Friday, 31 May 2013

Swan Hellenic's Norwegian Lure

Join Swan Hellenic on their June voyage to Oslo and the Fjords with a special late price from just £995 per person (Saver Fare, based on two people sharing an inside cabin).

Passengers can experience Minerva’s maiden call to Førde to explore the Black Friday Museum, dedicated to one of the fiercest air battles of World War II or visit the 90-metre-high Huldrefossen waterfall.

The 16-day cruise departs from Portsmouth and calls at Olso, Haugesund, Ulvik, Flåm, Førde, Åndalsnes, Olden and Bergen (above), as well as Aaaolborg in Denmark,  before returning to Portsmouth (UK). 

Price is based on a June 5 departure and includes relevant transfers, a tailor-made programme of shore excursions, talks by eminent Guest Speakers, meals and entertainment on board, all gratuities and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. A supplement for some shore excursions may apply. Cabin numbers may not be allocated at time of booking.

No single supplements are also available on selected cabin grades for solo travellers on this cruise.

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

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Avalon's New Adventures For 2014

Avalon Waterways has launched its 2014 European brochure with three new suite ships as well as a new dedicated Asia, Africa & the Americas brochure featuring the Amazon for the first time. An early booking offer of £600 per couple is offered on any 2014 cruise booked before September 30, with additional offers available on European cruises.

The new dedicated Asia, Africa, & the Americas brochure features cruises on the Mississippi, Mekong, Yangtze, Nile, coastal cruising around the Galapagos and the introduction of a new Amazon cruise aboard the ship Aria. A new vessel, Isabela II, will operate its existing ‘Ecuador & the Galapagos’ cruise and ‘Discover the Galapagos and Peru’ cruise.

The 12-day ‘From the Inca Empire to the Peruvian Amazon’ (from £5,499) is available with departures from February to December 2014. Highlights include 2 nights in Lima (San Francisco Monastery and Larvo Herrara Museum), 1 night at the Sacred Valley (Temple of Sacsayhuaman and ceremonial site of Kenko), 1 night at Machu Picchu, 2 nights at Cusco (Santo Domingo Monastery and the Cathedral) before the 3-night Amazon cruise aboard the Aria

Avalon’s Nile cruises include three different itineraries with departures available from January to December aboard either the 5-star MS Mayfair, one of the newest vessels on the Nile, or the MS Kasr Ibrim. The itineraries include the 9-day ‘Highlights of Egypt’ (from £3,319pp); the 12-day ‘Pyramids, Lake Nasser & Nile Highlights’ featuring a four-night Lake Nasser cruise on MS Kasr Ibrim (from £4,115 pp) and 16-day ‘Egypt, the Nile & Lake Nasser’ (from £4,585pp). All itineraries are combined with overnight stays in Cairo with guided city sightseeing.

The 16-day ‘Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong’ itinerary (from £4,029pp) provides an amazing insight into the fascinating culture, scenery and history of this area, while the Yangtze cruises include the 12-day ‘Magical China & Yangtze River’ (£3,469pp) and 16-day ‘Enchanting China & the Yangtze’ options (£4,500pp) aboard the newly launched Century Paragon or Century Legend, state-of-art ships offering deluxe staterooms measuring 300sq ft and with private balconies.

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

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Regent's New Exotic Options

Regent Seven Seas has announced changes to its autumn 2014 itineraries for Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager, with 10 new cruises that include sailings to sought-after destinations such as Tahiti and South Africa. 

It has been four years since a Regent ship called in South Africa and almost three since one of its ships visited Tahiti, hence this represents a great opportunity to visit (or re-visit) some of the most exotic p[arts of the cruise world.

The new sailings on Seven Seas Mariner include an 18-night Los Angeles to Papeete trans-Pacific cruise; a 10-night round-trip Papeete voyage; and a 17-night Papeete to Auckland sailing. This will be the first time in the company’s history that Mariner will conduct a turnaround in Tahiti.

For Seven Seas Voyager, the company has added a 30-night Dubai to Cape Town cruise where guests will enjoy breathtaking scenery, discover big game on guided safari tours and relax on luxurious beaches. This exciting itinerary includes overnight calls in Mumbai; the Maldives; the Seychelles; and Cape Town, with other calls at Mombasa, Zanzibar, Maputo, Richards Bay and Durban.

Regent has also created a number of Mediterranean sailings that have a similar itinerary as previously offered. 

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

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

New Winter Options From Ponant

Leading French cruise line and five-star expedition specialist Compagnie du Ponant has launched its new Winter 2013/14 cruise collection, including exceptional itineraries to South America, Africa and Antarctica.

The range of voyages are featured on the trio of elegant 264-passenger yachts Le Boreal, L'Austral and Le Soleal and its magnificent and intimate three-masted yacht Le Ponant (carrying just 64 passengers). From October 2013 to April 2014,their full cruise programme will feature sailings around the Caribbean and Central America, South America, Antarctica and South Georgia, Asia and Africa.

Each of the 132-cabin yachts offers spacious suites, impeccable service and excellent food and wine, while their small size allows them to reach destinations larger ships cannot, and offer its passengers the opportunity to sail in the company of experts and historians as guides and lecturers who are passionate about their subjects.

Be it a luxury expedition in the Antarctic region, island-hopping round the Caribbean or a “cruise circuit” in South America and Asia, Ponant offers passengers a real travel experience.

For more info on Compagnie du Ponant, and booking opportunities, see this link to The Cruise Line, the UK's luxury adventure-cruise specialists.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Now You Can Save With MSC

It's definitely cruise bargain time at the moment, and here's a good one from MSC Cruises, especially for fans of their onboard Yacht Club style...

MSC Cruises is offering complimentary flights to MSC Yacht Club guests, with savings of up to £460 per couple on ALL summer sailings of MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia, if booked before 18 June 2013.

From just £1,639 per person (based on double occupancy), MSC Yacht Club guests can enjoy a week’s cruise in surroundings comparable to sailing on a luxury yacht. Guests are treated to 24-hour butler service, complimentary drinks, exclusive private restaurant and dedicated pool and can also enjoy exclusive access to the Top Sail Lounge and The One Pool Area (which includes swimming pool, spa bath and solarium).  At the same time, Yacht Club guests enjoy full access to the fantastic facilities that only a large ship can offer.

MSC Splendida offers seven-night cruises from now to November calling at Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona, Valencia, Palermo, Civitavecchia (for Rome) and back to Genoa, while MSC Fantasia also offers one-week voyages, round-trip from Venice to Bari, Katakolon, Santorini, Piraeus (for Athens) and Kotor.

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

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Big Savings With Voyages of Discovery & Swan Hellenic

Here's a great offer today for those looking ahead to next year - and beyond. Save up to 10% AND receive up to £200 onboard credit with selected 2014/2015 cruises when you book with Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery by the end of the month.
Join Swan Hellenic in its diamond anniversary year and visit South America, India and the Mediterranean. Ancient history fans can join the 15-day Pyramids & Petra cruise, where passengers can experience transits of both the Corinth and the Suez Canals, before exploring the Greek/Turkish city of Nicosia (Cyprus) - the only divided city in the world. Prices start from £2,165 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin, inclusive of the early booking discount), based on an October 22, 2014, departure.

Those looking for some guaranteed winter sun can join Voyages of Discovery’s East Africa and Indian Ocean Gems cruise to discover remote white sandy beaches in Mauritius, exotic wildlife in Madagascar – the oldest island in the world – and enjoy the hustle and bustle of Zanzibar. Price starts from £2,474 per person (based on two sharing an inside cabin), based on a December 18, 2014, departure.

All prices include return flights to/from the UK (for fly cruises), all relevant overseas transfers, meals and entertainment and the Guest Speaker programme on board. Cabin numbers will not be allocated at the time of booking. Bookings must be made before May 31, 2013, to qualify for early booking offers.

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

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Great Offers From Oceania

It's bargain time at the World of Cruising Inbox today, with the latest array of special offers dropping in from Oceania Cruises. And very tempting they are, too...!
Aug & Sept: Baltic cruises with free gratuities, from £1,332pp
Free gratuities AND a $200 onboard credit per stateroom is on offer with this 10-night 'Baltic Odyssey’ cruise from Stockholm to Copenhagen on August 24 on board mid-sized luxury ship Marina. Prices now from £1,329pp (was £3,082pp, saving £1,753pp). The $200 onboard credit is also offered on the September 3 sailing in reverse from Copenhagen to Stockholm with prices from £1,319pp (saving £1,694pp).

Venice to Istanbul, now from £1,819pp, + $200 on board credit
Oceania has a saving of £2,185 off its 12-night ‘Paths of the Byzantines’ sailing from Venice on 1,250-guest Riviera. Departing on July 13, it calls into Slovenia, Croatia, the Greek Islands and mainland and Turkey. The price of £1,819 (was £4,004) includes a $200 on board credit per stateroom.

10-night Mediterranean cruise, £1,319pp, + $300 on board credit
Take the family on an educational cruise during the school summer holidays, spending three full days (2 nights) in Haifa, and an itinerary that starts in Athens and also visits Crete, Limassol, Rhodes, Kusadasi (Ephasus), arriving into Istanbul, for a final day in the city. This ‘Sacred Sanctuaries’ voyage on Riviera now costs £1,319pp (was £3,040) and includes a $300 per stateroom onboard credit. 
All prices include return flights, all meals, no supplement for speciality dining, complimentary bottled water and soft drinks.
For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line, the UK's luxury cruising specialists.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Crystal's New Explorer Combinations For Long-Distance Savings

For those for whom one luxury cruise just isn’t enough, Crystal Cruises is offering incredible new discounts of up to 25% off the best fares for combining select 2013 and 2014 voyages. 

The new Explorer Combinations promotion boasts savings of up to £2,546 per person for travellers who combine two to three of the Crystal Serenity Mediterranean cruises back-to-back. Itineraries feature calls in Dubrovnik, Sicily, Montenegro, Malta, Mykonos, St-Tropez and more, with overnight stays in Venice, Monte Carlo, Lisbon, Istanbul, Barcelona and Sorrento.

Philip Ordever, Vice-President of International Sales and Marketing, explained: “Extending your holiday with an Explorer Combination allows you to see more of Europe, in an extremely convenient and luxurious way. All-inclusive fares start from just £132 per person per day, which is incredible value for a six-star holiday visiting so many of Europe’s best-known and charming destinations.”

These Explorer Combination options include:

In 2013
October 17 and 26: Istanbul to Rome (16 nights) from £3,313 per person fly/cruise
October 26 and November 2: Venice to Lisbon (20 nights) from £3,806 per person fly/cruise
All three: Istanbul to Lisbon (29 nights) from £5,110 per person fly/cruise

In 2014
May and June 8: Barcelona to Venice (16 nights) from £3,359 per person fly/cruise
June 8 and 15: Rome to Istanbul (14 nights) from £3,283 per person fly/cruise
All three: Barcelona to Istanbul (23 nights) from £3,755 per person fly/cruise

All fares are per person and must be booked by June 28. Individual cruises and Crystal Getaways offer luxury holidays starting from just five nights in length in the Mediterranean, as well as the Baltic, North Cape, Western Europe, British Isles and Black Sea. Crystal also offers 5% savings for all other back-to-back cruises.

Crystal’s award-winning “World’s Best” ocean resort experience always includes a host of complimentary amenities, from enlightening enrichment speakers and fitness classes to pampering pillow menus and speciality restaurant dining featuring the cuisine of Nobu Matsuhisa and all-inclusive beverages and gratuities.

For bookings, see this link with The Cruise Line, the UK's luxury cruise-agent specialists.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Silversea's Gourmet Cruise To Italy

Luxury cruise line Silversea has announced a tempting Italian “Gourmet Cruise” programme to Italy this October, with a 9-day Venice-to-Rome showcasing a collection of high-quality culinary offerings, including world renowned Italian experts and courses revealing the secrets of their cuisine. 

The voyage on Silver Spirit (above) sails from La Serenissima on October 24 and the highlights include: 
Chef Emanuele Scarello
Emanuele is a double Michelin star chef and world traveller and recognises his mother as his most significant influence in his cooking. Relying heavily on fresh ingredients from both land and sea, he reinterprets regional dishes with style and sensitivity in his Agli Amici restaurant in Udine, which his family have owned since 1887. As a chef he is part of both the "Jeunes Restaurateurs d'Europe" association, of which he was the Italian president from 2009-12, and of “Le Soste”, the prestigious association which unites Italy’s best chefs. Emanuele will prepare a two-course gala dinner on board and lead two cookery courses.
L’Università del Caffè
L’Università will offer courses and samplings aimed at discovering the scents and aromas of coffee on board. Guests will acquire a certain degree of experience that is necessary to become a real coffee connoisseur. Established in 2000, The University was set up by Illy to promote the culture of coffee worldwide, engaging producers, professionals and appreciators alike.  

Grappa Nonino
Grappa Nonino will reveal the secrets of the Art of Handmade distillation and the correct manner in which to appreciate the Nonino Monovitigno Grappa. The Nonino family has been dedicated to the art of Grappa distillation since 1897. After revolutionising the production process by creating the single vine variety, obtained by separately distilling the Picolit vinasse, Monovitigno Nonino was created. The company has since continued its research, innovation, and quality and, in 2000, they created Gioiello, the Acquavite obtained by the handmade distillation of pure honey. 
Prosciuttificio DOK Dall'Ava
Carlo Dall'Ava will lead a guided tour to the “prosciutto learning center DOK” and, along with his staff, will explain the correct complements necessary to fully emphasise the taste of Italian prosciutto. Starting in San Daniele del Friuli in 1955, Natalino Dall’Ava began producing hams and prosciutto and, in 1981, took over the oldest prosciuttifico producing facility on the hill of San Daniele. Since 2007, the company, headed by Natalino’s son, Carlo, has a new headquarters and continues to educate the consumer to the correct use of prosciutto by utilising simple combinations of ingredients which emphasise the taste.
Cividin Viaggi
Il Piacere, Wine Food and Art in Italy, the new taste portal designed by Cividin Viaggi, is an innovative project for Italy dedicated to the foreign market, with particular attention to luxury wine and food products. On the website, various travel itineraries will be suggested, each dedicated to a different area and to the discovery of the region from a cultural and gastronomic point of view. The first region to be covered, which is already operational, is Friuli Venezia Giulia. Among other things, a series of travel packages will be presented that will include a pre and post Gourmet cruise itinerary, covering various places of interest in Italy with a gastronomic and enological focus. 
The full voyage calls at Koper, Split, Dubrovnik, Valletta, Messina, Sorrento and Civitavecchia (for Rome).

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

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Final Day of Fred Olsen Cruise to Norway - And Back

Our man Steve Newman concludes his classic ex-UK cruise to Norway and back with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines...

Welcome to an overcast and quite windy Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands. These islanders regard themselves as closer to Norway than to Scotland as being descended from the early Viking settlers. 

The island’s flag is similar to that of Norway but with a yellow edge to the cross rather than a white one. The local authorities have put on free shuttle buses from the port to the town for us to explore.

Others have been to Scara Brae and the prehistoric village with its Neolithic stone circles whilst some have been to the whisky distillery! Kirkwall is a lovely little town with a fascinating cathedral and old buildings. The pubs are very good too and it was a delight to be back in once again. 

Tomorrow we will be back home in Liverpool, so I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts 'live' from the voyage - and you can also read the full story in the autumn edition of World of Cruising magazine. 

For bookings, follow this link to the Cruise Line, the UK’s cruise-agent specialists.

Dancing With Whales In Norway This Summer

Anyone who has always wanted to see whales in their natural habitat can now do so as part of a voyage on the Norwegian Fjords with Hurtigruten. A brand new land excursion is being introduced between June and August that allows guests to enjoy this special experience whilst taking one of its classic voyages along the coast of Norway - the first time this has ever been possible.  

The excursion is available on day five of the Voyage North and travels to the whale spotting area outside Andenes in Nordland County. Guests will disembark early in the morning at Risoyhamn and head to Andenes by coach to join the sturdy whale-watching vessel MS Reine. The ship will then travel out to the edge of the continental shelf, where Sperm whales feed on the nutrients such as octopus welling up from the abyss.

Andenes is one of the few places in the world, let alone Norway, where the continental shelf is so close to the mainland. Using hydrophones, the ship’s crew can locate the whales underwater and, in 90% of sailings, it is hoped to catch a glimpse of these giants of the deep.

After a few hours at sea, it’s back to land and onward towards Finnsnes to rejoin the ship, just before lunch. En route, there is a ferry journey across Andsfjord to enjoy a different perspective of the northern coastal scenery and see how these communities are connected by the ocean. The entire trip is approximately 7 hours and costs £205pp.

Classic Voyage North – from £1143pp 
(June 1 to July 31) A seven-day Classic Voyage North from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes by the Russian border costs from £1,143pp and includes half-board on the ship in an unspecified inside cabin (outside cabins from £1,386pp). Flights are extra.

For bookings, be sure to look up this link with our sponsors The Cruise Line, the UK's leading adventure cruise specialists.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Day 7 with Fred Olsen to Norway

Our man Steve Newman continues his classic Norwegian cruise journey with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines...

Well, the clear blue skies of the last two days are no longer with us. Showery today, but it didn’t detract at all from another marvellous day. Docking at Stavanger we had breakfast followed by a short walk to board the fast boat that was to take us on a tour of the archipelago around Stavanger and the beautiful Lysefjord.

The fjord has a cliff wall  rising some 300ft out of the waters, which we followed for  two miles, pausing directly under a fascinating waterfall that soaked us even more than the rain had managed to do  so far. Wild goats came down to look at us and we stopped at a cabin to consume hot coffee plus waffles, cream and strawberry jam.
After lunch on the ship, we explored old Stavanger with its white boarded houses, fantastic gardens and cobbled streets. Extremely quaint and dating from the 17th-19th centuries, they are still lived in today and made for a fascinating tour before we returned to the ship to sail at 4.30pm for Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands. Oh, and the sun is back!

More tomorrow...
For bookings, follow this link to the Cruise Line, the UK’s cruise-agent specialists.

A Right Royal Look at Queen Mary 2

Top cruise blogger Danielle Fear, aka Cruise Miss, offers her views of her tour around the Cunard flagship.

First impressions of Queen Mary 2 are numbing. I had been eager to visit this ship for quite a long time so to finally be on board in Greenock was a little surreal.

We embarked on Deck 3 and were instantly drawn to the Casino. It reminded me of something you would find in a ‘Wild West’ movie, it had that kind of feel about it but with more class. From here, we made our way towards the Britannia Restaurant, which is where we would meet for lunch later in the day. More importantly, right outside was the elevator cluster and our gateway to the rest of the ship! 
I always prefer to start at the top and work my way down and we arrived mid-ships to a vast open space that was host to several tables and chairs for the small beverage section on the port side and then a fair few sun loungers for catching rays on the starboard side. It was a huge space, one I expect would be very lively on a hot summer’s day. 
From here we made our way down her starboard side and came across the sign, ‘Danger These Animals May Bite’. We had reached the doggy deck! Sadly, the kennels were off limits but we wandered along until we reached the end and were ultimately greeted by a stunning view - this is what I had been waiting to see.

The aft section of Queen Mary 2 (left) is nothing short of breathtaking and I could envision myself spending many perfect sea days here, with tier after tier of inviting sun loungers, hot tubs and pools. Pictures certainly do not do it justice. We had a quick peek in the Princess Grill then made our way through The King’s Court buffet style dining option and side-stepped into the Chef’s Galley, which is home to a small burger café.

We next entered the Winter Garden, which would certainly be my favourite inside space in which to sit and relax. It was bright, full of character and the waterfall that covered one entire wall set the tone perfectly. Our look around the Canyon Ranch Spa was quite brief as there were quite a few people using the various facilities. However, what we did see was impressive and the gym seemed to go on forever!

As we made our way to our next stop, the Planetarium, we were met by the famous ‘Stars On Board’ wall of fame. I didn’t have time to read every one but it was heart-warming to see all the familiar faces that have graced a Cunard ship over the years. including Walt Disney, Ella Fitzgerald and the Kennedys.

Once 12.25 arrived it was time to head back to the Britannia restaurant for a three-course lunch. The service was wonderful and the food delicious. After lunch it was time for a quick cabin tour before disembarkation. We had the pleasure of viewing a Queens Grill Cabin, which was very nice indeed, smaller than I expected but very well decorated. The bathroom was a good size, as was the walk-in wardrobe and kitchenette area. We also viewed a balcony cabin and an inside cabin. The same decoration ran throughout all of them, and they were a good cut above many other cabins  I have seen in my time.

Overall, Queen Mary 2 may well be the ultimate vessel. She has more space on board, both inside and out, than any other ship I have been on; her interior design is an art deco enthusiast’s paradise; and I really did feel like I had stepped back in time the moment I went aboard. She has soul and character and is entirely her own vessel, a trait I think many of today’s ships struggle to achieve, regardless of how unique their features may be.

She is dated to a specific period in time in many ways but her touches of modern life and glamour bring everything together perfectly. 
Look for more pictures on the Cruise Miss Facebook page on this link.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Day 6 to Norway with Fred Olsen

World of Cruising's arch blogger Steve Newman continues his trip with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines from Liverpool to Norway and back...

You can’t come to Norway without seeing the fjords and this cruise takes in some of the finest. Today, we sailed up the Hardangerfjord with waterfalls tumbling some 1,000ft down until we came to the small settlement of Eidfjord, the gateway to Norway’s largest National Park. 

After disembarking, we took a ferry/pleasure-boat back up the fjord to explore one of the deep side inlets to reach Ulvik, 'The Pearl of Hardanger.'

Famous for its fruit-blossoms in May, the temperature in the village was in the 20s celsius and the clear blue sky set the off the snow-capped mountains perfectly. For a taste of Norway we went to the village’s famous cider factory where we were abe to sample raw cider, apple juice, Apple Brandy and sweet and dry ciders with our meal.

We returned to the ship by a small ferry - an experience in itself as a flock of sheep kept us company on the short trip across! Not due to sail for a couple of hours as we neared the ship, I could swear I heard the Jacuzzis on the outside deck bubbling!

See you tomorrow... 

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

Fred Olsen Thinking 'Espionage'!

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is offering a winter sunshine cruise with a difference this December, perfect for those who have always wanted to find out what the ‘real’ James Bond is like!  

Black Watch’s 10-night ‘Africa & Algarve’ cruise, departing from Southampton on December 10, will offer an intriguing theme of ‘Espionage’, through the line’s award-winning onboard enrichment programme, Vistas. This fascinating topic will be hosted on board by Cold War specialist, Major General Peter Williams, as the cruise visits the attractive coasts of Portugal, Spain and Morocco, where it visits Tangier, with its legendary reputation for international spying.

After studying History at Cambridge University, Major General Williams spent more than 30 years in the British Army (Coldstream Guards) and enjoyed an unusually varied career. As an Infantryman, he carried out ceremonial duties in London, spent two years in the mountains of Oman, served twice in Northern Ireland and commanded an armoured infantry battalion based in Münster, Germany. In the early 1990s, he wrote speeches for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, an American General. During the Cold War, he specialised in intelligence. After studying Russian and German, he spent more than four years in the 1980s in Berlin and East Germany, in effect working as a military spy.
This spy-themed cruise visits some very attractive ports in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. First is Portugal’s elegant capital, Lisbon. Its many palaces, gardens, churches and cafés offer a mix of attractive architectural styles; the Ponte 25 Abril is very similar in design to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The next port, Portimăo in the Algarve, is a relaxed seaside town at the centre of the local sardine industry, so there is no shortage of fine seafood restaurants and cafés to enjoy, alongside the pretty harbour.

Next stop is Gibraltar, ever-popular with visitors from the UK, who enjoy its British ambiance, but with much better weather than we enjoy at home! The next port, Ceuta, is an autonomous Spanish enclave in North Africa; here, Monte Hacho offers panoramic views of the city and its coast, with views across to Gibraltar. It is a unique blend of African and European influences.

Tangier, in Morocco, is the next port, and is ideally-suited to a cruise with an ‘Espionage’ theme. It is said to have a legendary spying history, and has often been used as the location for spy fiction and films – including two James Bond films, and, most recently, ‘Inception’ in 2010, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio.
The last call on this sunny winter cruise is the Spanish port of La Coruna, with its array of architectural styles, from the medieval to the modernist. The Torre de Hercules, believed to be the world’s oldest lighthouse, towers over the shoreline. There is also a scenic old quarter that is well worth a visit, with fine galleries and museums. Black Watch then returns to Southampton.

Prices for this most unusual cruise start from £899 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside, twin cabin Grade ‘I. This price includes all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes, as well as all Major General Williams' Vistas talks and lectures.
For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's cruise-agent specialists.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Day 5 of Off to Norway with Fred Olsen

Our man Steve Newman continues his voyage from Liverpool to Norway with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines with a 2nd day ashore...

Bergen is one of the most fascinating and compact cities I have been to. A short walk from the ship brings you to the funicular railway that takes you up Mount Flojen, with amazing panoramic views of the city and the mountains that surround it.

The jewel in the crown, though, is the ancient row of Hanseatic League warehouses with their brightly coloured frontages. Behind them, spreading eastwards bounded by the Ovregaten, is the Bryggen district full of tiny boarded houses and ancient alleyways, antique bric-a-brac shops, artists galleries, jewellery makers and a host of small bars overflowing on to the pavements.
After you’ve explored this area, walk down to the harbour and sample some of the great seafood from the stalls clustered around. It's what the locals do, so it must be a good idea!

It was 20C today so, when we got back to the ship, we found the jacuzzis and pool in full use. It seemed rude not to join in.

See you tomorrow...

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

Churchill's Grand-Daughter Highlights New Tauck Talks!

Guests on several Tauck itineraries visiting London this year and in 2014 will learn about Sir Winston Churchill, regarded by many as the most influential figure in British history, from a source intimately familiar with his life – his granddaughter Celia Sandys. An internationally acclaimed author and speaker, Sandys is a noted biographer who has published five books and hosted television specials chronicling Churchill’s life. 

Tauck CEO Dan Mahar explained: "Sir Winston is one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century. Not only did he lead England through its ‘darkest hour’ as prime minister, but he was also a Nobel Prize-winning author, an escaped war prisoner, a House of Commons member for 60 years, and a landscape painter of considerable talent."

The daughter of Churchill’s eldest child, Diana, and Cabinet Minister Duncan Sandys, Celia spent considerable time as a teenager with her grandfather in England and during extensive travels abroad. Her most recent book, “We Shall Not Fail – The Inspiring Leadership of Winston Churchill,” describes the leadership principles that enabled her grandfather to lead England to victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

And, through an exclusive agreement with Tauck, Sandys will speak to guests travelling this September on a special single-departure Tauck itinerary, the new six-day “London Event.”  Sandys will also be featured on three different itineraries next year; the May 2014 version of the Tauck London Event, “A Week in London & Paris,” and a new 14-day river-cruise itinerary, “Cruising the Seine plus Versailles, Paris and London.” The Seine itinerary includes a two-night stay in Paris, a nine-night cruise along the Seine, and a two-night stay in London at The Savoy, where guests will attend the Churchill presentation by Sandys. 

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

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Day Four to Norway with Fred Olsen

Steve Newman continues his impressive voyage from Liverpool to Norway with Fred Olsen Cruises...

Well that has to be one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. The day of our visit here in Bergen was National Day in Norway and 90 per cent of the women dressed up in fabulous traditional dresses. 

The parade went on for two hours, with masses of red Norwegian flags and people wearing their national costume with immense pride.

We also took in the famous fish market and the harbour but, as we had decided to take the excursion tomorrow around the city, we went back to the ship for lunch. 

We watched the fireworks in the evening from the Sun Deck and they were superb, as was our meal. Once again, the quality of the meal, and the wines to go with it, were spot on. Definitely a recurring theme!

More tomorrow...
For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line, the UK's cruise-agent specialists.
See you tomorrow!!

Welcome, Viking Ocean Cruises

The world's luxury cruise lines will have a new competitor in 2015 after Viking River Cruises revealed full details of its new Ocean Cruises brand, with its first all-new vessel, Viking Star (above), set to debut in two years' time.

The first ship in the Viking Ocean Cruises fleet, carrying 928 passengers, will launch in May 2015 with itineraries to Scandinavia, the Baltic and Mediterranean. It is aimed to compete (in size and style) with the likes of Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and Crystal.

Viking already has a firm order for a second ship (for 2016) and options for four more, all to be built by Fincantieri in Italy.

The onboard value will INCLUDE shore excursions, drinks (beer and wine) with lunch and dinner and free Wi-Fi, along with port charges and taxes. The line also plans to maximise guests' time in port, using late evening departures and overnight stays, making for a destination-intensive experience.

Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen explained: “It is our view that, in the race to build bigger ships, many cruise lines have lost sight of the destinations to which they sail. With our new ocean cruises, we are applying the same principles behind our award-winning river cruises to our itinerary and ship design; privileged-access excursions; and on board experiences to make destinations the true focus.”

The all-balcony Viking Star will have five cabin categories, ranging from standard 270sq ft varieties to a sumptuous 1,448sq ft suite. There will be two pools, one with a retractable dome, the other a glass-backed infinity pool at the ship's stern. There will also be a completely novel feature called a "snow grotto" in the Spa, where Vikings says "snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air."

For dining, there will be five main venues, the main dining room simply called The Restaurant, an Italian Grill, a Viking Deli (offering the line's Scandinavian specialities), a World Cafe and an intimate restaurant called The Kitchen Table, plus a cooking school and
a special Chef's Table.

However, the 2015 maiden season is initially being offered only in the US, but Viking will begin marketing in the UK, Australia and New Zealand later this year. 

Wendy Atkin-Smith, Managing Director of Viking River Cruises UK, added: "We are very excited about the introduction of Viking’s new ocean ship, allowing us to offer our customers the chance to experience even more destinations in style and comfort. We look forward to launching to the UK market later in the summer and, until then, we continue to focus on our ever popular river product and the overwhelming demand for the new Longships."

Friday, 17 May 2013

Day 3 with Fred Olsen to Norway

Steve Newman continues his voyage from Liverpool to Norway (and back) with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines...

Yesterday, we were invited to the “Traditional English White Glove Afternoon Tea” held in the Observatory Lounge.  Scones, cream, jam, pastries, mini chocolate éclairs, sandwiches and tartlets, plus chilled champagne with a choice of four teas. The whole affair was rounded off by the waiters in their impeccably smart outfits.

This morning we came in to Bergen. There can’t be many cities with such a beautiful approach by sea, with all the islands and coloured houses in the woodlands lining each side of the fiord. There were also two White-Tailed Eagles soaring over the  cliffs, which made the birders aboard very happy!

Today is Norway’s National Day, so we are looking forward to the parades and banners in the city. Tell you all about it tomorrow!

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line. The UK’s cruising specialists.

Celebrity + Xbox = Fun@Sea!

Celebrity Cruises has joined forces with Microsoft’s Xbox to integrate the leading video game entertainment into their 'modern luxury' cruise style. Introducing one of the industry’s largest Xbox experiences at sea, Celebrity's alliance boasts entertaining themed spaces across its fleet, offering families interactive Games experiences for children, teens and the kid in every adult.

Beginning this summer, guests can enjoy enhancements to existing venues and onboard programming, with the inclusion of Xbox-featured activities, facilities and gaming areas in the youth programme’s Fun Factory, offering exciting age-appropriate games and themed nights ranging from sports and dance to adventure and racing on Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360.

Adults also have the opportunity to connect and enjoy the Xbox experience through free play and at scheduled themed events, including Zumba® parties and sports tournaments, available on Kinect for Xbox 360 consoles in different venues throughout the ships.

The newly refurbished Celebrity Constellation was the first of Celebrity's 10 ships to introduce the onboard Xbox experience when it re-entered service on May 5, after completing its scheduled dry-dock. The remaining ships will offer Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360 this summer, and will unfold the full Xbox experience by the end of the year.

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

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Mediterranean Marvels From MSC

Soak up the sun or sail through history – from just £599pp

MSC Cruises are highlighting another one of their Mediterranean summer series this week, with a great chance to sample both sun and history. Here are the details: 

From May to November, MSC Sinfonia will be setting off from Genoa on a series of 7-night cruises around the western Mediterranean, calling in St Tropez in France, Palma de Mallorca and Menorca in Spain, and Olbia and Salerno on Italy’s beautiful Emerald and Amalfi coasts. 

After glorious sandy beaches, endless cafes, bars and shops, and celeb spotting in yacht-filled marinas in St Tropez on the spectacular Cote D’Azur, next stop is the charming Palma de Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, where travellers can bask on beautiful beaches as well as enjoying the party island’s mythical day-to-night transformation during an overnight stay and full day in port. 

A visit to the island of Menorca, dotted with picturesque villages and an array of historical and cultural sights, would not be complete without a trip to one of the island’s more than 50 stunning beaches and the crystal clear waters which make it easy to adapt to the rhythm of Mediterranean life. From Spain to Italy’s unspoilt Emerald Coast, one of the most beautiful stretches of the Mediterranean coastline with its breath-taking mountainous, rocky landscapes and white sandy beaches with turquoise waters. 

Last stop Salerno in the Campania region is renowned for its vibrant and bustling Centro Storico and its lovely medieval churches, as well as its proximity to the famously picturesque Amalfi Coast, popular not only for its stunning scenery and beaches but also for its fantastic cuisine, where delicious fish and pasta dishes taste all the better with the backdrop of a breathtaking sea view. 

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

With Fred Olsen to Norway Day 2

Continuing Steve Newman's Norway travels with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines from Liverpool...

A day at sea today saw lots of activities going on. The birders congregated at the stern and we managed to see gannets, fulmars, puffins and little auks. We’re all looking forward to the white-tailed eagles in Norway! Traditional deck games were going on throughout the day whilst some people practised their golf swing in the nets. It was so warm some people were in the Jacuzzis outside beside the pool and the deck chairs came out on the aft deck.
Internet access is very good, with a special room with eight computers and printer. There are also various Wi-Fi hot spots around the ship if you need to download attachments, etc. One of these is the ship’s library with a large selection of textbooks, paperbacks, jigsaws and board games.

Once again the food was superb and we tried breakfast in a different restaurant. A great buffet saw us sitting and chatting to new friends until it closed at 10am. We followed this by a walk around the promenade deck (five circuits is a mile - something our expanding waistlines suggested!).

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