P&O Cruises Food Heroes Are Back At Sea In 2018

P&O Cruises Food Heroes are once again taking to the high seas to serve up some of the finest gourmet experiences to be had on land or water.

The cruise line’s 2018 Food Heroes cruises are headlined by some of the brightest lights of the British culinary scene and are a fabulous opportunity for anyone with an interest in food to meet their own food hero, whether it is James Martin, Marco Pierre White, Olly Smith, Atul Kochhar or Eric Lanlard. Each cruise features masterclasses, book signings, Q&As and private dining with exclusive hosted dinners. There are also selected opportunities to join the chefs on one of their carefully crafted gastronomic shore excursions in handpicked ports of call.

P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow, says: “We love to eat well at P&O Cruises and pride ourselves on offering a huge range of dining experiences – from casual, contemporary dishes to fine dining – that will appeal to all discerning foodies. Our Food Heroes cruises go one step further and provide guests with a unique opportunity to meet, spend time with and pick the brains of some of the best chefs and wine experts in the land, while enjoying a truly memorable holiday.”

Marco Pierre White will be on the following cruises in 2018:

  • Britannia (B817): Seven-night cruise departing 17 June 2018, from £749pp – Southampton – Stavanger – Olden – Innvikfjorden – Nordfjord – Andalsnes – Romsdalsfjord – Bergen – Southampton
  • Britannia (B818): 14-night cruise departing 24 June 2018, from £1,105pp – Southampton – Warnemunde – Helsinki – St Petersburg – Tallinn – Stockholm – Copenhagen – Skagen – Southampton
  • Ventura (N820): 12-night cruise departing 5 August 2018, from £1,349pp – Southampton – La Coruna – Madeira – La Palma – Tenerife – Gran Canaria – Lisbon – Southampton
  • Ventura (N826): 17-night cruise departing 18 September 2018, from £1,579pp – Southampton – Palma – Zakinthos – Mykonos – Santorini – Athens – Katakolon – Gibraltar – Southampton
  • Azura (A825): 13-night cruise departing 15 September 2018, from £1,119pp – Southampton – Madeira – La Palma – Tenerife – Gran Canaria – Lanzarote – Lisbon – Vigo – Southampton
  • Britannia (B828): 12-night cruise departing 30 September 2018, from £1,112pp – Southampton – La Coruna – Madeira – La Palma – Tenerife – Gran Canaria – Lisbon – Southampton

Atul Kochhar will be on the following cruises in 2018:

  • Azura (A808): 14-night cruise departing 13 April 2018, from £1,099pp – Southampton – Alicante – Barcelona – Toulon – La Spezia – Civitavecchia – Cartagena – Gibraltar – Southampton
  • Ventura (N807): 13-night cruise departing 21 April 2018, from £899pp – Southampton – Madeira – La Palma – Gran Canaria – Tenerife – Lanzarote – La Coruna – Southampton
  • Ventura (N808): seven-night cruise departing 4 May 2018, from £599pp – Southampton – Vigo – Lisbon – Oporto – St Peter Port – Southampton
  • Ventura (N817): seven-night cruise departing 20 July 2018, from £799pp – Southampton – St Peter Port – Oporto – Lisbon – Vigo – Southampton

Olly Smith will be on the following cruises in 2018:

  • Azura (A811): 13-night cruise departing 6 May 2018, from £949pp – Southampton – Madeira – La Palma – Tenerife – Gran Canaria – Lanzarote – Lisbon – Southampton
  • Britannia (B828): 12-night cruise departing 30 September 2018, from £1.112pp – Southampton – La Coruna – Madeira – La Palma – Tenerife – Gran Canaria – Lisbon – Southampton
  • Ventura (N835): 13-night cruise departing 26 November 2018, from £829pp – Southampton – Madeira – Tenerife – Gran Canaria – Lanzarote – La Coruna – Southampton

Eric Lanlard will be on the following cruises in 2018:

  • Britannia (B809): 14-night cruise departing 8 April 2018, from £1,059pp – Southampton – Madeira – La Palma – Tenerife – Gran Canaria – Lanzarote – Lisbon – Southampton
  • Britannia (B813): seven-night cruise departing 13 May 2018, from £749pp – Southampton – Stavanger – Alesund – Olden – Innvikfjorden – Nordfjord – Bergen – Southampton
  • Britannia (B824): 14-night cruise departing 19 August 2018, from £1,510pp – Southampton – Alicante – Barcelona – Monte Carlo – Florence/Pisa – Civitavecchia – Cartagena – Gibraltar – Southampton
  • Britannia (B825): seven-night cruise departing 2 September 2018, from £859pp – Southampton – Stavanger – Flam – Aurlandsfjord – Sognefjord – Olden – Innvikfjorden – Nordfjord – Bergen – Southampton
  • Britannia (B826): seven-night cruise departing 9 September 2018, from £739pp – Southampton – Bilbao – Gijon – La Coruna – St Peter Port – Southampton

James Martin will be on the following cruise in 2018:

  • Britannia (B806): 14-night cruise departing 16 March 2018, from £1,149pp – Barbados – Dominica– St Maarten – Tortola – Ponta Delgada – Southampton
Posted in Cruise News, P&O Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Unveils 2020 World Cruise Aboard Seven Seas Mariner

Spanning approximately 33,870 nautical miles across 11 seas in three oceans, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new 2020 world cruise will deliver infinite, unforgettable experiences for luxury travellers.

The all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner will host Regent’s new 2020 Navigate the World cruise, a captivating 131-night itinerary, departing 24 January 2020. Sailing roundtrip from San Francisco, Seven Seas Mariner cruises the idyllic islands of the South Pacific and the ancient cultures of subcontinental India and the Arabian Peninsula, before exploring the Mediterranean in springtime and Caribbean and Central American destinations in early summer.

Guests will touch on 30 countries on six continents as they circumnavigate the globe, visiting 36 UNESCO World Heritage sites among a total of 66 ports, 13 of which are overnight stays. The Most Inclusive Luxury Experience, Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers up to 330 free, unlimited shore excursions for guests to fully explore each exciting port, and kick off their grand adventure at the exclusive, pre-cruise Gala Dinner Event in San Francisco, as well as revel in three additional authentic shore-side events as they sail the world.

Navigate the World with Exclusive Bespoke Amenities

Guests begin their world cruise at the 1909 landmark Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco with an exquisite dinner that features globally inspired Californian cuisine and lively entertainment as they mingle with fellow world cruise guests. Together, all world cruise guests also will join in exclusive shore-side events in New Zealand, Singapore and Tuscany.

These events include authentic cultural events, such as a Lord of the Rings-themed dinner event in the Auckland War Museum; or a private evening in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay for an extravagant dinner and lively cultural show in Flower Field Hall.

Finally, guests will take in an unforgettable private April afternoon and evening in Il Borro Villa and Village, a meticulously preserved 13th century Tuscan estate, where they can tour the estate’s superb wine cellar and view its classic fine art collection before enjoying a sumptuous local, farm-to-table dinner over a Renaissance-themed performance in the Villa’s amphitheatre.

In addition to the exclusive world-cruise shore-side events, Navigate the World 2020 UK guests also enjoy additional amenities, including free roundtrip business class air, unlimited laundry (including dry cleaning and pressing), door-to-door luggage service, comprehensive Visa package, and onboard medical service.

These exclusive world cruise amenities are in addition to Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Most Inclusive Luxury Experience, which comprises highly personalised service from every member of the exceptional staff and crew, all-suite accommodations, and free unlimited shore excursions, WiFi, unlimited beverages, including fine wines and premium spirits, and open bars and lounges plus daily in-suite minibar replenishment, speciality restaurants, pre-paid gratuities, and ground transfers between airport and ship.

Overland Programmes for a Deeper Experience

Along the way, 2020 World Cruises guests can also choose among optional Overland Programmes to explore colourful cultures, dramatic landscapes and exquisite landmarks found farther inland.

Overland Programme guests disembark the ship for up to three nights in small, private groups with knowledgeable guides on fascinating experiences, such as a three-night Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia programme from Bali, Indonesia; a three-night Taj Mahal: The Eternal Experience programme from Cochin, India; or a one-night Egypt’s Renowned Relics: Luxor and the Pyramids.

Posted in Cruise News, Regent Seven Seas

Land Of Ice And Fire With Saga Cruises: A Solo Perspective

The following morning, we arrived in Belfast and it was damp and cold, but that didn’t stop me and I was off the ship before 08:00, ready for my ‘Scenic Coast and Glens’ tour and my first solo passenger port day. It was a very pleasant drive from the port to the Glens of Antrim and we made a short photo stop en-route in a small fishing town named Carnlough, which is home to a hotel that was once owned by Sir Winston Churchill. Once back on the coach, we continued our drive to the Glenariff Forest Park. Although it had remained dry, the moment we left the coach at Glenariff it started to rain. Everyone headed inside the famous tea room for scones and hot drinks (which were delicious) and hoped by the time we had finished that the rain would have stopped. That wasn’t to be. Glenariff, called the ‘Queen of the Glens’s, is considered the most beautiful of the nine Antrim Glens and the park itself covers an area of over 2,900 acres. Originally formed by glaciers, Glenariff follows the topography of a U-shaped valley, as it sweeps majestically from the high Antrim Plateau, through enchanting forests and then spilling out into a wide pastoral valley before ending in a white sandy beach and the Irish Sea. The area was incredibly beautiful, but sadly we didn’t get to see a great deal of it because the rain was relentless.

Our final port would be Liverpool and we arrived on time following our departure from Belfast. Originally, I had booked a tour here, but I decided to cancel and instead, I enjoyed a walk around on my own. I’d never been to Liverpool before, so it was nice to explore another new destination. I walked through the city centre, passed the iconic Cunard Building and then back to the ship via the river front – I even stopped to enjoy an ice cream and read the plaque on the memorial that was placed in memory of the 244 engine room crew who had lost their lives when Titanic sank. Liverpool wasn’t the most exciting port of the cruise, but it allowed me to go ashore independently and navigate a new place, which I think is a big confidence booster for people who travel solo. Don’t do organised tours all of the time, get out and do something completely on your own. I passed 5 other Saga passengers who were also exploring alone, one of which had managed to find the Debenhams sale and then brought half of it back to the ship!

We sailed from Liverpool at 21:00 and had 2 sea days to enjoy before we arrived back in Dover for disembarkation. I spent my first sea day enjoying the fresh air on deck and, briefly, the sunshine. I had lunch at the Beach Club (delicious fish and chips) and then I spent some time on Deck 12 with the ORCA team. Let me tell you that those women are made from strong stuff! It was blowing a gale up there and quite chilly, but aside from taking a break for lunch, they were out there from the early morning until the early evening – every sea day! During the cruise, the team spotted 417 individual marine mammals with 15 different species being positively identified. These included Minke whale, Humpback whale, Harbour porpoise, Northern Bottlenose whale, Risso’s dolphin, Fin whale, Sperm whale, Grey seal and Long-finned Pilot whale.

Our second sea day, and ultimately our last day, was spent sailing along the coast of Cornwall, Devon and Hampshire etc.. The sun was shining, we had superb scenery and I think every passenger was out on deck enjoying their last hours aboard this fabulous ship. I did spend some time outside, but I also wanted to try and catch up on some of the lectures that I’d missed. There was a Geographer & Geologist onboard named John Brinkley and I’d wanted to get involved with some of his talks. Thanks to the in-cabin TV, I could do this when I was getting ready for dinner and the most interesting lecture for me, from him, was ‘Can We Predict Volcanoes?’. I learned SO much, it was fascinating! I now know all about Seismic Waves and which ones do and do not penetrate the earths interior, I know how they collect molten lava and then cool it for testing and I can even tell you that experts monitor the ground around volcanoes for “bulging”, as it is believed that a change in the volcanoes ground surface could be an indication that magma and gas is moving and thus the volcano could be about to erupt. Like I said. FASCINATING!!!!

I had the most wonderful time aboard Saga Sapphire, I always do! The ship herself has such a charm about her and you can’t help but fall in love, the crew are always smiling and are very attentive and the food, well, what can you say about the food on a Saga cruise, aside from delicious?! The best food I’ve eaten at sea has always been aboard Saga Sapphire. There’s just something about the entire Saga experience that has pulled me in and won’t let me go, and I know I’m certainly not the only one that feels that way. Everything is executed perfectly, even down to the simple things, like free juice from the dispensers on Deck 9, which unlike on other ships, is available all day.

My solo time onboard was very enjoyable and I would highly recommend Saga to anyone and everyone thinking of taking a solo cruise. There were many coffee mornings, luncheons and dinners for solo passengers and even opportunities to meet up ashore. If you want time to yourself,  you can have it, and if you want to travel alone but meet new people along the way, then Saga is a great option for you. I didn’t come across any solo passengers that had anything negative to say about travelling on their own with Saga, everyone seemed perfectly content and one woman with whom I spoke even said it had been her best solo cruise to date.

I let my social butterfly out on several occasions during my time onboard: I met a lady last year on Captain Rentell’s Mystery Cruise and she too was on this sailing, so we enjoyed fish and chips together at the Beach Club one afternoon and a few evenings together in Cooper’s. I had lunch several times with a man I’d met onboard before we’d even left Dover and I had dinner with my onboard “grandma” on the last evening. There were solo Saganauts everywhere! I also bumped into a lady on this cruise whom I’d met last year on another ship. If you make the effort to communicate with your fellow passengers, then taking a solo cruise could be the best decision you ever make. I always enjoy travelling with my friends, we have such a good time, but it is also nice to enjoy a trip that you can tailor-make just for you and do as much or as little as you like.

Another reason why I like cruising on my own so much is because I enjoy talking to new people and hearing of their tales, it keeps my mind active and I feel like I’m always learning. For example, I met a lady on this cruise that had worked for the Bermudan Government for more than 35 years, so you can imagine the conversations we had. She was such a joy to be around. One story she told me was about a French submarine named ‘Surcouf’ that vanished without a trace after leaving Bermuda during World War II.  The vessel, named after an 18th century French pirate and launched in 1929, was designed as an “underwater cruiser” intended to seek and engage in surface combat as well as torpedoing enemy shipping while submerged, but she left Bermuda (en route to the Panama Canal) in February 1942 and was never seen again. There was widespread speculation and rumour, of course, but nothing has even been confirmed.

The crew aboard Saga Sapphire are wonderful and I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to: Jay (Bunso), Jackie, Joel, Mark, Dianja, Eddy, Captain Burgess, Hazel (both of them), Chelle, Loney, Ben, Resty, Marcelino, Morris, Joven, Junnel, Jordaniel, Ryan, Azel, Lito, Rogie, Francis, Jhay-R, Ikadek, Andy, Perry, Wilson (fist-bop), Arnold, Nestor and Mary Ann. I’m sorry if I’ve missed your name off the list – there were so many to remember – but please know that I am grateful to you all and I hope to see you again soon!

Until my next Saga Cruises adventure…

Posted in Saga Cruises

CruiseMiss Blog Cruise Awards – Please Vote!

CruiseMiss.com was five years old in February and I want to say a massive thank you to everyone that has been a part of my journey so far. Whether I’ve met you onboard a ship, you’ve liked a post on Facebook, commented on a photo on Instagram or maybe read 1 post and never came back. Every one of you has contributed and I am very grateful! I hope you’ve found some useful hints and tips over the years.

I see rewards for my work in many ways, but when I’m nominated for cruise awards it lets me know that I’m clearly doing something right and today, I need your help! I’m currently nominated for 2 awards and I’d be thrilled if I could get your votes.

Cruise International Awards 2017

I am nominated in the ‘Best Cruise Blogger‘ category as Danielle Fear – CruiseMiss.

You can vote here: http://awards.cruise-international.com/vote-now/

I’ve been nominated for this award several times, but never won, so who knows, maybe 2017 will be my year and if not, there’s always next time! There’s a chance to win some great prizes when you vote!

Wave Awards 2018

I am nominated in the ‘Favourite Cruise Blogger of the Year’ category as Danielle Fear – CruiseMiss.

You can vote here: http://www.worldofcruising.co.uk/vote/

This is a new one and very exciting! You can also sign up for the magazine, which I highly recommend.

THANK YOU in advance and Happy Cruising! 🙂

 

Posted in Cruise News

Cruise Show Photo Competition

Europe’s largest Cruise Show is returning to Birmingham in September and with it comes the opportunity to WIN the chance to have your travel photo displayed at The NEC during the show. The winning entry will be displayed in the gallery alongside adventure and travel photographers content.

The winning photo will be professionally printed, framed and displayed. It will be yours to take home at the end of the event.

How to Enter

Just send your best photos to hello@cruiseshow.co.uk before July 14th! They are looking for images that celebrate unforgettable destinations and experiences, this can include ports of call, excursions, food, culture and anything else that has inspired you.

  • Subject line: “Travel Photos Comp, Cruise Show“,
  • Attach your photo
  • Include your name
  • photo category…
  • …and your Instagram name if you have one.

The nominations will be posted on the Cruise Show Instagram/Facebook   pages and the picture with the most likes will win! It’s that simple! The winning photo will be printedframed and displayed at the Birmingham Cruise Show this September.

2017 NEC Birmingham Cruise Show

The Cruise Show returns to the NEC Birmingham on the 16th & 17th September and will celebrate the range of sights, sounds and wonders available to those willing to discover the world by ship!

The world has never been more accessible for those with the spirit of adventure. Packed full of information and inspiration, The Cruise Show will bring together the best specialist operators and holiday providers all under one roof. In one weekend we cover everything from all-inclusive luxury getaways to small-ship cruises destined for remote locations, as well as your chance to meet like-minded travellers on organised group tours – whether you’re travelling with partner, family or friends!

As well as meeting with an excellent range of travel companies and taking advantage of their exclusive show-only offers, visitors are also invited to enjoy the show’s interactive features. Hear first-hand experience from celebrity speakers, explorers, journalists and tour operators in a choice of 3 theatres, bursting with travel ideas and practical advice that’s bound to inspire.

The 2017 Cruise Show will feature:

Ask the Experts
Uncover everything there is to know about cruising by joining the debate with our panel of experts. In these sessions you will hear from cruise line executives, industry experts and journalists who will share their insider knowledge and tips. Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn about everything the world of cruising has to offer.

Meet the Cruise Lines
Get face-to-face with the world’s leading cruise companies. Hear practical tips and insights on how to get the most out of your next cruise with them. Find out what life is like onboard, explore the newest ships, uncover the many different cruise styles and accommodation types a cruising holiday can offer, plus get the latest on the hottest new cruise destinations and trends. This is your chance to get the information that you can’t find on the Internet or in a glossy brochure.

Destinations Pavillion
Grab a taste of the on board luxury lifestyle with multicultural entertainment and features inspired by your favourite destinations. Immerse yourself a gallery of worldwide influences and find your next dream destination.

Posted in Cruise News

Land Of Ice And Fire With Saga Cruises: Akureyri, Isafjordur And Reykjavik

Day two in Akureyri soon arrived and again, it was cold and wet. I donned my waterproofs and off I went on the ‘Jewels of the North’ excursion. Our first stop was Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods) and I was speechless. I thought the waterfall I’d seen in Seydisfjordur was impressive but this was something else entirely and you could feel the power of the water pounding in your chest. The crescent of cascading water was named when Thorgeir, law speaker of the Old Icelandic Parliament, threw images of the Norse Gods into the water in 1000 AD to show that Iceland would henceforth follow the Christian religion. We spent a short time at Godafoss before moving on to Lake Myvtan, where we explored some of the ‘pseudo-craters’ at Skutustadir. It was so cold and windy and we really didn’t have enough time to explore the area in depth. What I did see was impressive, but if I return to Akureyri I’ll go back to this site. We took a short lunch stop here before driving to Dimmuborgir.

Dimmuborgir offers stunning scenery and surreal land formations from past volcanic eruptions. It reminded me a lot of the volcanic fields in Lanzarote, it was just much colder! Again, we didn’t see much of the site, but I didn’t leave feeling like I’d missed out, as our guide made sure we got to see the best bits and I guess once you’ve seen one volcanic rock formation, you’ve seen them all. We did see one chunk of lava rock that resembled a troll, that was quite cool and unexpected.

Our final and most impressive stop of the day was the geothermal field at the foot of Namafjall Mountain. Again, this was something new for me, I’d never seen anything like it before and I was fascinated by the landscape. I’d gone from a volcanic lava field to what looked like the desert – all in less than 60 minutes! The steam coming from the water was warm and it briefly took the chill out of the air, but the smell of Sulphur was a little overwhelming. If you’ve never smelt Sulphur before, the only way I can describe it to you is like that of rotten eggs. It’s revolting. There were mud pots, steam vents, boiling springs and fumaroles. It was nothing short of awesome but the clay stuck to the bottom of your shoes like glue. Thankfully, it had dried enough by the time we got back to the ship that I could stamp my feet on the hard ground at the port gate and it would fall off. The coach didn’t fare so well, however.

Our two days in Akureyri had come to an end and as they did, the sun finally made an appearance. Typical. We sailed at around 5 P.M. and made our way towards Isafjordur in the Westfjords of Iceland.

Originally, I was going to venture here under my own steam, but then I decided instead to book the short tour that took in some of the culture in this very small town. It wasn’t the best tour of the cruise, but I did enjoy it and it certainly offered a glimpse into life in the area both past and present. It also provided us with yet another stunning waterfall, this time one we would drink from. The water was so pure and very refreshing. It was nice to admire the waterfall and then taste some of its natural goodness – it beat the fermented shark and Brennivin that were offered as samples during our stop at the local museum. I didn’t try the shark but the Brennivin I did sample and it was truly disgusting. It’s a traditional Iceland drink that is made from fermented potato pulp and flavoured with caraway seeds. I’m glad I can say I tried it, but I’m not in a hurry to ever taste it again. We also stopped at the Osvor Museum, where quaint buildings that were restored in 1988 reflect the life of the fishermen from the early days up until the 20th century. It was very interesting and they certainly had an incredibly hard life. Picture this… their boats were roughly 16 feet long, but they would catch sharks that were over 20 feet long. It must have been terrifying!

We sailed from Isafjordur and set courses for Reykjavik. The highlight of the evening would be the lack of a sunset. I didn’t see it myself, I had a long day ahead of me in Iceland’s capital and I retired to bed early, but one lady that I met onboard said the sun gradually got lower and lower in the sky and just before you would expect it to set, it started to rise again.

I was out of bed, washed and dressed and on my coach by 09:15 A.M., ready to begin a day of exploration in Reykjavik. I’d booked ‘The Golden Circle’ tour here. I had thought about the Blue Lagoon, but scenery took prime position for my first visit. We left the port and made our way to our first stop: Thingvellier National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We had a short and easy walk around the park, which was beautiful, and I came across yet another waterfall. The entire area is carpeted with moss and surrounded by mountains, it’s rather picturesque to say the least. We didn’t walk around the entire park, but once back on the coach we did drive through a larger section en-route to our next stop which was Geysir.

Geysir is home to Geysir Strokkur, which spurts water high into the sky every few minutes. It was wonderful to see – it is Mother Nature at her finest. The water is between 80 and 100 Degrees Celsius and I can confirm for you that it is warm because I got absolutely drenched from one spurt, which shot at least 40 feet into the air. I had been lucky previously, but that time it got me. I tried to run, but to no avail. You could tell when it was about to blow, so to speak, because a light blue bubble (almost like a shimmering eye) would suddenly rise to the surface and then the water would erupt into the air. There are smaller pools of water along the path and they too bubble and boil, but not quite like Geysir Strokkur does. I stood admiring this natural phenomenon for quite a while before making my way to the Geysir Hotel where we were stopping for lunch. The service was slow and I wasn’t very tempted by the main course, but the lentil soup was delicious.

We left Geysir behind and made our way to Gullfoss. This magnificent waterfall plunges down a series of cascades before reaching a deep gorge in the Hvita River. It was spectacular! One thing I can say about Iceland is that if you enjoy scenery, then this is the destination for you. Every day I was left in awe at the natural beauty of the country and how hard the Icelandic people work to preserve it and ensure it remains unscathed by the millions of tourists that are flocking to the island each year. Our tour ended with a drive over the moors of Hellisheidi and a stop at the Perlan in the heart of Reykjavik, which offers fabulous views across the city. It was a wonderful way to end what had been a magnificent day in the capital. I had thoroughly enjoyed Reykjavik!

We left Iceland behind and would spend the next two days at sea. Two days of relaxation that I think we were all ready for. Captain Greybeard and his wife had left the ship in Reykjavik, so from this point on, I was experiencing Saga Cruises for the first time as a solo passenger and I was looking forward to seeing how that would turn out. There were 98 passengers onboard that were travelling alone and I had the pleasure of meeting several of them. I even bumped in to a few people that I’d met on previous cruises, which was a nice surprise.

On our second day at sea, we found ourselves in the Outer Hebrides and Captain Burgess kindly went a little off course and gave us some scenic cruising time. It was wonderful. I suppose that’s the beauty of small-ship cruising, you can go off track sometimes and enjoy the scenic aspect of places without setting foot ashore.

I sat in the sun for a while and spent yet another evening in Cooper’s, listening to Perry, before we arrived in Belfast the following morning…

Posted in Saga Cruises

Saga Releases Further Images Of Spirit Of Discovery

Saga Cruises invites the public to discover more about Saga’s new ship, Spirit of Discovery, with the release of additional artist’s impressions this time featuring the library, spa and theatre.  Spirit of Discovery will be Saga Cruises’ first bespoke-built ship launching in Summer 2019 from the UK. The small, luxury, boutique vessel will carry fewer than 1,000 passengers and will feature design cues from London’s finest hotels and restaurants, redefining standards in British cruising.

The Library:  Designed to evoke the cosiest of artisanal coffee shops, the Library on board Spirit of Discovery promises not only one of the largest selection of books afloat but also the best coffee and cake at sea.  Every book-lover knows that a beautiful library or a classic page-turner is entirely irresistible but add to that the lure of a complimentary genoise sponge or a perfectly poured ristretto and guests will be hard-pressed to leave this haven for one of Spirit of Discovery’s ports of call.

The Spa: For those who prefer being pampered to perusing literature, Spirit of Discovery’s spa will be the perfect place to either de-stress or re-energise using the latest therapies and treatments.  Guests will be able to detox in the steam room or relax deeper with a hot stone massage in one of five private areas.  Those seeking a glowing skin and a boosted immune system are invited to step inside the infrared sauna where a 30-minute spell is reputed to release the same amount of endorphins as a 30-minute workout.  Add to that an array of indulgent treatments and guests won’t have to travel far to feel the health benefits.

The Playhouse Theatre: Every aspect of Saga Cruises’ newest ship has been thoughtfully designed and carefully curated in consultation with past, present and future guests.  A theatre, where every seat is the best in the house, was a key request; in response, Spirit of Discovery’s sumptuous auditorium will not disappoint.  Tiered seating guarantees that every one of the 430-strong audience will be able to enjoy an evening’s entertainment of shows, live music and cinema screenings, wherever they sit.

I don’t know about you, but I am incredibly excited to see this ship! Maybe Saga Sapphire will end up sharing my heart? I guess we wait and see!

Posted in Cruise News, Saga Cruises

WIN A Place In History And Name P&O Cruises Newest Ship!

In 2020, P&O Cruises will enter the history books once again as it brings together over 180 years of history and experience to create the next generation of cruise ship. At 180,000 tons, this will be Britain’s biggest cruise ship and it therefore deserves a name that is worthy of its size and credentials.

P&O Cruises is inviting its guests and the general public to be part of this historic occasion and suggest a suitable name for this magnificent ship. The competition to name the ship will run on the P&O Cruises website and through social media channels from Monday July 10, 2017 and a panel of experts will consider all entries with the winning name being announced next year. To help inspire entrants, P&O Cruises has produced four short videos featuring Food Heroes Eric Lanlard and Olly Smith, producer and performer Jonathan Wilkes and Azura godmother and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell CBE which can be viewed online.

Not only will the winner earn their place in history with their chosen name being proudly emblazoned on the ship for everyone to see for years to come, but they will also be given two VIP places at the ship’s naming ceremony in spring 2020 – a prize that money cannot buy.

P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said: “This new ship will be the first new launch for P&O Cruises in five years and will play a pivotal role in redefining the brand and broadening our appeal. It is therefore incredibly important that we have a name that reflects the ship’s heritage as well as highlighting the array of new cruising experiences it will offer – something memorable and dignified that reflects its position as the new star in our fleet. I encourage the general public to get their thinking caps on but also to remember that naming a ship is akin to naming a child. The name is an inherent part of its personality and is something that will sail with it for life!”

The new ship will accommodate approximately 5,200 guests (lower berths). It will have a striking new exterior and interior design and will comprehensively embrace the company’s classic and iconic features.  It will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in P&O Cruises history. The ship’s “green cruising” design will use LNG to generate the primary source of power both in port and on the open sea, significantly reducing exhaust emissions to help protect the environment in support of the company’s sustainability goals.

Posted in Cruise News, P&O Cruises

Land Of Ice And Fire With Saga Cruises: Seydisfjordur And Whale Watching

I opened the door and was greeted by beautiful snow-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls and surprisingly, warm air temperatures. I couldn’t wait to get ashore. Saga Sapphire began her stay here at anchor, so I boarded the tender boat and headed for land to do some exploring on my own. It’s not a very big place, you can easily see the best bits in under 2 hours, but I managed to explore every nook and cranny and 5 hours would go by before I made my way back to the ship. I walked right around the town and then made my way towards the beautiful waterfall that I’d seen from the aft deck of Saga Sapphire. What a sight it was! I was completely in awe, I just stood looking at it for 20-minutes. The sound was incredible and the water jumped down the mountain as if it were flowing to freedom. Eventually, I left the waterfall behind and walked for a short time through the little valley beside the local supermarket. I didn’t manage to get far before I had to turn back because the greenery was a little too thick for me to trek through with exposed ankles!

As I previously mentioned, Saga Sapphire began the day at anchor, but once the local ferry left the only berth in the town, our ship would come alongside. I’d timed my arrival back at the port perfectly! I managed to get a prime spot to watch the ship lift her anchor and then make her way across to the berth. It’s not very often you get to see the ship you’re sailing on, sailing – unless you’ve missed it, of course – but there she was, turning almost full circle and making her way into the heart of town. It was fascinating to watch and I was just feet away from the action of guide lines being thrown and then ropes being lowered. I was in my element. Saga Sapphire sailed from Seydisfjordur at around 18:00 and we had wonderful views of the fjord. It was stunning and I couldn’t wait for our next port, Akureyri.

We would be berthed overnight in Akureyri and when I awoke on day one it was pouring with rain. I’d been praying that it would be dry, as my excursion here today was whale watching, but thankfully I had my waterproof Trespass coat to keep me dry and a Trespass backpack to keep my camera equipment safely out of harm’s way. I’d opted for the Albus 30 backpack simply because it was big enough to fit my laptop, but small enough to not feel like an empty, saggy sack hanging off my back when I wasn’t carrying much. I loved it, it was the ideal choice – as I’d later come to realise when it got drenched with water in Reykjavik! Made up of 3 zipped sections, a total capacity of 30 litres means there is ample room for all your essentials and the sturdy zip fastenings keep everything safely inside. Internal pockets can also be found and they are great for keeping your phone or keys in, as well as side mesh pockets that can be used to house your water bottle or maps. It also features several reflective strips, so it’s an ideal choice at night so you can be seen.

The material is hard-wearing and very durable and as I found out, to a degree, the bag is even waterproof. I was drenched with water during one excursion (keep reading to find out more) and I’d had my camera lens, money, tissues, external battery charger etc in the backpack at the time. I checked my camera was still operational (that had been in my hand at the time of the soaking) and I then turned my thoughts to the contents of the back pack. The outside of the bag was dripping wet, but inside, everything was warm and dry – I was SO relieved! I’d recommend the bag as an option if you’re planning some cruises with outdoor excursions.

I already had a heavy waterproof coat, but for this trip I wanted something a little lighter, so I chose the ladies Qikpac jacket. In hindsight, I probably should have also taken my heavier coat as Iceland was much colder in some places than I’d expected, but overall, the Qikpac jacket provided what I needed. It was quite youthful in design, which was an instant hit with me, crafted using Trespass’ Tres-Tex fabric, and it could also be folded away in a pouch and carried in the back pack when I didn’t need it.

Fitted with a ventilated back yoke, a breathability rating of 5,000mvp promotes ventilation to reduce overheating and it works! I sometimes overheat when everyone else is comfortable or cold, but even when sitting on the coach between points of interest, I never felt the need to remove the coat. The 2 zip pockets are also spacious enough to keep your gloves, phone and cruise card and the zip closures mean everything is kept safely inside.

So, back to day one in Akureyri. It would be spent whale watching, but not until the afternoon, so I had a leisurely morning and then left the ship to embark on what would turn out to be a very cold and wet boat ride through the bay, but one that would ultimately offer us the greatest reward in the end.

We walked from the ship to the boat and it was pretty miserable to say the least. The rain was thrashing the right side of my face and the wind was piercing. Once onboard, most people made their way inside, but a few of us braved the elements on the open decks. After all, we were there to spot whales and how can you do that unless you’re outside looking for them?! The crew onboard offered us warm, waterproof suits to wear and I’m so glad that they did because without it, I’d not have been able to stay outside, right at the front of the boat. I just hadn’t worn enough layers.

It wasn’t long before we came across a Humpback Whale and everyone was excited. We were almost level with this majestic creature and it felt incredibly surreal. As the time ticked away, the trip got so much better and several times we had whales so close to the boat that we could almost reach out and touch them. I’ve been on several Dolphin watching excursions over the years and they were such a thrill, but this really was something else. The sound of them blowing air was incredible. In fact, everything about the day was incredible: the fin waving, the rolling and the spyhopping (when a whale sticks its head straight up out of the water).

Shortly before our tour ended we were given the gift of all gifts. A large Humpback breached not once, but three times. I have never, ever seen anything like it and at that moment I felt like one of the luckiest people in the world. I had a tear in my eye. It was putting on a show for us and it was loving every moment of it. There was so much activity that the tour did overrun by a few minutes. How could we just turn around and leave when we were being entertained by these gorgeous creatures from the deep. I had booked the tour through Saga and they used a company called Elding. The crew onboard were fantastic and they explained everything we were seeing. The tour was expensive, but it was worth it. You can book independently or through your cruise line, but the tour with the cruise line seemed to offer a slightly longer experience, so in that case I’d say go with your cruise line. We all returned to the ship cold and wet, but that didn’t matter, we’d just had the most amazing four hours of the entire cruise thus far.

That evening I joined Captain Greybeard and his wife in Cooper’s, again. It was our evening haunt and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t stay up too late, however, as I had a long excursion the following day, but I did stay up late enough to appreciate daylight at a time of night that should have given way to stars and not the sun. It was such an odd experience because it was so late at night, but it was daylight! I felt tired, but then I’d see the bright sky and feel like it was only 2 or 3 P.M. and that going to sleep would be criminal. That night we only had 39 minutes of darkness!

I retired to bed, ready for day two of exploring in Akureyri…

Posted in Saga Cruises

Land Of Ice And Fire With Saga Cruises: Welcome Aboard!

‘Land of Ice and Fire’, that was the name of the cruise aboard Saga Sapphire which departed Dover on June 18 and I was excited to be onboard for what would turn out to be 15-nights of exploration and adventure in Orkney, Iceland, Belfast and Liverpool.

My journey to Dover was long, but I’m used to travelling for several hours to join the ship and it is always worth it, especially when I see Saga Sapphire waiting for me at the end of it. Check-in was smooth, as always, and I was through security and onboard in less than 15 minutes. One of my first stops was the Britannia Lounge for Afternoon Tea. I’d not eaten much on the journey, so by the time I’d checked in and dropped my bags in the cabin I was ravenous. I grabbed some chicken vol-au-vents and tempura prawns and I sat in the corner to enjoy the food and have five minutes to myself. I just needed a breather from the world and this was the ideal time to take it.

I finished eating and attended the muster drill before returning to my cabin, unpacking and getting ready for my first evening onboard. I’d noticed when I first entered my cabin that there was new bedding on the beds (I had 2 singles). Gone was the duck egg coloured linen and in its place, lay crisp white cotton. It looked so much better and as I’d come to find out later that evening, it felt much better too because the pillows and duvet were also new. My head sunk into the pillows as if they were marshmallows and the duvet was light but warm. My little bed was very comfortable and we became good friends.

I was joined on the first part of the cruise by Captain Greybeard and his lovely wife, so we arranged to meet for drinks in Cooper’s before dinner. I’ve said in all my Saga blogs that Cooper’s is my favourite bar onboard Sapphire and that is still the case. The pianist in Cooper’s on this cruise was a very flamboyant man named Perry Grant and I was hooked on his humour and style from the very first night. He was funny, flash and best of all, he had a very uplifting and comforting singing voice. He made a lot of fans onboard – everyone seemed to enjoy his music and comedy and every evening, Cooper’s bar was full to bursting.

We dined in Pole to Pole that night and as always, the food was delicious. It felt great to be back onboard and I was looking forward to what the cruise would bring. I’d never been to Iceland before, but first, we had a day at sea (a rather warm and pleasant day) before reaching our first port of call, Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands.

I visited Kirkwall for the first time in 2015 and was instantly charmed. There’s so much history to explore and learn, but I also enjoy the beautiful countryside scenery here. It just feels so relaxed and unhurried. I’d booked an excursion for this port which was aptly titled ‘Ancient Treasures of Orkney’ and included visits to the Standing Stones of Stenness, which I’d previously visited before, the Ring of Brodgar and then Skarae Brae, both of which were new for me.

The highlight of the day, without a doubt, was Skarae Brae. I’ve never seen anything else quite like it and I was surprised to learn that the ancient site was around long before the famous pyramids of Giza. In fact, our fabulous guide, Chris, told us that the site was already abandoned before construction of the pyramids began. Incredible! The site was first discovered in 1850 following a severe storm. In the 1860’s, four houses were cleared but then everything ceased until 1925, when the site was taken into state care. The site was sat within a large dune for over 4000 years and thanks to this, it is incredibly well-preserved. All the houses that are visible are connected by a covered close and they were all buried to the tops by a clay-like mixture of bones, ashes and shells. This being a huge factor in how the site remained protected from erosion. Clearly visible in many of the houses are the spaces where people would have slept, the central fireplace and in hut 1 there is even a stone dresser that looks like it was built just yesterday. The site really is remarkable to view as you see the village from above and not ground level. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the heart of Neolithic life and how people survived in what is essentially an incredibly harsh part of our world. If you visit Kirkwall, make sure Skarae Brae is at the very top of your list. You will not be disappointed.

Our first port day ended with a superb meal in East to West, Saga Sapphire’s included specialty restaurant and we were joined by the Captain, Hotel Director and Housekeeper. It was a fabulous meal which was complimented by wonderful company and I can say for certain that we all left feeling rather full. We were served a pre-starter of salmon, which was then followed by a delicious amuse-bouche prawn satay with peanut sauce – my absolute favourite dish. From the menu, I ordered the lobster satay with peanut sauce and followed that with a main course of Asian herb infused Angus fillet steak. We ended our evening with drinks in Cooper’s. It had been a wonderful day.

Saga Sapphire spent the following day at sea and by now the evenings were starting to get much lighter. I spent a lot of the day reading and watching the world go by. Captain Burgess had kindly sailed us along the coast of the Faroe Islands, so we had beautiful scenery to admire for several hours and as far as I’m concerned, the only place to be is out on the open decks on days such as this. We would begin our Icelandic adventure tomorrow, starting with the port of Seydisfjordur in the Eastern region of Iceland…

Posted in Saga Cruises

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