Friday, 31 December 2010

Farewell, 2010!

We're bidding a fond farewell to 2010 today after a year that had many highs (and a few lows) for the cruise industry - and a LOT to remember fondly.

For us at World of Cruising magazine, it was a year of Adventure - or adventure cruising, to be more precise.

We chose this year to highlight a growing and inspiring trend in expedition-style voyaging, with trips to awe-inspiring Chilean Patagonia (above) with Nomads of the Seas, the Norwegian Arctic with Hurtigruten, the islands of the Pacific North-West with Cruise West, the Brahmaputra River in India, offbeat Alaska with American Safari Cruises and the Canadian Arctic with Inuit Indian company Cruise North Expeditions.

Along we way, we have also highlighted the brilliant opportunities for adventure-cruise excursions with Lindblad Expeditions, Zegrahm Expeditions, Orion Expedition Cruises, Aqua Expeditions and Noble Caledonia.

It all adds up to an unequalled array of choice in this niche area of cruising, but one that is likely to grow still further in 2011.

We have also welcomed a superb line-up of new vessels, notably P&O's Azura, the grand Queen Elizabeth of Cunard, Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam, the amazing Allure of the Seas of Royal Caribbean, the chic Le Boreal of Ponant Lines, NCL's immense Norwegian Epic and the Celebrity Eclipse, the latest of Celebrity's Solstice-class vessels which are quickly establishing themselves as the gold standard in the large premium category.

From the personal point of view, it was hard to beat our trip to Chile with Nomads, where we discovered not only a peerless cruise experience, but a stunning part of the world and unfailingly friendly people.

And then, going from one extreme to the other (arguably the smallest ship in the world to the largest), our time aboard the new Allure of the Seas was also eye-opening, with the entertainment on this colossus of the seas raising the bar in this field yet again.

On the negative side, we were dismayed by the example of the Carnival Splendor, which suffered a fire and major power failure on the Mexican Riviera in November, requiring it to be towed back to port with some seriously disgruntled passengers. One subsequent report suggests Carnival have a problem with their safety procedures for dealing with fires at sea, and we sincerely hope that the right lessons are learned from this incident.

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas then hit seriously rough weather in the Med earlier this month, with the ship suffering minor internal damage and a number of passengers being hurt, several with broken limbs. It was a salutary reminder that the sea still has power to make cruise ships distinctly wary about where, and when, they cruise.

Sadly, we also saw the demise of a long-time specialist operator, as Cruise West went bankrupt as they became a belated victim of the big recession that has affected large parts of the travel industry.

Happily, these remain exceedingly rare examples of the negative side of a business that continues to boom and attract new devotees on a daily basis. For the millions now cruising, it is still a source of almost endless fun and fascination; great value for money; and superb travelling style, with the vast array of ports of call now available.

Or, as we like to say at World of Cruising, it is just one more great adventure!

Silversea's 2012 Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Now you can sail away in luxurious style aboard any of Silversea's six celebrated ships. Reserve your preferred suite now while the best selection of itineraries and accommodations is available. Choose from a world of once-in-a-lifetime voyages and exhilarating expedition cruises – many with the exceptional value of FREE flights and transfers.

These new 2012 sailings have been announced just in time for the year-end holidays and make an unforgettable gift to give friends and family…as well as for yourself.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity - plan your voyage today!

For more information, visit http://www.silversea.com/ or call the UK's leading luxury cruise specialists, The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Best Cruising Moments 2011

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Well, 2010 has nearly gone now and it's time to look back at some of my personal cruise moments from the past 12 months, as detailed here on Time Spent At Sea.

Crossing the Arctic Circle and seeing the midnight sun on the Hurtigruten has to be my best cruise moment. In fact, the whole cruise with them was simply amazing, from the lush, wooded sides and waterfalls of the Geirangerfjord to the frozen, barren tundra of The Nord Cap.

Climbing the 400 steps of Skellig Michael in Ireland to get to the stone beehive huts of the 6th century monastery as it rises out of the Atlantic comes a close second. This round-Britain cruise with Zegrahm Expeditions also visited the Shetlands, Bass Rock (above), The Scilly Isles, Jura and St Kilda looking at 13 wild and ancient islands. A truly memorable experience.

The rise of adventure/eco-cruising is also extremely heart warming to me, as more and more of the world is made accessible by zodiacs on small luxury expedition ships, with usually no more than 100 passengers on board. You don’t have to be 100% fit or under 25 to do these trips, either, and most have five-star comforts waiting for you when you get back on board.

Companies such as American Safari Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, Aqua and Cruise North Expeditions are all putting time, effort and resources back into the environment and the local people. This theme continues with more cruise companies now actively pursuing a “Green” policy and even the bigger lines like Royal Caribbean and Costa now actively incorporating environmental considerations into their ships' design and sailing practices.

May we see more of it in 2011!

PS: If you missed it, here was my Hurtigruten feature sailing the classic Norwegian coastal voyage in World of Cruising magazine earlier this year: http://www.worldofcruising.co.uk/ship-reviews/the-norwegian-way-1205.html

Cruising from the UK from £72 per person per night

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Now you can Join Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas (above) for an 11-night Spain and Canary Islands cruise-only from just £792 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

Price includes an 11-night cruise-only, departing Southampton and calling at Vigo (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), Tenerife (Canary Islands), Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), Funchal (Madeira, Portugal) and La Coruña (Spain) before returning to Southampton; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

This price is based on a March 14 departure.

For more information, visit http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/ or cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

New Luxury Ship, New Luxury Spa

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Oceania Cruises and Canyon Ranch have announced signature spa offerings on board their new, 1,250-guest luxury ship Marina, which is scheduled to debut in January 2011.

Highlights of the 10,000sq ft Canyon Ranch SpaClub® include more than 50 innovative and harmonious spa treatments and therapies, a thalassotherapy pool, thermal suite and fitness centre, and Spa Cuisine menu choices in the Grand Dining Room and Terrace Café that are both nutritious and created with the highest gourmet standards.

Signature services include:

When guests are not training on their own, they can utilise Canyon Ranch fitness experts who will lead daily group and private fitness sessions and provide assessment for basic fitness and nutrition counselling. Specialised wellness services include Yamuna® Foot Fitness class offering simple techniques that improve the alignment and flexibility of hard-working feet. The SpaClub's Performance Orthotics Assessment is a computerised assessment of the way a person walks, followed by a fitting of custom-designed orthotics.

Canyon Ranch chefs also worked with Oceania's award-winning culinary team to create Spa Cuisine selections for the Grand Dining Room and Terrace Café that fit with the theme of wellness, but also with Oceania's trademark high cuisine standards.
At 66,000 tons - twice as large as her three sisters - and carrying 1,250 guests, Marina also features an array of stylish bars and lounges and 10 dining venues - six of which are open-seating, gourmet restaurants, including Jacques, the first restaurant at sea for Chef Jacques Pépin. Other highlights include a Bon Appétit Culinary Centre, Owner's Suites furnished exclusively in Ralph Lauren Home, and a grand stairway custom-crafted by renowned French glass master, Lalique.

To find out more, visit OceaniaCruises.co.uk or call the specialist luxury cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Whale watching in Alaska with Royal Caribbean

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Here's a 'cool' offer to highlight the start of the 2011 Alaska cruise season - a nine-night Alaska Southbound voyage on Royal Caribbean’s chic Radiance of the Seas from just £1,895 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

During the cruise, guests will also get to join Royal Caribbean's Alaska's Whales & Rainforest Trails shore excursion in Juneau, an unforgettable experience into south-east Alaska's whales and wilderness on this exclusive eco-tour.

Juneau is a place of diverse natural habitats, from valley glaciers to temperate forests and natural fjords. There is the chance to take in the superb vistas of the Mendenhall Glacier and hopefully spot Humpback Whales.

Price includes return flights from London Heathrow, one night’s hotel accommodation pre-cruise, and a seven-night Alaska Southbound cruise on Radiance of the Seas, departing Vancouver and calling at Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway and Hubbard Glacier, before arriving in Seward for the flight home; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

For more information, visit Royal Caribbean or contact the UK's leading cruise specialist travel agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Free Cabin Upgrades in 2011 with Hurtigruten

By guest blogger Steve Newman.

Hurtigruten is offering a free cabin upgrade on selected voyages spread across a wide variety of cabin categories for anyone booking between January 1 and March 31 in 2011. Available on specific Spitsbergen and European voyages, the offer allows customers to book and pay for a cabin and then enjoy an upgrade into the next cabin grade for free.

Offer applies to :

6-Day Spitsbergen Polar Encounters – July 31 and August 4; from £2283pp for a voyage around the north-west coast of Spitsbergen. Price includes an upgrade from an N to U cabin worth £110pp, five nights’ full board on the ship and return flights between Oslo and Longyearbyen. Based on two sharing,

9-Day Spitsbergen Polar Encounters – August 17; from £2830pp for a voyage around the whole west coast of Spitsbergen. Price includes an upgrade from an N to U cabin worth £160pp, seven nights’ full board on the ship, one night’s B&B in Longyearbyen and return flights between Oslo and Longyearbyen. Based on two sharing.

9-Day Spring in Western Europe – April 7; from £1031pp, calling at Lisbon, Porto, La Coruna, Bordeaux, Sark, Guernsey, Honfleur and Dover. Price includes an upgrade from an N to U cabin worth £240pp, eight nights’ full board and transfer from Dover to London Heathrow. Based on two sharing.

11-Day Pearls of the Baltic Sea – April 25; from £2511pp, calling at Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Gudhjem and returning to Oslo. Price includes an upgrade from an N to U cabin worth £220pp, 10 nights’ full board and transfer from Dover to London Heathrow. Based on two sharing.

8-Day Climate Voyage – July 21; from £2603pp, a special voyage, themed around climate change from Iceland to Spitsbergen via one of the world’s most isolate islands – Jan Mayen. Price includes upgrade from N to U cabin worth £130pp, seven nights’ full board on the ship, return flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo. Based on two sharing,

For more information, visit http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/ or check with the adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

‘Strictly Come Cruising' Fred Olsen Style

By guest blogger Steve Newman.

If you were inspired by Kara Tointon's triumphant victory in the final of Strictly Come Dancing, why not join a cruise to the home of hot Latin dance, and try your hand at Tango and Salsa while on board?

Fred. Olsen has some limited availability on the final sector of its epic Black Watch ‘Around South America’ voyage in 2011. The 30-night sector is the final leg of the voyage, joining Black Watch in Callao (Peru), and travelling back to Southampton, via the Panama Canal and the Caribbean.
Flights are from London-Gatwick, departing on February 21, to Callao (Lima, Peru), where there is an overnight stay, before visiting Salaverry (also Peru), then cruising to Manta (Ecuador), from where it is possible to visit the old Spanish colonial city of Montecristi.
Next port is the wonderfully named Flamenco (anchor port for Balboa), at the entrance to the Panama Canal, for another overnight stay. A great highlight of this cruise is a day-time transit of the Panama Canal, which brings Black Watch to her next port of call, Puerto Limon in verdant Costa Rica. This is one of the oldest cities in Latin America, and is steeped in history.

The next part of the cruise offers a host of glorious Caribbean islands in the sun – Aruba, Curacao, Barbados (above), St Lucia, St Kitts, Antigua and St Maarten, then the return Atlantic crossing broken by a visit to the Azores, en route back to Southampton.

A special extra on this cruise is a theme of ‘Latin American Rhythms’ through Fred. Olsen’s exclusive programme of special interests, The ArtsClub. Guests can learn some of those stunning dances, while visiting their homeland. Whether your dancing talents match those of Pamela Anderson or Anne Widdecombe, you can improve your steps and have a lot of fun in the process, learning from experts on board.

Prices for this cruise start from £2,704 per person, based on two adults sharing a Superior Outside cabin, with a Latesaver deal. This price includes the outward flight to Callao, transfer to the ship, accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, and port and airport taxes. There is no extra charge for participating in The ArtsClub.

Find out more by visiting http://www.fredolsencruises.com/ or call the special cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.
Oh, and Merry Chrustmas!!

Friday, 24 December 2010

World of Cruising - Winter edition now out!

The Winter edition of World of Cruising magazine is now out, and is chock-full of great feature, reviews and news on our favourite subject.

The headline story takes us to the Canadian Arctic with Inuit Indian operation Cruise North Expeditions, while we also visit the Falklands, South Africa, the wonderful Danube - and the Trans-Siberia Railroad!

Among our ship features are the new Queen Elizabeth and Le Boreal, the classic Athena and Sea Cloud and the modern cuisine style of Holland America's Noordam, plus a look at wine-themed cruising and Winter fashion. We also have our essential and original (often imitated but never equalled) Cruise Planner - a gazetteer of all the main cruise liens and their ships.

It all adds up to the best read on the wide world of cruising anywhere, with the best writers, the most eye-catching design and the most accurate and up-to-date info. Happy reading!

Oh, and a very Merry Christmas to all Time Spent at Sea readers - you are a growing bunch these days, and we look forward to seeing even more of you in 2011!!

- Simon Veness, Editor

Cruise the Galapagos with Celebrity Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Celebrity Cruises is the only major cruise line that offers cruises around the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Cruises take you right up to the cluster of islands so isolated that over 1,900 of its creatures cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Observe marine iguanas, flightless cormorants and giant Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat. And do it all in luxury in Celebrity Cruises’ signature style.

A seven-night Galapagos cruise-only onboard Celebrity's exclusive ship Celebrity Xpedition costs from £2,282 per person (based on two people sharing an ocean view cabin).

Price includes a seven-night Galapagos cruise-only onboard Celebrity Xpedition departing Baltra (Galapagos) and calling at Kicker Rock (San Cristobal), P. Baquerizo (San Cristobal), Punta Suarez (Espanola), Cormorant Point (Floreana), Baroness Outlook (Floreana), Las Bachas, (Santa Cruz), Bartolome (San Salvador), Urvina Bay (Isabela), Punta Espinoza (Fernandina), Puerto Egas (San Salvador), Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz), Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz), Baltra (Galapagos) and North Seymour (Galapagos); meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

For more details, visit Celebrity Cruises or consulta the cruising specialist agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Black Sea Circumnavigation

By guest blogger Steve Newman

In 2011, Zegrahm Expeditions will return to the Black Sea and offer one of the most comprehensive itineraries available to travellers. Their Circumnavigation of the Black Sea visits all six countries that rim this legendary sea - Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria - with the voyage characterised by striking landscapes, stunning historical monuments and the friendly people you meet along the way.

September 13-27, 2011 & September 25-October 9, 2011; aboard the deluxe 110-passenger Clipper Odyssey; a highlight of the journey is a private tour of the Odessa Opera House. Closed and under renovation for seven years, it is now open to the public and a truly grand experience once again.

That's just one of 15 extraordinary days spent exploring the Black Sea. In the company of cultural experts and historians, travellers wander through the ruins of Greco-Roman sites, exquisitely tiled Ottoman mosques, Byzantine basilicas and monasteries adorned in colourful mosaics and charming red-roofed villages laced with cobblestone lanes.

Throughout the journey, Zegrahm guests will also enjoy local dining traditions, discover vibrant bazaars and sample regional wines.

Learn more about the Circumnavigation of the Black Sea on http://www.zeco.com/ or contact the adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Up to £900 off per couple on 2011 River Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Luxury river cruise specialist Avalon Waterways is offering savings of up to £900 per couple on selected European river cruises during 2011.

Those wanting to enjoy the delights of the River Danube can choose from the 11-day ‘Legendary Danube’ or 13-day ‘Blue Danube Discovery,’ both offering £900 off per couple. The shorter itinerary of the 4-day ‘A Taste of the Danube’ has been discounted by £400 per couple on select dates throughout April, May and November. Even further east is the 13-day ‘Blue Danube to the Black Sea’ on March 30 and April 9 departures, saving £900 per couple.

Discounted river cruises in France include the 11-day ‘Burgundy & Provence’ river cruise or the 8-day ‘Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches' with £750 per couple to be saved on both on select April and May departures. Longer itineraries on Europe’s waterways include the 15-day ‘Magnificent Europe’ and 13-day ‘European Splendour,’ both offering £900 off per couple.

For more information, visit http://www.avaloncruises.co.uk/ or check with the cruise specialist agents of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Noble Caledonia's 2011 Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

For those who like to combine adventure with luxury, Noble Caledonia have just released a whole range of cruises for 20011. Among these is a new Spring in Provence trip – a special offer from only £695, including flights from London, six-night cruise aboard the 80-passenger MS Rembrandt, full board including drinks with dinner and all shore excursions on March 20-26 or March 26-April 1.

For Wildlife Adventure Cruising, their South America itineraries visit places such as Patagonia, Costa Rica and Belize, which are rich in wildlife, and they have also just released their Antarctica brochure, plus Alaska & the Arctic, Britain & Ireland on purpose-built expedition ships such as Clipper Oddessy (above).

For further details, contact Noble Caledonia or the UK's leading adventure cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

Monday, 20 December 2010

River Cruising Through Spain and Portugal.

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is proud to announce its new luxury ship, the Douro Spirit, which will sail along Portugal and Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage Douro River. In 2011, the beautiful Spirit will be the most elegant ship to sail through the magnificent Douro River Valley.

The Douro Valley is a cultural landscape of exceptional beauty, with rambling vineyards and charming quintas clinging to the steep slopes of its valley, creating an incomparable backdrop to one of Europe’s most unspoiled regions. And this is what guests can expect to see and experience from the comfort of Douro Spirit.

Every river-view stateroom and suite features a French balcony, so guests can get closer than ever to the breathtaking scenery of the region’s unspoiled natural landscapes. Staterooms and suites also feature fine linens, built-in closets, flat-screen televisions with satellite, and complimentary bottled water. Each bathroom is stocked with L’Occitane bath and body products and cosy waffle bathrobes.

Explore the seven hills of cosmopolitan Lisbon, uncovering a treasure trove of Old World architecture. Visit Coimbra, the “Birthplace of Kings”; Porto, the beautiful “City of Bridges” with its UNESCO World Heritage-designated Medieval city centre; Guimãres, which also has its own UNESCO-listed Medieval city centre; and Salamanca, Spain, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Taste a variety of wonderful local wines from village vineyards, including the famed Port. Feast on a traditional meal at the Alpendurada Monastery; enjoy an authentic Spanish-style lunch complete with a flamenco show and dine at the Vintage House Hotel, a magnificent18th-century wine quinta overlooking the Douro. And, all along the way, uncover a land of genuine beauty and breathtaking charm, and meet warm-hearted, friendly people with welcoming open arms.

Uniworld’s 11-day Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley Cruise includes: three nights in Lisbon at a deluxe hotel with breakfast; a seven-night cruise in a stateroom with a French balcony onboard the Douro Spirit; all meals with complimentary fine wine, beer, and soft drinks served with dinner onboard; ten fully hosted shore excursions by English-speaking local guides; and transfers on arrival and departure days.

For more information, visit http://www.uniworldrivercruises.co.uk/ or call the river-cruise agents of the UK's top cruise specialists, The Cruise Line Ltd.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Falkland Islands Cruising on the Increase

By guest blogger Steve Newman.

The future’s bright for The Falkland Islands Tourist Board, which has just announced its latest tourism forecast for the 2010/11 season.

And the rise in cruise ship visits continues apace. The Falklands are anticipating a growth of 1.3% in cruise passenger arrivals for the current season (October to April), with 49,011 expected to visit. These statistics dovetail with the global upswing in cruising - 1.77 million people are expected to take a cruise next year, according to the latest figures released by the Passenger Shipping Association.

A total of 29 ships are scheduled to call at the Falkland Islands this season as an integral part of wider South America or Antarctica itineraries, comprising both expedition vessels and large cruise lines. The Falklands also welcomes four new vessels to its shores this season, including Le Boreal and Marina Svetaeva.

“Today’s cruise passengers are seeking authentic experiences in relatively undiscovered locations. The Falklands offers just this, plus wildlife in abundance and our latest tourism forecast demonstrates the increasing popularity of this destination,” commented Paul Trowell, General Manager for the Falkland Islands Tourist Board.

For more information on the Falklands, visit http://www.falklandislands.com/ or, if you want to cruise there, have a look at cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

New from Aqua Expeditions

One of our favourite niche adventure cruise operations, Aqua Expeditions in Peru, have just announced the opening of their new cruise terminal in Nauta.

The new facility (above) provides a stylish lounge/relaxation station at the tributary of the Amazon where guests board the luxury, 28-passenger MV Aqua (and in the spring, their new boat, the MV Aria).

The open-air lounge situated at the edge of the river was designed by Jordi Puig, who also designed the Aqua Expeditions vessels. Most of the furniture is tailor-made, including the wood sink made out of one piece of locally sourced pumaquirowood.

The lounge includes a refreshment area, relaxing cushioned chairs and bathroom facilities. In addition to using it for embarking and disembarking passengers, Aqua also plan to use the facility for special group functions.

For more information, contact Dalia Gibu, Aqua's Marketing and Sales Manager, at dgibu@aquaexpeditions.com.

To book Aqua's 7-day Amazon cruises from the UK, call adventure cruise specialist The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677 or get a copy of their Adventure Cruise Collection brochure.

All Change at Sea

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has launched an exciting new initiative to benefit its customers wishing to purchase foreign currency for their cruises. Operated in partnership with foreign currency specialists, City Forex, the new service allows guests to pre-book currency. The exchange rate is very competitive, and is fixed at the time of ordering.

Mike Bird, Marketing Manager for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We are very pleased to be offering this service to our guests, and we believe we are the first cruise line to do so. It will save time and worry, making the whole business of changing money very straightforward and competitively priced. This will be especially useful for those on longer cruises, visiting a number of different ports, and requiring several different currencies.”

The new service promises no Commission, no postal worries (or carrying large amounts of cash on the high street), no hidden costs and a buy-back guarantee at the same rate as the currency was purchased.

Fred Olsen guests who choose to use this service simply order their currency in advance, using their cruise reference code, and collect their money from Reception on board the ship. Any unused currency can be returned to Reception at the end of the cruise, and will be exchanged at the same rate at which it was originally purchased.

To access the service, guests who have booked a cruise can go online at http://www.cityforex.co.uk/.

To find out more about Fred Olsen Cruises, visit http://www.fredolsencruises.com/ or call the specialst cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Antarctica in style, luxury and small numbers

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Let's face it, everyone appreciates a good deal, and the phrase "you get what you pay for" couldn't be more true than in expedition travel. Zegrahm Expeditions are the first to admit that there are companies out there that can get travellers to Antarctica for less, but at what cost to the travel experience?

At Zegrahm, they believe their Antarctica, South Georgia & Falkland Islands voyage provides the biggest bang for anyone's "trip of a lifetime" money. When considering an expedition of this magnitude, they encourage you to onider these vital criteria:

Most big cruise ships do not offer landings on the Great White Continent itself; Zegrahm offers several opportunities. Zegrahm's fleet of Zodiacs (inflatable landing craft) provide the ability to explore at a moment's notice. The smaller group size also allows them to take everyone ashore at the same time, so there's no waiting onboard while others are out exploring.

The 110-passenger Clipper Adventurer is a deluxe expedition ship offering fine dining and all outside cabins with en suite facilities. She is also equipped with stabilisers, an ice-hardened hull and state-of-the-art navigation and communication systems. Unlike most cruises, meals, multiple daily excursions, lectures, an expedition parka, gratuities and emergency medical and evacuation insurance are included in the price of the trip.

In this vast land of ice and snow, travelling with expert naturalists, historians and geologists will deepen your understanding and offer invaluable insights. Travelling all that way, one shouldn't miss the profuse wildlife of South Georgia Island, the charming Falkland Islands and Shackleton's Elephant Island. Zegrahm only offers voyages that include the full experience of visiting all these destinations.

For more details, visit http://www.zeco.com/ or check with the UK adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Luxury Cruising in the Galapagos Islands

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Haugan Cruises is pleased to present their new 2011 itineraries for M/C Athala (above) & M/C Nina, the only two luxury catamarans in the Galapagos with state-of-the-art design and technology, making them the fastest, sleekest and most stable catamarans cruising the islands.

They will be one of the first Galapagos Tour Operators to offer a 15-day itinerary with the very best visitor sites and flexible length of cruises. The programme will be divided into two 6-day itineraries and one 5-day itinerary, while 8-day cruises will also be available.

For further information, go ti their website at http://www.haugancruises.com/ or call the UK's adventure cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sail In The Wake of Norwegian Explorer!

In 2011, Norway will celebrate 150 years since the birth of one of their most famous polar explorer, Fridtjof Nansen.

And, to mark the occasion, Hurtigruten has launched a unique sailing from Spitsbergen to Bergen following a similar route to that travelled by Nansen in 1896 on his return journey to mainland Norway after three years in the polar ice and reaching the northernmost point any human had ever been. The voyage in September is onboard MS Fram, Hurtigruten’s explorer ship which was named after Nansen’s polar ship which sailed the original journey.

Nansen sailed with Captain Otto Sverdrup and they received honour and glory in every port they visited on the way down the Norwegian coast. These ports form the backbone of the Hurtigruten service, which launched in 1897 with Captain Sverdrup at the helm.

The ‘Polar Bears, Islands and Fjords’ voyage starts by sailing into Northwest Spitsbergen National Park and the Magdalenafjord (above) before heading further north to latitude 80 degrees and the Moffen nature reserve, an important resting place for walrus. Then the ship heads southwards via Ny Alesund and the remote region around Bjornoya (Bear Island). After crossing the Barents Sea, the ship reaches the world’s most northerly town, Honningsvag, and the gateway to the North Cape.

From here, MS Fram will travel down the coast of Norway calling at a selection of ports, including several that do not usually form part of the traditional coastal voyage route but were visited by Nansen on his return journey. Highlights will include stops at Tromso, sailing through Trollfjord and the Lofoten Islands plus Alstahaug, a community of some 7,000 spread across no fewer than 917 islands and the UNESCO protected islands of Vega which encompass a staggering 6,000 islands, inlets and skerries with remote fishing villages.

The Polar Bears, Islands and Fjords voyage - from £3,196pp - departs on September 7, 2011, and includes 11 nights full board on the ship, flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen. one night’s pre-cruise accommodation in Longyearbyen with breakfast and sightseeing, Based on two sharing. Flights are extra.

For more information call Hurtigruten – 0844 448 7601 http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/ or look up the adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

European Capital of Culture with Celebrity Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Now you can combine luxury and culture by heading to Tallinn, the 2011 European Capital of Culture onboard Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Constellation (above). A 12-night Scandinavia and Russia fly/cruise costs from £1,575 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

Celebrity also offers a selection of shore excursions, such as ‘Glory of old Tallinn’, a walking tour of Tallinn’s Old Town, and ‘Panoramic Tallinn’, a coach tour that takes in the best sights of the city to ensure guests can experience everything it has to offer.

Price includes return flights from London Heathrow, transfers and a 12-night Scandinavia and Russia fly/cruise departing Amsterdam and calling at Berlin (Warnemunde), Stockholm, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki and Copenhagen before returning to Amsterdam; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

Price is also based on June 15, 2011, departure. For more details, visit http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/ or call the specialist cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Cruise the Panama Canal & Explore the Rain Forest

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Ever wanted to cruise the Panama Canal and explore the Costa Rican rainforest expedition-style?

Linblad Expeditions active, engaging and casual style of expedition travel may well be for you, as their resources and knowledge are tailor-made to immerse guests in the region's wild landscape, enabling active explorations rather than the more passive tourism of other cruises.

They also claim they are the 'More Naturalists Per Guest Than Any Other Cruise' company, exploring the magnificent cloud forests, volcanoes and oceans with 1 expert for every 15 guests aboard their intimate, 60-passenger expedition ship. You can snorkel with undersea experts and allow the Expedition Leader to tailor the day’s events to your preferred activity level.

The Lindblad-National Geographic Alliance also means more than just top naturalists and photographers on board, as their ship has exclusive access to Barro Colorado Island’s Smithsonian Research Station in the Panama Canal, where Smithsonian experts come aboard to help explore this unique ecosystem.

Lindblad Expeditions also partner with MarViva in Central America to safeguard and create marine protected areas in oceanic and coastal areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. Their work supports community education, enforcement of regulations in National Parks and the protection of coral reefs.

For more information, look up www.expeditions.com or visit adventure cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Sailing to Monaco Grand Prix

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Boutique cruise operator Star Clippers, who offer fully crewed sailings on board the world's most spectacular tall ships, has a new 16-night land-cruise package for 2011 that takes in not only the Cannes film festival, but both the time trials and the race itself at the Monaco Grand Prix, combined with 14 nights sailing on the magnificent Star Flyer.

The experience begins on May 19 with two nights at the 4-star Cannes Riviera Hotel, during the final days of the 2011 Cannes film festival, when this stylish resort will be patronized by the rich and famous.

On May 21, guests embark the magnificent Star Flyer en route to 11 different ports during a 14-night sailing that takes in the Monaco Grand Prix on the weekend of May 28-29.

The price of £3,399 per person includes return flights from the UK, transfers, two nights B&B accommodation at the Cannes Riviera Hotel, 14 nights on Star Flyer, with all meals, 'N' Grandstand tickets for the Monaco Grand Prix and a sailing itinerary that includes the French Riviera, Corsica, Sardinia's Costa Smeralda and the north-west coast of Italy.

For more information, contact http://www.starclippers.co.uk/ or check with the specialist cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

AmaWaterways, Latest River Cruise Offers

By guest blogger Steve Newman

27th December: Luxury New Year river cruise, from £999pp, saving £570

Ring in the New Year from a luxury river-cruise ship moored right in the heart of Europe. Luxury operator AmaWaterways has a 7-night river cruise, sailing from Nuremberg to Amsterdam, departing December 27 on the festively decorated AmaLyra at just £999 per person (was £1,569pp - a saving of £570).

The voyage includes champagne breakfasts, all meals with gala dinners, daily excursions and celebrations to welcome in 2011.

On December 31, the ship will be moored alongside Koblenz, in a prime location to take in the city's New Year celebrations, including a firework fiesta at midnight.

For more information, visit http://www.amawaterways.co.uk/ or call the river-cruise agents of cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Oceania Cruises offers up to $1000 onboard credit

By guest blogger Steve Newman

For selected departures between April and July 2011 on three of its upper premium luxury ships, Oceania Cruises is offering $1,000 of onboard credit per booking. Included among the offer sailings are:-

23rd April: Wonders of the Ancients – 14-night cruise on Insignia (above), embarking in Civitavecchia (Rome) and cruising to Sorrento, Taormina, Zakynthos, Alexandria, Cairo, Haifa, Jerusalem, Limassol, Tartous, Alanya, Ephesus and Athens. The price of £2,571 per guest is based on 2 sharing and includes all meals, complimentary soft drinks and bottled water, as well as the $1,000 credit per stateroom (excludes flights).

27th May: Gems of Europe – this 15-night voyage on Insignia now comes with a $1,000 onboard credit per stateroom and is priced from £2,690 per guest, including all meals, complimentary soft drinks and bottled water (excluding fights). The cruise sails from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Marseille, taking in Barcelona, Malaga, Seville, Lisbon, Oporto, La Coruna, Bilbao, Bordeaux and Lorient before completing the voyage in Greenwich.

Other sailings with the enticing $1,000 onboard credit include in Alaska on Regatta and winter 2011/12 voyages on Nautica.

To find out more, visit http://www.oceaniacruises.co.uk/ or check with the luxury cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Jewel For Alaska

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced it will position Norwegian Jewel in Alaska for the first time in 2012/13. Jewel will replace Norwegian Star, which will offer sailings to Bermuda from her new home port of New York.

Jewel will cruise from Seattle on a seven-day Sawyer Glacier itinerary. The weekly Sawyer Glacier cruises will depart from May 26-September 8, 2012, and will call at Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

Families onboard can enjoy Jewel’s Nickelodeon at Sea entertainment, offering live Nickelodeon-themed interactive shows, Nick Live! Poolside entertainment; character breakfasts and meet and greets and Nick-themed dance parties.

NCL will sail two ships to Bermuda weekly from April until October calling at King’s Wharf. Star will sail from New York on Sundays, staying for three full days, and Dawn will sail her Bermuda itinerary departing on Fridays from Boston, also with three days at the island.

Kevin Sheehan, NCL's chief executive officer, insists: “The 2012/2013 season is filled with new and exciting Freestyle Cruising choices. Whether it’s our ships cruising different destinations, disembarking from new homeports or sailing new itineraries, we offer the most freedom and flexibility when it comes to cruise travel. We are pleased to bring Norwegian Jewel to Alaska and Star to Bermuda, along with continuing our popular Hawaii inter-island cruises and short cruises to the Bahamas through early 2013.”

Additional itinerary announcements for 2012/13:

Norwegian Jewel will sail a seven-day Sawyer Glacier cruise from Vancouver to Seattle on May 19, 2012, and a seven-day Sawyer Glacier from Seattle to Vancouver on September 15.

Norwegian Pearl (above) will return to Seattle sailing her weekly seven-day Glacier Bay cruises departing on Sundays from May 13 to September 9, 2012, calling at, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria.

Norwegian Pearl will also sail a seven-day Glacier Bay cruise from Vancouver to Seattle on May 6, 2012, and a Seattle-to-Vancouver cruise on September 16.

Pride of America will continue as the only US-flagged vessel sailing among all four of Hawaii’s main islands. Her seven-day cruises from Honolulu are available now until April 7, 2013. Ports of call include: an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; an evening sail by the Kilauea Volcano (weather permitting); Kona, Hawaii; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kauai; and an afternoon cruise of the breathtaking Nãpali Coast.

Norwegian Sky will continue sailing three and four-day cruises to the Bahamas year-round from Miami until April 15, 2013. The three-day Bahamas cruise departs on Fridays and includes stops in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private island in the Bahamas. On Mondays, the ship departs on a four-day cruise with stops in Grand Bahama Island, Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau.

For more information, call 0845 201 8900 or visit http://www.ncl.co.uk/, or check out the specialist cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Gala New Year Mini Cruise

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Depart from Newcastle on December 30 with DFDS and cruise to Amsterdam enjoying a scrumptious hot dinner buffet, free bar and live festive entertainment. In addition, you can have a flutter in the casino or keep the party going in the nightclub. When you eventually retire to your ensuite cabin, enjoy a good night's sleep and awake raring to go for a day in Amsterdam.

Wander the romantic tree-lined canals, enjoy a hot chocolate in a cosy cafe and soak up the atmosphere of this cosmopolitan city. After a day exploring, return to the ship in plenty of time to get ready for the New Year's Eve celebrations. Following a lavish Gala Buffet, dance the night away and welcome in the New Year with Champagne and Almond Cake - the perfect start to 2011!

What's Included:

- 2 nights onboard in a sea-view ensuite cabin
- Coach transfers to and from Amsterdam
- Optional complimentary sightseeing tour
- 2 x hot buffet breakfasts
- Gala New Year Buffet
- Free bar on both crossings (includes house wine, draft Grolsch lager, selected spirits and soft drinks)
Champagne and Almond cake at midnight
- Live onboard entertainment
- Departs Newcastle December 30

To book, visit www.dfds.co.uk/festive.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Special offers for River Cruises


By guest blogger Steve Newman

Titan HiTours Elegant River Cruises has released a series of special offers across its award-winning river cruises for bookings made before January 31.

Examples include savings of up to £3,200 per couple on the 15-day ‘Imperial Capitals of Europe’ itinerary departing April 16, which now costs from £2,499 per person if booked by Jan 31.

Taking passengers on a European odyssey through seven countries from Istanbul to Vienna, the journey starts with three days in Istanbul before flying to Bucharest to join the River Princess at Giurgiu (Romania) for the beginning of its journey along the Danube. Highlights will include cruising through the Iron Gates, an 80-mile long stretch of scenic gorges, as well as city tours of Belgrade, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna (above); wine tasting in the Villany Hills and a home-hosted lunch in the Croatian town of Osijek.

Savings of up to £2,000 per couple are also available on the 'Treasures of Prague - Rhine and Main' tour departing on April 17 and offers amazing value from £1,659 per person.

For further information, click on to Titan Hi Tours.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sub Antarctic Wildlife Adventure

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Here's a great option to voyage south - WAY south! - on the world’s youngest purpose-built expedition cruise ship, Orion, to the World Heritage listed Sub-Antarctic Islands and mainland Antarctica.

These expeditions particularly suit modern-day adventurers, those with an interest in polar exploration, nature lovers and keen wildlife and seascape photographers, as well as anyone with an adventurous spirit interested in visiting remote places of outstanding historic and ecologic importance.

Surrounded by the Southern Ocean, secluded and seldom visited, these Sub-Antarctic Islands have UNESCO World Heritage status, recognising one of our planet’s most important bio-diverse regions with their volcanic and glacial geological formations and extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna.

The remnants of the old whaling station on Macquarie Island, the high cliffs and numerous caves and arches formed by marine erosion on Campbell Island and the enormous sea stacks on the southern peninsulas of The Snares present dramatic contrast to the prolific bird life, penguins, fur and elephant seals, sea lions, killer whales and unique flora seen in this remote region.

This 13-night cruise departs Jan 15 and Dec 20, 2011, from Dunedin and visits Fiordland, Stewart Island, Snares Island, Auckland Island, Campbell Island and Macquarie Island before arriving in Hobart. Prices from £5,745 per person, including 13 nights onboard Orion, all meals, entertainment and educational programmes, use of the ship’s sporting equipment and facilities, Zodiac excursions, port and handling charges, tender transfers and government fees and taxes.

For more information on this and other sub-Antarctic expeditions, visit http://www.orionexpeditions.com/ or see the Adventure Cruise Collection of UK adventure crusie specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Carnival Day In Tenerife

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Fred. Olsen’s cruise ship Boudicca (above) will be in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, on Carnival Day next year – March 12, 2011. Guests on cruise D1103, departing from Southampton on March 6, will have a unique opportunity to experience all the colour and excitement of the Carnival – the biggest and most spectacular outside Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Tenerife’s Carnival dates back to the 1600s and is a spectacle not to be missed. It begins on the Friday before Shrove Tuesday and ends on Ash Wednesday, and activity on the island centres on the capital, Santa Cruz. The event is one long, spectacular party; there are colourful floats, a Carnival Queen and groups of entertainers: ‘murgas’, comedians; ‘comparsas’, dancers; and ‘rondallas’, singers. Everyone works for months in advance to create this stunning event, which now aspires to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The events open with a procession through the streets of Santa Cruz, with much music and dancing, and end with the ceremonial ‘El Entierro de la Sardina’ – or ‘Burying the Sardine’! Feast your eyes, and join in with the colourful activities of Carnival on this cruise.

The full itinerary is of 14 nights, departing and visits Leixoes (for Oporto) in Portugal, then Arrecife (Lanzarote), Santa Cruz (Tenerife) – where the carnival takes place – San Sebastian (La Gomera), Santa Cruz (La Palma), Funchal (Madeira), and Vigo (Spain), before returning to Southampton.

In addition to the music and colour of the Carnival, this cruise has a musical theme, as it is one of Fred, Olsen’s ‘Music and Laughter’ cruises, with the superb Abba tribute band, Abba Arrivals, performing live. It is also a Flagship Golf cruise, which means keen golfers can opt for an additional package, that combines golf ashore with professional tuition aboard, for an extra £375 per player.

Prices for this very special cruise start at £1,444 per person, based on two adults sharing an outside twin cabin, Grade ‘E’. Prices include all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes.

For more information, visit http://www.fredolsencruises.co.uk/ or call cruise agents The Cruise Line on 0800 008 6677.

Adventure option for Alaska's Inside Passage

By guest blogger Steve Newman

InnerSea Discoveries, the newly launched sister brand to high-end American Safari Cruises, will begin plying Alaska's waters in May 2011. Week-long adventures between Ketchikan and Juneau and two-week itineraries between Seattle and Juneau will be offered aboard two newly refurbished ships holding just 49 guests for a more close-up, nature-rich experience.

Travellers can also choose a 15-day round-trip adventure from Juneau, receiving a distinctive experience on each leg of the journey. Itineraries will feature excursions including kayaking among icebergs, stand-up paddle-boarding, wilderness hiking, snorkelling, cave exploration, fishing, whale-watching and more.

For more details, visit http://www.innerseadiscoveries.com/ or contact the adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

NEW ‘CLIMATE VOYAGE’

By guest blogger Steve Newman

NEW ‘CLIMATE VOYAGE’ VISITING REMOTE ISLAND OF JAN MAYEN (new port of call) – from £2,333pp –

For 2011, it's getting more and more remote with Hurtigruten. The cruise line is offering a new 8-day climate voyage travelling from Iceland to Spitsbergen, making an inaugural visit to Jan Mayen, one of the most isolated islands on the planet.
Its closest land mass is Iceland, some 600km to the south-west. Conditions allowing, a rare landing will be made here.
Themed on climate change, shore landings, lectures and discussions help passengers gain a better understanding of this topical issue. Departing July 21, 2011, price includes seven nights full board on the ship, flights from Longyearbyen to Oslo (based on two sharing). UK flights are extra.
For more information, click onto http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/ or contact The Cruise Line Ltd.
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Monday, 6 December 2010

Day Trips to Antarctica and Galapagos Islands

By guest blogger Steve Newman.

Setting foot on the wild and rugged Galapagos Islands and exploring the Antarctic base on foot are just two of the many unforgettable experiences awaiting guests aboard Seabourn Odyssey during its 73-day South America circumnavigation in 2011.

The Yachts of Seabourn is offering a choice of more than 120 optional shore excursions during the journey around South America, providing guests with numerous opportunities to see, hear, touch, taste and feel the amazing diversity of environments, historic and modern cultures, and the breathtaking natural scenery of the continent.

Seabourn’s new shore excursions in South America include:

Galapagos in a Day, Guayaquil, Ecuador: Since their exploration more than 150 years ago, these remarkable islands have not lost their ability to inspire and are home to many unique, indigenous species. Seabourn guests fly from Guayaquil to the islands, visiting the Giant Tortoises Reserve, the Twin Pit Craters and stop at the world renowned Charles Darwin Research Centre.

Antarctic Expedition, Punta Arenas, Chile: From Punta Arenas, guests board a chartered flight due south, crossing the Polar Circle to touch down at Frei Base, maintained by the Chilean Air Force and situated on an ice-free area. Stepping off the plane, guests explore the base and its surroundings on foot. A mile downhill walk on a dirt road brings them to the base and, from here, they board an inflatable boat to visit Ardley Island, a highly protected area occupied by breeding colonies of penguins.

A tremendous variety of excursions are available at the 31 ports of call during Odyssey’s 73-day South America circumnavigation. Capital cities such as Quito, Santiago, Lima, Buenos Aires and Montevideo as well as world class metropolises such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia combine with exotic locations in Patagonia and the Amazon.

The voyage departs January 4, 2011, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. To reserve space on Seabourn’s optional shore excursions online prior to the cruise, guests can visit www.seabourn.com. Fares for the entire voyage begin at £17,998 per person, based on double occupancy. For travellers who are unable to sail on the full 73-day voyage, shorter itineraries are available, starting from £4,999 per person for 19 days.

For more information, visit http://www.seabourn.com/ or check with the luxury and adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Rail Cruise to Alaska and the Rockies

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Discover a wonderful land-cruise opportunity to the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia with Regent Seven Seas Cruises in 2011.

This unique land programme features one of the most iconic train journeys in the world, the Rocky Mountaineer, followed by an all-inclusive Alaskan cruise on board the intimate yet spacious Seven Seas Navigator.

Chhose from the following selection:

16 June 2011 13 Nights (6+7)
Canadian Rockies & Alaskan Cruise from £6,142pp (H)

30 June 2011 13 Nights (6+7)
Canadian Rockies & Alaskan Cruise from £6,655pp (H)

25 August 2011 18 Nights (6+12)
Canadian Rockies & Alaskan Cruise from £7,349pp (H)

What’s included:
 All inclusive cruise
 3 nights at the Fairmont at Banff Springs Hotel
 2 days GoldLeaf Service® aboard Rocky Mountaineer®
 2 nights hotel stay at Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver
 1 night in Kamloops Hotel
 National Par Tour & Gondola tour up Sulphur Mountain
 Tours of Lake Louise & Columbia Icefield including the Ice Explorer
 City tour of Vancouver & Capilano Suspension Bridge
 Return flights & transfers
 Free unlimited shore excursions in every port
 Luggage handling

For more information, visit www.rssc.co.uk/ or check out the luxury cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Galapagos - with the Adventure Cruise Collection

By guest blogger Steve Newman

The Galapagos is a national park and biological marine reserve second only the Great Barrier Reef. Now, cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd have a dedicated section of their Adventure Cruise Collection brochure devoted to these wonderful islands. It includes essential info like the best time to travel (mid-June to early September, and December-January), and the fact your journey will also take you via Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, from where you fly on to the Galapagos themselves.

UNESCO has declared the 12 main islands and dozens of smaller islands and rocks of the protected volcanic Galapagos archipelago a World Heritage Site. The wildlife here has no instinctive fear of humans, allowing you to observe the life-cycles of an incredible range of species, including marine mammals, reptiles, invertebrates and birds, at unbelievably close quarters.

For more details visit The Cruise Line 0r call 0800 008 6677

Friday, 3 December 2010

Oceania 2011 Alaskan cruise shore excursions

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Alaska’s celebrated sights and wild wilderness will provide the backdrop for four brand-new Oceania Cruises’ summer 2011 itineraries, featuring off-the-beaten-path ports of call and an ‘Alaskan Immersion’ collection of interactive shore excursions.

The ‘Alaskan Immersion’ excursions include:

· Wild Alaska Culinary Extravaganza – this one-of-a-kind culinary class is led by a local host and culinary expert who takes guests through the steps of preparation and grilling Alaskan seafood, before indulging in the results. The inventive menu includes wild salmon, Dungeness crab, halibut and plenty of other local delicacies plucked from the sea.

· The Bering Sea: Crab Fisherman’s Tour – led by a seasoned Bering Sea captain and crew aboard Aleutian Ballad, the storied crab boat on the Discovery Channel series “Deadliest Catch” the adventure begins in the calm, protected waters of coastal Ketchikan. Skilled fishermen haul in crab pots and lines from the depths, revealing all manner of sea life, including king crab, shark, octopus, prawns and rock fish. Common tour sights also include bald eagles, seals, otters, sea lions and whales.

· Musher’s Camp & Sled Dog Discovery – this enriching activity allows guests to experience a one-mile, round-trip expedition on a wheeled sled pulled by a husky team through South-east Alaska’s temperate rainforest. There will be time to cuddle husky puppies and take a guided walk through the musher’s camp to learn more about this northern pasttime and the people who have dedicated their lives to it.

· Kodiak Guided River Fishing – a day of fishing for salmon, trout and halibut followed by an outdoor barbecued salmon bake is a quintessential Alaskan experience. Expert guides will personally scout seven possible fishing sites for a successful day, including rivers, shorelines, ocean bays and inlets. Following the tour, guests can have their fish vacuum-packed to carry on board or have it shipped to a destination of their choice.

Other distinctive excursions for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure-seekers include Golf, a Sea Kayaking Adventure and ‘ZipRider,’ the World’s Largest Zip-Line. These excursions - and more are offered - to guests on board Oceania Cruises’ 684-guest Regatta (above) – an intimate ship acclaimed for its open-seating gourmet dining (no surcharges), luxurious public rooms and staterooms and warm, attentive service.

Oceania Cruises’ 10-day Alaska sailing costs from £1,406 per person for bookings received by December 31, based on 2 sharing, including a $1,000 onboard credit, all meals, complimentary bottled water and soft drinks.

To find out more, visit OceaniaCruises.co.uk or check with the specialst luxiry cruise agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Norwegian Epic’s Inaugural Season in Europe

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Norwegian Epic’s inaugural season in Europe takes place next year from May until October. The round-trip departing from Barcelona offers the chance to get a taste of Tuscany in the mellow squares and art galleries of Renaissance Florence, take a tour of Pompeii – the stunning city buried under volcanic ash for nearly 1,700 years - or get to know Rome in an exclusive visit to the Vatican City.

While onboard, guests can choose from no less than 20 international dining options and take in a number of fantastic shows, such as the Blue Man Group or Legends in Concert. There is plenty of opportunity to get active, with onboard rock-climbing, 10-pin bowling and fitness centre and aqua park. Or, for guests who prefer to simply relax, Norwegian Epic is also home to the largest spa at sea.

Itinerary: Western Mediterranean – round-trip Barcelona

Ports: Livorno; Civitavecchia; Naples; Palma.

Duration: 7-night fly-cruise

Price from: £839

What’s included: Return flights to/from Barcelona, 7 nights freestyle cruising on board Norwegian Epic, including all meals and entertainment (price based on October 9 departure).

For more information, visit http://www.ncl.co.uk/ or call the cruise specialist agents of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Spring sunshine with Royal Caribbean International

By guest blogger Steve Newman

With the average temperature at 23°C in the Canary Islands in May, guarantee yourself some sunshine and join Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas (above) on a 10-night Canaries cruise from just £931 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

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

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

Price is based on a departure of May 4, 2011.

For more information, see http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/ or talk to the cruise specialist agents of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Costa Starts Cruising The Red Sea

Here's an interesting press release from Costa Cruises this week, with news of new destinations:
Two Costa ships to depart weekly from Sharm El Sheikh in a first for the cruise industry

Costa Marina and Costa Allegra have new departures from Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, visiting Cairo, the Negev Desert (Israel) and Petra (Jordan) for the first time in an exclusive winter 2010/2011 itinerary.

Costa Cruises is offering new one-week cruises in the Red Sea departing from Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for the entire 2010/2011 winter season. The Red Sea, along with the Far East, the Arab Emirates and the Indian Ocean, will become yet another destination where Costa offers a regular cruise service.

Costa Marina (25,600 gross tonnage and a capacity of 1,000 guests) and Allegra (28,400 gross tonnage and a capacity of 1,000 guests) will depart from November 25, 2010, to February 17, 2011 and November 29, 2010, to March 21, 2011, respectively. The unique itineraries include Egypt, Israel and Jordan, and call at Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), Eilat (Israel), Aqaba (Jordan), Luxor-Safaga (Egypt) and Cairo-Sokhna (Egypt).

Both ships will call weekly in Sharm el Sheikh, making a total of 38 calls and transporting a total of 60,000 passengers over the winter months.

The itineraries of Marina and Allegra combine both relaxation and culture from one shore of the Red Sea to the other. Passengers on the Red Sea voyages can expect to experience incredibly beautiful sea vistas and cultural and archaeological treasures.

From Eilat, guests can take Costa excursions to a natural oasis in the Negev Desert , the fortress of Masada or the incredible landscapes of the Dead Sea . At Aqaba, guests can visit the pink city of Petra, carved into the mountains. In Safaga there is the option to enjoy excursions to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, visit the tombs of the Pharaohs, observe the natural wonders of Hurghada and visit the crystalline waters of the island of Mahamya. From Sokhna, excursions visit the grand pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

With spectacular architecture, Costa Marina and Allegra are ideal for Red Sea cruises, as the beautiful panoramic circular glass wall of the stern allows for breathtaking sea views. Onboard, guests can enjoy a myriad of facilities including restaurants, bars, wellness and fitness centres, treatment rooms and saunas, swimming pools, outdoor jogging tracks, theatres, casinos, discotheques, shopping centres and internet access points.

For more information or to book, go to www.costacruises.co.uk or call 0845 351 0552, or try the specialist cruise travel agents of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 7766.

New Brochure for Star Clippers

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Niche saling cruise specialist Star Clippers, who operate fully crewed sailings on board its four and five-masted tall ships, has launched a new brochure for 2011 and winter 2012 featuring new destinations and maiden calls in Central America and the Mediterranean.

All itineraries are also featured on Star Clippers’ new-look, re-designed website, dedicated to UK guests. Visitors to the site can take virtual tours of the ships and look at detailed maps and satellite images to see exactly where each itinerary goes. There’s extensive detail on ports of call and beautiful new imagery to depict in clear detail the pleasure of sailing on a genuine tall ship.

New itineraries an entire maiden season in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, where the 170-passenger Star Flyer will sail six, seven, 10 and 11-night cruises out of Puerto Caldera to explore the bays and inlets of the Pacific coastline, with visits to lush rainforests and hidden lagoons. Priced from £1,065 for a six-day cruise in March 2011, including port charges and all meals on board (excluding flights).

Sister ship Star Clipper returns to the Caribbean island of St Maarten for 2011, with regular seven-night departures to either the Leeward Islands (Nevis, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Iles des Saintes, Antigua, St Barths) or the British Virgin Islands on the Treasure Islands cruise (Anguilla, four calls in the BVI, St Kitts and St Barths). Six and eight-night sailings are also available. From £980 for six nights in December 2011, including port charges, cruise-only.

Also new for 2011 are the 228-passenger Royal Clipper’s itineraries from Barbados to the British Virgin Islands, with calls at Norman Island, Soper’s Hole, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, some of the finest sailing areas in the Caribbean. From £1,940 for 10 nights, departing December 17, 2011 (a special Christmas sailing), including port charges and all meals on board (excludes flights).

For further information, visit http://www.starclippers.co.uk/ or contact the UK cruise specialist agents The Cruise Line Ltd.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Morocco, The Azores and The Alhambra

By guest blogger Steve Newman

May 4, 2011 • 17 days
Aboard Clipper Odyssey

Charming villages, wine tastings, volcanic hikes, camel rides, stunning scenery, colourful markets, superlative birding, and the list goes on — Zegrahm Expeditions’ Azores voyage aboard the Clipper Odyssey has it all.

Make your way from Spain’s famed Alhambra; set foot on the legendary Rock of Gibraltar; get swept away by the romance of Casablanca; sip and savour the Canary Islands; and end your voyage with five days exploring the dynamic islands that comprise the Azores. Travellers will be amazed by the myriad adventures Zegrahm Expeditions can pack into a single voyage and the sheer diversity that the eastern Atlantic has to offer.

This is no ordinary cruise, you’ll be exploring these unique destination in the company of expert leaders who bring each destination to life. Among them are ornithologist and sea bird expert, Peter Harrison; marine biologist and photographer, Jack Grove; and geologist Tom Sharpe.

For further information about Zegrahm Expeditions’ cruises, visit http://www.zeco.com/ or call the AdventureCruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

All Aboard with the Archers.

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Fans of the BBC's classic long-running radio soap opera The Archers will get a treat in 2011, when Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines hosts two Archers-themed voyages as part of its popular programme of special-interest cruises, The ArtsClub. Archers aficionados will get the chance to mingle with their favourite cast members from the long-running show, whilst cruising around the beautiful Mediterranean.

Various Archers cast members will be on board both cruises. They will be available to chat to at the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party and will perform a 'mock' recording whilst on board - complete with all the rural sound effects fans have come to associate with this much-loved show!
Balmoral departs from Southampton on a 10-night Easter cruise on April 23, 2011, calling at La Coruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar and Portimao (where she anchors), before returning to Southampton. Prices for this cruise start at £1,014pp, based on two adults sharing an inside twin-bedded cabin. The price includes all meals and entertainment on board, plus port taxes.

The Balmoral cruise also offers the supporting ArtsClub theme of Wine, where guests can learn more about wines from around the world, and discover the onboard expert’s recommendations.

Black Watch departs from Dover on September 12, 2011 for a 13-night cruise around the Western Mediterranean, taking in Cadiz, Almeria, Ibiza, Mahon, Palma and Lisbon, before returning to Dover. Prices for this cruise start at £1,392pp, based on two adults sharing an inside twin-bedded cabin. The price includes all meals and entertainment on board, plus port taxes.

The Black Watch cruise also offers keen golfers a dedicated package, Flagship Golf, providing the ideal opportunity to play on some of the finest courses in the region whilst relaxing in the comfort of Fred. Olsen's classic liner. The cost for this package is £375 per golfer.

Find out more at http://www.fredolsencruises.co.uk/ or through specialist cruise travel agents The Cruise Line Ltd.