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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Posted in Cruise News, Windstar Cruises

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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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.

There is still time to vote for me in the Wave Awards 2019 as ‘Favourite Cruise Blogger’. It takes a few minutes to click the box and you could win some amazing prizes!

 

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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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Celebrity Cruises Takes Delivery Of Celebrity Edge

Following more than four years of planning and 23 months of construction at the skilled hands of thousands of engineers, architects, artisans, designers, contractors, shipyard employees, and the new-build and Celebrity Cruises teams, today the modern luxury cruise line officially took delivery of Celebrity Edge, representing a truly historic occasion for Celebrity Cruises and the cruise industry.

As part of the monumental moment, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain and Celebrity Cruises’ president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo hosted a ceremony on board Celebrity Edge, while docked in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The Celebrity Cruises executive team was also in attendance along with shipyard officials, including general manager Laurent Castaing, and 1,377 crew members from 72 different countries.

Following the Celebrity Edge cheque-signing and delivery ceremony, attendees made their way across the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard for the ceremonial keel laying ofCelebrity Apex, where a 762-ton block was lifted in the air and a lucky coin was placed on the dock before the block was lowered into position.

On 6 November 2018, Celebrity Edge will begin her transatlantic voyage to her home port at T25 at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Her inaugural season will be spent 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.

Bookings for Celebrity Edge are now open. Celebrity Edge will be joined by her sister ship, Celebrity Apex, in 2020, and two additional ships in the Edge Series will follow in 2021 and 2022.

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Posted in Celebrity Cruises, Cruise News

The Inaugural ROL Cruise Survey: My Take

ROL recently published a post on their website about a cruise survey they had been working on. They asked over 500 cruise enthusiasts 9 cruise related questions and the results are very interesting.

Usually, I’m not a big fan of surveys, but I really did enjoy reading this post and seeing what is hot and what is clearly not. ROL did ask me for my comment on several of the findings, but I’m going to go over each question and share my views and what I would have chosen.

What is your dream cruise destination?

The Caribbean came out top for this and as I mentioned in my quote, I’m not surprised. I adore the Caribbean, but I was shocked to see that the Indian Ocean came in last. I’ve never been, but it looks incredible. I suppose it really is each to their own.

Who would you rather cruise with?

With family and with a partner both ranked top for the results from this survey. As I don’t have children and am single, I’d go with the friend or solo option. I always enjoy cruising solo, because you meet so many fun and interesting people. Sometimes though, some trips are better with friends and it is always nice to have someone to share experiences with.

On port days do you prefer excursions, exploring on your own, or staying on board?

Of course, excursions came out on top but only very slightly. 50.4% of people prefer to take an organised excursion, but surprisingly 46.61% of people prefer to explore independently. Personally, I enjoy a bit of both. If it’s a long tour, I’ll often book something through the cruise line. If the ship is in the same port for longer than 1 day, I’ll likely book something with a local guide that leads on into the evening. I always want to get the most out of every place that I visit.

How far would you be willing to travel for a cruise?

38.05% of people said any port around the world, which did surprise me, however, 37.25% of people said they would prefer any UK port. They are my kind of people. I don’t like to fly, so I tend to sail ex-UK cruises only. If I can get to a port in another country without flying there then I will make the effort. I’ve sailed several times from Amsterdam because I can get the ferry to Ijmuiden from where I live.

If you were planning on booking a cruise, which of these would be most important to you?

The choices were: price, itinerary, reputation of the cruise line, ship amenities, possibility of controlling spending, departure port, profile of cruisers and the amount of time in port.

The price came out on top at 37.47%. I’m not surprised by this, we all want to find the holiday bargains. I also wasn’t surprised that itinerary choice came out second. I tend to spend more time these days looking at itineraries than I do the cruise line or ship, with a small exception, but I was hugely surprised to see that for just 1.2% of people, the actual time spent in port was a factor in their cruise booking. The more time you have in port, the more time you have to explore, so if itinerary is a big part of your decision, I think the time you get to spend in those destinations should also factor in, big time.

Which of these statements best describes the goal of your next holiday?

“Visiting destinations I’ve been to and want to return to” – 16.14%

“Visiting destinations I’ve never been to but want to visit” – 81.08%

“Visiting destinations I’ve never heard of” – 2.79%

If I had been asked this, I would be completely greedy because where possible, I want to try and get all 3 from each cruise experience. There are places I have visited that I simply cannot wait to visit again, destinations I am desperate to go and see for myself, and there are always wild card ports that we’ve never heard of that sometimes turn out to be the most exciting.

What type of cruise appeals to you the most?

The choices were: ocean cruise, world cruise, river cruise, expedition cruise and mini-cruise.

My two favourites came out on top, ocean cruise followed closely by the world cruise. For me, any cruise is good so long as I am on a ship. Having recently completed a world cruise with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, I can say from first-hand experience that if you have the opportunity to embark on one, don’t even give it a second though, pack your bags and go. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been fortunate enough to do from beginning to end and I have memories that will last me a lifetime.

Have you found love on a cruise holiday?

This is the sweetest question of all, but 75.1% of those asked said no. Which I can understand, but I’ve been on several sailings where I’ve seen love blossom between passengers. I’ve also met many people that have met their other half on an earlier cruise.

Have you ever gained weight on a cruise holiday?

I don’t think I need to give you the statistics for the top answer to this one, but 16.73% of people said they had lost weight. I know, some will find that totally absurd, but I tend to lose weight when I cruise. I eat far better on a ship than I do at home, so it really isn’t difficult for me to lose weight when I cruise. I also tend to not overindulge on the sweet treats, although I do slip up occasionally. I also find now if I am visiting destinations that are incredibly hot and humid, my appetite is massively subdued, and I’d rather have something cool, quick and light, such as tuna with a little past.

So, that’s my input on every question, but I’d love to know what your answers would be to some of these questions? Don’t forget, you can comment below and if you’d like to see the entire survey in full, visit the ROL website.

There is still time to vote for me in the Wave Awards 2019 as ‘Favourite Cruise Blogger’. It takes a few minutes to click the box and you could win some amazing prizes!

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Posted in Cruise News, General Cruise Articles

P&O Cruises Recruits Global Experts For Britain’s Biggest Interior Design Challenge

P&O Cruises has begun Britain’s biggest interior design challenge, to furnish and decorate Iona, its newest ship to be launched in spring 2020. The ship, which itself is a visual spectacle will also be Britain’s biggest art gallery at sea with more than 4,600 works of art being commissioned for display.

Iona will benefit from the expertise of the world’s leading engineers, architects and designers; brought together for the first time to create a ship that will truly make the sea the star with its vast glass walls giving panoramic views. Each expert is delivering exciting new innovations to enhance the guest experience on Britain’s newest flagship.

In a just released short film these seven luminaries shed light on their contribution to Iona, taking viewers deep into the collaborative process. From the design and build of the stunning glass SkyDome that is Iona’s crowning glory, to collecting millions of pounds worth of art to complement Iona’s naturally lit social spaces – each expert will help bring Iona to life, as the ship is under construction in Germany.

Those eager to know more about Iona can gain a valuable insight from those who are creating this stunning new ship. They’ll discover more about Iona’s wide decks and outside spaces and its light filled atrium framed by three storey high glass walls.

Among those contributing are:

P&O Cruises director of hotel design and projects, Alison Clixby: Heading up the team of experts and design process, Alison explains the inspiration and ideas behind Iona’s interiors and the challenges that come with furnishing a ship of such size.

Art curator, Tom Tempest-Radford: Tom, who also curated the collection on P&O Cruises Britannia, is currently sourcing the biggest collection of art for the largest ship ever created for the British market. The multi-million pound art collection is being curated by Tom to complement and enhance Iona’s interior designs and to give the feel of relaxed luxury. Much of the art takes its inspiration from the sea, the wonder of nature and the sense of being outdoors.

Richmond International director, Terry McGillicuddy: The company which is responsible for the overall interior design of Britannia is the expert behind the innovative Conservatory Mini-suites. Iona will have 95 of these suites when she launches in 2020 and each one will deliver a new experience for P&O Cruises guests, offering unparalleled views and a relaxing natural environment. The conservatory-style room gives an extension to the cabin, with greater flexibility and a distinct space for relaxation and socializing, whilst enjoying the connection to the sea and landscape.

Jestico + Whiles director, James Dilley: This is the first project in the cruise ship industry for the company which helped create W Hotel (London), Aqua Shard (restaurant in the Shard) and The Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi). Amongst many of the other key public areas, Jestico + Whiles is responsible for the Grand Atrium which will be at the heart of Iona, a lively and ever-changing focal point that encapsulates the exciting spirit of the ship. With triple height bay windows with panoramic views to the sea, the Grand Atrium unites three decks, served by an extraordinary spiralling silver and stone staircase, offering an exciting journey to a choice of “destinations.”

Meyer Werft shipyard managing director, Tim Meyer: Tim explains the intricacies of building Iona, the biggest ship for the British market at over 180,000 gross tons. Iona features P&O Cruises “green cruising” design. It is one of the first generation of cruise ships to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, which will significantly reduce emissions.

Partner Ship Design senior project manager, Franz-Josef Wolf: PSD is responsible for creating the multiple-use elements of SkyDome, which will offer a unique space whatever the weather. By day SkyDome will be the perfect place for relaxation and informal dining. By night it will come alive with spectacular aerial performances, immersive shows and deck parties.

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