Spirit Of Discovery: A Great British Adventure Part 3

Spirit of Discovery would next call to Portland and it was a hot and sunny day, perfect for my Jurassic Coastline excursion, or so I thought. Our first stop was at Charmouth to admire the incredible coastline. It looked like something you’d only ever see in a movie, it was spectacular, I’m only sorry that my photograph does it absolutely no justice. This hadn’t been our planned stop, but there was something going on at White Bay that made it impossible for us to visit and our guide said he thought Charmouth was prettier. I was quite happy either way, but I was disappointed that we never went searching for fossils – I’d really been looking forward to that.

We then made our way to Lyme Regis where we had just under 2 hours of free time to enjoy the beach, take a walk through the pretty town or just sit and people watch with an ice cream. This tour was marked as moderate, but I found it quite a trek, especially as it was so hot. I walked from the coach park to the beach, which was all downhill and very steep in places, but still pleasant. It’s a typical seaside town and it was packed with people enjoying the glorious weather. I walked along the front, stopping to look at some of the fossils on the market stalls, and then made my way into the town. I knew the walk back up was going to be almost vertical, so I decided to go via the road instead of back along the seafront, which also meant I was out of the sun. I paced myself through the village before hiking back to the coach park. By the time I got there, I was exhausted. I’d stopped at a shop on the way to buy a cold drink and bar of chocolate, so I sat beneath a tree and enjoyed those while waiting for everyone else to return to the coach.

Spirit of Discovery dropped anchor off St Peter Port in Guernsey before 9am and the tenders were lowered shortly after. It was another gorgeous day and I spent a lot of it enjoying more of the ships space and sadly, starting my packing. I hadn’t booked myself on any tours, I just wanted to take the day as it came. Once most passengers had left, I ventured down to the tender pontoon to catch a ride ashore. It was great fun, there were dozens of other small crafts out on the water. As we tied up in the harbour I realised I hadn’t picked up my purse. I took that as a sign to go back ‘home’ and enjoy being on the ship, so, that’s what I did. I had the tender to myself on the way back, which meant it took approx 0.05 seconds to scan my cruise card and make it back to my cabin. I ordered chicken korma on room service for lunch, put a movie on in the background and started adding more clothes to my case. One thing I can never stop myself from doing on a SAGA ship is eating, everything is so delicious, and I mean everything.

Southampton was our final port of call and I was up early for a drive to Portsmouth to see the Mary Rose and HMS Victory. The Mary Rose was astonishing, she really was. I was gobsmacked by her preservation and the extent of the items that had also been recovered with her. The search for her began in 1965, but it wasn’t until 1971 that divers were sure they’d found her. Excavation began in 1979 and in 1982 they began to raise the hull. King henry VIII’s flagship had sat at the bottom of the Solent for more than 400 years! I don’t want to say too much because there’s an entire exhibition you can enjoy on site and it’s bursting with information, facts and figures. All I will say is that you’ll be truly blown away when you see her.

HMS Victory was also a pretty impressive sight. Did you know she’s the oldest naval ship in the world that’s still in commission? She’s given 241 years of service so far. She’s just as magnificent as the Mary Rose, but for different reasons. First of all, look at her, she’s incredible! If you think of the battles she’s seen since she launched in 1765, it’s hard to comprehend. She was, after all, Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. There’s not a lot left of her interior that’s original, but she’s still worth exploring. Her decks are incredibly low, I walked hunched over for almost all of my time inside, which made me go through at a quicker rate than I would have liked, and the stairs are also very steep, some almost vertical, so please bear this in mind when planning your visit.

Before we knew it, we were back where we had started, Dover. The inaugural cruise had come to an end and it was time to bid farewell to this lovely ship, until the next adventure.

So, all this talk of ports, but what about Spirit of Discovery? Well, I was somewhat apprehensive when I first saw her. When I boarded (before her naming ceremony) I felt quite emotional. She was absolutely stunning, there was no doubt about that, but in some ways, she wasn’t what I’d come to know of SAGA over the years and I couldn’t help but compare her to Saga Sapphire. I think I was somewhat overwhelmed by the difference. I’ve so many wonderful memories from SAGA cruises and the change felt heavy. It also hadn’t helped seeing Saga Sapphire just a few days earlier.

By the time she sailed from Dover on the evening of July 10, things were beginning to change. I’d bumped into many people whom I’d met on previous cruises and I was starting to feel the ships heartbeat. I know that sounds odd, but that’s the only way I can describe it. The trade and media events were finished, and she was now filled with loyal Saganauts (and a few new ones) who were emitting a massive amount of energy and excitement. She was now what I remembered, but in a fancy new form. It was then I realised that had been the key piece of the puzzle I’d been missing, SAGA passengers. Now, I was settling into the ship and beginning to feel that SAGA experience come through in these unfamiliar areas. By the end of the cruise, I had been charmed and would walk around her decks with a permanent smile – everything was pleasing to me. I was sad to leave, but I’m joining her again on Saturday for her ‘Natural Scandinavia’ cruise. Following that sailing, I’m going to share with you EVERY aspect of her, so until then, let me show you some of the spaces that I enjoy the most.

The LIDO Deck, I just love it. It’s a great place to relax in the day and at night, it’s the number one choice for a deck party if the weather is good. It’s nice to finally have that outdoor space on a SAGA ship where everyone can get together and enjoy the atmosphere.

The Britannia Lounge is a stunning space. There’s not too much going on in there during port days, so if you’re having a peaceful day onboard, it’s a great place to take your book. The evening brings a different story, as the room comes alive with various musical performances until the early morning hours. The glass windows, high ceilings and gorgeous décor made this one of my favourite areas onboard as soon as I walked in.

East to West is also another beautiful space and the new menu is very impressive. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the food, but first the decor. It still retains that dark wood and Eastern vibe, but the space is lightened by brightly coloured chairs, huge pieces of art and large picture windows. The menu offers everything from soft shell crab to beef, and you must try it.

As I said, I’ll be back very soon with a real inside look at Spirit of Discovery from top to bottom, but if you can’t wait for my blog for all the updates, then follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for live posts from the Gulf of Bothnia.

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Spirit Of Discovery: A Great British Adventure Part 1

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of events, including a short preview cruise, a rather splendid naming ceremony and then to top it all off, a maiden voyage around the British Isles. All on SAGA’s newest ship, Spirit of Discovery.

The wait for her arrival in the UK was one filled with excitement and anticipation, it was going to be the cruise event of the year and on July 5th, it was finally time for the big celebration. Her naming ceremony was fantastic and it began with a dockside garden party, where VIP guests could enjoy Balfour wines, finger sandwiches and cakes. The day was blanketed in the kind of atmosphere that only comes with the build-up to a ships naming ceremony.

We took our seats, ready for the big event, and had pre-bottle smashing performances from the Morriston Orpheus Choir and the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood – both of which were absolutely wonderful. There’s something quite special about a brass band and I believe this one is probably the finest in the world. Next came short speeches (interrupted several times by a persistent spitfire flying overhead) from Lance Batchelor and Robin Shaw, both of whom were introduced by the master of ceremonies, John Parton. Spirit of Discovery was then blessed by The Right Reverend Trevor Willmott before HRH The Duchess of Cornwall gave her own blessing and ultimately christened the ship. Huge cheers from the crowd ashore rang out, as did those from the hundreds of her crew that had lined her bow. It was a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Before joining Spirit of Discovery on her maiden voyage, I spent several days in Dover and decided I’d give myself at least one day of tourist time, so off I went to explore Dover Castle. I picked a great day for it! The air temperature was lower than it had been (so I wasn’t hyperventilating from the heat by the time I’d made it to the top of the hill) and although it was a Sunday, it wasn’t packed full of people.

I love learning and when it comes to history I’m always fascinated. I mean, look at Dover Castle, to think that hundreds of years ago there were battles there, it survived two wars and who knows what else over the years – if only the walls could talk!

I started my journey with a trip down to the Underground Hospital. The lighting is very low, so you have to watch your footing, but it’s set up exactly as it would have been during the war – complete with original operating tools, tables and chairs, bicycles and more. It was one of the best features of the grounds for me. You follow the journey of an injured WWI pilot as he is rushed through to the operating theatre. Sadly, you can’t take photos in the tunnels, so I can’t show you that, but I can show you images of the grounds.

Leaving the tunnels and giving my eyes a minute to readjust, I started the walk towards the Great Tower. I was excited to get inside and see what it was like. Built by Henry II, it’s one of England’s most important castles and those visiting can explore everything from the lower level kitchens to the king’s bedchamber. One thing you’ll notice throughout are the lack of information panels, this is deliberate to keep each space as authentic as possible. If you do have questions, you can always ask one of the on-site members of staff who are often dressed up and re-enacting daily life within the tower.

I explored the medieval tunnels and more of the grounds before ending my day with Operation Dynamo, a series of tunnels kitted out with state-of-the-art lighting and projection that lets you walk through and experience the drama of the Dunkirk evacuation of May 1940. It was very powerful, especially since that operation took place inside some of the very tunnels I was standing in. Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay masterminded the evacuation and rescue of 338,000 troops, using next to no resources, from his Naval HQ base within the tunnels below Dover Castle.

Spirit of Discovery finally sailed on her maiden voyage at 10pm on Wednesday July 10th and what a special time it was. Fireworks lit up the night sky and I think everyone onboard was out on the top decks enjoying the spectacle. It was nice to be onboard with passengers, I enjoyed observing their reactions and hearing what they thought of the new ship. It was also nice to meet several people who were new to cruising. What a ship to pick for your first ever cruise.

Our itinerary was one around the British Isles and we were blessed with good weather for the majority of it. Our first stop was Port of Tyne, home sweet home for me, but I wasn’t going home for the day, I was booked on an excursion to Alnwick Castle and Gardens.

I visited Alnwick Castle many years ago as a child but couldn’t remember much about it, so I was looking forward to bringing old memories back to life. Before we did anything, though, we had an exclusive meeting with the Duchess of Northumberland and what a remarkable person she is. To get such detailed insight into the creation of the gardens was a huge privilege. She told us many stories about their design and creation, and the obstacles she faced during the process. I listened attentively to everything she said, but what I walked away with was an even greater realisation that if you have a vision for something in life, you need to go for it, and you need to do everything you can to ensure that vision becomes the perfect reality. If people bring you down or don’t show the same level of passion, then you don’t need them the be involved.

The Poison Garden was awesome, basically. To think, there are so many plants we see on an almost daily basis that could in fact kill us. Don’t worry, you would need to be exposed to some of them for long periods of time, but others really aren’t so forgiving. I’d highly recommend a walk-through here if you visit. I’m not a fan of gardens, if I’m being honest, but this was something completely different and very interesting.

The castle itself took me right into a Harry Potter movie and I loved it. There were groups of children (and a few adults) having broomstick flying lessons on one large section of grass within the walls. It was quite funny to watch. I wasn’t tempted to join them, I think my broomstick flying days are way behind me, but what a great idea for the kids! A chance to have some fun and learn about the history of this splendid castle.

The exterior demands your attention, it’s staggering, but the real treat lies within the interior walls. The castle is the current residence of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, so don’t expect every room to take you back in time – it’s also a family home. I particularly liked the living room, it was filled with incredible furniture and priceless artwork, but there was also a large flat screen TV and several beanbags. I couldn’t help but smile to myself – that was another thing I loved about the castle, I was seeing it as it would have been, blended with how a modern-day family uses the space. My absolute hands-down favourite room was the library. It was just breath-taking, and apparently used in an episode of Downton Abbey. I could have spent hours in there looking at all the books and just generally enjoying the space. Sadly, you can’t take pictures inside the castle, but if you Google the library, you’ll see exactly what I mean. 

Our next port was Newhaven for various tours to Edinburgh and I was booked to visit the Real Mary King’s Close. If you’re ever in Edinburgh, you MUST go along and experience this, it was fascinating. The streets are very well preserved – including Edinburgh’s only preserved 17th century street – and although not exactly how they once were in ancient times, you can really get a feel for what life must have been like and how people lived. We learned about the plague, how the poor lived in comparison to those with a little extra money and heard the story about a small girl who supposedly haunts a room in one of the houses.  Our guide, Sam, was excellent! I must take a second to acknowledge him as he’d only been in the job one week but you’d have thought he’d been there for years – he was full of information and very entertaining.

Part 2 of my Great British Adventure aboard Spirit of Discovery will be here very soon, but until then, let me leave you with a few photos from The Club by Jools Holland, where the food is phenomenal! This is the shrimp cocktail followed by a 8oz filet mignon, served with thrice-cooked chips and the most delicious creamed spinach I’ve ever tasted! Sorry, I didn’t mean to give you food envy, but I was always told to share! 😉


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Spirit Of Discovery: A Great British Adventure Part 2

Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands was our next stop and we arrived on a blustery and rather wet morning, but to the wonderful sound of bagpipes. I hadn’t planned much for our visit here, but I ended up at the local Kirkjuvagr (pronounced kirk-u-vaar) gin distillery for an impromptu tour and gin tasting session. I’m not a huge fan of gin, but my goodness, they had some incredible flavours! I sampled one that almost blew my head off, to say the alcohol content was potent is an understatement. I don’t know how, but I managed the walk back to the shuttle bus, and in a straight line.

As we sailed for Belfast, we enjoyed some scenic cruising in the Inner Hebrides and that came with some spectacular shows from several pods of dolphins. In all my 61 cruises, I’d never been afforded as many photo opportunities as I was that day. All they wanted to do was play and all I wanted to do was capture them on camera. The open decks were filled with people enjoying the scenery and lunch al fresco was a real treat. It was a practically perfect day at sea.

Soggy, windy and a little on the chilly side, that was our morning in Belfast, but it was OK. I hopped on the shuttle and took myself off for an easy walk around the city. I like Belfast, very much, and always find something to do during my time there. Had the weather been better, I would have stayed in town much longer than I did, but the wind was pushing the rain sideways and no matter how I tried, I was getting soaked. I decided to return to the ship and see what was on offer for lunch. Much to my delight, there was curry, so I filled my plate. I also spent more time (as you do at 35 years of age) playing with the self serve drink machines in The Grill. I’m slightly obsessed with those and have decided I quite like a decaf cappuccino.

Our next port was Liverpool and I was booked on the ‘Plas Newydd and Llangollen Steam Railway’ which took us to Wales for the day. Honestly, I’d only booked the tour for the railway, but as things would turn out, it was Plas Newydd that I ultimately found more interesting. Llangollen has been synonymous with two women, known as “The Ladies of Llangollen”, since the 18th century. The stories of Lady Eleanor Charlotte Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby were well known in the area and they ultimately settled in Pen-Y-Mas cottage, known now as Plas Newydd. As younger women, they’d ran away together several times, their families hot on their heels to bring them back and keep them away from one another, but eventually, they settled together and spent the rest of their lives at Plas Newydd. I didn’t know any of what I’ve just told you before getting there. I’d had no time to do any real research on the area and i’d only very lightly scanned the tour information, so to see this lovely house and grounds and then hear the story behind it was a real treat on arrival.

The place is incredible. I loved the carvings that covered the exterior and interior of the property, and there were some gorgeous stained-glass windows in the rooms. It felt smaller inside than it looked on the outside, but it must have been a wonderful place to live. I believe the two ladies nurtured the gardens over many years. There wasn’t much more than a dusty field when they arrived and what you now see today is largely down to their efforts over the decades that they lived there. It’s definitely a place you should visit.

The Llangollen Steam Railway was fun, but the steam train was in hospital, so we had a diesel engine instead. I enjoyed the ride through the countryside, watching the lambs playing in the fields and admiring the little creeks we towered above. We went from Llangollen (which is a very pretty little town) to Corwen, where we boarded our coach for the journey back to Liverpool. As we sailed, we had some incredible fireworks to enjoy.

I stayed onboard in Dublin to enjoy the delights of Spirit of Discovery and believe it or not, I had a spa appointment. I’m not big on spa or salon visits, but a friend of mine had been telling me for months to get a keratin hair treatment, so I did. Irena looked after me and explained everything from beginning to end. She started by trimming 2 cm off the ends of my hair and then washing it with a special sulphate free shampoo that is designed to deep clean the hair before applying the keratin treatment. Next, she worked the treatment through my hair in small sections – like you would if you were having your hair coloured – before drying it and then using special (and very expensive) keratin straighteners to finish it all off. I hadn’t known what to expect and didn’t realise it was applied and then left on the hair. Only thing I will note is that although the treatment she used is completely free of chemicals (it’s all natural) it still irritated my eyes a little when I straightened the forward sections of my hair the following morning. I’d recommend you keep the eye closed on the side your straightening. Would I have it done again? Definitely! I immediately noticed a difference. There was far less frizz, my hair was smoother and it’s been much easier to dry and straighten since.

An early start was on the cards in Cobh and as we sailed into port, a thick and very low fog was making visibility pretty poor. I wouldn’t have been too concerned, but I was booked on the ‘Titanic Trail Walking Tour’ and didn’t really want to get rained on all day. We walked through the city, stopping at various points that were associated with Titanic, including the Titanic Monument, but we also visited St Colman’s Cathedral and stopped for a traditional Irish coffee at Rob Roy’s. it was a very good tour and our guide was excellent. I really can’t rate it highly enough and, as luck would have it, the rain held off!

The tour concluded with a visit to The Titanic Experience, which is located in the heart of town in the original White Star Line Ticket Office. When you arrive, you’re checked-in and are given the boarding pass of someone from Cobh (formerly Queenstown) who boarded the ship during her visit. As you traverse through the cinematic guided experience, you go from check-in until that fateful night in 1912. You’ll see the areas where passengers waited to board the ship, examples of accommodations onboard and at the very end, you can research your passenger and see whether he or she survived the sinking.

My passenger was 29-year-old Nora Healy from Athenry, Co. Galway. She was a third-class passenger and survived the sinking of the Titanic by boarding lifeboat number 16. Little is known about her life after the disaster, but she is recorded as having disembarked Carpathia in New York on April 18th, 1912. Sadly, she died just 7 years later.

So, I left you with food images at the end of part 1, but today I’m going to leave you some photos of a standard balcony cabin. I thought you might appreciate seeing one of the accommodation options that is available onboard. My final blog will be with you very soon…

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Celebrity Cruises Adds Additional Preview Sailing To Celebrity Apex’s Inaugural Mini Season In UK

Celebrity Cruises has announced that the highly anticipated inaugural season of Celebrity Apex has been expanded, as the second revolutionary Edge Series ship will now be completed ahead of schedule and enter service earlier than anticipated in 2020.

Guests can now enjoy a sneak peek of Celebrity Apex on a new Preview Sailing; a four-night itinerary out of Celebrity Apex’s launch port, Southampton (UK). The Preview Sailing will depart on 1 April 2020 and call at the beautiful city of Bruges, followed by an extended port of call in Amsterdam, offering guests the opportunity to explore this one-of-a-kind city by day and night, kicking off a mini-season of five sailings from Southampton.

Hot on the heels of the launch of the award-winning Celebrity Edge in late 2018, Celebrity Apex will feature innovative and breath-taking signature features exclusive to Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Series ships, including the Magic Carpet, an ever-changing cantilevered platform suspended from the side of the ship; open-air plunge pools with 270-degree views; an outdoor Rooftop Garden; a 22,000 ft. spa; 29 unique restaurants and bars and a stunning three-deck dining and immersive entertainment space, Eden.

Guests will be able to take advantage of the signature Edge Series staterooms featuring an Infinite Balcony, the design of which has been carefully developed by renowned London-based designer Kelly Hoppen, MBE. Suite guests will also enjoy two exclusive new sanctuaries, The Retreat Sundeck and The Retreat Lounge.

The additional four-night Celebrity Apex Preview Sailing will be priced from £889 for an Oceanview stateroom, based on two people sharing.

Celebrity Apex will then continue its European mini-season with five cruises to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe in spring 2020, before homeporting in Rome and Barcelona for the rest of the summer.

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P&O Cruises IONA To Offer The Ultimate Family Cruise

Exciting global street food experiences, a fun gelateria serving award-winning gelato, a four-screen cinema complex and extraordinary pop-up performances are just some of the new options onboard Iona that will ensure the ultimate holiday for families. 

A new dining concept called The Quays is a lively multi-venue dining piazza offering an impressive line-up of eateries and restaurants. There’s a fun street-food atmosphere with plenty of buzz, theatre and colour adding to the beachfront promenade vibe. With access onto the Promenade Deck, outdoor dining is available too. It’s all about flexible, fun, family-friendly food – the perfect place for a quick snack, light lunch or informal dinner. 

All the family will love The Boardwalk Diner, where American classics meet Southern soul food with an all-day menu including chargrilled burgers, hot dogs, eggs over easy, southern-fried chicken with a side of slaw and so much more. Fusion is a hot spot for lovers of authentic Asian flavours. Offering take-away dishes all day, enjoy an odyssey around South East Asia in a relaxed and casual environment. For seaside hunger cravings at lunch or dinnertime, nothing beats traditional British fish and chips, and you can find just that at Hook Line and Vinegar. Think crispy battered fish, calamari, fish burgers, scampi, crab cakes – all served with chips and mushy peas. With a strong focus on food provenance, The Olive Grove celebrates the flavours of the southern and eastern Mediterranean with authentic dishes and sharing platters. It’s the ideal venue for a celebratory family meal – with options to eat in the restaurant or in the conservatory area.

For more exciting global cuisines all the family will enjoy, there’s Taste 360, a new signature concept offering a street-food-style dining experience on deck so guests can try exciting flavours with a side of dramatic sea views.

Located at the top of the Grand Atrium at the entrance to The Quays, and with access to the Promenade Deck, Ripples is an informal and family-friendly venue serving scoops of luxury Italian-style gelato courtesy of Snowflake. However, there’s far more on offer than stylishly served cones – guests young and old will be tempted by gelato cakes, sundaes, customisable sticks, cookies, the creamiest milkshakes and even a three-tiered gelato afternoon tea. There will also be exclusive flavours created especially for Iona, including a taste experience that takes its inspiration from the ship’s inaugural season cruising the spectacular Norwegian fjords. 

Iona also offers a full programme of entertainment and programmes that appeals to all youngsters, from toddlers to teens. The Reef onboard activity programme keeps children aged six months to 12 years happy and entertained throughout the day and evening; Scene gives teens aged 13 to 17 their own cool place to hang out and test their skills with the latest gaming technology; while the Night Nursery allows parents the chance to enjoy Iona’s extensive array of dining and entertainment options without little ones in tow.

If parents can tear their kids away from the clubs, the whole family will enjoy an outing to Ocean Studios, a four-screen cinema complex offering a warm welcome, comfortable seating and a premium cinema experience. With screenings throughout the day, there’s always an option to see an age-appropriate blockbuster or family classic – complete with popcorn, ice cream and snacks, of course. 

There’s also The Club House where families can play games and enjoy entertainment and game shows; a range of swimming pools, family-friendly shows in the Headliners Theatre and extraordinary pop-up performances, including aerial and circus performances, in the Grand Atrium and SkyDome. 

With so much to see and do on board and on shore, families will be out and about having fun exploring. However, when it’s time for rest and relaxation, Iona offers a great choice of accommodation for families, including two special family suites at the front of the ship. All family-friendly cabins have been carefully designed to maximise space by day and create flexible sleeping arrangements by night.

Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020. 

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Princess Cruises Announces Longest Ever Season Sailing From The UK And Europe

Princess Cruises has announced that 2021 will see its longest UK and Europe season ever.

The season will include a total of nearly 500 days cruising from Southampton across three ships – Grand Princess, Island Princess and Crown Princess – an increase of 9% on 2020. The 2,600-guest Grand Princess will sail the longest ever period for a UK-based ship, from April to November.

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises’ two newest ships, Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess, will additionally be based in northern and southern Europe respectively. This brings the total European cruise days up to almost 1,000.

Grand Princess will sail for 207 days from Southampton, including six school holiday sailings across the season. The ship will depart for the Mediterranean, northern Europe and Canada & New England, with several new voyages including:

  • A 24-day Canada & New England voyage to Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax, Sydney (Nova Scotia), Quebec (overnight call), Saguenay, Charlottetown and St. Johns (Newfoundland)
  • A six-day school half term cruise in May to Guernsey (St. Peter Port), La Rochelle (for Cognac) and Bilbao
  • An eight-day Scandinavia voyage to Kristiansand, Aarhus, Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Oslo

The 2,200-guest Island Princess will spend a season sailing out of Southampton from June to October across northern Europe. The ship will similarly take in a range of new sailings such as:

  • A 10-day Oktoberfest European capitals cruise to Hamburg, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Oslo, Rotterdam and Brussels/Bruges (Zeebrugge)
  • A 24-day Grand European Explorer cruise to Porto (Leixos), Gibraltar, Mallorca (Palma), Sicily (Messina), Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), Katakolon, Athens, Kusadasi, Jerusalem/Bethlehem (Ashdod) and Galilee/Nazareth (Haifa), Limassol, Rhodes, Mykonos and Malta (Valetta)

The 3,080-guest Crown Princess will sail the British Isles from April to October on 14 Southampton sailings. The ship will travel to destinations including Liverpool, Dublin, Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) and Edinburgh, with select itineraries offering overnight calls in port.

The line’s two newest ships, the 3,660-guest Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess, will both be based in Europe in 2021. Sky Princess will spend April to September sailing Scandinavia and Russia roundtrip from Copenhagen, visiting destinations including Tallinn, Oslo, Helsinki and Berlin (Warnemunde), and will offer overnight calls in St Petersburg.

Enchanted Princess – which will be named in Southampton at the end of June next year – will sail across the Mediterranean from April to October via Rome, Athens and Barcelona, taking in the likes of Mykonos, Santorini, Kotor, Florence and Istanbul.

This means every ship based in Europe during 2021 will feature the multi award-winning OceanMedallion, which has been designed to deliver an entirely new level of service and create a holiday that is more simple, effortless and personalised with:

  • Princess MedallionClass experience, featuring the complimentary OceanMedallion wearable device. The OceanMedallion is the same size as a 10p piece and is used by guests on an individual basis throughout their cruise
  • Expedited arrival – Guests who arrive at the terminal OceanReady with travel documents (i.e. passports) uploaded to their profile enjoy a streamlined and expedited check-in process that gets their holiday started even sooner
  • Touchless stateroom entry – No need to touch, swipe or insert cards or devices into the door handle to unlock the stateroom. As a guest approaches their stateroom the door automatically unlocks
  • On-demand services – Using OceanNow from smart devices, guests have the ability to order drinks, food and retail items such as suntan lotion and have them delivered directly anywhere onboard, including to their stateroom
  • Family and friend locator – Accessible on portals throughout the ships and via guests’ smart devices, OceanCompass leverages the OceanMedallion to easily locate and chat with friends and family onboard. OceanCompass is available on portals throughout the ship and from smart devices and guides guests throughout their journey, providing directional information so they can seamlessly navigate to their next point of interest
  • Interactive voyage timeline – Available on ship portals and via guests’ smart devices, JourneyView is an interactive timeline that lets guests scroll through all of the events available on board during their voyage and bookmark activities they’re interested in to their own personalized itinerary. Voyage itineraries are available as many as 60 days in advance, allowing guests to start planning before they leave home

Princess ships also benefit from MedallionNet, which allows guests to stay connected anywhere on the onboard including staterooms. MedallionNet allows guests to share holiday experiences with friends and family back home; stream TV shows, movies and sports events; and make voice and video calls.

All Europe 2021 voyages go on sale on August 14, 2019. Princess’ Elite guests are able to book from August 13, 2019 at 9am.

A low £1 deposit is available to book any of the UK and Europe 2021 sailings on both August 13 and 14.

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Princess Cruises Announces South America And Antarctica 2020-2021 Programme

Princess Cruises has announced that its full 2020-2021 South America and Antarctica programme will go on sale from Friday July 12, 2019.

Two ships will sail the region: the 2,000-guest Coral Princess and 670-guest Pacific Princess. Voyages will range in length from 14-92 days, with a total of 35 destinations on offer in 17 countries, on eight itineraries.

Guests on select departures will have the opportunity to spend more time ashore with overnight calls in Lima (Callao), Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Coral Princess will depart on a series of voyages from Los Angeles, Santiago and Buenos Aires and will offer a new 15-day Cape Horn and Strait of Magellan voyage, which will give guests the opportunity to view the solar eclipse off the coast of Argentina.

The voyage will sail from Santiago to Buenos Aires on December 3, 2020 and will call at Puerto Montt, Amalia Glacier, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Cape Horn (scenic cruising), Falkland Islands (Stanley), Puerto Madryn and Montevideo. Prices from £1,999pp with up to $375 onboard spending money per person.

Also available on Coral Princess are several departures to Antarctica and Cape Horn. Each 16-day sailing will feature four days of scenic cruising through the Antarctic Peninsula and will call at Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Cape Horn (scenic cruising), Falkland Islands (Stanley) and Montevideo. Prices for January 3, 2021 departure are from £2,799 per person, with up to $375 onboard spending money per person.

Guests wishing to extend their holiday can combine their cruise with land tours visiting Iguazu Falls and Macchu Picchu.

Pacific Princess will circumnavigate the continent on a 92-day Circle South America voyage, sailing from Sydney to Brisbane, featuring overnight calls in Tahiti, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro – during its annual carnival – and Lima, as well as visiting more off-the-beaten-track destinations such as Easter Island and Ilhabela. Prices from £14,519pp, with $1,000pp onboard spending money and complimentary gratuities*.

Also available on Pacific Princess is a 90-day Circle South America sailing roundtrip from Sydney with prices from £14,219pp and an 82-day sailing roundtrip from Auckland with prices from £13,359pp.

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Avlo Travel & Cruise – Protect Your Hands Between Washes

So, not the kind of blog title you’re used to seeing from me, but let me take just a few minutes of your time to introduce you to a new and exciting product that I’ve been testing recently: Avlo Travel & Cruise hand and skin cleanser.

The product was developed by virologists with decades of experience in antiviral research and development. They wanted to produce a natural and holistic method of blocking germs and the result was Avlo, a proprietary germ blocking protein complex combined with a soothing and moisturising lotion.

Regular cruisers will know that you can’t enter any restaurant onboard, or public lounge, without seeing a bottle of hand sanitiser. It’s there for our own protection and we should all use it. I always do, I even carry my own, but I do find that the liquid used onboard often leaves my hands very dry and that’s where Avlo comes in. It’s not designed to replace the sanitiser onboard, it’s an added shield against germs that you can use in-between, and it puts the moisture back into your skin that the alcohol gel sucks out. I’ve been using Avlo at home for the last 2 weeks, replacing my own scented sanitisers with the same Purcell liquids you find onboard, so I could ensure I was getting real results. My hands are retaining far more moisture between sanitising, simply from using the Avlo. I don’t have the rough texture on my palms or fingers that the alcohol gel often leaves behind.

I’m not a scientist, so let me share with you some FAQ’s provided by Avlo, so you can find out more about the product.

How does Avlo work?

Avlo is a proprietary combination of natural products, proteins and our patented ingredient, GermBlock, which allows Avlo to work with your skin to enhance your skin’s natural ability to shield you from germs.

Is Avlo a hand sanitiser?

Avlo is not a hand sanitiser, but can be used to enhance the germ fighting ability of hand sanitisers and hand washing with soap. When applied after hand washing, Avlo provides a durable long-lasting shield between hand washings.

How is Avlo different from other hand moisturisers?

Unlike regular hand lotions that just moisturize, Avlo goes beyond and will not only moisturise your skin, it will also help your skin’s natural barrier function and provide a long-lasting shield from germs.

How many times per day should I apply Avlo?

Avlo contains natural ingredients and proteins so it can be applied multiple times per day without risk of damage to your skin.

I’d definitely recommend this product, especially if you’re travelling with kids. You don’t need a lot per application, just a pea-sized amount, so it will last you more than the duration of your trip. It has no harsh smell or chemicals, so it should be suitable for even the most sensitive skin (the image below lists the ingredients so you can see exactly what it contains), and it doesn’t leave behind any greasy residue. It’s quite a milky cream and absorbs quickly.

If you’re interested in trying this for your next trip, then let me give you some discount! Simply enter the discount code AVLOSTART at the checkout when buying from GoAvlo.com or Amazon.com.



#Sponsored #Ad

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Posted in Cruise Shopping, General Cruise Articles

Seabourn Unveils Custom Subs To Take Guests “Below The Surface” On New Ultra-Luxury Expedition Ships

Seabourn is preparing to take guests into the depths of the ocean for the first time by revealing the design and details for its custom submarines that will operate excursions for an additional charge from the line’s two upcoming ultra-luxury purpose-built expedition ships. Both Seabourn Venture and her sister ship launching 2022 will sail to the far corners of the Earth carrying two U-Boat Worx Cruise Sub 7 subs designed specifically for Seabourn.

Each battery-powered sub will carry six guests and one pilot, who will guide the journey up to 300 meters beneath the surface to explore sunken wrecks, reefs, and view marine wildlife in their natural habitat. Guests will be seated in two clear acrylic spheres flanking the centre pilot’s station, with an awe-inspiring perspective of the marine world just outside thanks to undisturbed and undistorted views in virtually all directions. The three passenger seats in each sphere are mounted on a rotating platform that can turn for best sightlines.

To maximise the guest experience, the subs will be outfitted with a host of optional equipment to enhance this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A 4k underwater video camera system will record the world outside while an internal video recording system will capture imagery of guests inside and their direct surroundings. Video footage can then be downloaded and projected on large screens in the Discovery Center during lectures aboard the ships. A six-function manipulator arm capable of lifting up to 32 kg (about 70 pounds) will also be mounted on the side of the sub. In keeping with the luxury experience found on Seabourn, each sub on both ships will be outfitted with custom embroidered leather upholstery, two air conditioning systems, a Bluetooth stereo system, and champagne chiller for guests looking to toast their voyage of discovery.

The subs will be operated multiple times per day in regions around the world. They will be equipped with underwater LED flood/spotlights, imaging sonar that acts as a second set of eyes, and an advanced underwater tracking and navigation system.

Seabourn Venture is scheduled to launch in June 2021, with a second yet-to-be-named sister ship slated to launch in May 2022. The ships are being designed from conception for expedition travel blended with ultra-luxury and personalised service by leading travel experts and seasoned professionals with great depth of experience in expedition, hospitality, and luxury cruising.

Between July 2021 and April 2022, Seabourn Venture will visit a vast number of breath-taking locations and remote destinations in the Arctic and Antarctica, as well as in the Amazon, Caribbean, Central and South America and more, offering guests the unique opportunity to experience ultra-luxury expedition cruising and exhilarating adventures. The ship is scheduled to visit more than 150 unique and fascinating destinations across the globe – many of which few travellers have ever been – and over 65 new or notable destinations with a multitude of new and compelling expedition experiences. The itineraries, fares and additional details of Seabourn Venture’s inaugural year are available at http://www.seabourn.com.

Both ships will be designed and built for diverse environments to PC6 Polar Class standards and will include a plethora of modern hardware and technology that will extend the ships global deployment and capabilities. The ships will also be designed to carry a number of kayaks and 24 Zodiacs that can accommodate all onboard guests at once, which will allow for a truly immersive experience. Each ship will feature 132 luxurious oceanfront veranda suites. More details and full-colour renderings of the ship and its interior spaces will be released in the months ahead.

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Posted in Cruise News, Seabourn

Emerging Canada Aboard Saga Sapphire: Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing, Ponta Delgada And An Inflatable Liferaft

The next 4 days were enjoyed at sea, heading across the Atlantic and towards Ponta Delgada. I spent one day reading a book about Titanic and its connection to Halifax. I know, I could have picked a better subject, but I was eager to learn more about the ships’ connection to the port we had just left. over the years, I’ve read and heard so many stories about the disaster, but I wasn’t aware of half the things noted in that book, It was incredibly interesting. Once I finished, I moved on to another book on the same subject, but it was about survivor stories and originally published in 1912. Did you know that a pet pig survived the sinking?

During one of the sea days, there was an onboard auction to raise money for The Silver Line. Up for grabs were some very interesting opportunities, including steering the ship, starting the engines and inflating a liferaft on the deck. Captain Horne and Dame Esther Rantzen were in charge of the auction and proved to be quite the comedy duo. It was a fun 90 minutes, although I’m sure it would have gone on for much longer had the Cruise Director not told them both to get a move on. We all got the chance to participate in the liferaft inflating, but I’ll get to that later.

One thing I always look forward to when sailing with Saga is the BBQ, but more than that, the live Jalfrezi cooking demonstration on the Verandah Deck. I do enjoy a good curry and this time, we had the choice of chicken or prawn. Obviously, I had to sample both, it would have been rude not to! The chicken was my favourite and the chapati bread (freshly made chapati bread) was incredibly light. The whole meal was delicious. I sat with 5 other people for lunch that day and I don’t think we spoke two words to one another until our plates were empty, we were completely fixated on the food. Yes, I went back for seconds, I’ll hold my hands up to that!

We arrived in Ponta Delgada slightly later than planned because of an issue with one of the engines, but no one really cared. The sun was shining and for the first time, we felt hot! I enjoyed the morning watching the numerous dolphins playing in the ships wake and then got myself ready for my afternoon panoramic tour.

‘Scenic Sete Cidades’ was the highlight of my time in Ponta Delgada. We drove through the western part of Ponta Delgada, via the coastal route, before we arrived at Feteiras, where the road climbs to Sete Cidades (Seven Cities). We stopped at the crater for a photo opportunity and were greeted with a rather incredible sight. The crater is 1,900 feet above sea level and eight miles in circumference, and from our view point on the craters edge, we could see two distinct lakes below, one green and one blue. The blue lake reflects the sky and the green lake reflects the lush vegetation of the crater walls. From here we drove to another view point on the island, from where we could see the east and west coasts.

It was a short tour and that suited me just fine. I wanted to get back to Saga Sapphire and soak up every last second of the day, and the 4 sea days we had to come.

We sailed from Ponta Delgada at 10pm and enjoyed a lively deck party until around midnight. Everyone was having a good time and it was nice to be outside, with live music, delicious drinks and for a while, no coat! I know, how lucky were we!

As I mentioned earlier, there had been an auction onboard several days earlier to raise money for The Silver Line. One of the prizes was to inflate a liferaft on the deck. The excitement wasn’t limited, however, to just those that would be doing the inflating, the ship made a show of it and everyone lined the aft decks to watch. It was great fun, but incredibly noisy! I had thought at first that it wasn’t going to inflate, but once a few crew members helped out, the plastic soon popped, and the raft began to inflate. It was left on the deck for a few hours so everyone could have a look and take some photos. I’m glad no other ships were close enough to see what was going on, they must have thought we were crazy! I love things like that. Something different that you definitely don’t get on many, if any other cruise ships. I’ll post the video to my Facebook page in the coming days, so make sure you’re following.

In total, passengers & crew on this cruise raised a massive £15,957.90 for The Silver Line! This was by way of the auction, donations and during the last few days of the sailing, a country fayre that was held in the Britannia lounge. I could hear screaming, shouting, laughing and cheering from 2 decks above, so I had to go along and see what was going on. Everyone was having a ball and the crew were getting right into the thick of it. It was great fun and such a fab idea to raise more money for The Silver Line. I’d never seen so many people walking around with bottles of wine, there were clearly a lot of happy winners.

The food throughout the cruise was exceptional, as it always is with Saga. The choice and quality is always first-class and there’s never a dish that I don’t want more of, especially in East to West. I was going to share a few photos with you of my favourite dishes, but I’ve decided to put them all in one blog so you can enjoy everything, and maybe get some ideas for home cooking. Watch this space…

Saga Sapphire is one of my favourite ships and although I enjoyed every second of the cruise, it was bittersweet and honestly, quite emotional. It’s likely that was my last time to sail on her before she leaves the fleet and it makes me sad to think that I’ll never travel with her again. She has left with with some wonderful memories and amazing friends and I will miss her.

I met some lovely people on this sailing and came across some familiar faces. A massive thank you to each and every one of you: Jay, Julie, Anthony, Liz, Geoff, Verity, Pauline, Joan, Captain Horne, Jemma, Maja, Dianja, Diana, Genesis, Danny, Ryan, Chelle, Mary-Hazel, Boyet, Rey, Rolando, Francis, Chef Francis, Executive Chef Gavin Baxter, Bernard, Felix, Richard, Mark and the amazing team of SuperCrafters, Hazel, Jackie, Brian, Diane, Margaret, John, Pat, Tony, Norma, Steve, Ramel, Becky, Sam, the Explore Ashore team, Santosh, Vishal, Frederick, Jose, Judy, Lucito, Joven, Reinier, Dion, Nikko, Adelino, Abel, Kelvin, Alvin, Limuel, Jimoel, Estelita, Irene, Walter and Reymel. I’m sorry if I’ve missed anyone off the list, but thank you, too!!

Last but by no means least, a huge WELL DONE to all of Saga Sapphire’s crew. During this cruise they had a rather intense and brutal inspection, but as we all knew they would, they aced it and sailed away with a score of 98%.

The next Saga chapter is about to begin. I’m joining Spirit of Discovery from Tuesday for several events. For live updates, make sure you’re following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Posted in Saga Cruises, Solo Cruising

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