Cruising The Olsen Way – French Riviera aboard Bolette – Part 2

Bolette has 2 speciality restaurants onboard – Vasco and Colours & Tastes – and I would highly recommend them both! The cover charge is a mere £15 per person and the food is exceptional. In fact, it was so good that I visited Colours & Tastes twice! I would have also gone back to Vasco if I’d had time. Each has 3 menus, and they change every few days. I like this idea because one menu for the entire cruise duration might not suit a lot of people.

I tried Colours & Tastes first and my gosh, it was delicious! You’re served a selection of breads and sauces while you wait for your starter dish, but I tried to only sample and not eat all of it – I needed to leave space for the rest of the meal. To start, I went with the salt & pepper calamari fritto with kafir lime jelly, and it was excellent. The calamari were perfectly cooked, there was lots of flavour, and the tempura aspect was very light. For my main course, I decided to keep the seafood theme going and I ordered the spice paste marinated cod with tamarind chutney, wilted Asian greens and coconut rice. Another home run from the chef! It’s not a dish I’d usually order, but I was so glad that I did. It was a beautiful piece of fish! By now, I can hardly breathe, and I didn’t really want a dessert, but the girls twisted my arm, and I went for the mango & lychee mille-feuille with street graffiti and raspberry sorbet. However, it didn’t end there! In typical Fred. style, they also brought out the five-spice chocolate cake with hazelnut and chocolate sauce. I was nearing a food coma by this point, so I had a sample of each and the winner for me was the mille-feuille.

As we continued our sea days, I found some familiar places – The Morning Light Pub, Oriental Room, Neptune Lounge (albeit three times the size and with an additional deck), The Poolside (HEAVEN!) and the Bookmark Café. These were comfort spaces; I knew them well. I also found some new places including the Auditorium, a mid-ship pool with a roof and my absolute favourite, the Piano Bar – I adore that space! It was something outside of the box and new for Fred., and I was smitten with it.

FOOD! It’s a huge aspect of any cruise and the Poolside Café is just perfect! I was also pleased to see this time that the menus were changed more frequently (although I still wish they would bring back the chicken skewers with hummus and warm tortilla bread – that was my absolute favourite) and I’d probably say some of the portion sizes had increased slightly, too. I must admit, I definitely over-indulged and I would tend to have my main meal of the day at the Poolside and then explore afternoon tea – having also had breakfast! So, to break it down for you, the Poolside is exactly as it sounds, it’s the poolside restaurant on the Lido Deck and you can get everything from fish & chips to a small Ploughman’s. The reason it’s one of my favourite dining options (and not just on Fred., I mean in general) is because it mixes light and casual with naughty and fried. You can always order a beef burger or fish & chips, but they also do some very nice grilled chicken and salad dishes, and fresh tuna steak. It’s just a variety of incredibly good food that has had effort put into it. I really like the Santa-Fe-salad, the fish & chips are always excellent, and the grilled halloumi with salad & balsamic is a tasty vegetarian option.

The Poolside also does breakfast between 10am and 12 noon. This includes fresh omelette, 2 options for poached eggs, Swiss Muesli, and a tropical fruit platter with yoghurt.

Yes, I enjoyed those sea days, I acquainted myself with Bolette and I was now ready to put my feet on some warm international soil…

Cruising The Olsen Way Part 3 soon…

#PressTrip – I was a guest of Fred. Olsen on this sailing

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Cruising The Olsen Way – French Riviera aboard Bolette – Part 1

When I disembarked Boudicca in March 2019, I had no idea that would not only be the last time I’d ever see her again, but that I’d not step foot on another Fred. Olsen ship until 26-months later! It really is so very true when they say it’s best we never know what’s around the corner!

Let’s fast forward to May 22, 2022, and I was at the QEII terminal in Southampton eagerly waiting to board Bolette. When I say eager, what I really mean is that I was almost ready to burst with excitement and emotion! Waiting in the baggage area for my Covid-test result, I could see her, those Fred. Olsen colours shining brightly on the starboard side – I was so close!

Check-in was very smooth. They had us sat in colour sections while we waited for our test results, so then the whole section, once clear, could proceed as one unit into the main terminal. Following my negative result, I waited no longer than 6 minutes before entering the terminal and producing my documents at the desk. Once all had been checked and my cruise card had been issued, I was also given a TraceSafe band. Every passenger had to have one. You could either wear it as it was (almost just as if it were a watch) or you could carry it in your bag or pocket, but you had to always keep it with you – unless swimming, using the sauna or showering. The idea is that they monitor how much time you’ve spent near someone should anyone test positive for Covid. They can then test those people to ensure no one else is Covid positive. I took the actual TraceSafe device out of the strap and just kept it in my bag. Some other people did the same thing, some wore it as it was, some clipped it to their lanyard and others, well, a few decided to wear it like an ankle tag – each to their own!

So, back to Bolette. I’m now on the gangway, I can smell the ship and I can SEE that familiar Fred. carpet! I could have cried! Now it was very real, and I was FINALLY going home! I stepped onboard, scanned my cruise card, and took the biggest sigh of relief! I’M HOME!!! The Hotel Manager was there greeting everyone, and I was raring to get to my cabin.

I got out of the lift on Deck 7 and went looking for 7043. A few twists and turns later and I’m there. I knew at check-in that my cabin had been changed because the number on my booking was different to the one on my cruise card, but I never for one moment expected what I saw when I opened the door. In short, I had a Premier Suite which was more like a small apartment! ‘All of this just for me’ I mumbled as I stepped inside. You know the scene in Home Alone 2 when Kevin walks into his room at The Plaza? Yes, I pretty much re-enacted that! I was gobsmacked. It was magnificent. A wonderful seating area, huge Queen bed, dressing area with three decent sized wardrobes, and a bathroom with a shower AND a jacuzzi bath! I’m in heaven! But more was to come! When I opened the balcony door, I thought for a quick minute that a divider must have been left open, but no, all of that was also just for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have stayed in some very nice staterooms on cruise ships over the years, but this was by far one of the biggest (coming in second to a Penthouse Suite on what used to be Crystal Cruises) and one of the most impressive. The balcony was the biggest I’ve ever had the good fortune of enjoying.

Once I was over the shock of the suite, it was time to go and do some exploring. I’d already bumped into several familiar faces among crew and passengers, and probably the most emotional being when I hugged Camille and she started crying. Fred. Olsen crew are more like family to me, and I hadn’t seen some of them for a very long time, it was emotional! She’d missed me and I had missed her, and I’d missed Kevin, Freddie, Chandra, Fernando, Bambs, Rakesh, Honey, and a fair few others. It was nice to see their happy faces in the flesh again, instead of in a photo. 

One of the first things I came across was the clock and I loved it! It’s such a statement piece and when it kicks into action every hour, it’s impressive to see and hear. The Planeto Astrolabium onboard is an ancient celestial clock with four faces, it was used by classical astronomers, mariners, and astrologists to chart paths of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. In the medieval Islamic world, it was also used to calculate the qibla, the direction of Mecca.

We sailed from Southampton on time, and I decided that evening was for me to catch up with friends onboard, old, and new. We had a great night and it felt so nice to once again be enjoying that fabulous Fred. Olsen hospitality. Some passengers I’d known from previous cruises and when I was back in the presence of one lady, we just picked up where we’d left off on the Grand Voyage, it was such a nice feeling.

Before reaching our first port, we had a few days at sea and I took every opportunity to sample various parts of the ship – I wasn’t trying to see and do everything in 72-hours, but I did want to enjoy the ship before our five-day stretch of back-to-back ports.

I found even more impressive artwork! Aside from the clock, my other favourites were the 2 ladies that dominated over the Neptune Lounge, the Polar Bears at the Lido Pool (including the baby grizzly next to The View doors), the Chinese terracotta-style gentlemen at the Orchid Room, the fish at the Lido Pool, the bird cage in The Observatory, and, saving the best to last, JUPITER! Yes, the lovely Jupiter that once had pride of place on Black Watch now sits on Deck 8 aft on Bolette, overseeing her new kingdom.

Cruising The Olsen Way Part 2 soon…

#PressTrip – I was invited as a guest of Fred. Olsen on this sailing

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Costa Luminosa to transfer to Carnival Cruise Line – beginning service in November 2022

Carnival Cruise Line has announced that Costa Luminosa will join the Carnival fleet in September and will start guest operations as Carnival Luminosa in November 2022 from Brisbane, Australia. The acquisition of Luminosa is an update to the previously announced plans for Carnival to take Costa Magica, which will now remain at Costa Cruises.

 After this delivery, Carnival Luminosa will operate seasonally from October through April from Brisbane, then reposition to Seattle, where it will sail Alaska itineraries from May through September, before returning to Brisbane.

 Luminosa is a sister ship to the four other popular Spirit class ships that already sail for Carnival.  Entering service in 2009, the ship accommodates up to 2,826 guests and 1,050 crew at 92,720 gross tons.

 “With our full fleet back to guest operations and the pent-up demand for Carnival we are seeing every week aboard our ships, the chance to expand with Luminosa and then the arrival of Carnival Celebration in November provides our guests with more choices and new ways to enjoy a Carnival vacation,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “Our Spirit class ships are very popular with our guests and Luminosa will be a great addition given the large number of balcony cabins which make her an ideal ship for this deployment.  And equally important, this will allow Carnival to finally start our highly anticipated itineraries from Brisbane, so we’ll have two ships operating in Australia for the high season Down Under.”

Given the short timeline to get Carnival Luminosa ready for service, the ship will go through some modest updates to change over from Costa to Carnival over the next few months ahead of the November service start-up. The ship will not initially have all of the Funship 2.0 branded spaces that are seen across the Carnival fleet. The entire vessel will be staffed by the Carnival Cruise Line crew, renowned for their outstanding hospitality and fun. Cruises out of Brisbane will be announced shortly, and Carnival will sail a variety of itineraries that will initially include visits to Australian favorites such as the Great Barrier Reef and Airlie Beach, and, as destinations open over time, ports of call such as Noumea and Lifou Isle in New Caledonia, Port Vila and Mystery Island in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Duffy said, “The opportunity to deliver these bucket list itineraries will be exciting for our guests and we are thrilled to see the growing number of guests from the U.S. sailing on Carnival in Australia.”

In addition to Carnival Luminosa out of Brisbane, Carnival Splendor will arrive in Sydney to resume sailing year-round on October 2, 2022.  With the arrival of Carnival Celebration this November, Carnival’s fleet will number 24 ships, and its lower berth capacity will be seven percent higher than at the end of November 2019.

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Enchanted by a Princess

enchanted princess

Having sampled Sky Princess last year, I was excited when Princess Cruises invited me to join Enchanted Princess in May for a 5-night sailing to Bruges, Rotterdam, and Guernsey. This would be my second cruise since the Covid lockdown and my first time on international land since March 2020, I couldn’t wait to get back out there!

I’m a big fan of the Royal-class ships and I was certainly charmed by Sky Princess, so could Enchanted keep my interest? We’ll find out! Although I was excited to explore ashore, I wanted this trip to be more about the ship than anything else, so I only went ashore in Rotterdam. I’d never been before and had always wanted to visit, so I joined a beer crawl tour which was packed with far more than I expected! It was also a lovely city walking tour and if it’s offered on your next Princess cruise, I’d highly recommend you consider it. I’m not a huge fan of beer, but I was pleasantly surprised, and each stop offered something different – there was more to it than just alcohol and nibbles.

As I said, I wanted this to be more about the ship herself, so let’s get down to business!

She’s beautiful! Very similar to Sky Princess, so when I first started exploring, I had the advantage of already knowing the brief layout of the ship. I was given a mini-suite and it was perfect. One thing I really like about Princess Cruises is that you know what you’re going to get. I’ve sailed with Princess several times and I’ve never been disappointed. I was on the Princess Plus fare option for this cruise, so certain drinks (up to $12 in value) were included, along with Wi-Fi and gratuities. Personally, I would always book this option. For £40 per person per day, it’s well-worth the additional cost.

Onboard, you’ll find a wide variety of dining options, including World Fresh Marketplace, The Salty Dog Grill, Slice Pizzeria, Crown Grill, Sabatini’s, and Bistro Sur La Mer. Some restaurants are included in the fare price, but others, such as the Crown Grill, Sabatini’s and Bistro Sur La Mer do require an additional charge.

On this cruise I dined in Sabatini’s and the Crown Grill, and both were excellent! In Sabatini’s, I ordered the calamari to start (along with a burrata that I shared because I was desperate to try that, too) and then the lemon and rosemary chicken scaloppine for my main course. I was too full for dessert, but I was utterly content with what I’d been served. There wasn’t a single thing on any plate that I didn’t enjoy. The warm bread and sliced ham were also a nice touch while we waited for our starter courses.

In the Crown Grill, I had to go for it! It’s my favourite dining option on Princess and there was no question as to what I was going to order. To start, it had to be the seared jumbo sea scallops, followed by Crown Grill’s signature surf and turf – 8oz filet mignon with a 6-7oz main lobster tail. It was just heavenly! Again, perfectly cooked and presented, and paired with creamed spinach and garlic and herb French fries, what more could you ever want from a plate of food? I’ve never been on a Princess cruise and not dined in Crown Grill. In fact, I’ve always dined in Sabatini’s, too!

Enchanted Princess also boasts several swimming pools and hot tubs, Crooners, Princess LIVE!, Take Five, Casino, Movies Under the Stars, a huge sports court and a kids’ club. There are so many nice areas to enjoy, and my favourites were Take Five (such a beautiful space), the atrium and the Sea View Bar. In my option, the latter offering some amazing sunset viewing opportunities and as we were blessed with such great weather, it was also a nice place to chat with other passengers.

I managed to have a look around the kids’ club on this cruise and what great spaces they offer! Obviously, I usually wouldn’t venture into these areas – I think I outgrew trikes and toddler-sized chairs a long time ago – but as it was offered, I went and had a look so I could share some pictures with those of you that may be thinking of cruising with children. The clubs cater for children aged from 3 to 17 years and from what I could see, they’d never be bored! In fact, I could have quite happily stayed in the teen zone – they had incredible views from up there! The kids’ clubs on Enchanted Princess are located on Deck 17 aft.

When I first ventured into the buffet (World Fresh Marketplace) on Sky Princess, I didn’t know where to look and Enchanted Princess was no different. The quality of ingredients is exceptional, and the choice is out of this world. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner could be a huge culinary feast if you’re not careful.

MedallionClass, I love it! I have heard people complaining about the app and some features not working, but aside from the odd glitch here and there, I can’t say I had any problems using my fob or the app for ordering food or drinks, checking menus, or accessing my account and so on. The only issue I did have started maybe 2-days before the end of the cruise when the cabin door system wouldn’t recognise the fob at a distance, so rather than approach the door and it unlock, I’d have to tap the fob on the screen. I could have gone to Guest Services and had it fixed, but I can’t say having to lift my arm was any sort of effort!

I like the ease of it and being able to order food and drinks to anywhere onboard. I like not having to swipe my card to open the cabin door and I really like the fact I can load the screens dotted around the ship with info specific to me. I decided to try one of the games, so logged in by tapping my medallion and I was in a quiz one moment and then a treasure hunt the next! OK, I know, they’re geared more towards the kids, but come on, I had to try it, for research purposes, obviously! 😉

Another nice area to relax in onboard is The Sanctuary. It’s one of those places where you can just shut the world out for a while and enjoy lounging, sunning yourself, reading, or even watching something on your own private TV. I’m not a huge fan of these types of areas onboard, I must be honest, but I do always like to visit The Sanctuary when I’m on a Princess ship. It’s an adult-only area and it does come with an additional charge, but for peace and quiet away from the rest of the ship, it’s ideal. Enchanted Princess offers 8 private cabanas where you can enjoy light meals and al-fresco massages.

Overall, I had a wonderful time on Enchanted Princess. I met some lovely people, whom I socialised with every day from embarkation, ate some superb food and enjoyed the hospitality of a cruise line that I’ve come to enjoy very much in recent years. Princess Cruises has something for everyone and that’s very appealing to me. She’s a big ship, but she doesn’t feel as big as she is once you’re onboard, yet at the same time you have this constant feeling of space – it’s an odd one. I’d hands down recommend her for couples, solos (I was travelling solo), families and groups of friends. How you create your Princess experience is entirely up to you, but the abundance of options makes it so easy to tailor-make every aspect of your cruise.

Ad | I was a guest of Princess Cruises for this sailing. #PressTrip.

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A step BEYOND with Celebrity Cruises

I was invited to join Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship ‘Celebrity Beyond’ several weeks ago and I thought it was about time I told you all about her!

The third in Celebrity’s Edge-class series, Celebrity Beyond really is something else. I can honestly say that I was blown away from the moment I stepped onboard. Everywhere I went around the ship, I found something I liked. Whether it was a chair, a piece of art, a glass in one of the bars – everything felt like it had been thought through to the very finest of detail. Nothing had been overlooked, literally, nothing.

Although she leans in at the big end with a gross tonnage of 140,600 and accommodation for 3,260 passengers, she felt surprisingly compact. Maybe compact isn’t the right word, but I don’t really know how else to describe her. She felt very easy to navigate – I never once felt like I was going around in circles, and I do often feel like that on some of the larger cruise ships. Her design kept everything straight forward.

I had a Sky Suite for the duration of my stay, and it was stunning! I loved the size of the space and the fact the bed was positioned facing the balcony doors, so you could sit and watch the world go by. I also really liked the stylish box on the dressing table that conveniently concealed a selection of plug sockets and USB points – nice touch! The bathroom was huge with a colossal bath/shower system. I’ll admit, when I first used the shower, I didn’t know what things to turn or press, so much so, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to turn the shower head I was using off, once I finally got it on.

The food onboard was superb and when it came to the buffet, the choice was unbelievable! If you weren’t sure what you wanted before you went in, you were being held for ransom once you finally stepped through the door and saw what was on offer. There was just food for what felt like miles and a wide choice of cuisine styles. Quite possibly the best buffet I’ve seen at sea.

If we put more of the ship into perspective, she offers 32 food and dining experiences; 14 cafes, bars & lounges; 8 speciality restaurants; 4 main dining restaurants, 4 complimentary casual dining options; and 2 exclusive restaurants.

Being in a Sky Suite afforded me exclusive access to The Retreat and its restaurant Luminae. The food here was very good and I opted for smoked tomato soup, grilled filet mignon and chocolate ganache tart. It’s now positioned at the very front of the ship on Celebrity Beyond, so the views as we made our way through the Solent were a nice addition to the experience.

My absolute favourite feature onboard was the Magic Carpet. I’d been desperate to try this since Celebrity Edge was launched and finally, I had the chance. This space just fills me with happiness because I can sit and watch the majestic beauty of the ship as she glides through the water. Such an innovative idea.

Other onboard areas that I liked very much were the Resort Deck, Eden, the Solarium, The Grand Plaza and the Rooftop Garden. I like how Celebrity has taken back its upper decks and not just filled them with dozens upon dozens of sun loungers. There’s charm up there, wonderful places to sit and relax, enjoy the sun, or watch some TV on the big screen. As I said earlier, everything about this ship has been pin-pointed down to the finest detail.

There was a lot of distinct artwork onboard and some of it was so beautiful! You must look out for some of these pieces during your time onboard. My top 3 were the lady with the duck rubber ring, the elephant and the silver peacock.

On my second and final night onboard, I dined at EDEN and again, it was another superb meal. Of all the areas onboard, I think EDEN had to be my favourite. It offered incredible aft views with floor to ceiling windows, and it was spread across 3 levels. You could sit and enjoy the view, sip a drink from the bar or head down to the dining section and watch your chefs prepare your delicious meal.

I wasn’t onboard long enough to see, do and sample everything, but I’m hoping it won’t be long before I can join her, or one of her Edge-class sisters for another Celebrity Cruises experience. Was I sold? Definitely!

#PressTrip – As stated, I was a guest of Celebrity Cruises.  

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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines unveils new hand-crafted programme of cruising for 2023/24

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has unveiled its full programme of cruising for 2023/24, with more than 100 hand-crafted sailings and the introduction of new Journey Navigators across its fleet of smaller ships.

The new programme includes opportunities to witness Norway’s famous Langfoss Waterfall in the spring, when the water is at its heaviest, explore the remote islands of the Azores, and visit Lapland in the summer months.

Durations range from two to 93-nights, with regional departures from Liverpool, Newcastle, Rosyth, Southampton, Dover, London Tilbury and Belfast. In addition, the programme features the return of a fly-cruise programme, with Braemar to be based in the Caribbean for the winter months.

The new brochure also unveils Fred. Olsen’s new Journey Navigators – Nature Scouts, Culture Curators, Maritime Guides and Entertainment Hosts – plus new signature experiences to celebrate the Joy of the Journey on each cruise.

Guests who book onto one of Fred. Olsen’s new 2023/24 sailings can enjoy up to £250 per person to spend on board, or up to £500 when booking a suite.

Plus, those who book a 2023 cruise but are also looking to get away this year can take advantage of 10% off any new booking for 2022.

Highlights of Fred. Olsen’s 2023/24 programme of cruising include:

Bolette’s 14-night T2318 ‘Summertime in Lapland and Scandinavia’ cruise, departing from Newcastle on 1st July 2023. Prices start from £2,099 per person.

Itinerary: Newcastle, England – Turku, Finland – Cruising Turku Archipelago, Finland – Oulu, Finland – Kemi, Finland – Holmsund, Sweden – Sundsvall, Sweden – Stockholm, Sweden (overnight stay) – Cruising Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden – Aarhus, Denmark – Newcastle, England

For more details: Visit T2318 ‘Summertime in Lapland and Scandinavia’  

Bolette’s 15-night T2327 ‘Volcanic Islands of the Canaries, Azores and Madeira’ cruise, departing from Southampton on 14th October 2023. Prices start from £2,099 per person.

Itinerary: Southampton, England – Praia da Vitoria, Portugal – Ponta Delgada, Portugal (overnight stay) – Santa Cruz, La Palma – Santa Cruz, Tenerife – San Sebastian, La Gomera – Funchal, Madeira – Southampton, England

For more details: Visit T2327 ‘Volcanic Islands of the Canaries, Azores and Madeira’  

Borealis’ 10-night S2322 ‘Touring Southern Spain, Portugal & Gibraltar’ cruise, departing from Liverpool on 22nd October 2023. Prices start from £1,399 per person.

Itinerary: Liverpool, England – Lisbon, Portugal – Cruising Mouth of River Tagus, Portugal – Gibraltar, Gibraltar – Málaga, Spain – Cádiz, Spain – La Coruña, Spain – Cruising by Tower of Hercules Lighthouse, Spain – Liverpool, England

For more details: Visit S2322 ‘Touring Southern Spain, Portugal & Gibraltar’  

Braemar’s 14-night M2401 ‘Latin America Civilisations’ fly-cruise (flights from London Gatwick/Manchester), departing from Havana, Cuba on 2nd January 2024. Prices start from £2,699 per person.

Itinerary: Havana, Cuba (overnight stay) – Progreso, Yucatán, Mexico – Cozumel, Mexico – Colon, Panama – Cartagena de Indias, Colombia – Santa Marta, Colombia – Santiago de Cuba, Cuba – Havana, Cuba (overnight stay)

For more details: Visit M2401 ‘Latin America Civilisations’  

Balmoral’s seven-night L2411 ‘Mighty Waterfalls and Norwegian Fjords’ cruise, departing from Newcastle on 26th April 2024. Prices start from £1,099 per person.

Itinerary: Newcastle, England – Cruising Lysefjord, Norway – Cruising Hardangerfjord, Norway – Eidfjord, Norway – Cruising Maurangerfjord and Furebergfossen, Norway – CruisingÅkrafjord and Langfoss Waterfall, Norway – Bergen, Norway – Cruising Nordfjord, Norway – Olden, Norway – Cruising by Hornelen, Norway – Åndalsnes, Norway – Cruising Romsdalfjorden and Isfjorden, Norway – Newcastle, England

For more details: Visit L2411 ‘Mighty Waterfalls and Norwegian Fjords’  

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New 2023 and 2024 sailings with Cunard

Cunard has unveiled over 110 international voyages, sailing on its iconic fleet between 23 October 2023 and 14 May 2024, including the maiden voyages on new ship Queen Anne.

Across the new itineraries, the four-ship fleet comprising of Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Anne, will call at 126 unique ports in 51 countries, with voyages ranging from two-night city breaks to a 108-night world voyage.

Queen Anne is scheduled to call at more than 32 ports across the world during her maiden season, all sailing out of Southampton. Following her maiden voyage to the enchanting city of Lisbon, the newest Queen will embark on a collection of enticing sailings in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Northern Europe as well as an Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing.

In 2024, Queen Victoria will embark on a 107-night World Voyage, departing Southampton on a full circumnavigation.  The ship will sail westbound to North America, including a transit of the Panama Canal, onwards to Australia, Asia, and returning to Europe via South Africa, visiting 32 unique destinations across her new voyages.

Queen Mary 2, the world’s only ocean liner, will begin her season with an Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing from New York, before setting off from Southampton on a 108-night World Voyage.  The liner will sail to the Mediterranean, Asia via the Suez Canal, Australia and returning to Europe via South Africa. 

Following a fly-cruise season in Barcelona, Queen Elizabeth will relocate to Singapore before starting her Australian residency with a 6-night voyage from Fremantle. She’ll then embark on a series of short break and roundtrip voyages from Melbourne and Sydney, including a Christmas and New Year voyage to New Zealand, a 10-night exploration of Queensland, and a new 14-night voyage calling in the South Pacific.

“Announcing every new programme for Cunard is always exciting, but this year is even more so, as guests will be able to choose itineraries across four magnificent ships in the fleet for the first time since 1999,” said Sture Myrmell, President, Carnival UK. “In the newly announced programme, each ship offers a unique experience with distinct itineraries.  With Queen Anne based out of Southampton, Queen Elizabeth out of Australia and Japan, and Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 both sailing world voyages, one with a full circumnavigation and one exploring the finest destinations across the Mediterranean, Asia, Australia and Africa. Our new voyages bring opportunities to explore all corners of the world in luxurious surroundings while enjoying our White Star Service as well as all the other special touches that make a trip with Cunard so special.”

Please sign up Shine Rewards Club at www.shinerewardsclub.com for further information.

Welcome to The World 2023 & 2024 New Voyages – Key Itineraries

Maiden Voyage (H403)

Guests can join an illustrious guest list on board Queen Anne’s maiden voyage to Lisbon as we celebrate a new chapter of Cunard history. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton on 4 January 2024, this 7-night voyage will offer an overnight port call in which to savour Lisbon’s UNESCO-listed Belém Tower, the exquisite palaces of Sintra, and the wonderfully atmospheric nightlife of the Barrio Alto. On her return to Southampton, our newest Queen will be joined by her sister ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, marking the first time these three Queens will come together – a fitting end to a voyage filled with celebratory moments. Inside staterooms from £1,299 per person.

Eastern Caribbean (H405)

Guests can relax and take pleasure in all that the newest ship has to offer on this 35-night Caribbean adventure that takes in the tropical islands of Barbados and St Lucia amongst others. Queen Anne departs Southampton 27 January 2024. Inside staterooms from £5,299 per person.

Western Mediterranean (H408)

This 16-night voyage comprises a mix of days at sea and time in port, offering the chance to discover the delights on board Cunard’s new ship as well as the fascinating histories of Lisbon, Cadiz and Rome. Queen Anne departs Southampton 29 March 2024. Inside staterooms from £2,299 per person.

Full World Voyage (V404D)

This stunning 107-night World Voyage offers the perfect opportunity to see the four corners of the world. Destinations including San Francisco and Fiji plus overnights in Hong Kong and South Africa. Queen Victoria departs Southampton 11 January 2024. Inside staterooms from £12,499 per person.

Southampton to Sydney (M403B)

Blissful days at sea on board provide a relaxing balance between time ashore in Portugal, South Africa and Australia on this 47-night sailing that includes three overnight port calls. Queen Mary 2 departs Southampton 11 January 2024. Inside staterooms from £5,699 per person.

Queensland (Q405)

The wondrous white sands of the Whitsunday Islands and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Great Barrier Reef are among the natural highlights of this 10-night voyage. Queen Elizabeth departs Sydney 22 January 2024. Inside staterooms from £1,399 per person.

Southern Islands (Q417)

The 10-night round trip voyage sailing from Tokyo will transports guests from neon-lit streets to historic shrines, stately castles and natural habitats, abundant with beauty. Queen Elizabeth departs Tokyo 14 May 2024. Inside staterooms from £1,399 per person.

From the bustle of vibrant cities, beauty of tropical shores to the wonder of historic treasures, the inspiring new itineraries from Cunard bring an ocean of opportunities to explore all corners of the world.

The 2023 and 2024 new voyages sailing on Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are available to book from 24 May 2022 and Queen Anne’s maiden sailings are available to book from 17 May 2022.

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Posted in Cruise News, Cunard Cruise Line

Norwegian Prima Introduces New Spa And Fitness Offerings

Norwegian Cruise Line has shared details surrounding its elevated spa and fitness offerings for its highly-anticipated Norwegian Prima Class vessels – Norwegian Prima and Viva.

The first two of six ships within this cutting-edge class will feature the cruise industry’s first charcoal sauna at sea as well as a two-story cascading indoor spa waterfall. The Cruise Line has also incorporated several guest favourites including thermal experiences and hot-stone loungers.

Award-winning architecture firm Rockwell Group masterfully designed the perfect environment for tranquillity and rejuvenation in Norwegian Prima and Viva’s spa and fitness venues. 

Awaken the Senses at the All New Mandara Spa

Industry’s First Charcoal Sauna at Sea

As part of the ongoing only-found-on-NCL’s Prima Class holiday experiences such as the world’s first three-level racetrack at sea and dry drop slides, the Brand will unveil the industry’s first charcoal sauna.

Derived from Japanese and Korean wellness practices, the charcoal sauna uses a radiant heat system with an outer charcoal layer to reach temperatures between 30-50 degrees Celsius. Guests can recline into relaxation as the sauna helps boost circulation and metabolism while also removing toxins from the body. The sauna also effectively treats muscle stiffness and tension, including relief from backache, headache, and arthritis, by promoting the deep release of connective tissue and muscles.

Thermal Experiences

The charcoal sauna is just one of eight thermal spa offerings available at the elevated Mandara Spa. Guests can also indulge in a series of blissful experiences such as a salt and steam room, as well as a gambit of Brand-first spa experiences including an Ice Room, Experiential Showers, a Flotation Salt Pool, and Infrared Sauna.

·       The Ice Room: After unwinding in the sauna or steam bath, guests can cool off in the refreshing Ice Room. The cold air helps to increase blood circulation, invigorate the respiratory tract, and strengthen the immune system. 

·       The Experiential Showers: Multiple water jets and lighting effects help invigorate the body, lower body temperature, and stimulate blood circulation.

·       Floatation Salt Pool: This treatment allows guests to fully relax all their muscles while floating in warm water. An experience similar to experiencing zero gravity due to the buoyancy of the saltwater. The Floatation Salt Pool is beneficial for easing mental anxiety and muscle tension. 

·       Infrared Sauna: Unlike traditional saunas that use conventional heat to warm the air, infrared saunas utilise infrared lamps to directly warm the body — and at lower temperatures than traditional saunas. This promotes relaxation, better sleep, sore muscle and joint relief, improved blood circulation, and detoxification.

New Services

NCL is also introducing several new services at the spa, including two new beds from the Gharieni Group, the Gharieni Welnamis and the Gharieni Wellmassage5D. The Welnamis bed utilises Binaural Acoustic & Dynamic Stimulation, a computer-controlled acoustic and vibrational therapy that trains the brain to relax and benefit from deep relaxation techniques. Meanwhile, the award-winning Wellmassage5d bed provides a whole-body wellness massage experience utilising eight specially pre-programmed positions and the Brand’s “Signature Treatment” technique.  

Other new service menu items include:

·       Ocean Spa Wave Massage: This unique treatment lets guests relax on a water-filled cushion. The cushion features a therapeutic warm wrap of nutrient-rich sea plants and marine algae releasing stress and tension from the body. The treatment also includes a deep cleansing seaweed mask, aromatherapy essential oils, and scalp and foot massages.

·       Musclease Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap: This wrap contains a warming blend of pine and rosemary essential oils to help guests ease the pains of rheumatism, arthritis, muscular spasms, and fatigue. 

·       Cellutox Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap: Excellent for guests seeking to improve the appearance of cellulite and reduce fluid retention. This treatment contains a detoxifying blend of juniper and lemon essential oils, which decongest and stimulate the body.

·       Zero Gravity Wellness Massage: High-tech meets high touch in this next-generation 75-minute wellness treatment. Producing a zero-gravity effect, the body is suspended on an advanced treatment table that maneuver a series of sophisticated massage techniques to the user. Eight table positions enable effective and precise reach of every muscle group, including intensive work on the back and main muscles, resulting in release of tension and improved body mechanics.

The spa will also feature a relaxation area featuring 22 hot stone loungers. Guests can also arrange to stay in one of the 28 exclusive spa balcony staterooms on board Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva, providing travellers with premium access to the elevated Mandara Spa and its suite of thermal spa experiences.

First-of-its-Kind Design

At the spa, guests can visit either the Vitality or Salt Floatation Pool where they can immerse themselves in the tranquil sounds of the two-story cascading indoor spa waterfall. This space also features an impressive marble spiral staircase. Additional design highlights include the relaxation area in the spa, and the Pulse Fitness Centre. Both spaces are front facing on the ship, allowing guests to enjoy sweeping 270-degree views of the ocean. This is also the first time that NCL’s fitness centre will be located at the front of the ship.

The gym will also include the all-new Performance Recovery room, an interactive, engaging wellness experience utilising a selection of Hyperice products in workshops, group fitness classes, and services to maximise user benefits.

Returning Favourites

Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva will also feature enhanced guest-favourite spa and fitness amenities, including the Vitaly Pool, steam sauna, and Finnish sauna. The spa will offer a wide range of services in its 20 treatment rooms, including massage, acupuncture, manicures and pedicures, facials and more. In the Pulse Fitness Centre, guests will have free access to the state-of-the-art fitness equipment they have come to expect from NCL. Yoga and spin classes will also be available.

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Virgin Voyages Reveals the Name of Fleet’s Fourth Ship

WHAT: First came Scarlet Lady, a name chosen to honor one of Virgin Atlantic’s flagship aircrafts. Next were Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady, two sister ships with names that celebrate women’s strong, fierce, and independent spirits. These beautiful vessels are helmed by two beautiful and diverse mermaids to match. 

With all three ships in the water by the end of this summer, Virgin Voyages is delighted to welcome our fourth Lady Ship to the fleet: Brilliant Lady. 

WHY: Like Brilliant Lady’s predecessors, Virgin Voyages was extremely thoughtful when selecting a name that would boldly stand alongside her sister ships. We sought out a name that exemplifies our brand’s values and ethos, the truest representation of our mission to “Create an Epic Sea Change For All.” As our goal has always been to create a bright and radiant experience for our Sailors — much like the sparkling seas Brilliant Lady will sail on — it was only appropriate that our fourth ship name reflect that.

Brilliance — which means both radiance along with exceptional talent and intelligence — was purposefully chosen for the duality of its meaning. On every sailing, Virgin Voyages’ ultimate goal is to leave our Sailors with a glowing review and having enjoyed one of the best vacations of their lives.

In naming the ship Brilliant Lady, we also aimed to highlight the powerful intelligence of women across the globe. Brilliant Lady represents the smart, thoughtful, boundary-pushing minds of women around the world — unafraid of owning their intelligence, aware of their importance, and confidently in touch with their own sense of self worth.

WHERE/WHEN: Brilliant Lady’s mermaid, destinations and itineraries will be announced soon, but until then, Sailors can set sail the Virgin way aboard Scarlet Lady from Miami (available now) on Valiant Lady starting May 15 from Barcelona, and on Resilient Lady starting August 14 from Athens. 

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Posted in Cruise News, Virgin Voyages

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines unveils first new-look fleet reunion with Fleet in Funchal celebration for 2023

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has today unveiled the first reunion of its new-look fleet, with all four of its smaller ships to come together in Funchal, Madeira, in November 2023.

It will be the third fleet reunion to be held by the cruise line, and will see the four ships, Bolette, Borealis, Balmoral and Braemar, set sail on four separate cruises, hand-crafted specially to allow them to come together at the garden island of Madeira for the Fleet in Funchal celebration.

The occasion will be marked with a quayside fiesta, and the cruise line plans offer guests the chance to explore the rest of the fleet while they are in port.

Guests looking to join the celebration can enjoy £200 per person to spend on board, or £400 when booking a suite.

Fred. Olsen’s Fleet in Funchal sailings are as follows:

Bolette’s 15-night T2328 ‘Spain & Portugal with Fleet in Funchal’ cruise, departing from Southampton on 29th October 2023. Prices start from £2,099 per person.

Itinerary: Southampton, England – La Coruna, Spain – Cruising by Tower of Hercules – Cádiz, Spain – Tarragona, Spain – Valencia, Spain – Cartagena, Spain – Málaga, Spain – Funchal, Madeira – Southampton, England

Balmoral’s 15-night L2324 ‘The Canary Islands with the Fleet in Funchal’ cruise, departing from Southampton on 30th October 2023. Prices start from £2,099 per person.

Itinerary: Southampton, England – Cádiz, Spain – Las Palmas, Gran Canaria – Santa Cruz, Tenerife – San Sebastian, La Gomera – Santa Cruz, La Palma – Funchal, Madeira – Lisbon, Portugal – Southampton, England

Braemar’s 15-night M2327 ‘Discovering Cultural Morocco with the Fleet in Funchal’ cruise, departing from Dover on 30th October 2023. Prices start from £2,099 per person.

Itinerary: Dover, England – Gibraltar – Cádiz, Spain – Tangier, Morocco – Casablanca, Morocco – Agadir, Morocco – Funchal, Madeira – Leixões, Matosinhos, Portugal – Dover, England

Borealis’ 14-night S2323 ‘The Azores with The Fleet in Funchal’ cruise, departing from Liverpool on 1st November 2023. Prices start from £1,999 per person.

Itinerary: Liverpool, England – Praia da Vitória, Terceira, Azores – Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores (overnight stay) – Funchal, Madeira – Lisbon, Portugal – Leixões, Matosinhos, Portugal – Liverpool, England

For more information on Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Fleet in Funchal sailings, visit fredolsencruises.com/four-freds-in-funchal 

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Posted in Cruise News, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
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