Thursday, 31 October 2013

More Disney Magic - Pt 4, The Big Picture

Concluding our look at the "newly re-imagined" Disney Magic of Disney Cruise Line...

By Editor Simon Veness

So, just how much of a ship CAN you see in 2 days? That was the challenge for us when embarking the newly-refurbished Disney Magic in Miami last Friday, spending two nights at sea (OK, one-and-a-half, as we we were back in port by 6am on Sunday!) and trying to cover as much of the ship as possible.

As we reported in the first three parts of this special report, we did manage to take in the wealth of new designs, additional elements and makeovers that have constituted the massive amount of work Disney have undertaken on their original ship, which dates back to 1998.

This was by far the biggest dry-dock process they had ever undertaken, and the five weeks it was in the shipyard in Spain were barely enough to complete a process that actually began at the design stage two YEARS ago.

Just for example, the parts for the amazing AquaDunk water-slide (above) and the
AquaLab (left) were built a year ago and shipped to Cadiz ready for assembly in that 5-week window. Other components were also pre-constructed and then just taken aboard in a frenzy of 24-hour activity to finish the job.

In reality, the job was only finished back in Disney's home port of Port Canaveral just prior to this short sailing. A previous 5-day cruise had to be cancelled as the plan to lay all the new carpets and other final touches on the transatlantic crossing was thwarted by bad weather, and those days needed to be used for the fitting out instead.

There were even a few small-scale last-minute details being attended to on our cruise (in Cabanas, for example and with some of the fittings on the doors to the new Carioca's restaurant). There were also a few  snafus in some of the cabins, where cleaners had not been completely scrupulous in coming in after the new cabinetry had been fitted, and there were some plumbing and electrical issues that were attended to on the first day.

But reports of wide-scale building going on during the voyage, of mass breakdowns of toilets and air-conditioning and (in one online story) of builders' tools and debris being strewn "everywhere", were a complete exaggeration. Maintenance work of some kind is carried out on every cruise ship in the world on just about every voyage. and there was nothing we saw that amounted to more than this level of inconvenience.

The bottom line is that Disney have pulled off a huge accomplishment in a very short space of time and done it, by and large, with great aplomb.

The enhancements to the likes of Animator's Palate, Cabanas and the kids clubs are
immensely impressive, while the wholescale rebuilding of the adults'-only district from Beat Street to After Hours is a singular triumph, in my opinion. 

The large-scale addition of the AquaDunk slide and AquaLab water-play area is nothing short of jaw-dropping, especially given that five-week window.

So what else did we manage to see in our two days?

Not a lot else, it has to be said! We were able to dine in each of Cabanas and Lumiere's (for lunch) and Animator's Palate and Carioca's (for dinner), and the food on offer in each one was definitely above average and better than I remember the main restaurant fare being 15 or even 10 years ago.

We did take in two of the main shows at the Walt Disney Theater, where the performances of the signature productions Twice Charmed and Disney Dreams drew huge audience applause and continue to be in the very best traditions of the company's live entertainment offerings. Indeed, the originality of Twice Charmed would not be out of place on Broadway, while Disney Dreams (which debuted with the ship itself) remains an absolute tour de force
of classic favourites, Disney's 'Greatest Hits,' if you like (pictured, right).

We managed to stop for coffee in The Cove Cafe in the adults-only section of the upper decks, and would have tried out the Rainforest Room in the Senses Spa if it hadn't been packed out on the Saturday afternoon! So, instead, we sat on the balcony of our wonderfully roomy stateroom and watched the Bahamian waters drift by for a soporific hour.

Finally, there was another highlight for us, pre-dinner drinks in Keys piano bar (below, left), with a female pianist enhancing the ambience with a few well-chosen tunes and a gorgeous cocktail provided by Indonesian barman Andy.

It set the seal on a hectic-but-enjoyable jaunt to see just what "newly re-imagined" really
means, and we can definitely say - it means VERY happy Disney cruising in future.

More info: Look up Disney Cruise line at http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/ or, in the UK, see Virgin Holidays Cruises on www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk, or 0844 573 4398.

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link! 

Holland America Offers More In 2014



Holland America Line recently launched its new On Location programme, which gives guests a more in-depth destination experience, with insider tips and local insights about the ports of call, including special onboard activities, themed entertainment, and even local food and products.
 
Here are more highlights from their new 2014 programme:

More UK departures
MS Ryndam’s European season will see more round-trip cruises from Dover. The ex-UK programme runs from May 3-August 23 and will now boast 11 cruises, including seven week-long Norwegian Fjords itineraries, two 14-night Baltic cruises, and two ‘Midnight Sun’ itineraries.

D-Day 70th Anniversary cruise
New for the European 2014 season, Holland America will be commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day with this unique 12-day cruise. Departing on April 29 from Rome, MS Eurodam will visit Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and the UK before journeying on to Normandy, where the most famous World War II battle took place on June 6, 1944. The 70th anniversary cruise starts from £1,349pp.

Increased Arctic cruises
MS Prinsendam, the fleet's smallest ship, will now be sailing its Northern European itineraries out of Ijmuiden (Amsterdam), giving UK travellers a greater choice of flight options. In 2014, she will also embark on more Arctic cruises, with one 14-night itinerary and a 20-night North Cape and Spitsbergen cruise that journeys beyond the Arctic Circle to Ny, Ålesund, Longyearbyen, Tromsø and Honningsvåg. The 14-night North Cape Explorer, with the chance to see Polar Bears in their natural habitat (picture, above) starts from £2,449pp, departing August 10.

New Asian adventures to Burma
New for 2014, MS Volendam will cruise three 14-night Asian Adventure cruises that include a special two-day overnight call in Rangoon, Burma, from where guests can travel to see the stunning pagodas of Bagan, the floating villages of Inle, and experience Mandalay. Other ports include Malacca, Penang, Phuket, Port Blair, Porto Malai, Port Kelang, plus an overnight stop in Singapore. The 14-night Asian Adventure starts from £1,399pp, departing February 17. Holland America also boasts a range of other Asia cruise itineraries, which include calls in Japan, China, Vietnam and Cambodia.

New Africa explorer cruises
September 28 will see the start of a fantastic new 83-night circumnavigation of Africa voyage. A round-trip cruise from Southampton, on MS Rotterdam, this cruise will take in the Seychelles, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Ghana, The Gambia, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and the UAE as well as Israel and the Canaries. Shorter itineraries as sectors of this cruise are also available. The 83-night Africa Explorer starts from £7,649pp.

South America cruises have also seen an increase in popularity in the last few years and Holland America offers a robust line-up of great itineraries to choose from. These cruises provide guests with a fantastic range of destination experiences as they visit the Amazon, experience Carnaval in Brazil and even journey to Antarctica.

All prices are cruise-only and are based on double occupancy of an Inside Stateroom.

More info: visit www.hollandamerica.co.uk or call 0843 374 2300.

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!




Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Costa Introduces The neoCollection

Costa Cruises has announced the beginning of a new style of cruising on board its ships with the advent of the all-new Costa neoCollection.

The Costa neoCollection is an invitation to make the most of every minute and holiday in a more leisurely way. This new type of cruise experience is tailored to suit individual tastes and let each person go at their own pace, both on board and ashore, making it ideal for couples and groups of friends.

Newly-revamped duo Costa neoRiviera (624 cabins) and Costa neoRomantica (789 cabins) will be sailing to new destinations which are off the beaten path and inaccessible to bigger ships. The itineraries are designed with longer stopovers in each port, often overnight and part of the next day to allow maximum time on shore and the chance to thoroughly explore each place en route. 

As cruising is not one-size-fits-all, Costa has introduced a range of made-to-measure options, notably a series of specially devised shoreside excursions for small groups as well as fine gastronomic products based on the authentic taste sensations of the places visited, thanks to a new collaboration between Costa and the Università delle Scienze Gastronomiche in Pollenzo.

The Costa neoCollection debuts on February 9 from Dubai with a special cruise on Costa neoRiviera, the latest addition to the Costa fleet. This one-off 62-day voyage of discovery, the Grand African Tour, is a totally innovative circumnavigation of the great continent offering a unique opportunity to combine the sea and the most beautiful Indian Ocean beaches with all the adventure of a safari in South Africa.  

Costa neoRiviera will also add a new dimension to cruising in spring and summer, sailing on 12-day itineraries to the most attractive destinations in the Mediterranean, away from the hustle and bustle of mass tourism. Starting June 1 and operating throughout the summer, the neoCollection style will also be present on Costa neoRomantica, with 13 and 15-day premium cruises in Northern Europe, beyond the North Cape and to the finest Baltic cities.

More info: visit www.costacruises.co.uk.

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!








More Disney Magic - Pt 3, Adults Only

Continuing our look at the "newly re-imagined" (that's heavily refurbished) Disney Magic of Disney Cruise Line...

Having looked at the extensive children's facilities aboard the 84,000 Disney Magic, fresh from its 5-week dry-dock process at the Navantia Shipyard in Cadiz, it is only fair to focus on all the wide-ranging alternatives for the grown-ups.

Just to start with, the former adults-only nightclub district of Beat Street has been converted to a slightly more sophisticated vibe as After Hours, with all three venues being given a complete makeover.

The live entertainment bar/lounge of Diversions has become O'Gills pub, imported directly
as a popular choice from the new Disney Fantasy, and offering a touch of Ireland as well as the obligatory sports bar.


Then the out-and-out nightclub of Rockin' Bar D has become the trendier and more atmospheric Fathoms, with a sea-going ambience that really comes to life at night.

And the piano lounge of Sessions has been given a polish and been converted to the even-more-glamorous Keys (below), with a fabulous bar and wonderful cocktails, all in a 1920s art deco style. This is now comfortably the most 'grown-up' space on board, and we can see this being the place for pre-dinner or late-night drinks, with great live music and a wonderful couples' romantic hang-out.

The Senses Spa has been given a bit of a facelift (ho, ho), and the adults-only restaurant, Palo, has all new furniture and few extra decor touches that underscore the elegant Italian theming.

Finally, the main restaurant choices - open to all the family - have all been freshened up or, in several cases, completely revamped.

As mentioned in Part One, the new Cabanas buffet restaurant (formerly Topsiders) has
undergone a total rebuild and is now much larger and more user-friendly than its previous cramped and badly laid-out incarnation. There is more space and the buffet lines are better ordered so people can actually get at them rather than get stuck in a big bottleneck.

 
Lumiere's, the most distinguished of the three 'rotational dining' system restaurants has new carpeting (as there is throughout) and furniture, while the Brazilian-style of Carioca's (part two of the rotation) replaces the former rather two-dimensional Parrot Cay.

The Latin theming is not overwhelming and is quite subtle, hence it may not be obvious to everyone who walks through the door, while the huge curtain that cordons off the breakfast buffet area looks rather odd instead of adding to the overall festival feeling. But the new-look menu here is quite superb and definitely one of the culinary highlights now.

The third part of the rotational dining is still provided by the spectacular Animator's Palate, which has long been one of Disney Cruise Line's true original gems. A wow when the ship first launched in 1998 as a black-and-white vista that turns into vivid colour during the course of the meal, Animator's has actually been rebuilt from the ground up.

What has happened is that a new ultra-high-tech package of lighting and LED screens has been built in, mostly behind the walls and in the ceiling, and it may not seem obvious at first
(although the extra sharpness of the look should be a giveaway). But, once the visuals begin on the series of screens right around the room, there is no doubt that this is now a major triumph of new technology.


There are two shows here (we only got to see the first, but the Animation Magic from the Disney Dream and Fantasy will be incorporated in all voyages of more than 3 days), and the one we saw, Drawn to Magic, was simply a feast for the eyes. This vibrant, heart-tugging extravaganza of Disney's greatest film hits is so utterly sharp and iconic it feels like 3-D even though it is only two-dimensional. It is aided by a dynamic lighting package throughout the room that is equally startling and it all adds up to a must-see experience aboard the new-look Disney Magic.

Tomorrow...even more Magic!

More info: Look up Disney Cruise line at http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/ or, in the UK, see Virgin Holidays Cruises on www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk, or 0844 573 4398.

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link! 





Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Three Voyages, Three Lines, Three Delights!

Here's a great three-way offer to tickle the tastebuds of most cruisers - something from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, each one with a separate offer - and tempting extras - to make your next booking a winning one. here's what they say... 
 
Family fun in the Med with Royal Caribbean
 
Families can catch up on the latest movies at the outdoor cinema screen, tuck into yummy treats at the cupcake cupboard or scale the rock-climbing wall onboard Adventure of the Seas (above) on a 15-night Central Mediterranean cruise-only from £1,149 per person (based on two people sharing an interior stateroom). The price includes a 15-night cruise departing from Southampton on May 8 and calling at Cadiz, Barcelona, Villefranche (for Nice and Monte Carlo), Livorno (for Florence/Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome), Cagliari on Sardinia, Gibraltar and Lisbon before returning to Southampton, plus meals and entertainment on board and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.
 
More info: call 0844 493 2061 or visit www.royalcaribbean.co.uk. 
 
Discover the Norwegian Fjords with Celebrity
 
Explore the beauty of the Norwegian Fjords and the idyllic surrounding towns and villages on board Celebrity Eclipse on an eight-night cruise from just £845 per person (based on two people sharing an interior stateroom). The price includes an eight-night cruise departing from Southampton on May 2 and calling at Bergen, Flam, Geiranger, Alesund and Stavanger before returning to Southampton; plus meals, entertainment and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.
 
More info: call 0845 456 0523 or visit www.celebritycruises.co.uk.
 
Tribal dancing, stunning gardens and local delicacies with Azamara
 
Step back in time at the Wirikuta botanical desert garden in Mexico and enjoy an exclusive evening complete with local coffee, beer and wine followed by a procession of indigenous dancers as part of the Azamazing Evenings event onboard Azamara Quest on a 14-night Route of the Americas fly/cruise from £3,749 per person (based on two people sharing an interior stateroom). The event is included in the cruise price, as well as flights from London Heathrow and transfers; selected standard spirits, wines and international beers; complimentary bottled water and soft drinks; speciality teas and coffees; all meals and dining gratuities; and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. The 14-night voyage departs from Los Angeles on february 18 and calls at Cabo San Lucas, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo (for Ixtapa), Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala) and San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua) before arriving into Caldera (Costa Rica) for the flight home.
 
More info: call 0844 493 4016 or visit www.azamaraclubcruises.co.uk.

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!













Monday, 28 October 2013

More Disney Magic, Pt 2 - It's Child's Play!

Continuing our exclusive look at "the newly re-imagined" Disney Magic of Disney Cruise Line on a recent short cruise from Miami...

There is a lot to admire about the new-look Disney Magic fresh from the biggest refit since she was launched in 1998, and much of it is geared around the children.

Disney has obviously long had the market cornered for family-friendly holiday options, and their cruise line is no exception. What they have achieved with the ship's upgrade, though, is quite remarkable.

The clear headline additions are the eye-catching AquaDunk water-slide (getting ready to drop - above) and the extensive water-play facilities on Deck 9 (see Part One of the blog for more on that), which consist of the AquaLab - an interactive water playground and pool (below) - and the Nephews Splash Zone, an under-cover area of more small-scale fun for younger
kids.

These are the real attention-grabbing enhancements, and it's hard to imagine children not having an absolute ball with all of these (although they may find fairly long queues for the AquaDunk on sea-days).

Passengers without children (or those just not paying attention) will miss out on some of the other amazing improvements in the kids' facilities, though, as they are all confined to Deck 6 (along with the unique Lake Buena Vista Theater, which is the ship's purpose-designed cinema).

First off, the old Flounder's Reef nursery (which was makeshift at best as it wasn't part of the original design but a hastily-added extra after the first 8 months) is now the fully-themed It's A Small World nursery, with all manner of toys, playthings and (most importantly) cots
for the youngest cruisers. It is wonderfully provisioned and is guaranteed to give mum and dad a welcome few hours off from baby-minding duties.

Next up, the Oceaneer Club has been transformed into something closer to the expansive model achieved with the new Disney Dream and Fantasy. Now divided into four main sections (and fully open to the 3-12-year age group), it is designed like a library, where each of the 'books' becomes a new section and a new play area.

While each area will appeal to children of the right age and interest, the Marvel Avengers Academy is probably the most timely, with the provision of Iron Man and Captain America sections as a high-tech command post for "special missions and operations training." Here, kids will get the chance to see Iron Man's suit, Captain America's shield and become Avengers 'recruits' with a fully immersive entertainment experience guaranteed to unleash
their inner super-hero!

Andy's Room is a two-level adventure playroom of toys, climbs and slides, with all the characters of the Pixar Toy Story films being on parade. Pixie Hollow caters to fans of Tinker Bell and her fairy friends, with a costume closet and other playthings in keeping with the impish pixie dust creator, while the Mickey Mouse Club (below) rounds out the offerings, an arts-and-crafts space with tables, play-stations and more energetic, interactive fun and games.

The Oceaneer Lab (formerly open to the 3-8-year age group but now linked via a secure passageway to the Oceaneer Club) is a pirate-themed journey of discovery in different sections, with all-new theming, decor, games, video walls and digital stations. An animator's studio will appeal to budding artists while the Navigator Simulators allow young buccaneers to take the wheel of their own ship.

Sadly, the only ones left out here are the parents, who may well feel that all this amazing creativity and activity is WAY too good to be the exclusive preserve of their kids!

Just to make sure older children are not forgotten, the hideaway teen lounge of The Vibe has been spruced up with new furniture and fittings to make it a true get-away-from-it-all venue just for their age group and the Senses Spa & Salon has even been enhanced to provide a Chill Spa with treatments especially for the 13-17 age group.

More tomorrow...!

More info: Look up Disney Cruise line at http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/ or, in the UK, see Virgin Holidays Cruises on www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk, or 0844 573 4398.
 
Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!


 

Fred. Olsen's British Bonanza


Fred. Olsen’s 2014/15 cruise programme will see it sailing from an amazing variety of UK ports, with all of Southampton, Dover, Harwich, Liverpool, Newcastle, Rosyth (for Edinburgh), Greenock (for Glasgow), Belfast and the newly-added ports of Tilbury and Avonmouth now on their Brit-list, further enhancing the line's reputation as the ‘local, global cruise line.'

In 2014/15, they will also be making even more overnight stops in spectacular cities worldwide, in response to guests’ desire to spend more time ashore in the ports they visit. Fred. Olsen will also be working with destination ports to create an even greater link between its cruises and local events, such as the Baltic Festivals of Kieler Woche in Kiel, Germany, and the world-renowned Jazz Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Highlights of the new cruise season include:

• The Undiscovered Adriatic from Avonmouth, a 28-night cruise departing on May 17, taking in Sicily, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Hvar and Koper (Slovenia), as well as Venice and Athens.
• A 32-night Canada & New York cruise, departing from Southampton on September 1, visiting Canada’s eastern seaboard when the Fall foliage will be at its best, with overnight stays in Quebec, Boston and New York.
• A very different Caribbean cruise, of 34 nights, with an overnight stay in Havana, Cuba, as well as stopovers in Bermuda, the Bahamas and Grand Turk, plus plenty of other favourites.
• Two fabulous 28-night Black Sea cruises, one from Liverpool in October and the other from Southampton in June, both with visits to Athens, overnight stays in Istanbul, and cruising deep into the Black Sea and the Crimea.
• Five ‘In Search of the Northern Lights’ cruises to Norway in February and March, and Fred. Olsen’s first winter season in its historic homeland, in November and December, to give guests the chance to marvel at one of Nature’s most awe-inspiring phenomena, the Northern Lights.

Fred. Olsen will be offering many new destinations in 2014/15, which promise a wealth of unforgettable holiday experiences. For instance, there will be an impressive 13 maiden calls on Balmoral’s Asia Grand Voyage in 2015: Galle (Sri Lanka), Ujang Pandang (Indonesia), Naha (Okinawa, Japan), Tokyo, Nagasaki, Jeju City (South Korea), Dalian (China), Nha Trang (Vietnam), Nathon (Thailand), Malacca (Malaysia), Hambantota (Sri Lanka), Utheemu (North Thiladhunmathee Atoll, Maldives) and Uligamu (Ihavandhippolhu Atoll, Maldives).

More info: www.fredolsencruises.com for full terms and conditions.

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!





Sunday, 27 October 2013

More Disney Magic – Part One

A short preview cruise to look at the “newly re-imagined” Disney Magic…
 

First impressions of the completely refurbished Disney Magic – the biggest makeover since she was launched 15 years ago – are strong and extremely positive.

This is still the same essential vessel that wowed the cruise industry in 1998, but the improvements and enhancements that we outlined in our preview blog are startling.

At first glance they are definitely impressive; at second glance, they are a triumph of the latest technology and state-of-the art design.

We arrived at mid-day and were conducted straight on to the ship at Miami’s Terminal F. This allowed the chance to grab lunch at the new-look Cabanas buffet restaurant, which is now MUCH bigger and more user-friendly in its passenger flow.

Lunch was followed by a full tour of the Magic, with a chance to appreciate fully all the new

spaces and additions which, while not changing the essence of the ship, distinctly raise the bar for the company’s ability to appeal to both the family and the adult-only audience.

We will provide more details of the new components in the next two instalments, but suffice it so say, after Cabanas, there is a LOT more to see and enjoy.

Past passengers will be amazed at how ‘their’ ship has been refreshed and improved; new passengers will simply be bowled over by the Disney style and imagination.

Just to start with, the 3-storey Atrium (right) – the central repository of the ship’s Art Deco style – has a new look from taking away one of the staircases and moving the Captain Mickey statue to one side. It gives a much greater sense of space and ‘arrival’.

Chihuly fans may not be thrilled that the main glass chandelier has been replaced by a new lighting arrangement (with the main display now provided by a huge three-piece Swarovski

crystal chandelier series spreading out like the rays of the sun), with the Chihuly piece being returned to the main museum in California.

But that is a relatively minor quibble in the overall scheme of things, as the general smartening up of the Atrium, and the addition of new carpeting and a spruce up for the Mickey statue all provide for much more eye drama.

When it comes to big, of course, the most obvious additions are up on the top decks, where the 40ft drop of the spectacular AquaDunk flume ride is truly startling. With a capsule entrance on the side of the forward funnel that then drops riders onto the slide below, it is a true thrill-ride as it zips out over the side of the ship and then into a dramatic splash-down
on Deck 10 amidships.

Continuing aft brings you to the kids' pool area, where the old Mickey Pool has been completely rebuilt and enhanced as the AquaLab for children 3 and older. 

As well as a fabulous array of pop-jets, bubblers and geysers in a totally fun setting with those scamps Huey, Dewey and Louie, there is also a new water slide, Twist 'n Spout (right), that takes riders down through three large loops over more than 250ft of vivid yellow flume. There is also more shaded cover for the little 'uns and a look in keeping with the company's two newest ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy (launched in 2011 and '12).

More tomorrow....

More info: Look up Disney Cruise line at http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/ or, in the UK, see Virgin Holidays Cruises on 0844 417 4723 or http://www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk/.

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!




 

MSC Introduces The Canary Islands


As the British winter slowly settles in, why not escape to sunnier climes with MSC Cruises? The Mediterranean cruise line is now offering the choice between two itineraries in the Canary Islands departing from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the largest island in the archipelago, from just £449pp for a seven-night cruise, including flights. And now is the time to book to benefit from this incredible offer - and ensure some vital vitamin D!

With calls in Las Palmas, San Sebastian, Funchal and Santa Cruz de Palma, MSC Armonia's (above) first itinerary explores the best of the Canaries, including great shopping and beach opportunities as well as blissful encounters with nature at its best. Highlights include the National Park Caldera de Taburiente in La Palma, home of one of the biggest craters in the world, and Las Cañadas, the famous circular mountain range in Tenerife.

In addition to ports of call in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, La Palma and Lanzarote, Armonia’s second itinerary also includes stopovers in two of Morocco’s iconic cities, Casablanca and Agadir, where guests will be able to visit sacred mosques and magical souks but also take the chance to travel further afield to the vibrant city of Marrakech. In Agadir, Morocco's surfers' paradise, pleasure seekers can relax on the beach whilst the more adventurous can venture off into the region's stunning surroundings, the majestic Anti-Atlas mountains and awe-inspiring Sahara desert.

The two itineraries can also be easily combined to offer guests an exceptional 14-night voyage.

More info: visit www.msccruises.co.uk or call 0844 561 1955. 

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!



Saturday, 26 October 2013

Great New Destinations With Aurora

Adventure company Aurora Expeditions has released its 2014/15 brochure - Expeditions - featuring an array of brand new destinations that include Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Alaska, Arnhem Land, Cape York, Bhutan and Patagonia. With the addition of a trekking programme to their ship-based expeditions, the new brochure spans 12 exciting destinations across 19 innovative itineraries.

With decades of experience taking passengers to Antarctica via South America, Aurora have introduced a new ‘Ecuador in Depth’ voyage in 2014 exploring the country’s Amazon Basin and the wildlife playground of the Galapagos by small ship. The expedition also incorporates land touring to allow passengers to experience the famed 'Avenue of Volcanoes' and the National Parks of central Ecuador.

In addition to their flagship expeditions to the Polar Regions, in 2014/15 the company will also offer the opportunity to follow migrating humpbacks up Alaska’s Inside Passage or explore Australia’s tropical north, combining the Kimberley Coast, Arnhem Land, Cape York and the Great Barrier Reef in one incredible voyage.

Along with new destinations, the brochure also features a refreshed Antarctic programme including the introduction of a new port and Antarctic Gateway, Puerto Williams, as well as a ground-breaking new activity, Polar Snorkelling, with the opportunity to explore underwater scenery unlike any other place on earth.

Those wanting to put their sea-legs to the test will have the opportunity to witness spectacular mountain scenery on an expanded range of trekking adventures throughout some of the world’s most remote, land-locked treasures including Nepal, Bhutan and Patagonia.

In Nepal, Aurora’s climbing guide and three-time Everest summiteer Tashi Tenzing, leads us deep into the heart of the Mount Everest region, introducing trekkers to Sherpa culture and hospitality. In Bhutan, highlights include sharing mountain trails with Buddhist pilgrims and yak herders across a spiritual and spectacular Himalayan kingdom.

In Patagonia, Aurora Expeditions have developed a 10-day programme of exhilarating walks amongst the pampas and ice-capped peaks of the Andes, the perfect warm-up to an Antarctic cruise. Each ‘Patagonia Adventure Trek’ is timed to depart in conjunction with one of their exciting Antarctic expeditions and travellers can save 20% when they book on adjoining departures.

More info: visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au or call +61 2 9252 1033 or freecall 1800 637 688 (Australia only). 

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Reach The Heart Of Lapland With Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten has launched a new one-off itinerary for those who wish to explore “The Heart of Norwegian Lapland.” in 2014. 

The 12-day tour from March 25 to April 5 combines a Hurtigruten voyage on MS Midnatsol along Norway’s wintery fjord coast with a tour into the interior of Finnmark, the northernmost province of Norway and home to the Norwegian Sami. Highlights include a visit to an Igloo hotel, opportunities to meet the local Sami people and a Northern Lights tour.

The voyage will start in Bergen, the Hanseatic city steeped in tradition, and follows up with a visit to the old royal city of Trondheim, the picturesque Lofoten archipelago and the “Arctic capital” of Tromsø, and on to the port of Alta, the largest city in Finnmark. Weather conditions allowing, the ship will travel off the normal Hurtigruten course around the imposing North Cape Plateau, the northernmost point in Europe.

Passengers will then disembark for a two day land tour of the region. Highlights include a visit to the Alta Museum and its petroglyphs - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - a trip to the impressive Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, a reindeer stew lunch by the open fire on cosy reindeer skins in a traditional Sami tent and a concert by local performers.

The Finnmark region is one of the best places to observe the spectacular Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis. The land-based part of the trip ends with a journey to a winter camp far away from any interfering light sources to maximise chances of seeing this magnificent spectacle.

At the end of the local tour, guests will be transferred back to Alta, from where MS Midnatsol sets off on its southward journey to Bergen.

The trip costs from £1,855 per person for the 12-day trip (based on 2 sharing). Flights are available for an additional £450 per person.

More info: call 0844 448 7601 or visit www.hurtigruten.co.uk.

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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Chase The Northern Lights With Saga

Saga Cruises is offering a fabulous opportunity to experience the Northern Lights in Norway this winter, aboard their chic Saga Sapphire. Here's what they say...

Choose from a February or March sailing through Norway’s shimmering fjords and snow-covered landscapes before crossing the Arctic Circle to Alta, the Town of the Northern Lights, for a chance to observe this celestial phenomenon.
 
Sailings are during the Solar Maximum, a time when it is more likely to encounter an intense display of the Aurora Borealis. For those re-visiting Norway, Saga’s many optional excursions ensure passengers can further explore this beautiful country. From a seaplane ride to an igloo hotel stay, there will always be something new to experience
 
In Awe of the Northern Lights – February 24

Ride on a sledge pulled by reindeer or set off on a snowmobile across the tundra on this 15-night adventure where you can trek through the snow in search of the magical Northern Lights.
 
Saga Sapphire will sail from Southampton to Bergen, where passengers can stroll along the UNESCO protected Bryggen Wharf before passing through the beautiful Romsdalfjord to reach Andalsnes. From here, view the impressive Trollveggen, or 'Troll Wall', which at 6,000ft is Europe's highest vertical cliff face.
 
Next, cross the Arctic Circle and arrive in Tromso for a tour the city, including a visit to the Polar Museum and distinctive Arctic Cathedral. Sail on to Alta for a two-and-a-half day stay to maximise the chance of seeing the Lights. Return via Narvik to Southampton on March 11.

Prices from £2,770 per person.
 
Magic of the Northern Lights – March 11

Spend the day in Bergen or take a seaplane over Mount Floyen. Classical music enthusiasts can also indulge in a visit to Troldhaugen, former home of composer Edvard Grieg.
 
Next stop is Åndalsnes, gateway to the rugged wilderness of the Romsdalfjord, which typifies Norway’s striking natural beauty. Cross the Arctic Circle on this 16-night cruise and spend two of the nights in Alta, where an expert guide will lead an expedition in search of the Northern Lights. Sail on to Tromsø and take a cable car to the top of Mount Storsteinen for views of the city, forested peaks and reindeer pastures.

Choose one of four excursions in Narvik, the ice-free port with a fascinating industrial heritage, before sailing on to Ålesund to view its unusual art nouveau architecture. Flam is the last port of call before returning to Southampton. It is one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords and the Flåm Railway is not to be missed, passing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains.

Prices from £2,951pp.

Both cruises include VIP door-to-door chauffeur service, all meals and entertainment, entertainment, 24-hour room service, travel insurance and cancellation cover. 
 
More info: call free on 0800 051 3355 or visit www.saga.co.uk/cruises.
 
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