My first cruise of 2017 is just 23-days away and WHAT an itinerary it offers! It looks like this: Madeira, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, Jamaica, Banana Coast, Belize City, Cozumel, New Orleans (2-nights in port), Tampa, Key West, Miami, Port Canaveral, Jacksonville, Charleston, Bermuda and Ponta Delgada. Fantastic, right? I can’t wait to get my suitcases packed and sail-away from Southampton. It’s only by chance that this voyage came along, I had originally been planning a cruise on another ship, but then I found myself looking at Balmoral’s itinerary and I was converted in less than a minute.
It is a 46-night cruise aboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ‘Balmoral’ – a ship that I can’t seem to keep away from right now – and my friend and I have been planning our ports days for the last few weeks. We are going to be docked in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and I absolutely cannot wait! I was lucky enough to be in New Orleans last year for 1-night, and that was an experience, but to be there for 2 this time and during Mardi Gras – it’s a dream come true, and I am certainly going to make the most of every second that I have in the Big Easy. I’m not going to tell you all our plans, as that would spoil the live blogs, but we are hoping to explore Ybor City in Tampa, the Mayan ruins at Lamanai in Belize, have an evening beach dinner in Barbados, a relaxing beach day in Antigua, and then let our hair down on the Cozumel Bar Hop in Cozumel. We are also hoping to have a bit of retail therapy during our time in Jacksonville as there’s a new ride-hailing app called zTrip (it’s available in a few other states too) and we’re hoping to use that service to get us to and from St John’s Mall – I thought it would be more exciting than simply hailing a cab on the street – you’ll have to wait to find out the rest! 🙂
The new ports for me on this cruise are: Falmouth, Jamaica; Banana Coast (Trujillo); Belize City; Tampa, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; and Hamilton in Bermuda. I’m looking forward to exploring them all, but especially Belize and the Banana Coast. I love new destinations!
This will be my 3rd cruise on Balmoral in less than a year, but the longest cruise overall that I will have ever done. I’ve spent 35-nights aboard a ship, but this 46-night journey is probably going to top them all. I’ve already started my packing – I thought it wise I get in there early to ensure that I don’t forget anything – and I have a stack of books and games ready to be enjoyed. That’s the thing about a transatlantic cruise like this one, you have plenty of sea days there and back to just relax and read. Obviously, reading beneath the warm glow of the sunshine is always nicer, but for those days that are a little grey and grim, a few travel games will always come in useful when you’re taking refuge inside.
It’s not very often I come across a ship that I REALLY like in virtually every way, but Balmoral made her way onto my “love” list back in May 2016 – she joined Saga Sapphire and P&O Cruises’ Oceana. Balmoral is the ideal size, her crew are fantastic, her accommodation options are spacious and the food is always very good. I also very much enjoy lounging on her open decks and just watching the world go by. She’s exactly what you want from contemporary cruising and during both of my previous voyages I met some wonderful people.
If you want to know more about the voyage, then you can view it in full on the Fred. Olsen website – there’s still availability so why not come with me!