with meals prepared by the chef using regionally-sourced ingredients, such as Champagne’s creamy, crumbly Chaource cheese.”

These six-night Champagne cruise fares have a 20 % discount on the May 26, June 16 and June 30 cruise departures this season, and includes;

  • local, private, chauffeured transfers;
  • comfortable, air-conditioned accommodation;
  • all gourmet meals;
  • fine wines – indigenous to the cruise region;
  • an open bar;
  • daily excursions and admittance fees;
  • use of barge facilities, including bicycles and hot tub.

Restrictions apply. Please visit www.europeanwaterways.com for information;

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

Boudicca to Cruise from Dover 2019/2020

Fred. Olsen’s Boudicca starts 2019/20 cruise season from Dover

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines commenced its 2019/20 cruise season from Dover on 13th February 2019, with a sold out romantic four-night ‘Valentine’s in Antwerp with Amsterdam’ getaway, onboard the 880-guest Boudicca.

After this, Boudicca strategically repositions to the Port of Tyne, Newcastle to use as a vantage point for two 8-night ‘Norway Winter’ adventures.  Boudicca will then return to Dover for a 14-night ‘Landscapes of the Canary Islands’ sailing.

Boudicca will be operating a total of 24 different itineraries in its 2019/20 cruise season, from February 2019 through to March 2020.

Special Sailings

Included in the itineraries are two very special sailings.

D-Day 75th Anniversary Voyage – 2nd June 2019

A special 7 night cruise in partnership with The Royal British Legion, exclusively for D-Day veterans and their carers.

168-night Grand Voyage – 3rd October 2019

The longest, most extensive sailing ever undertaken in Fred. Olsen’s history, visiting 61 different ports, towns and cities around the world.

Justin Stanton, Sales and Marketing Director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:

“When you cruise from Dover with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, aboard stylish, classic Boudicca, you are in for an unforgettable experience from the moment you set sail! After embarking your smaller, friendlier cruise ship, you can settle in on board, relax and watch the iconic white cliffs drift out of view, as you sail away from England’s beautiful South East coast on a memorable voyage to some of the world’s greatest destinations.

“Whichever itinerary you choose, Fred. Olsen is sure to have the ideal holiday for you, from the convenient and accessible Port of Dover.”

In 2019/20, Fred. Olsen’s Dover itineraries offer guests the opportunity to see sights such as the breathtaking Norwegian or Greenlandic fjords, picturesque waterways through stunning cities, such as Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Hamburg and Stockholm, experience cultural and scenic highlights in the Baltic, and attend the thrilling Monaco Grand Prix.

Sample Itineraries

22-night Amalfi, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera cruise

(adult-only, 18+) 

25th April 2019

Prices start from £2,499 per person.

Capri island with Vesuvius volcano

Ports of call: Dover, UK – Malaga, Spain – Mahon (Menorca), Spain – Sorrento, Italy – Naples, Italy (overnight stay) – Amalfi, Italy – Cruising Amalfi Coast & Capri – Civitavecchia (for Rome), Italy – Livorno, Italy – Portofino, Italy – Genoa, Italy (overnight stay) – Cartagena, Spain – Lisbon, Portugal – Vigo, Spain – Dover, UK

For further information: See D1910 – Amalfi, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera

13-night  Icelandic Wonders & Wildlife

18th June 2019

Prices start from £1,899 per person.

Ports of call: Dover, UK – Cruising Reyðarfjörður – Eskifjörður, Iceland – Cruising Eyjafjörður – Akureyri (overnight stay) – Ísafjörður – Reykjavík (overnight stay) – Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, UK – Dover, UK

For further information: See D1914 – Icelandic Wonders & Wildlife

9-night  Scenic Fjords of Norway

28th August 2019

Prices start from £1,299 per person.

Seven Sisters waterfalls, near Geiranger village in western Norway.

Ports of call: Dover, UK – Bergen – Cruising by Strandafjellet Mountain – Hellesylt – Cruising past Seven Sisters Waterfall – Cruising Geirangerfjord – Olden – Flåm – Cruising Naeroyfjord – Stavanger – Eidfjord – Dover, UK

For further information: See D1920 – Scenic Fjords of Norway

All prices listed are based on two adults sharing a twin-bedded, Interior Room, and include accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes.

Guests booking their holidays with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can also benefit from its ‘Book with Confidence’ guarantee. This means that, once a booking is confirmed, Fred. Olsen guarantees that no surcharges or supplements will be added to the cruise price.

Bookings are underpinned by the security of ABTA and ATOL protection, as well as Fred. Olsen’s industry-leading ‘Enjoyment Promise’, giving real peace of mind.

What is more, all cruises, shore tours and purchases made on board Fred. Olsen’s ships are priced in Pounds Sterling – so that guests can explore the world without having to worry about exchange rates.

For further information on Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, visit the website at www.fredolsencruises.com Book online, call Reservations on 0800 0355 242 (Monday – Friday, 8am – 8pm; Saturday, 9am – 5pm; Sunday, 10am – 4pm), or see an ABTA travel agent.

To find out more about Fred. Olsen’s ‘Book with Confidence’ guarantee, visit ‘Book with Confidence’ with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

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

The Only Dom Perignon Pairing Experience

The First of Its Kind Dining Experience

Oceania Cruises have introduced a brand new dining experience, which is not available anywhere else on land or at sea.

Combining the finest cuisine with Dom Perignon Vintages, Oceania Cruises’ guests can enjoy an intimate six course pairing menu. Oceania Cruises and La Maison Dom Perignon culinary teams worked together to create this extraordinary menu. Available on two of Oceania’s ships, Marina and Riviera, nowhere else in the World offers this experience. The dinner limited to 24 guests, costs $295 per person, less than the cost of one bottle of Dom Perignon Rosé 2004.

Champagne Is All About Celebration

Speaking about the new concept, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oceania Cruises Bob Binder said “We created this dinner to be sophisticated, memorable, a little bit decadent, but also a lot of fun. After all, champagne is all about celebration.”

Image: Oceania Cruises – La Reserve onboard Oceania Marina and Riviera will offer the only Dom Perignon pairing experience in the world

The Dom Perignon Experience Menu

Scallops “Rossini”, mole negro, roasted pineapple
Comme un Rossini de St Jacques, mole negro et ananas rôti
Dom Perignon 2009

Brittany blue lobster in yellow curry broth, coco foam
Curry jaune de homard bleu, nuage de coco
Dom Perignon 2006

Image: Oceania Cruises

Black truffle risotto, aged parmesan
Risotto aux truffes noires et vieux parmesan
Dom Perignon 2006

Image: Oceania Cruises 

Seared wagyu beef sashimi style, sautéed arugula, blood orange-soya jus, caviar perlite
Sashimi de boeuf wagyu, roquette sautée, jus à l’orange sanguine et soja, caviar d’aquitaine
Dom Perignon Rose 2004

Image: Oceania Cruises 

French A.O.C cheese plate, black currant-pepper paste, thyme flower
Assiette de fromage A.O.C, pate de fruit cassis-poivre et fleur de thym
Dom Perignon Rose 2004

Image: Oceania Cruises

Sakura tea “Geisha flower” ice cream, lemon caviar
Glace au thé fleur de Geisha et citron caviar
Dom Perignon 2009

Image: Oceania Cruises

The Dom Perignon Experience is now available on all Riviera voyages, and will be aboard Marina from 31st January 2019 onwards.

Advanced booking is advised and can be made by directly with Oceania Cruises or through a Travel Agent. The Speciality Dining Desk located on Deck 5 will take bookings for guests onboard.

For more information on Dom Perignon visit their website domperignon.com

Recommended Reading: An Introduction To Oceania Marina

Virgin Voyages Brings Rock and Roll to the High Seas

The new cruise line set to disrupt the cruise industry, Virgin Voyages, has revealed details of its mega yacht inspired suites.

Scarlet Lady is the first of four Virgin Voyages ships being built by leading cruise ship design and construction company Fincantieri.  The adult only vessel, being dubbed by Virgin Voyages as Rebellious Luxe, will be floated out in Genoa, Italy on 9th February. Setting sail in 2020, sailors will be able to book one of these incredible suites from 14th February 2019.

British Interior Designer, Tom Dixon led the team working on the design. The idea of the RockStar Suites was to combine yachting glamour with Virgin’s rock and roll heritage.

Key Features of RockStar Suites

The Best View Money Can Buy

All suites will be situated on the upper decks of the Scarlet Lady and configured to maximise views of the ocean.

Ships and champagne go hand in hand, and every suite has a specially-designed champagne table on its sea terrace.  An ice bucket fits perfectly in the centre of the table and will be complemented by stargazing loungers, and sustainably sourced Yellow Leaf terrace hammocks.

In true Rebellious Luxe style, Virgin Voyages suites will have a full bar and cocktail kit . The first round is on the house.

All suites are fitted with blackout curtains and mood lighting that automatically adjusts to the time of day. In-room tablets are provided to enable Sailors to adjust the lighting to exactly how they like it.

Every suite will enjoy luxurious comforts with a plush European king bed, premium linens and upgraded bath amenities.

You can play that funky music with your very own gold-plated vinyl record player accompanied by an en-suite collection of classic records.

Many suites will feature a Peek-A-View shower, an all marble shower with a dichroic glass window carved in the centre, allowing sailors to stay connected to the sea. The top suites will also have an outdoor Peek-a-View shower.

RockStar Lifestyle

A dedicated RockStar Services Crew are on hand for Sailors from the moment they book their cruise.

Once onboard, suite guests will have their very own “Rockstar Coordinator,” to ensure they enjoy backstage access at every corner, with early access to onboard entertainment, restaurants, their very own wardrobe team to help unpack and repack, complimentary pressing service and nightly express swimsuit drying service.

Shore Things

Suite guests will enjoy a private transfer to and from the ship in Miami, an exclusive express VIP pathway to the ship during embarkation.

Access to Richard’s Rooftop

All RockStar Suites Sailors will have access to Richard’s Rooftop. A secluded private members club at the top of the ship.

Branson Brings Rock and Roll to the High Seas

“Virgin has always avoided stuffy formalities and brought a lot of excitement and a bit of rebelliousness to our customer experiences,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “With these glamorous suites, Virgin Voyages is bringing rock and roll to the high seas and spoiling our Sailors like the rockstars they are.”

Sweets for my Suite

Among the 78 RockStar Suites aboard the Scarlet Lady, there are 15 Mega RockStar Suites primely located on deck 15. These are named the Massive Suites, Fab Suites, Posh Suites and Gorgeous Suites.

Sailors staying in one of the Mega RockStar Suites will receive a personalised bar filled with their favourites. The RockStar Services Crew will tend to their rider list, to make their voyage perfect; all red gummy bears, an electric guitar and beyond.

Massive Suite

The two Massive Suites are the largest of the RockStar Suites at 2,147 sq. ft. including an expansive sea terrace. Located above the ship’s bridge, the suite can accommodate up to six guests.  Each has its very own music room stocked with guitars and an amplifier.

A circular oversized couch is the centrepiece of the room. This is the perfect place to host parties with its adjacent in-room bar.

The suite includes a glamorous bath and dressing room area complete with a hot tub, vanity area, two full-sized wardrobes and a marble-clad bathroom with a Peek-a-Boo shower area that overlooks the bedroom and out to the ocean.

The sea terrace has a private hot tub and a Peek-a-View outdoor shower. Other features include a circular conversation pit, a lookout point, two full length hammocks and a catamaran net for stargazing, circular sea bar loungers and a meditation area overlooking the ocean. Just in case you feel like treating your guests to a private performance, a staircase leads you gracefully to the table top.

Fab Suite

At 950 sq. ft., an open wall separates the space into distinct bedroom and living areas, featuring an extra-long sea terrace with an outdoor shower, stargazing loungers, a hammock and a champagne table.

Posh Suite

The Posh Suite features an all marble bathroom with dichroic glass to stay connected to the sea.

This 833 sq. ft. suite features a fully stocked bar a record player and a spacious lounge. A peek-a-boo shower offers views of the ocean.  The sea terrace comes complete with lounge chairs, outdoor shower and champagne table.

Gorgeous Suite

The Gorgeous Suite features an outdoor shower, loungers and a hammock.

The 570 sq. ft. Gorgeous suite features an open plan lounge and bedroom. The luxurious bathroom has a window for inspiring sea views. The expansive sea terrace features an outdoor shower, lounge chairs and a hammock.

Brilliant Suite

The 482 sq. ft. brilliantly designed suite has an open plan featuring a stocked bar with record player and sea terrace complete with a hammock swing chair.

Cheeky Corner Suite

Between 607 and 847.8 sq. ft, the Cheeky Corner Suites’ have wrapping panoramic views from the corner of the ship. This provides the perfect views of the sea with direct views of the sea, larger balconies with sofa loungers. Interconnecting doors enable guests to connect with adjacent sea terrace cabins and more.

Sweet Aft Suite

The best wake views can be enjoyed in these suits. Between 416 and 661 sq. ft., the suites are located at the aft of the ship. Enjoy sea views from the bed or even from inside the shower, with more views from the suite’s sea terrace.

Seriously Suite

Between 352 and 357 sq. ft, the Seriously Suite is the most popular RockStar Suite. Featuring an open plan lounge and bedroom, sea terrace with chairs, plus a luxurious bathroom with seaviews.

Competition

Until 31st January, enter for the chance to win the opportunity to Party Like a rockstar.  Virgin Voyages are holding their next #ShipTease event in New York City on Valentine’s Day and you could be there. Those interested in the sweepstakes should visit www.virginvoyages.com to enter.

Open to legal residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, Canada (excluding Quebec) and Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). Entrants must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age or older at the time of entry.

Future sailors and travel partners can find more information by visiting www.virginvoyages.com or following @virginvoyages on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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


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

Outstanding Complimentary Amenities

Oceania Cruises Offers the Ultimate in Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, New Zealand and the South Pacific

OLife Ultimate Campaign Provides Guests with Outstanding Complimentary Amenities

Oceania Cruises has extended their popular OLife Ultimate promotion to selected 2018 and 2019 sailings in some of the world’s most coveted destinations. The offer by the world’s leading culinary- and destination-focused cruise line, gives guests unlimited internet, up to eight free shore excursions, a free house alcoholic beverage package, up to $800 shipboard credit and free gratuities per stateroom.

Enriching Immersive Destinations and Experiences

One of Oceania Cruises’ most generous ever offers, OLife Ultimate applies to 18 cruises, not only to the stunningly exotic South Pacific Islands, but also now to cruises which take in both the North Island and South Island of New Zealand, eastern Australia and Tasmania, the tropical havens of the Caribbean and fascinating Asian ports from Dubai to Japan and beyond. The full list of applicable cruises can be found at OLife Ultimate Sailings.

New Zealand and Australia

Tasman Traveller offers guests the chance to see the best of the North and South islands of New Zealand; Sydney and Eden on Australia’s east coast; and the energetic seaside town of Burnie in Tasmania. The 16-day cruise sails 30th January 2019 on board Regatta.  Highlights of how guests can use their eight free shore excursions include trips to glow worm caves and kayaking adventures at The Bay of Islands, New Zealand, or wild kangaroo spotting and fresh oyster sampling in Eden, Australia.

South Pacific

Two Sparkling South Pacific cruises on board Marina are 10 days long, sailing on 21st and 31st January 2019. They both highlight French Polynesia, round trip from Papeete, visiting the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and pristine ecosystems of Moorea, Fakarava, Huahine and Raiatea among others.  Six shore excursions could see guests sailing a lagoon by catamaran off the most romantic island in the world, Bora Bora, or learn how to grade pearls on a visit to a black pearl farm in Rangiroa.

Safaris, Sands and Splendours

Sailing 20th January 2019 for 30 days, the epic Safaris, Sands and Splendours cruise on board Nautica covers 11 countries from South Africa to Singapore. The sailing stops at Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Seychelles, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia in an astonishing itinerary of contrasting cultures, which guests will be able to delve deeply into with eight free shore excursions.  An overnight stay in Cape Town means travellers can take advantage of their free shore excursions with a tour of local winelands or visit Robben Island. Or they can use their shore excursions later in the cruise, visiting the Black Lemur Sanctuary in Madagascar, enjoying an insider’s tour of a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, or experiencing a cave and mangrove adventure in Langkawi, Malaysia. There are also a number of pre-cruise land programmes for guests to enjoy, if they choose to, for an additional cost. These include the four-day Winelands & Wildlife tour which showcases picturesque landscapes and renowned wines of the Cape Town region, as well as offering the chance to see lions, zebras, giraffes and more in one of Africa’s pristine wildlife reserves.

Caribbean

Guests could also experience a Caribbean New Year on board Insignia sailing from Miami to New York for 15 days on 27th December 2018.  Ringing in the New Year with an overnight stay in Orangestad, Aruba, the ship also visits Santa Marta, Colombia; Willemstad, Curacao; Kralendijk, Bonaire; St. George’s, Grenada; Castries, St. Lucia; Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe; Gustavia, St. Barts; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Explorers can use their eight shore excursions to marvel at the spectacular Quebrada Valencia waterfalls in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park in Colombia, partake in a 4×4 Land Rover adventure across the rugged eastern shore of Bonaire or discover the rum-making process during a tour of Old San Juan and the Bacardi Rum Distillery. Also, Insignia will be better than new following a re-inspiration of dramatic on-board enhancements, elevating every facet of the guest experience.

Ultimate Amenities on Five Oceania Cruises Ships

OLife Ultimate gives guests a number of free amenities to enjoy on board Oceania Cruises’ Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, Marina and Riviera. Not only will Insignia attract the free amenities, but the ship will also have benefitted from the recently announced OceaniaNEXT $100 million re-inspiration initiative, with her guests among some of the first to enjoy 342 brand new designer suites and staterooms as well as stunning new décor in the restaurants, lounges and bars.

A house beverage package affords guests free and unlimited champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner, which can be enjoyed with the Finest Cuisine at Sea in a variety of complimentary dining venues.  Sumptuous dining options include authentic Italian, classic French, Asian-fusion and American Steakhouse.

Guests will also receive up to $800 shipboard credit which can be spent in any one of the ship’s luxurious facilities on board.  This could be while enjoying a refreshing cocktail in one of many salubrious bars or perhaps a relaxing treatment in the Canyon Ranch Spa.  On board Marina and Riviera, guests could even expand their culinary expertise by taking a class in the Culinary Centre which teaches pupils a variety of skills and specialities from ancient cuisines, to magical dishes from Morocco and Turkey, to knife skills.

OLife Ultimate, which must be booked by 30th September 2018, also gives guests complimentary internet as well as free gratuities.

About Oceania Cruises

Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2018, Oceania Cruises is the world’s leading culinary- and destination-focused cruise line.  The line’s six intimate and luxurious ships which carry only 684 or 1,250 guests offer an unrivalled holiday experience featuring the finest cuisine at sea and destination-rich itineraries that span the globe.  Expertly crafted voyages aboard designer-inspired, intimate ships call on more than 450 ports 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.

About OceaniaNEXT

You can read more about the OceaniaNEXT re-inspiration of the iconic Regatta-Class ships here.

MSC Seaview – The Biggest Ship Ever Built In Italy

MSC CRUISES TAKES DELIVERY OF MSC SEAVIEW THE BIGGEST SHIP EVER BUILT IN ITALY

Monfalcone, Italy, 4 June 2018 – Today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, MSC Cruises officially took delivery of another mega ship to add to their growing fleet.

The flag ceremony in which delivery took place for MSC Seaview was held in the presence of the shipowner as well as Founder and Executive Chairman of MSC Group, Gianluigi Aponte.

Also present were Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, other members of the Aponte and Aponte-Vago families, Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, and other authorities and dignitaries.

During the ceremony, an important maritime tradition, Roberto Olivari, Fincantieri’s shipyard director, handed an ampoule over to Pier Paolo Scala, Master of MSC Seaview. It contains the first water that touched the hull when MSC Seaview was floated out last year.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – Fincantieri Shipyard Director Roberto Olivari presents an ampoule of water from MSC Seaview’s float out to Captain Pier Paolo Scala

MSC Seaview has an iconic design, with generous outdoor spaces and will be a game changer for guests who want to make the most of the sun and outdoors. Her inaugural summer season will be spent sailing the Mediterranean from her homeport of Genoa, Italy, repositioning to South America for the winter season. MSC are already the leading cruise line in both destinations, and the addition of MSC Seaview will only strengthen that.

MSC Cruises Seaside Class ships are pushing the boundaries of pioneering ship building and design when it comes to the environmental technology. MSC Seaview will not only comply with the highest international standards, but she will also receive RINA’s Green Star 3 which specifically recognises that MSC Seaview reaches the greatest levels of eco-compatibility due to various innovative measures put in place which help reduce the environmental footprint during operations. These include, the exhaust gas cleaning system, the advanced waste water treatment, systems for the prevention of oil discharge from machinery spaces, the ballast water treatment system, and the ship’s Environmental Management Plan.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises

MSC Seaview will be officially christened in Genoa on Saturday 9th June in a glittering ceremony which will feature ship’s Godmother Sophia Loren.

I am flying out to Genoa on Thursday ahead of the event, reporting for the Daily Mirror, so please follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for live updates.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises

 

Sapphire Princess Cruise Part One

This was Joshua’s first press trip. So I guess that officially now makes me a Cruise Mummy Blogger. Princess Cruises invited us on board the Sapphire Princess for the second leg of her 10 day cruise from Rome to Southampton. The newly refurbished ship was the first in the Princess fleet to be designed specifically for the Asia market. This makes her slightly different to her sister ships, not only with the multi lingual signage, but with the addition of the tiered pool area at the back of the ship, which was a real favourite with everyone onboard.

You will see the results of the refurbished areas and new features, as I share my experience of our time onboard.

Day One – Gibraltar

I have never been to Gibraltar before. Of course I have heard of The Rock, but didn’t think we would get the opportunity to see it for ourselves due to time restrictions.

After we landed, at what I later discovered to be one of Most Dangerous Airports In The World To Land, I turned around to take a photo of our aircraft. SURPRISE!!

Cruises don’t tend to start in Gibraltar, maybe this is why, but here is a photo (source: Wikimedia), that shows a rather short runway surrounded by water and a great big rock. I actually think it’s quite exciting and would do it again and again and again. Any nervous flyers, would have been a little put off as Josh announced with amusement, “We’re going to land in the sea!”

After no more than a ten minute taxi ride, we arrived at the port to board Sapphire Princess.

Sapphire Princess

As soon as we stepped onboard, we went to our room to drop off the bags and get changed into our cruise clothes. As we entered the room I spotted a lovely welcome gift of champagne and rather smartly dressed chocolate strawberries. My impatience got the better of me, so I popped the cork, poured a glass and shared the strawberries with Josh. I stepped out onto the balcony with a glass in my hand, took a deep breath of sea air and smiled. Well, who wouldn’t?

I wasn’t the only one with treats. On the bed was a big teddy bear named Stanley. It didn’t take long for Josh to notice the huge widescreen tv on the wall and soon he was flicking through a choice of free movies including Cars 3, The Greatest Showman and a whole host of other favourite movies.

Camp Discovery

But there was no time for that. The first thing any parent must do when they get on board a cruise is to get their child registered in the kids club. Most cruise lines will have a welcome table on embarkation to give the kids wristbands, but as we were boarding mid-cruise, it was for me to go and say hello. It was handy that I was able to complete a permission form online before our cruise, as it was one less thing for me to do when we arrived.

Part of Sapphire Princess’s refurbishment included a totally new kids club theme. In partnership with Discovery, the cruise line has given each centre an engaging theme that helps children to discover new interests and the world around them.

For 3 – 7-year-olds the former Pelicans Club has been rebranded The Tree House.  

Princess Cruises are very generous with gifts. Joshua came back with three soft toys, a penguin, an eagle and a whale, a pirates hat with treasure, a rucksack and a teeshirt. All the children get these (apart from Stanley the Bear, who can be purchased onboard).

Princess Cruises Kids Club Session Times

The session times on sea days are 9am-noon, 1pm – 5pm and 6pm – 10pm. However when in port, they offer extended opening hours including lunch. These are all complimentary, unlike other family cruise lines.

When we cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas last year, there was an additional charge for the lunch, which was $14. You also only get 3 x 3-hour sessions per day for free on Royal Caribbean, whereas Princess Cruises offers 1 x 3-hour session and 2 x 4-hour sessions per day for free.

There is an under 3’s area with a soft play that parents can enjoy with their toddlers.

8 – 12-year-olds have a new space called The Lodge, and teens have The Beach House. They have also introduced the Club 18-20, which is such a great addition. It was only last week my 18-year-old daughter said that she was at the worst age for a cruise, as she wasn’t a kid or an adult. Princess Cruises have taken care of that.

A Cruise Ship All To Ourselves

After registering Joshua at the kids club, we grabbed our swimming gear and headed to the pool.

Staying on board when you are cruising with kids really has its benefits. You practically get the whole ship to yourself. It might seem like a waste of a cruise not to get off, but when you take into account the experience you are having on board, you are still creating wonderful memories with your family.

Here’s a short video to show you what a lovely time we had, with the pool all to ourselves.

After the swim, we headed back to our room to get ready for the evening.

The Best Nights’ Sleep At Sea

Princess Cruises pride themselves on their incredibly comfortable beds. As someone who never sleeps through the night, I can vouch for these beds being ultra-relaxing. I slept right through every night I was on board. I even had to wake Joshua up, one morning it was as late as 10.30.

In our bathroom, there was a lovely amenity kit which included a calming spray for our pillows and a gel eye mask. I’m not sure if this is standard in every room, but it was certainly a welcome gesture.

Once ready, there wasn’t much time left until I had to meet my group. I needed something quick. Our room was in a great location at the forward on deck 15. It meant we could just walk out of our room almost straight out to the pool and right by the Pizzeria. Joshua made his way through one of these huge slices of freshly prepared pizza, while I looked on longingly.

I dropped Josh off at the kids club and headed to Vines Bar to meet the group.

A Delightful Evening

Here we were greeted by Generoso, our charming and very hard working, Italian maître d. We were treated to some hor d’oeuvres and champagne.

After some very lively and fun conversation, we went into the Savoy Dining Room, which is one of the main dining rooms located on deck 5. The meal was delicious and the service was superb.

Prosciutto with Melon

Pan-seared scallops and shrimp

Tiramisu

Who likes Limoncello? Yuk! Love the little glasses though.

A beautiful view to end a beautiful first day onboard Sapphire Princess.

Day Two – Lisbon

Waking up to this view is something I will never get bored with.

After dropping Joshua off at kids club, I went to the International Cafe to enjoy a cappuccino.

As part of their new entertainment programme catering for the British cruisers, Princess Cruises had featured a cool display of iconic outfits worn over the years by The Beatles.

At midday, we were due to arrive in Lisbon. There was a commentary being broadcast out on the decks for the 30-minute cruise into port.

After a quick lunch with Josh, I headed to The Sanctuary for some real Princess Cruises luxury. This is an exclusive over 18’s only area which offers deep cushioned sun loungers, extra fluffy towels, private cabanas where you can enjoy a massage, fruit infused water, complimentary light snacks and attentive service. This would be especially beneficial on a sea day when the main pools are busy. Although I can’t imagine that happens very often with five pools to choose from. Located at the front of the ship, you can enjoy sweeping views in every direction.

The pool deck all ready for Movies Under The Stars. There are usually two showings one around 7pm and the other around 10 pm. Some ships serve fresh popcorn, but we didn’t have any on this one. The movie of the evening was the latest Jumanji – Welcome To The Jungle starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Kevin Hart.

We returned to the Savoy Dining Room again and had another delicious meal.

Avocado and prawns for starters.

Fish (possibly Seabass) with a delicious creamy leek sauce.

Black Forest Gateaux? How can I resist these desserts?

Day Three – At Sea

Josh and I couldn’t contain our excitement. We had both been invited to the Ships’ Ultimate Tour. This is a two hour behind the scenes tour of the ships crew areas.  For security purposes, these two guards escorted our group at all times. As you can see, someone needed a more hands on approach.

Meeting The Captain

Our first stop was the best one of all. The Bridge. I love Bridge visits. Josh had never experienced it before so I was extra excited for this one. I think this is the first time the Captain has actually been there when I have been on a tour. Usually, I find it is the First Officer who does it.

We had been asked to keep questions to a minimum, but Joshua was bursting to ask about everything. Thankfully our wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, did I say wonderful? Captain Paolo Ravera was erm wonderful with Josh and I can’t begin to tell you how that made me feel. It was very moving for me. To see your four-year-old son have a one to one with a Cruise Ship’s Captain is something dreams are made of.

Josh in the driving seat.

We had an onboard photographer with us to capture the moments between Joshua and Captain Ravera.

After the Bridge tour, we visited the laundry facilities and the theatre. Joshua was getting a little restless by now, so we left the group in peace and went to get some lunch at the buffet.

Cruise Ship Buffets

There is always so much to choose from and everything is freshly made.

It’s a great place to enjoy lunch with a view. There is ample seating and once you grab, one of the waiting staff will come and offer to get you a drink.

After lunch I took Joshua to the kids club and wandered around the ship, enjoying the views and talking to people.

That evening we dined at Sterling Steakhouse, a speciality restaurant. There is a small cover charge which is subject to change but usually around $25. The meal was certainly delicious, but I can honestly say that I loved the main dining room and would be more than happy to dine in there every night. You don’t need to go to a speciality restaurant on Princess Cruises, to experience exceptional food and service. However Sterling Steakhouse and other speciality restaurants, just offer something different if you want it.

Scallops again for me. I love them.

A little glance at the other choices of starter.

The steak was delicious with creamed spinach, and asparagus. The meal was lovely.

It was the end of another lovely day onboard the Sapphire Princess. It was time for bed, but we still had two more days left on board.

Unlike some cruise lines, Princess Cruises still put those little chocolates on your bed as part of the turndown service.

Read Part Two which includes my video of The Love Boat with some special guests.

Viking Sea Cruise – Day Five – St Lucia

It looked like we were in for another gorgeous day in the Caribbean as I enjoyed breakfast on my balcony. I woke up early again, partly due to jetlag, but also because of my excitement for the day ahead.

I visited St Lucia with my family back in 2009. We had such an amazing time there and we still talk about it now.

Room Service Breakfast in St Lucia

For those of you who regularly read my blog posts, you will already know how much I love being in, on or by the water. When I saw the option for whale and dolphin watching in St Lucia, I didn’t hesitate to book it. Although it is worth mentioning at this point, that the excursion was full and had it not been for the gorgeous Becky Wiggins (English Mum) letting me take her place on the trip, I would be looking at her photos instead of mine. So a HUGE thank you Becky for giving me this amazing opportunity.

Like most cruises, shore excursion groups meet in the theatre at the time specified on the ticket. Once everyone has arrived, they are escorted off the ship to meet their tour guide. The great thing about this trip is that the boat is a five minute walk from the cruise ship. So before we knew it, we were all aboard and sailing out to sea.

We sailed three miles off the coast while the two crew members made us feel welcome. There was plenty of room on the boat for people to move around and a choice of seating downstairs in the open or covered, and upstairs in the open or under cover. The crew frequently offered us refreshments which included Rum Punch and the most incredible bananas. I know you would expect St Lucia to offer great tasting bananas, but they were so delicious I turned to my neighbour and said “you don’t get these in Tesco’s do you?”

There was a fair bit of movement in the boat, so it is not for those of you prone to motion sickness and your safety is really down to your own common sense. This is a trip for the semi adventurous. It’s not exactly mountain climbing (Michael English), but if you are someone who always thinks the worst is going to happen, I’d suggest giving this one a miss.

The Time Of My Life!

I told one of the crew members that I would be videoing the experience for my blog and could he give me an idea of the best place to stand. Well be careful what you ask for, because no sooner had I said that, I was following him along the side of the boat to the front. I sat up on the ledge for a while and took in the breathtaking view. This was an experience that I will never forget. It was one of those moments when you just can’t believe it is really happening. One where you feel truly alive and you want to try and share it with the world.

The trip lasted four hours in total. I moved to the upper deck after a while where I felt better positioned to enjoy a rum punch. During the trip we saw dolphins, pilot whales and a rare spotting of false killer whales. Here is a short video which condenses the sightings and hopefully gives you an idea of the incredible experience it really was.

If you are visiting St Lucia without a cruise, you can book this excursion directly with Captain Mike’s.

Last Day Onboard

Back onboard for what was to be our last afternoon on the Viking Sea. I grabbed some more of the delicious food at the Pool Grill for a late lunch and met with the rest of our group by the pool. A steel band came onboard to entertain the guests. They were very good and did a great rendition of Take On Me by Aha.

I love the fact that the pool area is used in many different ways. All the seats were turned towards the band, similar to the set up for when they have a  movie night.

Final Sunset and Sea View

It was that time that we all dread, that last day of the cruise, but inevitably it had arrived. I took one last wander around the decks while the sun was setting. Desperately trying to capture the feeling of that moment in a photograph, which is impossible. You know what I’m talking about don’t you? All cruisers do.

With bags packed, it was time for dinner. We had chosen to try another alternative dining venue. This time it was Chef’s Table, a five course wine pairing menu.

First Course – Lobster and Chicken Shu Mai

Having tried a variety of dining options during our Viking Sea cruise, I have to say that my two favourites were the main dining room and the seafood and sushi buffet. However, there is no additional charge to eat in alternative restaurants, so you can choose whichever you feel suits your palette.

Woah – It’s Not Over Yet

So the last day had finally come to an end and it was time for bed, but with one consolation – Barbados tomorrow!

Have you read Viking Sea Cruise – Day Four

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

Viking Sea Cruise – Day Four – Exploring The Ship

Good Morning St Kitts

Despite the forecast of rain, it was still warm and balmy as I stepped out onto my balcony onboard Viking Sea, to take a look at St Kitts.

I will forgive you for thinking I was crazy not getting off the ship in St Kitts. However, I really wanted to get to know the Viking Sea a little better and this was the only port I hadn’t booked an excursion for.

As there was no rush to be anywhere, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in bed.

When I was ready I headed out to explore the ship. Unlike other cruises I have been on, I found myself meeting and talking to other passengers. Maybe it was because we had met on the shore excursions, and the fact I didn’t have my son in tow. I think it was partly to do with me wanting to explain to people why I had a GoPro strapped to my head! I was also surprised to meet so many British passengers onboard.

Who Were The Vikings?

In keeping with the authentic experience Viking Cruises pride themselves on, there is a Viking Heritage Museum on deck two.

The impressive display of antiquities feeds the imagination of times gone by.

The people we now call “Vikings” were not a unified group or culture. Rather, they were the Norse peoples of Scandinavia – modern-day Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Principally they existed as farmers, but they also were settlers, traders, crafters, explorers and raiders.

Nordic Chic

Making my way outside, I walked through the Aquavit Terrace, which feels fresh with it’s nordic chic decor.

This leads you out to Viking’s signature infinity pool at the aft of the ship. I wasn’t the only one wanting to enjoy the onboard luxury. There were a few people in the pool and the hot tub.

Making my way upstairs to wander around the top deck, the view of the St Kitts mountains was stunning.

Lunch by the pool

Having missed lunch the last two days while off exploring, I didn’t want to miss it today. I had heard great reports about the Pool Grill which serves food until 2.30. It was getting close to that time already so I went to the main pool to get a closer look.

There was a lovely salad bar which included a gluten free Artesian Salad with Potato and Eggplant, a Marinated Fennel and Tomato and Prawns which was also gluten free. Although the food selection changes daily, I could have eaten the Eggplant salad every day. Burgers, hot dogs and fish are cooked to order at the grill and are served with coleslaw, red onion jam and a selection of toppings.

After lunch I found a great spot to top up my tan and relax for a while.

The bag I was using is a the Alex Folding Travel Bag by Mia Tui. They come in a wide range of designs including black, polka dots and multi coloured.

Afternoon Tea

Athough I was still full from lunch, my travelling companions were meeting in the Wintergarden for afternoon tea at 4.00pm. I popped by as I knew I would be off the ship the following afternoon.

It was a good job they had saved me a seat. Afternoon tea is hugely popular with the guests and I can see why. A classical trio created the perfect quintessential atmosphere for enjoying the delicate sandwiches and cakes. Fresh scones were served by hand and complimented by an extensive drinks menu including a wide range of teas. I opted for the mango tea, which was very refreshing.

A Perfect Moment

As we departed St Kitts, I jumped into the infinity pool to enjoy the view. I remember when I first saw an image of the Viking Cruise ships, and thought how much I would love to be in that infinity pool. I never imagined it would actually come true.

The Beauty of Cruising

From one stunning view to another. I returned to my room to get changed and enjoyed the sunset from my balcony. It never ceases to amaze me the constant beauty you experience when you look out over the ocean from a cruise ship.

Feeling all tanned and refreshed, I took a walk to the atrium to see what was going on. A very handsome guitarist sat playing classical guitar. The sound was beautiful and he smiled at me. (Ok I was pointing a camera at him, but just let me have this).

The World Cafe

I went to take a look at the seafood and sushi in the buffet, as I had been advised not to miss it and I wasn’t disappointed.

I started with the seafood and a nice chilled glass of chardonnay. Wine and beer is complimentary with lunch and dinner, although I had the silver spirits beverage package which allows you drinks throughout the day for an additional $19.95 per guest per night.

This was the best sushi I have ever had.

After dinner, I took another stroll around the ship. As the Viking Sea was now sailing, the shops were open. There are not many shops onboard Viking Cruise ships, but the ones they do have are worth a visit. If you are looking for a jumper for extreme cold, this is the place to get one.

As you can imagine, everything is Nordic themed including the jewellery, ornaments, books and these cute but slightly scary viking head stuffed toys.

Why not take one of these little chaps home with you?

Movie Under The Stars

The main pool on the Viking Sea has a retractable roof so people can use the pool in the evenings. They also have a movie screen which is not used during the day, but some evenings they transform the space into a movie theatre.

Before people started to arrive for the movie “A Dog’s Purpose”, I took this short video of the room set up. What a lovely place to relax and enjoy a film, whilst you are sailing to your next destination?

I stayed to watch some of the movie. It featured a dog, so I knew whatever happened in the end it would have me in tears. I left early to avoid the inevitable blubbing, and went to bed. St Lucia tomorrow!!

Have you read Day Three – St Croix

If so, why not go to Day Five – St Lucia

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.

Viking Sea Cruise – Day One – Flying To Puerto Rico

Ever Considered Cruising from San Juan?

If you want to visit a different picture perfect Caribbean Island everyday, a cruise from Puerto Rico will deliver this and more. However, there are no direct flights from the UK to San Juan so flying to Puerto Rico puts people off for many reasons. When Viking Cruises invited me to be their guest on Viking Sea, I didn’t think twice about the journey, but I did learn things from it that will help you to get the best experience possible.

All set for flying to Puerto Rico to board Viking Sea for a Caribbean cruise.

Snow Joke

Originally we were flying with BA via Philadelphia. However the reports of snow were making it likely that we would not get out of Philly for our connecting flight to San Juan. Luckily for me, Viking Cruises took care of everything and rebooked us on an American Airlines flight via Miami. However, this is a really important thing to consider if you are making your own flight arrangements. Flying via Miami also means your airbourne for a shorter period of time, however the stopover is longer so door to door, it will take longer.

Tip: If I were doing the trip myself, I would stay overnight in Miami and then fly to San Juan on the day of the cruise, or possibly book another overnight in San Juan. Also, book early and you may get a great deal on an upgraded seat and always, always, always have an airport lounge booked. For details on how to get the best deal for lounges read my Christmas In Florida blog post.

First glimpse of the sun above the clouds after taking off from Heathrow on American Airlines flight to Miami.

Standing Room Only

We weren’t the only passengers that had been re-routed to Miami, and this was clear by the lack of space on our flight. I managed to get my preferred window seat, however this meant I was trapped for 9 hours. When you travel with family, you don’t mind having to move them out of their seats, but as I was sitting next to an elderly couple, I didn’t want to keep disturbing them.

A few of my favourite things including this Mia Tui bag in rose gold.

There was only one thing for it. A glass of white wine, sunglasses and music on, and sit back and relax. For those of you who are thinking of flying on an American Airlines aircraft (check to see if you are on a codeshared flight), the wine and beer is complimentary, but spirits are $8 each. Cash is not accepted, so you must have a credit or debit card to hand. It wasn’t long before the wine and beer was gone, leaving no alternative than to abstain or pay up. Which one do you think I chose to do? Leave a comment below.

Dreaming of the Caribbean

American Airlines do have wifi onboard, which was great news, however I couldn’t get mine to work. When I asked a crew member about it, she told me I had to have downloaded an app. It does state in the in-flight magazine that you can simply connect onboard, however my new iPhone X was having none of it.

Fort Lauderdale stretch of beautiful sandy beach.

As we began our decent into Miami, I caught a glimpse of the beautiful Fort Lauderdale coastline. To my frustration the clouds covered Port Everglades, so my ship spotting would have to wait for another time. We then passed Miami Beach and I took this picture of the iconic crescent shaped Fontainebleau that was a well known favourite hotel of Frank Sinatra’s.

Aerial view of the crescent shaped Fontainbleau along the stretch of Miami Beach.

Feel The Heat

In case you don’t know already, I LOVE Florida! We had four hours to wait for our connecting flight, so I went and sat in the little park area across from the main terminal building. I could feel the heat in the air as soon as I stepped out.

It is a long time to wait in an airport for a connecting flight which is why I recommend adding on a stay in Miami. I mean why wouldn’t you want to? Just jump in a taxi to a beach hotel. Kick off your shoes, grab a sunset cocktail and enjoy the view.

So by the time we were boarding our second flight, everyone was feeling a bit jaded. However the excitement of the cruise and the Caribbean was keeping spirits high.

We touched down in San Juan around 11.30 pm local time and collected our luggage. We were met by Viking Cruises representatives who checked us onto the transfer coach. The process was very quick and easy. The drive to the ship was no more than 20 minutes.

Puerto Rico cruise port entrance and our first glimpse of Viking Sea

All Aboard

As we stepped onboard, the ship looked beautiful. I headed straight to my stateroom. I had a Penthouse Veranda on deck 5 which was easy to find on a ship that holds just 930 passengers.

My Penthouse Veranda (PV) 5011 Starboard onboard Viking Sea

The room was a welcome sight. The extra touches that Viking Cruises offers were very much appreciated after the long journey.

A lovely welcome snack and nightcap.

Viking Cruises really look after their guests by providing an in room coffee machine, golf umbrella, robe and slippers.

No need to buy bottles of water as it’s all provided in glass bottles to avoid single-use plastics.

Toiletries are provided and replenished daily.

It felt so good to be onboard. I was relieved to be able to finally put my bags in the room and had a quick look out on deck.

Although it was nearly 2am, the air was warm. I just couldn’t wait for tomorrow.

But now it was time to get some sleep to be ready for horse riding in the morning.

Products In This Post

  1. Blue Neck Scarf
  2. Mia Tui Travel Bag

Read More: Viking Cruise Day Two

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

Azamara Club Cruises – For People Who Don’t Cruise

It’s All About The Destination

Azamara Club Cruises are passionate about travel. They want to help you see the world in ways that no other cruise line does. How do they do that?  “With more port days than any other cruise line and longer in port than any other cruise line, allowing you to experience the destination”, says their UK Managing Director, Richard Twynam. The statistics speak for themselves with 80% of it’s itineraries in port. Out of those port days 47% are late nights and overnight stays.

Big Ship vs Little Ship

If you are looking for zip lines, surf simulators, sky diving and more, Azamara Club Cruises is not for you. These fancy features can be found on the mega ships of their sister brand, Royal Caribbean.

I took this photograph of Azamara Quest from Voyager of the Seas in Venice. You can see we were docked much further away, with the other ships.

Their recently renovated ships, Azamara Quest, Azamara Journey and new addition Azamara Pursuit, are more akin to boutique hotels than cruise ships. Accommodating just 686 passengers, with a 2 to 1 staff guest ratio, not only is the service impeccable but getting on and off the ship is a much smoother experience. Another small ship benefit is that they are able to dock closer to places they visit. So, when other ships passengers are queuing for a 30 minute coach ride into town, Azamara Club Cruises’ passengers are already there. Venice is a great example of this and, with the new regulations in place, Azamara Pursuit will be the largest cruise ship permitted to sail along the Grand Canal.

The most popular cruise port in Europe is Barcelona and most of the cruise ships dock a few miles away. Azamara Club Cruises on the other hand, dock at the World Trade Centre which is located at the bottom of Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas, Barcelona.

River Cruising

They can also do river cruising and include itineraries that sail along the Kiel Canal, into the heart of Seville, Bordeaux and Ho Chi Min City. In Hong Kong most cruise ships moor at Kai Tack which is 40 minutes away from the city. Azamara Club Cruises dock at Ocean Terminal with panoramic view of the iconic skyline right from the ship.

Azamara Club Cruises are also offering country intensive voyages which gives guests get more than just one day in each country. These itineraries include Mexico, Cuba, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Italy, Greece, Japan, Israel, France, Croatia and Australia. Richard Twyman spoke to guests at a recent event with Six Star Cruises. He said that Sydney is the most congested cruise port on planet Earth. Their 3 cruise berths which are full until 2023, and that Azamara Club Cruises have secured their place there for three years. They have secured the most sought after dock, right in Circular Quay itself. So for example if you take the 15 night New Year’s Eve In Sydney Voyage, you will be able to see the opera house from your balcony (depending which way you are facing).

Azamazing Evenings

Lucky guests who are cruising for six days or more have a real treat in store.

Azamara Club Cruises are the only cruise line who offer these complimentary experiences known as Azamazing evenings. This is an event where the cruise line take all 690 guests off the ship, to a special event and bring them back. This in itself is a highly complex thing to do. However the experience they have at an Azamazing evening is something quite incredible, and they offer this in 70 countries all over the world.

The first Azamazing event ever held was in Florence. The guests visited a private set of castles that overlooked Florence, accompanied by an Historian as their guide. When they entered the grand hall, the historian told them they were standing in the room where Michaelangelo carved David. Guests were treated to a tuscan buffet outside, as the sun set over Florence.  The Three Tenors from the Florence Opera House gave a private performance.

Azamara were the first cruise line to offer private performances of the original Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. These unforgettable experiences are offered all over the world including Rio De Janeiro, Ephesus, St Petersburg and Wellington.

Win a pair of Azamara Gloves

Azamara Club Cruises have given readers the chance to win one of five pairs of mobile friendly gloves. Simply answer the question below to be in with a chance to win yourself a pair.

This competition is now closed. Thank you to all of those who entered.

To view itineraries and for more information visit azamaraclubcruises.co.uk