Norwegian Escape’s Signature Hull Art Comes To Life

Norwegian-Escape-Hull-Render

Famed marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey laid eyes upon his largest canvas to date for the first time this week – the hull artwork on the NEW Norwegian Escape, debuting this November in Miami.

Currently being built in Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Escape is Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the largest in the company’s history. She represents an evolution of the line’s innovative history of providing guests with the freedom and flexibility to enjoy their ideal cruise holiday. The ship yard visit took place as Harvey’s artwork is now beginning to take shape, bringing to life his perspective of the spectacular Caribbean marine life on the expansive canvas of Norwegian Escape’s hull.

Spanning more than 1,000 feet in length from bow to stern, the custom-designed artwork features a scene of marine wildlife which blends two underwater seas seamlessly together. Featuring Harvey’s signature sailfish, the design also showcases key Caribbean sea-life including sting rays, sea turtles, whale sharks and a variety of tropical fish.

The process of creating the artwork is a lengthy one, beginning with a laser that projects the design onto the hull. A team then outlines the art onto the curved hull, pencilling in the lines and then taping the edges in preparation for applying the paint by hand.

Norwegian-Escape-Guy-Harvey

Guy Harvey, widely recognized as one of the world’s finest marine wildlife artists and champion of ocean conservation, combines his unique artistic talents with his background as a marine biologist, diver, photographer and angler to create visually appealing and truly authentic art.

Alongside his artistic talent, Harvey is focused on ocean conservation. The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation funds inspired scientific research and innovative educational programs to encourage conservation and best practices for sustainable marine environments. Hand in hand with Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to the environment, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation-produced documentaries will be shown on board Norwegian Escape in staterooms to educate guests on how they too can help with marine conservation.

About Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Escape will sail weekly seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on November 14, 2015. The 164,600 gross ton ship will be the largest ever to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Escape’s signature hull artwork is designed by marine wildlife artist and champion of ocean conservation, Guy Harvey.

Norwegian Escape’s dining and entertainment will include outposts of several popular land-based outlets, including the first-ever floating Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant and 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, a music venue and outdoor bar on The Waterfront that will feature live nightly performances. James Beard Award-Winning Iron Chef Jose Garces will have two concepts onboard, a Latin seafood specialty restaurant and Pincho Tapas Bar, while Miami-based The Pubbelly Restaurant Group will develop the menu for the Food Republic, an upscale food emporium. The District Brew House, a hip, urban craft beer hall featuring an exclusive partnership with Miami’s own Wynwood Brewing Company, will serve up more than 24 draft beers while The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, features an array of immersive wine experiences, focusing on tasting, education, and the enjoyment of wine. Norwegian Escape will also feature Miami’s oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road.

Continuing with Norwegian’s commitment to excellence in entertainment, Norwegian Escape will feature two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals headlining in the Escape Theater: After Midnight, the smash-hit musical that combines the big-band songs of Duke Ellington and the best dancing from Broadway; and Million Dollar Quartet, the smash-hit musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. In a new concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, the Supper Club has been re-imagined for an unforgettable dinner and show. For The Record: The Brat Pack™ is a critically acclaimed Hollywood night that celebrates classic soundtracks of motion picture masters in a one-of-a kind 360° post-modern cabaret.

The ship will feature the largest ropes course at sea, a three-story multiplex of heart-pounding challenges complete with two planks and five Sky Rails, zip tracks that allow guests to soar through the air. Norwegian Escape’s Aqua Park will be the largest at sea and includes a new Aqua Racer slide. Adding to the family fun, Norwegian Escape will also feature an expanded Kids’ Aqua Park, along with the line’s first dedicated nursery for young cruisers two and under.

Accommodations include the company’s largest signature luxury ship–within-a-ship complex: The Haven by Norwegian; along with Studios, designed and priced for solo travellers; and many options for families, multi-generational groups, spa enthusiasts and more.

Norwegian-Escape-Guy-Harvey-1

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Cruise News, Norwegian Cruise Line

Costa Cruises To Build New Ships With World’s Largest Passenger Capacity

New-Costa-Cruises-Ships

Costa Cruises has announced an order to build two next-generation cruise ships that will have the largest guest capacity of any cruise ship in the world. The ships will feature a revolutionary “green design”, representing a major environmental breakthrough for the cruise industry; the vessels will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel.

The two ships will be built by Meyer shipyard in Turku, Finland, with delivery expected in 2019 and 2020. Each will exceed 180,000 gross tons, offering more than 2,600 passenger cabins for a total of 6,600 passengers.

Costa’s order is part of a multibillion dollar contract with two Meyer shipyards in Turku (Finland) and Papenburg (Germany) that also includes two new ships for Aida Cruises, the German brand of Costa Group. The contract with Meyer is the result of a larger previously announced deal between Carnival Corporation & plc, the home company of Costa Group, and leading shipbuilders Meyer Werft, Meyer Turku and Fincantieri S.p.A. for nine new ships between 2019 and 2022.

Pioneering a new era in the use of sustainable fuels, Costa’s new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG will be stored onboard the ships and used to generate 100 percent of the power at sea. This will significantly reduce exhaust emissions, help to protect the environment and support the company’s aggressive sustainability goals.

The new order represents a remarkable employment opportunity for Italy. According to Costa Cruises’ forecast, approximately 750 Italian crewmembers are expected to be hired to work on the two ships. Furthermore Italy will be featured strongly in the onboard experience, the new ships to represent the finest of all things Italian at sea. The thousands of international guests will experience Italian style, hospitality, gastronomy and entertainment.

The new ship order will allow the Costa Group to continue to build on its leadership position in the continental European cruise market – a market in which five out of ten cruise guests in 2014 sailed onboard a Costa Group ship.

 

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Costa Crociere, Cruise News

Rule Britannia, Britannia Rules The (Air) Waves!

Britannia-Cruise-Ship

CruiseMiss guest blogger Scott Rogers recently enjoyed a Norwegian Fjords itinerary aboard P&O Cruises Britannia, it was his first time cruising aboard the new-build ship and I would say that it probably won’t be his last. One of the things that stood out for him during the voyage (and something also close to his heart) was the music. He asked me if he could share a blog about the onboard musicians and of course I said yes…………….

Entertainment on most cruise ships revolves in one way or another around music. Whether it be an orchestral backing for the production shows in the theatre, a jazz quartet playing chilled out tunes in a dimly lit bar, a classical trio filling the atrium with soothing background music or a loud rock band blasting out fist pumping anthems in a show lounge; there’s usually something for everyone.

Throughout my 14 cruise back catalogue I’ve seen and heard a wide variety of performers. For me guest entertainers can get me going and can be excellent standalone acts, but as the cruise goes on I tend to always find I have a growing affinity for the hard working resident musicians. They aren’t always the headline grabbers, but they work incredibly hard and are often taken a little for granted. People can seem ambivalent towards them and polite applause is more likely than whooping and wild applause. Being an occasional wannabe rock star (of very limited ability) myself, I associate with all musicians and even find the good in a performance that others may complain about as I have sympathy for their plight. Often things out of the artist’s control can adversely affect how an audience perceives their talent. Playing in a large atrium with hard surfaces and high ceilings, for example, can turn a performance into a mushy mess of reverb that neither the performer nor the sound man can do much about. One thing is for sure though, the sound engineers will be working within strict limits trying to balance the sound for the average listener whilst trying to give the artist the headroom they need to deliver an exciting and dynamic audio performance. It’s a challenge and they do a great job working with such varied instruments and voices.

My first P&O cruise was a couple of years ago on Ventura. The resident resident band impressed me with their own shows. They were tight had a good sound and played a variety of popular songs, but on that cruise there was a Freddie Mercury tribute act called Steve Larkin. The band played backing for his two shows, stepping in to big shoes fulfilling the roles of the other members of Queen. Their performance was nothing short of sensational. They performed with great gusto really giving it their all, bringing the music and Steve Larkin’s performance to life. It was clear they loved playing Queen’s music. The crowd rightfully gave Steve Larkin a standing ovation for a wonderful performance where he captured the essence of Freddie’s personality and his unique voice. I myself stood and applauded not just for him, but for the band that gave him the platform to deliver that performance and also the sound engineers that put all the pieces together.

Ventura-Queen-Tribute

On this Britannia cruise I’ve had a similar experience. I hate the term ‘party band’ it has connotations of cheesiness and of Simon Cowell delivering a damning critique saying an act is “very cruise ship” in such a derogatory way; but Britannia’s “party band” is an absolutely class act and the very best I have ever seen at sea. I would even pay to see them ashore if they had their own show. The band in question is “Pulse”. They are a group of 8 immensely talented musicians and singers, each blessed with incredible versatility, stage presence and chemistry that all come together to deliver faultless performances night after night, often playing three or more sets across several hours. One night they might be playing epic songs from movies such as Frozen or Ghostbusters (their rendition and arrangement of which is great fun and put big smiles on the audiences faces); the next it could be a Motown set, an 80s night or a set of contemporary and modern pop songs ranging from LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem to Beyoncé’s All The Single Ladies; the Oasis classic, Don’t Look Back In Anger or the musical masterpiece that is Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk. Another time two of them might be playing an acoustic set. All of which they deliver with sublime skills, high energy, consummate professionalism and envy inducing talent.

Pulse-Britannia

I must take a moment to give a special mention to the drummer, Jamie, who has bravely been playing on despite having suffered a fractured wrist recently. Not that anyone would have noticed, he has been playing most tracks with just one arm. It must’ve been exhausting and very frustrating for him, but like a true professional he carried on and still delivered performances that would put a lot of lesser drummers to shame. I’ll keep the praise going too for Sophie whose vocal performance and incredible range on ‘that’ song from Frozen was nothing short of stupefyingly brilliant. I’d like to go through each and every band member, but as there are eight of them I’d run out of space in this blog, sorry guys! But they did all give unforgettable performances from stunning guitar solos, to solid thumping bass lines and thunderous drums; soaring, sultry and gritty vocals to rousing keyboard melodies. Of course none of this would be possible without the back of house staff; the techs and engineers who put on a dazzling light show and who balanced a complex audio mix that made the band sound so great in the awesome Live Lounge.

Pulse-Britannia-2

Congratulations go out to whoever at P&O signed these guys up too.  They are a perfect fit for this amazing modern British ship; their repertoire caters to all manner of tastes and they are fresh and exciting. They are off now for a well-earned break but you should see them again onboard Britannia soon…except for one of the singers, Scott. He’s going home to become a Dad. Good luck to him, I’m sure the band and Britannia will miss him and I hope he explores his natural talent elsewhere ashore. I won’t be surprised to see him on X-Factor and if Simon Cowell says he’s “too cruise ship”, I think that should actually be taken as a compliment. This cruise ship has musicians and singers that are way better than a lot of acts in the charts right now.

Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the (air) waves!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in P&O Cruises

Fred. Olsen Fleet To Come Together For The First Time In Bergen

FOC306863_4 Ships in Bergen A4 Poster_V4.indd

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!

The ‘4 Bs 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.

Fred. Olsen is renowned for its proud Norwegian heritage. The Fred. Olsen Company originated in the small village of Hvitsten, outside Oslo, in 1848, when three Olsen brothers – Fredrik Christian, Petter and Andreas – bought their first ships and began an international shipping company. Now into the fifth generation of the family, there is no better way to experience all the wonders that Norway has to offer than on a Fred. Olsen cruise!

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

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 for everyone on the winning ship
  • An action-packed inter-ship ‘Tug of 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 an impressive ‘diamond’ 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 one-off 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

In 2015, Fred. Olsen 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.

For regular updates on the event and to get involved in the discussions, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fredolsencruiselines

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Cruise News, Fred Olsen Cruise Line

Britannia And Seabourn Quest To The Rescue In Olden

Rescue-Operation

Crew from P&O Cruises Britannia and Seabourn Quest were involved in a rescue operation in Olden, Norway today. A rib boat had an accident alongside, and although we don’t yet know the exact cause of the accident, it was the wonderful crew of Britannia and Seabourn Quest that went to the rescue.

CruiseMiss guest blogger, Scott Rogers is currently onboard Britannia and has sent this information directly from the ship. “I didn’t quite see it all, but I saw the aftermath as it was being dealt with. The Captain and ships staff acted promptly, getting the emergency boat and a tender in the water to assist, and took a very sick looking rib crew member to the onboard medical centre. He was air lifted soon after. The Captain initially said no one from the ship was on the boat, but we’ve seen people being brought back on the ship by officers – people that had been treated in the building on the quay by the ambulance service.

The Captain has since confirmed that two passengers from Britannia were on the boat (a local non-ship excursion) and we’re treated by the onboard medical team. One had swum to shore.The rib coxswain was rescued from the water by Britannia’s emergency boat – unconscious but was revived onboard. He was air lifted to hospital where he is now critical but stable. A tender from Seaborn Quest and another local rib tour boat also assisted”.

If any further information comes through from Scott, I will let you know!

Ambulance-Britannia-Norway

Emergency-Services-Norway

Image credit: Scott Rogers

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Cruise News

Saga Sapphire Mediterranean Cruise Blog Part 4

Saga-Sapphire-Docked

My Saga Sapphire cruise came to an end on Sunday, but I hadn’t quite finished my live blog – internet signal stopped me adding part 4 before I disembarked, so here it is.

We had 2 days at sea and the weather was glorious, I actually complained several times that I was too hot! I spent my days watching other passengers enjoying their cruise and soaking up the sun and I spent my evenings in Cooper’s bar listening to Martin playing the piano and telling jokes.

Saga-Sapphire-Sea-Day

Our final port of call was Leixoes (Oporto) in Portugal. The day started off quite cool and cloudy so I decided to put a pair of jeans on – bad idea! By the time I got into town the clouds had lifted and it was another typical summer’s day. I was roasting! I looked around a few shops in the city and after a few hours decided to head back to the ship to change and cool off. I would have liked to have spent a little more time there and had a look inside the Lello Bookshop – one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal and one of the best in the world – but I was just too hot. Apparently, J.K. Rowling got a lot of inspiration for Harry Potter from spending time in the Lello Bookshop and having since looked it up online I can most certainly see the connection – the interior is incredible and reminds me a lot of scenes from the movies. When I got back onboard I threw on a sundress and made my way outside for some lunch in the sunshine. We had a deck BBQ/Grill almost every day!

Lello-Bookshop-Exterior

Lello-Bookshop-Interior

We sailed from Leixoes and spent the next 2 days at sea. I done more or less the same things I had done on the previous sea days, but by now we were joined by some of the stars from Strictly Come Dancing: Robin Windsor and Kristina Rihanoff. They held a Q&A session in the Britannia Lounge the morning before their evening performance, so I popped my head in for a few minutes. I have to admit that Strictly Come Dancing is not really my “cup of tea”, so to speak, but a lot of other passengers enjoyed the fact that they were onboard and I’m told their evening performance was fantastic. I did stand and watch a few minutes of one routine, but from just outside the door, then I retreated back to Cooper’s.

I "borrowed" this picture from Google - it was NOT taken onboard.

I “borrowed” this picture from Google – it was NOT taken onboard.

I really do like Saga Cruises and I met some incredibly nice people on that cruise – we had MANY laughs and the majority of us exchanged contact information. I will miss you all, and Sapphire!

There were a few things I picked up on during the cruise that I wanted to mention, the first being the dress code. We had formal, informal and casual evenings onboard, but there was one particular day that was so hot and humid the very thought of wearing anything other than a birthday suit was quite scary, so what did the ship do? They relaxed the evening dress code and gave passengers the option to dress casual instead of informal. I really liked that touch. I was also told that the very same day, crew at the mid-ships pool passed out eucalyptus towels, cold drinks and then cups of ice cream to help keep people cool – another nice little touch.

The itinerary I sailed was all-inclusive, but all-inclusive definitely didn’t mean small measures or just a tooth-full of wine. The bar staff were not shy when it came to giving you the world’s biggest glass of rose or half a bottle of rum! They also left a trolley of goodies at the pool area (there is no outdoor bar there) so it saved having to go in and out all of the time for refreshments.

Saga-Sapphire-Drinks

I am sad to have left Sapphire behind. She was starting to feel a lot like home for me, but I don’t want to end on a sad note, so here is one of the videos I promised you from my dolphin watching excursion in Gibraltar – I will be adding more soon!

When will I next be cruising with Saga? I’m not sure, but I’m hoping something in 2016 will soon be on the cards – keep you posted. :)

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Saga Cruises

Saga Sapphire Mediterranean Cruise Blog Part 3

Saga-Sapphire-Barcelona

It’s been all go since my last blog – let me start with Civitavecchia.

I have been to the port of Civitavecchia many times and visited Rome 7 years ago in the summer season, so needless to say I was in no rush to do it again. Instead, I opted for a tour to Tivoli and Villa D’Este. The town itself was quite quiet, which was perfect as it allowed for great photo opportunities. We had a brief introduction from our local guide before heading into the villa and out of the scorching summer sunshine. The villa itself was very nice both inside and out, and the artwork  was absolutely magnificent. There were also several costumes from famous events and movies – one being a clown type outfit worn by Pavarotti. We went from room to room and admired the artwork while our local guide gave us information on the paintings – the majority of which had been there for hundreds of years – and occasionally we caught a glimpse of the gardens and incredible views from the open windows. I enjoyed the villa, but it was the gardens I wanted to see, so when our guide said it was time to go outside I was out of the door like a rocket. I hadn’t actually realised that the gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it was easy to see why. They were on 3 levels and there were water fountains at just about every turn. All of the fountains are powered by nothing more than water pressure and the gardens as a whole have remained unchanged for 500 years – I thought that was incredible! We were looking at something in the exact same form that others had also looked at all those years ago. If I remember correctly he also said that the pipes were original. It really was a fantastic place to visit and I would highly recommend it. After our tour in the villa and around the gardens we went to a local restaurant for lunch before having an hour or so of free time.

Villa-DEste-Gardens

Livorno was our next port of call and I had decided to just explore the town instead of going on tour. I have been to Pisa before and would like to visit Florence one day, but at a slightly cooler time of year. The last time I went into Livorno town centre it poured with rain all day and aside from the supermarket and a few restaurants, everything was closed. I left the ship and hopped on the shuttle bus in time for the shops opening. It was another hot day but we had a cooling sea breeze – perfect weather for wandering around town. I didn’t buy much, just a pair of shoes, but my friend and I did stop at Il Ventaglio Pizzeria for pizza and a drink. I had lunch at the very same place a few years ago and decided it had to be done again. The pizza is fresh, the staff are a lovely bunch and the prices are very reasonable: 3 euro for 3 square shaped slices of Margarita and a drink. I had Pepperoni on my pizza though so mine was 3.50. The restaurant is on the main shopping street, you can’t miss it. There was also a massive market in the centre of the city selling fresh fish, vegetables and fruits, and various items of clothing. I had a walk around for a little while and popped my head in the indoor market. If you visit then check to see if it is on or not because it is definitely worth having a look around. After lunch I made my way back to the ship, got changed and enjoyed a few hours on deck in the sunshine.

Pizza-Italy-Livorno

 

Market-Livorno

A day at sea followed Livorno and it was wall-to-wall sunshine, although there was a strong breeze across the open decks. It was also Mediterranean BBQ day! Everything was set-up and as usual there was a never ending array of food choices. I really do enjoy the BBQ’s on this ship and I think we have had a BBQ/Grill on deck almost every day since July 3rd. On the menu was steak, fish, sausages, pasta with several sauce options, gammon steaks, turkey steaks, vegetables, cold meats and seafood – you name it they had it! There was even a Leaning Tower of Pisa made entirely out of bread!

Bread-BBQ-Saga-Sapphire

 

Saga-Sapphire-Food

Cheese-Saga-Sapphire

Barcelona came next and it was a very busy day in port. There were cruise ships for as far as the eye could see, but we had a prime berthing location right behind the World Trade Center – perfect! I left Saga Sapphire behind and jumped in a taxi to the Barcelona Zoo. It was early when I got there and quite quiet, exactly what I was hoping for. The Zoo isn’t huge, but it’s certainly big enough to fill a day. The animals there include: elephant, giraffe, lion, brown bear, tiger, hippopotamus, zebra, ostrich, cheetah, warthog, sea lion, dolphin, orangutan, meerkat, camel and white rhino. I really enjoyed it and it allowed me to see an elephant (my favourite animal) for the first time. Had it not been so hot I would have stayed longer than I did, but by noon it was starting to get quite busy so I made my way towards the exit and back into the city centre. I decided to walk back along to Las Ramblas instead of getting a taxi, it wasn’t too far, but my feet were aching from the heat by the time I reached the bottom of the famous street. I stayed in town for around an hour before making my way back to Saga Sapphire for some much needed air-conditioning.

Barcelona-Zoo-Elephant

Barcelona-Zoo-Hippo

Yesterday we were in Valencia and my tour was to the Caves de Sant Josep. They were absolutely magnificent! I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The outside air temperature was around 34 degrees Celsius, so having a boat journey through the caves – which are naturally around 18 degrees Celsius – was very well received. We started the journey by boat before doing the walking section and re-joining the boat for the ride back to the beginning. I would definitely recommend this tour, but note that you can’t take any photographs and the boats are wooden, it was quite an experience getting in and out!

San-Josep-Caves-Valencia

 

Saga-Sapphire-Valencia

Last night I dined in East to West again and for main course this time I decided to try the lobster – it was INCREDIBLE! I only recently started eating lobster, but have tried it several different ways and with various sauces but the one I had last night – infused with lemon grass, coconut milk, mango and saffron – was by far the best! I will be going back for more before this cruise comes to an end.

Saga-Sapphire-Lobster

We are at sea today and tomorrow and today has been another incredibly hot one! No breeze at all and the thermometer hit the 37 degrees Celsius mark – it’s fair to say I was literally melting for a while and had to come inside to cool off and breathe. I did check out the Spanish BBQ though (obviously) and the Paella looked AMAZING, everyone that did try it has said how good it was. I would have tried it myself, but I was just so hot and bothered that the most I could stand to eat was a simple ham sandwich.

Saga-Sapphire-Paella

I want to use this blog to also mention my cabin steward, Felix, because he has been brilliant! Everything he does is clearly done with thought and care and he always goes that little extra mile. Every night when I return to the cabin my pyjamas have been taken from under my pillow and are laid out across the bed waiting for me, my pillows have been fluffed to within an inch of their lives and my sandals have been arranged in pairs neatly on the floor. Now I know the majority of cabin stewards on other ships also do the above, but Felix does it with thought – making sure the design on my t-shirt is perfectly visible in his folding technique. A few days ago my friend left her cardigan hanging over the chair and when we came back to the cabin it had been put on a hanger and was hanging on the wardrobe door. Little things like that make a big difference and we have certainly noticed them!

Saga-Sapphire

The dance hosts on this cruise are also very good, every sailaway they are up on deck doing what they do best and the ladies seem to love them. A very pleasant group of chaps indeed and they always take the time to have a little chat when passing me in the Drawing Room.

I will check back in with you all again very soon!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Saga Cruises

Saga Sapphire Mediterranean Cruise Blog Part 2

Saga-Sapphire-Gibraltar

Well, we are in the Mediterranean and it is HOT! Since my last update we have had a sea day or two and a few port days, the first of which was Gibraltar.

I opted for the morning dolphin watching tour in Gibraltar and I am so glad that I did! It was absolutely fantastic – we were joined on the excursion by two of the ladies from ORCA, so that added to the whole experience. I thought we would see a few friendly dolphins but what we got was something else entirely. Within a few minutes of leaving the small marina we were greeted by a family of Common Dolphin, they were taking things slow, but they definitely let us know that they were there. They swam around the boat briefly before leaving us behind and heading out to sea. We sat bobbing in the water for a moment whilst the spotters scanned the bay, before moving out into the straits. In the distance we could see a massive pod of dolphins that were obviously feeding, so we made our way towards all the commotion and there were dolphins EVERYWHERE!!! I have never seen anything like it. They were so friendly and clearly wanted to play, so we made our way at speed across the water in the hope that they would give us a show and they certainly did. There were dozens of them bow riding and swimming upside down beneath us – it was such a nice thing to see and it will stay with me for the rest of my life. They were entirely wild, but they wanted to let us know that they were there and they wanted some attention. The company Saga used for the excursion was Dolphin Adventure and I would highly recommend them. They don’t chase the marine life, they let the marine life come to them and I liked that aspect. I have done dolphin watching before in another country and the differences between the two were quite substantial. I also found the tour very informative, the crew on the boat had an answer for every question – check them out the next time you are in Gibraltar. I managed to record a few videos, but I will have to share those with you another day as the ships satellite and YouTube uploading don’t really go together very well. Until then though enjoy these few pictures.

Dolphin-Watching-Gibraltar

Dolphin-Watching-Saga-Sapphire

We have had a few BBQ’s on deck, the seafood one making an appearance – much to my delight – and the food in the restaurant has been wonderful. I said in my last round of Saga Sapphire blogs that the food onboard was superb and this cruise is proving to be no exception. On the evening we sailed from Gibraltar I ordered the “seafood duo” for my main course: tiger prawns and a cod fillet in white wine butter sauce served with leek and potato gratin. It was very tasty! Not a dish I would usually order, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I picked the fish over the chicken tikka, which also looked delicious.

Cod-Prawns-Saga-Sapphire

As we sailed from Gibraltar we had a party up on deck and it was packed! I think half of the passengers on the ship must have been there and half of that half spent 2 hours dancing the night away. There is a lady onboard who is 94 years old and she got on the dance floor and showed everyone how it’s supposed to be done. She didn’t stop! Living proof that age ain’t nothing but a number. The complimentary glass of Planter’s Punch rounded the evening off perfectly.

We spent the next day at sea, it was windy but lovely and sunny and a lot of people were taking advantage of the open decks and the epic seafood BBQ. I decided to have the grilled chicken, shell-on-prawns, veggies and mashed potato. The mash was really good! I love mashed potato but it’s not something I usually opt for on any ship – this time I was glad that I did.

Seafood-BBQ-Saga-Sapphire-Mediterranean

Our call to Palma was an incredibly hot one! By 9:30am it was 34 degrees Celsius. I was up early for my excursion and decided I would have a cooked breakfast to give me plenty of energy for the day. OK, OK, I just wanted a cooked breakfast ;) I’m glad that I went with it because the scrambled egg was perfect, and I mean perfect! I could have eaten a lot more of it! After I finished the delight that was breakfast I went on the ‘Narrow Gauge Train to Soller’ excursion.

Breakfast-Saga-Sapphire

We stopped for a few photo opportunities here and there before heading to the railway station to catch our train. It was beautiful going through the Mallorca countryside. I have visited Palma many times, even before I started cruising, but it was nice to see a different side to the island and one that can really only be seen via the old wooden train. I would definitely recommend doing this. We had around 45-minutes of free time in Soller before we made the journey back to Saga Sapphire. Had it been a cooler day then I would have appreciated more time in the town, but I was ready to drop and couldn’t wait to get back on the coach and into the air conditioning. Once back onboard, I dropped my things in my cabin and went straight for lunch – I was desperate for a cold drink and it just so happened they served food in the same place, so I had a plate of spaghetti carbonara.

Narrow-Gauge-Train-Soller

Soller-Train-Mallorca

We are at sea today and it’s another hot one! They are busy setting up the BBQ on the deck again but I don’t know what to have for lunch! Fish and chips from the Beach Club? A sandwich from The Grill restaurant, or something from the BBQ? Decisions, decisions! I skipped breakfast today so i’m starting to feel pretty hungry.

Our next stop is Civitavecchia, which is then followed by Livorno. I adore Italy, I can’t wait to get back, but it looks like both days are going to be incredibly hot and my tour tomorrow is about 8 hours in length – I used to be able to handle this kind of heat…..not anymore!

I will catch up with you again very soon………….. :)

 

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Saga Cruises

Saga Sapphire Mediterranean Cruise Blog Part 1

SagaSapphireatSea

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.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Saga Cruises

Saga Sapphire Mediterranean Cruise Countdown

Saga-Sapphire-Mediterranean

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!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Saga Cruises
Follow Me
Facebook New Logo 2013 twitter logo youtube logo Pinterest Logo untitled google plus logo

USA10 BEST

Categories

Featured Cruise Ship
P&O Cruises Aurora
76,152GT
1,950 Passengers
850 Crew
Max Speed 24 knots

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,374 other followers