Thursday, 30 September 2010

River Cruise Prize Draw at The Cruise Show

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Visitors to the Avalon Waterways stand (C12) at the Daily Telegraph’s Cruise Show taking place at Birmingham’s NEC from October 16-17 will be able to take advantage of an exclusive Cruise Show booking offer, special offers as well as enter a cruise holiday prize draw.

By booking at the Cruise Show, visitors can enjoy significant savings on their holiday. Not only that, they can enter an exciting prize draw to win an 8-day ‘Tulip Time’ cruise for two, worth more than £2,800. Avalon’s brand new cruise highlights the wide open spaces of Holland and Belgium with the pretty windmills of Kinderdijk, the medieval centre of Ghent and the dazzling displays of colourful tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens.

City sightseeing includes Antwerp’s superb architecture, the cosmopolitan city port of Rotterdam and the famous canals of Amsterdam. The prize includes chauffeur-driven transfers to and from home to the nearest UK airport (within a 75-mile radius), return flights and transfers, full board accommodation and complimentary soft drinks, wine or beer served with dinner.

The Avalon team, including knowledgeable cruise director Mark Wismeijer, will be on hand to tell visitors about their sleek and young fleet of ships with luxurious facilities and spacious staterooms, sized at 172sq ft each, as well as the highest levels of personalised service, fine dining and other creature comforts.

Would-be river cruisers can learn more about Avalon’s carefully-planned itineraries, with included excursions to get the most out of visiting Europe’s fascinating cities, famous landmarks and beautiful landscapes.

With state-of-the-art technology and design, these small and intimate ships are specially designed to provide the most relaxing environment to enjoy the passing scenery. Visitors will also hear about the two new ships which have been launched this year, the Avalon Felicity and Avalon Luminary (above).

Mark Wismeijer will be taking part in a panel discussion on river cruising on Saturday 16 October at 4pm in Cruise Theatre One. With cruise expert Steve Read acting as moderator, cruise executives from a number of river cruise companies will be taking a closer look at discovering the world by river. They will be joined by well known cruising journalist Jane Archer.

For further information or to request a brochure, ring Avalon Waterways on 0800 668 1802 or look up www.avaloncruises.co.uk/show.

Dont forget to check out the full details on the Cruise Show venues at Birmingham in October (16-17) and London next March (26-27).

Sea Trials for Oceania's Marina

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Scheduled to launch in January 2011, Oceania Cruises’ new 1,250-guest Marina successfully completed her sea trials on September 26, including three days of sailing the Mediterranean for the first time.

During the trials, technicians and engineers from the Fincantieri shipyard and Oceania's own marine and technical teams evaluated the vessel’s speed, maneuverability, hydrodynamics and propulsion, among many other aspects of the ship’s performance.

“She is a beautiful ship. Marina was extremely maneuverable with virtually no vibration to be felt, even at high speeds,” stated Captain Dimitrios Flokos, the ship’s master. “Marina exceeded all expectations. In fact, shipyard representatives commented this was the most successful sea trial in recent history for technical performance.” A second and final round of trials will be run just prior to the ship’s delivery. The 65,000-ton ship – being built at Fincantieri in Sestre Ponente, Italy – is scheduled for delivery January 17.

“Her first foray at sea was a resounding success. Marina exhibited exceptional sea-keeping abilities, is amazingly agile and cruised at more than 22 knots with plenty of power in reserve,” said Robin Lindsay, the line’s executive vice president of vessel operations, who was on board during the test run. “Now that sea trials are successfully concluded, we will focus on finishing her magnificent interiors.”

The ship’s inaugural schedule includes a 13-day Maiden Voyage departing January 22 from Barcelona to Miami, where inaugural activities are planned. On February 8, Marina departs on the first of two 18-day Panama Canal transits that visit San Francisco or San Diego, both new ports for Oceania Cruises. Marina then operates a 12-day Caribbean cruise, round-trip from Miami, departing March 16, before sailing along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and on to Europe to begin her inaugural Mediterranean season.

To learn more about Marina, visit www.oceaniacruises.co.uk/ and, for great deals, check out www.cruiseline.co.uk/oceania-cruises/.

Don’t forget, too, that you can find out more in person at the wonderful CRUISE Show, which will be held in Birmingham on October 16-17 and in London next March (26-27).

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Christmas in the Med

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Two press releases about cruising at Christmas popped in to my inbox this morning. Both are completely different, so I thought I'd put them both on for you. Here's the first with the second one below (on Hurtigruten in Antarctica).

You can escape the traditional turkey and tinsel at home this Christmas and head to the Med on an 18-night Ultimate Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas from just £1,633 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin). Activities on board during the cruise include Christmas themed ice-skating, a Santa parade, festive films, music and decorations, plus carolling with cast and staff.

Independence is brimming with 15 decks of activities, including a Flowrider surf park at sea, an onboard ice-skating rink, rock climbing wall, a children’s water park, a teen-only nightclub, mother-and-daughter/father-and-son spa facilities, basketball and volleyball courts, a miniature golf course and shopping.

The price includes an 18-night cruise departing from Southampton, calling at Lisbon, Palma De Mallorca (above ), Barcelona, Livorno, Civitavechia (for Rome), Naples, Capri, Gibraltar and Cadiz before returning to Southampton; all meals and entertainment on board and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Departure is December 21, 2010.

For more information or to book, see http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/ or http://www.cruiseline.co.uk/royal-caribbean-cruises/

And why not have a look at Royal Caribbean at The Cruise Show venues at the NEC in Birmingham (October 16-17) and Olympia, London (March 26-27, 2011)?

Christmas in the Antarctic

By guest blogger Steve Newman

For the ultimate Christmas escape, it doesn’t get much more remote than a voyage to Antarctica. This Christmas, why not leave the turkey behind and take advantage of a great new offer from Hurtigruten to spend the festive period on the White Continent?

Follow in the footsteps of famous explorers and join ‘Shackleton’s Christmas Adventure,’ a 17-day journey to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. The voyage now costs from £4125pp for an outside cabin (allocated on arrival), offering savings of up to £3379 per person.

Christmas and New Year will, of course, be celebrated, but guests can relax and focus on enjoying their surroundings. Treats include decorating the ship’s Christmas tree together, traditional Christmas dinner on 24 December in accordance with Norwegian traditions, carol singing and much more, plus a New Year’s Eve Party. All this, against some of the most awe-inspiring backdrops in the world and shared with the local penguins, seals and whales!

The trip departs on December 17, on board MS Fram, a ship specifically designed for polar exploration. Onboard lecturers and talks led by experts on Antarctica will ensure guests learn as much as possible whilst they are in these unique surroundings. Polar Circle boats are used to take passengers ashore and closer to penguin colonies, ice formations and all the other once-in-a-lifetime sights.

Shackleton’s Christmas Adventure – now from £4125pp; price includes 16 nights full board on the ship, return domestic charter flights between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, transfers and various landings. International flights to Buenos Aires are extra and can be booked by Hurtigruten (price based on two sharing and offer must be booked by November 15).

For more information, visit www.hurtigruten.co.uk or check with the Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

And don't miss them if you are going to The Cruise Show at the NEC in Birmingham (October 16-17) or at Olympia in London (March 26-27).

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

MSC add Middle East Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

The elegant MSC Lirica (above) will be based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the first time for her busy 2011-2012 winter season. The itinerary of the MSC Cruises vessel includes a full schedule of nineteen 8-day/7-night voyages from Abu Dhabi, with departures every Sunday from October 30, 2011, to March 4, 2012, and from Dubai, with departures every Friday.

The 59,000-ton Lirica, which has capacity for a total of 2,069 guests in 780 cabins, will call at the port of Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, Al Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, the island Kingdom of Bahrain and include two unforgettable nights in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE.

On October 14, 2011, the ship will depart from Genoa for a 17-day maiden cruise to Abu Dhabi, to start her first ever season in the region. Her southbound course will take her to Naples and Port Said, through the Suez Canal to Aqaba in Jordan, then Salalah and Muscat in Oman and finally to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Arabia will say farewell to Lirica five months later when she starts her northbound return cruise with scheduled stops in Al Fujairah, Muscat, Salalah, Safaga, Aqaba, Port Sokhna (Egypt), Port Said and finally Naples and Genoa.

For more information, got to www.MSCcruises.co.uk

Have you checked out what's happening at The Cruise Show held in Birmingham in October and London in March?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Cruise the Med for less than £40 a day!

Mediterranean specialist Louis Cruises has cut the cost of four of its late-season cruises on chic flagship Louis Majesty.

For sailings from Marseille, cruises now start at just £319 per person – for a nine-day/eight night ‘Iberian Coasts’ itinerary departing November 30.


That’s a full-scale Med cruise for less than £40 per person per night and includes full board on the ship, on-board entertainment, all port taxes and charges. All passengers have to do is get themselves to Marseille.


The ship calls at Barcelona, Alicante, Malaga, Almeria and Genoa as well as Gibraltar and the North African cities of Tangier and Casablanca.


Other, similarly discounted Louis Majesty cruises out of Marseille are:


· 31 October, nine-day ‘Tunis, Malta & Italy’ itinerary: now from £379, or just over £47 per person per night

· 20 November, 11 day ‘Moorish Coasts’ itinerary: now from £389, that’s less than £40 per person per night

· 8 December, 13 day ‘Canary Islands, Morocco & Spain’: now from £449, also less than £40 per person per night


And once on board, cruisers can save 50 per cent when it comes to drinks, paying just £12.50 per day for an all-inclusive drinks package, with unlimited glasses of beer, wine, cocktails and spirits in the ships’ bars and at meals.


All prices are per person for twin share of a Standard Inside Stateroom: other cabin types are available. Travel to/from Marseille and shore excursions are not included in the price. Marseille is served by both low cost airlines and high-speed TGV trains.


For more information, call 0800 018 3883 or look up www.louiscruises.com.

L'Oreal Paris and Costa Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

L’Oréal Paris, the truly global beauty brand synonymous with innovation, glamour, the highest quality and affordable luxury, has opened its first flagship store on the Costa Pacifica, the largest of Costa Cruises' impressive fleet.

The L’Oréal Paris store on the Pacifica is an international cosmetic shopping experience devoted to total beauty care. The new outlet is designed to meet all passengers' beauty needs and includes skin care, hair care and colour, men’s grooming, sun care and – of course – cosmetics, with an exclusive make-up corner where matte finish, flawless foundation, personal colour palette and micro-pearls are among the star attractions.

There will also be a make-up artist on hand and a special relaxation area helping passengers to enjoy the experience fully.

The partnership is the result of the L’Oréal Paris brand’s determination to enter the world of cruising and join European brand Costa, whose ships have plied the seas of the world for more than 60 years and now feature a genuine worldwide range of travel and entertainment.

The Pacifica will be operating this coming winter on 11-day cruises to Egypt, Israel, Greece and Turkey. Facilities on board include the Samsara Spa (over 6,000m²), which has conveniently located Spa cabins with direct access and a dedicated restaurant; a state-of-the-art recording studio; a Grand Prix driving simulator; a stunning central lido extending over two decks and fitted with a sliding glass roof; and the fun PlayStation World.

Find out more at www.costacruises.co.uk.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Free flights on South Pacific Cruise

By guest blogger Steve Newman

There is just one week to wait until the opening of the most important Gauguin exhibition in Britain in 50 years and, to celebrate, Paul Gauguin Cruises is offering free return flights on its 14-night Polynesian cruise of the Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands departing December 4, 2010.

Discover the inspiration behind many of Gauguin's greatest works on a 14-night cruise on the 332-guest Paul Gauguin departing from Papeete. One of the highlights of the cruise is a visit to the Marquesas which lie shrouded in mystery with their mist-laden mountains and untouched wilderness.

Here, wild stallions run free on Ua Huka; Fatu Hiva boasts only one road; and, on Hiva Oa, Paul Gauguin himself is buried beneath a statue of a Polynesian goddess.

This 14-night cruise departs Papeete, Tahiti on December 4 and visits Fakarava; Hanavave, Fatu Hiva; Atuona, Hiva Oa; Vaipaee, Ua Huka; Tiaohae, Nuku Hiva; Huahine; Bora Bora; Taha'a, Motu Mahana; and Moorea before finishing back in Papeete.

Prices start from £4,187 per person, including free return scheduled flights between London and Papeete, transfers, 14 nights in an ocean-view stateroom with all meals, soft drinks, selected alcoholic beverages and gratuities.

For reservations and further information, visit http://www.pgcruises.com/, or, in the UK, call specialist cruise agents The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Celebrity Wine Cruise

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Guests onboard a Celebrity cruise departing between 1 November and 11 December 2010 will have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of exclusive wine-related events including the cruise line's second annual onboard Wine Harvest Celebration.

Highlights of this special onboard event include an emphasis on French food, wine and spirits, all presented in partnership with the French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and available on Celebrity's ships from November 1.

Celebrity Cruises will reprise its 2009 industry-first unveiling of Beaujolais Nouveau across the fleet on 18 November (19 November on Celebrity Century). Hosted by a guest speaker and Celebrity's own Cellar Master, the event will offer guests the opportunity to sip the eagerly-anticipated light wine from oak casks and commemorative bottles, while enjoying live music and dancing, canapés, gourmet French cheese and a roast carving station.

Throughout the course of the celebration, a "Celebrity Wine Harvest Exhibition" will be open to all guests on embarkation day. Hosted by certified sommeliers, it features a complimentary glass of house wine, canapés and hors d'oeuvres, and an overview of the varied wine experiences and packages available for guests, paired with the opportunity to make reservations for limited-capacity events.

The Wine Harvest Celebration will be offered on nine of Celebrity's 10 ships; Celebrity Xpedition, the 92-guest mega-yacht sailing year-round in the Galapagos Islands, will not offer these activities.

For more information, see http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/

Berlitz Cruising

By guest blogger Steve Newman

When it comes to life on the ocean waves, small is beautiful according to the eagerly awaited 2011 Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships, the world’s most trusted guide (published Oct 4, 2010). Having reviewed 285 cruise ships, the new Berlitz Guide names the top-rated vessels for 2011, with the 10 most highly-rated being officially ‘small’ or ‘boutique’, and explains why they scored as highly as they did.

Europa (above), a ‘Small Ship’ of Hapag Lloyd Cruises, is the only vessel to receive the exclusive 5-star Plus rating, scoring the highest with 1,853 points out of a possible 2,000. Although a ship may be the latest, most stunning vessel in the world in terms of design and décor, if the food, service, staff and hospitality are not so good, the scores and ratings will reflect these. In this way, although Europa is now 11 years old, it looks almost new, thanks to the dedication of its crew and owners.

Within Europa’s wake are:

SeaDream II (1,788 points)
Seabourn Odyssey (1,787)
Seabourn Sojourn (1,787)
SeaDream I (1,786)
Seabourn Legend (1,774)
Silver Spirit (1,772)
Seabourn Spirit (1,770)
Seabourn Pride (1,769)
Silver Whisper (1,753)
Silver Shadow (1,750)

Douglas Ward is the world’s top authority on cruising and cruise ships, with more than 40 years of experience. He continues to spend some 200 days a year aboard cruise ships, inspecting and evaluating their facilities.

Commenting on the ratings system, he says: “There really is no best cruise line in the world or best cruise ship – only those that are right for you. With cruise ships, the goal posts keep changing as the industry evolves and matures. Ship owners, cruise operators, wholesalers and tour packagers keep redefining their product, pricing and marketing strategies in order to fill ships and make a profit.”

The fully revised and updated edition of the Guide, now in its 26th year of publication, also previews the 20 new ships set to debut between 2011 and 2014. Among the newcomers previewed is Queen Elizabeth, with a focus on why Cunard’s new liner, set to launch on October 11, should not be seen as a replacement for the much-loved QE2.

Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships 2011 (£16.99, 720 pages) will be available from all good bookshops from October 4.

For further information, visit http://www.berlitzpublishing.com/

Friday, 24 September 2010

Sojourn's Southampton Debut

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Seabourn Sojourn, The Yachts of Seabourn’s newest deluxe ship, is making its debut in Southampton on April 27, 2011. The Port of Southampton will be the second UK port to feature a visit from Sojourn and is the final stop on its 111-day grand World Cruise from Los Angeles.

The ultra-chic vessel also represents the first luxury cruising-yacht to sail into and depart from Southampton in 2011. On the same day it arrives, Sojourn also sets sail on its round-trip Mediterranean Sojourn I & II itinerary, arriving back in the UK on May 14. The following day, Sojourn makes its final departure for the year from the famous south coast port, headed for Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea.

Itineraries including Southampton:

MAIDEN VOYAGE WORLD CRUISE SEGMENT VOYAGE
15th – 27th April 2011; 12 Days
Rome – Southampton
Ports of call: Rome, Barcelona, Valencia, Cartagena, Lisbon, Bordeaux and Southampton;
cruise-only fares from £3,099 per person

MEDITERRANEAN SOJOURN I & II
27th April 2011 – 14th May 2011; 18 Days
Southampton round-trip
Ports of call: Southampton, Vigo, Gibraltar, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Rome, Florence, Alicante, Lisbon, Porto and Southampton; cruise-only fares from £5,399 per person (including car parking at Southampton)

BALTIC SOJOURN
15th – 25th May 2011; 10 Days
Southampton – Copenhagen
Ports of call: Southampton, Stockholm, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki and Copenhagen; cruise-only fares from £3,899 per person

All fares are based on double occupancy and two people sharing a grade A Seabourn suite, including in-resort transfers, fully inclusive cruise, all fine dining, open bar, fully stocked mini-bar, tips and gratuities onboard.

Sojourn is the second of Seabourn's award-winning Odyssey-class vessels and accommodates guests in 225 spacious suites, 90 per cent of which have private verandas. Top-of-the-range staterooms include the Wintergarden Suites with private solarium and veranda, and Signature Suites with sweeping verandas and unrivalled views facing forward. The two-deck, state-of-the-art Spa at Seabourn features a Spa Villa that can be privately reserved, as well as a Kneipp Walk, herbal bath facility and an aroma steam bath with salt inhalation. The yacht offers four dining venues and six bars and lounges serving a full range of beverages, including fine wines and spirits with Seabourn’s compliments.

For further information, visit http://www.seabourn.com/ or http://www.cruiseline.co.uk/seabourn-cruises/.

Yachts of Seabourn are also exhibitnig at The Cruise Show in Birmingham on October 16-17 and at London's Olympia from March 26-27 in 2011.

River Tosca back on the River Nile

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Over the last several years, Uniworld River Cruises have seen a growing interest in Egypt, a glorious destination. As a company, they felt the need to provide travellers with a Nile River cruise that would incorporate the same high standards as their riverboats in Europe. As a result, Uniworld originally commissioned the River Tosca with the goal that it would be one of the most luxurious ships to sail the Nile.

However, when it became apparent the Tosca did not meet Uniworld standards, the company made the difficult decision to dry-dock the ship for seven weeks. The main deficiencies were: the quality of workmanship with the floors in the staterooms, main stairwell, and corridors - damaged and scratched during installation; the mosaic tiles in the restaurant; the paint and woodwork in the staterooms; and the choice of fabrics in the staterooms.

Dry-docking the ship - in the height of the season in Egypt - was a very difficult and humbling decision for the company. It was the right decision to make, however, both for the long term success of Uniworld in Egypt and, most importantly, for their customers. The Tosca resumed sailing the Nile last March, with all the floors in the staterooms, corridors, stairwells and restaurant having been replaced.

The 84-passenger ship now has new wall coverings in the staterooms and the furniture has been reupholstered with tones more appropriate to the destination. The staterooms are spectacular, both in size (a minimum of 300sq ft) and decor. With the Tosca resuming its Nile sailings, the Uniworld team eagerly awaits guests’ feedback.

Uniworld features elegant, boutique hotel-style cruise ships designed for the experienced traveller, with an average capacity of 134 guests, expertly planned itineraries and shore excursions, world-class cuisine and award-winning hospitality from an all-English speaking staff with a ratio of one staff member to every three guests. The company offers over 500 departures on 35 itineraries sailing on 9 rivers in 16 countries throughout Europe, Egypt, and China.

For more information, visit http://www.uniworldrivercruises.co.uk/

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Azamara's Amazon

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Most people have a hankering to marvel at the mighty Amazon river and its jungle-lined banks. There is a new way to do this with Azamara Club Cruises by joining Azamara Journey for a 14-night Amazon cruise-only from £2043 per person (based on two sharing an inside cabin). The largest river in the world provides guests with the opportunity to experience one of the planet’s greatest natural wonders and the chance to catch sight of a vast array of wildlife.

This eye-catching price includes a 14-night cruise, departing from San Juan (Puerto Rico) and calling at Gustavia (St. Barts), Roseau (Dominica), Mayreau (Grenadines), Bridgetown (Barbados) and then Macapa, Alter Do Chao, Boca Da Valeria, Parintins and Manaus (all in Brazil); meals and room service; destination-influenced entertainment and enrichment programmes; housekeeping and dining gratuities; bottled water throughout the voyage; house wines with meals; specialty coffees and teas; and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

Price is cruise-only and based on 25 October 2011 departure.

For more information, visit http://www.azamaraclubcruises.co.uk/

Azamara Club Cruises will also be exhibiting at the Cruise Show in Birmingham on October 16-17 and at London's Olympia on March 26-27, 2011.

Experience the Heroic side of Polar Exploration

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Have you ever imagined spending New Year's Eve or early 2011 as part of an Antarctic expedition? If so, you can join the purpose-built expedition cruise ship Orion for a modern-day exploration of Antarctica with departures leaving from Dunedin (New Zealand) in December 2010, and Hobart in January 2011.

Cross the Antarctic Circle before heading for Cape Denison and a rare visit to Douglas Mawson's historic huts, built for the 1911-1914 'Australian Antarctic Expedition'; or explore the Ross Sea region, including Scott and Shackleton's bases still surviving from the 'Heroic Era' of Antarctic exploration. These timber buildings are rare in a world context and are literally frozen in time.

The purpose built expedition ship Orion (with the benefits of oversized stabilisers, retractable sonar and ice-strengthened hull) provides her 100 guests with all the needs of today's adventurers: technology, safety and creature comforts that include fine food and wines, a gym, boutique, hairdressing, sauna and massage facilities - as well as 80 staff, specialist lecturers and polar expedition crew to look after their every need.

These are true expeditions, crossing the Antarctic Circle and voyaging further south than the position of the South Magnetic Pole. Magnetic compasses are useless in these waters, an area that remains largely unsurveyed. Orion's ten Zodiacs, purpose designed expedition transport for intrepid modern day adventurers, will be put to good use for landings ashore in Antarctica and World Heritage listed sub-Antarctic Snares, Auckland and Macquarie Islands, pristine breeding grounds for a huge array of wildlife.

On Macquarie Island, the King penguin colony alone is estimated to have in excess of 170,000 breeding pairs. So rare are visitors here that they are usually ignored by birds, seals and penguins alike as they go about their daily business. See Elephant seals, some weighing as much as three tonnes - more than a car - and the massed gathering of Royal penguins coming and going from the sea.

These are never-to-be-forgotten expeditions to some of the most exciting and wondrous places on earth.

For more information, go to http://www.orionexpeditions.com/ or see the Adventure Cruise Collection brochure.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Cruising for £88 per person per night

By guest blogger Steve Newman

As the belt tightening continues, the need to discover a good bargain comes more and more into our minds. Now you can cruise from home this winter onboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas (above) from just £881 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

Price includes their 10-night Spain and Canary Islands cruise departing from Southampton, and calling at Funchal (Madeira); Tenerife, Las Palmas and Lanzarote (Canary Islands); and Vigo (Spain) before returning to Southampton, plus meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

Independence of the Seas is brimming with 15 decks of activities, including a Flowrider surf park, an onboard ice-skating rink, rock-climbing wall, a children’s water park, a teen-only nightclub, mother-and-daughter/father-and-son spa facilities, basketball and volleyball courts, miniature golf and shopping.

The price is based on a November 8 departure.

For more information or to book, see http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/

You can also find out more about Royal Caribbean as they will be exhibiting at The Cruise Show in Birmingham on October 16-17 and at London’s Olympia on March 26-27, 2011.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Rail and Sail!

Here's a great new thought about combining a cruise with a deluxe rail journey, both as a high-quality add-on to the voyage and an alternative means of getting to your cruise (as opposed to flying).

Great Rail Journeys has introduced the ultimate ‘sail-rail’ holiday for 2011, partnering with the unique Star Clippers line to create an exclusive Mediterranean cruise holiday on the world’s tallest sailing ship.

Great Rail Journeys’ carefully-planned First Class rail travel combines scenic journeys with civilised hotel stays in Paris, Venice and Rome, where additional sightseeing and meals are provided.

Dovetailing with these fully-escorted arrangements is a 10-night cruise on the Royal Clipper (above) the world’s largest true full-rigged sailing ship, which offers its 227 guests the ultimate in luxurious, yet laid-back cruising.

On this holiday, the Royal Clipper sails from Venice along the Croatian coast, dropping anchor off Rovinj, Hvar and Dubrovnik as well as Montenegro’s port of Kotor and the islands of Corfu, Sicily, Capri and Ponza before sailing into Civitavecchia for Rome at the end of its 11-day cruise.

Great Rail Journeys’ guests, who will be supported by their own Tour Manager throughout the holiday, can sit back and relax while the Royal Clipper’s crew does all the work, or may choose to lend a hand when it comes to unfurling the ship’s 56,000sq ft of sail.

Facilities include three swimming pools, a three-deck atrium and even crows-nests furnished with comfy sofas for the ultimate mast-head view! The no-tie dress code makes for a relaxed onboard atmosphere, with informal, yet first class dining.

Great Rail Journeys’ exclusive departure dates for The Royal Clipper Cruise are 23 July, 2 and 13 August, 2011.

The 2 August departure adds the extraordinary experience of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to an already memorable mix. On this date, the Royal Clipper departs from Rome and sails to Venice, visiting the same ports of call along the way, but in reverse. From Venice, Great Rail Journeys’ guests travel overnight on the Orient-Express to Paris before transferring to Eurostar for the last leg of an unforgettable journey.

The 17-day holiday costs £3,595 per person for 23 July and 13 August departures, and £4,475 for 2 August departure incorporating the Orient-Express experience.

The holiday includes First Class rail travel from London’s St Pancras, hotel accommodation en route, the cruise, most meals and the services of a tour manager throughout.

More info: 01904 521 980 or http://www.greatrail.com/.

Winter Collection from Oceania

By guest blogger Steve Newman


Winter blues starting already? If so, upmarket Oceania Cruises has announced its 2011-12 winter line-up of 27 exotic itineraries in Asia, South America and the Caribbean, including new sailings to ports in Hawaii, the South Pacific and Australia/New Zealand.

The line’s Winter Collection also includes special introductory fares, which means 10-day cruise-only fares begin at just £499 per guest.

Winter Collection Highlights:

* 27 unique itineraries, 16 of which are all new
* 33 new ports of call
* New Hawaii and South Pacific voyages, including Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga and American Samoa
* A return to Australia and New Zealand
* Diverse and distinctive voyages in Asia
* A new Dubai-to-Cape Town cruise, showcasing Arabia and Africa
* New ship Marina (above) debuts on her first full season of voyages to the Caribbean
* Popular Amazon River cruise to depart from New York City
* New 16-day South America cruise round-trip from Valparaiso, which offers the opportunity to discover rarely visited Nazca Lines, plus Machu Picchu
* A grand 35-day Hong Kong-to-Athens adventure via the Suez Canal

For more information, contact Oceania Cruises on 0845 505 1920 or http://www.oceaniacruises.co.uk/

Oceania Cruises are exhibiting at The Cruise Show in Birmingham on October 16-17 and at London's Olympia March 26-27, 2011.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The 'Grey Gap year'

P&O Cruises are trumpeting the imminent departure of their first autumn World Cruise, when Oriana sails from Southampton on an 84-night circumnavigation later this week (September 23).

According to P&O, a study of over 65s found that many envy the lifestyles of the young, with the majority (57%) saying they wished they had travelled more and 45% wishing they had quit their jobs and changed professions.*

The latest research reveals a 300% increase in “grey gap-years” since 2005** with the number of pre-retirement gap years now reaching 200,000 annually*. These are also being fuelled by redundancies and the 90,000 people who choose to take a career break every year.***

Some 81% of adults are now taking longer and more adventurous trips with 49% of 55-64 year olds saying they would like to take time out to travel. **

With that in mind, P&O Cruises managing director Carol Marlow said: “Long cruises have perennially been a favourite with older travellers, who prefer more comfort, and Oriana’s first Autumn world circumnavigation, which sets sail next Thursday, September 23, is testament to this.”

The 84-night cruise offers an alternative to the customary New Year departure. Oriana will call at 28 ports in 19 countries, including Acapulco; Margarita Island, Venezuela; Kahalui, Hawaii; Phu My, Vietnam; Singapore and Ko Samui, Thailand.

Of the 1,710 passengers on board, one third will be on board for the full cruise, half of the remaining will be doing long cruises to or from Australasia – such as 49-nights from Auckland to Southampton – whilst the balance will join the ship at intervals for two or three-week exotic holidays on sectors of the itinerary.

During the cruise, passengers will be entertained by Gary Wilmot, comedians Les Dennis and Roy Walker, legendary British personalities Des O’Connor and Tom O’ Connor, singer Matt Monro Jnr and 60s swingers The Merseys. There will also be performances reflecting the ports of call, including New Zealand South Island vocalists, a Maori group, and vocal performances from the Headliners Theatre Company as well as a variety of musical and theatrical shows.

There will be after-dinner speakers on a variety of topics, including maritime history, ornithology, murder mysteries and fingerprints. For those more nimble-footed, there will be a tap masterclass from dance supremo Lionel Blair.

Marlow added: “A world cruise is the ultimate extended holiday experience and we are seeing increased demand for the full trip, not only from regular cruisers but also from first timers looking for a different, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Our passenger research has shown that the 'grown-up' gap year is becoming increasingly popular as people evaluate their lives and recognise the value of seeing the world and revisiting the must-see destinations. Oriana’s autumn departure has been a popular choice, arriving home in time for Christmas.”

Oriana will sail from Southampton at 6pm on Thursday, September 23, and her departure will be celebrated by a traditional champagne Sailaway party with a brass band, confetti cannons, flame throwers and pyrotechnics.

Sources:

Maiden Port of Call for MSC Poesia

By guest blogger Steve Newman

MSC Poesia sailed to Southampton on a maiden port of call during its Ocean Voyage Cruise on the 7th of September. This was the first time the ship has called to Southampton port.

MSC Cruises marked the event by inviting travel agents, consumers, press and MSC Club members on board for the day, where they enjoyed a ship tour and lunch. Prior to dining in the Ii Palladio restaurant, guests were presented with a food demonstration on how to make an Italian classic, gnocchi.

Other highlights of the day included a presentation by Agustin Garcia from the Spanish Tourist Board and Susana Roel Cabal of La Coruna Port Authority, who were invited onboard following a recently formed collaboration between MSC Cruises and the Spanish Tourist Board to promote Mediterranean sailings and Spain as a destination.

MSC Poesia is currently cruising to the United States where it will tour North America and Canada, including New York (above) before positioning to the Caribbean for the winter cruiser season.

MSC also cares about the welfare of children as the company recently forged a partnership with UNICEF to fund a community project aimed at providing disadvantaged children in Brazil with a high quality education.

Find out more at http://www.msccruises.co.uk/

Voyages of Discovery, New Brochure

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Voyages of Discovery’s winter 2011/12 brochure is offering exciting new destinations, cruises and excursions, including a three-day visit to the vibrant, colonial Yangon (formerly Rangoon) in Myanmar and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

With MV Discovery visiting Japan and China for the first time, excursions to Kyota, the former Imperial capital of Japan, the island city of Xiamen, China, and Bund waterfront in Shanghai are also highlights of the new brochure.

The gateway to Mecca; blue waters and white beaches of Australia’s Whitsunday Islands; hustle and bustle of Phuket; and Vietnam’s colonial history also all await travellers as part of the new programme through 2011/12.

Discovery’s smaller size accommodates around 650 passengers, allowing it to visit ports and destinations which larger cruise liners are unable to, providing guests with an opportunity to discover some of the great cities, both ancient and modern, across Australia, The Orient and Middle East, while also listening to renowned guest speakers along the way.

Highlights of the new winter 2011/12 season for Voyages of Discovery include:

23-day South East Asia & Australia cruise embarking on 21 January 2011 – emerge yourself in local life in Manila and experience untamed Darwin and underwater richness of the Great Barrier Reef. Prices start from £2,599.

18-day Treasures of the Orient & Vietnam explores Hong Kong, Yangon, mystical Myanmar, the UNESCO listed Ha Long Bay and the Road to Mandalay, setting off on 18 December 2011, with prices starting from £2,549.

21-day Empires of the Sun, from £2,499, allows travellers to experience the bustling city of Shanghai, the poignant Hiroshima and a peak tram ride showcasing Hong Kong’s skyline, as well as the ever culturally diverse and contrasting Taiwan and Naga.

17-day Tales of India & Arabia from £1,999 uncovers Kirti Mandir - the birthplace of Ghandi - the Egyptian Temples of Dendera & Abydos and UNESCO listed Elephanta Caves in Mumbai

All prices include return flights from the UK, transfers, gratuities and service charges, meals and entertainment and the guest speaker programme on board the ship.

The recently launched Voyages of Discovery summer 2011 brochure second edition is already reporting a number of cruises as nearing 50% full and all itineraries are selling quickly. More information can be found at www.voyagesofdiscovery.co.uk/2011summer

Voyages of Discovery are also exhibiting at The Cruise Show on October 16-17 in Birmingham and at London's Olympia on March 26-27, 2011.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Go Dutch in Autumn

By guest blogger Steve Newman

This time of year many of us feel we need an Autumn break but what happens if cash is perhaps a bit tight? Panic not, just Go Dutch with DFDS Seaways' 2 for 1 offers on Mini Cruise breaks to Holland. You buy one Mini Cruise ticket and the other is on DFDS Seaways, meaning 2 adults get a break from just £69 or a family of four from £98.

Sit back and relax as DFDS Seaways do all the hard work for you. Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the restaurants, a flutter in the casino or a relaxing drink at one of the bars. With plenty to do and see onboard, you will be ready for a comfortable night's sleep in your en suite cabin.

Amsterdam Mini Cruise 2 for 1 - from £69 for 2 people

Amsterdam is the perfect autumnal destination, with cosy canal-side cafes and bars, boutique shops and plenty of museums and galleries if the weather's a bit cooler. You can take a history lesson and visit the Anne Frank Museum or, if you are feeling arty, explore your way through one of the city's many Art Galleries.

The company are also offering a Haarlem Mini Cruise - 2 for 1 from £76 for 2 people. Known as the 'City of flowers', this compact city is a maze of narrow streets and canals, with lots of pretty medieval houses, museums and places of interest to discover. Take in some of the local cuisine or enjoy a drink in a street café while watching the world go by.

To book, visit http://www.dfds.co.uk/
Tomorrow (September 19) sees the start of the fourth annual National Cruise Week in the UK, with a series of events, exhibitions, special offers and added value incentives designed to put cruising in the 'shop window' of the travel business.

Organised jointly by the Passenger Shipping Association and the Association of Cruise Experts (the group of top UK cruise travel agents), it already has a long list of deals aimed exclusively at the upcoming week, as well as a series of showcases by individual groups and agencies designed to highlight the great value and excitement of cruising.

If you haven't yet decided on your next (or first) cruise, the next seven days are definitely the time to have a good look and give it some serious consideration.

The current list of special deals, offers and incentives can be found here:


And, for the full list of what events are scheduled in various parts of the country, check out this link:


Finally, if we can also recommend one specialist agent who usually have the best deals and some fab offers (especially for the deluxe end of the market and anythingnto do with adventure cruising), check out:


All aboard now...!





Friday, 17 September 2010

A Stowaway On The Majestic Line

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Guests on the Heritage and Wildlife of South Argyll cruise with specialist Scottish cruise operators The Majestic Line got more than they bargained for during their 6-night cruise – a sneaky wee stowaway in the form of a red squirrel. The uninvited guest joined the cruise whilst their vessel, the Glen Massan, was anchored for the night in a secluded bay on beautiful Loch Riddon on the Argyll Coastline.

Although red squirrels are common on the Cowal Peninsula, there is a mystery as to how this one came to join the cruise. Martin McWhirr, the skipper of Glen Massan has 2 theories.

He said: ‘‘unday night was relatively windy, which may have resulted in the squirrel being blown from its tree overhanging the water and with it then swimming to the Glen Massan and shinning up the anchor chain. The other possibility is that it had been caught by a large bird of prey, possibly even a sea eagle which then lost its prey with it landing aboard. I can’t see any other possibilities.’’

However Jan Ferguson, Chairman of the Cowal Squirrel Group, has another opinion. She said ‘‘The most likely scenario is that he got involved in a fight with another red, probably over territory. If there was nowhere for him to run, he could have jumped into the loch and, as squirrels are good swimmers, he could have swum to the boat and climbed up the anchor chain.’’

However, she doesn’t dismiss Martin’s view. She continued: ‘‘It is very possible he was scared by a bird of prey or even a cat or dog, leading him to jump into the water.’’

The sneaky stowaway was discovered very early on Monday morning by one of the vessel’s guests, Canadian Steve Boyton, who is a professional photographer. He’d risen early to capture the stunning sunrise over the Loch, only to get the fright of a lifetime. In his attempt to capture the squirrel, the commotion awoke the crew and other guests. Further attempts to catch the squirrel only resulted in the Glen Massan’s bosun Jamie Duncan being bitten on the finger!

Further deatils on Majestic cruises can be found at http://www.themajesticline.co.uk/

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Work Begins On Costa Fascinosa

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Work is underway at Fincantieri’s Marghera (Venice) yard on the construction of the Costa Fascinosa. This continues Costa Cruises’ fleet expansion programme with the laying of the keel on the newest addition. The ship is the 16th fleet member for Costa, the largest Italian travel group and one of Europe’s most popular cruise companies, and is due to enter service in spring 2012.

The keel-laying took place on September 3 and the first full section of the hull, a block 12 metres long and 295 tonnes in weight, was also laid. The Fascinosa, sister ship of the Costa Favolosa, will be able to accommodate up to 3,780 guests and will be 114,500 gross tonnage.

Fascinosa is actually one of two new Costa ships currently under construction in the Fincantieri shipyard. In addition, work is also proceeding on the Favolosa, which underwent a technical launch on August 6 and is set for a debut in July 2011. The construction of each new ship involves the labour of around 3,000 people, comprising both Fincantieri’s own employees and about 500 contracted suppliers, most of which are Italian firms.

Costa has a total of 14 ships, which offer the chance to visit some 250 separate destinations in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, Caribbean, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East and the Indian Ocean.

For further information, look up http://www.costacruises.co.uk/

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Visit Antarctica Out Of Season, says Gap Adventures

OUT OF SEASON ANTARCTICA IS OUT OF THIS WORLD

Gap Adventures says travel in the outer seasons for some spectacular scenery and wildlife encounters
January and February are the most popular months to travel to Antarctica, but The Great Adventure People advise travellers to think again - and consider travelling earlier and later in the season if they are keen to save some pennies.

Travel to the Great White Continent at the beginning of the Austral summer in November and experience a pristine destination, untouched at the start of the season by fellow travellers. The extraordinarily beautiful pack ice is still intact, offering ideal platforms for resting wildlife, and giant icebergs are still in their full glory. The beginning of the season also offers the astonishing sights and sounds of penguins and seabirds courting as they perform spectacular courtship rituals.

Meanwhile, at the tail end of the season, late February and March provide the best opportunities to catch a glimpse of magnificent Minke and Orca whales in Antarctica. The receding pack ice allows ships to explore further south than earlier in the season and travellers witness the unforgettable sight of penguin chicks fledging and adults moulting.

“Travelling to Antarctica onboard the MS Expedition at any time during the season is a true adventure and an unforgettable voyage,” says Michael Edwards, Gap Adventures Director of Sales and Marketing for UK and Europe. “While mid-season is traditionally the most popular time to visit this area, the beginning and end of the season provides some unique scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. We travel to Antarctica the full length of the season from November to March and each month brings new and exciting sights to our adventurers.”

Below is just one incredible itinerary that makes the most of the outer season conditions:

Antarctica Classic Package
Duration: 16 days*
Price: From £5049 per person for a category three twin cabin (compared to £5919 per person peak season)
Departure: 4 November 2010

*As a promotional bonus, there are 16 days (not the usual 14 days) for the 4-19 November 2010 departure. This gives you a chance for two extra days of shore landings in Antarctica

Highlights: Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, the South Shetland Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula, amazing wildlife, immense icebergs, penguin colonies, leopard seals and glaciers

Description: Explore the rugged, remote South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula , home to some of the continent’s most dramatic landscapes and impressive wildlife. See huge penguin rookeries rubbing shoulders with seal colonies, while orcas and whales ply the waters offshore. This 14-day trip is identical to the Gap Adventures Antarctica Classic (XVCASX) expedition with the added inclusion of flights, transfers, tours and extra days in Buenos Aires .

Enjoy a 16-day trip from 4-19 November from £5049 per person. Price includes nine nights on board MS Expedition, four nights accommodation on land, all meals onboard the ship, 10 expedition staff and naturalists and all shore landings and Zodiac cruises in Antarctica.

For more information or to book, visit:
http://www.gapadventures.com/trips/antarctica-classic-package/XPCASX/2011/?utm_source=Rooster&utm_medium=PR&utm_campaign=Shoulderseason or call 08444 10 10 90

About MS Expedition
The Expedition takes Gap Adventures travellers to destinations that have inspired bold explorers for centuries. It cruises the coastlines, islands and oceans of some of the most remote destinations on Earth and allows guests to visit secluded rookeries and hidden places that are only accessible by Zodiac landing craft. Accompanied by the Gap Adventures team of experts, travellers can get up close and personal with polar wildlife and cruise through colossal icebergs.

Like Your Bed? Now You Can Buy It!


We all know Her Majesty The Queen will be naming Cunard's new Queen Elizabeth liner in Southampton on 11th October in another milestone in British maritime history. The Queen was present at age 12 when her mother launched the first Queen Elizabeth in 1938 and she herself launched the famous, but now retired, QE2 in 1967.

This magnificent new Queen Elizabeth will be the second largest Cunard ship ever built and will enhance the company’s illustrious reputation for exquisite ocean travel redolent of a bygone era. With a wonderful retro design look full of Art Deco, all the décor will pay homage to past Cunard Queens and there will be exhibits, photos and memorabilia connecting the line’s links to royalty and the rich and famous…. but of course, under all this glamour will be the very latest in 21st century technology.

Accommodating just over 2,000 guests in 1,046 staterooms on board, 85% of which are outside and 71% with balconies, luxury is definitely the name of the game and that of course means the very best in 21st century beds. So what are the best beds fit for a Queen? It has to be Sealy - the world’s No 1 bed brand. Their beds are found in the very best places and are slept on by royalty, presidents, celebrities and connoisseurs.

Sealy, world famous for their renowned Posturepedic range, have developed specially designed beds for the new Queen Elizabeth which include the very latest in their sleep technology. They contain zones of the very best pocket springs with layers of upholstery that will support and cushion the body to ensure, say the company, "the very best night’s sleep as guests drift off to the soothing whispers of the waves as the liner silently crosses the oceans of the world. Even if the weather gets rough outside, there will be no tossing and turning for guests cocooned and cosseted in their sumptuous Sealy Posturepedic beds!"

Now these beds, The Sealy “Cunarder” Range, will also be available to buy via the Cunard website, for those guests who want to carry home their wonderful sleep experience and continue to dream of luxury life on the ocean waves!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Land of the Midnight Sun with Crystal Cruises

In the middle of writing new copy for the next Adventure Cruise Collection, this little press release arrived on my desk this afternoon (well, in my Inbox, anyway), with some great detail on Crystal Cruises' two new North Cape voyages in 2011. Very timely, and well worth considering...

Witness stunning fjords, court adventure on a glacier trek across an ice field or simply enjoy the mystical beauty of the Norwegian archipelago as you sail as far north as possible in Europe in ultra-luxurious style with Crystal Cruises.

Crystal Symphony has recently completed its one 2010 North Cape voyage, with guests experiencing some of the most spectacular sights in the world (see above). Due to popular demand, Crystal Cruises has now announced that it will be offering TWO North Cape voyages in 2011 aboard Crystal Serenity…it’s time to travel beyond the Arctic Circle….

The Copenhagen to Stockholm ‘North Cape Panorama’ sails from 13-27 June 2011 whilst the Copenhagen to London ‘Into the Midnight Sun’ sails 8-22 July 2011.

Both 14-night voyages cruise the North Sea, Norwegian Sea, the North Cape, Bear Island, Polar Ice Cap and the Baltic Sea, with ports of call including Copenhagen and five destinations in Norway including Longyear City, plus Stockholm.

2011 North Cape prices start from £5,019 and include FREE return economy air travel from London, transfers, 14-nights in a deluxe stateroom with picture window with all meals and soft drinks.

In addition, as part of Crystal's “All Inclusive – As You Wish” promotion, guests on these voyages will also receive shipboard credits of up to $1,000 per person, which they can spend on shore excursions, spa treatments, alcoholic beverages, purchases in the onboard boutiques, gratuities or Vintage Room experiences. Port taxes are not included.

Alluring All New Restaurants

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas (at her floatout, above), the world’s next largest and most innovative cruise ship debuting in December this year, will introduce new culinary concepts and twists to the signature Oasis-class restaurants.

A Brazilian steakhouse will be a destination restaurant that opens for dinner service in the Solarium, featuring authentic Brazilian-style meats and seafood dishes, served table-side and sliced straight off the skewer. In Central Park, recently appointed Chef de Cuisine Molly Brandt will present guests with distinct dining experience at Allure of the Seas’ 150 Central Park, a signature fine dining experience.

Combining the best of classic Mexican beach bars and Southern California’s famed taquerias, Rita’s Cantina will be a vibrant new restaurant in the Boardwalk neighbourhood. Adults and kids alike will enjoy some of their favourite Mexican fare. The more casual setting is likely to be a favourite lunch, snack or dinner spot. Rita’s Cantina will also boast some of the best and widest selection of margaritas at sea. In addition, the restaurant will introduce new nightlife to Boardwalk with live guitar music, drinks and dancing.

Rita’s Cantina will be located in place of Seafood Shack onboard sister-ship Oasis. Also new to Boardwalk will be The Boardwalk Dog House, an outdoor hot-dog counter located where The Donut Shop is on Oasis of the Seas. The Donut Shop will remain on Boardwalk in a new location next to the Ice Cream Parlour.

In addition to their year-round Caribbean programme, the line also offers unique cruise-tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

New edition of World of Cruising!

The Autumn edition of World of Cruising magazine goes to print this week, with readers getting their copies on September 20, and it is definitely one to look forward to.

Our headline feature is a look at Hurtigruten's classic Norwegian Coastal Voyage (above), with Steve Newman detailing what makes this route so special with its mixture of fjords, wildlife and unusual ports of call.

It is also the opening element of a two-part adventure cruise special as we visit the small-scale Alaska of American Safari Cruise, a very different and far more personal experience to the big cruise lines.

For ship features, we have a detailed report on P&O's new Azura; the boutique-smart RMS St Helena on its unique South Atlantic voyages; the luxury style of Crystal Serenity; the headline-catching latest newcomer from NCL, Norwegian Epic; the Louis Majesty of specialist Cyprus operator Louis Cruises; and the Spa style of Seabourn Odyssey.

We go in depth with the recently re-branded Azamara Club Cruises, the start-up operations of Voyages to Antiquity and a special head-to-head comparison of Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises with our US expert Steven B. Stern.

And we have all our usual features and news items, including The Admiral, Cruise Fashion, World of Spas, First Timers' Cruising and a special Aft View.

As ever, it all adds up to the best read on the subject and the most impressive coverage of the wide World of Cruising from Europe's longest-running cruise magazine. All aboard now...!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Win Tickets for October's CRUISE Show!


The Daily Telegraph presents CRUISE Birmingham
16 – 17 October, 2010
NEC, Birmingham


Get TWO tickets for the price of one with Time Spent At Sea by booking in advance quote “Time Spent At Sea” visit http://www.cruisingshow.co.uk/

Exclusive advance ticket competition and ticket offer – Time Spent At Sea

For a chance to WIN one of five pairs of tickets to the Birmingham show, email your name, address and email address to sue@escapeevents.co.uk (not forgetting to mention 'Time Spent At Sea Birmingham' as your reference!).

You can also receive TWO tickets for the price of one to the show when booked in advance. You can receive two £6 tickets for just £3 each. Under 16s are free. Add £1.50 postage and packing per order.

Order online at www.cruisingshow.co.uk or call 0871 620 4024 and quote “Time Spent At Sea.”

Opening Times:
Saturday, 10am-5pm
Sunday, 10am-4pm

Ticket Prices:
On the door: £10
Under 16s free
Look up the full details of exhibitors and events at this fabulous show at http://www.cruisingshow.co.uk/

Friday, 10 September 2010

The Remote World of the True Antarctic

By guest blogger Steve Newman

As more and more cruise lines start offering voyages into Antarctica, the quest is on to find something that little bit more adventurous or different to make the voyage more attractive and memorable to dedicated cruisers.

With that in mind, Hurtigruten are offering the chance to attempt to cross the Antarctic Circle on their ‘Polar Circle Quest’ voyage, a 15-day journey into a realm where few have ventured, before attempts to travel to a latitude of 66° 33’ south, into the remote world of true Antarctic explorers.

The final itinerary is subject to local weather and ice conditions with the aim to cross the Antarctic Circle at 66° 33’ south and travel to Marguerite Bay on the company’s specially designed Polar vessel the Fram. Rarely visited even by Antarctic standards, Marguerite Bay is dotted with ice-covered islands and surrounded by pristine mountainous scenery. It is home to the only known breeding colony of Emperor penguins on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

There are also several bases in Marguerite Bay, both new and old. Amongst them are Rothera Station on Adelaide Island and the 1950s' era British “Base E” on Stonnington Island. Also on the schedule are visits to Deception Island, Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour, Cuverville Island, Neko Harbour, Paradise Harbour, Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island, Port Lockroy, Wilhelmina Bay, the Antarctic Sound and Brown Bluff.

You will be able to witness landscapes that few eyes have seen before and explore the highest, driest, coldest and cleanest continent on earth, which has 90% of the world’s ice. Available on February 2, 2012, the price includes 12 nights full board on the ship, two night’s B&B accommodation in Buenos Aires (either side of voyage), return flights between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. From £4,211 per person (based on two sharing).

International flights are extra and can be booked via Hurtigruten if required. For more information, look up http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/

Hurtigruten are also exhibiting at the Cruise Show in Birmingham on October 16-17 and at London's Olympia March 26-27, 2011.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

New Brochure from Swan Hellenic

By guest blogger Steve Newman

The winter 2011-2012 season brochures are going on sale now and Swan Hellenic’s latest features cruises throughout northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Black Sea, North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Following particularly successful sales for Far East cruises this year, the cruise line will return to the region in late 2011 with ports of call throughout India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and the Philippines , including a return to Yangon in Myanmar.

New ports, all accessible only by smaller ships like Swan Hellenic's Minerva, featured in the brochure across Europe, Asia and Middle East include the wildlife conservation reserve of Sir Bani Yas island in the United Arab Emirates, the Vietnamese coastal city of Qui Nhon, and the French fishing town of Port Vendres close to the Spanish border. The 320-guest ship (above) is also small enough to transit the Corinth Canal in Greece, the Kiel Canal in Germany, the Yangon River in Myanmar and the Saigon River in Vietnam.

One of the highlights is an insight into the tribes, religions and cultures of Indonesia and South East Asia, with a 22-day ‘East of Java’ cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong and ports of call that Semarang in Java, Bali, Lombok, Komodo, Sandakan in Malaysia for a visit to an orangutan sanctuary, and Manila in the Philippines, before arriving in Hong Kong. Prices are from £3,345 per person for a 22-day fly-cruise in January 2012.

Brochures can also be viewed online at www.swanhellenic.com/2012brochure.

Swan Hellenic will be exhibiting at the Cruise Show in Birmingham on October 16-17. and at London's Olympia on March 26-27 2011.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Head for the Med, Italian Style

By guest blogger Steve Newman

The Mediterranean will always be a favourite spot for the UK cruising community. It’s not that far away, is pleasantly warm and has fascinating cultures and cities around its rim. Add to that the links with our own history and some of the best food found anywhere on the planet and you know you are on to a winner.

Now you can see the sights of Italy and the Mediterranean aboard Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Eclipse on a 14-night Italian Med cruise costing from only £1,409 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

As with all of Celebrity's eye-catching Solstice-class vessels, onboard features include a real grass lawn on deck, a glass-blowing show and studio developed with the renowned Corning Museum of Glass and the Celebrity iLounge, the Apple-only internet café and iconic store. As you’ll be visiting Italy, why not try a taste of the country beforehand in the Tuscan Grille? With its vibrant ambiance, this steakhouse offers a variety of exquisite selections, from Caesar salad prepared tableside to an antipasti station. Paired with any number of quintessential Italian wines, this is an experience destined to please more than just the palate.

Price includes a 14-night Med cruise departing from Southampton and calling at Gibraltar, Provence (Toulon), Florence, Rome, Cagliari (Sardinia) with its famous ice cream parlours (above), Seville (Cadiz), Lisbon and Vigo, before returning to Southampton (England); meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

Price is based on 07 May 2011 departure.

For more information visit http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/.

Celebrity Cruises will also be exhibiting at the Cruise Show in Birmingham on October 16-17.