Associated British Ports in partnership with MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise line Holdings Ltd have today announced the opening of a new cruise terminal at the Port of Southampton.
This is encouraging news as we all wait for cruise operations to resume. Clearly the impact of this years events does not show any signs of slowing down the future demand for cruises.
The fifth dedicated cruise terminal is going to be well equipped to service the next-generation of cruise ships. The main terminal building will use roof mounted solar power and Shore Power connectivity to supply sustainable operations. This will enable cruise ships, with the right onboard technology, to ‘plug in’ while they are alongside.
UK’s Number One Departure Port
Southampton is Europe’s leading cruise turn-around port and the UK’s number one departure port. The £55 million investment will further strengthen the Port of Southampton’s position.
The yet unnamed terminal is due to open in Summer 2021 and will become the home port of MSC Magnifica for part of the season sailing from the UK.
Four Existing Terminals
The Mayflower Terminal is the oldest of the four existing passenger terminals, which opened in 1960. Queen Elizabeth II Terminal followed shortly after in 1966. It wasn’t until 2003 that City Terminal was built and Ocean Terminal 6 years later in 2009.
Construction of the fifth cruise terminal commenced in September 2020 and is schedule to open in Summer 2021. The new Southampton cruise terminal will be the port’s largest to date and will be capable of handling the largest cruise ships in the world.
This is great news as we come to the close of the most difficult year in cruise industry history. We are all so desperate to get back onboard and it appears that there is no shortage of demand.
Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed that Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, the award-winning Spanish artist, created the hull artwork for the fourth and final ship of its Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Encore, debuting in Miami in November 2019.
A representation of his modern and abstract style, the ship’s hull will feature a labyrinth of color inspired by Arranz-Bravo’s life by the sea in Barcelona and paying tribute to the vibrant guest experience for which the Norwegian brand is recognized.
“Norwegian Cruise Line is a dynamic, pioneering company known for its innovative experiences and breathtaking collection of beautifully designed ships,” said Arranz-Bravo. “I am honored to not only bring that vibrancy to life even more on Norwegian Encore but also showcase my love for the ocean and my hometown of Barcelona.”
Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, played a key role in the selection of Arranz-Bravo as the hull artist for Norwegian Encore, having been inspired by his work for many years. Del Rio’s passion for the arts has helped elevate Norwegian’s on-board experience, most recently with the multi-million-dollar-art collection curated for Norwegian Bliss.
“We are well-known for our iconic hull designs and know that Arranz-Bravo’s lively design will complement the colorful destinations in the Caribbean that Norwegian Encore will visit when she debuts next year,” said Del Rio.
Recognized for his inventive and humanistic approach to abstract art, Arranz-Bravo’s work is showcased throughout the world and portrays a constant evolution that some refer to as futuristic. He is highly regarded, having been the recipient of countless awards and accolades, and was one of three artists chosen to represent the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona.
“Eduardo’s design will be a perfect complement to the collection of hull artwork within our fleet and is a testament to the dynamic experience our guests will have on board,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are proud to welcome him to our Norwegian Cruise Line family.”
At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating up to 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will complete the Breakaway-Plus class, the most successful class in the company’s history. She is currently being built at Meyer Werft, in Papenburg, Germany and will feature many innovative dining, entertainment and recreational activities that guests have come to expect from the industry-leading brand.
Following her unveiling, she will cruise out of Miami every Sunday and sail seven-day voyages to the Eastern Caribbean, beginning with her first journey on November 17, 2019 through April 12, 2020.
More details on the ship’s design, accommodations, dining and onboard offerings will be shared in the coming months.
I recently had the opportunity to meet Marc Walker who is currently the Cruise Director onboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. I’ve always thought it would be such a great job to do, but after speaking to Marc in person, I think I’ll stick to sipping cocktails by the pool while someone else does all the hardwork.
How long have you been a Cruise Director?
I was promoted to Cruise Director in January 2001 after being with the company for 4 years. This is my 22nd year with Royal Caribbean, 17 of them as Cruise Director.
How did you end up working onboard Royal Caribbean ships?
I was a DJ back in England, and when I worked at Butlin’s I met people who worked for Royal Caribbean. At that time there were only 12 ships in the fleet, and there was no no such thing as the internet. So it was purely word of mouth and sending resumes off. A juggler, who still works for us, told me to apply to Royal Caribbean as a DJ. I had never heard of Royal Caribbean, I said Royal who? This was in England and they weren’t even in England at that point, they were just sailing out of the Caribbean. So I got a job interview in London, I was offered the job as cruise staff which is what you do. You call bingo and you socialise, you start at the bottom. My first ship was the Viking Serenade in 19 July 1996.
1996 Marc’s first contract as cruise staff, with Fernando Castro on Viking Serenade
How long do you spend onboard the cruiseship at a time?
We usually do four months on two months off, but depending on business needs or if you have a holiday request it can be longer or shorter. I am doing four months on here then I am going to take only five days off, then I go to our bigger ship the Harmony of the Seas. At the end of the year I’ll be going to our brand new ship the Symphony of the Seas and will take the ship to Miami for the Inaugural Christening.
Do you get to see your family at all when you are working?
Never when I am working because my wife and two kids live in Florida. But they are going to be cruising at the end of November for a one off cruise. Lily will be in school and she is five, so she can only come a few times a year. But they usually have to wait until I get home, which will be January for five days.
I keep reading on social media that you are Roy ‘Catchphrase’ Walker’s son. Is this true?
I’ve actually met Roy, he does a few comedy shows onboard. He is really nice but I am not related despite the same name.
What is the average Day In The Life for you when you are at work?
8 o’clock every morning my day starts, that’s seven days a week and I usually take a couple of hours off in the afternoon. We call it international nap time where crew members have to sleep for a couple of hours in the day. Then my shift starts again at 4pm until midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning. So 8am until about 1 or 2pm is paperwork and meetings, then the evening is shows, socialising, being out there.
Have you met any Celebrities onboard, and if so can you give us some names?
John Travolta came onboard once. We looked after him for 4 days. He is a really nice man. And Donny Osmond in 2004.
What is your favourite meal onboard?
I should eat salads but I don’t. On this ship I like the roasts because you don’t get them in America. So I go to the Windjammer and have my roasts whenever I can. And then when I go Stateside I just have to have the Mongolian stir fry.
What is your favourite port of call?
Do you have any hobbies?
I do flight simulator. I have the joystick, the yoke and the foot pedals and I bring them with me. So I do transatlantic flights when I go to bed at night, and when I wake up I’m landing (laughs). Its very soothing. It sends me off.
Your job is very demanding. Do you have any tips you can share that help you stay energetic, healthy and in shape?
You have to pace yourself especially at my ripe old age of 46. It gets harder the older you get and the ships are getting bigger which is harder to handle, harder to manage. So it’s all in the mind. You can get so stressed out so quickly and it will kill your career. You just have to really take a step back, focus on what the most important things are and then keep everything in a waiting file, don’t do everything at once. But the most important thing is being out there with the guests. If you’ve got that covered then everything else will follow. But we have two jobs, we have administration and we have front of house. There’s no job like it, you have to be good at everything.
If you could do any other job, what would it be?
Television. I actually have a part time job with Home Shopping Network it’s QVC. So when I’m in Florida for a few weeks I tell them I’m coming and they give me a couple of shows. I love it because you are on live television to 97 million people.
Gary Bembridge Talks About What Makes Cruising So Magical
Having recently picked up yet another award for his blog Tips For Travellers, Gary Bembridge tells us how he became hooked on cruising and gives some vital tips for newcomers.
How long have you been writing Tips for Travellers?
I started Tips For Travellers as a podcast in September 2005 and soon added a YouTube channel when that opened in 2006, followed by the blog around the same time.
What made you start it?
I had a global marketing job for a multi-national (Johnson & Johnson) and was travelling all over the world for around three weeks a month. I would try and stay a day or two either side of my work in every place I went to. As I had so little time there, I would research the destination like crazy before I went so I knew what to see, do and how to get around. I thought since I had all the content overlaid with my experiences that I should share it as it would likely be helpful to others. It took off quickly as there were not a lot of travel podcasts or content on YouTube back then. As of today my YouTube channel has 30.2 million views and the podcast over 1.5 million downloads.
Wow, that’s an incredible achievement. So what is an average day in the life for you?
I retired from corporate life in 2012 when I turned 55 and so I do not have a very typical day nowadays, and I can pretty much do as I please which is fantastic. I travel quite often of course and so that is never typical, but if at home I tend to go to the gym in the morning around 8 / 8.30, head to Starbucks and have a coffee while catching up on emails and then head home and spend a few hours writing, editing videos or doing podcasts and then binge watch TV before getting evening meal ready for my partner and I (as he still works full-time as a corporate lawyer and works long hours).
When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise to?
My first cruise was a work one. I was invited to speak at a marketing conference being held on board P&O Cruises Aurora. The ship was chartered every year and hosted marketing directors and marketing services companies. We sailed from Southampton and docked near Guernsey. It was just two nights but as we sailed down the Solent and out to sea I realised what was magical about cruising.
What made you book your first cruise?
I was one of those that thought cruising was not for me. So having been “made” to try it through the conference I was speaking at on board “Aurora” I realised it was fantastic. Since a boy I had ways wanted to travel on iconic transportation and so once I realised I like being at sea I immediately booked a crossing on the QE2.
What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?
The feeling of heading out to sea and the peacefulness of being at sea. That as a revelation to me. Gliding through the ocean with nothing around thrilled me. There were only a couple of things I disliked. One was the fixed time and seating dining, so I now try and only cruise where there is open seated dining. The other thing is the constant selling. I soon realised that the model for many lines is to get people on ships at attractive fares and then sell and add on charges and you have to keep getting your cruise card out. I tend to prefer and try to cruise more on all-inclusive lines if I can.
What is the best cruise you have been on and why?
Silversea Silver Explorer to the Arctic. It was incredible. Sailing right into the polar ice cap and exploring places hardly any people go to felt special, unique and we saw amazing wildlife. I am a keen photographer and like photographing wildlife and landscapes and so this was just perfect for that. It was also a luxurious and an attentive way to see the place. There were 120 passengers and basically the same amount of crew, with 15 being the Expedition team.
Image: Gary Bembridge
Sounds absolutely amazing. What is it that appeals to you about cruising in general?
Travelling has become very stressful and time-consuming. Flying especially. I like to see lots of places when on a trip rather than staying in one place as I want to see and do so much, and so cruising makes that easy and much less stressful. The cruises I like most, are the ones that take me to regions and places I have not been to so I can get a flavour of them and decide where to go back to explore much more. I also like that cruises can take me to and let me experience things you cannot really do easily other ways like the Arctic, Alaska, Panama Canal, Antarctica and so on.
Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?
Antarctica, Alaska (going there in May 2018) and Polynesian Islands
What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?
Eat! Usually one boards after my usual lunchtime and so am starving after travelling there. Then I run about the ship taking it all in. I love exploring ships and finding out what they have to offer.
What items do you always take with you on a cruise?
My music and speakers. I love music and have to have it playing all the time and so always take my portable BEATS speakers so I can have good quality music through the cruise. I also always take earplugs and eye shades as I sleep best with them. The other item I always take is a tooth repair kit as while you can get medical help on board, there is no dentist and it can be an ordeal if something goes wrong on sea days or based on the ports and days of week you are calling on. It has helped me big time!
What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it?
Windstar Gaelic Explorers from Edinburgh to Dublin. I prefer being on small ships and this is a luxury experience but very informal and friendly. The cabins are huge, food good and really interesting people and crew. Getting into smaller and more unusual places is another plus. Dislike was probably that the fitness centre is a bit dated and has low ceilings so they cannot fit a cross trainer in which is my cardio of choice!
What is your next cruise? What are you most looking forward to?
Heading off shortly on Avalon Waterways Rhine cruise from Cologne to Amsterdam. I have only been on a handful of river cruises and keen to see what they offer and how they are different. River cruise lines do seem to be fairly similar and offer much the same thing and so eager to try different ones and see what they do well. This is something that my followers and audience also like to hear so I know it will be welcome content for them too.
What is your dream cruise?
I did 10 weeks of a world voyage in 2016 and we want to do a whole world cruise in the next few years. It was such a remarkable experience and we met and made some great friends as there were such interesting people and crew. doing the world voyage.
Image Credit: Gary Bembridge
What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?
You won’t! Everyone thinks that and once they go they all come back saying their biggest frustration was not having time to do everything there was to do. I always say that if you are worried, remember that the longest you will spend on most ships will be from about 6pm to 8am and during that time you will be eating, drinking, watching shows, partying and sleeping. There will be no time to feel trapped.
Do you have any tips for booking a cruise
Always use a cruise agent. They will help guide you towards the right cruise line, ship and itinerary based on what you like – and also will know the best and latest deals and offers. They will also often have additional perks or benefits to include. I have been cruising for over a decade and have been developing content for that same time – and I still book through an agent.
Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?
Before you go make sure you know exactly what is (and is not included) in your fare and prepare for everything that is excluded (especially drinks, internet, excursions, transfers, speciality dining and gratuities). Set a target budget for on board and track it. Estimate what you think you will drink, how much you will use the Internet and other items not included and then cost and compare with the packages the line may be offering. Only buy them if they will actually save you, as for example to save with some drinks packages you have to be a VERY heavy drinker! Review your bill regularly to check how you are doing.
Image Credit: Gary Bembridge
For the latest news and information from Tips For Travellers click on the links below.
If you like the idea of a large family ship but want that extra special luxury and a VIP area to get away from it all, look no further than The Haven by Norwegian Cruise Line.
The Haven by Norwegian Cruise Line
With keycard access, this private, ultra luxurious area has been a place for Celebs such as Oprah Winfrey and the well loved Donny and Marie Osmond. 24 hour butler service, a courtyard with private swimming pool, sun deck, loungers (some in the pool to cool off and refresh), fitness room and sauna are some of the features and benefits of this wonderful area.
The long list of benefits and amenities reads as follows:
Exclusive access to The Haven Courtyard area with private pool, sun deck and fitness area as well as a private restaurant on some ships
White tablecloth in-suite dining
24-hour certified butler service
Distinctive platinum key card for shipboard recognition
Concierge service and Courtyard valet
Priority embarkation and disembarkation
Escort to your Suite on embarkation day
Priority boarding of tenders
Complimentary private car from pier to airport for guests in Garden Villas*
Champagne, custom selection of liquor, fruit, bottles water and soft drinks on embarkation day for guests in Garden Villas and (Deluxe) Owner’s Suites
Sparkling wine, bottled water and fruit on embarkation day for guests in Family Villas, Spa Suites and (Courtyard) Penthouses
24-hour room service with exclusive Haven menus
Mini-bar and espresso/cappuccino machine
Gourmet treats delivered to your Suite each evening
Invitations to an exclusive breakfast and lunch
Cocktail party with ship’s officers
Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress
Fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu
Plush bathrobes, slippers and over sized towels
*Not available on cruises shorter than three nights
Photos of Family Haven Villas which sleep up to 6 people. These were taken recently on Norwegian’s newest ship Getaway.
So the day had finally arrived. Wow! What can I say this ship is amazing. As we drove through Dock Gate 10 to City Cruise Terminal in Southampton, I saw the most incredible sight I had seen, since I my visit on Independence of the Seas here three years ago.
With my cruise virgin friend Alex in tow, we embarked the brand new Norwegian Breakaway and headed to the buffet to beat the crowds. There was a fabulous selection of foods on offer, so I endulged in a bit of everything. From salads to burgers, stir fry’s to curries, hot dogs, filled croissants, a carvery, freshly made pizza and chilli, the hardest part was choosing what to eat. Then came the desserts. Freshly sliced melon, fruit salad, no added sugar deserts, gluten free jelly, chocolate praline cake, passion fruit cake, apple pie and an ice cream parlour with sprinkles, it was heaven.
We took on the marathon challenge of trying to see as much of the ship as possible before settling down at the bar for a well deserved drink. Alex seemed to fair better with his sense of direction which I put down to beginners luck. So we managed to see the aqua park and sports complex, The Haven by Norwegian, Mandara Spa with barbers and hairdressers, thermal suite and fitness centre. Splash Academy kids club, Breakaway Theatre, Maltings Beer Whiskey Bar and a selection of staterooms.
Having seen as much of the ship our legs could bear to take us, we sat by the pool on deck 15 and enjoyed a nice cold drink. If only this was my office everyday!
That evening we headed down to the Atrium for a pre-dinner aperitif and enjoyed the sounds of one of the regular duo performing acts. The bar was buzzing with people and had a great atmosphere. Some people were dressed up to the nines and others had taken a more casual approach. But they all had one thing in common, a smile, great conversation and a glass of something nice in their hand.
The Atrium is a great place to meet up before or after dinner with friends. I can imagine on one of the Southern Caribbean cruises, it would be a place where people would exchange their experiences and views on the port of call they have visited and perhaps giving tips they may know about tomorrow’s port.
After our drink we headed for the Manhattan Restaurant where we were greeted by friendly, first class waiters. There was no doubt that Norwegian Cruise Lines had picked the cream of the crop from the other ships, to work on their latest pride and joy.We were lucky to get a table by the window in the main restaurant.
The selection on the menu was fantastic and as it was so difficult to chose I opted for two starters a main course and a dessert, whereas my guest, Alex save the double servings for pudding.
For main course I chose the surf and turf which was lobster tail and steak, however not being too much of a meat eater but a huge fan of lobster, I asked if I could instead have surf and surf and replace the steak with a second lobster tail. “Of course Madam” was the waiters reply.
I would like to thank Norwegian Cruise Lines for a wonderful day and evening, and for the opportunity to experience this wonderful ship.
We laughed and joked with the head waiter and his assistant throughout the meal who gave an excellent service whilst remaining friendly and relaxed. The cost of the meal?… well those of you who cruise frequently will know the answer, nothing. This is all included in the cost of your cruise.
Following our delicious meal, we took a stroll around the ship and decided we would visit Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Bar. By this time it was around 9.30pm and on entering the bar we found it was full of people of all ages seated at tables enjoying the music and singing along. It was really like a smokey old Jazz Club only without the smoke. Great atmosphere, great band and great choice of music. I really felt like I had stepped back in time and was experiencing something that I would never have done otherwise. For more information on the band have a look at their website www.slamallen.com
At around 10.30pm I was flagging and I had to leave Alex in the bar to enjoy the rest of his evening and go off to bed. Knowing that I had such a comfortable freshly made bed waiting back in my room for me, made it a very easy decision to make.
I would like to thank Norwegian Cruise Lines for a wonderful day and evening, and for the opportunity to experience this wonderful ship.
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