Saga Sapphire Emerging Canada: St John’s, Gaspé And Sept-Iles

After 6 days on the open ocean and not seeing any other form of human life for days, land was a welcome sight, but in true Danielle-style, I was heading straight back out to sea on a tour to Puffin Island. We’d finally reached St John’s, Newfoundland.

I’ve visited Norway and Iceland and did several tours in both destinations, in the hope of seeing a puffin, but it never materialised. St John’s was my puffin saviour because they were everywhere, which was good as Witless Bay Reserve is home to the largest puffin colony in North America. They are stunning birds, known as the ‘clowns of the sea’. I can’t say I’m a big fan of birds, but how could anyone not be blown away by the sight of such colourful and fun creatures. I had thought they were far bigger than what they actually are, they’re about the size of a small beer can.

The boat trip across to the reserve also allowed us to get up close to some colossal icebergs! We’d spotted a few from the ship as Saga Sapphire entered port, but these were so much bigger and the colour of blue rushing through them was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it was fascinating. Mother Nature at her finest. Our guide said they had likely made their way down from Greenland.

The tour also included a stop at Signal Hill and the views were breath-taking. We could see across to Cape Spear, which is the most easterly point in North America, and It was here that I met a gorgeous Newfoundland dog named ‘Chief’. He was loving the attention from visitors and leaned in for a selfie with me. I couldn’t refuse him, he was such a loveable dog.

We sailed from St John’s and briefly went off course, Captain Horne was taking us in search of icebergs and my goodness did he find them! They were everywhere. It was completely surreal. Huge mountains of ice were majestically thrusting themselves high out of the water, some glistening white and others dazzling us with their blue hues. It really was magnificent, and I felt hugely privileged to be witnessing something so beautiful.

Because of a low-pressure system directly over Sydney, our itinerary had to be altered slightly. We’d been due to arrive in Sydney on May 22nd but instead, we arrived earlier into Gaspé and then spent the night in port.

Gaspé was very pleasant, but very small. Once the ship was alongside and cleared, I went into town on the shuttle bus. In less than 2 hours I’d explored most of it, but I do like remote ports like Gaspé. Sometimes it’s nice to head ashore under your own steam and see what you find, rather than always having a plan in place.

There were several tours available, including one to Forillon National Park, but I opted out. I had pre-booked a walking tour in the national park, however, it was removed from the list once I was onboard. I did think about rebooking another tour which was similar but decided that it wasn’t meant to be. I enjoyed a leisurely morning onboard the following day, writing this very blog, making more bracelets and doing other glamorous jobs, like washing and ironing.

Saga Sapphire sailed from Gaspé mid-afternoon and began her journey to Sept-Iles, located at the mouth of the Gulf of St Lawrence. This was another port that wasn’t a mainstream tourism destination, but with hectic days ahead of us in Montreal and Quebec, it too was a welcome ‘take it easy’ day.

In the morning, I used the shuttle bus service and made my all-important call to Walmart, I really didn’t have time to do much else because the walk to most places was quite lengthy, the shuttle was only operating every 30 minutes and I had to be back early afternoon for a tour. Still, I enjoyed the ride on the bus to Walmart which went through the Innu community. Did you know they have their own schools, churches and even their own Police. I found it very interesting.

The afternoon was filled with thrill and adventure, as I’d booked myself onto the ‘Archipelago Scenic Zodiac’ tour. I do love a RIB ride! We didn’t quite stick to the scheduled itinerary because we spotted a blue whale within minutes of leaving the pier. It was magnificent. The first time I’d had the pleasure of not only seeing one but being so incredibly close. We floated around it for some time before then heading across to see the hundreds of birds on Corossal Island, one of the most important bird sanctuaries in eastern Canada. That encounter introduced me to razorbills and they’re now my new favourite bird. They look like flying penguins and flap their wings so incredibly fast but never seem to get anywhere. They were very cute and not at all phased by our presence. I also spotted some eider ducks as we left the island. They too are a fairly attractive bird.

We spent the following day at sea, sailing up the St Lawrence River towards Montreal. It was much warmer than it had been in days, and lots of passengers were out on the open decks looking for beluga whales, which several of them did manage to see. i also caught sight, they weren’t too far from the ship, but they don’t really make for great photos as you can’t see much of them. We had land either side of the ship for the duration of the day and it was practically perfect. I even enjoyed my chilli con carne lunch al-fresco while taking in the sights.


Our next ports would be Montreal and Quebec, and my days were action packed in both ports…

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Posted in Saga Cruises, Solo Cruising

Emerging Canada Aboard Saga Sapphire: Westbound Transatlantic Crossing

I’m back on dry land following yet another outstanding cruise aboard Saga Sapphire, and now I’m going to tell you all about it! This will be in several parts, so just sit back, relax and enjoy.

I joined the ship in Dover and was onboard within 15 minutes of arriving at the port. My first stop was at my cabin, a double outside on Deck 9. I opened the door and was greeted with the most beautiful sight, a rather large bed that was covered in fresh white linens and it was screaming my name. I’ve only ever had single beds on previous Saga sailings, so it was a welcome surprise, as was the spacious walk-in shower in the bathroom, as opposed to a shower over the bath. Yes, I was quite content and simply happy to be back aboard one of my favourite ships.

Our first sea day was glorious! The sun was shining, and the air temperature was mild. There was a swift breeze across the open decks, but I wasn’t complaining, I was back at sea! I spent most of the morning chatting with other passengers and watching the fighter jets tearing through the skies above, the noise was incredible, they were so close to the ship and frightened the life out of several people.

As the sea days went on, I started getting involved with other things onboard, including the quizzes, talks and lectures, and some evening entertainment in the Drawing Room. Cooper’s is my favourite bar on Saga Sapphire, but I was almost 2 weeks into the cruise before I spent an evening in there. I know, I could hardly believe it either, but I’d been doing so many other things and chatting with so many people in various public areas throughout the ship.

There really was so much going on during our transatlantic crossing, not a soul on the ship could find themselves bored. There were French classes, craft classes, numerous lectures and gaming activities and, of course, a variety of nightly shows and musical options. The ORCA team were also onboard for this sailing and they could be found on the open decks on most sea days. They spotted numerous birds and marine life, including the common dolphin, sperm whale, curviers beaked whale, fin whale, minke whale and beaked whale. I liked to pop into the Drawing Room every day to see what they’d added to the ‘sighting’ list.

I spent a lot of time down on Deck 2, that’s where the spa area is and the indoor pool. I liked it in there, it was warm (as was the pool), it smelt good and the music was very calming. On rougher days, the water in the pool would be swishing from side-to-side, which made my swim more difficult, and more fun. I’d spend around 30 minutes in the pool and then end my visit with a 20-minute jacuzzi, it was blissful. I’ve always loved swimming, but rarely do I find myself taking a dip, I definitely made up for it on this cruise. I did pop my head in the sauna, steam and Hammam rooms a few times, but they’re not for me, I couldn’t settle. The jacuzzi was definitely my little spa treat.

There were numerous speakers and lecturers onboard the cruise, including Dame Esther Rantzen. She held several talks and I was pleasantly surprised. Honestly, I hadn’t expected to engage with her talks as much as I did, I only went along to her first one to take some photographs and I found myself staying until the end. She was very funny, and I had no idea she’d once been arrested. It was a privilege to have been in her presence, she’s done a lot over the years for various charities and organisations and of course, she founded Childline back in 1986. She is also the founder of The Silver Line, a confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK. The service launched in November 2013 and to date has received more than 2 million calls. It’s there for older people who may be lonely, isolated or feel confused, and most of their calls are received in the evenings and at weekends. I personally think it is a fantastic charity and we need more like it. 

Aside from giving talks, Dame Esther also wrote a short poem about Saga and it went like this…

 ‘My Way’

 And so, the end is near

We’ve nearly crossed

The whole Atlantic

My friends, I start to fear

With fog and ice, we’re like Titanic

But you can trust the crew

Will sail us safely to Canada

Keep calm there’ll be no harm

Sailing with Saga


Yes, there were times

I lost my trust

I ate so much

My corset’s bust

I’ve had such fun this lovely trip

I never want to leave the ship

I’m in the mood

To stay for good

Sailing with Saga

 I don’t know about you, but I’d have been quite happy never leaving the ship. I felt like my heart was being wrenched from my chest when I disembarked yesterday, but now I’m starting to get ahead of myself – back to the begging of the cruise we go!

A lady named Hazel Griffiths was also onboard for this sailing and she’s a fantastic destination speaker. She’s clear, engaging and a fountain of knowledge. I enjoyed several of her talks, as they allowed me more insight into my tours before I’d been on them and, in some cases, they made me realise I’d probably made the wrong decision on some tours to begin with, so I then went along to the Explore Ashore desk and switched to something that was more along the lines of what I was looking for. Hazel also spoke about the general history of the places we were going to visit, so those opting to explore independently could still get some useful tips on things to see and do, and places to go. I really did find the talks helpful and would suggest that if you’re ever travelling on a sailing with Hazel, you do go along and listen to her, you’ll not be disappointed.

As mentioned, there were craft classes held in the mornings and afternoons on most sea days and they were always full. Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything worse than a craft class, it’s really not my thing at all, but before I knew it, I’d signed up to make a Kumihimo bracelet. The Supercrafters – several delightful men and women – holding the classes were brilliant. They were patient with those who were complete beginners and had options adventurous enough for those who were die hard crafters. Those who signed up to join a class could make everything and anything from a table lantern to a piece of stained glass.

I said I couldn’t think of anything worse than a craft class, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time making the bracelet and it wasn’t anywhere near as hard as I’d thought it would be. In fact, I was the first to finish. The classes were all free and in the case of the kumihimo bracelet making, passengers could take the remaining materials in their individual kits away with them, including the Kumihimo disk, and make 2 additional bracelets in their own time. This turned out to be slightly addictive for me and I quickly went back to the class and purchased more materials to make more bracelets. I then started passed them to several crew members as gifts. Since the class, I’ve also now mastered making Kumihimo keyring’s and my next task is to try making them whilst threading in small beads. Yes, that’s me, the non-crafty person.

The ‘Supercraft Cruise’ is the brainchild of Julie Peasgood and she is on a mission to spread the word about how fun, stress-reducing and therapeutic craft classes can be, for men and women! There was a variety of people at each class and they were always full. In my opinion, people enjoyed them so much because of the variation in what they could make – they weren’t just your typical craft classes, they were exciting! I know because that’s the reason I signed up, because it wasn’t just sewing bits of material or painting an object in the middle of the table. Lookout for the Supercrafters! I’m sure they’ll be coming to a ship near you very soon…

Food filled several hours of each day and as it always has been on Saga Sapphire, every dish was a masterpiece. I had fish and chips at the Beach Club, simple sandwiches for lunch, a variety of evening meals in The Verandah and the highlight of any Saga cruise, an outstanding culinary treat in East to West. I’d met several people at the beginning of the cruise, and we were all virtually attached at the hip, we did everything together, but there was one lady in particular whom I spent a lot of time with and her name was Pauline. She was travelling on her own and after telling her how good East to West was, she couldn’t wait to try it for herself, so I booked us a table. We indulged in scallops, prawns and beef, and it was fabulous. I was so full by the time we left, I could barely talk, or breathe for that matter. We both had to skip dessert.

Everyone onboard was getting settled into their daily activities and evening social gatherings, but it wouldn’t be long before we spotted land, and another form of life, after several days crossing the Atlantic Ocean…


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A-Rosa River Cruises Releases Renderings Of New ‘E-Motion’ Ship

A-ROSA River Cruises has released the first renderings of its ground-breaking new ship, which is due for delivery in Spring 2021. The vessel will feature onboard technology to reduce the line’s environmental footprint and is designed specifically to appeal to families and multi-generational guests.

New onboard innovations include battery propulsion for sailing emission free into and out of cities, air bubble technology to reduce fuel consumption and a range of family features including large family cabins sleeping up to five people, a children’s pool and a dedicated kids club area.

The ship, which will be built at Concordia Damen Werft shipyard in the Netherlands, will sail primarily on the Northern Rhine, departing from Cologne and calling at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Bruges and Antwerp. It will be the first river cruise ship on the Rhine to feature four decks.


Sustainability plays a key role in the new design, as A-ROSA looks to lead the way in lowering emissions and help protect the rivers and cities travels through.

The new ship will feature an ‘E-Motion’ concept which allows the ship to switch to battery power when approaching a city and arrive emission-free. Like all other ships in the fleet, the vessel will be equipped with a shore power connection, meaning the battery can be charged overnight and then the ship can also depart the city in the same way.

In addition to the energy-saving and environmental protection measures already in place at A-ROSA, the new ship will also have an optimised hull design and employ ‘DACS’ air-bubble technology – patented by the Damen shipyard – to reduce fuel consumption.


Designed specifically with family and multi-generational holidays in mind from the outset, a ‘family area’ will be created where spacious 28m2 family cabins sleeping up to five people, plus a dedicated kids club area are located. The ship will also feature a separate children’s pool, next to a large swimming pool on the sun deck. Furthermore, the restaurant will have a children’s area where young guests can eat together with their friends if desired.

Offering more personal space for guests than ever before, all double cabins will be 21m2 and offer a larger bathroom, plus a dedicated sleeping area and a living area. In addition, all double cabins will have a large balcony with seating for two people. The ship will also feature a separate suite area with six suites.

There will be an enlarged spa and wellness area with sauna, whirlpool, gym, ice room, heat-bench and various treatment rooms.

Lucia Rowe, managing director of A-ROSA River Cruises UK and Ireland comments: “This new ship really is a prototype on Europe’s rivers and something we haven’t seen before. We want to attract the growing multi-generational sector and encourage a much younger audience to consider river cruising as a family holiday choice. We have taken a tailor-made approach with this ship, building in line with what the river can accommodate and creatively offering more space for more experiences which is what today’s families want.”

A second ship is currently planned for 2023.

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Princess Cruises Announces US West Coast Sailings For 2020-2021

Princess Cruises has announced its largest ever west coast deployment for 2020-2021, to destinations including Hawaii, the California coast and Mexico.

The voyages depart from September 2020 to May 2021 and go on sale today.


A range of Hawaii options are open to guests, with roundtrip cruises available from four ports – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver – and sailings to destinations including Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Hilo.

New for the season are two 16-day cruises from Seattle on Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess. Star Princess (roundtrip Los Angeles), Ruby Princess (roundtrip San Francisco) and Grand Princess (roundtrip Vancouver) will also sail 15-day Hawaii cruises.

Emerald Princess and Star Princess will offer a 28-day Hawaii and Tahiti cruise roundtrip from Los Angeles, featuring visits to Tahiti, Moorea and an overnight stay in Bora Bora, plus Pago Pago and Samoa in addition to the Hawaiian Islands.

During days at sea, guests can experience the Hawaiian and South Pacific cultures onboard with activities including lei-making, ukulele playing, hula dance lessons and Polynesian language classes.

California coast

A variety of voyages along the California coast will be available including seven-day cruises from Los Angeles on the 3,560-guest Royal Princess and seven-day cruises from San Francisco on Ruby Princess and Star Princess. Guests can experience coastal towns and cities including Astoria, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Monterey. A Grand Princess 10-day option from Vancouver also includes stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Guests can choose from seven-day Pacific wine country cruises sailing between Los Angeles and Vancouver, which highlight the wine regions along the coast. Shorter, one-to five-day cruises are also available. Royal Princess’ sister ship, Regal Princess, will make her west coast debut with seven-day Pacific wine country cruises to San Francisco, San Diego and Astoria.

On land, Princess Cruises has developed exclusive culinary shore excursions in Santa Barbara, San Diego and Ensenada, as well as trips to the California wine country, visiting local vineyards and winemakers throughout the region.


Royal Princess will offer 25 cruises to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles, including seven-day options to destinations such as Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. Shorter, five-day sailings to Cabo San Lucas are also available with an overnight stay so guests can spend more time in port.

Ruby Princess will be based in San Francisco and depart on three 10-day cruises to the Mexican Riviera from the port of San Francisco including a sailaway under the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition, Emerald Princess and Star Princess will sail on five, 10-day Baja Peninsula & Sea of Cortez voyages, visiting Cabo San Lucas (overnight), La Paz, Loreto and Puerto Vallarta, roundtrip from Los Angeles.

Princess’ ships in Mexico will offer locally-inspired food and drink with menu items such as ceviche, tacos and mole, as well as margaritas and a premium tequila tasting. Meanwhile younger cruisers can enjoy Mexican arts and crafts while learning about the traditions and customs of the places they’ll visit.

Example sailings:

  • Princess Cruises is offering a 15-night Hawaii Islands sailing on Ruby Princess, roundtrip from San Francisco. Departing November 23, 2020 ports of call include Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai (Nawiliwili), Maui (Lahaina) and Ensenada.
  • Princess Cruises is offering a 7-night Classic California Coast sailing on Royal Princess, roundtrip from Los Angeles. Departing October 31, 2020 ports of call include San Francisco, Monterey, San Diego and Ensenada.
  • Princess Cruises is offering a 7-night Mexican Riviera sailing on Royal Princess, roundtrip from Los Angeles. Departing January 9, 2021 ports of call include Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.
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Princess Cruises Unveils Gin Tasting Experience On Sapphire Princess

Princess Cruises is offering a new gin tasting experience on its UK-based ship, the 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess.

As part of the experience, guests will have the opportunity to taste a range of gins, from light and floral to bold and heavy. Popular brands as well as lesser-known varieties will be on offer.

Afterwards, guests will be given the opportunity to taste and make the vessel’s own ‘Sapphire Princess’ cocktail, which is now available on the ship.

Created in partnership with the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, the cocktail is served exclusively on Sapphire Princess. It has a generous measure of Bombay Sapphire gin, which is itself made with botanical ingredients sourced from several of the countries and destinations Sapphire Princess sails to. The cocktail’s mixers include Blue Curacao to evoke the sea, and a splash of Prosecco to signify the fizz and bubbles created by waves in the water.

Guests will also learn about the history of gin, including the reasons for its recent booming popularity.

The tastings are available for $25 per person.

Throughout their cruise and with their newfound knowledge, guests also have the option to sit back and relax in one of the 12 bars onboard and let one of the bartenders serve a cocktail creation from the extensive onboard menu.

The 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess is sailing from Southampton on a number of roundtrip cruises to the Mediterranean, northern Europe and Canada & New England from April to October.

Princess Cruise is offering an 11-night Canary Islands cruise sailing roundtrip from Southampton on Sapphire Princess. Departing Tuesday October 8, 2019, ports of call include Vigo (Spain), Madeira (Portugal), Santa Cruz De Tenerife (Spain), Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) and Lanzarote (Canary Islands).

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Hapag-Lloyd’s First Expedition Class Ship Sets Sail


Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has presented HANSEATIC nature for the first time. This is the first of three, structurally- identical ships in the cruise line’s new expedition class. The ship left Hamburg on 5 May 2019 for her inaugural cruise, which will take in the Hebrides, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands, finishing in Bergen. This summer, the ship will visit the Arctic.

HANSEATIC nature is a small, manoeuvrable and state-of-the-art expedition ship, to be positioned in the 5-star segment. Her construction, design and routes revolve around providing a true expedition experience and getting as close as possible to nature. She also offers the highest standards of comfort and service. The second, international ship – the HANSEATIC inspiration – will be commissioned in October 2019, followed by the HANSEATIC spirit in May 2021. The new expedition class is being financed by an investment from the parent TUI Group; therefore, all ships in the fleet are the property of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and the TUI Group.

The new ship can accommodate up to 230 guests, or 199 on Antarctic cruises and circumnavigations of Spitsbergen. She raises the bar in the expedition cruise segment and features many special structural elements that enhance further the expedition experience. The PC6 ice class, two extendible balconies, the Nature Walk deck tour at the ship’s bow, 17 on-board Zodiacs and E-Zodiacs with eco-friendly electric drive systems and a marina and on-board kayaks all enable passengers to enjoy intensive experiences of nature.

HANSEATIC nature also features cutting-edge equipment and environmental technology. All three, new ships are fitted with an SCR catalytic converter, which reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by almost 95 %. The ships also have PROMAS rudders with special propellers and a special hull design to reduce fuel consumption and, therefore, lower emissions. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has implemented a range of environmental protection measures, some of which go beyond the legal requirements. For example, the company does not use heavy oil in areas that require particular protection and uses low-pollutant marine gas oil on around 70 % of its expedition cruises. From July 2020, marine gas oil will be used on all routes for the entire expedition fleet. All new ships are equipped for cold ironing.

Between cruises to the Arctic in the European summer and expeditions to the Antarctic in the European winter, the HANSEATIC nature will also offer warmer water cruises to destinations such as the Amazon, the South Seas, Chile’s fjords, the Azores and Cape Verde. This allows passengers to visit remote, faraway places and embark on expeditions on the doorsteps of Europe.

Guests can discover fascinating information about the nature and environment of global expedition destinations not only on land but also on-board in innovative centres of knowledge. Experts will give daily presentations in the HanseAtrium, a separable multifunctional lounge with state-of-the-art technology and large LED screens on the walls and below the ceiling. On Deck 8, the heart of the Ocean Academy is the study wall, a 6 × 1.8 m (19 × 5.9 ft) touchscreen wall. Here guests can conduct individual studies and research to deepen their knowledge of the natural wonders they encounter on shore excursions and Zodiac rides. The content – provided by the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, as well as scientists, experts and journalists – is displayed, for example, in the form of articles, videos and biographies. The Ocean Academy also has four Study Seats, digital study posters and a microscope area.

“Inspired by nature”, the philosophy of the new expedition ships, has been brought to life by the OCEANARCHITECTS architectural office to reflect their expeditionary spirit. Nature is not only experienced outside but also is reflected in the ship’s interior design.

The 120 cabins and suites on HANSEATIC nature range from Panoramic Cabins at 21 m2 (226 ft2) to Grand Suites at 71 m2 (764 ft2). There are exclusively outside cabins, almost all of which have their own balcony, or French balcony.

The Hamptons speciality restaurant has 44 seats and promises culinary diversity, serving North American specialities with the easy-going maritime flair of the East Coast. The expedition ship has two more restaurants: the HANSEATIC Restaurant (main restaurant) with 178 seats and the Lido Restaurant with 184 seats (indoor and outdoor), a barbecue and a show kitchen. Flexible mealtimes and free choice of seating in the restaurants ensure that guests can fit their meals around their expedition experiences, not the other way around.

HANSEATIC nature has spacious wellness and fitness areas and a large pool area with a counter-current system.

Sister ship, the HANSEATIC inspiration, will set sail this October. This will be the second new expedition ship from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and all cruises will be conducted in both German and English.

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Viking Announces New Egypt Ship And Privileged Access Experiences For 2020

Viking has announced the expansion of its Egypt programme for the 2020 season, which will include the launch of a new ship. Inspired by the design of the award-winning Viking Longships and built specifically for the Nile River, Viking Osiris is currently under construction and will double the company’s owned capacity in Egypt when it debuts in September 2020. Also launching next year are two new Pre-Cruise Extensions designed to enhance guests’ base knowledge of Egyptology prior to arriving in Cairo. These five-day extensions to Viking’s Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary will provide guests with Privileged Access to archives and exhibits in London and Oxford that are not normally accessible to the public. This announcement comes as Viking guests continue to express strong interest in Egypt – and just one year after the company launched Viking Ra, a completely renovated vessel and Viking’s first owned and operated ship on the Nile.

Viking Osiris

Hosting 82 guests in 41 staterooms, Viking Osiris will be a state-of-the art ship with the clean, elegant Scandinavian design for which Viking is known – and will join the company’s other ship on the Nile, Viking

Ra, which launched in 2018. Viking is the first and only Western company to build, own and operate ships on the Nile.

New Pre-Cruise Extensions Building on the success of the Oxford & Highclere Castle programme – Viking’s highest-rated Pre/Post Extension that visits “The Real Downton Abbey” – the company has applied the same degree of Privileged Access to two new curated Pre-Cruise Extensions that allow guests to retrace the steps of the world’s most famous Egyptologist, Howard Carter, and his benefactor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Guests on the five-day British Collections of Ancient Egypt extension will meet their Viking Tour Director, an expert Egyptologist, in London and experience Privileged Access to two museums: first a private, early morning visit to the Egyptian Collection at the British Museum before it opens to the general public – and then a visit to the home and personal museum of world-renowned architect, Sir John Soane, where the tour will be illuminated by candlelight, a re-enactment of how Soane entertained guests and showcased his exquisite collection of Egyptian antiquities, including a 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus. Guests will also visit London’s Petrie Museum, which houses more than 80,000 artefacts from ancient Egypt and Sudan. In Oxford, guests will visit the Ashmolean Museum, one of the oldest in the world, and home to a varied collection of Egyptian mummies and art – and go behind the scenes at Oxford University’s Griffith Institute, where they will enjoy a Privileged Access visit to see Carter’s archives, which detail the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Lastly, guests will have an opportunity to visit Highclere Castle – the country seat of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon – and enjoy an exciting opportunity to view the earl’s magnificent private collection of Egyptian artefacts. Guests travelling through April 2020 may opt for the new five-day King Tut & the UK’s Egyptian Collections extension, which also includes an opportunity to visit Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, a special exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery that is presented by Viking featuring the largest collection of Tutankhamun’s treasures ever to travel outside of Egypt.

Pharaohs & Pyramids

During the 12-day, Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary, guests experience Egypt’s cultural treasures in seven destinations. The cruisetour begins with a three-night stay at a first-class hotel in Cairo, where guests can visit iconic sites such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the necropolis of Sakkara and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Guests will then fly to Luxor, where they will visit the Temples of Luxor and Karnak before boarding a Viking river ship for an eight-day roundtrip cruise on the Nile River, featuring Privileged Access

to the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, and excursions to the Temple of Khnum in Esna, the Dendera Temple complex in Qena, the temples at Abu Simbel and the High Dam in Aswan, and a visit to a colourful Nubian village, where guests can experience a traditional elementary school. Finally, the journey concludes with a flight back to Cairo for a final night in the ancient city.

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Princess Cruises Begins 50th Alaska Season

Princess Cruises’ 50th year sailing in Alaska is now under way following the arrival of the 3,080-guest Ruby Princess in America’s northernmost state. A further six ships will head to Alaska, including the 3,560-guest Royal Princess on May 11, marking the cruise line’s largest ever deployment to the region.

Princess is offering a variety of cruise and cruisetour options up to September, which will encompass the state’s must-see attractions including Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park. Alaska cruises range in length from seven to 12 days and depart from Vancouver, Anchorage (Whittier), Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Princess also owns and operates five wilderness lodges in riverside locations near national parks, offering more than 20 cruisetour options for guests. Princess cruisetours combine a seven-day cruise with a multi-night land tour and exclusive ‘direct to the wilderness’ rail service.

Several new initiatives have been introduced to mark the 50th anniversary. They will be offered alongside Princess Cruises’ ‘North to Alaska’ onboard programme, which includes ‘puppies in the piazza’ – when some of Alaska’s newest sled dogs and their handlers come aboard – and the ‘cook my catch’ fishing shore excursion.

The initiatives include:

  • A number of new shore excursions in Juneau, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point such as:

– A luxury whale watch by yacht in Juneau

– An interactive self-guided jeep adventure in Juneau

– The Ketchikan pub walk

– A rainforest trail bike and hike adventure in Ketchikan

– A seafood feast and tribal dance show in Icy Strait Point

– A wilderness hike and kayak adventure in Icy Strait Point

  • The introduction of the ‘Glacier Tea’ cocktail, a take on the Long Island Ice Tea that is topped off with Blue Curacao, which is similar to the brilliant glacier blue colour found in Alaska
  • A special Alaska beer tasting flight, featuring blends from the Juneau-based Alaskan Brewing Company
  • An onboard Northern Lights planetarium in the theatre of every Alaska ship
  • A mini museum exhibit featuring notable images from the 50 years Princess Cruises has sailed to Alaska

Princess Cruises is offering a 7-night Inside Passage cruise on Star Princess departing September 15, 2019. Sailing roundtrip from Seattle, ports of call include Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord (scenic cruising), Juneau, Skagway and Victoria (British Columbia).

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Posted in Cruise News, Princess Cruises

Cards Against Humanity, Assault By Lollipop, Orange Pants And A Box Of Wine – These Are Some Of My Funny Cruise Stories

I’ve spent so much time onboard cruise ships that nothing really surprises me anymore when it comes to things I’ve seen or heard from my fellow passengers and crew members. I could write a book. An anonymous book, but I could write one. These are just a few of my funny cruise stories and I hope you all enjoy them! Have you any tales to tell from the high seas? Leave me a comment or join in the chat on Facebook and Twitter.

Assault by lollipop

On a cruise in 2016, my friend and I met a wonderful couple who were part of the guest entertainment line-up for that sailing. We got on brilliantly and to this day we still keep in touch.

One evening, my friend and I decided it would be funny to write little riddles for them and post them under their cabin door, anonymously, of course.

The morning the ship arrived in Fuerteventura, we slid another note under the door before heading for breakfast and then to the lounge to check in for our tour. We’d been leaving notes for a few days and never given it much more thought than in the moment.

As we waited for the stragglers to get back to the coach, the lady started telling me that she was worried she had a stalker onboard. She kept receiving odd notes under the door and she was going to report it to reception. With the penny now not just dropping with me, but sinking, I asked her if she was sure it wasn’t just someone having a joke, it didn’t sound at all sinister to me – she’d even shown me one of the notes – it just seemed like a guessing game.

After several more minutes of conversation, I boarded the tour coach and raced to the back to tell my friend that we had a problem.

We were crying with laughter, but also felt we should come clean. I left the bus and told the lady that we were behind the notes under the door and as we were neighbours and her husband a retired police officer, they probably should have figured that out. I was promptly beaten (in the friendliest of ways) with the typical tour guide lollipop and then chased up the gangway by her husband when we returned to the ship. We’re still good friends, but they know to watch out when we’re about.

Drinking under the table

On a cruise across to the Caribbean several years ago I spotted something odd.

It was a warm evening, so my friend and I decided to sit outside and chat, with a few drinks from the bar, obvs. An older couple were sat two tables down from us and I noticed that they never went to the bar, but their glasses were always full of wine. I watched for a while and then I realised what was going on. In the classiest of classy ways, they were refilling their wine glasses from a box of wine that was being concealed behind the ladies oversized bag.

That was the first and last time I did see a box of wine aboard a cruise ship. I have to be honest, in an odd way, I was quite impressed.

Put on some clothes

A man in bright orange Speedo’s was the hot topic of conversation for 2 weeks during a Mediterranean sailing, which was also my second cruise.

I’m not saying he was unattractive to look at, but I can’t have a conversation with someone that is standing in front of me naked, aside from one pair of very small, bright orange pants. I felt like I was starring in National Lampoon’s Vacation, I was just waiting for cousin Eddie to turn up.

Cards Against Humanity

This story is exactly why you should never judge a book by its cover. It was a Saga ship, yes, Saga, and on evenings before sea days a group of us would gather on the Verandah for a risky and raucous game of Cards Against Humanity.

There were no rules, aside from having fun, and we would sit for hours, sometimes until the early hours of the morning, laughing and joking, and hollering at the crew that were trying to hose the deck above but showering us in the process.

Each day, my friend and I would be asked “are you bringing the cards out tonight, girls?” the Saganauts were hooked! They couldn’t get enough of it.

Our record for gamers in one night was 16 and we were all perched around our makeshift gaming table. That evening, myself and another female passenger were the last ladies standing. We stayed up until 3am chatting about life and enjoying our drinks. We passed one another the following day and said we had to ensure that we were never left alone together again – she hadn’t managed to greet the day until it was almost time for afternoon tea, and I’d certainly not been up before the sunrise.

You know, I really do love cruising!

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Posted in General Cruise Articles

Unlock Your Inner Sommelier With Emerald Waterways

With London Wine Week just around the corner, the appetite for learning about wine grows ever stronger, so why not head to one of the homes of wine, France, and join Emerald Waterways on the eight-day Flavours of Burgundy and Provence river cruise.

Starting from £2,195 per person sharing a double Emerald Stateroom (based on 4th and 11th July or 1st and 8th August departures). If the city of love is a must see on this French trip you can enjoy a three-night extension in Paris from an additional £750 per person including three nights’ accommodation, breakfast, guided city tour.

This exclusive river cruise is the perfect choice for wine-lovers looking to learn more about wine, as we open the doors of world-renowned wine estates like Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Château de Meursault for private tastings. Witness the stunning vineyard-laden vistas, with plenty of opportunity to sample the local wares, while enjoying the company of our special guests, all of whom will bring favourite wines from their mothering countries

Highlights include a Provençal dinner, hosted by Chef Fabien Morreale, complete with wine pairing, wine master classes, Q&A sessions and tastings hosted by international wine experts including Tim Atkin and Robyn Stark. As well as, a guided tour of Valrhona Cite du Chocolate, hunting for truffles with a local farmer in Tournus and a gourmet walking tour of Avignon all part of included  EmeraldPLUS, EmeraldACTIVE and ‘Uncorked’ Hosted Wine Events experiences.

The eight-day cruise departs from Marseille and heads to Arles, Avignon and Vivers before moving onto Tournon, Lyon, Chalon-Su-Saône before ending in Lyon  (all France) where guests disembark for the flight home.

Guests also have the choice of a no-fly option on this particular itinerary and can opt to travel via Eurostar at no extra charge. The no-fly option offers guests a great alternative to flying, as well as a quick and easy way to get to the Star-Ships docking location.

All prices include return flights, transfers, seven nights on board, six EmeraldEXCURSIONS, four EmeraldACTIVE and two EmeraldPLUS highlights. 20 on board meals with selected *drinks and even all tips.

Regional departures available include London Heathrow and Manchester.

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Posted in Cruise News, Emerald Waterways

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