New Friends And Different Cultures With Larry Lamb And Thomson Cruises

You may have seen Larry Lamb on your TV screen in favourites such as Eastenders, I’m a Celebrity and Gavin and Stacey, but he most recently popped up aboard Thomson Cruises newest ship ‘TUI Discovery 2’ and set off across the Mediterranean to uncover the beauty and interesting local people of Barcelona, Palma and Ibiza.

Larry’s journey was recorded every step of the way and three short films highlight his experiences in each port. The challenge was to meet a diverse mix of local people, in a world-first study conducted by Thomson Cruises and The Human Nature Research Lab at Yale University. These people would have a story to tell and would be known as ‘Cruise Mates’. The theory behind the study was that Brits who bond with up to five new people from different cultures whilst on holiday can experience a happiness boost of 10%, so they put that theory to the test. It might sound crazy, but I would have to agree with this. People are a big part of every cruise I embark upon. I want to see new places, experience new cultures and meet new people, so I was instantly interested in this little project and decided I had to share it with you.

Larry’s Cruise Mates: Barcelona

In cosmopolitan Barcelona, Larry set off to discover the city’s most authentic arts and culture. He explored the world-famous Boqueria market, where he began chatting to Junaito, the owner of Bar Pinotxo, which he runs with his nephew. Junaito then recommended Larry head to Palau Dalmases to discover the most authentic arts and culture scene. After a stroll down Las Ramblas, Larry was greeted by Christine Blanco Eslava and Raphael, who practice the traditional art of flamenco dance and music.

This was the video I could relate to the most, as I have been to Boqueria so many times. It brought back some great memories. If you are ever in Barcelona then please add the market to your list of things to see and do and be sure to buy some of the caramel almonds – delicious!

Larry’s Cruise Mates: Palma de Mallorca

In Palma de Mallorca, Larry was keen to discover a selection of outdoor pursuits within the historic and vibrant city. As a world-renowned destination for cycling, Larry took up a local recommendation and met Thelonious, a Mallorcan born cycling and hiking expert. Thelonious is one of the islands specialists in scenic cycling routes, and recently returned to his roots in Palma to preserve the history of the capital.

I’ve also visited Palma de Mallorca many times and as much as Larry seemed to have a great time, I’ll leave the cycling to him and Thelonious. I am so unfit, a walk around the town is enough for me to contend with, especially in the summer heat.

Larry’s Cruise Mates: Ibiza

In Ibiza, Larry went in search of the freshest seafood on the island. After veering off the beaten track, Larry arrived at a typical Spanish fishing harbour and met local fisherman Miguel, a native Ibizan who grew up in a traditional fishing family who dedicates his life to the sea, catching a variety of seafood that is sold to local restaurants and markets. Larry was then introduced to Ibiza’s best kept secret – ‘El Chiringuito de Dona Maria’, commonly known as ‘the Fish Shack’ – to prepare and cook lunch with owner, Samar.

My favourite of all Larry’s ports. I’ve visited Ibiza many times, but never cruised there, so I found this interesting. I  loved the authentic dining and fresh seafood that was highlighted.

I watched all 3 videos and instantly wanted to pack my bags and leave. I’m so inspired by travel and I love seeing pictures from all around the world and the big, happy smiles that go with them. Someone once said that “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” and I completely agree. We don’t need “things” in life, we need experiences, experiences that allow us to connect as human beings and teach each another new things. We need to laugh, eat and drink together, and make the world a better place.

Inspired? Why don’t you step ashore and find your Cruise Mates!

 

Posted in Cruise News, Thomson Cruises

Where To Wine And Dine Aboard Saga’s NEW Ship ‘Spirit Of Discovery’

Looking to try something completely different? Spirit of Discovery’s restaurants and bars will mean you’ll be able to do exactly that.

Coast to Coast

In a first for Saga, Spirit of Discovery will have her very own seafood restaurant, serving British and locally-sourced fish, shellfish and other fruits de mer. Offering a modern seafood dining experience, Coast to Coast will focus on minimalistic cooking that allows the food to speak for itself. So whether you want the ‘catch of the day’ simply grilled or pan fried, or have a palette for more adventurous tartare, ceviche and shellfish dishes, all will be on the menu. Classic yet contemporary, this restaurant will also be perfect for extravagant seafood feasts – ideal for celebrating a special occasion in style!

East to West

In East to West, the exciting Asian venue, taste buds will be tantalised by the flavours of the Orient, thanks to an array of authentic dishes and a frequently changing menu. Just like the original East to West restaurant on Saga Sapphire, this venue will offer an exclusive, dinner-only service every evening. Impeccably presented, chefs will bring to the table the full diversity and vibrancy of Asian cuisine, from classic favourites to those with a contemporary twist, such as sizzling beef fillet in Balinese sauce and blackened tilapia with fennel.

 

The Terrace

Spirit of Discovery will have an elegant garden area, the perfect outdoor drinks spot. A beautiful al fresco setting to relax, from The Terrace passengers will be able to enjoy the fresh air any time of the day. The Terrace will offer easy access to Spirit of Discovery’s fantastic, full-length promenade which will encircle the ship and offer the chance to enjoy walks in the sea air.

South Cape Bar

In a tribute to Saga’s cruising heritage, the ship’s main bar has been named after the same space on Saga Ruby, though styled like a high-end hotel bar. With a relaxed, friendly ambience, the South Cape Bar will be the perfect place to meet up with friends, relax with a glass of wine, craft beer or cocktail, and to unwind after a busy day in port exploring another amazing destination. It will also be used for occasional live sporting events, thanks to its large television screens, along with a programme of light evening entertainment.

Spirit of Discovery will be Saga Cruises’ first bespoke-built ship launching in Summer 2019 from the UK.  The small, luxury, boutique vessel will carry fewer than 1,000 passengers and will feature design cues from London’s finest hotels and restaurants, redefining standards in British cruising.

Posted in Cruise News, Saga Cruises

Cunard To Set Sail For QE2 50th Anniversary Celebrations

Cunard is honouring the 50th anniversary of its longest serving ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, with a special voyage onboard the luxury cruise liner Queen Elizabeth.

The 50th anniversary of this much-loved ship will be remembered as Queen Elizabeth sets sail from Southampton on Friday, September 8 for a 17-night voyage. Departing guests will enjoy Venice’s iconic canals, mythical Mount Etna in Sicily and Corfu’s leafy beauty.

Celebrations focus on five special theme days, each of which will be accompanied by QE2 inspired menus, talks from special guests, historical snippets in the daily programme, past-passenger gatherings and QE2 quizzes.

Themes include Moving in Royal Circles which looks back at the unique and special bond between QE2 and the Royal Family; The Falklands which acknowledges the ship’s service as a troop ship in the 1982 conflict; Triumph of a Great Tradition examining the QE2’s remarkable career achievements and the long history of Cunard ‘firsts’, and World Flagship in tribute to QE2’s 26 world cruises that made her an icon in cities across the globe.

Celebrations culminate on QE2 Day – September 20, 2017 – exactly 50 years since the ship was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Events will include a QE2 ball, and a historical retrospective of the ship’s service life to be hosted in Queen Elizabeth’s 850 seat Royal Court Theatre.

As part of Cunard’s renowned and award-winning Insights Speaker programme, a number of special guests connected to QE2 will be sailing onboard. One such guest is Captain Ian McNaught, QE2’s last Master, who said: “This voyage is a significant and timely tribute to the world’s best loved ship. QE2 remains the longest serving express liner in history. She carried 2.5 million passengers over 5.6 million miles; that’s further than any passenger ship – ever! This remarkable ship sailed alone on the North Atlantic for most of her career. She carried the Cunard tradition from the bygone era of the ocean liner and sustained it into the 21st century. The QE2 carried Royalty, celebrities and served in the Falklands War.”

He added: “What I remember most as her Master, were the passengers. Everyday people who saved up to experience life onboard the world’s best loved ship. Many came back time and time again. That is a tribute to the countless people who served as QE2’s crew, each one making the experience special and memorable. QE2 has been gone for nearly a decade now, however on her 50th anniversary the memory of her is strong. It is very fitting to be acknowledging the QE2’s remarkable career here onboard Queen Elizabeth.”

Other guests include Commodore R. W. Warwick who served as QE2’s Captain for 13 years; QE2 social hostess Maureen Ryan who served onboard the original Cunard Queens as well as Queen Mary 2; and maritime historian Chris Frame, author of a series of books about QE2 and Cunard.

The voyage departs Southampton on September 8 and returns September 25.

About QE2

QE2 was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 20 September 1967. The ship was the last large transatlantic liner built in the United Kingdom. During a service career of almost 40 years, the ship sailed over 5.6 million miles and carried more than 2.5 million passengers – record numbers that are yet to be broken. In 1982, QE2 was requisitioned for use in the Falklands War and sailed with 3,000 troops of the 5th Infantry Brigade. QE2 was a favourite of the Royal Family having entertained HM. The Queen, HRH. The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH. Prince Charles and HRH Princess Diana to name just a few. During the ship’s career, she sailed on 26 world cruises, carried celebrities and heads of state and attracted crowds in every port she visited.

QE2 Fun Facts

  • QE2 was very fast and had a usual service speed of 28.5 knots, with a top cruising speed of 32.5 knots making her the fastest passenger ship to sail in the 21st century
  • QE2 was launched by Her Majesty The Queen on 20 September 1967. The launch was celebrated in many countries of the Commonwealth
  • QE2 was the longest serving flagship of the Cunard fleet and the longest serving express transatlantic liner in Cunard’s 177-year history
  • QE2 was the last large express liner to be built in the United Kingdom and the final passenger ship to be constructed at the historic John Brown & Co. Clydebank
  • QE2 was requisitioned as a troop ship in the 1982 Falklands War
  • QE2 made 806 Transatlantic Crossings in her career
  • QE2 sailed over 5.6 million miles – the furthest distance by any passenger ship – ever
  • QE2 carried 2.5 million passengers
  • QE2 was the first ship to carry a reigning British Monarch as a passenger in 1990
  • Cunard’s first ship Britannia could have fitted into QE2’s Grand Lounge
  • QE2’s anchors weighed 12.5 tons each – one now resides on QE2 mile in Southampton
  • Each year QE2 used more than 3 million eggs and enough cling-film to wrap the ship many times over
Posted in Cruise News, Cunard Cruise Line

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Unveils 2019/20 Voyage Season

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has unveiled its new 2019-20 voyages season, comprising 118 new sailings, departing from March 2019 to June 2020 aboard four of the world’s most luxurious cruise ships, Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Voyager, and Seven Seas Navigator.

Travellers can choose among new, enriching and immersive itineraries that range from seven to 131 nights in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, Alaska, Canada and New England, Bermuda and the Caribbean, South America, Asia and Australia and the South Pacific.

A leader in luxury cruising, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ fares include all-suite accommodation and exquisite speciality dining, free return flights, free unlimited shore excursions, free unlimited WiFi, unlimited beverages – including fine wines and premium spirits, prepaid gratuities, and transfers between airport and ship. Guests in Concierge-level suites and higher also enjoy a free one-night, pre-cruise hotel stay before embarking their ship.

Travellers can also choose among two new exciting Grand Voyages, which provide guests a regionally immersive and extended experience with no repeating ports. The 77-night, Grand Arctic Quest, sailing from London to New York aboard Seven Seas Navigator, will take guests throughout the British Isles, Iceland, Scandinavia, Greenland and New England. The 66-night, Circle South America itinerary will sail roundtrip from Miami aboard Seven Seas Mariner, circumnavigating South America and cruising the Amazon River. Guests aboard a Grand Voyage or World Cruise enjoy even more with complimentary bespoke amenities, such as free business class flights, exclusive shore-side events, unlimited laundry – including dry cleaning and pressing, a commemorative gift, and phone time per suite, among others.

Fascinating Itineraries aboard the World’s Most Luxurious Ships

Seven Seas Explorer, the most luxurious ship ever built, will sail Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries from April to November 2019 and cruise the Caribbean from December 2019 to February 2020. Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) will be a maiden port on Christmas Eve 2019. The ship will also offer a westward and an eastward trans-Panama Canal voyage in March 2020 before returning to Europe in April.

Travellers can choose the best value on an Alaska cruise aboard Seven Seas Mariner, which returns to the region from May to September 2019. The ship will cruise the Caribbean in October – making a maiden call on Acujulta (El Salvador) – before embarking on the 66-night South America circumnavigation voyage. After a Panama Canal transit from Miami, the 2020 World Cruise begins on 24 January from San Francisco for an epic 131-night, roundtrip itinerary.

Seven Seas Voyager will return to the Mediterranean from April to October 2019, and then sail Asia and the South Pacific from November 2019 to March 2020. Travellers can also choose one of two Australia and New Zealand itineraries in January. Maiden ports include Kos (Greece), Calvi (Corsica, France), Miyazaki (Aburatsu, Japan), and Nelson (New Zealand).

Seven Seas Navigator will ply Northern European waters in June and July 2019 and make maiden port calls on Cherbourg (France), Fishguard (Wales), Galway (Ireland), Kollafjord (Faroe Islands), Patreksfjordur and Husavik (Iceland), and Molde (Norway). The ship will sail Bermuda, Canada and New England itineraries from August to October 2019, and then reposition to sail Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific itineraries until March 2020. While in the South Pacific, Isle of Pines (New Caledonia), Phillip Island (Australia), and Adamstown (Pitcairn Islands) will also be maiden ports of call.

Enjoy More and Explore More

On selected Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Navigator sailings in Asia and the South Pacific, guests in all suite categories enjoy a free three-night, pre- or post-cruise land programme to delve deeper into the cultures and experiences of destinations such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, Sydney, New Zealand, and Dubai and the Emirates. Additionally, guests can choose optional one- to three-night, overland programmes that take them to visit cultural landmarks only found inland, such as India’s Taj Mahal mausoleum, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex, and the Egyptian city of Luxor.

 

Posted in Cruise News, Regent Seven Seas

Small-Ship Cruising Aboard The Award-Winning Aegean Odyssey

I opted for a ship with a difference recently, as I spent 4-nights aboard Voyages to Antiquity’s (VTA) award-winning small-ship Aegean Odyssey. Sailing on part of her British Isles voyage, I joined the ship in sunny Falmouth and sailed to Dorset and Jersey before arriving at the port of Tilbury for disembarkation.

Aegean Odyssey had been in port overnight when I joined and guests were ashore on various included tours, so I had the ship to myself (almost) for the entire day, which was ideal for exploring and taking photos. I left my luggage in my cabin – a small solo outside on deck 7 – and off I went to see what treats this fabulous little ship had to offer. It was the shortest ship tour in history, after just 20-minutes I’d seen almost everything onboard and I was sat comfortably in the Charleston Lounge with a drink and a book I’d picked up from the library. I felt relaxed and content. I liked it here, I knew we were going to get along just fine.

I took part in the general knowledge quiz on my first day aboard. I played on my own and got a whopping 4 correct answers out of 20. It was a poor attempt, but it was good fun and it gave me a chance to see the friendships that had been formed between guests. It was also during the quiz that I fell in love with Richard, the Cruise Director. He clearly had a huge passion for his role and just as much enthusiasm for the guests. He was genuine, charming and a lot of fun – it’s not very often I feel so strongly about a cruise director, but he has left a lasting impression!

The Voyages to Antiquity experience is somewhat different to that of anything else at sea. Firstly, there are no stuffy evening dress codes, which means everything instantly feels more relaxed. There are no pushy onboard photographers trying to sell you thousands of pictures and there are no hard sales for tours, as they are included in the cost of the cruise fare in almost every port that the ship visits. Everything just felt unhurried and less staged. Guests acknowledged one another and the crew seemed to be one big happy family. It was unique and I liked it.

I couldn’t fault the food onboard and there were enough options at breakfast, lunch and dinner to keep everyone happy. I particularly enjoyed the Indian buffet that was offered at lunchtime in the Terrace Café on the last sea day. There were onion bhajis, onion pilau rice, butter chicken, seafood curry, tarka dhal and pork vindaloo. I went for the butter chicken with rice and the equivalent of my body weight in poppadums and mango chutney. It really was incredibly good and I made a point of letting the Executive Chef know how much I’d enjoyed it. Aegean Odyssey offers the choice of two dining venues: the Marco Polo Restaurant on Deck 3 and the more casual Terrace Café. I preferred the Terrace Café because it led out onto the open deck and I enjoyed eating al-fresco some days – there’s nothing quite like the sound of the ocean as you enjoy a good meal aboard a fine ship.

My favourite place to “hang-out” was the Charleston Lounge. I liked the atmosphere in there, the bright colours and the crew. It was one of the first places I’d visited when I embarked on my short tour and I was instantly made to feel at home, that feeling of acceptance stuck with me and it became my haunt of choice in the evening. I also met some great passengers in there. A lot of them were travelling solo and they’d become friends since being onboard, they also kindly accepted me into their circle and I was humbled by that. I did get a friendly telling off from one lovely lady, however, as I missed the quiz on the final day. She’d invited me to join her team, but I hadn’t realised the quiz was in the morning and NOT the afternoon. Ironically, they won! Would you believe it? I could have had bragging rights for the rest of the day!

Although the Charleston Lounge was my favourite and it was often very busy, it isn’t the only option onboard for evening enjoyment. The Ambassador Lounge is the ships main entertainment venue, hosting lectures in the day and a variety of musical performances during the evening and there is also the Observation Lounge, which seemed the perfect choice for quiet pre-and/or-post dinner drinks. During my time onboard, I met 2 of Voyages to Antiquity’s regular guest lecturers: Professor Brian Williams, Emeritus Professor of Geology at the University of Aberdeen, and Dr. Sandy Primrose MBE. Both very interesting gentlemen. Expert guest lecturers join every cruise and they are selected based on their knowledge of the region the ship is visiting.

There is one swimming pool onboard and it is surrounded by teak decking and comfortable loungers. It’s a lovely little space. I could see myself lapping up the sun there during a Cuba and Caribbean or Mediterranean cruise. It never felt busy and I suppose that’s because of Aegean Odyssey’s size. She carries on average 350 passengers, so there’s always that element of space and the camaraderie that too comes with small-ship cruising. Other areas and facilities include a spa and salon, small gym, shop and a very impressive library. I wasn’t on the ship long enough to read an entire book, which was a shame, but I did make a point of having a good look. It’s not a huge library, but the consideration given to the selection was instantly noticeable. I found books on Islam, Cuba’s history, a Maggie Smith biography and a section that was bursting with destination guides. There was something for everyone.

If you want to explore the rich history and fascinating culture of the places you visit, then Voyages to Antiquity is the ideal choice. After all, it’s what they do! VTA guests want to experience and learn as much as they can about each destination and then return “home” to a ship that is charming, relaxing and comfortable – and that is exactly what they get. It is also great value for money. As I said, tours are included in almost every port – reducing the need to worry about that as an additional cost – and you can embark on these expertly crafted tours in the knowledge that you’re going to be getting the best possible experience (and a free bottle of water). Gratuities are also included in the fare price.

Aegean Odyssey had me in her grasp from the moment I set eyes on her in Falmouth. Those sleek and dominating lines allow her to float tall in every port she visits. She’s not covered in painted sea creatures and she doesn’t have any celebrity chef endorsements, she’s simply a cruise ship keeping the tradition of cruising alive and she’s doing it very well. I had only just begun to see her real charm when it was time to leave, four days simply wasn’t long enough. Next time, if there is a next time, I’d like to stay for at least one week. OK. Let’s make that two!

A BIG thank you to Leia, Janette, Raoul, Richard, Sonja, Stelios, Grace, Angel, Michelle and the crew in the Charleston Lounge and Terrace Cafe.

Posted in Voyages To Antiquity

P&O Cruises To Offer Same Sex Marriages At Sea

P&O Cruises has become the first British cruise line to be able to conduct same sex weddings at sea, with the first ceremony to be held in the Caribbean in January 2018.

This follows a recent Supreme Court ruling enabling same sex marriages in Bermuda, where all the ships in fleet (except Britannia*) are registered.

Bookings are now open, with the first wedding to be held on Azura in the Caribbean in January 2018. The wedding ceremony will be performed by the ship’s Captain** and the marriage license will be issued by Bermuda.

P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow, says: “I am delighted that following this much anticipated change in the legalities we are now the first British cruise line to be able to arrange same sex weddings on board. Weddings at sea are very romantic and getting married by the Captain* in the middle of the ocean is an unforgettable experience.”

Same sex couples can now purchase a P&O Cruises Weddings at Sea package, which costs from £1,200 and includes:

  • A romantic ceremony at sea conducted by the Captain**
  • Wedding ceremony venue with floral arrangements
  • Traditional wedding music
  • Services of the on-board Wedding Coordinator
  • Attendance of a professional photographer at the ceremony
  • Commemorative wedding certificate
  • An official copy of the marriage certificate
  • The cost of the license fees
  • A bottle of Champagne in the cabin on arrival
  • Champagne for a toast after the ceremony
  • Invitations and thank you notes
  • An additional 5kg luggage allowance for the couple if travelling on a P&O Cruises fly/cruise holiday
  • Wedding outfit pressing service

For more information or to book call P&O Cruises on 0344 33 88 595, visit www.pocruises.co.uk.

*Weddings at Sea are not permitted on Britannia

Posted in Cruise News, LGBT Cruise Info, P&O Cruises

What Are Expedition Cruises And Where Do They Go?

Expedition cruises offer something different from the traditional cruise experience. Essentially, you leave the title of traveller behind and become a true explore as you delve into some of the most incredible, uninhabited and beautiful regions in the world. An expedition cruise is probably up there with the World Cruise – it’s just something EXTRA special.

Astounding wildlife, captivating foreign cultures and unforgettable scenery are the key ingredients and they are all presented alongside expert guides that know pretty much everything about the local flora and fauna, the geology and geography, and the history and sociology of the places that you will visit.

Each cruise line that offers expedition cruises has its own unique appeal and some visit places that others don’t, so there is a substantial amount of choice, probably more than you initially realise. From paddle-steam cruising along the Murray River in Australia; setting foot on the pristine White Continent of Antarctica; witnessing Darwin’s inspiration in the Galapagos; discovering Mayan remains in Central America; snorkelling in the South Pacific; or exploring beyond the Arctic Circle. It is ALL possible.

Expedition Cruise Destinations

Antarctica – Antarctica is a must for wildlife lovers and those who want to explore one of the most untouched lands on earth. Only accessible by sea and air for a few short months every year, Antarctica is a bucket list experience like no other. Most voyages sail from Ushuaia in Argentina and a wide variety of cruise lines now sail there, including Silversea and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Galapagos Islands – The Galapagos Islands are one-of-a-kind and travel to the region is strictly monitored – voyages in the region must be approved years in advance to ensure that the fragile and rare eco-system remains as untouched as possible. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1978, the Galapagos Islands offer some of the most incredible marine life on the planet and a real prehistoric landscape. Silversea Cruises’ Silver Galapagos sails the region year-round.

Alaska – Alaska is one of the most popular regions for expedition travellers, as the combination of lush forestry, an incredible variety of wildlife and stunning glaciers draw in thousands of people every year. The best way to discover Alaska is by sea and we have a wide variety of cruise lines offering expedition voyages here. Many cruise lines also offer a typical cruise here and you can extend some of these with pre-and-or-post land stays.

Arctic – The Arctic offers some incredible adventure experiences from husky sledding to the Northern Lights and in the summer months, the phenomenon that is the Midnight Sun. It’s a land that is fascinating and unique and it draws in thousands of visitors by cruise ship every year. One of the most popular cruise lines in this region is Hurtigruten.

Australia and New Zealand – Australia and New Zealand adventure cruises offer an experience like no other. From the Great Barrier Reef to incredible wildlife and one of the world’s oldest civilisations, it’s a region brimming with possibilities. One of the most popular itineraries involves the Kimberley Coast.

South America – Stunning fjords, the incredible Amazon Rainforest and dry desert await you on a voyage to South America. Here you can trace the vast empire of the Incas, roam the pampas with the gauchos, or glimpse an Andean condor riding the currents of the Altiplano. A South America expedition voyage really is something quite special and several cruise lines operate in this region.

 

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Posted in Destinations, Expedition Cruising

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atul Kochhar will be on the following cruises in 2018:

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

Olly Smith will be on the following cruises in 2018:

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

Eric Lanlard will be on the following cruises in 2018:

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

James Martin will be on the following cruise in 2018:

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

Regent Seven Seas Unveils 2020 World Cruise Aboard Seven Seas Mariner

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

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

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

Navigate the World with Exclusive Bespoke Amenities

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

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

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

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

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

Overland Programmes for a Deeper Experience

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

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

Posted in Cruise News, Regent Seven Seas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until my next Saga Cruises adventure…

Posted in Saga Cruises

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