5 Reasons To Choose MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises focuses on evolving and enhancing the traditional cruise experience and the privately-owned cruise line has invested 10.5billion euros in new ships, by 2026 the fleet will have doubled to 24 ships. Thanks to the use of innovative technologies, world-class partnerships and exciting itineraries, MSC Cruises is the ideal choice for holidaymakers who want to explore the world in comfort and style.

Here’s five things you might not know about the cruise line:

They take tea, and coffee very seriously

MSC Cruises has commissioned research into the top items Brit’s won’t holiday without and I’m sure you won’t be surprised by the response. Tea and Coffee came out unanimously on top with over half of those surveyed admitting to packing food and drink in their suitcase when they travel. To ensure there are all those home comforts Brit’s can’t live without, MSC Cruises is adding a water, tea and coffee package to every booking made from the 1st May, for free. This means that tea, filter coffee and water will all be available free of charge in the main dining room at lunch and dinner for all UK guests.

Free Cirque du Soleil at Sea

Cruising the Mediterranean in winter just got even better with this unique offer. From now until 30th June 2018 passengers booking a winter cruise (16th November to 7th April) on MSC Meraviglia will receive a free Cirque du Soleil at Sea dinner and show experience (terms & conditions apply). The two unique three course tasting menus which consist of dishes including Turmeric Scallops with a corn relish, and Slow cooked Irish Angus Beef Shank have been designed with each show concept in mind. See Viaggio, a poetic adventure into the world of colour following the journey of a painter and his muse or go on an auditory adventure with SONOR a production with sound at its heart.

There’s a new Spanish chef making waves in the kitchen

MSC Cruises is adding another household name to boost its culinary offering. Ramon Freixa will create main meals and tapas dishes which will be introduced across the fleet, as well as an exclusive selection of dishes designed especially for the Christmas and New Year menus. As part of the Elegant Night celebrations, guests in the main restaurants will be able to enjoy Freixa’s signature dish, a mouth-watering Duck Royal with cream of foie gras and onions. Freixa joins other chefs including James Beard award winner Roy Yamaguchi, and Chocolatier and Pastry Chef Jean Philippe-Maury famous for his chocolate fountain in the foyer of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. MSC Cruises offers dining packages for speciality restaurants starting from 15 euros per person on advanced bookings.

The award-winning MSC Aurea spa has just launched brand new treatments and they involve wine

To celebrate the launch of the newest ship in the fleet, MSC Seaside which boasts a 2,410m2 authentic Balinese spa, MSC Cruises has created a signature collection of spa treatments using the LAJATICA vinotherapy products from Bocelli Wines. Exclusive to the MSC Aurea Spa, the treatments debuted on the Miami-based MSC Seaside and will soon be introduced on MSC Cruises ships fleet-wide, including MSC Seaview which launches in June. The vinotherapy cosmetic range is named for the Lajatico region in Tuscany where the Bocelli family has long-held its family estate and the grapes from the vineyard are a key ingredient. Throughout her life, Andrea’s grandmother, Andreina, was known to prepare a compote of red grapes and wild herbs which she used to hydrate her skin.

Cruise to fundraise for UNICEF

Since 2009 MSC Cruises has been working with children’s charity UNICEF. Thanks to the generous contributions of its guests 8 million euros has been raised to provide malnourished children with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) such as Plumpy’ Nut®, and to date more than 6.5 million sachets of RUTF have been delivered to children in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and Malawi. As well as supporting the charity with donations the cruise company raises awareness on board its ships through “edutainment” activities for children and their parents. Each week sees the programme on board each of MSC Cruises’ ships including a dedicated UNICEF Day with fun games, a children’s parade and the distribution to each participating youngster of a leaflet to teach them about malnutrition in the world.

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Construction Begins On P&O Cruises Newest Ship – Name To Be Announced On May 24

P&O Cruises marked an important construction milestone recently as it cut the first piece of steel for its newest ship being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg. The steel cutting ceremony was attended by P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow; Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein and managing director of Meyer Werft, Tim Meyer.

Josh Weinstein said: “This is the first time in 20 years that P&O Cruises has had a ship built by Meyer Werft and I’d like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to get us to the first stage in the life of this ground-breaking vessel. Meyer Werft has an enviable track record of producing genuinely innovative ships which also deliver tremendous levels of operational efficiency and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership over the next couple of years to this ship’s completion in 2020 and beyond.”

Paul Ludlow added: “This is a very exciting and momentous day. Our new ship will be the largest ship ever operated by the brand and the largest ever to be dedicated exclusively to the UK cruise industry. It will also be the first ship in our market to be powered by LNG, the most environmentally-friendly power source yet for large-scale cruise ships. With UK passenger numbers set to top two million for the first time this year, we are confident in cruising’s future and believe that there will be an exceptionally positive UK response to this ship and the innovations it will bring. We also expect this ship to persuade many UK consumers to take that all important first cruise.”

P&O Cruises will announce the name of the new ship on Thursday May 24 at 4pm on the company’s Facebook page. This highly anticipated announcement comes as a result of a competition that P&O Cruises ran last year when it invited members of the public to suggest a suitable name for the ship. Over 30,000 submissions were received with a panel of experts making the final decision.

 

Posted in Cruise News, P&O Cruises

Virgin Voyages Reveals First-Look Inside Its Newest Ship

Virgin Voyages has released renderings of a selection of exterior public spaces and interior designs inspired by the brand’s design concept- the Modern Romance of Sailing. Building on the company’s mission to redefine what those expect from a sea vacation and thus create an Epic Sea Change For All, Virgin Voyages has carefully curated a ‘Creative Collective’ featuring some of the world’s leading interior design firms, none of whom have ever designed for the cruise industry before.

Across the ship, Virgin Voyages has partnered with Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio in London, Roman and Williams in New York, Concrete Amsterdam, Softroom in London and WorkAC in New York. Virgin Voyages’ first ship is due for delivery in 2020.

Virgin Voyages opted to use multiple interior designers, to focus on the strengths of each firm and to show diversity throughout the ship, using the principle of the Modern Romance of Sailing as the guiding star to a cohesive vision. Within the brand ethos, modern is representative of a contemporary holiday aesthetic paired with romance, which offers a nod to a love of the historical glamour and sophistication of a sea voyage. Classic nautical elements such as steel, brass and portholes are tastefully sprinkled throughout the ship so that Virgin Voyages sailors are always conscious that they are sailing at sea.

Beginning with the ship’s top deck, Richard’s Rooftop designed by Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio will be an exclusive chic outdoor lounge reserved for the ship’s suite guests. An iconic name in interior design, Design Research Studio is known for disruptive designs that are forward thinking. Richard’s Rooftop is a private club that features a futuristic aesthetic with circular loungers, giant umbrellas and accents of dichroic glass that will cast shadows of rainbow reflections across the outdoor lounge.

Heading inside the ship, Tom Dixon’s famed void lighting will adorn the entryway to Pink Agave, the ship’s upscale modern Mexican restaurant designed by Design Research Studio. Electric blue metallic lighting fixtures will cascade from the ceilings above oversized banquets that line the dining room’s portholes. An elongated curved lounger centres the room with round tables for two offering an intimate dining experience. The upscale restaurant will feature a bar area in the foyer and a private dining room for larger groups.

Known for their work with notable celebrity residences as well as eye-catching hotels like The Standard Highline in New York City, the Roman and Williams design firm was a natural fit to design The Manor, the signature nightclub for Virgin Voyages. Inspired by Richard Branson’s history in the music industry and his first ever Virgin music studio of the same name, the dance music fuelled space has been expertly outfitted with details, platforms and corners that make it both somewhere to see and to be seen. With emerald, aubergine undertones and gold accents The Manor will bring glitz and glamour to sea.

Roman and Williams are also the masterminds behind The Dock, an outdoor lounge with a focus on relaxation, socializing and an appreciation of the gorgeous views the ship provides. Located on the very aft of the ship on deck 7, The Dock is reminiscent of the chicest seaside lounges in the Hamptons, Ibiza, Bali and beyond. The inspiration behind The Dock was to create a space where by day, the sun, sea and sailing are the stars of the show and a cold beverage, a book and the view are the perfect companions–a place where sailors can lose themselves in serenity and the day can seamlessly turn into night.

Back atop of the ship, relaxation and adult-play will meet yachting glamour at The Athletic Club, an outdoor lounge that celebrates traditional nautical elements designed by Concrete Amsterdam. Featuring the largest daybed at sea, the white and red striped semi-circular lounger is the perfect spot on board for sunbathing or star gazing. Adjacent to the daybed is a 220 square foot area of triple netting where sailors can layout and overlook the open space and decks below, as if they were sailing on a catamaran. The Athletic Club expands across both sides of the aft of the ship with 10 cabanas overlooking the ocean with beverage service from the adjacent bar.

Known for incorporating emotion and a bit of eccentricity in their designs, the team at Concrete Amsterdam are the brilliant architectural minds behind hotels like citizenM and hotel Zoku as well as eateries like 212 Amsterdam, among others. Their human-centric approach will nudge sailors to focus on the form, function and elements of food at the Test Kitchen restaurant. Concrete Amsterdam designed the restaurant with an inviting entryway with lighting fixture images that mimic the periodic table. The Test Kitchen’s laboratory-like environment is accented by metallic furniture, sleek clean lines and of course the finishing touches of beakers, test tubes and volumetric flasks.

The remaining onboard public spaces and cabins designed by the Virgin Voyages’ interior design Creative Collective will be revealed throughout the year as a part of the brand’s continuation of its #ShipTease series.

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Posted in Cruise News, Virgin Voyages

Celebrity Cruises Unveils The Spa On Celebrity Edge

Introducing a holistic wellness journey like no other on land or at sea, Celebrity Cruises unveils The Spa on Celebrity Edge. With more than 22,000 square feet for guests to renew, restore, and reinvigorate, The Spa was inspired by nature, and masterfully designed by world-renowned designer Kelly Hoppen, MBE, and features an awe-inspiring selection of treatments in collaboration with industry-leading partners.

RENEWED DESIGN

To create an environment that is both in harmony with nature and undeniably luxurious, Celebrity Cruises collaboration with Kelly Hoppen has not only brought her warm opulence to Celebrity Edge’s accommodation, including the suites and The Retreat, but also in the vision for The Spa.

RESTORATIVE INSPIRATION

Celebrity Cruises infused natural elements into every moment of the experience at The Spa through an original concept called SEA – inspired by the Sea, Earth, and the Air – which transcends the design of The Spa and treatments.

SEA unites every experience throughout the wellness journey. Bespoke blended essences fill the air, kick-starting the path to total relaxation. The Relaxation Lounge surrounds guests in a Zen-like ambience, clearing their mind before their treatments begin. Each treatment starts with a unique welcome ritual to prepare one’s mind, body, and spirit for the pampering to follow.

Spa Main Entrance

REINVIGORATED OFFERINGS

Celebrity Cruises has teamed up with the leading authorities in their fields to harness cutting-edge technological and therapeutic innovations to create a spa experience unlike any other.

There are more than 124 treatments, including signature offerings such as the Ocean Spa Wave Massage, Hot Mineral Body Boost, Poultice-Powered Muscle Release, Zero Gravity Wellness Massage, Restorative Salt Stone Massage, and Thousand Flower Detox Wrap, to name a few.

From wellness and beauty to fitness, The Spa on Celebrity Edge also features a line-up of sea-first and brand-first offerings for guests to enjoy, including:

  • The SEA Thermal Suite – the next evolution of the popular Persian Garden on the brand’s current fleet, with eight distinctive therapeutic experiences harnessing the benefits of natural elements:
  • the Hammam
  • Salt Room
  • Steam Room
  • Rainfall Water Therapy Room
  • Float Room
  • Heated tile loungers
  • Infrared Sauna
  • Crystalarium
  • AquaClass guests receive complimentary access to the SEA Thermal Suite, among other complimentary amenities
  • The first line of ELEMIS BIOTEC facials ever offered on a Celebrity Cruises ship

Infrared Sauna

A specialty treatment table collection, including:

  • Spa Wave MLW Amphibia Table: Water filled cushions adapt to guests’ unique anatomy for the ultimate in comfort, as well as customizable colour therapy lighting
  • WellMassage4D® Table: A Celebrity Cruises first, this award-winning treatment table uses breakthrough technology to deliver a deeper and more relaxing massage
  • MLX Quartz Table: Another first on Celebrity Cruises, warm crystals mould and shape around the body, releasing muscle tension and promoting a deeper state of relaxation
  • Ideal Image® Ocean, The Advanced MedSpa, is another first at sea, offering aesthetical services such as Dysport® Wrinkle Treatments and Restylane® Dermal Filler Treatments
  • Celebrity Cruises is partnering with Kérastase®, one of the world’s most advanced luxury haircare brands, to introduce the first ever Kérastase® Institute at sea
  • The Barber offers traditional hot shaves and fresh cuts for the modern man
  • Guests can relive their experience at The Spa at home with the same luxurious products used in treatments on board. This can be found at the interactive ELEMIS Ingredient Wall, which gives insights into the advanced science and natural ingredients behind the Celebrity Cruises line of ELEMIS products
  • Ready to feel the burn? The Fitness Centre will get those endorphins flowing with more Celebrity Cruises firsts, including hot yoga, Technogym® Group Cycle, Fitness on Demand™, cardio boxing, the first Bungee Fit and Peloton® bikes ever offered at sea

Spa Barber Shop

Celebrity Edge will spend her inaugural season sailing alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruise itineraries, before transporting guests to the stunning vistas of the Mediterranean. A range of seven- to 11-night sailings from iconic cities like Barcelona and Rome will be available in 2019.

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Posted in Celebrity Cruises, Cruise News

Silversea Cruises Orders Silver Dawn

Silversea Cruises has awarded Fincantieri with an order for another ultra-luxury cruise ship, with delivery scheduled for Q4 2021. The contract is valued at over €320 million.

Named Silver Dawn, the new vessel will be a sistership of Silversea’s flagship, Silver Muse, which was launched from the Fincantieri shipyard of Sestri Ponente (Genoa) in April 2017 and was welcomed with great acclaim by guests. Silversea has therefore committed to constructing a new ship that will share Silver Muse’s ultra-luxury qualities.

The order of Silver Dawn comes just months after the cruise line signed a contract with Fincantieri for the construction of Silver Moon, another sistership to Silver Muse, which is due to be delivered in 2020. Part of the cruise line’s expansion plan, the fleet’s eleventh ship – the third ship in the Muse-class series – will strengthen the strategic musification of Silversea’s fleet.

Silver Dawn will benefit from the same sense of intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodation options that characterise all Silversea vessels. Providing superlative comfort and an enhanced onboard experience, she will unlock authentic travel experiences for Silversea’s discerning guests in the world’s most spectacular destinations.

“Following the extraordinary success of Silver Muse, we are delighted to announce Silver Dawn as the eleventh ship to join the Silversea fleet,” comments Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Silversea’s Chairman. “Silver Dawn will bear the same hallmarks of quality that guests currently enjoy on our 6-star ships. We look forward to welcoming guests aboard in November 2021. It was my father’s dream to grow Silversea to at least a 12-ship fleet; today, we are one step closer to fulfilling his vision”.

Fincantieri has built 82 cruise ships from 1990 to today (59 from 2002), while another 44 are currently being designed or built in the Group’s yards.

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Posted in Cruise News, Silversea Cruises

Fred. Olsen World Cruise 2018: Life Onboard Black Watch

A lot of people asked me how I could possibly want to spend 108-nights on a ship. My response, how could you not want to spend 108-nights on a ship? I love being at sea. That’s my happy place, even when the waves are crashing against the hull and throwing us around like a toy boat, I’d still rather be there than anywhere else. I hate being still, I like to be on the move.

Life onboard Black Watch for those 108-nights was far from dull. I never get involved with entertainment unless it is out on the open decks. I don’t want to be inside watching or listening to something that I usually have no interest in. I like to be outside, watching the sunset, enjoying the sea air and having conversations with people. I don’t need to be entertained with song and dance, I’m happy with a good old fashioned chat. Lots of other people went to the shows, some they enjoyed more than others, and I always waited for my evening reports from Julie and Audrey. I may not have been there myself, but I do like to know what other people think. There were so many different acts on during the 108-nights, including Joe West, Micky Zany, Gerry Graham, Stevie J, Al Brown, Mick Miller and so on. I’m sure some of those names will be familiar to those of you that have been on a few cruises. Comedy, music, dancing, magic, there was a wide variety on offer. Of course, we also had regular music and shows from the Black Watch Show Company, Black Watch Orchestra and Malou, Timeline Duo and Tibor Parrag. Of all the deck entertainment, my favourite was the line crossing ceremony, closely followed by the Bollywood night and then the tug of war. I liked the tug of war because the crew really went for it. I was sure someone was going to end up overboard. 

The Bollywood party we had as we sailed from Mumbai was a lot of fun and I actually got involved with it, but from the corner of a deck that wasn’t six. I didn’t want or need an audience. The deck was decorated with lanterns and strips of beautiful, brightly coloured fabric. Everyone commented on how nice the ship looked. I wish we could have kept it like that every night. I also enjoyed the local band that came onboard when we were in Sharm el Sheikh. It hadn’t been quite what I’d expected but it was different and I liked the music. We had other local entertainment come aboard in several other ports, but I spent my time ashore on those evenings.

Once we had been on the ship for a few weeks, people started to fall into habits and routines. You’d often see the same people, sitting in the same places and that was a great way to chat. The knitting ladies (whom we adored and  renamed the Knitting Mafia) always sat in the same place in the Bookmark Cafe, a lady named Janet and her friend Bruce were always to be found enjoying the sounds of the piano in the Morning Lights Pub, some of our favourite people could always be found on Deck 8 and we knew everyone else could probably be found at the morning and afternoon quizzes. There were people I liked very much and others that I wasn’t so fond of. In the beginning, everyone seems friendly, but when you’re onboard for such a long time you soon realise that what was presented to you at first isn’t always what stays true. It’s not a bad thing, you just accept that you enjoy the company of some people more than others and you instinctively go your separate ways.

Yvonne and Irene, two of my favourite knitting ladies 🙂

Marian and I also fell into our own routines. She would visit the gym on sea days, before having breakfast and then joining me on the aft decks for some sunbathing. We ate Poolside every sea day and ordered the same thing, and the last six-to-seven weeks of the cruise I had the same thing for dinner every night (when I had dinner) and that was tuna, pasta and sweetcorn. Surprisingly, I didn’t get bored with it, I enjoyed it. It was light and I left the dining room feeling full but not bloated because I’d unnecessarily shoveled three courses down my neck. I did cheat once or twice, but that was it. We’d also been onboard for so long that I’d seen each menu several times, I just wanted to keep it simple. OK all of that was a complete lie, I just REALLY wanted to eat the fried chicken and in order to do that, something else had to be sacrificed. Simple as that. I really miss that chicken. I know I’ve gone on and on about it for months, but it was seriously good. 😉 

One thing I did break routine for was a visit to the spa. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. On the first week of the cruise I’d seen an advert for Happy Feet and even though I hate the thought of a spa visit, it sounded like the perfect treat for tired feet. I decided that near the end of the cruise, I’d go along and see what it was all about. On the second last day, I made my way to the Atlantis Spa and Pear began the process of making my feet happy. Now, let me point out that I don’t like feet and I don’t like people touching my feet. The advert said it was a FOOT SOAK, there was no mention of massages or anything else, so imagine my horror when Pear started rubbing all sorts of lotions and potions over my lower legs and feet. Although I was uncomfortable at first, I soon got over it and I did enjoy it. My feet are still smooth and I’ll do it again on my next Fred. Olsen cruise.

What else can I tell you about living on a cruise ship for 108-nights? I don’t even know where to begin, to be honest. I’ve tried to share with you the things that I feel would be of interest to everyone, but of course there are so many other bits and pieces I could share with you. The launderette, what a pain! Going back and forth every few minutes was good for my legs, but nothing else. I will say that it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. We all know the onboard launderette can be the most dangerous place onboard, but nothing major happened on this cruise and surprisingly, it wasn’t where all the gossip originated from. I know, I still can’t believe it. I did meet a lovely lady in there one day who kindly pointed out that the iron wasn’t plugged in, hence the reason it wasn’t getting hot. I’d checked everything else! Give me a break! We were both hysterical for several minutes.

Marian and I had a magnetic cat on our cabin door, she would hold the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and she went all over the ship, from cabin to cabin. I’d take her to visit people, she especially liked being with Eve and Fiona. She’d return home a day or two later with a note attached to her tail. No, we weren’t mad, but this is life on such a long sailing and when you get to know people. It’s all just a bit of fun. I’d met Eve on Balmoral last year, so I would wind her up on a daily basis. There was no getting away from me! 😉

What else? I became the unofficial ‘Black Watch Barber’, I’d shave Mick’s head every 3 or 4 weeks and colour Eve’s hair. I’d quite often escort Irene from the lift to the Lido Lounge. I’d take silly selfies with friends that had fallen asleep in public areas (don’t worry, they all knew about it, loved it and were shown the pictures). I had an 82-year-old boyfriend named Alec (miss you novio) and his wife gave us her blessing. I was adopted by a lovely Greek couple and they would call me Kori, which means daughter. There was a lady named Sue (I’m talking about you, Smiler) and I loved her, I had to hug her every time I seen her and it had nothing to do with the fact she called me beautiful every day. Life onboard, I do miss it. I was the youngest passenger on the cruise, I could get away with anything! 😉

The only regret I have from the world cruise is leaving the ship. I wish I’d stayed onboard. I wouldn’t change anything about it and if I could do it all again, I’d be there in the blink of an eye. The sea is definitely my oasis of serenity and I’m missing ‘ship life’ very much. It’s another world. When we’re out in the middle of the ocean it’s just us. I love that feeling! 

 

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Posted in Fred Olsen Cruise Line, world cruise

What Standards Should You Expect On A Luxury Cruise Ship?

All aboard! It’s time to roll out the red carpet and step into the land of luxury and style.

Many cruise ships have upped their game when it comes to offering guests the ultimate experience. Providing VIP treatment around the clock, from private butlers to Michelin-starred chefs, there are no limits as to what you can expect from a luxury cruise from companies like Bolsover Cruise Club.

So if you’re thinking of booking a cruise with a difference, here’s what you can look out for:

An Elite and Personalised Service

To give the cruise an edge, there will be a higher ratio between the crew and passengers so you can enjoy an efficient, friendly and attentive service. And with some luxury cabins, you may even bag your own butler! Other typical onboard services include 24-hour room service, poolside pampering and optimised accessibility.

Fewer People

A lot of luxury cruise ships will be smaller than the mainstream ones, which means fewer passengers will be on board. This provides you with more space and less hustle and bustle, giving you the chance to enjoy all the facilities on offer, without the hassle of queueing. As well as this most cruise ships come with guest relationship managers and destination concierges to almost completely remove the hassle from the holiday.

Standout Accommodation

Poky cabins are a thing of the past on a luxury cruise (thank goodness!), making you feel right at home. For the top cabins, you can expect vast living areas and even private balconies with unprecedented sea views. Enjoy state of the art facilities and gorgeous modern luxury royal suites.

Plenty of Added Extras

From slippers and a robe waiting for you when you check in to fresh flowers in your room and a complimentary paper every day, these little perks will certainly make you feel as though you’re being thoroughly (and deservingly) spoilt. If you opt in for the high luxury cruises you will benefit from even more extras included in you fare such as meals, beverages, shore excursions and more.

First-Class Dining

One of the most indulgent aspects of a luxury cruise has to be the exemplary food on offer. Luxury cruises go all out to bring you jaw-dropping dishes that use fresh and local ingredients. Venues can vary between different cruises and so you’ll get a unique experience with each holiday. And with dining rooms designed to give you the best seaside views, you’ll while away many hours at your table.

Exceptional Entertainment

When you do manage to drag yourself away from your dining table, there’s plenty of entertainment to find if you wish. From talented musicians performing their music live to full-scale musicals and shows running throughout. If that’s not for you then there is still a wide range of entertainment such as casino’s game rooms, cinemas and clubs, there’s something for all tastes.

Perfectly Pampered

To add to the feeling of relaxation and indulgence, many luxury cruise liners will have an onboard spa and gym. So, whether you’re into your fitness and want to join in with a yoga class or you fancy a massage on a daily basis, you’re bound to leave this holiday feeling energised and truly invigorated.

Unique Destinations

Last but by no means least are the destinations available on luxury cruise liners. As they’re smaller, they can easily reach the smaller ports that larger cruise ships can’t, giving you access to even more exclusive destinations (that aren’t teeming with people).

Overall, a luxury cruise is the ultimate in indulgence, providing you with the perfect chance to escape from reality and feel like a celebrity.

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Fred. Olsen World Cruise 2018: Some Of My Favourite Things About Black Watch

All good things must come to an end and sadly, my cruise of a lifetime is over. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful the trip was and how much I enjoyed being on Black Watch and spending time with my dear friend, Marian. I am so sad to have left it all behind. We met some amazing people, people that will remain friends for life, and we circumnavigated the globe. It was simply awesome! Black Watch is a lovely ship, not for everyone, but she suits me. She’s spacious, traditional, full of charm and she also has some of the best crew members that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting! She was my home-from-home and although she wasn’t always perfect, she took me on the trip of a lifetime and I’ll never forget it. This cruise was far more than just a simple trip, it was a life changing journey and it has taken my need to travel to an entirely new level. I told you it would only make things worse! 😉

I hadn’t sailed on Black Watch before the cruise, but I had sailed on Boudicca and they are  identical, so it was nice to feel at home from day one. I knew where everything was and how to get there. That makes a big difference I think, especially when you’re going to be onboard for so long. I remember on day one, I walked out onto one of the decks and I had the instant visualisation of standing in that same spot on Boudicca, only this time I was going to far more exotic places than the British Isles. I can’t even describe the feeling to you. I was standing there but it all still felt like a dream. 

I’m a huge fan of the Fred. Olsen experience. I like the big ships that are filled with just about everything you could ever imagine, but I’d always choose the more traditional cruise experience first – I like to be able to see the sea, I think that is quite important when you go on a ship-based holiday and that’s what I get from Fred. Olsen. The onboard atmosphere on all ships in the Fred. fleet is fairly relaxed, another reason why I enjoy it. Yes, there are formal nights, but you’re not shunned if you decide to opt for casual, and you usually find a nice mix of people. We certainly had an interesting bunch on this cruise and from all walks of life. There was never a dull moment, that’s for sure. We had a large number of solo travellers onboard for the world cruise, something I’m sure a few people will find surprising, but it just goes to show that people feel comfortable enough to do such long sailings with Fred. and on their own. I met at least 30 people, all of whom were travelling solo and I suspect the total number was probably treble that. 

Of all the ships in the fleet, Balmoral is still my favourite, but Black Watch does now have a very special place in my heart. I liked the Brigadoon Cafe, I was surprised by its small size at first, but we never had a problem getting in. I know the ship wasn’t full, so it would be interesting to see if there is a difference on a standard cruise, but for this trip it worked perfectly. I also liked the Black Watch Room and although the decor was a little overwhelming at first, it did grow on me. For those of you that may not know, the Black Watch Room is the onboard speciality dining option serving steak and seafood. It’s not open every evening, but keep your eyes peeled for adverts and offers in your Daily Times paper. We had a few special offers available during the course of the cruise and they also now offer sommelier evenings.

I didn’t spend much time there, but Deck 9 was my favourite outside deck. It was quiet, full of comfy chairs, cooling misters and there was a pool and a bar. I prefered to sunbathe on other decks just because I prefer to sit in a simple chair – the cushions just make me even hotter – but I did really like Deck 9. I also liked spending time on Deck 6, that’s where the Poolside Grill is and that was my favourite place to eat (apart from at the Brigadoon for late night snacks). The below picture was eventually how Marian and I “styled” our own menu. We made a few little changes here and there, but it’s all available from the Poolside, which is open for breakfast and lunch when the weather is good. 

Of course, my absolute favourite aspect of that ship was her crew. We were there for a long time, so of course crew would observe and take in the things that we did and didn’t like. Marian and I got into the habit of dining at the Poolside Grill every sea day (as mentioned above) and we would always order the same thing. The food we ordered was light and just enough when we were in some of the hotter areas. We didn’t even need to tell Aries what we wanted, he’d just give the thumbs up, meaning same order, we would do the same and off he would go. We miss you Aries!

Aries

Juntima at the Lido Bar would also be there for us in the morning with a tray of drinks when the weather outside was hot and humid. We didn’t even have to ask her, she knew the order: large pineapple juice, diet lemonade with grenadine and 2 pints of ice water. The service from all of the crew at the Lido Bar was outstanding. Thank you Juntima (Kik), Alvin, Putu, Gusti (Putu 2), Aaron, Rakesh, Cristian, Mary Faith, Pop, Dian and everyone else, even if we only spoke once. You guys rock and you made our overall experience so much more enjoyable! 

Other people I’d like to thank include Manny (best Maitre D at sea), Alex, Ehsel, Captain Danielsen, Rico, Paul, Raoul, Gordon, Lorenzo, Joy, Anna, Honey, Beth, Duncan, Elliott, Siggi, Robbie, Mel and Harry – I just want to thank everyone. I know I have probably missed a dozen names off this list!

Juntima, Marian and myself – #BlackWatchGirlsTogether

The entire experience was out of this world. Not everything was perfect all of the time, but I had a conversation with a lady one day and she was completely on my level – Smiler, that’s you if you’re reading this! She said aren’t we so privileged to be sitting here. We’ve been so lucky and we’ve had the chance to see some fantastic destinations. I loved her positive attitude. I always try and look for the best in every situation that is less than perfect. Sometimes it is hard because we’re used to things being a certain way, but if there is an issue with something, it’s not the end of the world. Having now been on this cruise and visited places such as India, Peru and Myanmar, I’m even more grounded and level headed than I was before. Yes, you could be on a cruise that you have paid a lot of money for and something might not be exactly as you’d like, but relax and remember that someone will be trying to fix that issue for you. At the same time, someone somewhere else in the world will never get the chance to leave the city in which they were born and at that moment could be out looking for something to sell in order to eat. It sounds harsh, I know, but it’s a fact of life. Count all of your blessings and luxuries in life and let everything else disappear. 

On that note, I’m going to end this blog right here. I’ll be back soon with more about life onboard, some tips and a few other bits and pieces. I have some videos I’d love to share with you, so I’m also working on that! 😉 P.S. don’t forget to read Marian’s blog for all of her World Cruise posts – TravelShopGirl

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Posted in Fred Olsen Cruise Line, world cruise

Fred. Olsen World Cruise 2018: Turkey, Greece, Italy And Spain

We’ve called to Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain since I last checked in with you and I didn’t really do much in any of the ports. I’ve had so much writing to catch up on and because I decided to buy half of Asia, I’ve been trying to sort out my cases and decide what to pack and what to carry off myself. I was also starting to feel tired of tours. We have explored so much on this cruise, I just wanted the last few days to be at my own pace.

I love Kusadasi, it’s a shoppers paradise and I decided to spend my morning walking around the bazaars. I’d planned on buying 2 Turkish lamps, but instead ended up with a lantern. I decided it would be easier to get that home and it’s very pretty. I know I shouldn’t have bought anything else, but these things happen. Once my shopping and walking was complete, I met Marian for lunch at Gayret, a restaurant mainly offering seafood but they also have an extensive vegetarian menu, ideal for Marian. I ordered the chicken shish and it was nice but the meat was a little fatty. I think the cat that came and sat beside me knew I wasn’t going to eat it all and she kept staring at me and putting her paws on my leg. I gave in, wrapped up the meat and persuaded her to follow me to a quiet corner, away from the restaurant, where she could enjoy her feast in peace. I can never say no when there are animals involved and she was clearly hungry.

During our call to Piraeus, I decided to stay on the ship. I’ve been to Athens before and I thought it would be a good time to take advantage of a quiet ship and start some packing. I spent the morning sitting in the sun. I knew there wouldn’t be much more of it once we started heading towards Italy and I wanted to enjoy just a few hours of doing nothing. I was quite content, until a bee the size of a small bird decided to chase me off my sun lounger. That wasn’t fun! Once I’d had enough of the sun, I took myself down to Deck 6 for what would probably be my last Poolside lunch – they close it once the weather starts to go downhill – and I ordered my usual, chicken kebab with hummus, yogurt and pita bread. It was delicious.

In the afternoon I decided to start tackling the suitcases. I use SkyFlite cases and on this cruise I managed to fill 5 of them. By early afternoon, the cabin was a complete mess and my head was ready to explode, but I did manage to completely pack 2 cases. In a computer game I’d expect that to be an “achievement unlocked” moment, so to celebrate I ordered myself a drink from the bar.

My plan for Civitavecchia had been to pack and work, I’ve been to the port more times than I can remember and there’s really not a great deal to do there unless you go on a tour to Rome. I’ve been there and done that so I just went ashore for a few hours and had a walk around. I then came back to Black Watch and continued with more packing and more writing.

Livorno was our next port and I left the ship just before lunch. The shuttle was quick and the drop off point was the usual place, outside McDonald’s. I walked along the main street, stopped for lunch and then decided I’d take a walk to an area I’d not explored before. I was shocked, it was another large shopping area but there were hardly any tourists, it was perfect. If you leave the shuttle and head right, you’ll find it. I stopped at a lovely bar called Casablanca and had a drink before walking back towards the shuttle stop. I took a brief detour before getting on the bus and again found some lovely side streets with beautiful waterways. It felt a little bit like Venice, but it wasn’t quite as impressive. I actually really enjoyed my afternoon in Livorno. Next time I’m there I’ll head back to the same area and see what else I come across. Having no plan is sometimes the best way to enjoy many ports, especially those in Europe. You can often come across some real hidden gems.

Our final port of the cruise was Malaga and it was so cold! I threw on some jeans and a jacket and Marian and I went in search of tapas. There were dozens of restaurants to choose from, but we finally settled on a place named Pepa y Pepe. The food was good, I ordered chips with garlic sauce, fried mushrooms and fried prawns. I especially liked the mushrooms and the portion sizes were just right. On our way back to the shuttle area, we stopped for a drink at a bar called Cafe de Estraperlo. I loved it. It was just opposite where the shuttle buses were waiting. The man running the bar is called Mark and he was so lovely. A place worth stopping if you’re ever in Malaga and just want to relax and people watch with a light and delicious snack.

We’re getting closer to Southampton by the minute, we’re in the Bay of Biscay now, and I’m incredibly sad. This has been a real experience of a lifetime and I’d love to stay onboard and do it all again. Black Watch feels like home and we’ve made so many new friends, I don’t want to say goodbye, I hate saying goodbye. I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m back on another Fred. Olsen ship. I just can’t seem to stay away! I’ll update you soon with some blogs about the onboard experience and what it’s like to be on a ship for almost 4 months, but for now, this is my last live blog of the World Cruise! 😦 

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Posted in Destinations, Fred Olsen Cruise Line, Uncategorized, world cruise

Fred. Olsen World Cruise 2018: Jordan, Egypt And The Suez Canal

We spent seven days at sea after leaving Mumbai and by the time we reached Jordan even I was itching for some dry land. We’d booked ‘The Lost City of Petra’ tour before joining the ship and it was a full-day tour.

Everyone was on time, I think we may have even left a little bit early, and we were soon on the road and heading from Aqaba to Petra. It takes around 2 hours to get there and it’s quite a nice drive. We spotted several bedouins, numerous camels and passed through several towns that were alive with people going about their daily business. The nicest of all the towns was the one right next to Petra, I enjoyed the drive through there. It was full of hustle and bustle.

Petra was originally known as Raqmu and it lies on the slope of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin among stunning mountains that form the eastern section of the Arabah Valley. It is believed that the are was settled from 9,000 BC, but possibly established as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom as far back as the 4th century BC. The city was built on trading and it became very lucrative, so much so, the Greek dynasty attempted to ransack the city in 312 BC.

One of the things I found most incredible was when Petra’s importance declined and an earthquake destroyed many structures, it was virtually abandoned. Only a few nomads would graze their goats there and it would be 1812 before the ‘Lost City’ was reintroduced to the world, thanks to Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss geographer and traveller. Can you imagine that? A place so incredible, yet it just disappeared. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and it is also known as the Red Rose City due to the colour of the stone.


If you ever visit Jordan, please add Petra to your sightseeing list. All the images and video in the world can’t prepare you for your first view of the Treasury (Al Khazneh), which was built as a crypt and mausoleum at the beginning of the 1st century AD and also featured in the Indiana Jones movie ‘The Last Crusade’. The walk seemed to go on forever and then all of a sudden, there it was at the end of the siq. I was in absolute awe. It really is an incredible sight. The walk there wasn’t too bad, I was excited and intrigued, and it was on a downhill slope, but the walk back really did get me. I don’t know how far it is exactly, but it’s at least 1.4km from the visitor centre to the treasury. It was hot, humid, dusty and uphill – I was a mess! I was so pleased to get back to the top and drown myself in a freezing cold bottle of water. I wouldn’t advise anyone attempt the walk unless you are absolutely sure you can make it there and back. You can take a horseback ride or horse and cart, so don’t worry, you won’t miss out on anything, just please be prepared for the heat, humidity and a long trek.

We didn’t have time to explore everything that Petra boasts, but at least now I can say that I’ve seen some of the ‘Lost City’. It really was magical. Even the walk is unlike anything I’d ever seen or done before. I felt like I was in the middle of a movie set.

Black Watch sailed overnight and we woke up the following day in Sharm el Sheikh. This was another new port for me and my first time on Egyptian soil. I couldn’t wait to get out and explore.

There was a free shuttle bus service offered to the Old Market, so that’s where I went and where I decided to stay. There were numerous beach clubs on the short drive, but if I’d wanted a beach day I would have made the journey by cab to Na’ama Bay. I just wasn’t in the mood. Anyway, back to the Old Market. I instantly loved it. I jumped off the coach and off I went in search of a new adventure and (possibly) some new treasure. You could easily get caught up in the atmosphere in the Old Market and end up spending a fortune and that’s what I did. I enjoyed walking through all the little markets, down the side streets and then around the mosque.

The Sahaba Mosque is an Ottoman-style architectural masterpiece. It’s breathtaking. It was designed by Egyptian architect Fouad Tawfik Hafez and construction began in 2011 at a cost of 30 million Egyptian pounds. It sits right in the heart of the Old Market and it’s two 76 metre-long minarets are the first things you’ll see as you enter the area. I love the sound of the call to prayer and I was lucky enough to be right outside for one them. I sat and enjoyed the hypnotic sounds. The mosque is the second largest in Sharm el Sheikh and can accommodate 3,000 people.

After a busy day of exploring and shopping, I returned to Black Watch to get ready for the evening entertainment on the outer decks. A local group came aboard to give us a show and it was quite good. Not entirely what I’d expected, but I enjoyed the music and the atmosphere.

We left Sharm and made our way back into the Red Sea and then through the Suez Canal. What an experience that was! Completely unlike the Panama Canal and there was sand for as far as the eye could see. A few hours before we exited into the Mediterranean, we passed civilisation on the port and starboard side. I absolutely loved it. You could hear the children laughing and playing, and the call to prayer echoed all around us. It was magical.

The Suez Canal is a 120 mile-long artificial sea-level waterway that connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea and unlike the Panama Canal, it has no lock systems. It was constructed between 1859 and 1869, to offer a shorter journey between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans by avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans. Essentially, the canal reduces the journey by approximately 4,300 miles and extends from Port Said to Port Tewfik.

It was touch and go for a few hours as to whether our call to Alexandria would be cancelled or not, but thankfully, it all went ahead. We docked in Alexandria and we were on our way to Cairo before 08:30. We were told that the drive to Cairo from Alexandria could take up to 3.5 hours but luckily for us, just 2 hours later, I got my first glimpse of the Pyramids of Giza. I was quite overwhelmed. I’ve been interested in Ancient Egypt for as long as I can remember and to finally be there was just something else.

Our first stop was for a panoramic photo opportunity of the 3 pyramids and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe that I was actually standing there looking at them with my own eyes. The Giza pyramid complex contains many different structures but ultimately, it’s the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, and the Sphinx that we all go there to see. The Great Pyramid is the Pyramid of Khufu and it is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids. We spent several minutes taking hundreds of pictures before moving on to the smallest of the pyramids, this one was Menkaure’s and we were given the opportunity to go inside. You have to walk down quite a steep ramp and you have to keep your knees and back bent – it is so cramped! Although it wasn’t the most comfortable experience and I have no idea how people actually worked down there, I can now say that I have been inside one of the pyramids! How lucky am I?

Our next stop was a little further down the valley, at the Sphinx. The Sphinx has the head of a man and the body of a lion and although its construction date is not certain, it is believed to bear the likeness of Pharaoh Khafra. It measures 73 metres long from paw to tail, 20.21 m high from the base to the top of the head and 19 metres wide at its rear haunches. It is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt.

Also included on our day in Cairo was a visit to the Egyptian Museum, again somewhere I had wanted to visit for as long as I could remember. The ancient artifacts inside are absolutely mesmerizing. To think that I was standing right there, among so many ancient structures. Who knows what secrets they hold! We didn’t have enough time in the museum, I would have appreciated at least an additional hour, but we did get to see something I never thought I would – King Tutankhamun’s treasure room. Sadly, you couldn’t take pictures inside (so I borrowed the below) but the room housed his famous mask and sarcophagus and other treasures including jewellery and his canopic jars. I still can’t believe that I stood within just inches of these ancient pieces of history. I was face-to-face with King Tutankhamun’s gold mask.

We’ve had quite a few port days and I’ve been “trying” to make a start on my packing, so I’m a little behind on my blogs, but I’ll be back soon with updates on our Mediterranean ports.

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Posted in Destinations, Fred Olsen Cruise Line, world cruise
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