Top Short Cruise Holidays for 2017
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Short break cruises, sometimes known as a “mini-cruise” or a “sampler” are one of the best options for those with time constraints. A short break cruise provides a welcome break without too much expense. One of the key factors people look at when booking a cruise is the price.

Two, three or even five night holidays are much easier on the wallet! 

A mini cruise will give you the chance to depart directly from the UK, making the holiday a comfortable convenience of leaving close to home rather than the hassle of having to get to the airport. Instead, begin enjoying your holiday the minute you step onto the ship and chill out for that much needed break.

Other advantages of a mini-cruise include:

  • Ideal for first timers
  • Destination discovery
  • Try new cuisines with a number of dining venues
  • Attractive pricing that you can upgrade without breaking the bank.

The following ships are the top picks for 2017 and offer a range from the casual to the elegant. Many of the same cruise lines offer short cruises on their other ships too.

Boudicca

Fred. Olsen Boudicca

Image courtesy Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ contains a vast amount of British elements. This is apparent with their ship, Boudicca. Boudicca is a compact ship, holding slightly more than 800 passengers but it more than makes up for that in size by being purely classical. Eat at simple yet charming locations like the Four Seasons Restaurant and the casual Tintagel Restaurant for some traditional dining.

You can also try the Secret Garden café for an authentic atmosphere that will have you believing you are in a Zen garden. The café serves a mixture of Indonesian, Thai and Indian cuisines in a buffet style. The aim of Fred. Olsen is not to be a mere cruise line but to feel more like a “home away from home”.

2017 highlights:

A five night round trip cruise from Greenock sails to Fort William, Ullapool and Invergordon, combined with scenic cruising through the Hebrides on the 26th May 2017.

On 8th Jun 2017 there is a 1 night journey sailing from Greenock (Glasgow) to Liverpool.

Magellan

Cruise and Maritime Magellan

Image courtesy Cruise & Maritime Voyages

Cruise & Maritime Voyages is perfect for travellers that want a relaxing cruise and no ship better emphasises this than the Magellan. The ship holds 1,250 passengers and has more than 15 different cabin types.

The elegance of the ship is further seen in locations ranging from the Waldorf and Kensington restaurants, which contain intriguing continental menus and an ocean view that is unforgettable. You can also relax at the many bars and cafes like the Captain’s Club, Churchill’s Lounge, Hampton’s Bar and Sinatra’s Bar. The Magellan is ideal to sample some rest and relaxation while watching the world go by.

2017 highlights:

22nd Jul 2017 and 23rd Sep 2017, departing from Newcastle for an overnight trip, the cruise is focused on wine tasting.

Departing from London Tilbury on 1st Oct 2017 takes passengers on a weekend jaunt to Amsterdam.

13th Dec 2017 will appeal to Christmas holiday shoppers with a 2 night expedition departing from London Tilbury to Antwerp.

Queen Victoria

Cunard Queen Victoria

Image courtesy Cunard Line

Cunard’s Queen Victoria acts as a time machine in a way as it attempts to bring back the golden age with a modern day perspective. The glamour and glitz begins as soon as you step into the ship’s enormous lobby and are whisked away to see all of the amenities that the Queen Victoria has to offer. Spend some time in the Cafe Carinthia and Chart Room, the first and most principal of the common areas.

The entire ship is decorated in an aesthetically pleasing Art Deco design and this is evident in areas such as the Queens Room, the Royal Court Theatre and the Britannia Restaurant amongst others. This is a cruise for someone who wants a more elegant experience at an affordable price and this is easily achieved with a short break cruise aboard a ‘Queen’.

2017 highlights:

4th Jun 2017 presents a 4 night round trip from Southampton to Amsterdam and Bruges.  Passengers have a choice of excursions to Bruges, Ghent, Ypres or Paris if they wish. A five night journey takes place on 13th Nov 2017 and adds on another port at Cherbourg, along with the not to be missed Big Band Ball.

Norwegian Jade

Norwegian Jade

Image courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Although the Norwegian Jade may be somewhat smaller than its sister ships, it still contains enough pizzazz and styling to make the ship a fun experience. Recently refurbished at a cost of £280 million, the Norwegian Jade has a more modern appeal in an Art Deco style. With all of the trimmings and the colour scheme, the ship feels more welcoming than before.

An update of the accommodations has created more expansive living quarters. A new addition to the Jade is the addition of the Cavern Club, as seen on the Norwegian Epic. Of course, specialty dining is one of the main draws of the ship with classic dining experiences such as at La Cucina; Cagney’s Steakhouse; the Brazilian Moderno Churrascaria; Teppanyaki and Le Bistro.

2017 highlights:

Several two night cruises from Southampton to Hamburg are taking place with dates being 2nd June 2017 and 20th June 2017 stopping in Hamburg, Germany.

Ventura

P&O Cruises Ventura

Image courtesy P&O Cruises

The P&O Cruises’s ship Ventura is yet another crown jewel in their extraordinary fleet line up. The ship, which holds more than 3000 passengers, is well known for its extensive entertainment options that will ensure that you will never get bored.

Some of the options include tributes to famous performers at the Tamarind Club, the Latin beats of Havana or even an authentic British experience in The Exchange pub. The ship is also well known for its large selection of restaurants. The Epicurean may be the most elegant restaurant on any cruise ship whereas those looking for a more exotic experience would do well to try the Indian cuisine at Sindhu.

2017 highlights:

On 26th April 2017 departing from Southampton for a four night round trip with port of calls at Amsterdam and Bruges.

The 31st May 2017 and 10 Nov 2017 offer four night round trips out of Southampton with one call at Bruges.

A four night cruise from Southampton on the 11th Aug 2017 with stops at St Peter Port, Guernsey and Bruges before heading back to Southampton.

On 15th Sep.2017, take advantage of a two nighter to St Peter Port, Guernsey on a round trip from Southampton.

29 Sep 2017, 27 Oct 2017 and 24 Nov 2017 are the dates to depart from Southampton for a quick two night journey to Bruges and back again.

For the first timer, a short break cruise holiday is the best option to obtain the overall cruise experience and satisfy the curiosity of what cruising is all about. For the seasoned cruiser, it is a perfect way to collect those cruise points for frequent guests and leave the stress behind until your next cruise holiday experience.

For more information on any of these cruises click here

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Harmony of the Seas and it’s Magnificent Suites!
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The magnificent Harmony of the Seas belongs to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class of ships and is the largest cruise ship at sea. As you would imagine with a ship of this size there is a huge range of accommodation options.

The suites offer more space and luxury and some come with a private verandah and personalised services.

They also offer an alternative for groups and families with the Royal Suite able to accommodate up to eight people.

In this post we have concentrated on Harmony’s range of suites and added images of the categories below.

One Bedroom AquaTheater Suite with Balcony

These one bedroom suites come complete with a private bathroom and tub and have two twin beds that can be converted into a Royal King.

One Bedroom AquaTheater Suite with Balcony on Harmony of the Seas

Royal Loft Balcony Suite

The Royal Loft Balcony Suite has two floors and a Jacuzzi situated on the balcony as well as two dining areas and two bedrooms.

Royal Loft Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Four Bedroom Family Balcony Suite

As the name suggests this Family Balcony Suite comes complete with four bedrooms and bathrooms, a balcony and living area.

Four Bedroom Family Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Sky Loft Balcony Suite

The two floor Sky Loft Balcony Suite is perfect for large groups with dining areas located both inside and outside.

Sky Loft Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Two Bedroom AquaTheater Suite with Balcony (Large)

The Two Bedroom AquaTheatre Suite with Balcony overlooks the magnificent amphitheater and comes with two bedrooms and bathrooms and a huge balcony.

Two Bedroom AquaTheater Suite with Balcony (Large)on Harmony of the Seas

Two Bedroom AquaTheater Suite with Balcony

This Two Bedroom AquaTheater Suite with Balcony also has two bedrooms and bathrooms and overlooks the entertainment theatre.

Two Bedroom AquaTheater Suite with Balcony on Harmony of the Seas

Accessible Crown Loft Balcony Suite

These Accessible Crown Loft Balcony Suites are on two levels with private balconies and a lift to move easily between floors.

Accessible Crown Loft Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Crown Loft Balcony Suite

The Crown Loft Suites come with a modern decor and are again over two floors with private balconies and guest bathrooms.

Crown Loft Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Owner’s Balcony Suite

With seperate living areas the Owners Balcony Suites also have private balconies and a bar.

Owner's Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Royal Family Balcony Suite

With two bedrooms and bathrooms the Royal Family Balcony Suite also has a living area with a sofa bed.

Royal Family Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Grand Balcony Suite

The Grand Balcony Suites include a private balcony, a comfortable bedroom and a living area.

Grand Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Accessible Junior Balcony Suite

With a spacious bedroom and a sitting area these Accessible Junior Balcony Suites also have a private balcony.

Accessible Junior Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

Junior Balcony Suite

The Junior Balcony Suite has a private balcony, a sitting area and a comfortable bedroom.

Junior Balcony Suite on Harmony of the Seas

All images courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Have you enjoyed a holiday in one of these Suites? Let us know below!

5 New Ships to Consider in 2017
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With the new year now upon us, cruise industry experts predict that competition will be fierce amongst the cruise lines with new innovations onboard and new ports of calls to explore.

Take a look below at some of the upcoming new ships and sailings for this year.

Majestic Princess (Princess Cruises)  

Passengers: 3,560 | Maiden voyage: April 2017
Princess Cruises Majestic Princess

Image courtesy of Princess Cruises

Scheduled for its maiden voyage in April in the Mediterranean, The Majestic Princess is the third ship in their Royal series.

Princess Cruise’s president, Jan Swartz stated, “We’re especially excited to debut Majestic Princess in the Mediterranean before she officially sails to Asia for her maiden China cruise season.”

The inaugural European sailing of the Majestic Princess sets sail for a four night itinerary out of Civitavecchia (Rome) on April 4, 2017. The Maiden Adriatic Sea roundtrip voyage offers port of calls in Kotor and Corfu before returning to Rome. Afterwards, the ship will embark on various cruises ranging from 14 to 28 days duration in the Med, the Baltic’s and the British Isles.

An extended atrium creates some exciting features with added entertainment and casual dining options. There will also be nearly 12,000 sq. ft. dedicated to shopping with many shops featuring higher end merchandise.

There will be many connecting rooms that will be ideal for families and larger Owner’s Suites. All outside staterooms will offer balconies.

The ship will have many of the popular Princess features including the SeaWalk (glass-bottom walkway with views 128 feet into the ocean). Also, favourites such as the Watercolor Fantasy show and Movies under the Stars will be featured.

National Geographic Quest (Lindblad Expeditions)

Passengers: 100 | Maiden voyage: June 2017

National Geographic Quest ship from Lindblad Expeditions

Image courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions

The National Geographic Quest has a planned itinerary to visit areas as diverse as the Inside Passage of Alaska to Costa Rica. The Quest is the first ship in the National Geographic fleet to have balconies in almost half of its 50 cabins and there are 6 additional connecting cabins for families.

June 26th marks the inaugural sailing of a 12-night “Treasures of the Inside Passage: Alaska & British Columbia” itinerary. After the Alaskan cruise season, Quest will embark on voyages between Vancouver and Seattle. Near the end of the year, the ship is scheduled to reposition to Costa Rica and Panama.

The Quest will hold 100 guests and will be different to other cruise ships, with its shallow draft depth which will allow it to navigate areas that others cannot reach.

The ship also contains a spacious dining room as well as a cocktail lounge, a bar, a fitness centre with numerous exercise equipment and the Global Market; a special shopping area where passengers can buy items made by local residents from the areas the ship visits.

Norwegian Joy (Norwegian Cruise Line)

Passengers: 4,200 | Maiden voyage: May 2017
The Norwegian Joy from Norwegian Cruise Lines

Image courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

The ship will be the sister ship to Norwegian Escape and the second vessel in the Breakaway Plus class but will be geared towards the Chinese market sailing out of Shanghai and Beijing.

The ship has another name besides Joy. The other is in Chinese its 悦号 (Xǐ Yuè Hào) and translates to ‘Joy’. The concept will remain with Norwegian’s signature “Freestyle Cruising” that offers guests the freedom and flexibility to dine on their own time schedule. The line has commissioned renowned Chinese artist Tan Ping to design the artwork to be featured on the hull.

According to Harry Sommer, NCL’s Executive Vice President of International Business Development, “Not only will Norwegian Joy be a ship unlike any other in the market today, but the freedom and flexibility that guests will experience on board will also be unrivaled in Chinese cruising”.

Norwegian promises new innovations and spaces onboard once the Norwegian Joy takes to the sea. Highlights include state of the art Virtual Reality gaming at The Galaxy Pavilion which includes three interactive dark ride simulators plunging willing guests in multi-sensory special effects.

A first at sea will be the outdoor hovercraft bumper cars and racetrack. There is also an open-space park, three full-service casinos as well as some fun in the sun with two multi-story waterslides.

Silver Muse (Silversea Cruises)

Passengers: 596 | Maiden voyage: April 2017
The Silver Muse from Silversea Cruises

Image courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Not to be outdone in the high-end marketplace and a true representative of elegant cruising, Silversea Cruises has decided to make their newest ship their largest. The line pioneered all-inclusive cruising in 1994 and the Silver Muse represents an evolution taking place with the product.

The all-suite Silver Muse is due to set sail out of Monte Carlo on April 10th for 8 nights. She will head towards Southampton at the end of August before crossing the Atlantic for the autumn season.

Get ready for October 2017 when she embarks on a 66-day circumnavigation of the Americas, departing from Ft. Lauderdale to exotic ports in the Caribbean, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru and more.

Silversea are known for their impeccable service and the Silver Muse will not disappoint. Things to look forward to include a large and extensive spa, an observation lounge, an art gallery/cafe, a theatre and a pool deck.

There will be a wide variety of dining venues to choose from, such as the Atlantide which offers fresh seafood, the Indochine Asian restaurant, the French elegance of La Dame and even the opportunity to have lava stone cooking at Hot Rocks. Silversea Cruises has truly gone all out with the Silver Muse and the ship will be the crown jewel of the fleet.

Viking Sky (Viking Cruises)

Passengers: 930 | Maiden voyage: February 2017
Viking Sky from Viking Ocean Cruises

Image of the Viking Sky float out courtesy of Viking Ocean Cruises

Due to its successful formula in the continuing market place of ocean cruise liners from the predominately river cruise oriented line, the 930-passenger Viking Sky becomes the third ship for Viking and will debut in February 2017.

“We have created ocean cruises that put the destination at the centre of the experience, with smaller ships that are smarter in design,” states Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. The Viking Sky plans to have longer days in ports with several overnight stays in areas not offered by other cruise lines.

Her first cruise is scheduled for February 25th when she will begin an eight-night Mediterranean itinerary from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Barcelona. She will remain in the Med before heading over to the Baltic at the end of April.

There are five different balcony staterooms on board which consist of the Veranda, the Deluxe Veranda, the Penthouse Veranda, the Penthouse Junior Suite and the Explorer Suite.

All staterooms offer Wi-Fi access too. Other amenities include an indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace dining area, a Nordic inspired spa, a magrodome pool and numerous restaurants, including The Chef’s Table, Manfredi’s Italian Grill and an Asian Fusion restaurant.

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Are you cruising on a brand new ship in 2017? Tell us below!

Getaway to the Caribbean from Port Tampa Bay
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It’s the Caribbean cruise season once more. Many cruise lines have repositioned all or some of their fleet to the islands in the sun. Many sailings leave out of Port of Miami or Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

However, another alternative that is becoming popular is Port Tampa Bay. Tampa is positioned on the western coast of Florida, around 40 miles west of Orlando.

PORT TAMPA BAY SAILINGS

Voyages making calls in the Western Caribbean islands, Eastern Mexico, Belize and/or Honduras are the most common itineraries for cruises from Tampa.

Alternatives include cruises to the Eastern Caribbean and the Southern Caribbean calling at the exotic islands of Aruba and Curacao.

This month, Holland America announced that the MS Oosterdam will make Tampa its winter home. Enhancements of nearly £300 million for renovations have been made for 1,964 passengers and a crew of 812, which includes new lounging, dining and entertainment venues and refreshed suites. The ship will offer a variety of cruise options, from seven day, fourteen day and twenty one day itineraries to the western and southern Caribbean.

Holland America Oosterdam

Image courtesy of Holland America Cruises

Port president and CEO stated during the MS Oosterdam first sailing out of Port Tampa Bay this past week, “For nearly 35 years, we have enjoyed a stellar relationship with Holland America Line, and it is gratifying to us that our cruise partners continue to show faith and enthusiasm in the strength our market. We look forward to many more years of sailings.”

However, Holland America is not the only major cruise line that sails out of Tampa Bay. The Carnival Pride and Carnival Paradise will offer a series of five to 14 day trips from Tampa, as will Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of The Seas and Rhapsody of The Seas. The other major cruise line to offer sailings out of Port Tampa Bay is NCL’s Norwegian Jade.

There are many advantages of sailing out of Tampa and this Port of departure is also a top destination in itself.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE OR AFTER YOUR CRUISE

Make it a true holiday experience by extending your cruise with a pre or post stay in the Tampa Bay area. The biggest and best are within driving distance. A quick few days in Tampa to relax and unwind before or after your cruise holiday really will enhance your holiday.

The biggest attraction is located in nearby Orlando, which is filled to the brim with exciting theme parks that will appeal to all members of the family. The most famous, of course, being Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Having opened its doors in 1971, the complex contains four theme Parks, two water parks, thirty on-site Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, a sports complex and a shopping and entertainment centre amongst many other facilities.

Walt Disney Orlando

Nearby is Universal Studios Florida, where you can live in the movies by seeing some of their favourite films represented by exciting rides. There are two different theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with the standout attraction of the parks being the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which brings an amazingly detailed Harry Potter world to life.

If Orlando is not feasible, you can always head to Busch Gardens, the local theme park. Here, the 19th century African theme will make you feel at home while at the same time offering fun activities and adrenaline pumping rides such as the SheiKra, a 61 metre fall roller coaster with a 90 degree drop.

Dare you take the trip? Busch Gardens also has many animal habitats such as the Bird Gardens, an aviary with over 500 different species of tropical birds, a cheetah run and the Curiosity Caverns, which allows you to see nocturnal animals during the daytime.

ONLY ONE DAY TO SPARE TOURING?

Venture beyond the horizon of theme parks to other points of interest too. The city is very cosmopolitan with a number of museums. If time is limited, take the opportunity to experience some of the city’s top attractions. Port Tampa Bay offers easy access to some of Tampa’s most popular attractions with many even within walking distance.

The historic Ybor City, also known as the “Cigar Capital of the World” takes you back to a golden age. Walk amongst the peaceful 19th century style gardens and tour a typical 1800’s cigar worker’s home. The Ybor City Museum State Park contains temporary and permanent exhibits to conjure up what life was like in Ybor’s past.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has more than 2,000 animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America residing amongst 63-acres of lush habitats. This zoo is officially recognised by Florida as the top centre for wildlife conservation in the state.

Lowry Park Zoo

More entertaining education can be found in the Museum of Science & Industry. This museum contains the only IMAX Dome theatre in the state and makes learning a fun experience. The museum has many different exhibits such as the 3D Printing the Future exhibit, where you can learn how 3D Printing can lend a hand to the improvement of the world such as creating body prosthetics.

The Mission: Moonbase station is an area which speculates what the world will be like in 2070 on a possible moon base.

This extensive section is the crown jewel of the museum, offering interactive experiences of space travel.

Along Tampa’s scenic river bank walkway, sits The Tampa Museum of Art. The museum houses an extensive collection of 20th-century sculpture, paintings and Greek and Roman antiquities.

There are numerous white beaches dotting the coastlines of Florida’s Gulf Coast with warm and pristine waters.

Consider Port Tampa Bay as the departure point for a Caribbean Cruise

If seeking an escape of winter’s wrath, then choose a Caribbean cruise holiday departing from Port Tampa Bay. This modern and efficient port has more points of interest and is close to Tampa Airport. Numerous nonstop flight services from the UK makes it an easy journey.

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Just How Big is Harmony of the Seas?
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Harmony of the seas is the largest cruise ship at sea at with a gross tonnage of 226,963 and can hold over six thousand passengers plus two thousand crew!

But just how big is the Royal Caribbean ship? Watch this video and take a look at the fascinating infographic below to find out.

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Harmony of the Seas Infographic

Harmony of the Seas Infographic

Image thanks Royal Caribbean Cruises

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