Seven Seas Explorer: The Epitome Of Luxury At Sea

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Regent Seven Seas Cruises ‘Seven Seas Explorer’ – a cruise ship noted as ‘the most luxurious ever built’. Launched in 2016, the six-star cruise ship is adorned with huge amounts of Italian marble and stone. Large quantities of gold leaf and stunning chandeliers add to the overall opulence and basically, she does exactly what it says in the brochure. She offers a level of luxury that I’ve not seen on any other ship.

Her main dining room, Compass Rose, is lit by a $155,000 chandelier of hand-blown glass and every table features exquisite dinnerware from Versace. The entire forward area of Deck 14 is home to the Regent Suite, which will cost you $10,000 per person per night if you wish to stay in it. It may sound expensive, but it does come with its own spa, a $200,000 custom Steinway piano, two Picasso’s and a $150,000 bed – if that makes the price feel better? If that wasn’t enough, you will also find a $6 million art collection onboard, a $20,000 Murano glass vase in the atrium and you can order almost anything from any of the onboard bars completely free of charge. I said ‘almost’, $3,500 bottles of wine are, of course, an additional charge.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t gain access to the Regent Suite during the visit as it was occupied. I know, I did ask if we couldn’t just give a knock and invite ourselves in for a few minutes, but the group leader said no. Although we couldn’t go in, we did stand at the suite’s entrance and admire the Picasso’s that hang outside. Below are some images, courtesy of Regent Seven Seas, that show a small part of the suite’s interior.

I’ll just give you a moment to process this before moving on…

So, if you’re ready, let’s continue. I stepped aboard and instantly I was transported into another world. A world where class, sophistication, luxury and people with a lot of money seem to hang out. It was absolute heaven. I know there are many people across the world for whom this level of luxury is a standard part of life, but for me, this was a real treat and I felt very privileged to be there – even if it was for just a few short hours.

Onboard you will find a wide variety of bars and lounges, the Explorer Lounge being my favourite. There’s also a jogging track, outdoor swimming pool, golf putting green, culinary school, several boutiques, CanyonRanch Spa, infinity pool and a state-of-the-art gym.

Restaurant options include the Compass Rose, which is the ship’s main dining venue; Chartreuse, a restaurant with Parisian flare; Prime 7 for succulent steaks and fresh seafood; La Veranda, Explorer’s buffet option; and Pacific Rim, a beautifully decorated restaurant offering Pan-Asian cuisine. Of all the restaurants onboard, Pacific Rim was the most eye-exciting for me. I loved everything about it, even the colour of the plates. I also thought the three-ton Tibetan-style prayer wheel at the entrance was a wonderful addition. It’s so heavy that the deck had to be reinforced and it cost over $300,000!

Lunch onboard was another fabulous experience, a five-course culinary delight that was served in the Chartreuse restaurant. I must admit, I devoured dishes that were very similar when I was on a ship visit with Regent Seven Seas in 2016, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed when I spotted the Chilean Sea Bass on the menu on Explorer. I’m yet to find another sea bass dish that I like as much as the one on Regent – I usually don’t like it at all. We were also served a melon and lobster appetiser, butternut squash and coconut soup, a delicious and juicy piece of Angus beef tenderloin and then to finish, a signature chocolate dessert.

Chilean Sea Bass pan-fried with five spices and served with parsnip mousseline.

Black Angus Beef Tenderloin served with a mushroom vol-au-vent, truffle infused hollandaise sauce and seasonal vegetables.

Seven Seas Explorer left me speechless, she really is a ship that boasts six-star luxury at every turn – even the fresh salads and vegetables at La Veranda looked better than they do on other ships! Every public area was spotless and every crew member I came in contact with was polite and friendly. It was the kind of luxury that for many, including myself, is nothing more than a dream, but for just a few hours on Monday, June 5, 2017, it was a reality.

I’ll leave you with the following…

Did you know that on a typical 7-night cruise, Seven Seas Explorer’s guests will consume 1,600 dozen eggs, 1,400 lbs of lobster and 950 bottles of champagne.

Posted in Regent Seven Seas

AIDA Cruises Expands Its Commitment In Europe’s Cruise Capital

AIDAperla – the youngest member of the AIDA Cruises fleet – reached the port of Barcelona via the western Mediterranean yesterday, as part of her “Welcome Cruises”. During AIDAperla’s maiden season, Europe’s cruise capital is, alongside Palma de Mallorca, one of the start and end ports for her seven-day cruises in the western Mediterranean.

The Rostock cruise company’s latest ship will be christened on June 30, 2017 in Palma de Mallorca by model and presenter, Lena Gercke. The spectacular christening ceremony will be streamed live on the Internet, the AIDA social media channels and on board all AIDA ships.

In deploying the twelfth member of its fleet from Barcelona, AIDA Cruises is further expanding its commitment to the Spanish megacity. With five AIDA ships docking here a total of 61 times in 2017, this year the company will once again be one of the city’s most important partners. Apart from AIDAperla, which will dock 31 times, Barcelona is also a travel destination for guests aboard AIDAstella, AIDAblu, AIDAsol and AIDAaura, and the starting point for over 20 different excursions or extended vacations in the Catalonian capital.

AIDA Cruises is also supporting Barcelona’s environmental efforts. Before the summer is out, the company – working with the relevant authorities and other partners – intends to supply AIDAperla with low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG) while she is docked in the port. In comparison to the use of conventional fuel, emissions caused by power generated from liquefied natural gas are significantly reduced.

Since her twin ship AIDAprima has already been provided with LNG in all five ports of her Northern Europe cruises since May 2016. AIDAperla will be the second cruise ship worldwide that, thanks to a dual fuel engine, will be able to produce onboard power from LNG while docked – accounting for some 40 percent of her operating time. The requirement for this is the availability of LNG in the respective port. AIDA Cruises is also discussing this issue with other Mediterranean ports.

AIDA Cruises will step up its commitment still further in 2018. Thanks to the completion of the Carnival Group’s new cruise terminal, for the first time six ships from the AIDA fleet will be stopping at Barcelona on their cruises through the Mediterranean. The cruise corporation is investing a total of around 30 million euros in the facility which has an area of some 12,500 m². It was designed by the well-known Catalonian architect Battel I Roig, and is specifically geared to the operation of the next generation of ships that are entirely powered with LNG. The first ship of this generation, AIDAnova, will be commissioned in fall 2018.

AIDA Cruises is one of the fastest growing and commercially most successful tourism businesses in Germany. The company employs about 9,000 people from 40 countries on land and onboard AIDA ships. AIDA Cruises operates one of the world’s most state-of-the-art fleets, currently comprising 12 cruise ships. Two more new ships will be built by 2021 at the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg (Germany). From 2021 AIDA Cruises will be the world’s first cruise company capable of powering its new generation of ships entirely with LNG (liquefied natural gas).

Posted in AIDA Cruises, Cruise News

Iceland With Saga Cruises In T-Minus 12-Days!

In just a few days, I’ll be joining Saga Sapphire on her 15-night ‘Land of Ice and Fire’ voyage and I’m starting to get quite excited. I’ve never visited Iceland, so it’s going to be a whole new experience and up to now, I am pleased to say that I have heard only good things about the country. In fact, people keep telling me that I’m in for a real treat. Our ports for Iceland are Seydisfjordur, Akureyri (overnight), Isafjordhur and Reykjavik, so I’m going to have the opportunity to see quite a lot of the country. Sapphire will also visit Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands (one of my favourite places), Belfast in Northern Ireland (another place I’m quite fond of) and Liverpool. I’ve never been to Liverpool before and it doesn’t look like I’ll get to see much of it during our call there, either – I’m going to be heading across the border into Wales for the day instead. I don’t want to give everything away as to what I’ll be doing in each place during the cruise, but I can tell you that whale watching, a steam railway, waterfalls and some beautiful nature parks will be involved.

This will be my 4th cruise on Saga Sapphire and as she is one of my favourite ships, I can’t wait to get back onboard and get this cruise underway. I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces, to the delicious food and a few evenings in Cooper’s – my favourite of all her bars. Saga Sapphire has such a good atmosphere and I always leave her having made new friends and collected more wonderful travel memories. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about Saga Cruises! You really should go and see for yourself – tell them CruiseMiss sent you. 😉

Although I am looking forward to many things about the cruise, there is one thing that is intriguing me because it’s a natural phenomena that I’ve never experienced before: the midnight sun. We are visiting Iceland at a time of year that offers daylight virtually 24/7. Iceland’s longest day of the year (Summer Solstice) is usually around June 21 and on that day the sun sets just after midnight and rises again just before 3 a.m. in Reykjavik, however, the midnight sun in Reykjavik only actually occurs between June 16 and 29, as these are the only days on which the sun sets after midnight. The further north in the country you go, the more daylight hours increase. Although I’ve never experienced the midnight sun in full effect, I did notice during a cruise to Norway last year, in May, that the days were incredibly long. I remember the sun setting one evening at around midnight and then it was rising again by 4:30 a.m., it was quite incredible because the night sky didn’t ever seem to be as dark as it should be – as dark as I am used to seeing it when at home. I’m really looking forward to experiencing it and seeing if it changes my sleeping pattern at all. I’d imagine if you were out on deck or ashore at 11:30 p.m. and there was still bright sunshine, you might not feel as tired? I don’t know, I could be wrong, but it will be interesting to see if it does change anything.

So, that’s my next ocean jaunt…time to get the Icelandic Krona ordered and the suitcases out, again!

Posted in Saga Cruises

MSC Cruises Celebrates Delivery Of MSC Meraviglia

Today at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, MSC Cruises officially took delivery of MSC Meraviglia. During the ship’s flag ceremony, which pays tribute to centuries-old maritime tradition, the Company’s newest flagship received her official flag and blessings for good fortune.

At 171,598 GRT and with guest capacity of 5,714, MSC Meraviglia is both the biggest ship to ever be built by a European ship owner – MSC Cruises – and the biggest to come into service in 2017. She is also one of the six new ships due to come into service between 2017 and 2020 under the Company’s industry-unprecedented investment plan. Four of these six vessels will be built by STX France, further reinforcing a long-standing partnership that has already produced all 13 vessels in MSC Cruises’ fleet, allowing the Company to grow by 800% from 2003 to 2013.

MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, estimates that its total investment at STX France from 2003 to 2020 will amount to over 7 billion euros, effectively making the Company the country’s number one foreign private investor (when it comes to export contracts.) Considering that the building of MSC Meraviglia required 1,700 workers per month (over 3,000 per month during peak periods) and nine million man hours, and that the construction work feeds into a network of over 400 suppliers and subcontractors, the economic effects of this investment are not only widely felt across the country’s geography but also multiplied several times over.

Following her christening ceremony, which will take place in Le Havre on June 3, MSC Meraviglia will start her inaugural season sailing the Western Mediterranean.

During today’s flag ceremony, the shipyard’s pennant and the French flag were lowered, accompanied by the French national anthem, before Laurent Castaing, CEO of STX France, formally handed the ship over to MSC Cruises’ owner Gianluigi Aponte. Mr Aponte then gave command of MSC Meraviglia to Master Raffaele Pontecorvo before the ship’s flag and MSC Cruises’ pennant were raised.

The honour of cutting the ribbon fell to the ceremony’s godmother, Ms Zoe Africa Vago, daughter of MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman and Alexa Aponte-Vago, MSC Group’s CFO. After the traditional breaking of the bottle of champagne, three blasts from the ship’s siren signalled the end of the ceremony.

MSC Meraviglia, the 13th cruise ship to join MSC Cruises’ fleet since its inception in 2003, is 315 metres long, 43 metres wide and 65 metres high, with 171,598 GRTs. She is able to travel up to 22.7 knots and has been designed to operate in all seasons and to be able to call in most of the world’s international cruise ports, offering the widest and most exciting range of marine as well as onboard features of any MSC Cruises ship to-date.

After the closing of the flag ceremony, MSC Meraviglia is due to set sail towards the Port of Le Havre for her christening ceremony on 3 June. She will then begin her first sailing along the Atlantic coast, calling at Vigo (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), all the way to the Mediterranean, calling in Barcelona (Spain), Marseille (France) and eventually Genoa (Italy). She will commence the first regular 7-night itinerary on 11 June, sailing from Genoa on to Naples (Italy), Messina (Italy), Valletta (Malta), Barcelona, Marseille and back to Genoa on 18 June.

Posted in Cruise News, MSC Cruises

Saga Cruises Reveals First Glimpse Inside Spirit Of Discovery

Saga Cruises has released new artist’s impressions of ‘Spirit of Discovery’, its first bespoke-built vessel launching in Summer 2019 from the UK.  The luxury, boutique small ship will carry fewer than 1,000 passengers and will feature design cues from London’s finest hotels and restaurants, redefining standards in British cruising.

Saga Cruises has been working with an expert team of Executive Chefs who are committed to creating unique fine-dining experiences across all five restaurants on board, with many signature dishes inspired by, and using produce from, the destinations on each voyage.  Three features have been revealed for the first time this week, with additional information about the main dining room also announced.

The Outside Lido

The Lido has a luxurious, outside seating area allowing passengers to enjoy al fresco dining and breath-taking views throughout their trip. The Outside Lido will also play host to a range of entertainment and events.

The Main Dining Room

The main dining room has an elegant and timeless design with a double-height ballroom-style ceiling adding impact. Taking inspiration from London’s top hotels, passengers can expect British-influenced and fine-dining cuisine, with menus using local produce when the ship is in port.

The Asian Restaurant

Passengers aboard the ‘Spirit of Discovery’ will be able to indulge in authentic Eastern cuisine in a vibrant, modern Asian specialty restaurant at no extra cost.  A host of complimentary house wines from the ship’s cellar will be available to passengers at no extra cost.

The Living Room

With a contemporary design, the Living Room will be the main hub of the ship, with mixed seating areas allowing passengers to meet and relax in comfort.  Refreshments will be available throughout the day, including coffee, afternoon tea or pre-and-post-dinner drinks.

The first cruises go on sale this September. To make an Advance Registration of £90*, Call FREE on 0800 015 4310. Advance registered customers will also receive an exclusive 5% discount off the price of their cruise.

Are you excited about Saga’s new ship? I know I am, but I’m even more excited to be joining Saga Sapphire in 18 days for a voyage to Iceland!

Posted in Cruise News, Saga Cruises

Cruising Customs You May Have Never Known Existed!

There are some things about cruising that you may not be aware of, so I thought I’d share some of them with you in my blog. I’m sure my fellow cruise-a-holics will be aware of them all, but I hope you still enjoy the read!

1: Crossing the Line Ceremony

The crossing of the line ceremony takes place on ships that sail across the zero-degree latitude line. Originally a ceremony held on board Navy vessels, almost every cruise ship that crosses the zero-degree latitude line now celebrates the event. Usually, the Trusty Shellbacks (those who have previously made the crossing) are organised into the “Court of Neptune” to induct the Slimy Pollywogs (those who have never made the crossing) into the mysteries of the deep – as you can imagine, initiation incurs various tasks being carried out and often ends with several people in the pool, but the event is a lot of fun and it is often a big highlight of the voyage. I’ve not personally had the pleasure of experiencing this yet, but it’s on my list!

2: Friends of Dorothy

Judy Garland, the original gay icon, is immortalised at sea as Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) via meet and mingle groups for gay, lesbian and transgender passengers. These friendly meetings are a fun and informal way for less confident passengers from the gay and lesbian community to meet new people. They are also a wonderful option for gay or lesbian passengers that are cruising on their own. Many of the big cruise lines offer Friends of Dorothy get-togethers, including Cunard Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Lines. Don’t forget to give MeetMeOnboard.com a look before your next cruise!

3: Baked Alaska

The Baked Alaska, something long-term cruisers either love or loathe. It is said that the tradition of the Baked Alaska first started back in the early 20th century, when ships first acquired refrigeration. It was such a huge event and ultimately, it stuck. Baked Alaska is kept frozen until the evening of the parade – which usually happens on the last formal night of a cruise – it is then flambéed to brown the meringue. Sometimes, small sparklers are added just before the dining room parade begins. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Baked Alaska or the parade that goes with it, but for many, it’s a nice treat.

4: Godmothers

A new ship is not complete without a Godmother – or in the case of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape, a Godfather. The roots of the Godmother tradition go back a long way, about 4000 years to be exact! The role, historically, sees the Godmother entrusted with the safe guidance of the ship and her passengers by way of a blessing – in modern times, the breaking of a bottle of champagne against the vessels hull. It’s also used as nowadays as a publicity opportunity for cruise lines. If the Queen was blessing your ship, I’m sure everyone would be talking about it. Again, this is something that is on my list – I’d like to be a Godmother one day! 😉

5: The Crew Show

The Crew Show is not a feature on all cruise ships, but those that do offer it undoubtedly have the best crews at sea! Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Saga Cruises both give their crew members the chance to showcase their talents by way of the end of cruise “Crew Show”. There are singers, dancers, magicians, musicians, cocktail making kings and even comedians – it is quite often the best show of the cruise and if it is offered on your next voyage then you must go along and support your hard-working crew members. It can be a little risqué – you have been warned!

6: Unlucky Number 13 (17 if you’re Italian!)

The number 13 has been viewed as unlucky for many years and no one is entirely sure why. Theories include that it is because there were 13 people at the last supper and traditionally there were 13 steps leading up to the gallows. Whatever the reason, that superstition is evident on many cruise ships, especially British ones upon which you will rarely find a Deck 13. For the Italians, the unlucky number is 17 and you’re not likely to come across a Deck 17 on any MSC Cruises ship. This is because the Roman numeral XVII is changed anagrammatically to VIXI, which translates to “I have lived” – implying that your life is already over.

7: Sailaway

The sailaway is still a big party for many cruise lines and its popularity hails back to the days when a ship departing port was a rather huge event. Ladies would wear their best dresses and bonnets, while the men would not be seen without their best caps, it was something exciting to look forward to for those on board and ashore. Today, the sailaway for P&O Cruises ships is marked by a brass band playing dockside, but the best comes from Star Clippers – as their ships leave port they sail to the sound of Vangelis’s “1492: Conquest of Paradise.”

Posted in General Cruise Articles

Cabin Bills That We Would Like To Forget!

I started cruising in 2007, and since then I have had a few cabin bills that I’d like to forget – sometimes we over indulge just a little too much, but I suppose some would argue and say that’s what cruising for some people is all about, enjoying themselves. With that said, I wanted to share some stories with you, stories that are 100% true!

I’ll start by getting on my mother’s bad side and telling you about something she did. My family went on a cruise last summer aboard Thomson Spirit, it was their second time aboard the ship, but they were visiting all new ports of call in the Mediterranean. When they returned home, they told me all about their adventure and how good everything had been onboard, but that maybe next time they would cut out flying and sail with a cruise line that offers no-fly options from the UK. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until I came across a bulging folder that was placed on the table in the dining room. Curiosity got the better of me and I opened it to find that the folder was full of pictures from their cruise, pictures that had been taken by the onboard photographer and there were NINETY-SIX of them! I didn’t know what to say, but surprisingly words just kept spewing from my mouth. I literally couldn’t help myself. I cringe at the thought of buying 1 photograph onboard because they are so over-priced, but NINETY-SIX!! I’ve never seen them since. I don’t know where they were “safely stored”, but I’m assuming they are still in the house, somewhere!

I met a gentleman on Britannia in 2015 who managed to blow £3,500 in the casino in one night. Needless to say, we didn’t see him for the following few days (his wife literally put him on cabin arrest), but when he finally did emerge, he was on his best behaviour – for about 5 minutes. There were several of us that became friends during the cruise and as we sailed away from our final port, we all bought him a drink, which in hindsight was probably not a good idea because a few drinks later and there he was, at the bar, buying a round for all of us. He was a nice man, but he always pushed the boundaries and I expect he got on his wife’s bad side more than once during the cruise!

My cabin bill from hell isn’t because of over-indulgence (I know, I can sense your shock) as the only time I have had a cabin bill that really did make my stomach turn was when I had the pleasure of an audience with the onboard Doctor. I had to have a piece of grit removed from my inner-eyelid, I tried everything I could to get it out myself, even my friend that worked on reception had tried and soaked me with water in the process, but it was no use and off I went down the stairs to THAT dreaded deck. The nurse filled my eye with fluorescein (that bright orange stuff that hangs around for about a week) and she and the doctor did what they needed to do. By the end of the procedure I had a bright orange, swollen eye. I must have sensed what the doctor was thinking though because just as he was about to speak, I looked at him and said don’t you even think about giving me an eye patch, I’ll NEVER live that one down! He smiled and said OK. My eye was quite swollen for a few days (I had to use drops twice a day for a week) and I couldn’t wear make-up, so I lived in my sunglasses day and night, good job I was in the Caribbean! My Deck 4 visit cost me £300, but I dread to think what some people have had to spend on medical treatment onboard.

Have you had a cabin bill that you’d like to forget?

Posted in General Cruise Articles

Royal Caribbean’s Guide To The Most Amazing Islands In The Caribbean

ST MAARTEN

 BACKGROUND

St Maarten’s half-French, half-Dutch island nations and rich African heritage makes the island the culinary capital of the Caribbean and a paradise for food lovers – with dishes like Codfish Fritters, Beef Patties and Sweet Potato Pudding just a small selection of the delights on offer.

THINGS TO SEE

The island is home to 37 idyllic sandy white beaches framed by calm turquoise waters which are the gateway to over 50 incredible dive locations

St. Maarten itself boasts stunning bays full of old-world charm where you can spend a lazy afternoon watching the world go by whilst sipping a guavaberry cocktail

THINGS TO DO

You could easily while away your time here enjoying the local delicacies and soaking up the sunshine, but if you are looking for a taste of adventure too then why not try out the below:

SNUBA Adventure – £98 per person

St Maarten is as stunning below the water as it is on land, which is why exploring under the sea is a must-see for visitors. For those longing to explore under the sea without a scuba diving certificate, SNUBA offers aquatic fun for adventurers of all ages with the option to explore underwater while breathing through a SNUBA regulator.

Set sail off the picturesque coast of St. Maarten on a 35-foot vessel while relishing calming ocean breezes, stunning island views, and festive music before splashing around amongst colourful coral and fluttering sea life.

Tall Ship Experience – £48 per person

Experience the thrill of sailing on the beautiful tall ship Mercedes, as you watch the sails unfurl and embark on an adventure at sea. This scenic glide around the beautiful island of St. Maarten to Maho Beach offers breath-taking views whilst you have the chance to help set the sails, take the helm and navigate the ship around the island. You’ll then be invited to toast your sailing adventure with a complimentary cocktail in the comfort of a deck chair – bliss.

JAMAICA

BACKGROUND

Music is at the heart of Jamaican culture, and is famously the birthplace of a wealth of rich musical genres from reggae to dance hall. The island is also home to sensational jerk cooking, with spicy seasoning that sets the mouth-watering and the pulse racing.

THINGS TO SEE

Jamaica is brimming with natural wonders, from lush countryside and picturesque beaches to an array of dazzling waterfalls.

THINGS TO DO

Royal Caribbean cruises stop in the historic town of Falmouth which boasts stunning Georgian architecture surrounded by lush sugar cane fields dotted with old plantation houses and mills, and there’s plenty more to explore across the island:

Island Tour & Bamboo Beach Break – £33 per person

Explore the rich and scenic beauty of Jamaica, followed by a relaxing short visit, at Bamboo Beach. Take a scenic drive around St. Ann’s Bay, the site where Christopher Columbus anchored when he first encountered the island in 1494.

Grand Jamaica: A Sensational Day – £81 per person

This full-day combination tour allows you to experience Jamaica’s agricultural roots at Brimmer Hall Estate before savouring Caribbean cuisine and some free time sunbathing, swimming or kayaking along the shore.

ST KITTS

BACKGROUND

St Kitts is famous for its vibrant festive culture which encompasses a heady mix of African and European traditions, with carnivals and celebrations playing an important role in island life. Cricket is an island obsession, with Warner Park the heart of all the best cricketing action

THINGS TO SEE

The cruise terminal in St Kitts is a shoppers paradise, but venture out of the tourist built area and you will find delicious street food, local music and crafts and get a real taste for what life is like on the island.

THINGS TO DO

Royal Caribbean cruises sail to Basseterre, one of the oldest Eastern Caribbean cities perfect for exploring remnants of old plantations and fortresses. Why not delve into the history of St Kitts with a Sugar City-inspired chocolate experience or a visit to a historic plantation house whilst you’re there?

St Kitts Chocolate Experience – £37 per person

Discover the rich history behind St. Kitts’ nickname, Sugar City, on a tour of the island’s first and only chocolate boutique, where you’ll not only sample delicious confectionery, but you’ll also create your own indulgent masterpieces – heaven for chocolate lovers!

Caribbean Plantation and Beach – £48 per person

Explore a unique heritage and tropical gardens at the historic Clay Villa Plantation House, once part of an 18th century estate. Learn about Caribbean traditions, the family owners, their mementos and artefacts, island plants and wildlife rescue efforts, as you tour the house, museum, and impressive property before relaxing at a local beach.

ST THOMAS

BACKGROUND

St Thomas is an idyllic island paradise famous for pristine beaches with jungle-covered cliffs, as well as a fascinating colonial history.

THINGS TO SEE

For the best views, venturing off-shore is a must to see the island in all its glory and the tranquil turquoise waters are full to the brim with tropical fish and other sea-life.

 THINGS TO DO

Royal Caribbean cruises stop at Charlotte Amelie, the capital city characterised by Danish architecture which boasts fascinating history along with world-renowned bargains. Once you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped, why not head to  blue seas on the following excursions:

St Thomas Off-Shore Fishing – £106 per person

Journey with an experienced captain and crew who will provide you with state-of-the-art equipment and the opportunity to catch some of St. Thomas’s prized fish. Anglers will delight in this journey out to sea aboard our 65-foot Gulf Craft fishing vessel, where you can try your hand at catching some of the most prized fish the Virgin Island’s waters have on offer.

Caribbean Sail to Christmas & Honeymoon Coves – £85

Climb aboard a schooner for a fun day of sailing, snorkelling, swimming and beach time. Discover sea turtles, tropical fish, and coral while anchored offshore in the waters of Christmas Cove. Sail to Water Island, where you can relax on the sands of Honeymoon Beach, swim, and do more snorkelling before sitting down to a freshly prepared Caribbean BBQ.

Still want more Caribbean island inspiration? Then head over to The Crazy Tourist for a look at their 25 Best Islands To Visit In The Caribbean.

Posted in Destinations, Royal Caribbean International

MeetMeOnboard: Connecting, Informing, And Engaging LGBTQ Cruise Travellers

 

I’ve met many people from the LGBTQ community while at sea and as I know of a great online site that is specifically for LGBTQ cruisers, I thought now would be a great time to introduce it to you and the brains behind it…

We’re Mark and Dale and we pilot the site MeetMeOnBoard.com, the only online community dedicated to LGBTQ cruise travel enthusiasts. The site is growing and currently has 15,000 members worldwide.

First of all, Yes, we know that the letters LGBTQ are confusing to some, and they do seem to keep changing! All that comes from our striving to be inclusive. But the operative word in the phrase “LGBTQ community” is indeed “community.

Our people have labored long and hard to gain some of the rights that others enjoy, and that has brought us together. For that reason, our ‘tribe’ always likes to connect with other gay “family members” when we travel.

We began cruising about 30 years ago, when many didn’t feel fully safe being fully “out” onboard. We knew other gay people were on board, but couldn’t always find them! Yes, some cruise lines began having what are now called LGBT cocktail hours, but often they were at inconvenient hours, or we’d get there to find the bar closed, in a terrible location, or surly service from staff.

We gradually began sailing more often and were fortunate enough to build up a wonderful memory bank of travel memories through the years.

Fast forward to 2008 when we found ourselves eagerly anticipating our first Baltic Cruise. We were tired of cruising for a week only to meet a wonderful gay couple at dinner on the very last night of the cruise! Where were those guys all week? We’d have a great evening, neglect to exchange contact information and never see them again.

Furthermore, we thought about getting one or two more gay couples together to hire a vehicle and private guide in St. Petersburg, wanting to maximize our experience and tailor it to our own needs.  Mark searched online, thinking that surely there was a way to contact the other gay people sailing with us. In fact, there was nothing at all. This led to the formation of MeetMeOnBoard.

Our site is an online community of LGBTQ cruise travel enthusiasts, free to our members. We facilitate ways in which our members can connect and make friends before the cruise. Members who register with us and list the cruise they are taking are automatically linked with other members of the same sailing. Lasting friendships have developed from our site and many members make plans not only to meet on board, but to vacation together on subsequent cruises.

One interesting story will illustrate what the site is all about. Our friends Chris and Bill from the neighborhood here in Phoenix, Arizona had booked a European river cruise. Through MeetMeOnBoard.com They were connected with another couple, Darren and Stefan, who happened to live in Phoenix as well. They became online friends and had plans to meet onboard. As it turns out, Bill was taken to the hospital due to an emergency.  Chris had sent out that information, and it turns out that Darren and Stefan were Bill’s first visitors in the hospital.

Luckily, most MeetMeOnBoard friendship are sealed over a cocktail in the ship’s bar rather than a hospital room.

We’ve cruised on ships large and small. We’ve sailed aboard beautifully designed ships and others that didn’t live up to our queer expectations.  We’ve seen the sights, enjoyed amazing meals and had great times singing show tunes at the martini bar. Of all our cruise travel memories, what we value most are the friends made on board.

Posted in LGBT Cruise Info

Norwegian Cruise Line To Add Lifeguards To Fleet

Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that the line will begin employing certified lifeguards at all of the family pools across their fleet. The first responders will be trained and certified by the American Red Cross in lifesaving rescue measures and will monitor the family pools during scheduled pool hours. The lifeguards will begin service this summer on the line’s four largest ships – Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic – and on the remainder of the fleet by early 2018.

“Norwegian has stationed pool monitors on our largest ships since 2015 and we are now taking further steps to ensure the safety of our youngest guests with the addition of certified lifeguards across our fleet,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “While parents are always the first line of supervision when it comes to water safety, we felt it was important to provide this added measure across our fleet.”

In addition to uniformed lifeguards, Norwegian will also begin offering complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the line’s four largest ships. Parents can obtain the safety vests at the towel station on the ship’s pool deck during daytime hours.

Norwegian Cruise Line is the leading innovator in cruise travel with a 50-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising. Most notably, Norwegian revolutionised the cruise industry by offering guests the freedom and flexibility to design their ideal cruise holiday on their schedule. Today, Norwegian invites guests to “Feel Free” to explore the world on one of 14 purpose-built ships, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed, resort style cruise holiday on some of the newest and most contemporary ships at sea.

Recently, the line was named “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” for the ninth consecutive year, as well as “Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line” for the fourth time and “World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line” for the fifth straight year by the World Travel Awards as well as the World’s Leading Cruise Line for the first time.

The Company took delivery of its most innovative ship to date, the 4.200-passenger Norwegian Escape in October 2015 and has three further 4.200-passenger vessels on order at Meyer Werft with delivery in the spring of 2017, 2018 and autumn of 2019. In addition, the cruise line reached an agreement with Fincantieri S.p.A. for the delivery of four ships of a new generation with delivery in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 and hold an option for two additional ships in the future.

Posted in Cruise News, Norwegian Cruise Line

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