Saga Sapphire Mediterranean Cruise Blog Part 1

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A warm hello to you from Saga Sapphire. I have been onboard for a few days now and wanted to share some of the things that I love about this ship, before we get to the Mediterranean and my shore excursions take over.

Let me just quickly mention the Spitfire fly-over that we had as we sailed from Dover. It was fantastic! I’ve never seen one so close, the pilot literally flew within feet of the ship. Everyone was out on deck taking pictures and enjoying the hot sunshine. It was a great way to start a cruise and definitely different to a brass band or party!

Spitfire-Saga-Sapphire

As most of you know, this is my second time aboard this lovely vessel, I was on in May for a Baltic itinerary and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to get back onboard as quickly as possible. I didn’t share everything with you last time around that I wanted to, so here goes.

Saga Sapphire comes with a whole host of little added extras that many of the other ships don’t include and these are some of the things that have brought me back:

  • A chauffeur car service from your door to the ship – one of the best aspects of travelling with Saga pre and post-cruise.
  • Complimentary bottled water to take on shore excursions – doesn’t sound a lot, but given what other cruise lines actually charge you for this it does make a difference!
  • Fresh hand towels in the public rest rooms – beats paper towels any day!
  • Genuinely friendly and happy crew
  • A jug of water in the cabin, refreshed twice a day.
  • Fillet steak on room service free of charge – had to mention the steak again ;)
  • Complimentary self-serve fruit juices and all kinds of tea and coffee 24/7.
  • Complimentary specialty restaurant.
  • A free packed lunch to take ashore at your request.
  • Many small-group tours – on my Baltic cruise, two of the excursions I opted for were in groups of no more than 15 people, the smallest one being just 8 people.
  • Interesting talks and lectures – last cruise we had some very interesting talks in the Britannia Lounge from some rather famous names, including Phil Davis and Stephen Tompkinson. This cruise we have an ORCA team onboard and later in the cruise several of the dancers from Strictly Come Dancing will be joining.
  • Complimentary ice cream and boiled sweets.
  • Free wine with lunch and dinner.
  • Cakes and cookies throughout the day available in the Drawing Room.
  • Free internet.
  • 50ml spirit measures – as opposed to the dribble you get on some ships.
  • Longer port calls.
  • SUPERB food

So, they are just a few of the things that I enjoy about Saga Cruises and I really do believe that the little things make the biggest difference.

To give you some other updates, I dined in East to West on Thursday night and as usual it was delicious. The menu had changed slightly, but the food was superb – I would recommend the tempura king prawns! I hope I get the chance to go back again before the end of the cruise as the new menu also included lobster.

Tempura-Prawns-Saga-Sapphire

Our weather hasn’t been great. Cloudy skies and a moody ocean haven’t allowed for much al-fresco time, but hopefully that will all change as we get closer to the Mediterranean.

The crew are currently doing drills, it’s quite exciting! Passengers can take part and I am sitting in the Drawing Room at the moment observing what is going on. A man keeps walking past in his breathing apparatus and the room has been filled with smoke to simulate a fire. Lots of passengers are getting involved.

We are in Gibraltar tomorrow from 10:00 until 22:00, a perfect example of a longer port call!

I will check-in with you all again very soon.

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Saga Sapphire Mediterranean Cruise Countdown

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It’s nearing that time again, ocean adventure time, and I have an 18-night date with Saga Sapphire coming up in the Mediterranean!

Yes, I am going back to the lovely, blue and white lady next week – I will meet her in Dover on Wednesday afternoon and I can’t wait. I had such a good time on her in May and I know this trip is going to be equally as exciting (and tasty!).

Our ports of call are: Gibraltar, Palma, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Barcelona, Valencia and Leixoes. Leixoes is the only port on this cruise that I have never been to before so I’m looking forward to our call there. I am planning on going dolphin watching for the morning in Gibraltar, I did a trip like this a few years ago in Madeira and it was amazing, it was so nice to be within touching distance of these remarkable creatures and I’m hoping we will be just as lucky in Gibraltar. In Palma, I am taking the narrow-gauge train to Soller, apparently the views are incredible so I’m hoping it will be a clear, sunny day. In Civitavecchia, I am heading to Tivoli and Villa D’Este, I visited Rome once, in the summer, and to be honest that was enough for me. I would like to go again sometime, but not in July. I am undecided on Livorno, I will get back to you on that call, but in Barcelona I’m planning a trip to the zoo – maybe I will finally get to see an elephant (my favourite animal). Valencia will bring me to Vall de Uxo and the San Jose caves, I opted for this tour because I thought it was something different and I don’t think I have ever actually done an organised excursion in this port. Last but not least, Leixoes, and as I have never been I think I will just explore the port area and have a relaxing end to the trip.

This particular voyage will feature the stars from Strictly Come Dancing: Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor will be dazzling guests with their routines. There will also be a Q&A evening with them both, as well as a special dance workshop. I’m sure the ladies will be lining up around the ship!

One thing I am very much looking forward to on this cruise is a talk from ORCA, the foremost European whale and dolphin conservation charity. Members of the organisation will be onboard Saga Sapphire to conduct scientific research and record any sightings, so I will definitely be tagging along for some of the whale-spotting sessions.

My biggest question right now is, what will I be eating for dinner on Wednesday evening? The food was so incredibly good, it’s definitely one of the things pulling me back – I really hope they do the deep fried crab with curry sauce again, but maybe I will limit myself to just one of those this time. ;)

I’m also looking forward to having a few evenings in Cooper’s Bar, enjoying a cocktail on the deck (hopefully in the sun) and a deck BBQ, completing the crazy golf course (play was rained off last time) and just generally soaking up everything that Saga has to offer.

My countdown started a few weeks ago, but there are now only 2 more sleeps to go!

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Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Viking Sea

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Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its second ship—the 930-passenger Viking Sea—was “floated out,” marking a major construction milestone and the first time that the new ship touches water.

The traditional ceremony took place yesterday, June 25, at Fincantieri’s Ancona shipyard—little more than a month after the new ocean line christened its first ship, Viking Star, in Bergen, Norway. Viking Sea is set to launch in early 2016; the company’s third ship on order, Viking Sky, is also currently under construction in Ancona and will debut in 2017. As a response to strong demand for Viking’s immersive itineraries, all three ships will sail popular routes in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

In addition to the float out of Viking Sea, the company also announced that Karine Hagen, Viking’s senior vice president of product and daughter of Torstein Hagen, will be godmother to Viking Sea and will officially “name” the ship during the christening ceremony in early 2016. Widely recognised as the face of the brand in Viking’s television ads and online cultural enrichment videos, Karine is responsible for infusing the company’s itineraries with extraordinary experiences. She is also the author of the children’s books, “The World of Finse,” an educational series that showcases the adventures of Karine’s yellow Labrador, Finse, set largely along the global destinations and routes of Viking’s cruise itineraries.

Viking Sea’s float out began at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, with the maritime tradition of welding coins under the ship mast. Karine welded Norwegian commemorative coins representing four generations of birth years in her family: 1911 (grandmother Ragnhild, after whom the onboard restaurant Mamsen’s is named); 1943 (father Torstein, Viking’s chairman); 1970 (Karine’s own birth year) and 2012 (Karine’s Labrador, Finse, who was also present at the ceremony). Karine then cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship’s building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Sea afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky

Viking’s ocean ships are engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation. Classified by Cruise Critic as “small ships,” Viking’s ocean fleet features understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design. Highlights include:

All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. Veranda Stateroom, all with private verandas, king-size beds, large showers and LCD TVs.

Explorer Suites: The ships feature 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wraparound private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.

Two Pool Choices:  In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable dome permitting any-season swimming, the ships feature a glass-backed Infinity Pool off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination.

LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking’s Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic qwewellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air.

Explorers’ Lounge and Wintergarden: Spaces designed to facilitate mingling and storytelling, the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow is the perfect spot for taking in scenery through double-height windows over a glass of aquavit or pint of local craft beer; and the Wintergarden is a serene environment in which to relax and enjoy afternoon tea service complete with a hand-selected teas.

Dining Choices:  Viking’s ships offer multiple restaurant locations and food choices—from The Restaurant and the World Café, serving a variety of global cuisines and regional specialties and Mamsen’s, which serves Norwegian deli-style fare—to intimate dining experiences at The Chef’s Table, Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant and The Kitchen Table, all serving meals prepared with fresh, local ingredients. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking’s ocean ships offer more al fresco dining than any other ships.

Enriching Entertainment: Connecting passengers to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking Cruises, and onboard venues include a dramatic three-deck atrium where passengers can enjoy musicians playing regional and classical music; the Theater, home of enrichment lectures from scholars and experts; an onboard cooking school where guests can learn how to prepare local specialties; and Torshavn, a piano lounge where guests can relax, mingle, and exchange stories after a day of exploring.

Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking’s ocean ships feature energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimised streamlined hulls and bows for maximum fuel efficiency, onboard solar panels, and equipment that minimises exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.

Info courtesy of Viking Ocean Cruises

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Solo Cruise Offers From Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

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One thing that I really don’t like about solo cruising – single supplements! Occasionally you may come across a really good solo occupancy deal, but most of the time the supplements are bank breakers, so I’m glad to see that Fred. Olsen is doing something about it!

My blog today is for solo cruisers everywhere! :)

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines cruise line has introduced some great-value ‘twin-for-sole occupancy’ discounts. These special deals mean that a solo guest, occupying a twin cabin, will pay either no single-supplement or receive up to 75% off the supplement cost, depending on the selected cruise.

The relatively small size of Fred. Olsen’s fleet of ships – Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch – and the relaxed and friendly atmosphere on board – make Fred. Olsen cruises especially appealing to those travelling alone. I have first-hand experience of this and I would definitely recommend Fred. Olsen if you are cruising on your own.

Single cabin options are also available.

Fred. Olsen is offering ‘twin-for-sole occupancy’ discounts for solo travellers on a range of cruise itineraries in 2015/16, including (subject to availability):

Balmoral

  • 13-night L1513 ‘Canary Islands Meteor Showers & Sunbathing’ cruise, ex Southampton 8th August 2015 – prices start from £1,547 per person (50% single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • 35-night L1517 ‘Voyage to the American Deep South’ cruise, ex Southampton on 14th September 2015 – prices start from £2,999 per person (75% single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • Six-night L1518 ‘Spain & France’ cruise, ex Southampton on 19th October 2015 – prices start from £499 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • 14-night L1601 ‘Canaries, Madeira & Lisbon’ cruise, ex Southampton on 5th January 2016 – prices start from £1,099 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)

Braemar

  • 15-night M1527 ‘You Choose Your Cruise’, ex Southampton on 10th October 2015 – prices start from £1,199 per person (50% single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘C’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • Five-night M1528 ‘Sea is for Comedy’ cruise, ex Southampton (ending in Santa Cruz, Tenerife) on 25th October 2015 – prices start from £349 per person, based on cruise only (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘C’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • 14-night M1531 ‘Canaries & West Africa’, cruise, ex Santa Cruz, Tenerife on 26th November 2015 – prices start from £999 per person (no single supplement for an Inside twin cabin, ‘H’ Grade only / Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘C’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • Nine-night M1609 ‘French River Cruising’ voyage, ex Dover on 16th April 2016 – prices start from £899 per person (50% single supplement for an Inside twin cabin, ‘H’ Grade only / Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘C’ and ‘B’ Grades only)

Boudicca

  • 11-night D1522 ‘Myths & Legends of Ireland & the UK’ cruise, ex Newcastle on 6th October 2015 – prices start from £999 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’ and ‘D’ Grades only)
  • 15-night D1523 ‘Canary Islands & Madeira’ cruise, ex Newcastle on 17th October 2015 – prices start from £1,399 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • Four-night D1527 ‘Belgium & Amsterdam Mini-Cruise’, ex Tilbury on 17th December 2015 – prices start from £349 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • 13-night D1611 ‘Portuguese Islands & Cities’ cruise, ex Greenock (Glasgow) on 2nd July 2016 – prices start from £1,399 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’ and ‘D’ Grades only)

Black Watch

  • 14-night W1526 ‘Arctic Norway’ cruise, ex Avonmouth (Bristol) on 15th September 2015 – prices start from £966 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • 16-night W1527 ‘Scandinavian Capitals’ cruise, ex Belfast on 30th September 2015 – prices start from £1,104 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • 32-night W1521 ‘Caribbean from Scotland’ cruise, ex Greenock (Glasgow) on 10th November 2015 – prices start from £2,799 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Grades only)
  • Eight-night W1604 ‘Scenic Fjords & Celebrations’ cruise, ex Dover on 13th May 2016 – prices start from £799 per person (no single supplement for an Outside twin cabin, ‘E’ and ‘D’ Grades only)

All prices include accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, and port dues. Guests can also choose to upgrade to Fred. Olsen’s ‘all-inclusive’ drinks package, from just £10 per person.

Visit the Fred. Olsen website for full itinerary details.

 

 

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Posted in Cruise News, Fred Olsen Cruise Line

MSC Meraviglia Goes On Sale And First Steel Cut For MSC Seaside

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MSC Cruises announced today that cabins for the inaugural summer 2017 cruises of MSC Meraviglia, its first next generation of ship, are now on sale.

Sales of cruises on this ground-breaking, 315m-long ship will initially be open exclusively to MSC Club members, with the ship going on general sale on July 5.

MSC Meraviglia will be the biggest and most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line. The cutting-edge 5,700-guest, 167,600-GRT ship — due to be delivered in May 2017—will spend its first summer sailing the western Mediterranean and will be the first to have three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona. Ideally designed for all seasons, MSC Meraviglia will be able to call at any cruise port in the world, allowing guests from more than 150 countries to explore some of the world’s most beautiful destinations.

On board, guests will be able to access a whole range of facilities via the latest Near Field Communication technology. By using NFC wristbands, cruise cards or their smartphone, guests will be able to make payments, book spa treatments and speciality restaurants, access their cabin and safe, and even geo-locate their children.

The sales announcement came as MSC Cruises celebrated another milestone event – the start of building of its new ‘Seaside-class’ ship MSC Seaside, which was marked with an official steel-cutting ceremony at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

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The ship is set to debut in November 2017, and will be christened the following month in Miami – the first time an MSC Cruises’ ship is christened in the USA. In addition, MSC Cruises’ Miami-based cruise operations – with the addition of MSC Divina in Autumn 2015 – will benefit from a newly renovated dedicated berth and terminal at Port Miami, further signifying the Company’s strong ambitions in the North American market.

Large, spacious and designed for the utmost comfort, MSC Seaside will benefit from leading-edge technology while boasting a 360° seafront promenade. In addition, the ship will be characterised by the most interactive and originally-designed aqua park at sea with five water slides and attractions for all ages.

The ship will feature cluster cabins for families and groups and luxury suites with private whirlpool baths. MSC Seaside will also boast an enhanced MSC Yacht Club with private sun-deck, lounge and pool. The public spaces of the ship will feature breath-taking views with a two-deck glass-walled atrium, panoramic exterior lifts and a wide choice of indoor/outdoor dining and bars and beautifully designed entertainment spaces.

View the itineraries on the MSC Cruises website.

Info courtesy of MSC Cruises.

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The CRUISE Show – Manchester, Birmingham & Glasgow

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Did you know that a whopping 1.64 million people from the UK and Ireland took a cruise last year? In recent years there has been a revolution in cruising as a new generation of travellers have discovered the joys of a holiday at sea. Whether it’s the offbeat destinations and once-in-a-life-time expedition voyages that intrigue you, or the state of the art entertainment and trend-setting resort style ships that appeal – cruising is constantly striving to set new standards and provide you with the best way to see the world.

Want to find out more? Then The CRUISE Show, Europe’s leading event dedicated to discovering a world of voyages, is a must attend event. If you’re new to the idea of cruising and need help to plan your first voyage, or an experienced cruiser looking for inspiration, this show is a perfect start to finding your ideal cruise holiday.

After an extremely popular show in London’s Olympia earlier this year, The CRUISE Show now moves on to visit Birmingham’s NEC, Manchester Central and Glasgow’s SECC this autumn.

Uncover everything from thrilling adventure cruises to far-flung destinations and sumptuous ultra-luxury all-inclusive voyages, to relaxing cultural river cruises and tropical family cruise-holidays with lots to entertain all ages – the CRUISE Show will have it all. This really is your chance to meet directly with world leading cruise lines and specialist operators all under one roof, and ask those all important questions face to face.

Packed full of inspiration and information, a visit to the annual Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow shows means you can enjoy exclusive money-saving show offers and upgrades, be inspired by the informative free talks, gain essential expert advice that you won’t find in the brochure, discover different ship styles and incredible destinations and hear directly from the cruise lines about what’s new for 2015/2016

The CRUISE Show takes place in Birmingham’s NEC on 12-13 September, in Manchester Central on 26-27 September and then Glasgow’s SECC on 10-11 October. Make sure you add the dates to your diary!

CruiseMiss Reader Ticket Offer

We are offering reduced price advance tickets to the show! Get your tickets for only £4 (that’s saving £6 off the door price!!) by quoting ‘CRUISEMISS’ when booking tickets online at http://www.cruisingshow.com or when calling 0871 620 4024. (Calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras).

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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ fleet comes together in Bergen on 28th July 2015

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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ fleet of four ships – Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch – will all be coming together in Norway’s second city, Bergen, on Tuesday 28th July 2015, for an historic joint celebration!

This ‘4Bs in Bergen’ event – named after the initial letter of each of the four Fred. Olsen ships – will be the first time ever that the fleet has converged in one place, anywhere in the world, and it is expected to be a very exciting day for both Fred. Olsen guests – of which there will be nearly 4,000 visiting that day – and the city of Bergen.

All four ships will be arriving at the Port of Bergen at 8am on 28th July 2015, and will be departing at 6pm.

They will be operating on the following schedules:

  • Balmoral – eight-night L1511 ‘Norwegian Fjords’ cruise, ex Southampton on 25th July 2015 – arriving at Bontelabo Terminal from Stavanger
  • Braemar – 14-night M1521 ‘Falls, Fjords & Faroe Islands’ cruise, ex Dover on 18th July 2015 – arriving at Festningskaien Terminal from Akureyri (Iceland)
  • Boudicca – seven-night D1517 ‘Glaciers, Fjords & Waterfalls of Norway’ cruise, ex Newcastle on 26th July 2015 – arriving at Skolten North Terminal from Newcastle
  • Black Watch – nine-night W1512 ‘Cruising the Fjordland’ cruise, ex Liverpool on 23rd July 2015 – arriving at Skolten South Terminal from Flåm

It is expected that the festivities on the day will include:

  • Norwegian-themed marching bands, drummers and singers on the quayside
  • A fantastic schedule of onboard entertainment – an afternoon show, deck party and live bands – to be co-ordinated so that all guests will have a chance to watch different shows across the different ships
  • The chance to visit all four ships as they are berthed along the quayside, with complimentary drinks and canapés
  • An inter-ship treasure hunt, where teams will compete against each other to complete the course around the beautiful city of Bergen in the fastest time and win a £200 gift voucher for a future Fred. Olsen cruise
  • An action-packed inter-crew ‘tug o’ war’ challenge on Festningskaien, as small teams of crew from each ship battle it out, spurred on by vocal support from guests!
  • A spectacular ‘water cannon’ send–off, as all four ships leave the Port in formation. Flagship Balmoral will depart first, followed by Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch – all in size order!

Guests will also be able to book the following shore excursions as part of this very special experience:

  • A new walking tour, which will visit the Bergenhus Fortress, historic Bryggen and Ole Bull statue
  • A boat trip across the harbour, to the island of Lygra, which will allow guests to see all four ships from the water
  • A helicopter tour to see all four ships from above
  • A Mount Fløyen funicular tour, with the emphasis on the view of the ships from the impressive summit

With its proud Norwegian heritage, Fred. Olsen has been visiting Bergen – the ‘Gateway to the Fjords’ – since 1997, and in 2015 will be celebrating a total number of 17 cruise calls for the year, comprising visits by nearly 17,000 guests. Balmoral, Boudicca and Black Watch will be making four calls each, and Braemar will be making five.

From Bergen, Balmoral will be continuing to Flåm on 28th July 2015; both Braemar and Black Watch will be meeting up again in Eidfjord; and Boudicca will be continuing to Ålesund.

Info courtesy of Fred. Olsen Cruise Line

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A Visit To Oceania Nautica

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On Tuesday I spent a good part of the day aboard Oceania Cruises Nautica during her time in Newcastle. My last visit to Port of Tyne was a complete washout, but for Nautica the sun shone brightly and there was barely a cloud in the sky – perfect ship visit weather!

I explored as many places as possible onboard, but there were a few places that really got my attention, so I wanted to highlight those for you in my blog today.

First of all, the open decks. Everyone must know by now that the open deck can be a deal breaker for me. If it’s not right, then we are going to have a pretty big problem. I don’t mean that I need every deck to be perfect, but I must be able to find at least one outdoor space where I am content – mid-ships was that space for me on Nautica. As soon as I walked through the door and out onto Deck 9 I was in love. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Right in the middle there was a large inviting pool, to the sides were crisp white sun loungers and at either end there were large day beds. I could have quite happily stayed there all day. The only thing missing was a cocktail, but saying as the bar was only a few feet away, that issue could easily have been resolved.

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The Grand Dining Room was stunning, definitely my favourite of all the restaurants onboard. It was large – actually much bigger than I had expected given the size of the ship – and decorated in neutral tones with just a subtle hint here and there of gold. The Versace dinner settings finished it off perfectly. The Grand Dining Room was also the venue for our onboard lunch. I had lobster risotto to start followed by spinach and ricotta crepes, and for dessert we were served A La Minute Poached Floating Island. I had no idea what this was going to be if I am honest, but it turned out to be one of the nicest and lightest desserts that I have ever had, it also looked amazing!

Oceania-Nautica-Dessert

I also liked the Polo Grill. The décor was very different to that of the Grand Dining Room – imagine a steakhouse with a hint of black and white Hollywood – and the menu left me speechless. I wanted to eat everything on it! I scanned from top to bottom and there was Florida lobster tail and filet mignon, grilled jumbo shrimp scampi, New York strip, creamed spinach, Kobe beef, truffle mashed potatoes, and then, my eyes came to it – the Kings Cut 32oz Prime-rib. A 32oz steak!! I just stood looking at it on the menu for a while, trying to imagine what it must be like. I mean, someone could actually eat a 32oz steak? Surely that’s the equivalent of a whole cow!!! ;)

Moving on from the torment of steak and prawns that I couldn’t have, we passed through the ships library, and it was beautiful. I always have a look in the library onboard, but it’s not a place I spend any time, this one, however, I could have quite happily spent a few hours engrossed in a book. The ceiling reminded me of an old fashioned conservatory, like you would see attached to the back of a grand manor house, it even had painted birds on it for extra effect. There was a large imitation fireplace in the centre, several fabric covered sofas and large oversized leather chairs, and all the books were tucked away in beautiful wooden cabinets.

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The atrium onboard was also rather impressive. Red and beige carpet set against rich, dark wood panelling and a black and gold metal staircase – It had a certain charm about it and definitely gave a feeling of traditional cruising.

Oceania-Nautica-Atrium

I was only onboard for a few hours, so I didn’t get to experience everything that she has to offer, but what I did see was very impressive. I am hoping to pay a visit to Oceania Marina in July, so watch this space………………

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A BBQ Fit For A Queen Aboard Saga Sapphire

I have mentioned the BBQ’s that we had aboard Saga Sapphire several times, and now it is FINALLY time to show you! My cruise aboard Saga Sapphire was my 30th ocean adventure, so it’s fair to say that I have seen quite a few deck BBQ’s in my time – the two below were by FAR the best!!

We had several BBQ’s throughout the cruise, but two were on a much grander scale than the others. We had the Seafood BBQ first and then near the end of the cruise we had the German BBQ.

Let me start with the seafood – this is how the menu looked, and this wasn’t even all of it!

From the BBQ: chicken breast, swordfish, rib-eye steak, jacket potatoes, prawns, sausages, sea trout fillet and corn on the cob, grilled tomato, grilled onions, grilled peppers and portobello mushrooms.

Now for the pictures……………

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 Don’t go anywhere! We haven’t finished yet – next up is the German BBQ.

From the BBQ/Grill: Prawns, fish, jacket potato, frankfurter, bratwurst, corn on the cob and grilled tomato.

There was also a large variety of cold meats and cheeses, and pork schnitzel, roasted chicken with bell pepper ragout and more.

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SagaSapphireGermanBBQ7

SagaSapphireGermanBBQ8

SagaSapphireGermanBBQ9

SagaSapphireGermanBBQ10

So, there you have it, 2 of the BEST BBQ’s at sea that I have ever seen or tasted, and guess what? i’m hoping to do it ALL again next month!

Stay tuned……………..

I’m going to raid the fridge now and eat everything in sight. Blogging about food is hungry work!! ;)

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Posted in Food and Drink, Saga Cruises

Making The Most Of Your First Cruise Holiday

FirstCruiseAdvice

It’s finally happened – you’ve decided that you’ve spent enough time being herded around by Ryanair, you don’t want to spend another week in a complex full of rowdy kids and you’d like to see more than the dusty local market. So you did the right thing and booked a cruise. However, before you get over excited and start running up and down the ship, I have got ten points to help you make the most of your first cruise holiday.

  • Don’t rush around like the mad hatter when you first get onboard. You want to explore every inch of your new home – that’s understandable – but take it easy, you have plenty of time to explore and do everything! Don’t be defeated on embarkation day!
  • Insurance is key. Making sure you’ve got appropriate cruise holiday insurance is vital – you can head off and enjoy yourself, knowing that you’re covered and you’ll avoid sky-high medical costs if something goes wrong. I have been to that dreaded deck they call number 4 (often where you find the medical centre on larger ships) and trust me, it ain’t cheap!!!
  • Plan your day trips in advance. If you know that you’ll be visiting some must-see places, don’t just hop off the ship and have a quick stroll – make sure you’ve got an action plan in place to make the most of your visit. Research places to eat, local shopping, tours and bars – you’ll only be there for a few hours, so make the most of it. I also recommend you do some research via Google maps – I used this to plan a cruise once and I was so glad that I did. I left the ship and instantly knew where I was going because I had “walked” through street view.
  • Don’t be afraid of talking to the crew. Guess what – people who work on cruise ships tend to be pretty sociable; they’ve chosen careers which involve a lot of contact with other people. Once you’re onboard, don’t be afraid to say hello, to ask questions, or to tell them if you’ve got a complaint. Cruise lines have got plenty of competition and as a rule, they’ll do everything they can to ensure happy passengers, so just ask – you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
  • Make sure that you read the small print. Some cruises really are ‘all inclusive’, while others charge separately for items such as  drinks, port charges and excursions, so it can be difficult to work out which is really the cheaper deal. Don’t forget the gratuities either!
  • Talk to your fellow passengers, make friends and have a good time! I have met so many wonderful people since I started cruising – I have even bumped into a few several times over the years on other voyages.
  • Show your loyalty to get a great deal. Many cruise lines have advantage programmes which reward loyal customers – if you’re impressed with your first cruise, bear the company you travelled with in mind when you book again. Perks could be anything from £100 worth of cruise vouchers to private cocktail parties or free bottles of wine. Some rewards programmes are better than others, I happen to like the extras that come with Princess Cruises! ;)
  • Travelling with kids? then don’t forget to pack their swimming gear in your carry on bag. If you embark on a sunny (and HOT) day, the last thing you want while you wait for your cabin to be ready is a group of screaming kids wrapped around your neck. Pack the swim stuff in your hand luggage, then you can let them begin their adventure the moment you step aboard – you can also sit back and have five minutes peace!
  • Don’t forget seasickness tablets. People will say you can’t feel the ship moving, but if you hit bad weather, then you will feel motion! Every single person is different, I personally don’t suffer with sea sickness, but I know a few people that do. Some people may only suffer in extreme weather, others may be ill with the smallest of movements – it’s your first cruise, pack some Stugeron 15 just to be on the safe side! Chances are you will not need them.
  • Finally, go with the flow! Life on board a cruise ship is so relaxed, it’s pretty much horizontal. Wear your snazzy beach wear, enjoy colourful cocktails, join in with the karaoke and have fun with all the themed evenings. Be sure to pack some fancy evening wear as well as your shorts and sandals – getting glammed up is all part of the experience.

So, there you have it, some ideas and tips to make the most of your first cruise holiday.

As I said in my first point, travel insurance is an absolute must – I would never leave the country without it and I have just taken out my annual multi-trip cruise cover with Columbus Direct.

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Posted in General Cruise Articles
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