The newest vessel to join the Cunard fleet is Queen Elizabeth, named in 2010 by Her Majesty the Queen. As soon as you step on board, you notice the elegance & luxury of Cunard.
One of the first port of calls when you step on board is the top deck. With plenty of space and sun lounges, you can quickly sit back and relax with a drink and enjoy your cruise holiday, or take a dip in the pool or hot tub. The Games deck offers croquet, bowls or paddle tennis all under a canopy, should the weather be too hot!
The staterooms on board are light and modern and well equipped for every traveller, they range from Insides, Oceanview, Balconies & Suites. I was lucky enough to be on board for the launch of the ship and had a very spacious suite, with a butler! On my return to the vessel for a mini-cruise, I had a balcony stateroom, which was wonderful to have the sea views.
When it comes to food, Cunard know exactly how to do it! The Lido buffet is open all day with a variety of snacks, carvery, light meals and buffet offerings. The Britannia, is the main restaurant on board, spanning over two decks there is a great menu served every evening, and if you don’t want something off the menu, that’s fine, the staff will cater for you. The Verandah is Queen Elizabeth’s formal alternative dining option, with French cuisine served every day. The Golden Lion pub is like a local at sea! Serving drinks throughout the day, you can also order light meals here like fish & chips, which are all included in your cruise fare. When not serving meals, the Golden Lion pub is home to the daily bingo & quiz – it’s a must you are on holiday after all! The Garden Lounge is inspired by London’s Kew Gardens, it’s a great place to meet friends and enjoy sea views with floor to ceiling windows. Here you will also find traditional White Gloved Afternoon Tea, Cunard’s signature famous service.
After all that food, don’t forget to visit the well-equipped gym and also the Royal Spa. The Royal Spar has the latest therapies & beauty treatments to de-stress & detoxify your body. The library is extensive and on several decks, there is something for everyone here! For those days at sea, there are also plenty of board games and card games for you to enjoy. Something that you may not instantly think of with Cunard is children. Children are well catered for on board, there is a kids club with activities and play equipment to keep them entertained all day long!
There’s so much entertainment on board from the ship’s show company, and whether you want to enjoy a musician or a cabaret in a show lounge or a big west end style show, it’s all there for you. The Royal Court Theatre is impressive, with Royal Box’s on the upper level, these can be booked for special occasions on board, so you can enjoy the performance from the comfort of your own balcony box.
Before you depart for home, don’t forget to visit the Royal Arcade, here you will find all the shops & perfect souvenirs. Inspired by London’s Burlington Arcade, the shops stock brands never before been available at sea, including Hackett, Fortnum and Mason and much more. Of course, there is also the
Cunard branded collection too, including clothing, stationery & models.
Entering service in 2008, Independence of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom Class ship, guaranteed to offer you WOW moments!
Packed with so many facilities for all age groups, from the H20 water park, to the sports pool for volleyball & basketball and whirlpools that hang over the ship’s side! For the ultimate thrill seeking, why not try the FlowRider, this is a surf simulator at sea and great fun. You can always try Rock Climbing, yes that’s right, you can climb up the wall and race your friends to ring the bell at the top first!
Inside the ship, the main attraction is the Royal Promenade, this runs throughout the ship and is essentially like a street, with shopping, pubs, wine bars and cafes and open throughout the day. At night time, the ships entertainment crew put on a street party in the promenade. They perform on the sky bridge which can be lowered from the upper decks and offers great views for all passengers below.
Talking about entertainment, the 1200-seater Alhambra theatre is home to the production shows, performed nightly with amazing light displays and entertainers literally flying from all directions!
The Indy, as she is known to seasoned cruisers, is one of Royal’s eight ships to house an Ice Skating Rink named Studio B. Here a series of professional ice shows takes place, and if you fancy a go, well you can do, there are opportunities throughout the day to sample this too.
Sadly I was on board for the day and only got a brief visit to the staterooms as the ship was mid-cruise. The staterooms are clean and modern and if you can book a balcony I would recommend it. I went for lunch on board and the cuisine was amazing, sadly I had to disembark before it left for the next port of call, in the Caribbean…if only I could have stayed on board!
Now a little interesting fact for cruise buffs out there… the pools on deck are only heated when sailing from the UK, well I suppose when you’re in the Caribbean it’s hot enough!
Who would think you can do rock climbing, surfing or ice skating on a cruise ship?! Set on board the Independence of the Seas to enjoy this and a lot more!
Whilst the Caribbean Princess was docked in Liverpool, I popped on board to film for the day. She was the largest carrying capacity ship in the Princess fleet, before the arrival of the Royal Princess, although she is still extremely large, docked up against the Pier Head!
The atrium is the heart of the ship, with places to sit down and people watch, as well as reception desks and small café’s to take a break throughout the day with a cocktail or light refreshment.
The Princess Theatre is a large tiered venue, with a very big stage! There are new production shows every night of the cruise from the ships own performers. The library is well stocked, and whether you’re after a crime busting novel or a travel guide, you’re bound to find it here. The art gallery houses many beautiful pieces of work.
The Wheelhouse Bar is like your local pub at sea, with a live lounge cabaret or musical to enjoy at night. As with every cruise, and I’m sure you have gathered by now, food is an important part and the Caribbean Princess does not disappoint! From light snacks to grand dinners there is something for everyone. The buffet is ideal for lunchtime with pastries, light snacks, cakes & deserts usually with a theme depending on your port of call or itinerary.
To work off all those meals, the gym is well equipped and offers great sea views. Why not enjoy a pamper session in the Lotus Spa too?
The moving walkway takes you to SkyWalkers Nightclub, a great place to take in the scenery by day and also a place to dance away until the early hours! The staterooms come with plenty of space and I’ve never seen so many balconies on a cruise ship!
Out on deck the Calypso Bar keeps you refreshed in-between taking a dip in one of the heated pools. An invention by Princess Cruises that I really like is Movies Under the Stars – there’s nothing quite like watching a movie at sea under the stars, with popcorn all snug in a blanket. If you want to escape, retreat to the Sanctuary, the adults only retreat with private cabanas and loungers.
As part of the Grand Class of ships in the fleet, she is slightly larger than her sister vessels in the fleet, this is mainly due to the fact she was designed to cruise around the Caribbean (hence the name!), so on the open decks, there is so much space and no sliding roof over the pool for the shelter in poor weather – well you wouldn’t need that in the Caribbean!
If you’re looking for a cruise with an Italian flare, why not try MSC Cruises?
Having been built over 10 years ago, the MSC Opera carries just over 2000 passengers. MSC Cruises are constantly adding new features and keeping her looking brand new.
The MSC Opera tends to offer round-trip cruises; the cruise I went on was 8 nights from Southampton, around Netherland, France, Spain & the Channel Islands. This meant that many travellers would choose to do a loop journey from other ports of call, like Amsterdam or Bilbao. Passengers were constantly embarking and disembarking, but you hardly noticed this, and there’s always a mix of nationalities on board, great for meeting new people & discussing your adventures of the day over dinner.
On board there are plenty of real wood and marble all around the vessel. She has a large reception area, where friendly staff are on hand to help and advise with any queries.
One thing I did notice on board was the fact she had floor to ceiling windows with stunning sea views. I had a couple of days at sea, and there was always something to do.
The staterooms on MSC are a little different; to me they feel a little bit bigger than the same offering on other cruise lines. I had an ocean view stateroom, which had everything I could need with a safe and plenty of storage space.
The ship of course offers pampering in the spa, fitness in the gym, or relaxation on deck in a sun lounger. There are bars a plenty throughout the ship, especially in the atrium area on board, great for people-watching throughout the day, as well as shopping for those souvenirs or forgotten cufflinks!
With it being an Italian cruise line, the cuisine is outstanding! Literally its food after food all day, you can choose from the main restaurants, or the buffet offerings. I particularly enjoyed the special pasta course, a little treat from the Italian operator, and also the desserts – especially the tiramisu!
However, 2014 was the final season for MSC Opera sailing out of Southampton, as she will be deployed elsewhere for 2015 and beyond, but she has remained a firm favourite amongst the Brits.
I switched on the fun with Carnival Cruise Lines & their latest refurbishment – the Carnival Sunshine for a Mediterranean short cruise. Originally the Carnival Destiny, she entered serviced in 1996 and went a massive regeneration in early 2013.
The ship is excellent for everyone, whether you are aged 8 or 88! Kids are kept entertained at Camp Carnival throughout the day with special kids clubs depending on the age.
Although I thought the deck space was tight, there was still ample room to get around the ship and even relax in the adult only serenity, enjoying the fine weather whilst in the port of Civitavecchia – in fact, I enjoyed it so much I stayed on board all day and didn’t go to Rome!
There was so much to do on top deck, from the water parks, to the climbing frames, to the table football & pool! And for the adventurous why not try the water slides – and they are long! At 60m, a staircase leads to the high platform, before you're decent down the tunnel into the pool – and if you're with a group, there’s two tunnels, so have a race! At night time, you can watch a movie under the stars, a great concept that many ships now have and with nice weather, it would seem the perfect end to a summer evening.
When it comes to dining, the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse serves some of the best steaks at sea – and the deserts – wow! The cheesecakes were so big, even our party of 4 couldn’t finish off the one slice! The ultimate choice is Guys Burger joint, with super calorie burgers served out on deck, freshly cooking in front of your very eyes. There are plenty more dining options including the Asian cuisine, BlueIguana Cantina Mexican-style eatery, Cucina del Capitano and the relaxed JavaBlue Café. Some of the dining options have a cover charge, but well worth it, you are on holiday after all!
At night the ship came alive, the great shows and bars! The piano bar was a relaxed subdued setting, with a pianist on board and the RedFrog Pub was your local on board. Alchemy Bar was an excellent choice for cocktails and never miss a sporting fixture in the EA Sports Bar – even with bowling!
I was quite surprised at the number of on board amenities, there were three decks full of lounges, bars, and areas to relax. Fancy a tipple? Well the on board Casino has every slot machine imaginable!
I was booked into a standard outside cabin, it was located quite low down on the ship, but it didn’t bother me, after all its only a place to sleep at night! It was fairly bright and airy and had plenty of storage for clothes too.
My cruise was around the Mediterranean, the ship has since gone to the Caribbean (without me!) and is now enjoying some fantastic itineraries over there.
If you’ve always wanted to enjoy a bit of pampering and some luxury at sea – why not try Celebrity Cruises? I enjoyed a day on board the Celebrity Infinity, sampling the modern luxury lifestyle.
Containing some of the latest innovations at sea, the Celebrity Infinity is a must for all cruises connoisseurs. On walking round, it is quite surprising how modern and sleek the ship is and if your after space – this ship has plenty of it! The best place to enjoy views is the Constellation Lounge, complete with a bar that turns into a disco at night – I must try this when next on board!
For pampering, the Canyon Ranch Spa is a favourite amongst Celebrity Cruises, its packed with relaxation and pampering treatments. For the technology buffs, the Celebrity iLounge is backed with Apple products – from iPod to iPad’s, there are staff on board who can show you and give you tips on how to make the most of your devices, this seems a really good concept for the cruiser, and had I been on board longer, I would have stayed longer here.
Never miss a minute of the action, sailing into all those beautiful ports in a balcony stateroom. Most of the staterooms on board the Infinity contain a private balcony so you can have breakfast in France, sunbathe in the Caribbean or take in the scenery of the Fjords from here. For the ultimate in travelling, a luxurious Penthouse Suites gives incredible views and even a butler, you are on holiday after all so push the boat out J
Food – basically served around the clock! The Qsine restaurant, lets you order your food direct from an iPad! Whether you want a sandwich, salad, light bite, main course, 5 courses, 8 courses plus snacks , you can get it on board from a variety of restaurants.
Holding just over 2,000 passengers, Celebrity Infinity is a beautiful ship, and I must get on board for longer next time… just trying to pick the right itinerary now…
I enjoyed a mini cruise on board Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas – and wow what can I say!
As part of the voyager class of Royal Caribbean ships, she had many features included mini golf, ice skating rink & a rock climbing wall, she was like a floating resort!
The main attraction is the Royal Promenade, which runs the length of the ship, spanned over 4 decks. The Royal Promenade contains shops, cafes, bars and shops and is like the central hub of the ship. I had an interior promenade stateroom, which felt like an outside as I had a full window overlooking the promenade and all its activities. At night the entertainers do a street parade, but don’t be put off thinking there will be too much noise in these staterooms, they are well sound proofed.
Throughout the day there is so much entertainment, you can take in an ice-skating show, or if your feeling brave perhaps try the Rock Climbing wall on top deck and beat your fellow racer! Or if you want to sit on top deck in the sun with a book enjoying the weather you can do, the on board library is one of the biggest I have seen at sea with plenty of books.
When it comes to dining and drinking, the choices again are endless. The main dining room holds around 2,000 passengers, or there is Portofino, the Italian restaurant on board. The Windjammer restaurant is the help yourself buffet and provides food throughout the day and the Promenade Café is open for breakfast and light snacks. You have to try Johnny Rockets on board – this is a 1950s style burger restaurant, there is a small cover charge for this, but well worth it to experience the true American dining experience!
After all of that food, you can enjoy the spa and gym facilities. Filled with treadmills, bikes and weights, you aren’t short of space to enjoy a relaxing workout.
The entertainment on board is top class! A new show every night in the Lyric theatre, the shows always contain a very large cast and enjoy some great music and light shows too.
As I previously mentioned, I was in a promenade interior stateroom, which did have views to people watch throughout the day. There are also the usual interior, oceanview, balconies, suites, royal suite, & owners suite if you’re going to push the boat out. !
At the end of the Promenade are the reception and shore excursion counters who are always on hand to assist you throughout the cruise. If you fancy a flutter, the Schooner Bar located below the Promenade, is packed with gaming tables, poker, roulette and slot machines.
I had a great time on board the Adventure of the Seas during her seasons in Europe, she is to be based in the Caribbean for 2015, so why not try a Caribbean cruise on board the amazing vessel! i would hightly recommend
There are a number of restaurants on board, the main being the Ballindalloch restaurant. Whilst on board a cruise, its not uncommon to witness a birthday celebration - and trust me the waiters make sure everyone knows its your birthday by singing at your table, and everyone joins in!
The food on board is superb, there was a wide variety of choice and speciality requests were catered for. We also sampled the other restaurants on board Spey, Avon (both on Highlight Deck 10) and Palms Café (on Lounge Deck 7). Palms Café served an excellent buffet style selection every evening after the review show, an alternative from the main restaurants. Breakfast was served in all restaurants, I've sampled the breakfast in all 4 restaurants on board.
The Morning Light pub was a new addition to the ship in 2008, we took part in the daily quiz on the days we were at sea (although never won!). A fresh and light pub, named after a earlier ship from the Fred. Olsen fleet.
In the daytime, there were lots of activities to do on board. There was an Internet Room to keep in touch with emails and news from back home, plus a card room and a well stocked Library. In the Lido Lounge we also joined in the fun of the Daily Bingo, with a prize of £500 on offer…(I was very close to winning!!!) On deck there were two pools and a number of smaller Jacuzzis.
Plenty of seating on deck was also available, sitting on deck in the blazing sunshine, topping up the tan, whilst we were in the middle of the ocean was fantastic…I didn’t want to come home! The gym and fitness centres were also available and provided good sea views whilst getting fit!
The nightlife on board excellent, after our evening meal, we would go to the Neptune Lounge and take in a review show or enjoy a musical. One of the nights was a themed night whilst another night we enjoyed a magical illusion show! The staff in the Balmoral Theatre Company were great and all spoke to us after the show. After the show, we would either go to Palms Café for our midnight snack or slope off to the Observatory Lounge for the Disco into the small hours of the night!!
It was sad to get off Balmoral, as I would have gladly stayed on board for another two (or three) weeks to sample to delights this fantastic vessel has to offer.
Cruise aboard Boudicca, a truly world class ship.
I enjoyed a mini cruise on board Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Boudicca ship, sailing from Liverpool to Greenock via Dublin. Fred Olsen offer a range of itineraries and departures from many ports around the UK, however Boudicca is the only ship in the fleet that offers a variety of departure ports including;
Southampton, Liverpool, Greenock, Roysth, & Newcastle.
Because of it’s world cruise history, Boudicca tends to have larger cabins and a number of these are either outside or have a balcony. We decided to book a superior outside cabin, which was large in size, had plenty of storage and an en-suite bathroom with bath.
Out on the decks, there was plenty of room to sit down and enjoy the sea views. The ship had a large number of sunbeds on the decks and we even got sunburnt whilst in Dublin!
The food on Fred Olsen really is great; the main restaurant is split into three restaurants (Four Seasons, Heligan & Tintagel). We enjoyed our evening meal in the Four Seasons Restaurant, our waiter, Joseph, was helpful, hard working and the speed of service was fantastic. There is also the oriental styled Secret
Garden café which houses the midnight buffet and informal dining. On Lounge deck, a poolside buffet is also available at mealtimes.
In the Neptune Lounge, the great shows & productions including a swinging at sea production and a hilarious comedian! In the Lido Lounge, there was daily entertainment including a quiz and bingo during the afternoon and at night, the Lounge became home to the resident DJ, disco and cabaret singers. The Observatory Lounge, located at the back of the ship, was the ideal place to unwind for a quiet drink
after a long day exploring ports.
The leisure facilities on board were also great, with swimming pools, Jacuzzi, gym and fitness centre which were all available to use whilst on board. The ship enjoyed a number of improvements during a refit in early 2011, which included the construction of a new gym facility on Sun Deck with fabulous sea views! There are also shops on board to take home a souvenir or gift of your cruise.
We could not fault the staff on board who all worked hard and obviously enjoyed their job to go out of their way and help you.
I look forward to my next cruise on Boudicca.
I experienced 2 nights on board Queen Mary 2 with four colleagues and seven friends sampling the delights that this magnificent ocean liner had to offer.
We left Southampton from the Queen Elizabeth 2 Terminal and set sail for Cherbourg in France. We enjoyed a cocktail party on board before going to the main Britannia Restaurant for our evening meal, which was truly fantastic and can be cooked to your individual tastes and needs, we also enjoyed a bottle of house red wine which complimented the meal. After our evening meal we retired to the Royal Court Theatre to enjoy the comedian and impressionist who kept us laughing throughout the night. We moved on to sample the delights of the ballroom dancing in the Queens Room before partying into the small hours in G32 nightclub. After all the dancing we returned to the Kings Court to enjoy midnight snacks before bed.
On day 2, we decided to enjoy a traditional cruise breakfast in bed which was delivered by a friendly and
helpful waitress direct to our room, the breakfast has plenty of choice and was freshly cooked to order. Breakfast was also available in all of the main restaurants on board.
We enjoyed a leisurely morning on board and took a tour of the ship from top to bottom. Whilst on the top deck we took part in some of the leisure activities including a 2 hour game of tennis and also shuffle
There was an array of food selection at lunchtime including hot, cold, carvery, burgers and home made ice cream! We filled up before taking a further walk around the ship to take in the panoramic scenery around Cherbourg.
In the afternoon we visited the on board facilities including the Spar, Gym, Table Tennis, Shops, Casino, Library, Internet Room, Art Gallery and even played some Monopoly on board in the games room! In the evening we again sampled the entertainment on board and partied into the small hours in G32!!
The staterooms were clean, spacious and to a high standard. We had opted for a balcony on this occasion which gave excellent views across the ocean. The facilities in the stateroom were top class, Cunard had provided a complimentary bottle of Champagne for consumption in the stateroom and the bathroom was again clean and full of shower gels/creams which were complimentary for all to use.
The staff on board were helpful, pleasant and couldn’t do enough to go out of their way and assist with any queries or questions. The cabin stewardess was also friendly and took time to talk to us each day asking what we had been up to and if we had a good time.
Disembarkation was quick and easy in Southampton at the new Ocean Terminal.
We are certainly all looking forward to our next trip on board this ocean liner.!