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.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Wilderness Camp with campfires and Huskies

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Fancy experiencing the Arctic wilderness – Norwegian style? Want to try reindeer sledging, snowmobiling or dog sledging deep inside the Arctic interior with nothing but campfires and hopefully the Northern Lights as company? From today, anyone travelling north with Hurtigruten has the option to book a new ‘Camp Tamok’ excursion and, with reliable snow from mid-November, it’s a must for any would-be Arctic adventurer.

Camp Tamok enjoys a stunning location near Høiseth in Finndalen, an offshoot of the Tamokdalen Valley. Made up of Sami tents and log cabins, the camp is the perfect base for adventures in the winter wilderness. There is no water or electricity – this is an authentic camp with an emphasis on activities. The main attractions are dog sledging, reindeer sleigh rides and snowmobile driving, but the increased chance of seeing the Northern Lights (the camp is located miles from artificial light underneath a pitch black sky) and the hot local food served around a warming campfire will make this trip into the wilderness a must for many.

The excursion can be booked when travelling northbound and departs from the port of Finnsnes. A guided bus journey of around 90 minutes will take guests to the camp, where the next four hours are spent experiencing all that Tamok has to offer before re-joining the ship in Tromsø.

This experience is booked on board and costs 2,250 Norwegian Kroner (approx £235) – guests can book one of two options, either Reindeer driving and dog sledging or Snowmobile safari and reindeer driving.

A 6-night Voyage North costs from £1,080 per person (December voyages) including return flights, six nights half board on the ship, transfers and taxes. No single supplements apply.
For more information, visit http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/ or call the Adventure Cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.

Festive Break to Esbjerg and Ribe

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Cruise overnight from Harwich with DFDS and enjoy some delicious food in the onboard restaurant before watching the entertainment or settling down in your ensuite cabin to watch a film on demand. After a peaceful night's sleep, arrive in the quaint city of Esbjerg.

Spend the day exploring the town's boutiques, coffee shops and museums before returning to the cruise ferry for a good night's sleep.

Next morning, enjoy breakfast before a short coach transfer to Denmark's oldest town, Ribe. With its cobbled streets and half-timbered houses, this is the perfect place to enjoy a gentle stroll and soak up the atmosphere. After a full day's exploration, head back to the cruise ferry for your journey home.

What's included:

* 3 nights onboard ship in an en suite cabin
* Dinner on the 5th December
* Breakfast on the 6th
* Transfer to Ribe on the 7th
* Time to explore Esbjerg at your leisure
* Time to explore Ribe at your leisure
* Live onboard entertainment

Departs Harwich on 5th December, from £131pp

To find out more, visit http://www.dfds.co.uk/.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Voluntourism with Crystal Cruises

Ultra-luxury Crystal Cruises has announced a new corporate social responsibility initiative for 2011 to support the destinations it visits.

The ‘You Care, We Care’ programme is a complimentary, hands-on, shore excursion initiative that opens up opportunities for guests and crew alike to assist with charitable projects in destinations they visit during any cruise. The focus lies in working with and assisting local projects, educating participants on local community needs and providing them with authentic, rewarding experiences and an overall sense of place.

On every 2011 itinerary, Crystal Cruises has planned one ‘You Care, We Care’ Crystal Adventure in which a limited number of guests and crew can donate their time, with Crystal covering all logistical arrangements and costs.

The complete programme of excursions and projects is currently in development and availability will be limited but 'voluntourism' experiences aboard Crystal Symphony (above) and Crystal Serenity voyages will include:

§ Lima, Peru – Brightening the environment of the children at the ANQUIEM Burn rehabilitation centre with arts and crafts

§ Cartagena, Colombia – Creating crafts with the elderly, playing football with the children, or urban farming with an emphasis on organic agriculture at the Granitos de Paz Foundation

§ Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Assisting the PEACE organisation in beach and neighborhood clean-up.

Commenting on the new initiative, Crystal's Vice President International, Philip Ordever said: “We challenged our worldwide tour operators to craft excursions that contribute to local causes because we are absolutely committed to giving something back to the communities we visit and explore. We also recognise the growing desire of our guests to seek out and discover authentic, enriching experiences and believe this new initiative will make a difference to both our destinations and our overall guest experience.”

A cornerstone of Crystal's culture is its genuine hospitality and service that has been internationally celebrated for two decades. This spirit of generosity extends to its respectful treatment of the environment, oceans and communities in which it travels.

Hurtigruten's South Pole Anniversary Adventure

By guest blogger Steve Newman

One hundred years after the Norwegians reached the South Pole, Hurtigruten are recreating the sea voyage in the Fram, the same name as the original vessel. The aim is to sail deep into the Weddell Sea, a remote and rarely visited area of the Antarctic Peninsula. Highlights will include the South Shetland Islands and isles along the Antarctic Peninsula, visiting penguin colonies, exploring spectacular ice formations and looking out for whales, dolphins, seals and the dazzling variety of sea birds that call these waters home.

Weather, wind and ice conditions will determine the full programme, but the landing sites will include some of Deception Island, Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour on Greenwich Island, Antarctic Sound, Brown Bluff, Snow Hill Island, James Ross Island, Vega Island, Trinity Peninsula, Prince Gustav Channel, Cuverville Island, Neko Harbour, Paradise Harbour, Petermann Island, Port Lockroy, Wilhelmina Bay and the narrow iceberg lined Lemaire Channel.
The flight package includes: Return economy class (usually overnight) flights from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires (via Madrid or similar), including applicable taxes and current fuel surcharges (except departure tax from South America, which has to be paid locally). Not included: optional carbon balancing fee (£30 per person). Departures & supplements from other UK airports are available on request.

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

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Titan Escorted River Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Titan HiTours, the escorted tours specialist, has unveiled its first brochure totally dedicated to escorted river cruises. This constitutes the company's widest ever choice of escorted river cruises and features an enticing range of upmarket options on some of the world's grandest and most scenic waterways, including the Nile, the Danube and the mighty Yangtze, as well as 10 brand new itineraries.

Every Titan holiday is guaranteed to offer great value for money, and the company's river cruise selection is no exception. Prices include flights, meals, a fantastic array of shore-based excursions and even door-to-door transfers from customers' own homes to their nearest airport.

This VIP Home Departure Service is available for all passengers living in mainland England, Scotland and Wales (plus Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man), meaning that Titan guests can enjoy complete convenience and peace of mind no matter where they live in the United Kingdom. In addition, early-booking discounts are available on several cruises, providing even better value for money for those reserving their holidays in good time.

The Escorted River Cruises brochure features holiday options as far afield as Canada, China, Russia and Egypt, the Volga, Nile, Yangtze and St Lawrence Rivers, leading in at £995 per person for the 8-day Egypt's Timeless Riches itinerary. Departures are available in all but the hottest months of the year, with the price including flights, transfers, full-board accommodation, sightseeing tours as detailed in the itinerary, port taxes and the VIP Home Departure Service.

For more details, look up http://www.titanhitours.co.uk/

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Even More From MSC Yacht Club

Last year, MSC Cruises took the market by storm with the launch of MSC Yacht Club, an innovative high-end offering located on the foredecks of designer flagships MSC Fantasia and Splendida. Far from resting on its laurels however, the family-owned Italian company has announced a comprehensive array of new features will make the Yacht Club experience even more outstanding.

First and foremost, a number of changes on board have made the Yacht Club an entirely self-contained private area of deluxe suites, all enjoying direct lift access to its private facilities and to the Aurea Spa, where dedicated treatment rooms are provided for Yacht Club guests.

Meanwhile, the already sophisticated gourmet dining experience has been transformed by making the most prestigious restaurant on board each flagship - L'Etoile on Fantasia and L'Olivo on Splendida (above) - exclusively for Yacht Club guests. Located in a panoramic position on the same deck as the dedicated reception area, guests enjoy an open sitting service, so they can dine in their private restaurant at any hour desired.

Typical of MSC attention to detail are the several new and personal touches accompanying these substantial additions, including a bottle of premium Prosecco and a bowl of fresh fruit in each cabin together with a series of “sweet surprises” throughout the voyage. Yacht Club members are also invited to attend an exclusive cocktail party once the ship has sailed. Guests will, of course, continue to enjoy priority check-in, embarkation and disembarkation, as well as free drinks from their in-suite mini-bars and in the Yacht Club facilities.

MSC Yacht Club is an exclusive ship-within-a-ship; currently located on Fantasia and Splendida, it will be replicated on a third ship, MSC Divina, currently under construction and set to launch in 2012.

Here, served by its own Concierge Reception, is a private world of luxurious facilities, including superior suites complete with wood panelling, marble whirlpool bathrooms and widescreen TVs with Nintendo Wii consoles; a bespoke pool and solarium complex; Top Sail panoramic private lounge serving gourmet snacks and drinks all day and private lift access.

Adding special distinction, the Yacht Club also offers a classic butler service, available 24 hours a day.

Last Minute Festive River Cruises

By guest blogger Steve Newman

There is still time to plan the festive season in the luxurious comfort of a Uniworld 2010 European Boutique River Cruise. Imagine storybook villages and majestic cities adorned with thousands of twinkling lights and stars, melodious carollers and choirs, magnificent cathedrals, opulent palaces, medieval castles and old world Christmas markets - all just a stroll away from your moored ship.

Uniworld’s festive River Cruises range from 8 to 14 days and take in Europe’s great rivers, including the Danube, Rhine and Main. Whether it is travelling through Germany along the Rhine and Main celebrating the origins of centuries-old traditions, discovering the elegant pageantry of four regal countries along the Danube, or welcoming 2011 in regal style in a Viennese palace, there is something unique for everyone.

Uniworld offers four expertly planned all-inclusive festive packages including:-

• Lavishly appointed river-view staterooms
• All meals with complimentary fine European wine, choice of beer and soft drinks served during dinner
• Special celebratory dining events
• Captivating shore excursions hosted by English-speaking local guides
• Festive onboard entertainment and Signature Lectures
• All transfers on arrival and departure days.

Prices start from £1,925 per person, including return scheduled flights and UK door-to-door airport transfers.

And solo travellers can cruise at no additional charge as Uniworld has waived single supplements on selected festive season departures.

For more information, look up http://www.uniworldrivercruises.co.uk/ or call the river-cruise experts of specialist agent The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Wildlife Sculptor in Antarctica

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Top British wildlife sculptor Hamish Mackie will be traveliling to Antarctica with One Ocean Expeditions on a spectacular 18-night/19-day trip via the Falkland Islands and South Georgia on the Russian ice-strengthened ship Marina Svetaeva on February 16. Taking his own materials, including his modelling tools and a particular clay able to withstand the cold, he will be working directly from life, capturing penguins, albatross and elephant seals.

These works of art will then be brought back to the UK in special containers to be cast into bronze for his one-man exhibition in New York later in the year. Hamish, 36, will also be giving talks on his work on board and, uniquely, offering workshops where passengers, both professional and amateur, will have the opportunity to make their own sculptures.

“The way I handle clay draws you into the anatomy of the subject and leaves a history as to how the sculpture was made,” says Mackie, who is looking forward to sculpting the unique wildlife of the seventh continent.

The price for the 18-night voyage starts at $13,490 per person sharing a twin cabin, including accommodation, food and excursions during the voyage. Flights to/from Ushuaia, Argentina, where passengers embark the Marina Svetaeva are not included. There is no additional charge for the sculpting workshops with Hamish Mackie.

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

Monday, 22 November 2010

Yoga Under Sail in the Caribbean!

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Tall ship specialist Star Clippers is offering guests free daily yoga and meditation this December as part of a yoga-themed Caribbean cruise on board the 170-passenger Star Clipper.

Yoga classes will take place in the open air, on the tall ship's sun-warmed teak decks, under thousands of square feet of billowing sails – the ultimate relaxation for body and soul in a setting that will lift the spirits, with the sparkling blue of the Caribbean sea as a backdrop.

Qualified yoga teacher Christel Vollmer will be holding the daily sessions of Astanga yoga, also known as power yoga, on deck each morning, with a second session just before sunset, including meditation. Christel will also deliver lectures on the philosophy of yoga and advice for practice at home.

For those who want to follow a healthy or vegetarian diet during the cruise, Star Clippers’ usual sumptuous breakfast buffets, piled with fresh tropical fruits, and magnificent salads at lunchtime will be available, as well as vegetarian choices at dinner.

The cruise departs St Maarten on December 11, and calls at Nevis, Dominica, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, Antigua and St Barths. Prices are from £1,145 per person, including port taxes and full board on the ship but excluding flights.

For more booking details, check out www.starclippers.co.uk or call the adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The World's Largest - Together!

We have just been on board Royal Caribbean's stunning new Allure of the Seas (the 'world's largest cruise ship,' being 5cm longer than sister vessel Oasis, last year's BIG cruise news), and the highlight (among very many) was a rare sea rendezvous of the two leviathans of the seas outside Port Everglades last night.

Captain Hernan Zini of the Allure positioned his ship - on a two-day travel trade preview cruise - a few miles out to sea off the south Florida port for Fort Lauderdale and waited for the line's other big ship, which was on her way out on her regular Saturday sailing to the Caribbean.

The two unmistakeable vessels then met up at almost 6.30pm as darkness fell, and each launched a small boat to offer a special commemorative gift to each other.

Passengers thronged the rails on both ships and lightbulbs flashed madly as most people tried to snap a memorable photo of the event. Finally, after nearly an hour in close proximity, the two ships went their separate ways.

It may also be a long time before they meet up again as the Allure will begin her regular 7-day Sunday cruises on December 1, so the two colossi will only cross paths as they go hither and thither on either eastern or western Caribbean routes in future.

We will have a LOT more to say about Allure - both here on Time Spent at Sea and in the Winter edition of World of Cruising magazine - in the near future, but suffice it to say for now she is easily an equal technological marvel to her sister but the addition of new entertainment options really marks her out as THE cruise ship to see in 2010/11.

Sri Lanka First Time Visit

By guest blogger Steve Newman

In 2011, Zegrahm Expeditions will visit the country of Sri Lanka for the first time in its 20-year history. Famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, coconuts, rubber and cinnamon, Sri Lanka has long been on the path of major sea routes and today is an emerging adventure travel destination.

Graced by lush tropical forests, white-sand beaches, and rich biodiversity, it’s no wonder it was once lauded by Marco Polo as the “finest island of its size.” In addition to Sri Lanka’s unspoiled natural beauty, the country has a fascinating cultural history over 3,000-years old, which is also one of the longest documented histories in the world, and is one of the few remaining centres of the Buddhist religion and culture in South Asia.

The Bay of Bengal & the Andaman Sea (Jan17-Feb 6, 2011) and India and the Maldives with Sri Lanka & Lakshadweeps (Dec 17, 2011-Jan 3, 2012) voyages explore three World Heritage Sites during the two days spent in Sri Lanka.

Visits include 1,000-year-old Polonnaruwa (and nearby Minneriya-Giritale National Park, which is home to bears, crocodiles, leopards and its most famed resident, wild elephants!); the Golden Temple of Dambulla, which is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka; and the Temple of the Tooth, which houses the tooth of Bhudda encased in gold caskets. These expeditions both overnight in the quaint village of Habarna.

Travellers aboard Splendors of India with Sri Lanka (Feb 1-17, 2011) and Southern India by Sea with Sri Lanka (Dec 7-21, 2011) enjoy a full-day exploration of Galle, including its Dutch colonial era fort—a World Heritage Site—Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum and Poorvarama Temple.

Travellers spend a second day in the Sri Lankan highlands visiting the Temple of the Tooth, one of the holiest places of worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world; Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, which provides care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungle (above); and the Botanical Gardens. On the Splendors of India voyage, travellers get the added benefit of an overnight in Kandy, the laid-back capital of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country.

To learn more about Zegrahm’s time in Sri Lanka and to review full itineraries for each expedition, visit http://www.zeco.com/ or call the UK's adventure cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Churchill and Seabourn

By guest blogger Steve Newman

"Chasing Churchill" Seabourn Cruise On The French Riviera With Celia Sandys, Allen Packwood, Minnie Churchill & Special Guest Lady Soames; September 9-16, 2011

Celia Sandys, who accompanied her grandfather Sir Winston Churchill on some of his later travels, is leading a wonderful tour with the Yachts of Seabourn in September next year, along with Allen Packwood, the Director of the Churchill Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge. The cruise will retrace Churchill's footsteps in the South of France and Italy.

Using the luxurious Seabourn Legend as a floating hotel, the tour will visit places he liked the best and where he painted many of his most renowned pictures.

This is an exceptional opportunity for anyone who loves to travel and is interested in the life and paintings of Winston Churchill to indulge both passions at the same time. Churchill loved visiting the Cote d'Azur, where he found many places that were "paintable and batheable."

The cruise will start in Rome and spend a week sailing along the Riviera, giving guests the opportunity to visit, among other places, the Pope's Palace at Avignon, the beautiful Fontaine de Vaucluse, La Montagne Sainte Victoire (a favourite subject of Cezanne's paintings), Aix en Provence, Cannes and Monte Carlo, where the final day will be spent touring Eze Village, Roquebrune and Cap d'Ail.

7 night Chasing Churchill CruiseTour
Suite Categories
Deck 4 - A £3659
Deck 4 - A1 £3799
Deck 5 - A2 £3959
Deck 6 - A3 £4089
Balcony - Deck 5 £4389
Balcony - Deck 6 £4559

(Prices subject to availability; terms & Conditions apply; single supplement available on request)

What's Included

Five fully escorted private tours from the ship with lunch. The cruise is inclusive of all meals, drinks & gratuities.

For more details, visit http://www.seabourn.com/ or call the luxury cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Spend Christmas on a tall ship

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers is offering 25% off spectacular Christmas cruise itineraries, with no single supplement on each of its tall ships, two of which will be in the Caribbean and one in Costa Rica.

The magnificent, five-masted flagship Royal Clipper, which carries 228 guests, will be sailing an eight-night round trip from Barbados, departing December 18 and calling at various islands in the Grenadines, including the beautiful Tobago Cays and pretty Grenada and Bequia, as well as Martinique and Dominica. Christmas Day is spent soaking up the sun in Marigot Bay, St Lucia in the morning, moving on to Soufriere after lunch, returning to Barbados on Boxing Day (from £999 per person, plus £130 port taxes; flights excluded).

The 170-passenger, four-masted Star Clipper sails on December 18 from St Maarten on an eight-day round trip, calling at Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Antigua, spending Christmas day anchored off the chic little port of Gustavia, St Barths (from £769 per person, plus £130 port taxes; flights excluded).

Meanwhile, the third ship in the fleet, Star Flyer, will be sailing the coast of Costa Rica on a week-long voyage from Puerto Caldera. This head-turning ship will call at out-of-the-way ports and anchorages in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Guests will wake up on Christmas Day in the stunning National Reserve of Curu, moving on to Isla Tortugas for a beach barbecue and overnight (from £769 plus, £110 port taxes; flights excluded).

Visit Star Clippers on http://www.starclippers.co.uk/ or call specialist cruise agents The Cruise Line Ltd.

Polar Diving Partnership

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Aurora Expeditions new polar partnership with polar dive experts Waterproof Expeditions will offer guests further excitement on adventure cruises. The partnership has plenty of synergy, with Aurora Expeditions having earned their reputation as a pioneer in polar cruising operating professional, high-quality expeditions onboard the Polar Pioneer since 1992 and Waterproof have more than 20-years dive experience in the Polar regions.

Waterproof and Aurora Expeditions are also welcoming renowned underwater photography specialist Franco Banfi aboard for their 'Across the Circle' voyages, departing February 4 and 15, 2011. Aurora Expeditions' passengers can glean expert information from this world champion in underwater photography. His images have been featured in magazines such as BBC Wildlife, GEO, National Geographic, Stern, Scuba Diving, and in countless publications worldwide, making him more than qualified to embark on Waterproof and Aurora Expeditions' new adventure.

For each of these dive and photography expeditions, Waterproof Expeditions will provide experienced polar dive masters, all dive planning and equipment. Divers will be treated to a unique dive container providing comfortable storing space for gear and a heating system for dry suits and BCDs.

There is availability for both divers and explorers on two 12-night departures ("Across the Circle" Voyages) onboard the Polar Pioneer sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina, to the Antarctic Peninsula:

4-15 February 2011
15-26 February 2011

Prices from $6,400 per person, including accommodation, full board and all daily excursions and activities while onboard the Polar Pioneer. The dive package costs an additional $1140 and includes dive compressor, tanks, weights and belts (divers need to bring their own personal dive gear) and leadership by an experienced Polar Dive Master. Flights are not included.

**Special offer - Aurora Expeditions are offering 20% off the 'Across the Circle' voyages until November 30. For further information, visit http://www.auroraexpeditions.com.au/ or try the adventure cruise specialsists The Cruise Line Ltd.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Louis Cruises in 2011 From Under £42 per night

Louis Cruises’ full 2011 brochure, featuring cruises costing less than £42 per person per night, has gone on-sale.

A three-night Greek Islands cruise out of Piraeus (Athens) on the Aquamarine or Orient Queen starts from £179 in 2011, while a 12-night cruise out of Genoa or Marseille on the Louis Majesty leads in at £499 per person – just £41.58 per person, per night.

“Such outstanding value for a full-board cruise offers agents tremendous sales opportunities for 2011,” says UK General Manager Peter Adamou. “And now that Louis Cruises are available on Amadeus, it’s easy for agents to select our cruise-only offering, then bolt on flights and hotels, using the same GDS, to create a complete package.”

Louis Cruises has just been made available on the browser-based Amadeus Cruise desktop sales solution for travel professionals, and the Cruise Application Programming Interface (API) for online sales.

The new brochure, titled ‘Sea of Memories’, showcases the five Louis Cruises ships available to the UK market: Louis Majesty, Louis Cristal, Coral, Aquamarine and Orient Queen.

All ships sail in what Louis Cruises describe as ‘our home waters’, i.e. the Mediterranean, and the line prides itself on offering itineraries that offer the maximum opportunity for shore visits.

“Our intimate ships – the largest is the Majesty with a capacity of 1,790 – enable us to visit smaller, as well as large ports, with quicker disembarkation times and easy access to the sights,” adds Adamou.

The new brochure features 16 different itineraries, from the three-night ‘Aegean Legends’ cruise around the Greek islands on Aquamarine or Orient Queen to the Majesty’s 12-night ‘Eastern Mediterranean Highlights’ itinerary.

Sample shore excursions are listed for each ship, and the Greek line’s hospitality, or ‘filoxenia’, is also highlighted.

All prices include full board, on-board entertainment, port taxes and charges. Travel to/from embarkation points, shore excursions, drinks and gratuities are not included.

For more info, call 0800 018 3883 or visit http://www.louiscruises.com/.

A Corking Offer

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Head to the Emerald Isle next year with Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Eclipse (above) from just £439 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

Eclipse's great range of onboard features include a hot glass-blowing show and studio developed with The Corning Museum of Glass, a real grass ‘Lawn Club’ and the Celebrity iLounge, the Apple-only internet café and Apple reseller.

Price includes a four-night Cork cruise-only departing from Southampton (England) and calling at Cork (Cobh, Ireland), before returning to Southampton (England); meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Price based on May 3, 2011, departure.

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

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Oceania's Second Phase of Fleet Enhancements

By guest blogger Steve Newman

As part of the company’s ongoing fleet enhancements, the most significant product investment in the company’s history, Oceania Cruises has announced the second phase of its 'Pillars of Distinction' initiative. The multi-million-dollar upgrades are in addition to the previously announced physical enhancements being made during the regularly scheduled dry-docks for Regatta (above), Insignia and Nautica.

The latest fleet enhancements include:

· An expanded menu of “Jacques Pepin Signature Items” in the Grand Dining Rooms, which include Cotes d’Agneau Grillees – grilled lamb chop served with ratatouille and lamb gravy with thyme, and Gambas Sauté Provençal – sautéed shrimp in olive oil from Nice with garlic, parsley and tomatoes.

· Evening menus in the Terrace Café will focus on regional specialities from the area where the ship is sailing, in addition to each evening’s ever-changing range of traditional favourites.

· Gourmet VIP canapé service for all suite guests now includes a wider array of speciality, gourmet-inspired delicacies which are presented on new, custom-designed china.

· A free shuttle service in more than 90 ports worldwide where the ship is docked away from the city centre.

· Dramatically faster internet speeds as a result of a new partnership with MTN.

· Complimentary in-suite newspaper delivery for Owner’s, Vista and Oceania suites.

· Upgraded bath amenities and toiletries in all accommodations, including Bvlgari for Concierge-level and suite guests.

· Laptops, currently featured in all Owner’s and Vista suites on Regatta, Insignia and Nautica, will be added to all Penthouse Suites.

· iPads for all Owner’s, Vista and Oceania suites.

The new Pillars of Distinction amenities will also be extensively featured on Oceania's new Marina, scheduled for delivery in January 2011, and her sister ship Riviera, which joins the fleet in April 2012. They will be introduced on board Regatta, Insignia and Nautica in the spring of 2011.

To find out more about Oceania Cruises, visit OceaniaCruises.co.uk or call the UK specialist cruise agents The Cruise Line Ltd.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Yachts of Seabourn offers Fantastic Savings

By guest blogger Steve Newman

A selection of luxurious winter itineraries and destinations, including the Caribbean on the new Seabourn Sojourn, are being offered by The Yachts of Seabourn. Guests booking this week can make substantial savings on a variety of Winter Sun destinations as per the below selection.

30th November 2010 - Seabourn Sojourn departs from Fort Lauderdale on a 10-day round-trip 'Yachtsman's Caribbean' cruise. Highlights of the itinerary include San Juan, Puerto Rico, Gustavia, St Barths, St Kitts and Cruz Bay, St John. Fares start from £3,099pp (air inclusive).

20th December 2010 - Sojourn departs from Fort Lauderdale on a 16-day 'Christmas and New Year's Sojourn' to Los Angeles. Highlights of the itinerary include Cartagena, Colombia, Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, Huatulco, Mexico and San Diego. Fares start from £5,199pp (cruise only).

3rd December 2010 - Seabourn Legend departs from Fort Lauderdale on a 10-day round-trip 'Caribbean Splendor' cruise. Highlights of the itinerary include Nassau, Bahamas, Gustavia, St Barths, Prickly Pear Island and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Fares start from £2,599pp (air inclusive).

Prices are all person, based on two sharing a suite, fully inclusive, including all tips and gratuities, fine dining, open bar and fully-stocked mini-bar.

For more information, vist http://www.seabourn.com/ or call the specialist luxury cruise agents at the Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Two Voyages For the Price of one Offer

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Hurtigruten is offering two voyages for the price of one on its Classic Round Voyage, Voyage North and Voyage South cruise-only itineraries. Available on selected dates between now and December 16, these last-minute deals offer savings of up to £1344 per person and are a great way to see the very best of Norway and, hopefully, spot the Northern Lights.

Simply book a voyage and two people can travel for the price of one. Choose from the 12-day Classic Round Voyage from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the far north and back, or one of the two half-voyages (North or South). These journeys call at more than 30 ports, many of which are not visited by commercial cruise ships, and those which are visited at night on the way up, are visited in the day on the return journey to ensure nothing is missed.

And of course, as the winter sets in, Norway is a perfect place to see the Northern Lights. The ships are ideal viewing platforms, away from artificial light and, as they travel further north above the Arctic Circle, chances of spotting them increase.

‘TWO FOR ONE’ OFFER ON VOYAGE NORTH - £940 PER COUPLE (SAVE £940) – Depart on selected dates until December 16 for a six-night Voyage North from Bergen to Kirkenes. Now costing from £940 per couple, including full board on the ship. Flights are extra. Based on two sharing.

'TWO FOR ONE’ OFFER ON CLASSIC ROUND VOYAGE - £1344 PER COUPLE (SAVE £1344) – Depart on selected dates until December 16 for a 12-day Voyage North from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. Now costing from £1344 per couple, including full board on the ship. Flights are extra. Based on two sharing.

Special offer applies to cruise-only prices. Flights are extra and can be booked by Hurtigruten if required.

To find out more, visit http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/ or talk to cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

Monday, 15 November 2010

SeaDream's Amazon Adventure

SeaDream Yacht Club has unveiled its 2012 winter and spring itineraries, featuring a FIRST for the ultra-deluxe line. Because, in February 2012, SeaDream II will sail two 20-night voyages to the mighty Amazon, with prices from $11,799 per person ($1,120pp taxes & fees).

The line's two luxury mega-yachts will spend the late aitumn season of 2011 and early 2012 cruising the Caribbean - with an emphasis on visiting the smaller yachting playgrounds and harbours that large ships cannot reach - and then offer the two signature Amazon voyages.

SeaDream’s President Bob Lepisto explained: “We are thrilled to be adding the Amazon to our programme of itineraries. While at the same time, the British Virgin Islands, such us Norman Island, Jost van Dyke and Virgin Gorda are true yachting destinations and continue to be a favourite with our SeaDream guests.”

Whether travellers are looking for adventure and exploration in the Amazon, or simply seeking a pampering, tropical Caribbean holiday, SeaDream’s intimate size and award-winning service are unmatched at sea. Lepisto added: “In fact, it is our size and maneuverability that allows our yachts to reach tricky spots like Anavilhanas, Brazil, and Iquitos, Peru.”

2012 Amazon Adventure Highlights:

· In February and March 2012, SeaDream II will sail the Amazon on two 20-night voyages: departing on February 13 from Barbados, sailing to Iquitos, Peru; or departing Iquitos on March 4, sailing to Barbados
· Itineraries showcase the best of the Amazon including Cuxiu Muni, Brazil, where guests have the option to take a night canoe trip in search of crocodiles, snakes and other night creatures.
· In Alter do Chao, Brazil, SeaDream hosts their Champagne and Caviar Splash™ on one of Brazil’s best beaches and guests may take a riverboat cruise on Maicá Lake to see rare pink dolphins.
· In Manaus, Brazil guest go “Flightseeing” in single or twin-engine aircraft, soaring over the Rio Negro, Rio Solimões, the Meeting of the Waters, the Amazon River and the magnificent expanse of jungle below.
· Visiting a small village located on Tupinambarana Island, guests enjoy a “Boi-Bumba” celebration. This exotic ritual of magic, mystery, passion and faith is a feast for the eyes and ears.
· A naturalist will be aboard both Amazon voyages, providing in-depth information about the great river wilderness.
· Excursions will showcase Amazonian tribes, museums, markets and the jungle’s exotic plants and animals.

Caribbean 2011/2012 Highlights:

· SeaDream II will operate two voyages round-trip from Barbados, exploring the glorious, lush Grenadines, St. Lucia and Grenada.
· SeaDream I will operate a round-trip voyage from Marigot, St. Martin, with an emphasis on the unspoiled French West Indies.
· SeaDream I & II will call on St. Barts with overnight stays, allowing guests to go ashore and enjoy the island nightlife.
· SeaDream I & II will call on the unique and less visited islands of Saba and Culebrita. Culebrita offers the rare opportunity for guests to swim in a Bioluminescent Bay.

The expression “Yachting” is not a sentiment about size; it is a statement about lifestyle aboard the small vessels. Chic and stylish, SeaDream’s 56-stateroom yachts are favoured for their elegant informality, state-of-the-art facilities, personal service provided by a crew of 95, inclusive open bar and gratuities, oceanview accommodations, luxury spa and world class cuisine.

SeaDream fares are always voyage only, and include open bar, wines with lunch and dinner, use of recreational and water sports toys (subject to local conditions) and include onboard gratuities.

A night at the Opera in Prague - River Cruise

By guest blogger Steve Newman

How about a Night at the Opera in Prague, combined with a nine-day journey along the Main and Rhine Rivers aboard the MS Johann Strauss, all with a 10-night price from £1595?

Music-themed tours from Noble Caledonian in 2011 will include musical performances either on board your vessel, at your hotel or ashore in idyllic settings. There will also be an expert to provide informal talks and accompany you on excursions.

The musical journey begins in Prague. No central European tour would be complete without a few days in the magnificent Czech capital. To make your stay in this beautiful city even more memorable, the company have included a performance of Puccini’s La Boheme in the magnificent and historic Opera House.

After two days in Prague, you drive through the delightful countryside of Bohemia to Bavaria and the river port of Regensburg, just across the border in Germany. Sailing along the Main and Rhine, guests will get to enjoy the subtle changes in architecture and reflect on the many ways in which these mighty rivers have influenced the flow of history.

Just north of Regensburg is a great feat of engineering, The Danube-Main Canal, that allows vessels to connect between the Main and Rhine Rivers. Having meandered along the Main, you reach the Rhine passing through the dramatic Rhine Gorge, the steep banks dotted with romantic castles before arriving at the great city of Cologne and crossing the border into the Netherlands.

Enhancing your river cruise will be London Festival Opera who will be aboard for the duration of the voyage. Bringing together established opera singers from major British opera companies, the LFO have achieved a considerable reputation for presenting opera and music performances in a variety of worldwide venues and will perform on board in the lounge on three evenings.

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, two nights hotel accommodation in Prague with breakfast and dinner, lunch on day 3, 8 nights aboard Johann Strauss on full board, house wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner on board, shore excursions, guest speaker, performances by London Festival Opera, services of a cruise director, tour manager, transfers, port taxes, airport taxes, gratuities to crew and on shore excursions.

For more information, visit http://www.noblecaledonia.co.uk/

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Jewish Heritage Excursions - AMA Waterways

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Award-winning river cruise line AmaWaterways will offer special Jewish Heritage excursions on two of its popular Danube cruises this autumn: the November 22 Blue Danube Discovery itinerary and November 21 Romantic Danube cruise. The complimentary Jewish Heritage tours, part of AmaWaterways’ included shore excursions offer, will include synagogue visits, Jewish districts, museums, monuments and other landmarks of significance to Jewish history. A dedicated guide will lead the tours, which are open to all interested passengers, regardless of their faith.

The seven-night Blue Danube Discovery departs Budapest on the MS AmaLyra and ends in Nuremberg. ‘Jewish Heritage’ highlights during the cruise include entrance to the Jewish Museum in Bratislava, as well as a special visit to the tomb of Chatam Sofer, the famous rabbi. Passengers will visit the Jewish Museum, Judenplatz and Old Synagogue, Sigmund Freud House (outside), Jewish Cemetery and Jewish Quarter in Vienna. In Regensburg, a specialist in Judaica will lead a tour that includes the site of the Regensburg Synagogue. In Nuremberg, the tour will include the Jewish cemetery, old Jewish ghetto and location where the Old Synagogue stood.

The cruise costs from £729 per person, cruise-only, saving £647pp, with optional hotel stays (at extra cost) in Budapest and, after the cruise, in Prague, with each extension featuring further Jewish-themed tours.

For more information, visit http://www.amawaterways.co.uk/ or try the river-cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.

The Romantic Danube cruise from Budapest to Vilshofen on the MS AmaDolce departs November 21. Jewish Heritage tours will be offered in Bratislava, Vienna and Linz and the cruise costs from £729 per person, cruise-only, saving £647pp, with optional hotel stays (at extra cost) in Budapest and, after the cruise, in Prague, each featuring additional Jewish-themed tours.

Guests aboard the 148-passenger AmaLyra and AmaDolce will enjoy the luxurious amenities that have made AmaWaterways so popular in river cruising. Both vessels feature French balconies in the majority of staterooms; plush down bedding, marble-appointed bathrooms, complimentary high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi and first-run Hollywood movies in staterooms; wine, beer and soft drinks at dinner; unlimited speciality coffees and bottled water; elevators, a fitness room and sauna, walking track and whirlpool on the Sun Deck plus a fleet of bicycles for passenger use.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A Down Under Delight

By guest blogger Steve Newman

One of the big growth areas in cruising is the Adventure section, with more and more people seeing the appeal of hopping in and out of zodiacs and seeing wildlife and nature really up close.

In particular, areas of the world which seemed closed to the public are now opening at an amazing speed, especially Australia and New Zealand.

With this in mind, spcialist cruise agents the Cruise Line Ltd's Adventure Cruise Collection brochure has a double page spread dedicated to the two countries.

Why not try the Murray River cruise experience or perhaps the spectacular fjord views of Milford Sound? From the historic pearling town of Broome to the cities of Auckland and Napier, this region will take your breath away.

For further details, log on to http://www.cruiseline.co.uk/ or call them on 0800 008 7855.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Silversea's Awards 'Season'

Ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises has swept the board recently, winning nine awards in ten weeks. The list which includes a mix of significant consumer and trade accolades, confirms the line’s place at the top of the luxury cruise market.

Managing Director of UK & Ireland , Trudy Redfern said: "We are thrilled and grateful to receive such varied recognition. It is a reflection of the exceptional quality of the brand which is recognised by guests and shows the strength and importance of our relationship with Travel Agents in the UK."

Consumer Awards

· Condé Nast Traveller – Best Small Ship Cruise Line
· Guardian and Observer Travel Awards – Best Cruise Line
· Elegant Resorts – Favourite Cruise Company
· ITC Classics – Favourite Cruise Company
· World Travel Awards – World’s Leading Small Ship Cruise Company

Agent Awards

· Travel Bulletin – Star Luxury Cruise Company
· Selling Long Haul – Best Luxury Cruise Line
· SPAA – Best Premium Cruise Line
· Elite Travel Group – Best Luxury Cruise Line

Silversea are also current award holders with Travel Weekly, Triton Group, Travel Trust and Irish Travel Trade News.

Orion Expeditions - Responsible Award Winners

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Orion Expedition Cruises, the leading operator of five-star expedition cruising in the Australasian region, has been named “Best Responsible Cruise Operator” at the 2010 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards which took place at World Travel Market in London this week (World Responsible Tourism Day).

Thousands of tourism organisations and travel experiences were nominated by the public in just 13 categories, with the central tenet being that all types of tourism – from niche to mainstream – can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people. The awards recognise individuals, companies and organisations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to the culture and economies of local communities and are providing a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation.

Orion Expedition Cruises operates the 106-passenger expedition vessel Orion (above) in the Kimberley region of Australia, the Australian Islands, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the Sub Antarctic, Melanesia, the Spice and Forgotten Islands and Antarctica. In May 2011, Orion Expedition Cruises will increase the size of its fleet with the addition of a second specialist expedition vessel, Orion II.

Based on thorough research, and following the success of Orion’s recent voyages, Orion II will be based in south-east Asia, offering a wide range of expeditions that will include Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Borneo, the Inland Sea of Japan and the Russian Far East.

For further information, visit http://www.orionexpeditions.com/ or the UK's specialist adventure cruise experts, The Cruise Line

Digital and APP versions of the "Cruising Bible"

By guest blogger Steve Newman

After 26 years' success in print form, the annual Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships is now also available in digital form as the Berlitz Cruise Ships 2011 App. The beauty of the new app is that, with just a couple of touch-screen taps, would-be cruise-goers can search the 284 featured cruise ships according to their needs - whether for size of ship, families, couples, solo travellers or star ratings, among many more.

Available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, the Berlitz Cruise Ships 2011 App features in-depth searchable cruise ship reviews. For regular cruise-goers and first-time cruisers alike, the App features quick and easy access to Douglas Ward's authoritative and hard-hitting reviews, ratings and statistical information through user-friendly touch-screen menus.

Browse through the ships according to Ward’s world-respected rating system, search by traveller type, ship size or cruise line, and highlight favourite ships for future reference. As the most extensive cruise ship information available anywhere, the App allows users to find out about each cruise ship's accommodation, cuisine, entertainment and fitness facilities, and to see images of every vessel.

Completely independent and accepting no sponsorship, the Berlitz Cruise Ships 2011 App and its author sets the internationally recognised ratings system for cruise ships worldwide. Douglas Ward is recognised as the world’s top authority on cruising and cruise ships, with more than 40 years of experience. He continues to spend up to 200 days a year aboard cruise ships, inspecting and evaluating their facilities.

Berlitz Cruise Ships 2011 App is available now at a promotional price of £9.99 (standard price £12.99). For further information, visit http://www.berlitzpublishing.com/

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Great Early Booking Deals With MSC

By guest blogger Steve Newman

MSC Cruises recently announced that its 2011-12 winter collection will include the United Arab Emirates as a brand new destination.

To celebrate, MSC Cruises is offering amazing early booking prices, meaning the cost of an 8 day, 7-night cruise will start from an unbeatable £399 per person. Flights to Abu Dhabi are available on request at a discounted price of £500 per person. This incredible promotion will run from until November 15.

The elegant MSC Lirica will be based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for her busy 2011-12 winter season. Her itinerary includes nineteen 8 day, 7-night cruises from Abu Dhabi, with departures every Sunday from October 20, 2011, to March 4, 2012, and from Dubai, with departures every Friday from October 28-March 9.

With guaranteed sunshine, spectacular scenery, unbeatable shopping and the deluxe surroundings, cuisine and hospitality that are MSC standards, this is one deal that is definitely too good to miss!

For further details vist http://www.msccruises.co.uk/ or call the cruise specialist agents at The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Luxury Expedition Cruises to Australasia

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Qantas Holidays has introduced a new programme of luxury expedition cruises to explore remote areas of Australasia with Orion Expedition Cruises. The cruise options are:

• 2010 Expedition Cruises in Australasia with 7 nights Wild Tasmania from £2,699
• 2011 Expedition Cruises in Australasia with 2 nights New Zealand Expedition Sampler from £959
• 2011 Expedition Cruises in Asia with 7 nights Gulf of Siam Explorer from £3,349

Orion Expedition Cruises is a fantastic way to explore Australasia and Asia, combining luxury cruising with the chance to get up close and personal with the people, wildlife and culture. Many parts of the Asia-Pacific region remain largely inaccessible to conventional touring options but, with Orion, travellers can get to remote areas with experienced expedition leaders, hopping onboard zodiac boats to get into small inlets and islands, returning each night to the luxury of the cruise ship.

2010 Expedition Cruises in Australasia– 7 nights Wild Tasmania from £2,699
Highlights include unrivalled glimpses of the amazing scenery, culture and bio-diversity of Australia and New Zealand. The ‘Wild Tasmania’ cruise starts and ends in Hobart and departs on December 1, taking in the starkly beautiful Flinders Island along with the dramatic, red granite peaks of Wineglass Bay and apple blossom and vineyards of Port Huon.

2011 Expedition Cruises in Australasia – including 2 nights New Zealand Expedition Sampler from £959
From the two night ‘New Zealand Expedition Sampler’ (departing February 24) up to the 20 night ‘Scott and Shackleton’s Antarctica’ (departing January 27, from £12,635), the 2011 programme has something for adventurers of all tastes and budget. The ‘New Zealand Expedition Sampler’ offers a taste of the coastline of bays and white sand beaches of the beautiful Bay of Islands, where the Maoris first arrived.

2011 Expedition Cruises in Asia – including 7 nights Gulf of Siam Explorer from £3,349

Explore Japan’s inland sea, the rainforests of Borneo, the temples of Thailand and the Mekong Delta from the comfort of the Orion II, fresh from an £11million refit. The ‘Gulf of Siam Explorer’ operates from Singapore to Bangkok or in reverse, departing on October 10 and December 22, 2011. Highlights include visiting sublime islands and beaches as well as some of Asia’s major centres, seeing both traditional and modern Asia from a different perspective, often far away from the crowds.

All prices include all taxes, fees and port related charges; Cruise transportation; All meals onboard; 24-hour room service, entertainment and educational programmes; Use of ship’s sporting equipment and facilities; Zodiac excursions and tender transfers.

Fares do not include: travel and medical insurance, laundry charges, shopping onboard, bar expenses, optional shore experiences, medical treatment, telephone and internet charges, international and domestic flights. All prices are ‘from’ prices, per person, based on two adults sharing. Qantas Holidays general booking conditions apply.

For more information, visit http://www.qantasholidays.co.uk/. For more info on a wide range of expedition voyages, including Orion Expedition Cruises, see the Adventure Cruise Collection of specialist agent The Cruise Line Ltd on this link: http://www.cruiseline.co.uk/Adventure-Cruises.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Fred Olsen - Road Show Cruise

By guest blogger Steve Newman

The Danish-born historian, lecturer and broadcaster, Lars Tharp – who is also one of the longest running experts on the BBC’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’ – will be one of the special guest speakers aboard Fred Olsen’s 23-night Black Watch cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean in May 2011.

A regular with Fred Olsen, Lars speaks on antiques-collecting, as part of the cruise line’s onboard programme of special interests, The ArtsClub. Originally trained as an archaeologist, Lars was a Director of Sotheby’s, where he specialised in European ceramics and oriental works of art. In 2008, he was appointed the Director of the Foundling Museum in London, and Visiting Professor at De Montfort University, Leicester. On this cruise, Lars will give some highly entertaining and informative talks, and will also offer to value small items brought on board by guests, in true ‘Antiques Roadshow’ style.

Lars will be on board as far as Istanbul, where he will disembark, and the ship will be joined by his ‘Antiques Roadshow’ colleague Will Farmer. Will specialises in 20th Century decorative arts, covering ceramics, glass and furniture. He studied at the Birmingham School of Jewellery, undertaking a combined BA Hons in Silversmithing and Fine Art History. Will has featured as an expert on the BBC’s ‘20th Century Roadshow’, and is now in his fourth season as an expert with the Roadshow.

This cruise also offers a wealth of opportunities to explore the Ancient World, as it visits some of the great classical cities of Greece, Turkey and Tunisia. Black Watch departs from Dover on May 18 and ports of call include Cagliari in Sicily, Kalamata (anchor port) and Piraeus (the port for Athens) in Greece, Canakkale in Turkey, with tours to the fabled city of Troy, as well as Istanbul, Valletta – capital of Malta – and La Goulette for Tunisia’s capital, Tunis.

Highlights of this cruise include the chance to explore the remains of ancient Troy, a full day to take in the sights of historic Athens, and another day in Tunis, where French colonial architecture sits cheek-by-jowl with ancient Moorish buildings.

This classical cruise is a history-lover’s dream, and the additional ArtsClub ‘Antiques’ theme, hosted by Tharp and Farmer, is especially well-suited to this itinerary.

Prices start from £2,279 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside twin cabin. The price includes all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes.

If you would like to join Tharp, Farmer and other history-lovers on this cruise, find out more by visiting www.fredolsencruises.co.uk or call specialist cruise agents The Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Royal Caribbean's Big 5-Ship Refurb

London, 9 November 2010Royal Caribbean International has announced the revitalisation of five ships in its fleet; Radiance of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas will all undertake various updates during 2011.

“The planned enhancements of five ships in 2011 will help expand some of the most successful programmes that we have launched on our incredible Oasis-class ships to deliver these new ‘wows’ to more ships in our fleet,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “We are proud to continue to deliver more to see, do, and love than ever before to our guests.”

In mid-2011, Radiance will begin its revitalisation with the addition of new speciality restaurants, including the Samba Grill Brazilian Steakhouse, Mexican-themed Rita’s Cantina, and the Italian Giovanni’s Table, as well as the Park Café deli-style restaurant and the exclusive Chef’s Table dining experience. Other enhancements to the ship will include a new Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty programme members, as well as the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, interactive flat-panel televisions in all staterooms, and Wi-Fi throughout the ship.

Splendour will receive two new speciality restaurants, and the Park Café, the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a Diamond and Concierge Lounge, flat-panel televisions, and Wi-Fi throughout the ship. In addition, there will be new balcony staterooms added, select stateroom enhancements and upgrades to public areas, including a refreshed Windjammer Marketplace.

Oasis of the Seas will also launch new onboard guest programmes starting in the first quarter of 2011. Guests will be able to enjoy the DreamWorks Experience and 3-D films in the main Opal Theater. Also, a Starbucks coffee shop will replace Mondo Café on the Royal Promenade. This follows the first-ever Starbucks at sea which will launch onboard Allure of the Seas when the sister ship enters service on 1 December 2010.

In early 2011, Freedom (above) and Liberty of the Seas will introduce new dining, entertainment, children’s programming and other enhancements made popular on the Oasis-class ships. This will include the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, The Cupcake Cupboard, the groundbreaking Wayfinding navigation system for guests, and an oversized outdoor video screen in each ship’s main pool area. In addition, the DreamWorks experience, 3-D movies and complimentary guest service kiosks, which will be introduced on Allure, also will be implemented onboard Freedom and Liberty, as well as sister-ship Oasis of the Seas. Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, Royal Caribbean’s third licensed main-stage musical production, will debut on Liberty in the main Platinum Theater.

Adopt an Orang-utan with Orion Expeditions

By guest blogger Steve Newman

To celebrate “Orange For Orang-utan Day” tomorrow (November 10), Orion Expedition Cruises, the leading operator of five-star expedition cruising in the Australasian region, will be adopting orang-utans on behalf of its guests.

Throughout November, anyone booking a 2011 Orion Expedition Cruises voyage will be helping in the conservation of orang-utans and their habitats as Orion will adopt one of these wonderful creatures in their name. As well as receiving a personalised certificate with a colour photo of their adopted orang, they will also get an orang-utan factsheet, a cuddly toy orang-utan and an update after six months of adoption.

Commenting, Andy Harmer, Orion’s UK Director of Sales & Marketing, said: “The destinations visited by Orion have some of the most pristine and sensitive wilderness areas on our planet and we have a social responsibility to develop a marine tourism blueprint that is sustainable and at the forefront of eco-sensitivity.

"By adopting orang-utans on behalf of our guests, we are not only supporting Orion’s commitment to sustainability but also raising awareness of the plight of some of our planet’s most beautiful creatures.”

For further information, visit http://www.orionexpeditions.com/ or call adventure cruise specialists the Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Monday, 8 November 2010

New 2011 Titan Brochure

By guest blogger Steve Newman

Titan HiTours has unveiled its brand new Cruise & Tour brochure for 2011. The programme encompasses an extensive selection of ocean cruises combined with imaginative, land-based touring packages that take in every possible point of the compass from Alaska to Antarctica. With highlights ranging from the splendour of a stylish cruise around the British Isles on the new Queen Elizabeth to a passage through the Panama Canal - as well as a wide choice of no-fly cruises with direct departures from UK seaports - the Cruise & Tour programme presents an unrivalled choice of exciting holidays afloat combined with the quality, high standards and value for money for which Titan HiTours is renowned.

The popular VIP Home Departure Service, which collects customers from - and returns them to - their own front door has now been extended to cover mainland Scotland, The Channel Islands and Northern Ireland and allows for every client to be picked up from their home address, transferred to their departure point and returned to their own front door at the end of their holiday at no extra cost. That means those in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands are entitled to a home pick-up and door-to-door transfer to their nearest regional airport, plus free domestic flights to the London airports to connect with any international departure (or free onward connections to the major seaports for clients taking an ex-UK cruise).

Another new addition with plenty of possible departure dates (11 in total) is the 8-day Dubrovnik & the Dalmatian Islands itinerary, which incorporates a brief stay in this fabled city (known romantically as the Pearl of the Adriatic) with a voyage along the stunningly beautiful Dalmatian coastline. The holiday costs from £995 per person, to include flights, transfers, half-board accommodation, sightseeing tours as detailed in the itinerary, port taxes and the VIP Home Departure Service.

Those looking to avoid the cost and hassle of jetting away might prefer the brochure's wide selection of no-fly cruises, which involve direct departures from the UK's major seaports. There are a total of five new no-fly cruise itineraries in the brochure, of which the closest to home is the 11-day Queen Elizabeth's maiden Around the British Isles cruise, which has to be booked by 30 November 2010 for a departure from Southampton on 2 September 2011.

For details or to book, visit the website http://www.titanhitours.co.uk/