Tag Archives: Luxury

Oceania Cruises Allura Class

Oceania Cruises Announce New Allura Class

Allura Class – Higher Level of Comfort and Amenities

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

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

The Evolution of Perfection

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

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

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

The ships will be delivered in 2022 and 2025.

Recommended Reading: Ship Tour of Oceania Nautica

May-Fair Lady

It’s easy to get yourself out of bed when you know you are have a luxurious lunch at the Dorchester Grill Room to look forward to. If you haven’t been to the Dorchester Hotel, it is located on Park Lane in Mayfair, opposite Hyde Park. There is valet parking on site, so we just pulled up, got out of the car and walked straight in. Look for the huge Plane Tree (named one of the Great Trees of London) towering outside the front of the hotel, you can’t miss it.

One of the great Plane trees of London outside The Dorchester Hotel

Ain’t Misbehavin’

I thought I had high expectations of the most prestigious and expensive hotel in London, but these were surpassed the moment I emerged from the revolving door into the lobby.

The revolving door leading into the marble lobby at The Dorchester

Retired doorman of 50 years Ted Whitcombe, has seen some of the most famous stars and royalty arrive at the hotel. In an interview in 2008 he recalls “Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin had brought cases of rare Jack Daniel’s but were asked to leave because they were misbehaving with women in the corridors. They went to the Savoy and never came back for their case. It took us ages to get through all that booze.”

Afternoon Tea on The Promenade

The Promenade at The Dorchester is famous for it’s afternoon tea

On entering the lobby you find yourself standing at the entrance to the promenade adorned with green and white blooms. We had arrived early so we walked the length of the promenade to find a coveniently located cocktail bar at the end. A refreshing gin and tonic was the order of the day, and although it was midday and quiet, within ten minutes the bar was buzzing with businessmen and ladies that lunch, as well as the occasional hotel guest.

The Grill Room

Designer Bruno Moinard worked with the Grade II Listed gold ceiling and doors to create a contemporary elegance.

Grade II listed gold doors at The Dorchester Grill Room

An ornate hand blown Murano glass chandelier hangs from the grade II listed gold ceiling in The Dorchester Grill Room

Food That’s Better Than……..

Yes, I’m not going to say it, but it’s true. I must have sounded like the lady in the Herbal Essences advert with every dish I tried (who remembers that?). It was a gastronomic delight as I worked my way through the recommendations made by Arthur, our charmingly French waiter with good looks to go with it.

I grilled him (excuse the pun) on the source of the ingredients for every dish. Since they boasts on their website of the use of finest locally sourced ingredients where possible, I wanted to know the origin of the food.

We selected the set menu which is amazing value for money. An à la carte menu is also available.

The set menu is amazing value for money.

Bon Appétit

A selection of bread includes their own recipe stilton bread. Arthur proudly informed me that some guests of the Dorchester Grill Room come to the restaurant purely because of this bread. I don’t know what they do to that bread, but with a smattering of butter, it is dangerously divine.

The Grill Room’s freshly baked stilton bread is dangerously divine

Raw and cooked beetroot and goat’s curd salad complimented with a lovely french dressing

Delicate chicken liver terrine with red oignon chutney

The 24 hour braised Scottish beef just melts in the mouth

The Dorchester Grill Room have created a sweet soufflé menu which is the first of its kind in London

Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse’s protégé, Guillaume Katola is the executive chef leading the talented Grill Room team. Thanking him for a delicious meal, he insisted it was a combined effort and gave credit to his Pastry Chef, Ludovic Cuny and the rest of the team. We were honoured to be taken for a tour of the kitchen which is so big it is on two floors has an escalator to take you down to the lower level.

Chef’s Table

If you are looking for an immersive dining experience, you can book a meal at the Chef’s Table. This is located on the lower floor inside the kitchen. The glass windows are frosted, but with the press of a button they become transparent. The entertainment for the evening is a front row seat at the creation of your meal.

A unique dining experience inside The Dorchester kitchens at the Chef’s Table

The Girl Who Had Everything

Elizabeth Taylor was a frequent guest at the hotel in the 60’s and 70’s, so much so that it was like her second home. It was during a stay in the rooftop Harlequin Suite that she received news that she was to become the first actress to be paid $1 million, for her role as Cleopatra.

Entrance to The Harlequin Suite (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)

The Harlequin Suite Master Bedroom where Elizabeth Taylor’s second home (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)

The Harlequin Suite living room (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)

A pink marble bathroom was installed in the second bedroom especially for Elizabeth Taylor. It remains the same to this day.

The original pink marble bathroom installed especially for Elizabeth Taylor (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)

You make your dining reservations at the Dorchester Grill Room via Bookatable. They offer excellent deals on all dining venues at The Dorchester Hotel, including Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, one of only four 3-Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK.

Hotel information:

The Dorchester Hotel, 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA
Switchboard: +44 (0)20 7629 8888.   Reservations: +44 (0)20 7317 6530

Recommended Reading

Christmas Lunch at Coworth Park Hotel

So Do You Think Britannia Rules The Waves?

9 Things I Love About Britannia

So it wasn’t actually my first time onboard Britannia, but as you can imagine, the launch event was pretty hectic. An opportunity to revisit P & O Cruises newest ship came up, so I jumped at the opportunity to take another look.

1. Grand Atrium

If you have been on any of Britannia’s predecessors, you will notice the difference in her interior design. The atrium is contemporary and more luxurious than the rest of the fleet. The chandelier dominates and Wows you as you walk in. The bar looks lavish with its sparkly lighting and black marble top. In my opinion, a ship’s atrium sets the scene for the rest of the cruise experience. It kind of gets you in the mood for what is to come.

The Atrium onboard Britannia has a contemporary and more luxurious feel.

The glitz and glamour of the atrium bar is a new addition to P & O Cruises design.

2. The Pool Deck

The most important part of any cruise ship in my opinion, is the pool deck (ok apart from the lifeboats). Britannia offers two pools in this area, as well as jacuzzis, attractive sun loungers, a platform/stage which has been graced by Ant and Dec in the Saturday Night Takeaway hosted onboard, and of course a pool bar.

Britannia’s Main Pool as seen on Saturday Night Takeaway

Relax in one of the Jacuzzi’s onboard

3. Cabins and Staterooms

The main difference between Britannia and the other P and O ships, is that there are no oceanview staterooms. What I mean is that you can have an inside, or a balcony but nothing in between. They do have single cabins and accessible cabins available, but these do get booked up quickly.

A nice seating area in the balcony cabins.

A very comfy looking bed in the balcony cabins

4. The Crow’s Nest

It wouldn’t be a P and O ship without one, and Britannia is no exception. The Crow’s Nest is a real favourite with the regular P and O cruisers, and it’s not hard to see why. With stunning views of the ocean, ample seating, a piano and a bar, it is the perfect place to relax and take in the scenery as you cruise to your next destination.

The Crow’s Nest offers amazing sea views

Enjoy the views while a pianist plays your favourite tunes

A great place to sit and enjoy panoramic ocean views (have I mentioned the views?)

5. Luxuriate in the Retreat

Whether you are looking to get away from the kids or just like that bit of extra luxury, the Retreat is a private adult only area to relax and unwind.

Relax and enjoy the serenity of the retreat

Cool down with a dip in this pool of tranquility

Relax in bistro style 

What could be more luxurious than a treatment in this outdoor spa room

6. Relax in the Oasis Spa

So you are not a sun worshipper, or the itinerary you are sailing on is not quite warm enough. This is a great excuse to take a trip to the Oasis Spa. With hundreds of different types of treatments on offer, you can pamper yourself to your heart’s content.

Feel the warmth penetrate your back muscles as you relax on one of these heated loungers

Step into thalassotherapy pool as your cares melt away

7. A Food Hero for Everyone

We all need a hero, but P and O have five of them. I’ll take James Martin and you can all fight over the rest. In fact, we heard James was onboard the same day as us and I was hoping to say hello, but it wasn’t to be. We can but dream. Having said that, my knees did buckle when I came face to face with Marco Pierre-White on Ventura once, but to me James seems more of your boy next door type. Oh what am I talking about, I’d accept a date with either of them! 

The Cookery Club

This is a great addition for P & O Cruises but they won’t let me onboard when James or Marco are hosting their cookery classes. 

The Epicurean

A speciality restaurant that offers an afternoon tea created by French Pastry Chef Eric “Cake Boy” Lanlard. This is a not-to-be-missed experience whilst cruising onboard Britannia, and comes at a fraction of the price you would pay in a London Hotel. And it includes champagne.

Enjoy Eric Lanlard’s afternoon tea at the Epicurean

The Glasshouse

One of my favourite features onboard P & O ships is Olly Smith’s  Glasshouse. Find out more when I took part in a wine tasting class onboard Ventura.

The perfect place for your #shipsandchampagne moment

Sindhu

As a cruise line that caters primarily for the British market, P and O made a good call when creating the onboard Indian restaurant Sindhu with 2 Michelin Star chef Atul Kochhar. 

Beautiful mahogany decor at Sindhu adds atmosphere to the fine dining Indian cuisine

8. The Limelight Club

This is my favourite feature onboard Britannia. It was first described to me as a sort of Ronnie Scott’s at sea. There is a cover charge for this venue and you can enjoy a beautiful meal, followed by performances from first class musicians. 

The Limelight Club invites you to enjoy an evening of fine dining and live performances.

A lovely atmosphere awaits in The Limelight Club

 

When I attended the Britannia launch event, I was adamant not to miss out on seeing Jaki Graham performing live. As an 80’s chick, it was a big deal to me.  

9. I Love P & O Cruises No Hassle Caribbean Fly Cruise

P & O Cruises have designed a unique hassle free Caribbean fly cruise experience. Depart from your preferred regional airport and once you check in your luggage, you won’t see it again until you get onboard the ship. You fly out the same day and as the aircraft is chartered, everyone is going to the same destination. There is no need for an Esta as you are not visiting the United States and no need to overnight in a hotel before your cruise.

Introducing Celebrity Edge

Celebrity Cruises have kept us waiting for 10 years to find out how they could create something more impressive than a real grass lawn on a cruise ship. So what makes Celebrity Edge a revolution in cruise ship design?

Well over the coming weeks and months, Celebrity Cruises will reveal more of what’s to be expected. But for now they have done a pretty good job of making the cruise industry sit up and pay attention.

Unique Experiences

So let’s start with the Magic Carpet. This multi purpose cantilevered platform the size of two tennis courts, extends out from the starboard side of the ship.

On port days the Magic Carpet provides an enhanced tender experience for guests. This is something Royal Caribbean President and CEO, Richard Fain has been looking to improve for a long time, rather than the traditional metal gangway. However, once the idea started to become a reality, he didn’t stop at that?

The Magic Carpet provides luxurious seating, a dining area and a cool and trendy bar. During the day, the platform is positioned on deck 5 for Al Fresco dining. Later in the day guests can board the Magic Carpet off the renamed resort deck and enjoy a sunset cocktail with live music. In the evening Deck 16 is the place to be, where guests can experience evening culinary events and enjoy Dinner on the Edge.

Croydon born architect Tom Wright who’s work includes the Most Luxurious Hotel In The World – Burj Al Arab, can be credited for the design of the Magic Carpet, as well as the Rooftop Gardens, which replace the Solstice Class Lawn Club. This groovy looking space was created for guests as an area to get away from it all. The tree sculptures incorporate a small platform for musicians and dancers to provide a unique entertainment venue. With it’s own movie screen, the Rooftop Gardens is the perfect place for Celebrity’s new dining concept Taste of Film.

New Suites

No one designs cruise ships like Celebrity Cruises. The mix of sleek, contemporary luxury is what gives Celebrity it’s Modern Luxury uniqueness. To guarantee their new ship class took the experience to another level, one of my favourite female entrepreneurs, British Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen MBE, created the most luxurious areas of the ship for guests occupying a suite.

The Iconic Suites and Edge Villas have been designed to give the feel of your very own luxury home. The two 2,600 sq.ft Iconic Suites with two bedrooms and two bathrooms are located above the ship’s bridge. The panoramic windows offer breathtaking 270 degree views that will take your breath away.

The other addition to the suite class are these gorgeous six, two-storey Edge Villas. As well as stunning views, each one has it’s own private plunge pool.

Innovative and Spacious Staterooms

A new class of stateroom has been created with the introduction of the Infinite Veranda. The rooms offer 23% more footage and the bathrooms are 10% larger. The room can transform at the touch of a button. Watch the video below to see it in action.

Price Tag

Celebrity Edge’s inaugural sailing will be from her homeport of Fort Lauderdale on December 16, 2018. The itineraries will alternate 7 night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

These one of a kind suites are being snapped up quickly, with the two Iconic Suites already booked up for the Christmas 2018 cruise.

We know you can’t put a price on experience, but if you were looking to book an Iconic Suite today, you would have to wait until 3 February 2019 for the first available room. Yes they are all booked up until then. But based on 3 February 2019 sailing for a 7 Night Western Caribbean cruise here are today’s prices based on two people sharing.

Iconic Suite £16,979pp* including gratuities, wifi and drinks.

Edge Villa £8,079pp* including gratuities, wifi and drinks.

Infinite Veranda £1413pp* including drinks.

Interior Stateroom £1013pp*.

*prices subject to availability and change at any time. Prices correct at 0700 GMT on 16 March 2017

Ponant – Luxury and Expedition Cruises

WHY PONANT?

If you love the idea of an adventure or expedition cruise, but want an intimate and luxuriously elegant onboard experience, then you are going to love this.

A luxury cruise onboard these French-style Ponant ships, combines chic with casual to provide a je ne sais quoi more familiar to that of a private yacht.  With one staff member for every two guests, you will find yourself being welcomed onboard by name. The personalised service continues throughout your cruise, as the staff will remember your food and drink preferences from day one.

(Image credit: PONANT)

The intimate ships are small with the largest having just 132 staterooms. Interior decor for four of the ships is contemporary with a nautical feel.

In the evenings there is entertainment which includes parties outside on the top deck.  Music is provided by a DJ who plays Mediterranean club style music.

On selected sailings during the summer, children of the ages 4 and over are catered for with a small kids club, and children onboard tend to be well mannered and well behaved.

Destinations and Themed Cruises

Thanks to a reinforced hull, Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial have been awarded Ice 1C certification. This gives the ships access to polar regions that are not readily available to most cruise ships.

For details on Ponant’s Polar Cruises click here

Due to their size, not only are these ships able to reach every corner of the globe, but they can get much closer to the most stunning scenery.

(Image credit: PONANT)

Destinations for 2017 include The Arctic, Northern Europe and The Baltic, Asia, Oceania, Mediterranean, Canada and North America. 38 destinations include visits to Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Fleet

The four sister ships Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial are joined by the cruise lines flagship Le Ponant. With only 32 staterooms, this sailing ship is a truly exquisite experience.

Le Laperouse is the first of four new expedition ships for Ponant. Designed to be able to explore deeper than other vessels, the ships also feature an underwater lounge for a unique multi-sensorial experience.

(Image credit: PONANT)

In 2018 the fleet will be expanded with two of its four new explorer ships, Le Laperouse and Le Champlain with two to follow in 2019. These incredible ships will be smaller then their four predecessors and combine the sleek, contemporary design of the current fleet, with new environmentally-friendly equipment. New features also include a modular marina platform and infinity pool.

Accommodation

Onboard accommodation comprises 2 berth Deluxe and Prestige staterooms, 3 berth Superior staterooms, 2 berth Deluxe suites and 4 berth Prestige suites. The top suite is the Owners Suite which has the capacity for two guests.

PRESTIGE SUITE (Image credit: PONANT)

All rooms are equipped with:

PRESTIGE STATEROOM (Image credit: PONANT)

Individual Air Conditioning

  • King Size or Twin Beds
  • Shower (and Bath in Owners Suite)
  • French bath products
  • Mini Bar and 24 hr room service
  • Flatscreen
  • Satellite TV and video on demand
  • Desk with stationary, Internet access wifi
  • Ipod players
  • Safe, Hairdryer and Bathrobes
  • Satellite direct line telephone

OWNERS SUITE (Image credit: PONANT)

Onboard Facilities

An onboard theatre provides a venue for talks and lectures as well as shows, musical performances and film screenings. The fitness room with state of the art gym equipment, will ensure your workout regime doesn’t get disrupted whilst you are busy travelling the world.

(Image credit: PONANT)

Of course no luxury cruise ship would be complete without a spa to pamper and indulge. The well-being centres onboard Ponant ships provide an extensive range of treatments using only the best French Sothys products.

TREATMENTS IN THE WELL-BEING CENTRE IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOTHYS Paris . (Image credit: PONANT)

Luxury lounge areas decorated in soft nautical tones and sumptuous seating, allows you to relax during your cruise and take in the incredible views.

(Image credit: PONANT)

Dining

The ships offer two restaurants onboard. The Grill Restaurant on deck 6 has an open air dining area. The relaxed buffet restaurant serves a variety of delicious cuisine for guests looking for a faster meal service.

GRILL RESTAURANT (Image credit: PONANT)

On deck 2 is the gastronomic restaurant. Here you will experience the sophisticated elegance of traditional French service and cuisine, combining the best of the local flavours and fine wines.

GASTRONOMIC RESTAURANT (Image credit: PONANT)

An extensive complimentary room service menu is available 24 hours a day.

Environmental Commitment

Ponant are members of Charge Bleue d’Amateurs de France and IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators). They actively support Le Cercle Polaire and donate 10 Euros to Fablab every time a guest opts to receive electronic documents rather than paper copies.

The four sister ships use electric propulsion systems which are quiet and economical. The engines use less polluting Marine Diesel Oil which has earned them “Clean Ship” status.

(Image credit: PONANT)

In summary, Ponant’s French refinement combined with expedition and adventure cruising, makes this a firm favourite on my bucket list.

For More Information

Go to ponant.com for further details.

A Day Onboard the Royal Princess

Elegance, Class and Beauty

Royal Princess is the first in it’s class of ship, and Princess Cruises have taken their elegance, class and beauty to the next level.  Regal Princess was launched shortly after Royal and Majestic Princess, their big sister also arrives in April 2017.

A Royal Princess

I can’t write about this ship without first mentioning the Godmother.  Princess Cruises could not have picked a more perfect Godmother to continue the theme of elegance, class and beauty.  On 13 June 2013, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge christened Royal Princess in true style while being heavily pregnant with Prince George.

This onboard display shows the coat worn by Kate together with the scissors used to cut the ribbon and photographs of the day.

Bridge Tour

I was extremely lucky to be in a group selected for a tour of the bridge.  It is always an immense honour to be invited to the bridge. The ship measures 141,000 Gross Tonnes and has a capacity of 3,600 passengers so, you can imagine they have a fair few instruments and displays.

The Seawalk

A cruise industry first, this glass bottomed cantilevered walkway towers 128 ft above the sea.  That’s 16 decks high!

Music Concerts and Movies Under the Stars

It’s such a great experience being on the deck of the ship, relaxing and watching your favourite artists in concert.  Movies are even more spectacular so, one evening I watched “Gravity”. Being at sea at night, wrapped in a cosy blanket eating fresh popcorn, is incredible.  The sound was amazing, just like a night at the movies. The screen itself is larger than any of the other Princess ships I had been on.

Staterooms

Royal Princess has a selection of staterooms to suit all tastes and budgets. From interior cabins to suites and all outside cabins have a balcony.

The Lotus Spa

Lotus Spa is adjacent to the piazza on deck 5 making it easier for people to locate and access. Voted one of the “Best Cruise Ship Spas” by USA Today Travel and receiving Travel Weekly’s Magellan Gold Award for Spa Design, the Lotus Spa has alot to offer. Facilities include a Hydrotherapy Pool, 18 treatment rooms, 2 couples villas, steam rooms, heated beds and sensory showers.

Bars and Restaurants

International Cafe in the piazza is a Princess favourite, serving a selection of fresh teas, coffees, paninis and pastries. Bellini’s Champagne Bar is a great place to meet for pre show or dinner drinks.  The view of the piazza from here is spectacular.  If you are a fan of seafood, you ill probably want to visit the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar.  Items onboard are priced in US Dollars for other cruiselines see Cruise Ship Currency

ITV’s The Cruise Ship

For those of you who watched the three part fly on the wall documentary, you will remember gorgeous George. We were lucky enough to be serenaded by him during our visit, in addition, I managed a quick cha cha cha tutorial with him.

WaterColour Fantasy

Each night the fountain pool comes to life with this incredible water and light show.  Despite the wind and the cold, we couldn’t miss seeing the show so, the crew put blankets over our shoulders to keep us comfortable.

My Video of the Royal Princess Cruise Ship

To sum it up, here is my video tribute to this magnificent Royal Princess.

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The Spirit of Christmas Fair – London 2016

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

So on entering the Spirit of Christmas Fair, the first place we came to was the food hall. Healthy chocolate, fine wine, quince gin and toffee vodka were just some of the delightful samples on offer.

Each stall offered generous tasting of their products and I took advantage of this.  Joshua had the sweets and I had the wine, gin and cheese.

Typically British

One particular product that really stood out to me in the drink department, was the Gun Dog Gin.  The bottles were tall and slim which led me to enquire the recommended way to consume it.

The lovely gentleman enlightened me and recommended to add to champagne.  That certainly caught my attention. I asked which one he thought I should try?  “All of them” he replied. So off I went on a little Gun Dog Gin taster session trying a sip of each one (without the champagne I might add).

They were all very sweet which is why you would only add a dash to a glass of your favourite champagne or prosecco.  My favourite by far was the Quince. I love the British element of the product as well with the union jack incorporated into the label.  As well as a great way to add something special to your christmas drinks. these would make great gifts.  You can buy their products at their online store.

Healthy Chocolate

Yes, you read it right. This chocolate has “good stuff” in it. You know like Yakult, only it’s chocolate. Now I don’t really need an excuse to indulge in some chocolate, but now I have a reason to eat it everyday.

I didn’t buy any at the show, but I took a leaflet and bought mine later using their online shop.  Their packs of 14 are great value for money.  They are great stocking fillers, so I ordered a big box of these.

Be A Naked Angel

The Spirit of Christmas was certainly flowing thanks to Naked Wines.  After trying a fair few varieties of wine, I ordered a case for myself.  The wines are reasonably priced and are made by independent winemakers who are able to produce their wines thanks to the Naked Wines funding scheme.  Although you don’t have to join the scheme to purchase a wine at the show, you do get the opportunity to become an ‘Angel’.  Since when did drinking wine make me an angel? Just about the same time that chocolate became good for you. Are you starting to see why I love this show?

My favourite was this Australian Chardonnay ‘The Butterfly Effect’ by winemaker Sam Plunkett.  For more information on the scheme visit Naked Wines

Main Hall

We spent so much time enjoying the food hall.  I met one couple who had just spent £1000 on wine. Clearly veterans of the show, they gave me a tip.  In order to get the most from the show, the couple recommended focusing on a couple of items that you need and bypassing the rest.  For example, they said they had come to get wine, cheese and a Douro River Cruise.

If I’d have known this before, I would probably have had time to visit the main hall properly.  However, as we had already spent alot of time at the Luxury Travel Fair and then in the food hall at the Spirit of Christmas Fair, we were both flagging.

Buy Tickets

Don’t miss the next Spirit of Christmas Fair. Whether you are looking for a serious advantage on your Christmas shopping, or just fancy a day out you can get your tickets here

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Exploring Paradise – The Seychelles

The Seychelles

With a location of 4 – 10 degrees south of the equator, The Seychelles, unlike the other Indian Ocean islands, are outside the cyclone belt.  The average daily temperature reaches around 95 degrees.  The hottest and most humid times are March, April, October and November. With calm waters, these are the ideal months for divers and snorkelers to visit. Between May and September the islands experience briskier cooler winds.  These make it a perfect time for visitors keen on watersports and sailing.   There is increased rainfall during December to March although temperatures remain around 85 – 90 degrees.

Located outside the cyclone belt makes The Seychelles a perfect choice for your holiday.

There is so much to see and do in The Seychelles that you will not want to leave. 95 of the 115 granite and coral islands in The Seychelles archipelago, are uninhabited but you can have the holiday of your dreams on those that are. The main islands are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.

Mahé

The Banyan Tree at Mahe Island.

The largest island is Mahé. This is where the international airport is situated and 90% of the population of The Seychelles reside. Whether you are looking for a luxury villa with your own private deck and infinity pool, a family friendly hotel with kids clubs and activities, or a stay with a local family and immerse yourself in the local culture, you will find it all in Mahé.

Praslin

General Gordon thought he had found the original Garden of Eden when he visitied Praslin, the second largest Seychelles island. The worlds largest nut Coco de Mer can be found growing at the Unesco world heritage site of Vallee de Mai. Anse Lazio Beach is often on the list for World’s Most Beautiful Beaches and is perfect for snorkeling and diving. Praslin Features the only 18 hole championship golf course in the Seychelles

Thought to be the original Garden of Eden

Praslin acts as a perfect base for those people looking for an island hopping experience.

La Digue

La Digue is the fourth largest island where you can find stunning granite rock formations together with picturesque beaches. This is what makes it the most photographed island in The Seychelles.

Giant Tortoises and rare species of terrapins can be found on the island as well as a real treat for bird spotters, who will get the chance to see the Black Paradise Flycatcher .

Seychelles Lifestyle

The culinary offerings in the Seychelles are a Creole fusion of Asian, African and French dishes. The main ingredients are based on fresh seafood and tropical fruit. For a local beverage you can chose from SeyBrew the local beer and the liqueur Coco d’amour.

Time Zone Summer GMT + 3

No special visa for UK Passport holders

The Seychelles became independent in 1976 and they celebrate Independence Day each year on 29 June.

Dominant languages are Creole, English and French with the main religion being Roman Catholic.

A Day Onboard The Elegant Oceania Nautica

A Quality of Eternal Reassurance

Walking around the decks of the 684 passenger ship Oceania Nautica, I could feel a warm, friendly and opulent atmosphere. The only person missing from this ship was The Great Gatsby himself. There was a feeling so hard to explain, but an excerpt from the novel seemed to sum it up completely.

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.

It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Ornate Ceilings onboard Oceania Nautica

Oceania Nautica – Private Spa Terrace

The O Life

The crew and passengers onboard Oceania Nautica are so friendly. The furnishings are luxurious with attention to detail. The art and decor are beautifully traditional with a touch of chic.

From prints to Picasso’s

Exquisite Cuisine

Bob Binder’s passion for superb wine mixed with Frank Del Rio’s artistic eye along with with Jacques Pepin’s world-class cuisine, give Oceania all the elements to deliver an exceptional onboard experience.

Oceania proudly declares that they have the best cuisine at sea.  They attribute this to two things.  Firstly, Oceania claims to spend more money per head on ingredients than any other cruise line and secondly, the man behind the culinary creations on board is Jacques Pepin who turned down a request to cook for John F. Kennedy many years ago. It only seems fitting to serve food fit for Presidents, at tables set with Versace plates with a price tag of 250 Euros a piece!  Some cruise lines offer a cruise close to that price!

Versace dinner plates

Speciality restaurants Toscana and Marco Polo Grill are no extra charge. Food from these menus can also be ordered in the main dining room. Unlimited soft drinks, bottled water, speciality coffees, teas and juices are also included.

Waves Grill and pool area

On Deck

The ship has a lovely pool with two jacuzzi’s, an extensive bar with poolside waiter service, luxurious sun-loungers and double luxury beds. There is ample room for everyone to have a lounger and plenty of space to walk around the deck.

If you’re in the mood for some laid-back alfresco dining, Waves Grill located near the pool area offers Gourmet Burgers which include a Black Angus Sirloin Burger and The Kobe Burger with Wagyu Beef, Black Truffle Sauce and Baby Cress.  Sandwiches range from a tapenade-laced freshly baked panini to the surf and turf of grilled lobster medallions and sliced filet mignon. With a choice of hand-dipped milkshakes and freshly made smoothies, there is certain to be something on offer that takes your fancy.

Verandah Stateroom

The ultimate luxury stateroom experience starts with the Prestige Tranquility Bed.  This 1,000-thread-count-linen is exclusive to Oceania Cruises. Other amenities include refrigerated mini-bar with free and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water, complimentary 24-hour room service and Bulgari toiletries. On the newer ships, Marina and Riviera you will get a full-size bathtub.

State of the art gym equipment

Health and Wellness

On deck nine you have a state of the art fitness centre with stunning sea views and a variety of classes including indoor cycling, aerobics, yoga or pilates.  For those who want to take in the fresh air and ever-changing views of your destinations, you may prefer to use the open-air fitness track on deck ten.  On the larger ships, Marina and Riviera you can find a Kinesis exercise wall.

Lockers and changing room for the Private Spa Terrace

Oceania has its very own Canyon Ranch Spa Club on board their ships.  Book a signature Canyon Stone Massage, a Thai massage.  Or enjoy the sauna*, steam room and full-service beauty salon.

The Grand Dining Room and Terrace Cafe serve Canyon Ranch cuisine, to offer those healthier options.

The heated ceramic loungers* in the relaxation room will restore your balance.  Finish off with breathtaking views on the Private Spa Terrace in the thalassotherapy pool and whirlpools. Guests booked in a concierge stateroom or above will enjoy complimentary access. For other guests, there is a charge.

The perfect place to unwind

If you like your nightly entertainment, the lounge on deck 5 is the place to find it.  Expect a good variety of shows from headline acts and lively jazz ensembles to comedians and magicians.

The Lounge

The Grand Finale

We were taken into the Grand Dining Room for a delicious six-course lunch, to finish off the day.  The food and wine were exquisite.

The Grand Dining Room

Sturgeon Caviar for starters

After our amazing lunch, it was time to disembark. Oceania Nautica is a great option if you are cruising without children.

One of my favourite pieces of art onboard

Suggested Reading – Ultra-Luxury Cruising on Crystal Symphony

A London Retreat – Kensington Roof Gardens

Events at Kensington Roof Gardens

I have been to the legendary Kensington Roof Gardens for a night out with family and friends and absolutely loved it.  So, I was interested to know what the venue would be like for a corporate event.

Getting There

Kensington is not in the congestion charge zone, so there is no need to pay for that.  There is a local NCP who were charging £35 for parking.  Then I came across this site which directed me to the The Copthorne Tara Hotel, Kensington. They provide 8 hours secure parking for just £25.  It was easy to find, close to where I wanted to be and the staff were very friendly.  The atmosphere in the hotel seemed nice,  and would be worth considering for somewhere to stay in the future.

The Venue

When you arrive at Kensington Roof Gardens, you need to take the lift to the 7th floor.  This takes you to the entrance of the club and location for corporate events.

The bar is conveniently located to your left on entering and was set up with teas and coffees for the delegates.  Usually the club is one big room, however for events it is divided into two areas.

Once the morning session was over we went had the opportunity to network and stretch our legs.  Outside in the gardens, I found a haven of tranquility amongst the hustle and bustle of London.


After a lovely barbecue lunch outside in the heated Spanish Gardens, the conference continued. The afternoon session was broken up with a break for coffee, scones and mini doughnuts.
Cocktails and canapés were served in the Spanish Garden, with a talented Caricaturist from wickedcaricatures.com on hand, both provided with compliments by eBay.  I certainly enjoyed the day learning so much about online publishing and e-commerce from leading experts, partnered with a stunning venue with first class hospitality. It was a great networking event and good to meet people in non travel related industries.
 

Celebrity Infinity Cruise Ship Review

The Ship Tour

Celebrity Infinity is older than the Solstice Class ships I had previously experienced, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However my day onboard proved to me that Celebrity Cruises can deliver luxury and style wherever it decides.

The grand foyer took my breath away. It was beautiful, gorgeous, welcoming, luxurious and stylish at the same time.  The quality of the decor and furnishings is un-compromised.  The crew are friendly, professional and attentive.

We headed to the Constellation Lounge located on deck 11.  It provides stunning views in a light and airy lounge which comes alive at night.

Constellation Lounge.

Taking a walk outside we saw the jogging track and the pool area with luxurious loungers.

Pool area and Jogging track

Making our way to deck 4 we found ourselves at one of Celebrity Cruises signature features, the Martini Bar.  Located at the heart of the ship, it’s the perfect spot to hang out and mingle, people watch and meet up with friends.

Martini Bar

Dining with a Difference

Qsine is a very different kind of dining experience.  Not only does the interior design give a playful but chic impression, you order your food on an iPad. Dishes include Disco Shrimp andSushi Lollipops.  The dessert menu is presented on its own version of a rubic cube where you can order the popular Strawberry Fields.

Alice in Wonderland meets Heston Blumenthal at Qsine

Qsine

Celebrity Infinity Suites

Celebrity Cruises certainly offer outstanding luxury cruise ship accommodation.  Here are a few photos of the Penthouse Suite.

Penthouse Suite

Penthouse Suite

Penthouse Suite

After a two-hour ship tour it was time for lunch. The Trellis Restaurant is the main dining room and offers fine dining on a grand scale.

Trellis Restaurant

Everyone had an amazing time onboard.  We agreed we would feel confident recommending this ship to luxury cruise guests.