Cunard Announces 2021 Cruise Programme

Image credit: James Morgan

Cunard has released its June 2021 to January 2022 cruise schedule, which will see its three Queens visit 123 destinations across 39 countries.

With an extensive range of itineraries that span the globe, the 2021 schedule includes a variety of extended port stays, including 174 voyages with late evening departures. The schedule means guests can immerse themselves in the local cultures of a wide range of exciting international destinations, at their leisure.

In addition to a number of evening departures, Cunard’s 2021 season includes many overnight stays in spectacular and renowned cities; including Boston, Funchal, Lisbon, Quebec, Reykjavik, Rotterdam, Shanghai, Singapore and St. Petersburg.

Simon Palethorpe, President, Cunard said: “Filled with inspiring destinations, we’re making it our priority to ensure our guests have as long as possible to explore the world’s most exquisite locations in their own time and at their own pace. After immersing themselves in the local culture, guests can look forward to enjoying our unique onboard experience that offers the freedom of time and space with our exemplary White Star Service that is second to none.”

Queen Victoria will undertake an engaging European itinerary throughout 2021 including 20 Southampton roundtrip voyages. Highlights include a maiden visit to Aarhus, Denmark; a first for Cunard in its 180-year history; while extended stays in Lisbon, Reykjavik and St. Petersburg are sure to attract attention.

In 1840, Cunard became the first shipping line to offer regularly scheduled crossings. Today, Cunard alone maintain this timeless tradition, offering 23 crossings in 2021 on board the world’s only ocean liner, Queen Mary 2.

In response to surging demand, Asia remains firmly on Cunard’s radar in 2021 with Queen Elizabeth based in the Asia-Pacific region throughout the year. Itineraries include circumnavigations of Japan, a variety of Australian and New Zealand voyages as well as a spectacular maiden call in Seogwipo City, South Korea.

Simon Palethorpe continues: “In addition to 31 wonderful round-trip voyages from our home port of Southampton, we are excited that 2021 sees Cunard offer itineraries that span the globe. It is a testament to our long-standing commitment to excellence that from Southampton to Shanghai, Boston to Brisbane, Cunard has become synonymous with luxury in all corners of the world.”

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Posted in Cruise News, Cunard Cruise Line

Crown Princess To Feature In TV Series ‘Monster Ships’

Princess Cruises’ 3,080-guest ship, Crown Princess, will appear in an episode of a new TV documentary, ‘Monster Ships’. The episode will air on UKTV’s Yesterday Channel on Thursday 3 October at 8pm.

Providing a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a cruise ship, the hour long episode follows Crown Princess as she sails a 10-day Caribbean voyage roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. The ship visits local islands including Princess Cruises’ own private Bahamas resort, Princess Cays.

The programme provides an insight into the day-to-day roles of the 1,200 crew members and what it takes to ensure a seamless transition onboard when a new voyage begins. With 17 restaurants and bars, round-the-clock room service, four swimming pools, guest entertainment and over 1,500 staterooms, the vessel is a 24-hour operation 365 days of the year.

Monster Ships was commissioned by Discovery Networks International, and made by WAG TV, a leading international producer of TV shows.

Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruises UK and Europe, said: “We’re delighted to see Princess Cruises once again feature on the small screen, this time providing viewers with a rare onboard glimpse behind-the-scenes. The Crown Princess episode of Monster Ships is recommended viewing for anyone with an interest in the incredible mechanics and logistics of a cruise ship, or who wants to see the premium guest experience we offer on one of our stunning Caribbean sailings.”

Viewers can also experience the ship for themselves when she sails out of the UK next year on a series of voyages to the Mediterranean and northern Europe.

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Posted in Cruise News, Princess Cruises

Counting Down To A ‘Grand Voyage’ With Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

 

When I left Black Watch in April 2018, I told myself that was the first and probably the last time I’d ever visit exotic destinations such as India, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. I don’t like to fly and let’s face it, a world cruise for most people that have the luxury of being able to afford it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But I’d been there, and I’d lived every last magnificent moment of it. I fell in love with Asia, held a koala in Australia, admired the Treasury in Petra, and as a whole, had so many first-time experiences that I’d never forget. Put simply, I felt like the luckiest human being on the planet. I didn’t know it then, but something even more incredible was going to happen in the months that followed…

I’m now counting down to what I am sure will be yet another extraordinary cruise experience. In exactly 21-days, I’m joining Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ ‘Boudicca’ on her 168-night ‘Grand Voyage’. I know, I still can’t believe it. Not only will this be the longest sailing I’ve ever been on, it’s also the longest itinerary to date that any Fred. Olsen ship has sailed – we’re making history together.

OK, I know, you just want me to get to the itinerary. It would take 2 full pages to list it all – I have a Google document that is no less than 20 pages long – so I’m going to share some of things I’m most looking forward to seeing and doing during the cruise.

South Africa has long been a dream destination of mine and I’ll be visiting Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Richards Bay. Being an animal lover, you can probably guess what I’m planning on doing while I’m in that part of the world – I’m going in search of the ‘Big Five’ on an authentic safari. I must remember that under no circumstances can I take a baby elephant back to the ship! I’m also planning on seeing the penguins at Boulders Beach and taking in the views from the very top of Table Mountain.

Mayotte, Madagascar, Seychelles and the Maldives are all screaming at me to pack a snorkel, so that’s what I’m going to do. I want to see what paradise is really like. Some of the best beaches in the world are in the Indian Ocean and one of our calls in the Seychelles (Praslin Island) is the gateway to the small island of La Digue, home to Anse Source D’Argent, one of the most photographed beaches in the world.

Last year, Asia charmed me from the second I put my feet on land. Each place was bursting with history, tradition and in some places, what felt like magic. Although each port was different, there were many similarities and I was completely enthralled by how different life in this part of the world was. On the Grand Voyage, I’ll be visiting several places in Asia, including Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar, but of them all, I’m most looking forward to our time in Bali, Indonesia. Because Boudicca heads east to then come back west, I’ll actually get to visit Bali twice: 3 days in December and 3 days in January. I’ve heard so many good things and have been told numerous times that I must explore every inch of Ubud, including the Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud Palace and the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.

Australia is also on the list and guess where I’ll be for New Year’s Eve? That’s right, Sydney! I’ve never been a fan of New Year and I’m not a big lover of fireworks. Actually, I can’t stand either of them, but I am genuinely looking forward to welcoming 2020 in the land down under and watching the fireworks that I’ve seen on TV for as long as I can remember. It’s quite surreal, actually. I’ll also be heading to Rottnest Island from Freemantle to see the legendary Quokka, supposedly the happiest animal on earth.

Other destinations that I’m excited to visit for the first time are Jamestown, St Helena; Kangaroo Island, Australia; Cairns, Australia; Melbourne, Australia; Hobart, Tazmania; Wewak, Papua New Guinea; Goa, India; Dubai, UAE; Muscat, Oman; Salalah, Oman; and Ashdod, Israel.

Boudicca sails from Dover on October 3, 2019 and I’ll be sharing my updates across social media – so make sure you’re following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ll also be posting a daily (as daily as I can) diary right here on my blog, so please do come back and let’s travel the world together!

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Posted in Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

First Hybrid Powered Ship Completes Northwest Passage Crossing For Hurtigruten

This week, Hurtigruten’s ground-breaking expedition cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen wrote a new chapter in exploration history – being the first battery-hybrid powered ship to ever traverse the legendary Northwest Passage.

As the MS Roald Amundsen arrived Nome, Alaska, in the evening of September 10, captain Kai Albrigtsen could make a monumental entry in the ship’s logbook:  The first complete passage of the more than 3.000 nautical miles passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, by hybrid propulsion.

“Every expedition cruise with Hurtigruten is unique, yet this green milestone is literally making history with our guests. Only a few years ago, building cruise ships with battery packs was considered impossible; now the MS Roald Amundsen pays tribute to the great explorer she is named after by traversing one of the world’s most fabled stretches of sea by hybrid propulsion” says Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

For centuries, the renowned passage connecting East and West has spellbound ocean explorers.

Norwegian polar pioneer Roald Amundsen made the first complete passage from 1903 to 1906.

“We have experienced gale winds, snow and ice. We have also witnessed spectacular sunsets, and striking scenery and wildlife. However, what has had the biggest impact on us, is how warmly we’ve been welcomed by the local communities along the route, just as Roald Amundsen himself was. Their unparalleled hospitality is what has made this a genuinely inspirational voyage”, says captain Albrigtsen.

Equipped with large battery packs and ground-breaking technology, the MS Roald Amundsen has made global green waves in the cruise- and shipping industry after she was launched this summer. Using batteries to support her engines, emissions are reduced with more than 20 percent.

Having traversed the Northwest Passage, MS Roald Amundsen will sail further along the coast of North- and South America, before spending the winter offering one-of-a-kind expedition cruises in Antarctica.

The summer of 2020, MS Roald Amundsen will then return to North America, for a series of expedition cruises in Alaska.

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Posted in Cruise News, Hurtigruten

MSC Magnifica To Sail From Southampton In 2021

MSC Cruises has revealed brand-new itineraries for Summer 2021 sailing from Southampton. The newly refurbished MSC Magnifica will undergo a transformation adding 23 meters to the ship that will deliver an additional 7,000 m2 of added space to the ship. This will result in 215 extra cabins, bringing the total number of balcony cabins to 63% of the overall ship, a new water park, a redesigned kids area, plus additional features such as two new restaurants and a new shopping area.

The 24 sailings from Southampton beginning in May and ending in October will see the introduction of cruises ranging from 2 to 14 nights with brand new varied itineraries encompassing Canary Islands & Madeira, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Baltic Capitals. Most of the 24 sailings will  begin on a Saturday ensuring guests can make the most of their holiday experience

Highlights include a 12-night cruise that calls at three of the Canary Islands – Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote with their fantastic climate, distinctive landscapes and bustling ports the cruise departing early May is perfectly timed to catch the sun. A 14-night Western Mediterranean cruise in August, including popular destinations for UK guests such as Palma de Mallorca and Monte Carlo will be the perfect choice for the family summer holiday. MSC Magnifica will offer four different stunning Norwegian Fjord itineraries and will call at two brand new destinations; Skagen in Denmark renowned for hours of sun and unique light plus Rosendal, Norway, which is the world’s fourth largest fjord.

In addition to new itineraries MSC Magnifica will be back with all the ‘Best of British’ enhancements that were initially showcased on MSC Magnifica in 2018, including favourite’s such as pie & mash, back bacon and sausages available in the buffet and Kettles in cabins with of course Yorkshire Tea, which is back by popular demand.

This is not the first time MSC Cruises have refurbished and stretched existing ships in the fleet, in 2015 the four much loved Lirica class of ships underwent a significant renovation as part of the €130 million  ‘Renaissance project’, to improve facilities and enhance the onboard experience.

When works are completed, MSC Magnifica will feature two new major and important onboard environmental advances to complement a wide range of existing leading-edge environmental technologies across the company’s entire fleet: a state-of-the-art Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system and next-generation Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) system. SCR technology helps reduce nitrogen oxide into pure nitrogen and water through advanced active emissions control technology. MSC Cruises also took the opportunity to install a state-of-the-art advanced wastewater treatment system on board that meets the highest standards and that purifies used wastewater to near tap-water quality. The system meets the so-called ‘Baltic Standard’ and treats the wastewater to a higher standard than most waste standards available in cities around the world. To help reduce and continuously minimise emissions also while in port, the ship will be able to ‘plug in’ to the local power grid wherever such systems are available at berth.

Cruises will go on sale on the 12th September.

Itinerary highlights include:

May Bank Holiday Mini Cruise

This 3-night sailing runs across the late May Bank Holiday and is perfect for a first-time cruiser who wants a taster of a holiday at sea or an experienced cruiser looking to make the most of the bank holiday weekend. Set sail from Southampton late on Friday evening and spend the day in Zeebrugge before returning to Southampton.

Baltic Capitals

There are two opportunities to discover the much-loved Baltic Capitals, on a 12-night cruise departing 31st May or on a 14-night cruise departing 11th September. Offering slightly different itineraries with added highlights on the 14-night itinerary including an overnight stay in the Swedish Capital Stockholm, and a visit to Denmark’s Skagen. Both sailings include an overnight onboard stay in St Petersburg and a visit to Norway’s capital, Oslo.

Norway Your Way

With so many beautiful ports to explore in Norway choose from one of four different Norwegian Fjord itineraries setting sail across the summer season. Explore much loved ports including Flamm and Stavanger and new destinations for MSC Cruises Rosendal and Nordfjordeid.

14 nights perfect for families

Following guest and agent feedback this 14-night cruise to some of the Mediterranean’s most loved destinations has been developed with families in mind. Departing on the 7th August this no-fly cruise begins with two sea days to give guests a chance to settle in. Then it’s action packed itinerary allows you to explore seven different ports in nine days including a late sail from the fabulous Palma de Mallorca and a visit to the exclusive Monte Carlo.

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Princess Cruises ‘Sky Princess’ Completes Her Sea Trials

Princess Cruises has accomplished another major milestone in preparation for the launch of its newest ship, Sky Princess, by completing the vessel’s sea trials.

The 3,660-guest cruise ship set out to sea from a construction dock at Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy and was put through its paces with a series of manoeuvres to test the propulsion, steering and navigational equipment.

After a successful six days of trials, Sky Princess is now back in the shipyard where she will undergo further exterior and interior finishing in preparation for her 7-day Mediterranean and Adriatic maiden voyage on October 20, 2019.

The ship will sail a short season in the Mediterranean before heading to the Caribbean.

Sky Princess will be an evolution of sister ships Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. Her enhancements will also feature on Enchanted Princess, which launches in Southampton in June 2020. They include:

  • Two ‘Sky Suites’, which have the largest balconies at sea and will be centrally located on the top decks. Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite) the balconies will provide a private vantage of the top deck Movies Under the Stars cinema screen, offer 270-degree panorama views and sleep up to five guests. They will feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a dining area with skylight as well as a host of exclusive amenities
  • New entertainment such as the jazz lounge ‘Take Five’, a redesigned Vista Lounge, an enhanced Princess Theatre and the recently announced production show ‘Rock Opera’
  • More than 25 dining venues and bars including the World Fresh Marketplace and speciality restaurants Bistro Sur La Mer (French bistro), Crown Grill Steakhouse and Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria
  • A redesigned Sanctuary area, the spa-inspired top deck retreat reserved for adults. The Sanctuary will feature an enhanced, contemporary design including twice as many private cabanas as its sister ships, as well as new lounge furniture and the option for guests to indulge in a spa treatment
  • Princess MedallionClass experience, featuring the complimentary OceanMedallion wearable device, which is the same size as a 10p piece, delivers an entirely new level of service and creates a holiday that is more simple, effortless and personalised with:

–        Expedited arrival – Guests who arrive at the terminal 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 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

–        Interactive game play – Available on portals throughout the ship, PlayOcean allows guests to take part in digital scavenger hunts, interactive games and create their own avatars, as well as turning their smart device into a game controller for interactive gaming on the Movies Under The Stars top-deck screen

–        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 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 into their own personalised itinerary. Voyage itineraries are available as many as 60 days in advance, allowing guests to start planning before they leave home

The Princess Cruises fleet will continue to expand with the launch of Enchanted Princess and three additional ships arriving in 2021, 2023 and 2025.

Princess Cruises is offering a 7-day Eastern Caribbean voyage on Sky Princess, departing February 22, 2020. Sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ports of call are Princess Cays (Bahamas), St Thomas and St Maarten. Special offer currently available with prices from £999 per person for a mini-suite.

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Natural Scandinavia Aboard Spirit Of Discovery

I’ve been at that cruising business, again. Those of you who follow me on social media will be aware that I was back onboard Spirit of Discovery recently for her ‘Natural Scandinavia’ cruise. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the ports, met some new friends and bumped into a few old ones. I didn’t do many tours on this cruise, I wanted to take it at a slightly more leisurely pace, so this blog is a laid back look at the not so touristy side of Scandinavia.

We made calls to Skagen, Stockholm, Lulea, Oulu, Pori and Oslo. Originally, we were scheduled to call into Fredrikstad, but strong winds forced Captain Sunderland to cancel that port and sail us to Oslo.

With the exception of Stockholm, most of the ports were much smaller and the emphasis was more on nature and the outdoors. I had 2 tours booked for our call to Fredrikstad, but when it was cancelled, I was down to one. I wanted to spend time in these places simply taking in the local environment and the days at my own pace. Sometimes, I think we overfill our port days and occasionally it is nice to just step back and see what the day brings. In Skagen, I walked through the town and enjoyed the atmosphere before the pouring rain came. I had planned to go to the beach and stand with one foot in the Baltic Sea and one foot in the North Sea, but it was just too windy and wet! The one thing I liked most about Skagen was the railway tracks that went right through the middle of town. I was desperate to see the train, but I either missed it or it never came.

Stockholm’s Old Town (Gamla Stan) always calls my name and that’s where I went when the ship was cleared and we were able to go ashore. I wasn’t out too long, just long enough to familiarise myself with old haunts and find a few new ones. We had an overnight, so I didn’t see the point in cramming everything into one day. On day two, I walked around the opposite side of the marina and into districts I’d never been before. It was very pleasant, and some aspects reminded me of Amsterdam. Because of having no plan and just seeing where I ended up, I now have a new area to visit if I ever find myself back in Stockholm again. I also managed to catch the band as they made their way towards the Royal Palace for the changing of the guard.

Of course, the Stockholm archipelago was a massive highlight of this cruise and because we were in port for 2 days, we had the pleasure of sailing in during the morning and out late evening, so there was a real contrast of colours and a change in sea traffic. If you ever get the chance to do a cruise that includes Stockholm, please do it, if for nothing other than the experience of sailing through the archipelago.

Lulea and Pori were very small ports, but both equally charming. The towns here were virtually identical and there wasn’t a great deal going on, however, I really enjoyed the drive from the ship to the town, in each. Scandinavia is so incredibly green, and Sweden and Finland proved this beautifully. At times, it was like driving right through the heart of a thick forest. I loved it. The port in Lulea was also quite pleasant. A little industrial on one side, but on the other, you could go for a walk through the woods or enjoy sitting in the small marina.

My favourite port of the cruise was definitely Oulu in Finland. I booked the ‘Finnish Nature at its Finest’ tour and I so enjoyed being at one with the natural Finnish countryside. We drove to Kiiminiki where we spent a few hours walking around the protected reserve at Koitelinkoski. It was overcast during our visit, but it’s one of those places that looks great and always appeals, regardless of the weather. I’d love to see it in the very depths of winter, I bet it’s incredible when covered with snow. We walked around the small islands, listening to the sounds of the water and the noise from the birds, it really was peaceful. There are several small picnic-type areas throughout the park and numerous families were having a BBQ. You can collect wood at the entrance, free of charge. Our lunch was served at the Koiteli Mood House on Sahasa Island. We were given forest mushroom soup and smoked salmon to start, reindeer meat with mashed potatoes and vegetables to follow, and then cream with cranberries to finish. It was different, let’s put it that way. The reindeer meat and potatoes were quite nice, I did enjoy a few mouthfuls of that, but the winner was definitely the dessert. It was super creamy and topped with an edible flower. I always like to try local dishes when I travel and it’s always a bonus when you find something super tasty.

Oslo was our final port and it was my first time there. We docked right in the heart of town and had great views on the starboard side of the fortress and on the port side of the town and small islands – it was postcard perfect. Again, I took the day at my own pace, walking right round the marina before heading into the city centre. I passed birds, statues, colourful flowers, a man selling fish from the bow of his fishing boat, and a protest in the main square that I think had something to do with climate change and the environment – I don’t speak Norwegian. I had a great day and there was no rush. I literally took the time to smell the flowers, to soak in the atmosphere of the protest and to get the perfect shot of the cormorant who was having the world’s longest wash. Oslo ended the Natural Scandinavia cruise perfectly.

In total, Spirit of Discovery sailed 3,549.6 nautical miles on her ‘Natural Scandinavia’ cruise, she also broke three records as she went, being the largest cruise ship to ever dock in Skagen, Oulu and Pori.

For more about Spirit of Discovery, head over to my photo blog.

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Posted in Saga Cruises

Welcome Aboard Spirit Of Discovery: A Photographic Journey

Today, I’m going to take you on a photographic tour through Spirit of Discovery. A lot of people requested more interior images, so I went around the ship a dozen times on my recent ‘Natural Scandinavia’ cruise, gathering as many pictures as physically possible, I even went to the Medical Centre for you! If there’s anything you’d like to know about the ship or something in particular you’d like to see, please let me know as chances are, I have the picture or know the answer to your question.

If you haven’t yet booked your cruise on Spirit of Discovery, then my question to you would be what are you waiting for? She is incredible and her crew are superb. The food was fantastic, entertainment was very good and varied (I really enjoyed the performance from Jools Holland and Ruby Turner) and the cabins are stylish and very comfortable. Her public areas are all spacious and beautifully designed, and I’m still obsessed with the self-service coffee machines in The Grill!

The atrium from above, showing decks 5, 6 and 7, where you’ll find the Library, Craft Room, South Cape Bar and living Room

The gorgeous atrium as seen from Deck 5 – directly in front of the Living Room.

One side of the Living Room. The Living Room bar is open from morning until 11pm. You can also get fresh finger sandwiches, pastries and ice cream here, and tea and coffee.

A section of the library on Deck 6.

The self-service coffee and tea area in the library. There’s no juice machine here, but there are 2 in The Grill.

Another angle of the library, it extends across a large area but is broken into sections so it feels cosy.

The Craft Room Deck 6

The Card Room on Deck 6

South Cape Bar on Deck 6. Est. 2019.

There are several sofas and tables just outside the South Cape Bar, if you’d prefer something more comfortable. I love the vases!

The promenade Deck, Deck 6.

The Promenade Deck aft

Get your laps in!

One angle of the Britannia Lounge on Deck 12. One of my absolute favourite spaces onboard. This is the place for evening dancing and live music.

The Britannia Lounge bar

I love the lighting above the bar in the Britannia Lounge.

Furnishings in the Britannia Lounge

In front of the Britannia Lounge – there’s a door behind the band area.

The Lido Deck. It’s a great place to enjoy day and night, and another of my favourite areas. I love the colours!

A wide-angle shot from the other direction showing the pool and loungers, and 2 hot tubs at the back.

A view point on Deck 13 aft.

You can do laps on Deck 13 and Deck 6

Shuffleboard on Deck 13.

Shuffleboard in the middle and then cosy chairs and sofas for lounging.

The Fairway on Deck 13 port side. You can play golf or a shooting game.

Ping Pong tables on Deck 12.

Don’t worry, the ice cream machine is still there! it’s on the Lido, next to the bar.

The boiled sweets are still there, too. They are on the Lido (just outside The Grill) on the starboard side.

Entrance to The Grill on Deck 12 aft. The Grill is inside and then there is outside seating on the verandah. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Grill is now a buffet dinner option on smart casual evenings. On formal nights, one side is waiter service and the other is buffet.

One of the seating areas in The Grill. On formal evenings you have the choice of buffet or waiter service. On smart casual evenings it is a buffet. This photo shows it set for dinner.

Another view of The Grill. This photo showing it set for lunch.

Ready for Sunday roast carving in The Grill.

Cheese selection as set up buffet-style.

Salad selection in The Grill.

Salad bar and outer grill on The verandah. You can enjoy self-service salad or table service for fish and chips, burgers, hot dogs and more.

The grill on The verandah.

Saga’s famous fish and chips at The Verandah grill.

The Verandah as seen from Deck 13.

The Grand Dining Room on Deck 5. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Another section within The Grand Dining Room.

Looking down into The Grand Dining Room from The Club above on Deck 6.

The Club by Jools Holland Deck 6. Open for dinner until 9pm and then it becomes an evening entertainment venue with live music.

I love The Club. It’s my joint favourite restaurant (with East to West) and the ambience is perfect.

On the port side, you can observe the galley team preparing the food for The Club.

Some of the galley team at The Club.

A filet mignon with thrice cooked chips and creamed spinach – my favourite!

East to West Deck 6 aft port side. Open for dinner only.

The new look East to West is gorgeous. The colours are fresh and vibrant.

King prawn massaman curry with jasmine rice, wilted pak choi and Chinese cabbage – absolutely delicious and not spicy at all.

Coast to Coast restaurant is on Deck 6 aft starboard side. Most dishes are seafood, but they do have a few other options. It’s ALWAYS fully booked, so make sure you get in there early. Open for dinner only.

Two seater tables as you enter Coast to Coast.

Larger tables in Coast to Coast

Lobster thermidor at Coast to Coast.

The Secret Garden Deck 6 aft outside East to West and Coast to Coast.

Her gorgeous tiered stern. Each deck has an aft access door on either side and a set of stairs either side. You’ll also find some sort of seating area on each.

And from above in the sunshine.

The gym is located on Deck 13 forward – above the Britannia Lounge. it can be accessed via the Deck 13 port side forward staircase (where the S500 cabins are) or via Deck 12 on the starboard side. Just before you enter the Britannia Lounge (starboard side), you’ll see a staircase on your left, that leads you to the gym.

The hydrotherapy pool within the spa on Deck 5. The spa is open 8am to 8pm.

Hot stone beds opposite the hydrotherapy pool.

The infra-red sauna

One of the treatment rooms

The Playhouse Theatre during a performance from Jools Holland and Ruby Turner. This space is used for theatre-style shows, lectures and live music.

The launderette on Deck 8. There’s also one on Deck 10. Washing powder is still provided.

The Medical Centre on Deck 4. That’s as much as we all need to know about that! 😉

The Shop on Deck 5. There’s also a jewellery shop on the other side of the Living Room.

One of the stairwells showcasing the incredible art onboard. It really is fabulous!

The new interactive TV system in each cabin is very good. They’re still working on additional features, but there’s a great movie collection.

 

If there’s anything else you’d like to see or something you’d like to ask, please do drop a comment and I’ll do my best to find you the picture or get you the answer.

 

 

 

 

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A First Look At Next-Generation River Cruising On The Mekong With Emerald Waterways

Emerald Waterways’ brand-new Star-Ship has set sail! The line’s first self-built Star-Ship outside of Europe is sailing through vibrant Vietnam and Cambodia as she travels along the Mekong River. With the very first set of images released, take a look at life on-board Emerald Harmony.

From the first look, the Star-Ship’s style is chic and modern, fusing authentic Asian style with contemporary design. A journey through Southeast Asia is a sensory experience, with food, scents, and decor, as vibrant as the surrounding architecture along the river.

Sun Deck

You can still join Emerald Waterways on its inaugural season, travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia to witness the community spirit along the riverbank, in comfort. With the launch, Emerald Waterways is celebrating with an offer – guests who book before 20 September 2019 can save up to £2,250 per couple, plus unlimited free drinks on board Emerald Harmony.

Reflections Restaurant

Emerald Harmony caters to just 84 guests in 42 cabins with the Star-Ship providing spacious suites and public areas such as the Sun and Pool decks to relax on, a wellness area with spa, the Horizon Bar & Lounge, and Reflections Restaurant. Exclusive to Emerald Harmony is the Lotus Lounge, an area to relax and watch the endless horizons unfold after a day exploring on shore.

In a move that is set to replicate across the European fleet, the Emerald Harmony becomes the first Star-Ship to remove all single-use plastic. Initiatives include providing all guests with a complementary metal water bottle to refill from water stations on the Star-Ship. Other initiatives are also in place such as glass water bottles in the cabins, using bamboo and paper straws in the Reflections Restaurant & Horizon Bar and cabin toiletry miniatures replaced with refillable dispensers.

Horizon Bar & Lounge

Be among the very first people to enjoy an incredible Vietnam and Cambodia experience on board the regions newest Star-Ship during this season.

There is still availability to book the 19-day Treasures & Temples of Vietnam & Cambodia river cruise with Emerald Harmony, including the 5 October 2019 sailing for £5,195 per person. Guests begin their adventure in Hanoi with the ancient temple architecture, then travel along to Halong Bay, before joining the Mekong River through My Tho, Sa Dec and into Cambodia ending in Siem Reap before the return flight home.

Owners one bedroom balcony

Highlights of this newly launched river cruise include the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, the iconic presidential Reunification Palace and the village of Dat Dua’s coconut candy workshop.

Prices include return flights, transfers, nights on board a Star-Ship and / or hotels as stated, all tipping and gratuities, food and selected *drinks onboard, shore excursions and exclusive onboard events and experiences.

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Posted in Emerald Waterways, River Cruising

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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Posted in Saga Cruises
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