Sunday, 31 August 2014

Enjoy the best of the Caribbean and Cuba with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is offering guests the chance of a winter sun getaway with Balmoral’s 34-night L1417 ‘Caribbean with Cuba’ cruise, departing from Southampton on 3 November 2014. This  longer cruise boasts more than just sand, sea and surf: heralding a welcome return to Bermuda for the cruise line, it also includes an overnight stay in the Cuban capital, Havana.

Ports of  call are Funchal, Bridgetown, (Barbados)St. George’s (Grenada), Castries, St. John’s, Grand Turk and Havana, for an overnight stay. Then on to Nassau in the Bahamas and a final stop in the port city of Hamilton – the capital and administrative centre of Bermuda.

Prices for this longer cruise start from just £2,999 per person, based on two adults sharing a twin-bedded, Inside cabin, and include accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, plus port dues. Guest can choose to upgrade to the ‘all-inclusive’ drinks package for just £10 per person per night.

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Cunard anounces speaker programme.


                             
                    Kate Adie                       F W De Klerk                              Murray Walker

Continuing its 40-year tradition of providing a fine speaker programme Cunard announces the latest roster of speakers who will join Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria over the coming months.

Motoring legend Murray Walker will join Queen Victoria on her 14-night ‘Canary
Islands Explorer’ sailing  (9-23 November 2014)

Broadcaster and royal expert Caroline Aston will join Queen Mary 2’s 2015 World Cruise, sailing on the leg from Southampton to Civitavecchia (10-17 January 2015).

Journalist Kate Adie OBE DL will cross the Atlantic from Southampton to New York with Queen Elizabeth (eight-nights, 10-18 January 2015)

Robert Powell will also join an early part  of Queen Mary 2’s World Cruise and sails from Civitavecchia to Dubai (17-30 January 2015).

 Former South Africa President F W De Klerk will join Queen Mary 2 from Port Elizabeth to      Cape Town (15-17 April 2015)

Politician Lord Michael Howard joins Queen Mary 2 on her 15-night Cape Town to Southampton World Cruise sector (18 April-3 May 2015)

Business guru Lord Digby Jones will join Queen Elizabeth on her 16-night ‘Mediterranean Highlights’ cruise (30 August-15 September 2015)


Westminster Legend Ann Widdecombe DSG will appear on Queen Victoria on her 14-night ‘Canary Islands Explorer’ (9-23 November 2014)

Falklands veteran Simon Weston OBE will join Queen Victoria on her 13-night Southampton – Fort Lauderdale crossing (20 January-2 February 2015)

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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas really does 'change everything' but will it crush P&O's Britannia?

Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain proudly shows off his new toy

It's not just the first-of-a-kind sky-diving simulator and dodgem cars at sea. It’s not even the gimmicks like robot bartenders and full-sized “virtual balconies” in every inside cabin.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas really does promise to live up to the slogan “This Changes Everything.”

The 4,180-passenger ship will be here for a brief visit to the UK at the end of October. Identical twin sister Anthem of the Seas makes Southampton its home for cruises to the Europe and the Med throughout next summer.

Anthem will be in direct competition with P&O’s Britannia, launching in March and with a capacity of 3,600 passengers. Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain told Travel Weekly editor Lucy Huxley this week: “It’s my objective to crush our competition in the UK market with Anthem.

“Having said that, any improvements are good for the whole industry. Oasis of the Seas was good for Royal, but the size of the ship and publicity around it improved overall demand and made other vacation companies up their game.”

Among Royal’s latest announcements is an exclusive deal with an internet satellite network to provide more bandwith on Quantum than on all the other cruise ships in the world put together.

Unlike most cruise ships these two won’t have one huge main dining room – there are four big venues catering for everything from French cuisine in The Grande (where every night is formal night) to comfort food in the American Icon Grill. Among the other 14 choices on board are a Jamie’s Italian and a Johnnie Rockets burger bar.

The headline show in Quantum’s main theatre is a full-length version of West End musical Mamma Mia! Anthem will get the Queen tribute We Will Rock You.

While Royal were hosting journalists and travel agents from around the world at a German shipyard this week, P&O announced some rather more home-spun “luxury spa firsts” which include a menu of hair treatments and a VIP deck area offering cold flannels.

P&O marketing director Christopher Edgington hit back at Fain’s bold assertion by claiming that Britannia will offer “the most contemporary and refined holiday experience appealing to a whole new generation.

“No gimmicks, no robots; we have experts delivering the best of the best, whether that’s a heavenly cocktail, an artisan beer, or an awe-inspiring shore excursion. Combine these with tailor-made activities for every member of the family and you have the recipe for the most memorable holiday.”

Will it be enough to see off the invaders? Time will tell. But we can be sure of an intense battle for the hearts, minds – and wallets - of British holidaymakers.

Captain Greybeard's column, reproduced from today's Daily Mirror

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Hanseatic sets new record for northernmost passenger voyage


The expedition ship Hanseatic of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has set a new record for passenger ships in the Northeast Passage. On 26 August the 122.8-metre-long ship reached the northernmost point at 85°, 40.7' north and 135°, 39.6' east. At this latitude, the Hanseatic was just 480 kilometres from the North Pole.

Unusual ice conditions made this record possible. North of the New Siberian Islands in the Russian Arctic there was a large ice-free zone stretching north through the Arctic Ocean, which was used for a spontaneous detour. In temperatures of around zero degrees and a brisk north-easterly wind, the passengers took a Zodiac ride along the edge of the pack ice. This event was then celebrated in style with a party on deck.

The expedition through the Northeast Passage set off from Nome/Alaska on 12 August and continued to Severnaya Zemlya. It featured expeditionary landings followed by cruises through the Kara Sea, Novaya Zemlya, the Barents Sea, Murmansk (end of the Northeast Passage), Hammerfest/Norway and Bodö/Norway, where the expedition will come to an end on 10 September 2014.

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Saga reveals new 73-night South American Discovery cruise



Saga passengers will be circumnavigating South America on a grand voyage of 18,718 miles!  Guests can wave goodbye to winter as Saga Pearl II sails from Southampton to four Caribbean Islands before crossing the Pacific, via the 100-year-old Panama Canal.

The Galapagos Islands, ancient cities of Peru, Chilean vineyards and lakes all await before rounding Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. Guests will meet the penguins in the Falklands Islands and there will be a maiden port of call at Colonia del Sacremento, in Uruguay.

With two full days in Buenos Aires, Argentina, there will be time to tour the colourful La Boca neighbourhood, visit a prairie ranch and soak up the Latin American rhythm at a tango show.

The party continues in Rio de Janeiro, to catch some rays on Copacabana beach, taking a cable car ride up to Sugar Loaf Mountain and jumping on the funicular train to the foot of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue on this cruise.

Prices start from £7,999 for the 6 January 2016 departure from Southampton. Price includes extended private chauffeur service (up to 250 miles from the port), wine with lunch and dinner, all onboard activities and entertainment, afternoon tea, 24-hour room service, free wifi, welcome cocktail party, unlimited tea and coffee, all gratuities, porterage, shuttle bus to town centres from port of call and travel insurance.

Save up to 35 per cent off the full fare through early booking and take advantage of Saga’s Early Bird Price Promise - if a cruise price is reduced Saga will work out the difference and pass back the cash saving. There is a further 10 per cent reduction when booking two or more consecutive cruises.


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Photography special to South Georgia and Antarctica with Aurora Expeditions


Expedition cruise company, Aurora Expeditions are offering savings of 15 percent off the price of their cabins as well as guests receiving bonus inclusions such as a stylish 2-in-1 polar expedition jacket and a printed keepsake Photo Book.
The 20-day 'Photographers: South Georgia & Antarctic Peninsula' expedition departs 3 November 2014 and the price starts from £6,900 per person, triple share (including discount). Photographers will capture light as the days grow longer, watching king penguins shuffle eggs on their feet, elephant seals pup, and fur seal males battle for mating rights.
The 12-day 'Spirit of Antarctica' expedition departs 6 December 2014 and prices start from £4,450 per person, triple share (including discount). This Antarctic adventure involves icescapes and wildlife spectaculars. On shore you are free to roam amongst prying penguins and sleeping seals, whilst in Zodiacs you'll enjoy rides past icebergs and glaciers.
All expeditions include onboard accommodation, meals, guided shore excursions, and an in-depth education program with expert commentary and talks by Aurora's team of naturalists, historians, geologists, expedition team and special guest lecturers.

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Friday, 29 August 2014

German cruise ship to make her debut on the Haven Waterway


Pembroke Dock will play host to visiting ship MS Delphin for the first time tomorrow Saturday (30th August). The German owned ocean cruise ship will be alongside at Pembroke Port all day, bringing 480 passengers plus crew to visit the sites of Pembrokeshire.  The 16,000 tonne vessel, carrying mainly German-speaking travellers, is 156m long, with a 6.2m draft.

Although she is not the biggest cruise ship to enter the Haven, following her refit in 1993 MS Delphin boasts all the luxuries of a world class liner. Her current cruise started in Bremerhaven on 21st August and will be visiting the outer Scottish Islands, before continuing her journey towards Pembrokeshire via Londonderry and Dublin.  She will arrive back to Bremerhaven on the 2nd September.
 

MS Delphin is one of eight cruise visits to the Port this year. For more information on cruise facilities at the Port of Milford Haven and dates for the remaining calls in 2014 visit www.mhpa.co.uk/cruise



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European Waterways offering up to 10 percent off the price of whole boat charters


European Waterways has declared the 2015 cruise season “the year of the family,” offering up to 10 per cent off the price of whole boat charters on ten of its most popular hotel barges in the fleet. Since the vessels hold from just 8 to 12 passengers, chartering a hotel barge can give you a personal, private holiday, with the option to modify family-friendly itineraries. 

Two of the ten barges with French itineraries for a family-friendly holiday in 2015, include a cruise on the 330-year-old Canal du Midi.

European Waterways is offering a 5 percent whole boat charter special for Anjodi that is applicable to departures on 19 & 26 April and all departures from May to August and in October 2015. These must be booked by 30 September  2014.

A 5 percent reduction in the whole boat charter price of L’Art de Vivre is available for the departures on 19 and 26 April 2015 and all departures from May to August and in October. These must be booked by 30 September, 2014 to be eligible. A 10 per cent off charter special is also available for the 12 April  departure with no booking deadline.   

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Carnival Pride to operate a series of 10- to 14-day Caribbean cruises

For the first time, CarnivalPride will operate a series of 10- to 14-day Caribbean cruises round-trip from Baltimore and one-way between Baltimore and San Juan as well as new five-day Bermuda cruises and unique six- and eight-day Caribbean/Bahamas voyages, which will begin in October 2015.    

Carnival Pride will operate a series of 10-, 11- and 14-day cruises either round-trip from Baltimore or one-way between Baltimore and San Juan in 2015 and 2016. The voyages include an 11-day exotic southern Caribbean cruise from Baltimore to San Juan departing 17th January, 2016, with stops at Grand Turk, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, and St. Croix; a 10-day exotic eastern Caribbean cruise from San Juan to Baltimore departing 28 January, 2016, calling at St. Thomas, Antigua, Dominica, St. Lucia; St. Kitts and St. Maarten and a 14-day eastern Caribbean cruise round-trip from Baltimore 13 March, 2016, featuring eight different island destinations: Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St. Maarten. 

Carnival Pride will also offer two five-day Bermuda cruises in 2015-16 – one departing 26 October, 2015, and another 10 April, 2016.  These cruises spend two full days at Heritage Wharf, where guests can marvel at the island’s legendary pink sand beaches, enjoy a variety of watersports and visit historic sites such as the Royal Naval Dockyard and Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse; the oldest cast iron lighthouse in the Western Hemisphere.   

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Princess Cruises to charge extra for access to Night Sky Lounge aboard Regal Princess



A new night-time experience will debut on Regal Princess in November, enabling guests to enjoy a contemporary outdoor nightclub under the stars. The Night Sky Lounge opens for business in November when the ship begins her inaugural Caribbean season.

The top-deck Retreat Pool will transform into the Night Sky Lounge one night during each cruise, inviting guests to enjoy an open-air nightclub, including atmospheric pool and lighting, glowing drinks and a DJ on a state-of-the-art audio system. Guests can sip cocktails in the Jacuzzis, watch a bartending demonstration, and can reserve a cabana with hosted drinks service. 


So far, so good. But in what must be a first, Princess Cruises say guests will be expected to pay a "nominal" charge to enter the Night Sky Lounge.

Regal Princess begins her Caribbean cruise season on November 6 with a short preview sailing, followed by a schedule of seven-day cruises to ports in the Eastern Caribbean including St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays in the Bahamas.


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Special interest tours from Island Holidays




Operating since 1987 Island Holidays puts together special-interest holidays for small groups. 


A one-woman band in the shape of the indomitable Libby Weir-Breen, the company specialises in a few individual areas  notably the South Atlantic Islands with southern Africa and the Polar Regions. It also offers visits to The Azores, Iceland, Ascension Island and Tristan De Cunha, and a fully guided cruise to St Helena via Cape Town on the RMS St Helena.


Sample trips include a 31-day expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, Peter I Øy, Ross Sea and sub Antarctic.Leaving from UshuaiaAntarctic Peninsula, Amundsen and Ross Seas, hugging the Ross Ice Shelf, Visit Scott’s hut and on to New Zealand via Macquarie Island;   9 January 2015. 11 February 2015 (In reverse) from  £17,140.



St Helena and Cape Town

At the moment the only scheduled travel service to the island is the Royal Mail Ship. The RMS St Helena is not huge (maximum 150 passengers) a vital service both for passengers and cargo. The airport is due to open in 2016 so this is a great opportunity to take part in something that will probably soon be gone forever.  Tours available in October 2014 and  January and March 2015. From £7,555

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Head to the Canary Islands this autumn with Celebrity Cruises




Beach hop in the Canary Islands and soak up the last of the sunshine with Celebrity Cruises.
Join Celebrity Eclipse on a 10-night Canary Islands cruise-only from £949 per person (based on two people sharing an interior stateroom).

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

Price based on 30 October 2014 departure.


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Caribbean Cruise and Stay from just £799pp…


                                                                                       
                                                                                 
7-night Orlando Stay and Bahamas Cruise from £799pp
Virgin Holidays Cruises offers three nights at the 3V Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando on a room only basis, before joining ‘Carnival Sensation’ for four nights from Orlando, calling at Freeport (Bahamas) and Nassau (Bahamas). Price is per person based on two adults travelling and sharing an inside cabin on a full-board basis and includes Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick. Offer is subject to availability and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Based on departure date 27 November 2014.

14-night Orlando Stay and Eastern Caribbean Cruise from £999pp –Includes free $100 per cabin Onboard spend!
Virgin Holidays Cruises offers seven nights at the 3V Rosen Inn Orlando on a room only basis, before joining Norwegian Breakway’ for seven nights from Miami calling at, Phillipsburg (St Maarten), St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Nassau (Bahamas). Price is per person based on two adults travelling and sharing an inside cabin on a full-board basis and includes Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick. Offer is subject to availability and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Based on departure date 10 December 2014.

10-night Puerto Rico Stay and Caribbean Cruise from £1,199pp
Virgin Holidays Cruises offers three nights at the 3V+ Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino on a bed and breakfast basis, before joining ‘Carnival Valor’ for seven nights from Puerto Rico, calling at St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands), Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. Price is per person based on two adults travelling and sharing an inside cabin on a full-board basis and includes Virgin Atlantic flights from London Heathrow. Offer is subject to availability and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Based on departure date 30 October 2014.


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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

MSC Cruises adds more value with free drinks packages on September bookings



MSC Cruises is giving holidaymakers more reason to celebrate by adding a free drinks package to bookings made during September.

The complimentary Cheers! package gives guests free wine, beer and soft drinks at meal times for the duration of their stay on board and is valid on a host of winter 2014/15 and summer 2015 sailings.

Normally priced at £14 per day for adults and £10 per day for children, the September special adds up to a saving of £336 for a typical family of four on a seven-day cruise.

The free Cheers! promotion applies to all winter 2014/15 sailings in the Mediterranean, Canaries and United Arab Emirates (both cruise-only and fly-cruise), and summer 2015 fly-cruises in the Mediterranean.

And remember on  MSC Cruises children aged up to 17 cruise FREE when travelling with two adults.

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‘Lusitania Remembered’ cruise by Cunard's Queen Victoria


Cunard has commissioned historian Eric Sauder to produce a temporary exhibition of Lusitania memorabilia that will be displayed on board Queen Victoria during her 3 – 10 May 2015 voyage that will commemorate the loss of Lusitania 100 years earlier. Eric Sauder has been interested in ocean liners, particularly Lusitania, for over 30 years with his first job being a tour guide on Queen Mary in Long Beach. He has dived on the wreck of Lusitania and has authored two books on the subject: ‘RMS Lusitania: The Ship and Her Record’ and ‘The Unseen Lusitania: The Ship in Rare Illustrations’, the latter to be released for the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

Lusitania was the first of 22 Cunard ships lost in the First World War. On 7 May 2015 it will be exactly 100 years since the Cunard flagship was torpedoed while en-route from New York to Liverpool. The ship sank approximately 11 miles off the old Head of Kinsale in Ireland.

This special seven-night ‘Lusitania Remembered’ cruise by Queen Victoria will commemorate the loss of Lusitania and the other Cunard ships lost in World War One. Queen Victoria will call at Cobh (formerly Queenstown) on 7 May 2015. 

All passengers travelling on Queen Victoria will be invited to attend a special service ashore as well as witness a number of other tributes that will be made that day. A Commemorative Dinner for them will be held that night on board Queen Victoria.




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Cunard announces World Cruises for 2016



Cunard has announced its World Cruises for 2016 today ahead of them going on public sale on 10 September 2014.  

Cunard will operate world voyages on all three Queens. Queen Victoria offers a classic passage right around the world via the Panama Canal while flagship Queen Mary 2 will also perform a full circumnavigation, for the first time since 2009, via South America’s Cape Horn. Queen Elizabeth will sail Down Under and back through the Suez Canal, allowing time to explore South Africa, Australia, Japan and the Far East in particular depth.  

All three ships will sail from their homeport of Southampton on Sunday 10 January 2016 and will return together to Southampton on Tuesday 10 May.

Each ship will offer overnight stays at three of the world’s most welll known cities, including Rio, Sydney, Cape Town, Singapore, San Francisco and Dubai. In addition, later sailing times – after 9pm at between eight and 10 ports of call on each of the world voyages – will allow passengers the opportunity to get more of a sense of the rhythm and the evening attractions of these destinations.  

In total, the three ships will sail more than 100,000 nautical miles and their itineraries will offer opportunities for discovery with holidays ranging from eight- night fly-cruise sectors to 121-night world voyages.  

Fares for a full circumnavigation start at just £107 per person per day, with all meals, entertainment and travel included.



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Blue Planet Expeditions


Blue Planet Expeditions specialises in small ship expedition cruises around the world to destinations including Svalbard, Antarctica and the Falkland Islands and will soon be offering 6 and 10 night cruises around the coast of Scotland. 

They operate ships taking 12 passengers.Once aboard ship, the price is inclusive, beyond anything accrued on a shipboard account.  There are no charges for any activity or excursion.   The company is based in Stromness, Orkney and is currently looking at purchasing their own ship.  

Example Trips include:


Falkland Islands Circumnavigation
7 - 21 Mar 2015
Become one of the few to circumnavigate the Falklands. This 14 night cruise aboard the MV Hans Hansson is a unique opportunity to explore these remote islands, admire the untamed wilderness and it’s abundant wildlife. From £6,000

Polar Bear Expedition
15 - 25 May 2015
A 10 night cruise aboard  M/S Stockholm. To explore the remote archipelago of Svalbard in search of Polar Bears and other Arctic wildlife.  From £4,800


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Monday, 25 August 2014

Winning entries in Celebrity Cruises' photography contest to be displayed at Somerset House


The World Photography Organisation (WPO) and cruise line Celebrity Cruises have teamed up to launch a new photography contest, ‘Global Encounters’, which encourages photographers to capture and share their stunning imagery from across the globe. Winning images will be on display at Somerset House in London, May 2015.

The contest, ‘Global Encounters - Snapshot’, will run from now until 31 January 2015. Judges include Ben Fogle.

To ensure the photographers are able to showcase their travels from across the globe, the contest will focus on a selection of worldwide destinations visited by Celebrity Cruises. From August 2014 to October 2014, photographers can submit travel snapshots that capture the essence of the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Alaska. From November 2014 – January 2015, submitted photos will need to be taken in the Caribbean, The Galapagos Islands and South America.

In February 2015 the judging panel will select an overall winner from the monthly finalists who will win the opportunity to have their work displayed at Somerset House in London next May, plus a two night stay for two in Central London. 

To find out more about ‘Global Encounters’, watch the Celebrity Cruises competition launch video with Ben Fogle.

Photography briefs for both contests and entry details can be found on The World Photography Organisation website.


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