Mini-Cruise Highlights From Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire is one of my favourite ships, she ticks all the right boxes and a few extras. She’s a home-from-home for many people and that was evident on my recent cruise, when I disembarked in Southampton and over 100 other people stayed onboard to sail to the Canaries.

I’m used to spending at least 2 weeks aboard Saga Sapphire and exploring each corner of every port she visits, but my recent trip was a short 4-night mini-cruise option and because of that, I decided my time would be best spent reacquainting myself with this wonderful ship and finding out what other people onboard thought of her and what was offered – approx. 40% of passengers were new to cruising and new to Saga.

The average age for the sailing was the lowest I’ve seen, in fact, many people didn’t look like they were old enough to be onboard. I know, I’m one of those people, but the regular Saganauts are used to seeing me floating around. For those of you that don’t know, to travel with Saga you must be over 50, but you can accompany someone over the age of 50 if you are over 40.

The Saga cruise experience is one of the best. They do everything exceptionally well and I am yet to come across someone that hasn’t enjoyed their time onboard. The cabins are spacious and very comfortable, all dining options (including speciality) are included, the shore excursion choices are varied to suit all tastes and abilities and the food, well, the food is simply incredible. I could talk about it without coming up for air, that’s how much I enjoy cruising with Saga, and even though it had been 16 months since my last cruise on Saga Sapphire, almost everything was exactly as I’d expected it to be. I was sad to see that the mini-golf course had been removed from the forward end of Deck 12. My friend and I used to enjoy going up there in the howling wind and pouring rain because it was ‘fun’. To sweeten my memories of those rather exciting times – battling with a vertical dolphin in blizzard-like conditions and trying to direct a ball that would go everywhere on the deck but where I wanted it to go – I stopped and helped myself to a boiled sweet from the Beach Club – they’re free!

I spent a lot of time chatting with other passengers and I was surprised by how many of them had never cruised with Saga before, but had utilised many of their other services, including land tours. Were they impressed with the ocean aspect? I think that’s an understatement. Even those that were completely new to Saga seemed to be hooked from day one. On the flip side of the coin, I also came across a couple that spend up to (if not more than) six months of the year on Sapphire every year.

So, what did I do during my time on the cruise? Well, let me tell you about. I’ll start with Cooper’s.

Cooper’s is a small and very intimate bar located on the starboard side of Deck 8 (just outside the Britannia Lounge). It’s my all-time favourite space on any ship and only big enough to comfortably fit around 30 people. During the day, it’s quiet and you can often watch old comedies on the flat-screen TV, but in the evening, especially after the show in the Britannia Lounge, it comes alive! It’s the place for late night music, laughs, drinks and dancing. I’ve always enjoyed this space, but I like the fact that many people don’t even realise it’s there, it’s almost like a secret club. As people enter the Britannia Lounge, they are set solely on finding a good spot to watch the show, they don’t observe what’s really going on around them, so they completely miss Cooper’s. You’ll often see the same faces for several nights and then suddenly a new crowd will start to trickle in, and that’s all because for the first time, when leaving the lounge, they looked up and realised there’s a door. I’m sure those of you that have sailed on Saga Sapphire will relate to what I’m saying.

I didn’t go ashore in Belgium, I decided to stay onboard and take advantage of a quiet ship and some down time. This was when I discovered the mini-golf course had been removed. I walked all the outer decks and then made my way through the inside of the ship and the memories of good times came flooding back.

Food is not something I can claim to “do”. I’m not a chef or expert critic, I actually can’t stand cooking, but I like to eat and I know good quality ingredients when I taste them, and you’ll get nothing but the best on any Saga ship. Our Executive Chef for this cruise was George Streeter. He and I have met on several sailings, so I knew the food was going to be an issue for me (by issue I mean I wouldn’t be able to stop eating it) and that proved to be the case. I had curry, steak, lobster tail, fish and chips, and so much more.

During my final evening onboard, I dined in East to West with Captain Horne and several others. East to West is the ships speciality restaurant and every guest is welcome to try it, free of charge, at least once per sailing. The menu was new for me this time, so I was looking forward to demolishing some unfamiliar dishes, and as I can’t do anything by halves, I asked to sample several. To start, I combined the pan-fried chilli-ginger scallops with satay chicken and lemon grass skewers. To follow, I ordered green tea marinated XL king prawns and combined that with a taste of the six spice grilled Angus beef with an oriental herb sauce. The entire meal was exquisite; one of the best I’ve had in East to West and as you can see, the prawns were enormous!

I spent more time in the Drawing Room during this cruise than I had on previous sailings. It’s located on Deck 11 forward and offers lovely panoramic views. The design is like that of a living room, so it’s warm, cosy and it turned out to be the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. I went ashore in Amsterdam, it’s one of my favourite places, but it was so incredibly cold and windy, I just wanted to get back to the warmth and comfort of Saga Sapphire. I took my friend to a few places that she’d not visited during her last trip to the Dutch city and then we headed back “home”. We plonked ourselves down in the Drawing Room (just as the rain began to fall) with a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, cup of tea each and some biscuits. It was the ideal way to spend a grey and damp Sunday afternoon and I loved it. The only thing that could have made it better was being there in my pyjamas.

Saga Sapphire is a ship for everyone and she’s been one of my favourites since we first met. I always feel so comfortable onboard, I meet interesting people and I know if I ever needed anything, her crew would be there in an instant to help. Although she will be leaving the Saga fleet in 2020, I will be cruising on her again before then and on that note, if there’s one ship you think about trying next year, please make it Saga Sapphire. Let her leave you with the incredible memories of fascinating adventures, just like the ones she’s going to be leaving with me.

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Posted in New To Cruising, Saga Cruises

Celebrity Edge Arrives In Port Everglades

The game-changing Celebrity Edge has officially arrived at the new home of modern luxury – Port Everglades’ Terminal 25 (T25) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida – following the ship’s first-ever, 15-day transatlantic crossing.

Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Richard D. Fain, said: “The arrival of Celebrity Edge today book-ends a major chapter in the growth of Celebrity Cruises. It’s the culmination of years of dreaming, designing and dedication to bring this magnificent ship to life. A new era is truly upon us.”

Adorning the decks as Celebrity Edge entered the channel for the first time, more than 1,400 excited crew members waved to a sea of shoreside colleagues who gathered to welcome the ship and her crew to their new home at an exclusive welcome event hosted at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center — a fitting debut for Celebrity Cruises’ first new ship in six years and the first of a new class in more than a decade.

After the arrival of Celebrity Edge at T25, Lutoff-Perlo and Fain then hosted a grand opening ceremony in the revolutionary new terminal. Attended by key brand executives and esteemed local officials, the dramatic ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official grand opening of the first terminal designed exclusively for Celebrity Cruises, dubbed the new home of modern luxury.

Brought to life in collaboration with Port Everglades, Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. and Moss Construction, T25 melds a stunning, warmly inviting design with unique technology, such as Expedited Arrival, which will make the check-in process absolutely seamless, as well as an interactive light wall art installation. T25 will also offer suite-only The Retreat guests a singular experience along the path to The Retreat, with an exclusive lounge, elevator lobbies, screening areas and even a private rooftop terrace.

Celebrity Edge embarked on the more-than 4,000-mile transatlantic voyage from the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, on 4 November 2018, with more than 1,400 crew members on board. Along the way, the cutting-edge new ship visited ports in the Azores, Portugal, and Freeport, Bahamas.

Celebrity Edge begins her inaugural season sailing alternating seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruise itineraries, with her Maiden Western Caribbean voyage departing on 9 December 2018, and her Maiden Eastern Caribbean voyage departing on 16 December 2018. Then, in spring of 2019, Celebrity Edge crosses the Atlantic again to offer guests stunning vistas of the Mediterranean with a range of seven- to 11-night sailings visiting iconic cities, including Barcelona and Rome.

 

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Posted in Celebrity Cruises, Cruise News

Saga Reveals Spirit Of Adventure’s ‘Separate Identity’

Second new ship to feature ‘bold and adventurous’ style plus a Nepalese speciality restaurant inspired by Gurkha heritage

New artist’s impressions of Saga Cruises’ second new ship Spirit of Adventure which launches in summer 2020 reveal a confident, bold and adventurous style – with a selection of speciality restaurants including Khukuri House, a restaurant serving a modern take on traditional Nepalese cuisine that has been inspired by Gurkha heritage.

While 999-passenger Spirit of Adventure will be the same shape and size as sister ship Spirit of Discovery (launching July 10, 2019), their strong, individual interior designs will create ‘separate identities’ says Saga’s New Build Director David Pickett.

London design agency AD Associates has been appointed to provide the overall design direction for Spirit of Adventure.

The Living Room

At the heart of the ship, The Living Room will feature a bar serving coffee, cakes and gelato during the day and cocktails at night. The architectural design will be strong and angular with a sculptural staircase and a full-height artwork as the backdrop.

 

Khukuri House

Striking traditional artwork will be a feature of Khukuri House which will serve authentic Nepalese cuisine inspired by Gurkha heritage. A vibrant colour palette will transfer to the furnishings and the artwork style of a region called madhabani, characterised by eye-catching geometrical patterns. Subtle room dividers have been influenced by Nepalese fabric dhaka while lighting pays homage to the traditional dress of Nepalese women.

The Amalfi
This refined and sophisticated space will provide an authentic Italian experience from the moment guests step inside the restaurant. Design features include marble, brass-trimmed floor-to-ceiling wine cabinets, a four-colour tiled floor, up-lit screens and bold splashes of colour with red leather chairs.

Cabins
Cabins will feature three main styles – one calming, light and garden-like, echoing elements of the British countryside with light timbers and a pastel green colour palette, plus beautifully embroidered fabrics.

The second group of cabins will incorporate a luxurious, sophisticated colour palette of greys and dark timbers, accented with pinks and oranges on the furnishings and the carpet. The dark timber bed back-panel will feature an opulent upholstered headboard.

Finally, the third will be reminiscent of sunset scenes: calming neutral tones, highlighted with warming burnt oranges. A sumptuous, upholstered headboard teamed with layered fabrics, piping and detailed stitching on the soft furnishings will further enhance the space.

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Windstar Cruises To Stretch Star Class Vessels In $250 Million Refurbishment

Windstar Cruises has announced the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative, a major investment and expansion for the innovative cruise company. The multi-million dollar, multi-year undertaking will impact and enhance all aspects of the guest experience for the highly awarded small ship cruise line’s three Star Class vessels.

The initiative will expand guest accommodations on the boutique line’s three all-suite vessels increasing capacity from 212 passengers to 312 guests per ship, following the lengthening. The work will be done to Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride in succession between October 2019 and November 2020, and take place at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. The project represents an overall capacity increase of 24% for the small ship line.

The project is expected to be partially financed through an export credit facility guaranteed by SACE, Italy’s export credit agency.

Each Star Class ship will be cut to allow the installation of a new section of ship that will lengthen each vessel approximately 25.6 meters bringing the total length to just over 138 meters, still the right size to access the smaller ports and harbours that Windstar favours on the line’s immersive itineraries. The project adds 50 new suites, bringing the total number of suites per ship to 156, and represents an investment of more than $267,000 per passenger berth.

Also involved in the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative is the creation of state-of-the-art public spaces including two new dining locations; new shop and retail space; a much enlarged fitness centre; and a new world-class spa.

In addition to the impressive scale of work to be done, the renovation includes a comprehensive
re-engine project for each ship. This complex undertaking is an uncommon occurrence in the cruise industry and involves the removal of seven current engines and installation of four new, more environmentally friendly engines that will run on cleaner fuel and reduce emissions impact to sailing regions.

NEW: 50 New Suites, New Dining Venues, New Spa & Fitness Areas Take Center Stage

Windstar has partnered with acclaimed designer Ray Chung, Director of Design at The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry in New York, to create modern and inviting design aesthetics for the new public spaces and new suites.

Among new guest amenities and accommodations in the planning phase are:

  • 50 new suites featuring new suite categories and open floor plan configurations.
  • Creation of two brand new, larger Owner’s Suites, that combines existing suites to create up to a three-bedroom, two-balcony suite – the first of its kind in the cruise industry.
  • Two brand new dining experiences including: an intimate, alternative dining restaurant, and a casual barbecue space adjacent to the top deck Star Bar, perfect for outdoor grilling during Windstar’s Signature Onboard Barbecue celebration or enjoying while spending time on deck.
  • Expanded Veranda Restaurant to offer significantly more ocean-view seating and upgraded dining area.
  • For existing suites, all-new bathrooms and installation of new sliding doors for the Balcony Suites.
  • Larger pool and hot tub that will be reconfigured and elevated offering outstanding views, along with more and enhanced outdoor deck area for relaxing and sun-bathing.
  • A completely re-imagined and enlarged spa and fitness centre to invigorate active guests.
  • A new elevator mid-ship, making access to all decks easy from anywhere on board.
  • A comfortable, new tender loading area located mid-ship and two new 90-passenger tenders that will ferry guests to port when ships are at anchor.

In addition, ship staff and crew areas and accommodations will be expanded and upgraded. Additional crew will be hired and the increase will maintain the line’s impressive 1.5:1 guest to hotel staff ratio.

As planning on the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative progresses, additional details about the extensive work to be done, new onboard experiences, and new partnerships will be revealed and highlighted in news announcements and on a dedicated microsite that will launch in 2019.

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Hurtigruten’s MS Richard With To Receive Extreme Makeover

More comfort, new technology and better views of the spectacular Norwegian coast. The single largest upgrade project in Hurtigruten’s history will see the MS Richard With emerge as a brand new ship.

This week the custom built polar vessel enters drydock at Norway’s Fosen Yard for a one-month full upgrade of all cabins, suites and guest areas.

And it is just the beginning: This is the first of the two-step upgrade that will transform the custom built polar water vessel to one of the most modern and environmentally friendly cruise ships in the world.

Over the course of the next two years, Hurtigruten will replace diesel propulsion with large battery packs and green LNG (liquefied natural gas) engines on MS Richard With and at least five others of its existing ships.

The major upgrade of MS Richard With – which will operate Hurtigruten’s legendary and original Bergen – Kirkenes voyage – will see a number of new features being added to the ship:

  • All staterooms and suites will be fully upgraded to match Hurtigruten’s new standards. On deck 6, a number of cabins will be merged into 14 larger suites, some with large bay windows and spectacular views.
  • In addition to a full makeover, the aft-facing Torget main restaurant will be fitted with large deck-to-ceiling windows.
  • The Brygga bistro found on other Hurtigruten ships will be replaced by an upgraded and larger arcade and a brand-new Activity Center, which will act as the on-board headquarter for Hurtigruten’s Expedition Team.
  • Kysten Fine Dining – serving innovative dishes based on high quality, local produce such as ultra-fresh seafood – will appear slightly different from other Hurtigruten ships, and also be open for a la carte lunch.
  • The gym on deck 7 will be enlarged, the sauna upgraded and two aft-facing outdoor hot tubs will be added.
  • Two new lecture halls will be added forward on deck 4, in conjunction to the open Kompass information and shopping area, where guests can enjoy exclusive offers on outdoor clothing and other items.
  • On deck 7, the informal and hugely popular Hurtigruten venue Multe Bakery – serving freshly baked cakes and pastries, smørbrød (open sandwiches with generous amounts of topping), smoothies, a large assortment of local ice cream with homemade toppings, premium coffee, organic herbal tea, and premium juice will be added.
  • The forward-facing Explorer Lounge and Panorama Bar will offer a unique atmosphere and the best views on the ship – with front-row seats for enjoying the Northern Lights, Midnight Sun, wildlife and nature as it passes by.
  • On the more technical side, the ship will also undergo several upgrades – including installment of shore power facilities and a new air condition system.

The major refurbishment of MS Richard With, named after Hurtigruten’s founder, marks the end of Hurtigruten’s 125th anniversary.

After a recent order for a third, revolutionary hybrid powered expedition cruise ship, Hurtigruten operates a growing fleet of 17 custom built expedition ships.

Exploring unique destinations from pole to pole, including Antarctica, South America, Norway, Svalbard, Greenland, Northwest Passage and other Arctic destinations, Hurtigruten is the world’s largest expedition cruise operator.

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Virgin Voyages Reveals Revolutionary Restaurant Options For Scarlet Lady

Virgin Voyages has announced the breadth of its onboard eateries, which include an expansive array of restaurants ranging from haute cuisine to casual fare. With a total of 20+ food choices onboard Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady, the company released new designs for their restaurants, seaside lounges and casual eateries by their Creative Collective, which includes world-renowned designers from Roman and Williams, Tom Dixon, Concrete Amsterdam and Soft Room, amongst others.

Virgin Voyages does not believe in paying more for great food and ditched the traditional up-charges levied when dining in speciality restaurants at sea. Virgin Voyages has designed all eateries on board to offer exceptional made to order eats and opted to include all restaurant food in the voyage fare.

The Virgin Voyages Rebellious Luxe experience is rooted in the modern romance of sailing: a thoroughly new take on the formal grandeur and opulence of the ocean liner heyday when ships were at the forefront of both technology and luxury.

Virgin Voyages will offer sailors a uniquely elevated and boutique Adult-by-Design experience for the 18+ traveler. Virgin Voyages aims to be one of the cleanest fleets at sea, with a ban on single-use plastics for its sailors and no buffet on board the ship, the company will significantly reduce waste and reinvest savings into clean technology and quality products for its sailors. The Scarlet Lady is designed to reflect a yacht’s sleek luxury and will set sail from Port Miami for the 2020 season with 2,770 sailors and 1,160 crew on an unforgettable journey to the Caribbean, she will also be the newest ship sailing to Havana on select voyages.

THE RESTAURANTS

Virgin Voyages will bring city-like eating to sea and throw out the traditional cruise dining rule book, with no buffet, no main dining room, no forced formal wear, no assigned seating, no assigned dining times and enhanced the choice for sailors to grab a bite by keeping restaurant doors open until well into the night and in some cases the early hours of the morning.

With beautifully designed eateries setting the stage, Virgin Voyages expanded its Creative Collective to include the world class AvroKO Hospitality Group and their very own Michelin starred chef Brad Farmerie, to help curate the company’s food concepts and strategy. AvroKo Hospitality Group’s claims to fame include Saxon + Parole, Genuine Liquorette, Ghost Donkey and the former New York icon Public.
From experimental and haute cuisine to healthy quick bite options, the onboard eateries are tailored for sailors to realize new experiences that are grounded in core values of discovery, transformation, intimate connections and Vitamin Sea – the brand’s approach to well-being for people and the planet – whilst always being never normal.

Sailors can dine at a table or opt to enjoy their meal at the bar, with nearly all restaurants on board featuring a bar. Each restaurant will be helmed by a leading chef who leads their kitchen with passion and artfulness. With a made-to-order philosophy around food, Virgin Voyages pledges to never have to sacrifice quality for a quick bite.

  • WAKE- Designed by Roman and Williams, Wake offers sailors a dramatic view of the ship’s wake. Serving a theatrical take on steak and seafood, Wake is the most glamorous restaurant on the ship inspired by The Wolseley – London and The Grill – New York, a dramatic grand staircase.
  • RAZZLE DAZZLEWith an interior scheme that nods to the namesake, the bold camouflaging of ships from WWI using patterns of black and white paint, Razzle Dazzle was designed by Concrete Amsterdam. With vibrant and creative twists on vegetarian fare and a juice bar. The “nice” menu offers plant-based vegetarian and vegan dishes including must have munchies such as the Impossible Burger. The “naughty” side enables sailors to order meat “add-ons” and offers to spike their healthy smoothies with boozy shots. To live up to the boldness of its name, Razzle Dazzle will not simply brunch but rather Drag Brunch, where sailors are treated to a performance by the Scarlet Lady’s resident drag performer and friends.
  • THE TEST KITCHEN Designed by Concrete Amsterdam and inspired by Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine, this laboratory-like eatery is part cooking school and part restaurant, making it the ultimate place for discovery through cuisine with an atmosphere that is educational, experiential and social all in one. The chef-driven set menus are presented in the form of an ingredient list to Sailors who will discover how the chef combines the list of flavours throughout the course of the meal.
  • GEONBAE- Geonbae, the equivalent of the expression bottoms up in Korean, is a Korean BBQ restaurant designed by Soft Room. Hosted by the loudest servers at sea, each meal will begin with a complimentary round of soju for the table and throughout the evening sailors are encouraged to take part in lively Korean drinking games.
  • PINK AGAVE- An elevated Mexican restaurant designed by Tom Dixon, Pink Agave transports sailors to the vibrant streets of Mexico City through immersive void lighting. Offering a wide variety of Mexican specialities that inspire sailors to discover authentic Mexican flavors including tlayudas, memelas, sopes, tortas, esquites, and tamales.
  • EXTRA VIRGIN- Extra Virgin is the ships trattoria serving regionally-inspired and approachable food, deeply rooted in Italian culinary traditions with handmade fresh pasta made daily. A meal begins with shared antipasti followed by approachable pasta-centric favourites.
  • DOCK- Set in the ship’s sun-dappled lounging area at the aft of the ship on deck 7, The Dock is a beach club-inspired space designed by Roman and Williams. Carts of Mediterranean small plates, salads, dips and mezzes provide perfect grazing options throughout the day.
  • THE GALLEY- Modelled on popular food halls where visitors can taste a cornucopia from different restaurants, The Galley will be the main space for the quick and casual meal throughout the day. The food hall will feature a mix of more than eight shops and food carts, each offering a unique concept with irresistible signature dishes that changes to suit the time of day. The Galley’s concepts include a dedicated bakery and pastry shop, a panini shop, a burger grill, a taco shack, a sushi bar with bento boxes, a noodle bar, a soup and salad stand, and a 24-hour American diner.
  • THE PIZZA PLACE- Sailors can choose from the classic menu, or allow them to design their very own own bespoke pizza and pies.

More details on the new lifestyle brand’s experiences will be revealed throughout the coming year.

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Oceania Cruises Unveils NEW Land Tours

Oceania Cruises, the world’s leading culinary- and destination-focused cruise line unveiled more than 80 land tour options for discerning travellers to choose from.  These new offerings are the line’s most extensive to date and include pre, post- and mid-cruise options in Australia, Asia, Africa, Egypt and the Holy Land, Europe, South America, Alaska and Canada.

Glistening Glaciers, Private Game Reserves, and Royal Treasures

With 86 pre, post- and mid-cruise land tours to choose from, travellers have myriad opportunities to explore great and historic cities, visit fabled landmarks and witness spectacles of nature up close and personal.

Ranging from one night to five nights in length, offerings vary from overnight packages in the world’s most exciting metropolises to overland explorations to Angkor Wat and Chang Mai, luxury safaris on Africa’s most sought-after private reserves or ventures into the Swiss and Italian Alps or the Arabian Desert and even an expedition into the Himalayan Mountains to legendary Kathmandu and Mount Everest.

Highlights

Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal and Mount Everest  This four-night expedition centres on Mumbai and Kathmandu and includes a flightseeing over Mount Everest as well as visits to Patan, Bhadgaon City, Bodhnath Stupa and Pashupatinath.  Guests will have a private audience at the Living Goddess, visit a Tibetan monastery and attend an evening prayer ritual.

Taj Mahal: Eternal Masterpiece – Available as a two- or three-night package, this overland tour reveals the splendours and history of one of the world’s most fabled architectural masterpieces which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.  In addition to visiting the Taj at dawn and dusk, other highlights include visits to the Agra Fort and Itmad-Ud-Daulah and a classic Kathak dance performance at the hotel in Agra.

Luxury Safari: White Elephant Safari Lodge – Perfect for those with a limited amount of time, this overnight at the White Elephant includes two game drives, guided nature walks, afternoon tea and sundowners, along with birdwatching at dusk or a cruise on Lake Jozini.  Just under 75,000 acres in size, the lodge features eight luxurious private tents with indulgent bathrooms and private verandas.

Luxury Safari: Belmond Eagle Island Lodge – Located in the heart of the Okavango Delta, game drives will get you up close and personal with elephants, hippos, crocodiles, big cats and more.  The lodge itself is modern and luxurious and offers a refined and sophisticated safari lifestyle.  In addition to the two nights at the game lodge, the programme includes one night each in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Glaciers, Lagoons & Waterfalls – Focusing on the natural wonders of Iceland, this tour offers opportunities to experience the ice cave at Langjökull Glacier, ice-walk at Sólheimajökull and visit the waterfalls at Hraunfoss and Barnafoss, the hot spring at Deildartunguhver and to bathe in the legendary Blue Lagoon.  There’s also a fascinating culinary tour of Reykjavik along with overnight stays in Stracta and Husafell.

Royal London & The English Countryside – Combining the best of historic London with the charm of the English countryside, this three-night programme includes a visit to the Tower of London and viewing of the Crown Jewels along with the Changing of the Guard and a Thames River cruise.  Then it is off to the countryside to experience the storybook charm of the Cotswolds, Bibury and Burford along with the historic Roman Baths in Bath.

Rome & Tivoli Treasures – Delve deeper into the history and culture of the eternal city on this fascinating three-night tour.  Not only does it feature all of Rome’s highlights along with an insider’s tour of the Vatican Museum and Saint Peter’s Basilica with private access, it also features an in-depth look at the historic town of Tivoli and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Villa D’Este, a favourite respite of Emperor Augustus.

Canadian Rockies by Rocky Mountaineer – Featuring exclusive tours of Banff, Sulphur Mountain and Vancouver, this tour splits its time equally between the magical metropolis of Vancouver and the natural, majestic beauty of Banff.  The Rocky Mountaineer is the world’s largest private luxury train and along the way guests will experience their trademarkSliver Leaf Service which includes all gourmet meals and snacks.

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Posted in Cruise News, Oceania Cruises

Princess Cruises Unveils Standout Features And Itinerary for Enchanted Princess

Princess Cruises has announced that Enchanted Princess will be named in Southampton in June 2020 and sail her inaugural season in the Mediterranean. Princess has also unveiled new details revealing innovative features on board the ship.

As previously announced for its sister ship Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess will also feature the new Sky Suites, centrally located on the top deck of the ship and featuring the largest private balconies ever offered by Princess Cruises.Measuring 700 square feet, the balconies will provide a private vantage of the ship’s Movies under the Stars screen and create the ultimate space for entertaining. The two suites will also offer a 270-degree panorama and have sleeping capacity for five guests, and more for entertaining – making them ideal for families.

Debuting in the Mediterranean in June 2020, the 143,700-ton Enchanted Princess will include the best of the stunning new features found on Sky Princess including a Wakeview pool on its aft decks and relaxing Sanctuary area offering a new contemporary design with more private cabanas than ever before. In addition Enchanted Princess will offer standout features from its three other sister ships – Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess – including an Italian-inspired Piazza, dramatic over-the-ocean glass, Seawalk and Broadway-calibre shows performed in the Princess Theatre.

Some exciting new offerings that represent another evolution of the current ships’ designs on Enchanted Princess will be a re-imagined Salty Dog Gastropub. The rustic pub space will be an exciting new venue where guests can watch sporting events, gather with friends over drinks and small bites, and partake in the award-winning Ernesto Burger, created by chef partner, Ernesto Uchimura, a founding chef of the original Umami Burger and owner of the new Los Angeles based neighbourhood restaurant and bar, Electric Owl.

Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, Princess Cruises acclaimed specialty restaurant, will also be transformed. The space will blend classic Italian accents with the spaciousness of a modern, contemporary setting featuring unique handmade pasta courses developed in collaboration with Los Angeles chef Angelo Auriana that will be prepared fresh daily.

The Princess Live! and Café will have a new art deco-style décor where guests can enjoy their favourite drinks and small bites while watching live performances or enjoying an intimate gathering.

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Which Cruise Line Is Right For You?

Which cruise line is right for you? That really is a tough question, especially if this is your first time considering a cruise, so let me make this a little easier.

I have broken down into individual sections some of the most popular things people look for when booking a cruise, for example, best cruise lines for food, best cruise lines for families and best cruise lines for spas – this should make your holiday planning a whole lot easier.

Best Cruise Lines for Families

These are some of the cruise lines that cater perfectly for families. If you want a family holiday where the next generation are entertained in the kids clubs and you can relax, then P&O Cruises or Princess Cruises would be a great choice. If you would rather have a ship that offers out of this world on board facilities – and I mean that quite literally – then your best options would be Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, or Carnival Cruise Line.

  • P&O Cruises
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • Disney Cruise Line

Best Cruise Lines for Luxury

If ultra-luxury and more included options are top of your list, then look no further. Below are some of the most luxurious cruise lines in the world. The majority of them are all-inclusive, meaning that the fare price is the only price you pay.

  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Silversea
  • Seabourn
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
  • Cunard
  • SeaDream Yacht Club

Best Cruise Lines for Food

If a big aspect of your travel experiences involve food then you MUST consider one of the following. They serve some of the finest cuisine at sea and even offer food themed voyages.

A food themed cruise is the ideal opportunity for you to combine two of your loves – food and travel – into one unforgettable journey. A food themed cruise will usually offer ship-based experiences including tasting sessions, cooking lessons and expert talks, whilst the shore side aspect can often include excursions ashore with celebrity chefs and visits to local produce farms and food markets.

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • P&O Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Silversea
  • Princess Cruises
  • Viking Ocean
  • Saga Cruises

Best Cruise Lines for Spa and Wellness

Sit back and relax in some of the best spas afloat. If you want to truly immerse yourself in pampered luxury throughout the duration of your cruise then you have come to the right place. These cruise lines offer some of the finest spas at sea alongside options to further enhance the spa experience including dedicated spa staterooms and suites.

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Seabourn
  • Cunard
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Regent Seven Seas

Best Cruise Lines for Wine

You don’t have to be a fine wine connoisseur to enjoy a wine themed cruise. Visit vineyards, learn all there is to learn about wine with the onboard Sommelier, and sample some of the world’s finest reds and whites. These cruise lines offer voyages with some of the best wine options at sea.

  • Silversea
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • P&O Cruises
  • Cunard

Best Cruise Lines for Adventure

Go deeper than the average shore excursion and really immerse yourself in each and every destination. If off-the-beaten-track explorations, volunteering opportunities and overnight stays in port are high on your list of must have’s then look no further.

  • Silversea
  • Seabourn
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Voyages to Antiquity

Best Cruise Lines for Entertainment

Cruise ships offer entertainment far better than you would find at a land based resort – each year there is something brand new and exciting to showcase. From West End style musicals to illusionists, magicians, comedians and live music, it’s all available at sea. Each ships offering varies, but we have noted some of the extra special ones below.

  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • P&O Cruises
  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Crystal Cruises

Best Cruise Lines for Accommodation Options

Getting your onboard accommodation right is just as important as getting the ship right, after all it is going to be your home for next several days. Just about every accommodation type you can imagine is available at sea, from the comfortable and cosy inside cabin, to a two-floored apartment – these are the cruise lines that offer the widest variety of options and some of the BEST accommodations afloat.

  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Cunard
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Seabourn
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • P&O Cruises

Best Cruise Lines for Solo Travellers

Solo cruising has increased massively in recent years and cruise lines are offering more options than ever before for the solo traveller. This includes accommodation choices, solo get together opportunities and shore excursion options.

  • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
  • Saga Cruises
  • Voyages to Antiquity
  • Cunard
  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • Viking Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • P&O Cruises
  • Cruise & Maritime Voyages

Best Cruise Lines for River Cruising

Maybe you want to leave the ocean behind completely and instead spend a tranquil week sailing along some of the world’s best rivers, if this is the case then we recommend the following river cruise lines.

  • AmaWaterways
  • Viking River Cruises
  • Scenic Tours
  • Avalon Waterways
  • Emerald Waterways
  • Tauck
  • Shearings
  • Pandaw
  • Sonesta Nile Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises

This list doesn’t include all available options, but it should at least set you off in the right direction to finding your ideal cruise line and ship. If you’re thinking of embarking on your first cruise, then my New to Cruising section may answer some of your questions.

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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines launches New ‘Closer To The Real Caribbean’ ‘Voluntourism’ Shore Experiences In 2019

Following the success of last year’s fundraising across its fleet in support of the Caribbean hurricane relief effort – when generous guests donated over £25,000 to this very worthy cause – Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has pledged to provide shore tours that take in experiences ‘away from the traditional tourist trail’ on its Caribbean itineraries in 2019.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused severe devastation to much of the Caribbean in September 2017 – and Fred. Olsen guests were keen to support the rebuilding of an area of the world that is so close to their hearts.

Examples of two of Fred. Olsen’s new specially-created Caribbean ‘voluntourism’ shore experiences in 2019 include:

Saint Lucia School Visit

  • Make a valuable contribution to a Caribbean community with this unique opportunity to visit a local school
  • Spend time interacting with the children of the Babonneau community
  • ‘Go back to school’ and participate in lessons
  • Enjoy a scenic drive through the island’s countryside

Guests will visit a local school and participate in classes, including assisting students in the School’s vegetable garden, which is used to provide their daily lunches.

Depart from the port of Castries for a scenic drive to the north of the island, through lush rainforest, to the community of Babonneau, and the Fond Assau Primary School. The School officially opened its doors in 1968, and since then has strived to make a difference to the lives of families residing in the Font Assau community, working assiduously to become a ‘Child Friendly School of Choice’.

On arrival, guests will be met by the School Principal, and will be welcomed by the smiling faces of students, aged between 5 and 13 years old. Guests will have the opportunity to spend time in their classes, participating in singing and dancing; or even outside in the School’s greenhouse, planting and harvesting produce, such as lettuce, cabbage and cucumbers. Each class is responsible for choosing and planting the vegetables, which are then used in dishes prepared by, and for, the students, as part of the School’s meal provision.

Guests can assist in the preparation of the day’s harvest, and sample the fruits of their labours, before bidding a fond farewell to their hosts.

Before returning to Castries and rejoining Braemar, guests will enjoy a sightseeing drive through the stunning local countryside.

Dominica Trail Clean-up & ‘Keepin’It Real’ Experience

  • A wonderful opportunity to contribute to Dominica’s post-hurricane recovery
  • Assist in the restoration of hiking trails on the island’s tallest mountain
  • Savour a delicious lunch, and relax on the beach at Toucari

In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Dominica. More than one year on, the recovery process continues – and this tour offers a chance for Fred. Olsen guests to play their part in helping to rebuild one of the island’s many nature trails.

Syndicate Nature Trail is located at the foot of Morne Diablotins – Dominica’s tallest mountain – in the central northern part of the island. This is considered to be one of the best oceanic rainforests within the Lesser Antilles, and is home to the Sisserou Parrot – also known as ‘The Pride of Dominica’ – its national bird.

The trail is a one-hour drive from the capital, Roseau. After a welcome briefing, guests will take up machetes and ‘weed whackers’ to clear the paths of vegetation on the Trail, gather litter and remove debris, including branches and rocks that were deposited during the Category Five hurricane.

With a feeling of accomplishment, guests will continue to the fishing village of Toucari, travelling along the coast. During their journey, guests may glimpse some of the remnants of the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, as they make their way to ‘Keepin’It Real’ – a local bar and restaurant, renowned for its fresh fish dishes prepared with the delicious ‘Catch of the Day’.

Revitalised, guests will then have the chance to relax on the beach, swim in the turquoise waters or snorkel, paddleboard or kayak, before returning to Roseau and Braemar.

Fred. Olsen will be offering a wide variety of exciting and authentic Caribbean fly-cruises in 2019 on board its smaller, friendlier cruise ship, Braemar, ranging from a 31-night ‘Transatlantic Crossing & Caribbean Christmas’ sailing, departing from Southampton in January, to a 14-night island-hopping adventure in the ‘The Eastern Caribbean’, via Bridgetown, Barbados, in December.

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