I have just returned from a fantastic cruise on board the latest addition to the Carnival Cruise Line fleet – the Carnival Vista. She is jam packed with so many facilities for all the family! There are itineraries available right up until October 2016 around the Mediterranean as she is based here for the summer season so plenty of opportunities to get on board.
My 5 must do’s whilst you are on board the Carnival Vista:
After you have picked the itinerary & date, the next thing to do is to pick the type of cabin you want. The main types of staterooms are inside, ocean view, balcony and suites. If you are travelling with the family, you may wish to consider the Havana cabins with their own terrace which leads onto the promenade deck. I opted for a balcony, I think when you are cruising with Med on itineraries like this, which are so port intensive, there is no better way to see the destinations then by docking or departing from your own balcony. The accommodation is well appointed with an ensuite shower room, your own living area in your stateroom, your own balcony, comfortable bedroom and plenty of storage and wardrobe space. There is a safe to lock valuables away, an interactive TV to watch the news, check your account or read about the ports ahead and also a fridge to keep bottles cool. One of my favourite features is the USB sockets, this is ideal if you are using a tablet device or iphone and if you forget your charger you can just charge using the USB!
The heart of the ship is the atrium with its impressive centrepiece that is changing throughout the day. You can access guest services, excursions and the shops from here and in the evening there is live entertainment to enjoy as well. Talking of shops, there is a choice of fantastic shopping opportunities, from souvenirs to essentials. There is also Cherry On Top which is the best sweet shop at sea and has a very impressive pick n mix – I was there for hours!
On top deck the choice of facilities for all the family continue! The Carnival Waterworks has a choice of fun waterslides where you can race your friends, and the Power Drencher will ensure that you get very wet! There is a jogging track that you can utilise early in the morning to burn off the previous day’s calories. The Clubhouse is the place to head for some fun, you will find table football, mini-golf and much more here, and just above you will find the rope works course and also the brand new skyride, where you can pedal your way around top deck, racing your friends! If you want to keep active there is also an outdoor fitness centre! After all the adventure, why not chill out in Serenity, the adult only area. With hot tubs, Jacuzzis and plenty of cabanas and loungers to just chill out! Or you can be pampered in Cloud 9 spa, here a range of treatments and massages are available. You will also find the gym and sauna here; I liked nothing more than just chilling out in the sauna!
If you are cruising with the family, the kids will be entertained in Camp Ocean, where they are separated into groups of kids with their own ages, so there is plenty for them to do and new friends to make. There are interactive games, computer games, books, hands-on crafting and so much more!
When it comes to dining there is no shortage of choice available, with 19 different places to eat on board, some of them have a cover charge but the majority is included in the price. The main restaurant spans over two decks and offers a different menu every evening, there is the Lido Marketplace which is the help yourself buffet option with Swirls. The 24 hour help yourself ice cream station! Other dining venues include Bonsai Sushi, Pizzeria del Capitano, the Seafood Shack, Blue Iguana Catina, Guy’s Burger Joint, Fahrenheit 555, Cucina del Capitano and Ji Ji Asian Kitchen. When you have eaten, there are plenty of places to have a drink and enjoy some live entertainment including the Alchemy Bar, the Piano Bar 88, Havana Bar, The Sky Box Sports Bar, the Liquid Lounge with the Punchliner Comedy Club and the Red Frog Pub, Brewery and Rum Bar
Before going to bed, don’t forget to visit top deck to enjoy ‘Dive in Movies’ where you can watch a movie with your loved one with a blanket and popcorn! Some nights during your cruise there will be pool parties and top deck parties which are also great fun! If you are seeking the latest blockbuster or thrill movie, head to the Carnival Multiplex at sea, where you will find the only IMAX cinema at sea! Charges apply for this, but go on try it, it’s amazing!
If you’ve never cruised before, the Carnival Vista is great for a first time cruise experience. You don’t need to dress up every evening for your meal, its relaxed and casual. There is fun for all the family from the moment you wake up until your head hits the pillow again, you can be as active or as relaxed as you want to be. The staff go that extra mile to make sure you have a great cruise experience. After the first day, members of staff were remembering my name, what I liked to drink and how I liked my steak cooking. It’s service like this and with so much included in the price of your holiday, cruising is fantastic value for money.
Welcome to the third ship in the Quantum Class, the Ovation of the Seas and what a fantastic ship she is packed with the latest technologically enhancements on 16 decks!
People often say to me, cruising is not for them or I will be bored on a ship…well with the Ovation of the Seas those myths are quashed! The ship is literally jam packed with things to do for all ages and the interactive menu around the ship will help you plan your day and find out what’s on around the ship.
There is fantastic entertainment in the evening in the Music Hall with live bands you can sing and dance along to. The Royal Theatre offers state of the art shows in 3D. For a venue that totally transforms at night, head for Two70 with its Roboscreens and aerial acrobatics! Whilst you are enjoying all these facilities, the kids will be having the time of their lives in the kids clubs!
Now a subject we all like to talk about is….Food! Ovation of the Seas offers Dynamic Dining. This means that you have the ability and flexibility to enjoy your meals on board when you want in different venues. There is no set table at 7.30pm every evening in the main restaurant with the same table of 6 – you can work your way around a range of restaurants (charges apply for some restaurants). The range of tempting new venues include three celebrity chefs; Jamie Oliver, Michael Schwartz and Devin Alexander. There is Chops Grille the hallmark with fantastic steaks! Chef’s table is a private experience for up to 14 people to enjoy a 5 course menu. Izumi Japanese includes made to order sushi with intense flavours and the best ingredients. Jamie’s Italian by chef Jamie Oliver offers a menu of Italian favourites. Sorrento’s is an authentic New York pizzeria experience fresh from the oven! Café Promenade has speciality coffees, snacks and cookies throughout the day. Silk, weave your way through a vibrant tapestry of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cooking . American Icon Grill has a choice of America’s favourite comfort foods. We ate in the Grand Restaurant and were served a delicious three course meal, the steak for the main course – wow, you will have never tasted anything like it!
For a tipple after dinner there are a plethora of bars to choose from including Schooners Bar with timeless cocktails and piano music. The legendary Bionic Bar, the first robotic bar in the world – truly WOW! Vintages offers a world of wine to satisfy palates of all levels. Michael’s Genuine Pub is like your local at sea, my favourite haunt on board with live music in the evening and craft beer. Our first drink on board was in Michael’s, I think that’s why I liked it so much.
If shopping is your thing, you will find the shops located on the Royal Esplanade (located across from Michael’s), a collection of celebrated brands comes together in the Royal Esplanade, featuring Cartier, TAG Heuer, Michael Kors, Kiehl’s and more iconic brands. There are also beauty shops, jewellery shops and souvenir shops.
When you first get on board you will have had your picture taken by the ships photographer and often around the ship in the evening and in the ports of call, head to the Photo Gallery to view these. Gone are the days of searching walls and walls of pre-printed pictures, you simply scan your card on the screen and it brings up your photos, which you can download to your phone or tablet device!
Heading for the top deck and the facilities continue, with the majority of firsts for Royal Caribbean that you won’t find anywhere else. The fantastic North Star is a capsule that goes 300 feet above sea level, you get breath-taking views of the ship and the ports of call. If you’re looking for thrills, why not try RipCord by IFLY – yes this is your opportunity to go skydiving at sea as you fly in a wind tunnel! For those who like to get wet, there are pools, waterparks and the FlowRider, which is a surf simulator at sea. SeaPlex is the cutting edge indoor sports zone, with basketball, roller skating, floating DJ Booth and bumper cars – that’s another first at sea. There’s also a teen disco for the kids to hang out, a rock climbing wall and keep your hunger at bay with fresh hot dogs baked throughout the day! After all that adventure, the Vitality at Sea Fitness Centre will keep you in shape with equipment to use yourself or organised fitness classes.
If you don’t want to head outside, soak up the sun or enjoy the shade in the Solarium, truly a tranquil adults only retreat with its retractable roof. There’s an outdoor movie screen which shows movies under the stars or the latest sports games. You’ll also find the Windjammer marketplace on deck 14, open around the clock 24 hours a day you can eat around the world from all continents, I was surprised how many seating places there were here, always plenty of room and plenty of food choice – there was a carvery and egg-fried rice for breakfast (as well as the usual hot selection, cold and bakery items!) There is also the Coastal Kitchen which is exclusively for guests who are in suites, this is a fusion of California cool and the Med-inspired taste.
The staterooms are well appointed and there is so much choice! Starting from virtual balcony staterooms (this is an inside stateroom with a giant screen showing outside live to look like a balcony) to ocean-view, to balcony and to suites. I had a balcony stateroom on board, there was a large double bed, a large bathroom, plenty of storage and wardrobe space and a sitting area to relax and escape during the day. Each balcony had a desk and vanity mirror, hairdryer, safe and fridge – great for keeping bottles of water cool for your excursions! And of course I had a fantastic spacious balcony which was great to enjoy in the day and also at night time.
A truly fantastic ship for everyone – there are facilities for all the family and so many technological advancements. I never thought I would see a robotic bartender make me a drink, or see people flying at sea or even upload pictures on the fastest wifi at sea…. WOW…I definitely can’t wait to get back on board!
I have just returned from a fantastic short break with Hurtigruten on board Kong Harald.
Carrying only 620 passengers when full, the Kong Harald has recently undergone a refurbishment programme, she was the first in the fleet to undergo the programme whilst it will be rolled out fleet wide.
Hurtigruten are all about coastal voyaging, it’s the perfect choice for travellers who want to see the sights, taste the local cuisine and get involved with Norwegian traditions.
On top deck, the sun deck has plenty of space to sit out and sightsee, there’s also a bar towards the rear of the ship. The large panorama and observation lounge is located at the front of the ship, a great place to hang out in the evening and enjoy some great tradition Norwegian folk dancing and entertainment. The café is located on deck 7 which has an array of food and drink on sale daily from 8am-10pm. Deck 5 contains a promenade that runs around the ship, again great for enjoying the fabulous scenery.
The majority of facilities can be found on deck 4. The main restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a buffet option. Fish tends to be the dish of the day, with most caught on the day and served on the plate right away. There’s another restaurant that offers a set menu, this included mussels for starters, cod for main and a waffle for desert. You can also find the shop, library and reception on this deck. There are vegetarian options available, speak to the waiter on board and they are happy to accommodate.
The accommodation is well appointed and has everything you could need. I had an Artic Superior cabin which had been refurbished, complete with underfloor heating in the bathroom!
Cruising through the Norwegian Fjords is one of the most popular trips that people want to do, and Hurtigruten know exactly how to do it. I got on the ship in Bergen and cruised through narrow fjords that were snow topped and through Norway’s longest Fjord to Skjolden. We spent several hours cruising through the tiny fjords and it was great to admire the scenery and the houses dotted all over the coast.
Once we arrived in Skjolden, we were given complimentary bottled water and snacks and taken to our excursion to the Urnes Stave Church, which was built in the 12th century and is a remarkable sight. The church is preserved today and holds a handful of services in the summer and there’s also the opportunity to get married there!
What made this trip so special was seeing the Northern Lights. On the first evening on board, the captain made an announcement that the Northern Lights would be visible, everyone congregated on deck and we witnessed this natural phenomenon, something that I will never forget. Hurtigruten offer a promise to see the Northern Lights and they certainly delivered.
If you have been on an ocean cruise before, this is very different. It’s all about engaging with the locals, enjoying their way of life and cuisine. It’s also about coastal voyaging, you are never out at sea for days on end, you often visit many ports of call in one day as the locals use it as a ferry service. A fantastic experience, I will certainly be back for more!
Welcome to the biggest ever Norwegian Cruise Line ship, the Norwegian Escape. Launched in late October 2015, she offers 19 decks of fun, activity, tranquillity, entertainment, dining, enrichment or relaxation.
Carrying over 4,200 passengers she is the first of a series of new build ships for Norwegian Cruise Line as part of the Breakaway Plus class in the fleet. Some facts and figures – there are 27 dining venues, 21 bars and lounges, 24 hour room service, 50 different types of bottled beers and 24 draft beers plus 98 different cocktails to try!
One of the great innovations in the cruising industry was freestyle cruising, but what does that actually mean? Well for starters you can wear what you want as you won’t find formal nights on board Norwegian Escape, you are free to dress up in your formal attire if you wish and many people still do. Resort casual and shorts are allowed in all dining venues on board except Manhattan and Le Bistro after 5pm as you would expect shoes and shirts must be worn. But this means you can go for dinner in shorts in the majority of restaurants – how relaxed and freestyle is that! Freestyle dining is also a major part of Norwegian Cruise Lines ethos. In a nutshell there are numerous places to eat on board – Norwegian Escape has 27 different dining venues on board. Some of them do carry a small cover charge; the majority are included in the cruise price. And with Norwegian, you don’t turn up at a set restaurant, at a set time or sit with the same people. Norwegian Cruise Line want to give travellers the choice and you can literally eat your way around the world with the impressive selection at a time that suits you, and if you want to meet new people, you can sit with them for dinner, or if a private table for two is for you, that’s also fine.
There is also an Ice Cream Bar and Room Service available 24 hours a day. The other complimentary restaurants include Margaritaville on deck 17, Savor and Taste, on deck 6 and Manhattan Room. I sampled lunch in Taste, the service was quick, the menu was extensive with plenty of choice, I chose the Chicken Nachos followed by Fried Chicken which was superb! Some of the speciality restaurants include Bayamo, Cagney’s, Food Republic, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Moderno, Pincho, Teppanyaki, Dolce Gelato and The Bake Shop. Food Republic is where you can travel somewhere new with every delicious bite as you savour a fusion of foods and cultures from around the globe, jet away to Japan to try a new type of sushi roll or have a hearty helping of noodles from China. There are 27 venues you can visit, no matter how long you are on board, you can’t say there isn’t choice!
There is the photo gallery that you can go and spot your embarkation photos, shops with souvenirs, clothing, perfume – make sure you leave a couple of hours to get round them all! There is also a chance to buy some art at sea, head to ‘The Collection’ for a chance to see some great paintings on sale! On top deck, there are 12 pools and hot tubs to choose from. An impressive water park awaits with several slides, plus a special kids water park. There is mini golf plus a ropes course, where you can suspend over the ships edge with nothing beneath you, apart from the sea 19 decks below! If you fancy that, and the kids don’t, why not use the on board kids clubs? Guppies is for the little ones, Splash Academy is for the older ones and Entourage is for the cool teens!
Now the important bit, where will you be sleeping? Well Norwegian Cruise Line have a range of comfortable accommodation to pick from. If you are a solo traveller there are studio cabins, there are around 60 of these on board Norwegian Escape, with their own studio lounge to meet other solo travellers. If you are travelling as a couple or family there are inside, ocean view, balcony and mini suites available. Or you want the ultimate experience, go for the Haven suites, these have multiple rooms within your suite including the bedroom, en-suite bathroom and lounge.
As well as presenting for Vision Cruise in the UK & Europe, I am please to have joined the Vision Cruise Australia team.
Its great to work with the team in Australia and to be able to talk about exciting destinations & different cruise ships that operate from Sydney.
If you are in Australia, you can find out more details at http://www.cruisesavers.com.au/tv/homepage.phtml
If you’ve never cruised in modern luxury before, now is the time to try it. The Celebrity Silhouette is part of the solstice class of ships, ideal for relaxation or adventure. Launched in July 2011, the ship can hold 2,886 passengers when full.
There are 16 passenger decks to explore, the ideal place to start your holiday is on top deck (deck 16), the solstice deck, where there are plenty of places to sit outdoors and soak up some sun whilst cruising.
Deck 13 is the place to head for if you want a sun lounger, here you can also find the pools as well, great for a refreshing dip whilst you are on holiday. And if you want the ultimate in pampering, head to the Canyon Ranch Spa, whilst walking around here, I nearly got lost – it’s so big, there every type of pampering you could ever wish for!
Decks 12-6 are passenger decks with a range of staterooms from inside to oceanview and balconies to suites. There is a number of balcony staterooms on board, all with their own private veranda – what better way to wake up with breakfast on your balcony! The decks are easily accessed with the glass fronted lifts. Look out for the breakout areas on each floor and the real growing tree!
The Cellar Masters is the on board pub with vintage wines from around the world and don’t miss the Martini Bar, the ice toped bar where waiters will put on a show. Don’t forget to write your name in the ice!
The Grand Cuvee restaurant spans Decks 4 and Deck 3 with its impressive wine cooler, plus also on Deck 3 there is the passport bar and the reception to help you whilst on holiday.
Sadly I was only on board for a short time, if you’ve been cruising before on a 4* ship; why not take the step up to Celebrity Cruises. This is 5* cruising. This is modern luxury..
Marina is a comfortable mid-size ship, offering a country club casual ambiance with a high level of personalised service.
As soon as you step on board, the Lalique grand staircase awaits, with access to the reception and excursions desks, you get a real sense of premium luxury. One of the great things all around the ship is the stunning works of art, some of them worth $4 million each.
There are multiple dining options, six are open seating gourmet restaurants with no surcharge. The Grand Dining Room is decorated in rich words, tapestry fabrics and exudes classic splendour.
For the ultimate dining experience, visit Jacques, inspired from artist Jacques Pepin’s the dishes are freshly prepared with a French flare. You can also eat in your stateroom or suite 24 hours a day!
If you want to learn something new, the La Reserve by Wine Spectator offers enlightening seminars, tastings and gourmet food pairings. The Culinary Center is the only hands-on cooking school at sea, in some ports of call, you can even go shopping with the chef and prepare local dishes. You can learn crafts and arts in the Artist Loft enrichment centre.
There are also shops on board to pick up souvenirs and a great show lounge with broadway style shows. The accommodation is lavish, spacious and comfortable.
I think that if you’ve not tried a premium luxury cruise holiday, now is the time to step up and try it, you won’t look back.
Join me on board Oceania Cruises Marina
Horizon is a mid-sized ship in the fleet, refurbished in 2012; she is a popular choice for past passenger, as well as great for first time cruises alike or those wanting to take the family. Holding 1800 passengers when full, you’re guaranteed a typical Mediterranean welcome when you step on board.
On deck 7 you'll find the main restaurant, Splendide, which is waiter service. Deck 8 has the nightclub, bars, casino, cafe & shops. The main show lounge also spans over decks 7 & 8 and is an impressive venue. Café Moka is a great venue to start the day with a morning coffee and fresh pastries.
With over 40 years’ experience, and Spain's largest cruise line, it's no wonder passengers come back time & time again. If you've traditionally taken Spanish resort holidays before, why not consider Pullmantur Horizon, with its all-inclusive offering you can head on board without penny in your pocket.
I recently went on board Cunard’s Queen Victoria to experience some traditional, elegant, British cruising. The interiors of the ship are luxurious marbles, woods and rich fabrics which exude elegance and luxury. As soon as you step on board, you arrive in the atrium which is the heart of the ship; from here you can visit reception, shore excursions, lounges and many bars, all accessible from the sweeping staircase.
If you are missing your home favourites, head to the Golden Lion pub for traditional pub food and drinks. Here you can find favourites like fish and chips or cottage pie whilst enjoying a great pint! After dinner head to the Commodore club for a nightcap before retiring to bed, or if you’re at sea, this venue offers great views across the ships bow. Hemisphere’s is the venue if you want to dance into the early hours, with its resident DJ. Other dining venues include the Verandah restaurant which French inspired dining, Bamboo offers Asian fusion, Coriander serves Indian cuisine and Prime is the spot for succulent steaks and seafood.
If you want to burn off some of the calories after over indulging, the well-equipped gym is open throughout the day. For pampering head to the Royal Spa, which offers massages, therapies and treatments. The hydro-therapy pool offers a place to de-stress and detoxify.
If you want to soak up the sun, head to the Lido deck with its swimming pool, Jacuzzis and pavilion bar to enjoy a cocktail on your sun lounger. The Winter Garden is a conservatory style venue, combines elements of indoors and outdoors, filled with plants, bathed in natural light and featuring a roof that opens in warmer climates.
If you want to experience the ultimate luxury, why not consider the Cunard Grills experience, rated amongst the finest afloat, you enjoy lavish suites and dining. There are private areas such as the Grills lounge with its open air deck space, exclusively for Grills passengers.
The Royal Court Theatre offers lavish broadway, West-end style shows every night of your cruise holiday. The venue is quite stunning and over three-tiers, if you fancy something extra, or are celebrating a special occasion on board, why not choose a private box?
There is a choice of staterooms, starting from interior, to ocean view, to balcony and to suites. All come with your own cabin steward to look afternoon, and all decorated with fine prints, soft colours of the sofas and the famous Cunard turndown service when it’s time to retire.
Wow – this is ultra-luxury all-inclusive cruising. Every suite on board Seven Seas Voyager is a balcony, this offers your everything you could want for your cruise holiday. Although only a small ship, she carries just 700 passengers, the facilities are still in abundance, with four main dining venues, where you can dine whenever, with whomever or wherever you want. Personal service is something that you notice with the 447 crew on board.
Head out on top deck, with a teak promenade that runs around the ship, here you will find the golf nets and games area. Below, the pool deck has a large heated swimming pool, two whirlpools and a table tennis table. Here you will also find a bar and the alfresco grill where you can eat a great selection of freshly cooked meats including burgers. One thing I did notice on board was that there are enough sun loungers for everyone – so there’s no need to get up at 5am to guarantee your lounger, you can stroll up at 11am or 2pm and there will be enough for everyone on board.
There is a gym and of course the jogging track on top deck, seven laps around is equal to one mile. Club.Com is the internet centre to keep in touch with friends and family back home and don’t miss out on the Boutiques where you can pick up souvenirs, clothing, jewellery or perfumes.
I really enjoyed the luxury experience on Regent Seven Seas Cruises, if you would normally get a balcony stateroom on other cruises, just price up what it normally costs you to get off the ship, after you have paid for on board excursions, speciality restaurants, drinks and tips… you will see then that Regent Seven Seas Cruises is excellent value for money for ultra-luxury all-inclusive cruising.