Friday, 31 August 2012

Noble Caledonia's New Zealand Sky

Those of you who have travelled on Noble Caledonia’s Island Sky will already know what a superb vessel she is. Now the company have announced that her sister ship Caledonian Sky will be luxury small-ship cruising in New Zealand and Australia in January and February 2013.

If you are going to travel half way around the world, you need a good reason, and what better reason could you have than the desire to visit one of the most beautiful places on earth? New Zealand is a land of stunning landscapes and warm people, which is why it is always high on travellers’ wish lists. With vast open spaces filled with stunning rugged landscapes, gorgeous beaches, spectacular geothermal and volcanic activity, a temperate climate and fascinating animal and plant life, it is a land of rare beauty.

A circumnavigation of the North Island offers the unusual opportunity to visit the lesser known west coast. Call into the quaint city of New Plymouth, explore the Waipoua Kauri Forest, one of the largest remaining tracts of native forest in Northland, and discover the awe-inspiring scenery of the Bay of Islands. Visit the iconic cities of Auckland, Napier and Wellington and journey to the thermal springs at Rotorua, a myriad of gurgling mudpools, steaming ground and expansive vistas. 

Now: Book by October 31 and save £1,000 per person.

Special note: Although this cruise is not classified as expeditionary, on some days it will be necessary to use the Zodiac landing craft to access remote ports and land ashore. 

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury adventure-cruise specialists.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

New From Holland America

Yes, it is 'brochure season' in the wide World of Cruising - and here is the latest news from Holland America Line, following hot on the heels of Silversea's latest new-brochure launch:

The new 2013-14 Worldwide Cruise Holidays brochure from Holland America Line offers more than 125 exciting itineraries between December 2012 and April 2014. The brochure covers destinations including Alaska, the Amazon, Asia Pacific, Canada & New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, the Panama Canal and South America.

In preparation for the launch of its 2013 programme, HAL recently introduced “Early Advantage”, a programme encouraging guests to book early and enjoy lower fares, free upgrades and “worry-free” deposit terms whereby they can make changes to their booking without penalty, prior to the balance due date.

Destinations covered in the new brochure include:

Ex-UK Cruising
Continuing Holland America’s popular ex-UK programme, for the third year, the MS Ryndam will cruise an extended series of 10 round-trip cruises from Dover from May until August 2013, providing British guests with the perfect “premium” no-fly product. The Ryndam will offer six 7-night Fjords cruises; two 14-night Baltic cruises; and two unique 14-night “Voyage of the Midnight Sun” Fjords and North Cape cruises, which sail as far as Honningsvag within the Arctic Circle.

Early Advantage fares for these cruises currently start from just £699 per person for a 7-night cruise, featuring a free upgrade from Inside to Oceanview stateroom.

HAL features seven ships in Europe for summer 2013. The Eurodam, Prinsendam, Ryndam and Rotterdam will offer primarily Northern Europe and Baltic cruises, while the Noordam and the Nieuw Amsterdam will cruise 7-12-night Mediterranean itineraries from Rome (Civitavecchia), Barcelona, Venice, Piraeus and Istanbul. For the first time, the Veendam will cruise Holland America’s annual 35-night “Voyage of the Vikings” cruise from Boston, which combines a scenic circle around Iceland with calls in Newfoundland, Greenland and Eire. In the autumn, Prinsendam will offer Eastern Mediterranean, Holy Land and Black Sea cruises from Barcelona, Civitavecchia and Piraeus.

Grand World Voyage & Grand Voyages
In 2013, Holland America Line will celebrate 55 years of world cruising. The 115-night Grand World Voyage sets off from Fort Lauderdale on January 5, 2013, on flagship Amsterdam, and combines experiences that range from mystic Machu Picchu to Walvis Bay in Namibia; Vietnam’s paddy fields to Hong Kong’s high rise towers; St Lucia’s twin volcanoes to Easter Island’s mysterious stone figures. Prices start from £13,049 per person with sectors from 24 to 51 nights available from £2,959pp.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's cruise experts.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Silversea's Double Brochure Bonus

Leading luxury cruise operator Silversea has released two new brochures which showcase more than 200 imaginative voyages sailing throughout 2013 to over 450 destinations on seven continents.

The new 176-page 2013 Voyages Atlas, covered by a design hinting at the luxurious travel experiences within, opens with several pages of stylish imagery and engaging content devoted to revealing the hallmarks of Silversea's unique luxury lifestyle.

It is devoted to the remarkable journeys of Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit and provides a snapshot of "What's New" followed by detailed worldwide cruise itineraries by region, including shore excursion recommendations, descriptions of land programmes, deck plans and general information. A pricing summary booklet is contained in the back cover pocket.

Also just released is Silversea Expeditions' 2013 Voyages brochure. Formerly included within the company's main Atlas, it is now available as a stand-alone 48-page guide to Silver Explorer's amazing voyages of adventure. It highlights 27 expedition cruises sailing from pole to pole and to some of the world's most remote destinations in between.

2013 Highlights:

WORLD CRUISE 2013 - An epic 115-day journey from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale awaits guests when they board Silver Whisper on January 5. Crossing the equator four times, the itinerary will follow the tropical belt to 52 destinations in 28 countries with overnight stays in key ports. The warm-weather journey will explore an array of far-flung cultures and scenic wonders, including New Zealand and Australia's remote west coast; the idyllic isles of French Polynesia; fascinating Asian cities of Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore; and Africa's rarely seen west coast. Guests may choose to extend their voyage an additional three days to disembark in New York, or 15 days to disembark in Southampton.

GRAND VOYAGES - Created for travellers who can spare the time and prefer a more immersive experience in the lands they visit, this special collection offers extended voyages from 26 to 54 days. These unique odysseys combine the luxury of sailing aboard the line's elite, all-suite ships with expanded journeys to diverse regions of the world, featuring visits to must-see traditional ports, as well as exotic destinations that are off the beaten path -- all on one cruise.

SOUTH PACIFIC VOYAGE - From the glamorous City of Angels to the moonlit beaches of Bora Bora and the sheer, emerald cliffs of Kauai's Na Pali coast and back, guests will enjoy a 31-day round-trip journey exploring the enchanting cultures of the South Pacific. This uniquely immersive voyage departs February 1 from Los Angeles aboard Silver Spirit. 

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury cruise specialists.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

G Adventures Upgrades Galapagos Fleet

G Adventures has one of the highest quality operations in the Galapagos and is upgrading its fleet for 2013 with the acquisition of three 16-passenger motor yachts, the Daphne, the San Jose and the Queen of Galapagos. The company will be adding additional vessels in the coming months as it makes room for further growth.

Each of the new vessels caters to a slightly different market; the Daphne is the most affordable standard-level option, the San Jose is a comfort-level vessel and the Queen of the Galapagos provides an even more deluxe experience. G Adventures will continue to use its Javier comfort-level vessel, a firm customer favourite, meaning the fleet will be made up of four vessels in 2013. 

The company's’ operation in the Galapagos is truly unique as it only books customers on its own vessels. This means they travel with other G Adventures’ travellers and have a complete G Adventures experience. The company operates and staffs the vessels and employs its own naturalist guides, all of whom understand the line's core values and  customers’ expectations.

Current vessels will maintain operations as per the normal G Adventures high quality service until the end of the year when the new trio will take over operations.

Itineraries for the three new vessels include: 

A six-day Voyage Galapagos – South Islands standard-level trip onboard the Daphne, priced from £1,249pp from Quito return for departures from September to November 2012 and January to April 2013. 

A seven-day Voyage Galapagos – South Islands comfort-level trip onboard the San Jose, priced from £1,649pp from Quito return for departures from January 2013 year-round. 

A 10-day Deluxe Galapagos – Northern Islands deluxe-level trip onboard Queen of Galapagos, priced from £2,599pp from Quito return for departures from January 2013 year-round. 

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's cruise experts.

Monday, 27 August 2012

More Inner Hebrides From Majestic LIne

The innovative Argyll cruise company, The Majestic Line, is increasing its small boat cruises to the Inner Hebrides as a result of popular demand. Past guests have shown a strong preference for this area of unspoilt natural beauty, rich in history, culture and wildlife, and demand is continuing to grow.

The family-run company, now in its eighth operating season, has so far escaped the effects of the economic downturn, despite being an exclusive holiday choice aimed at the higher end of the market.

However, the company is very aware that times are getting tough in the tourism industry and is not complacent. They have recently streamlined the business to make savings to ensure no price increase for their cruises in 2013. This strategy also included moving the Sales Team from Edinburgh to join the Operations Team in Holy Loch Marina in Argyll, which will allow closer communication with guests and support for the new cruises to the Inner Hebrides.

For bookings, follow this link the Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's adventure-cruise specialists.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

100 Days To Voyager

To celebrate 100 days to go until the launch of Voyages of Discovery’s new ship, MV Voyager, guests booking an outside cabin on any winter 2012/13 cruise on board will receive £100 credit per cabin on all bookings made by September 30.

Voyages of Discovery announced just last month that the final refurbishment work on the 540-passenger ship will be carried out in Portland Port in the UK by Northern Ireland-based international contracting company, Mivan, before setting sail on its maiden voyage on December 4.

The celebratory £100 onboard credit offer is available on all winter itineraries on the company's new vessel, including:

  • Voyage to the Caribbean – 18-day cruise departing December 4 from £999 per person. Departs from Portsmouth before calling at La Coruna (Spain), Funchal (Madeira), St. Kitts (Basseterre/Nevis), Antigua (British West Indies), Martinique (French West Indies) and Barbados (overnight). 
  • A Tapestry of Central America – 21-day cruise sailing January 4 from £2,839 per person. Departs from Montego Bay (Jamaica, overnight) before calling at Progreso (Mexico), Belize City (Belize), Puerto Cortes (Honduras), Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena (Colombia), San Blas Islands (Panama), Balboa (Panama) and Manta (Ecuador). 
  • Natural Wonders of Latin America – 22-day cruise departing February 5 from £3,049 per person. Departs from Valparaiso (Chile, overnight) before calling at Puerto Montt (Chile), Puerto Chacabuco (Chile), Punta Arenas (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), Puerto Madryn (Argentina) and Buenos Aires (overnight).
Key additions to Voyager during the refurbishment include the introduction of an explorer theme across the whole ship, a new piano bar – Scott’s Lounge - a new speciality restaurant, a ‘look-out’ lounge and an al fresco dining terrace with all-weather awning. The ship will offer a choice of 270 cabins, 87% of which are outside and 30 of which have balconies.

NB: Price for all cruises includes return flights to a London airport and overseas transfers (where applicable), talks by eminent Guest Speakers, meals and entertainment on board, all on board gratuities and all relevant port and airport taxes/fees. Onboard credit offer is available on outside cabin bookings only.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's adventure-cruise experts.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Norwegian Offer New Stingray Encounter

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced details of a new Stingray Encounter and ‘Fate of the Fancy Snorkel Adventure,’ now available on Great Stirrup Cay, the line’s 250-acre private island in the Bahamas. In addition, coming soon is a brand new Lighthouse Beach Bar presented by spirits brand Patron. 

The launch of these three brand new experiences mark more exciting additions to the island as part of the ongoing $30million enhancement project.

Located inside Bertram’s Cove, on the right hand side of the main beach, the Stingray Encounter invites guests to interact with 18 specially-trained stingrays in an enclosed area. Each of the stingrays has a name and its own unique personality, and guests will enjoy feeding, watching and holding them, for the perfect photo opportunity. Also included in the experience is use of a mask, snorkel and snorkel vest so guests can peer below the surface to examine the rays up close. 

The hour-long excursion includes 45 minutes of interaction with the rays and is $29 per adult and $19 per child. 

Norwegian is also launching a new snorkel trail experience called Fate of the Fancy Snorkel Adventure, for guests to enjoy during their time on the island. Snorkelling is one of the most popular activities on the island and Norwegian has now enhanced that experience with the snorkel trail.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's leading cruise-agent specialists.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Hurtigruten's New Year's Eve Fiesta

Guests on board two of Hurtigruten’s ships can enjoy a double celebration this New Year as both MS Trollfjjord and MS Midnatsol dock together in Tromsø to ring in 2013. The sister ships will unite under a firework-filled sky while guests are treated to a special banquet, dancing and champagne toast. In addition, those sailing over Christmas can expect a truly Norwegian affair with traditional food, music and dancing as they journey along Norway’s spectacular coast.

On Christmas Eve, all Hurtigruten ships will moor in their respective destination ports for 24 hours. Guests are invited to attend Christmas mass at the local churches before coming back on board to celebrate with fellow guests and crew members while ‘Julenissen,’ the Norwegian Father Christmas, will also pay a visit.

Those wanting to not only enjoy the festive atmosphere on board but also experience a true Norwegian winter on shore should join a special excursion to Camp Tamok. Equipped with warm winter clothes, participants can then take off for a winter safari through the Arctic from Finnsnes to Tromsø on dog sleds, snowmobiles and reindeer sleds.

Choose from:

Christmas In Norway In Search Of The Northern Lights: Enjoy a traditional Norwegian Christmas on a Classic Voyage North departing from Bergen in the south and sailing up to Kirkenes by the Russian border. The eight-day voyage (normally seven-day) costs from £946pp and includes full board on the ship. Price based on two sharing (flights are extra).

Christmas With New Year in Tromsø: Depart Bergen with MS Trollfjord on December 23 to enjoy both Christmas on board and New Year spent in Tromsø, alongside sister ship Trollfjord. Prices for this 13 (normally 12) day Classic Round voyage start from £1,363pp including full board on the ship and are based on two sharing (flights are extra).

For bookings, follow this link to our sponsors The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's adventure-cruise specialists.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Try A Great Late Med Break

Looking for a great-value and educational holiday taking in the highlights of the Mediterranean? Join Voyages of Discovery’s MV Discovery for a cultural voyage from just £1,399 per person this autumn.

Guests onboard the Adriatic and Aegean Odyssey cruise can explore Dubrovnik’s Old Town (Croatia) before heading to the contrasting sheer mountains and picturesque villages of Kotor (Montenegro) and Katakolon (Greece), the gateway to ancient Greece and ideal for history enthusiasts.

That is followed by a visit to the birthplace of civilisation – Athens as the ship calls into Piraeus. Passengers will be accompanied by experienced historian, Brigadier Mike Shaw, and anthropologist Anne-Marie Harrison, to bring the destinations to life. 

The Adriatic and Aegean Odyssey departs from Dubrovnik on October 5 and also calls at Pula (Croatia), Venice (Italy), Koper (Slovenia), Hvar (Croatia), Durres (Albania), Itea (Greece), Canakkale (Turkey) and Istanbul (overnight).

The price includes flights from a major UK airport, transfers, all onboard gratuities, service charges and port/airport taxes, a comprehensive Guest Speaker programme and all meals and entertainment on-board.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's leading cruise-agent experts.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Celebrity's Wine-Tasting Tour With Oz Clarke

Wine drinkers can enjoy testing and honing their taste buds this harvest season with one of the UK’s most seasoned palates as Oz Clarke leads a holiday to his favourite vineyards, chateaux and wine producing regions in the company of Celebrity Cruises.

Join Oz (above), and his friend and partner in wine tasting Tom Forrest - resident wine expert from Vinopolis, London’s premium taste destination – on a 12-night European wine immersion cruise that takes in renowned wine landscapes of France, Portugal and Spain. Guests can enjoy a full programme of on board activities and expert-led sessions - such as “Introduction to French wine,” “Cheese and wine pairing,” meet and greet sessions and wine master classes from the key regions visited, including a “Bordeaux masterclass” – all included in the price. All bespoke sessions are hosted by either Oz, Tom or both, and are informal, fun introductions to the world of wine.

Plus, guests on the cruise also have the chance to join the duo on an exclusive, specially created shore excursion in Bordeaux visiting a number of chateaux to sample some of the most delicate wines of the region, accompanied by the president of the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux.

Wines on offer include some of the first ever tasted by Oz and, as well as inspiring his passion for the subject, are also personal favourites of both the experts. The excursion also includes lunch, with the menu and wines chosen by Oz and Tom to complement the overall experience. The personalised chateaux experience is exclusive to the sailing and available at an additional cost once guests have booked their holiday.

The exclusive Vinopolis immersive wine cruise is part of a series of European wine immersion cruises during the 2012 grape harvest offered for the first time by Celebrity on board Celebrity Constellation on October 13.

Cruises depart from Southampton throughout autumn 2012 and other sailings are available on 7 and 19 September; 1 and 25 October; and 6 and 18 November. In 2013, Celebrity  will offer a similar season of wine-themed cruises departing from Harwich on the newly refurbished Celebrity Infinity.   

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury cruise experts.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Egypt In Style - With Savings!

Bales Worldwide is offering some great late-summer savers on their Egypt and Nile River voyages, for select departures in August and September.

Their 11-day Egypt’s Summer Special itinerary, including scheduled flights and accommodation and sightseeing encompassing Giza, a full Nile cruise on board Movenpick Royal Lily or Movenpick Royal Lotus (3 nights) and Aswan, Kom Ombo, Edfu, Luxor, Red Sea and El Gouna (5 nights). The trip includes an English-speaking guide during the cruise and in Cairo, private air-conditioned vehicle for transfers, a sightseeing itinerary (including entrance fees) and modern first class hotels throughout. Prices are per person based on two adults travelling and sharing on a mixed board basis, including all applicable UK and overseas airport taxes and fuel surcharges, which are subject to change.

Or try The Nostalgic Nile from just £1,845 per person (a saving of up to £450pp). This eight-day itinerary includes scheduled flights and accommodation on a traditional ‘dahabiyya,’ with English-speaking guides on board who will also take care of tipping, private air-conditioned vehicle for transfers and sightseeing itinerary (including entrance fees). Prices are per person based on two adults travelling on a mixed board basis (including seven breakfasts, six lunches and seven dinners), including all applicable UK and overseas airport taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change, based  on a September 8 departure.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Avalon's New Tulips Cruise

Avalon Waterways is offering savings of £600 per person on its newly introduced 8-day ‘Tulips of Northern Holland’ voyage next spring aboard its newest ship the Avalon Visionary.

Now priced from £1,335 per person, based on an April 24 departure, it cruises from Amsterdam and highlights include the ‘Tulip Road’ excursion in North Holland, guided sightseeing in Makkum, Friesland, Hoorn, Lelystad, Arnhem and Rotterdam, plus an excursion to the spectacular Keukenhof gardens and seaside town of Volendam, Edam and a canal cruise in Amsterdam itself.

The price includes private door-to-door home pick-up service within 75 miles of chosen airport/station, 7 nights deluxe cruise with complimentary soft drinks with lunch and regional wines/beer, with return flights from London Heathrow, gratuities for cruise director and crew, all meals, excursions, all transfers, local port charges and airport taxes. 

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's river-cruise specialists.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Lindblad's New Voyages For 2013

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic will mark the fifth anniversary in 2013 of its flagship, National Geographic Explorer, with five new itineraries that will put you in the explorer’s seat and connect you to incredible places, cultures, and people around the world. 

The expeditions have been designed to provide one-of-a-kind moments, whether you’re spotting the legendary pink dolphins of the Orinoco, encountering the Inuit people who thrive at the Arctic’s edge or meeting former President of Poland, Lech Walesa, during our expedition in the Baltic. All voyages are set aboard the Explorer, a 148-guest state-of-the-art expedition ship. The new 2013 itineraries include: 

Epic South America - Jungle Rivers, Rain Forests & Colonial Coast: One of the most ambitious expeditions Lindblad has ever offered, the journey will begin in Trinidad and end in Buenos Aires, Argentina, visiting eight countries. Explore three legendary rivers—the Orinoco, Amazon and Essequibo—and experience the region’s exuberant cultures. Voyage the diverse coastlines and visit colonial towns such as Ilhéus and Parati, vibrant cities including Montevideo and Buenos Aires, and spend two full days in exhilarating Rio de Janeiro. A special focus on the region’s varied musical styles and cultural heritage will be woven into the voyage. The 38-day epic adventure departs September 18, 2013. Rates begin at $34,730 per person, based on double occupancy in a category 1 cabin.

A Circumnavigation of Iceland: Cruise among magnificent icebergs in Jokulsarlon, and spend a day on the Arctic Circle spotting rich birdlife. Kayak into fjords and serene bays, and go hiking on spectacular and remote stretches of the coast. Explore Europe’s largest ice cap and discover the lava-sculpted landscapes of the Westman Islands. Soak in hot springs, and see boiling mud pots and the thundering Godafoss Waterfall. Go whale-watching on the shores of Iceland and its surrounding isles. Cap off the adventure with a soak in Reykjavik’s famous Blue Lagoon. Joining the voyage is Andrew Evans, National Geographic travel writer and author of the Bradt Travel Guide: Iceland. Departs July 10, for 10 days/8 nights, rates begin at $7,990.

Along the Viking Trail – From Iceland to Greenland: Follow in the wake of legendary explorers as you discover the dramatic landscapes and rich traditions of Greenland and Iceland. Explore Iceland’s western fjords by Zodiac; kayak among the magnificent icebergs of East Greenland and hike amid charming northern hamlets. Along the way, get immersed in Nordic history on visits to fascinating Viking sites and settlements with our experts. Joining the voyage is author and adventurer Tim Severin, one of the last traditional style explorers. Departs July 18, for 12 days/10 nights. Rates begin at $9,620. 

Arctic Quest: Greenland & Canadian High Arctic: Venture deep into the far reaches of the Arctic, where we will trace the rugged fjords of Greenland and navigate the mouth of Canada’s legendary Northwest Passage. Glide between soaring icebergs at the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord, spot polar bears on the pack ice, and watch for a wide variety of whales—from minke and killer whales to the rare narwhal. We will explore Uummannaq, site of Greenland’s impressive mummy find, and visit the historic Inuit village of Sermermiut, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Joining the voyage is Henning Thing, Ph.D, an arctic wildlife ecologist. The 17-day expedition departs July 27 and August 10 and rates begin at $16,160. 

A Circumnavigation of the Baltic Sea: Discover the nine countries united by the Baltic Sea, encountering fascinating cultures and histories. Meet former President Lech Walesa in his hometown of Gdansk, Poland. Stroll through the medieval Old Towns of Lübeck, Riga, and Tallinn, designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, visit the great maritime capital of Stockholm and explore the tiny islands along the Finnish and Swedish coasts by kayak or on nature walks. Then view one of the world’s greatest art collections at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Departs May 10 for 16 days/14 nights. Rates begin at $13,990. 

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's adventure cruise specialists.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Royal Caribbean Supports Runners

A programme that boosts the support available for those looking to improve their fitness through running has now expanded from London to cover the South East counties of Surrey, Hampshire and Sussex.
Launched in early 2012, the first Royal Caribbean Runner groups were only available in London. This summer, the investment from cruise line Royal Caribbean and delivery partners Sport England and Run England, means that new running groups are setting up and growing throughout the South East.
Designed to get people back into running, or to encourage first-time participation in the sport, the dedicated nine-week programmes aid people in making sport a part of their day-to-day lives. Not just for hardcore fitness fanatics, the new running groups are all about growing grassroots participation in the sport and getting people to see the many benefits that come from staying active.
Royal Caribbean Runners are supported by former Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell who is an ambassador for the Royal Caribbean-led initiative. The cruise line also offers an onboard version of the programme on Southampton-based ship Independence of the Seas (above) designed to aid holidaymakers in getting, and staying, fit.

Commenting on the programme, Sally Gunnell explained: "There is simply no better time to get healthy than right now. Fitness has always played a key part in my life and I’m thrilled to be sharing this passion to help get people motivated and taking their first running steps – whether on land or at sea. Getting involved is easy and whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a weekend warrior or a beginner looking to start your first run, the Royal Caribbean Runners groups throughout the South East make it fun and easy to take the first steps.”
Running groups are established in partnership with Sport England, the organisation helping people and communities across the country create a sporting habit for life, and delivered by Run England, the official England Athletics recreational running project to which aims to get the whole nation running. Both running group leaders and running group members receive incentives to aid a sustained commitment to the sport.
Sport England Chair, Richard Lewis, said: “Our latest research has shown that almost two million people are taking part in athletics, including running, every week.  With so many people involved, it’s fantastic to see this programme being rolled out further so even more people can discover the joys of running and develop a sporting habit for life.”
The Royal Caribbean Runners groups are currently available in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and London. For more information and to find running groups in your area, visit All Royal Caribbean Runners groups are coordinated through Run England including the training of running group leaders through UK Athletics for the Leadership in Running Fitness qualification.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Alaska Unleashed With InnerSea Discoveries

To satisfy outdoor adventure cravings in the remote wilderness of south-east Alaska, InnerSea Discoveries has dedicated its chic little the Wilderness Adventurer to three Alaska Unleashed departures in summer 2013. The itinerary promises longer and more exhilarating hiking and kayaking adventures in daily small-group excursions.

Sailing between Juneau and Ketchikan, and reverse, the week-long "un-cruise adventures" depart on June 8, July 13 and August 10. A regional expert sails aboard each cruise to share knowledge of the area’s ecology, history and culture.

With the expedition vessel’s capacity reduced from 60 to 36 guests, adventure activities get kicked up into high gear. The line recommends that guests choosing this departure regularly engage in physical activity equal to a 25-mile bike ride or 5-mile run/hike. Areas explored include Misty Fjords National Monument, Revillagigedo Island, Behm Canal, Thomas Bay, Baird Glacier, Frederick Sound, Stephen’s Passage, Windham Bay, Fords Terror Wilderness and Tracy Arm.

Excursions are included and led by expedition guides. Guests can choose to be as active as they wish each day with activities such as kayaking, hiking, paddle-boarding and snorkelling. Skiff excursions will explore the shoreline and seek out wildlife. Whale-watching and up-close encounters with wildlife are also highlights of each trip.

On Alaska Unleashed adventures, guests can enjoy more extended excursions such as kayaking into the furthest reaches of Misty Fjords, hiking Cascade Creek trail to Swan Lake in Thomas Bay and the spectacular multi-sport adventure of Patterson Lake - and 11-mile round-trip trek with 6 miles of kayaking to and from the face of Patterson Glacier.

An underwater camera mounted on the ship’s bow streams video from the underwater world to flatscreen televisions in all guest rooms and the lounge. Healthy and hearty meals feature fresh ingredients, including locally caught Alaskan seafood. A 2-1 guest to crew ratio for these three departures ensures attentive service and extra guide staff.

Cruise fares start at $5,995 per person based on double occupancy. Cruise rates include transfers and all activities, except optional excursions. Port fees of $175 per person per week, spirits and gratuities are extra.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's adventure-cruise experts.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Cunard Announces 2014 World Voyages

Cunard has unveiled its grand 2014 World Voyages collection, which calls at a total of 78 destinations on six continents, with durations of 116-119 nights and fares from £10,999 to £132,799 per person. 

That means fares start at just £95 per person per day, with all meals, entertainment and travel included for a superb world voyage.

Queen Mary 2 starts her 10th anniversary season with a thrilling 119-night itinerary, focusing on Africa and the East and featuring a second chance to circle Australia, calling at eight ports en route, following the success of the ship’s 2012 circumnavigation of the continent. 

Queen Elizabeth’s 118-night Round World voyage is equally port-rich (40 destinations in 23 countries) and full of Eastern Promise, with the ship’s first-ever visit to Japan, where she will make four maiden calls, as well as five other new ports, including Shanghai, Pusan (South Korea) and Aqaba for Petra. 

And Queen Victoria's 116-night voyage will sail around South America - from Brazil to Chile via Cape Horn - and along the east coast of New Zealand before returning to the UK via the Panama Canal, with no fewer than eight maiden calls, including Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Easter Island and Moorea in French Polynesia. 

Or take advantage of "Half the world in half the time": Voyages to or from Australia and New Zealand are also available – perfect for linking up with friends or family Down Under or a Far Eastern tour. 

The programme goes on sale on September 5. 

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury cruise specialists.

Crystal's Autumn New England Style

Crystal Cruises’ autumn voyages through America and Canada’s East Coast offer dozens of new boutique adventures ashore, including a brand new, exotic Québécois itinerary with three off-the-beaten-path maiden calls. 

Beginning September 19 on Crystal Symphony – freshly redesigned during a $15million makeover – the series of autumn voyages feature five cruises from 7 to 11 nights sailing between Boston, Manhattan and Montréal. The season’s centre-piece, Crystal’s first-ever round-trip from Montréal, is a seven-night intimate exploration of European-flavoured French Canada, including a maiden call to France itself.

The 29 new Crystal Adventures ashore also offer novel ways for foodies, adventurers and culture-hounds to experience the historic region’s most iconic and less-expected areas, such as:

  • Bar Harbor: Glide over Acadia National Park’s treetops in an open-cockpit biplane.
  • Magdalen Islands (maiden call): Learn about the distinct Acadian culture and taste local specialties like porto-style fortified wine, Pied-de-Vent cheese and bagosse “island beer”.
  • Montréal: Jet boat away from the Old Port down the Lachine Rapids. 
  • Sept-Îles (maiden call): Train-ride to a marshland Innu camp for immersion into traditional First Nations life, from chanting and smoked salmon secrets to moccasin and medicine-making.
  • St John: Heli-fish in the footsteps of Prince Charles on the Miramichi River or have “Tea with Eleanor” Roosevelt at her and Franklin’s former summer residence. 
  • Boston: See what some call New England’s most well-preserved (and picturesque) Colonial town during a half-day in Marblehead and witch trial-famed Salem. 

Until August 31, all-inclusive “Book Now” fares start from £2,744 per person, including return scheduled flights, overseas transfers and onboard accommodation with all meals and soft drinks, selected alcoholic beverages, entertainment, port taxes and gratuities. 

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury cruise experts.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Side-By-Side - A River-Cruise Comparison

Guest Blog by US cruise expert Steven B Stern, author of Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation.

In conducting research for my new guide, which will be devoted exclusively to European river boats and barges, I have attempted to cruise on the entire gamut of the new and more upscale ships that the various cruise lines are racing to build.

Last summer (2011), we did back-to-back cruises on the SS Antoinette of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and on the Viking Legend of Viking River Cruises (you can also see fuller reviews in the Autumn issue of World of Cruising magazine). This summer, we cruised back-to-back on the Avalon Panorama and AMACERTO, the newest ships of these two specialist riverboat cruise lines.

Avalon Panorama (top) entered service in 2011, the first of what the company refers to as their “suite ships.” AMACERTO entered service in 2012, the latest of three identical sister ships.

Our 14-day cruise on Panorama (above, right) commenced in Budapest and traversed the Danube, Main/Danube Canal, River Main and Rhine all the way up to Amsterdam. We spent only seven days on AMACERTO covering a portion of the same itinerary.

In the final analysis, I could not say that one was superior to the other. Each had features that impressed, and others that didn’t. The non-suite accommodations were similar on both with limited storage, as is the situation on all riverboats. However, we preferred our cabin on the AMA ship because of the fact most of the cabins had both a real outdoor balcony as well as a French-style balcony whereas the Panorama only had the French balconies. The bedding on the Panorama also did not adequately adapt itself to a matrimonial bed arrangement. 

Service on both ships was outstanding with exceptional cruise directors and hotel managers. Dining was similar, but not outstanding. The speciality restaurant on AMACERTO represented a nice diversion. The excursion program on AMA was a better deal, since almost every tour was included. The amount of nightly entertainment on both ships was a pleasant surprise. 

Both were physically beautiful ships, well maintained, and more modern in décor than some of the older ships in both fleets. In the final analysis, I would have to say it is a toss-up - you can’t really go wrong with either one.

See more about Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation on this link.

Hurtigruten Opens Up Northern Lights

With demand for the Northern Lights so strong, Hurtigruten has made it easier for people around the UK to search for them this winter with more direct flights to Norway than ever before. The winter just gone saw some incredible Northern Lights sightings and this winter is expected to see similar solar activity, fuelling excitement from customers eager to catch a glimpse. Overall prices lead in at just £744pp for a five-night ‘Voyage South’.

A total of 41 direct flight departures are being offered this winter, with the introduction of 10 new dates from October to December, the first time Hurtigruten has committed to them for this period. The flight-inclusive packages are available on two itineraries, the ‘Arctic Highlights Voyage’ from Tromsø to Kirkenes and back and the ‘Classic Round Voyage’ from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. In addition, new flights from Bristol and Belfast have been added, as well as a brand new five-day ‘Taste of the Arctic’ itinerary from Tromsø to Bergen, departing on various dates between January and March.

The five-day ‘Arctic Highlights Voyage’ from Tromsø to Kirkenes and back departs on various dates from November to March with direct flights from Gatwick, Edinburgh and Manchester. An extended six-day stay is also available. Prices are from £949pp, based on two sharing and including flights and half-board on the ship.

The five-day ‘Taste of the Arctic voyage from Bergen to Tromsø, and vice-versa, has been introduced on various dates between January and March, October and December with direct flights from London. Prices start from £180pp and are based on two sharing, including flights, transfers and half-board on the ship.

The 12-day 'Classic Round Voyage' from Bergen to Kirkenes and back has fares from £1,299pp and features direct flights to Bergen from Manchester (Nov 8), Bristol (Nov 19r), Gatwick (Nov 30r) and Edinburgh (Dec 11).

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's adventure-cruise specialists.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Fred. Olsen's Winter Warmer

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has just launched a ‘Warmer Cruising’ brochure, offering a selection of tempting cruises, departing between October 2012 and March 2013. They are ideal getaways for the winter and offer some excellent savings, with prices starting from just £59 per person per night, with the opportunity to save up to £1,000 per person.

The cruises, aboard Fred. Olsen's four medium-sized ships, depart from Southampton, Dover and Portsmouth and destinations include the Caribbean, Canary Islands, Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Norway, ‘In Search of the Northern Lights,’ as well as taster mini-cruises. Two longer voyages are featured, with their sectors, as well as the new programme of Canaries fly-cruises aboard Braemar launching in January 2013. 

Examples of the savings available in the new brochure include: 

Braemar ‘Bordeaux & Rioja’ cruise, for nine nights, departing Southampton December 10 and visiting Nantes, La Pallice (for tours to La Rochelle) and Le Verdon (for tours to Bordeaux), Getxo (for tours to Bilbao), Aviles and La Coruna before returning to Southampton. Prices are now from £499 per person, saving £340 on original brochure price.

Black Watch ‘Christmas Markets’ mini-cruise to Rouen, three nights departing Southampton on December 13; starting price is now £199 per person, saving £100 on original price.

Black Watch’s ‘Caribbean Christmas’ cruise is a 25-night voyage from Southampton on December 16 that visits Madeira, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, St Maarten and the Azores, returning to Southampton. Starting price is now £2,269 per person, representing a £970 saving on the original brochure price.

All prices are per person, based on two adults sharing an inside, twin cabin and include all meals and entertainment onboard and port taxes; in the case of fly-cruises, the price also includes flights and airport taxes.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's leading cruise-agent experts.