A Hot Cruise Season is Promised for New Zealand

Auckland New Zealand

It’s summer in New Zealand and that means repositioning time to the Southern Hemisphere waters for many cruise lines. This season 2016/17 is unprecedented with the number of ships sailing to Auckland for its six-month season.

The first ship repositioning from the Northern Hemisphere was the Celebrity Solstice, which arrived in Auckland on 4 October. Other visitors include Royal Caribbean’s 4,180 passenger Ovation of the Seas, notably the biggest vessel ever to sail in these waters.

Not to be outdone by size, the largest Princess ship, the 3082 passenger Emerald Princess, will make her appearance in Milford Sound, located on New Zealand’s South Island, in November.

After departing from Singapore, the luxury Seabourn Encore will arrive in January at Milford Sound and cruise through several scenic points of interest within the Fiordland National Park. This is followed by several other New Zealand ports on its way to Wellington.

Milford Sound

Holland America Line’s Maasdam will dock in Tauranga, whilst Azamara Journey, Norwegian Star, Europa 2 and Oceania Cruises’ Sirena are also first timers in New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s popularity as one of the world’s hottest cruise destinations will be clearly evident this summer,” Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia commercial director Brett Jardine said. “Not only will there be more ships visiting than ever before, there will be scores of inaugural calls around the country as cruise lines extend their itineraries to take in a wider range of beautiful ports around the North and South Islands.”

There is more to New Zealand than kiwis! This Pacific nation offers a landscape that is difficult to surpass as well as city style interests.

Port of Auckland

Refurbished in 2013, Auckland’s Shed 10 (main cruise terminal) is located on Queens Wharf. Most sites in the city centre are within walking distance. There is a hop-on, hop-off bus service that will take you to the main points of interests. Also, the tourist information office is located by the entrance to the port.

Things to do

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and located on the northern end of the north island and is an opportunity to feast on so many diverse interests.  

Sky Tower is 328 meters over the city and offers unlimited views to the surrounding region. For those not faint at heart, walk around the outside along the open skywalk with a harness or for true daredevils, base-jump by wire off the tower. Don’t fret, because if you are too frightened, you can remain inside the observation deck and enjoy the views.

Sky Tower

For significant collections of natural, social, military history, memorabilia and culture related to the South Pacific visit the War Memorial Museum.

Mount Eden is an extinct volcano. Heading towards its summit provides a grand view of the Auckland skyline.

With perhaps a swim in mind, take a ferry out to Devonport and explore the beaches on the North Shore.

Port of Wellington

Wellington is small and compact and encircled by mounts of elevation. It is a vivacious inner city experience that comes with some gorgeous scenery.

Located in the centre of Wellington, smaller vessels tend to dock at Queens Wharf cruise terminal. This presents passengers with direct access to the city centre and walking about is easy.

The Mega ships dock at Aotea Quay located in an industrial area. It’s a 20 minute walk to the city. However, a shuttle is provided from the cruise terminal to the centre. Tickets can be obtained onboard your ship.

Things to do

For stunning views of the city and harbour get yourself a ticket for the bright red Kelburn Cable Car. Within four minutes, climb directly to the hilltop town of Kilburn right from the waterfront in a cable car that remains on the ground and not in the air.

Wellington Cable Car

Maritime devotees can visit the Museum of Wellington, City and Sea. Besides an abundance of maritime memorabilia, the museum is known for its replica of the harbour including reproduction model ships.

Opened in 1998, the National Museum and Art Gallery (known as Te Papa) offers a brilliant way to experience the culture and people of New Zealand. They utilise awareness through a stimulating combination of interactive displays and the latest technology.

Gearing towards Middle Earth

One of the biggest movie franchises has been “The Lord of the Rings” and more recently, “The Hobbit” and are based on J.R.R Tolkien’s novels. Film director, Peter Jackson is native to New Zealand and the filming took place on location in his home country.

The time is right for a jaunt to New Zealand to experience the paths to Mordor and beyond. Your ship’s tour office has many options to make a full day of your Hobbiton experience.

Where could anyone actually experience Middle Earth other than at the movies? You can right in New Zealand. So follow the footsteps of your favourite Tolkien character and don’t miss out on this chance.

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New Destination onboard the Crystal Serenity

Crystal Serenity

If you’re tired of mainstream sailings, dream big. From the lush vistas of Asia to the Amazon River to the Galapagos Islands, there are enough sailings available to explore beyond any comfort zone.

The world is truly getting smaller and for some seasoned cruise passengers it is getting more difficult to come up with a destination that has gone unexplored. Forever seeking the new and unusual, there is a new target in the cruise industry.

The newest destination of 2016

The Crystal Serenity made headlines recently cruising through the Northwest Passage. Of course, the chance for an out-of-the-ordinary setting meant that when this innovative itinerary was announced, the entire sailing sold out in just 48 hours.

The direction for this voyage is widely considered to be one of the hardest sea routes to travel in the world. The Crystal Serenity is the largest passenger vessel (1,070-guest-capacity) to sail through the icy Canadian route.

The 2016 Northwest Passage sailing began on August 16th from Seward, Alaska as a 32-day journey. The passengers will disembark in New York on September 16.

What and where is the Northwest Passage?

The Northwest Passage is a sea route that journeys through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. In other words it connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans just as the Panama Canal does. The Northwest Passage is not a favoured route for the shipping industry because it was covered by thick, nearly all year long sea ice, making it virtually impassable.

The route was once considered the most dangerous route in the seven seas, to the extent that an attempt to cross it would be called a “voyage of delusion”. Wreckages from the 1800s are still being found today under the ice. Perhaps the best known tale of this area is Franklin’s lost expedition, an attempt to traverse through the passage in 1845 by famed explored James Franklin.

After Franklin and his crew disappeared, an expedition to find their remains by government officials proved fruitless. The HMS Erebus was only found a few years ago off of the coast of King William Island, covered completely in ice. A total of 129 people went missing.

The first successful trip through the Northwest Passage didn’t take place until 1907 by Roald Amundsen, a journey which took him about 3 years to complete.

The first voyage 

Precautions had to be made for this ice-breaking journey and this is where modern technology came in. Equipment such as forward seeking sonar and thermal imaging to detect any sudden icebergs and large search lights ensure that the trip will be a safe and enjoyable trip through a beautiful location.

The luxury cruise liner was accompanied by an ice-breaking boat and two helicopters. Besides making history as being the first cruise line to venture in pristine and unspoiled territories, it took three years to plan and collaborate with the locals of the Arctic to insure that no environmental damage would occur.

Expert guides accompanied the passengers taking them out on zodiacs to obtain views of polar bears on floating ice. The ship anchored in Ulukhaktok and Cambridge Bay, where the villagers greeted the passengers with an introduction to their culture, folklore, music and dances. The ship has since sailed through the Victoria Strait heading towards the Bellot Strait.

Crystal Serenity Master, Captain Birger J. Vorland asserted, “After successfully transiting the Bellot Strait as the largest vessel ever to have transited this challenging passage, we spotted an iceberg which appeared to be far, far away in the horizon. With time to spare we headed in the direction of the sighting and found not one, but two large icebergs drifting.

These icebergs likely came from Greenland and have probably been drifting for a couple of years.” There will be plenty of other unspoiled locations to create a lasting memory.

Future sailings

Due to the nature of keeping the environmental impact of a fragile area to a minimum, this will never be an area of weekly cruises. The window is short for a sailing (only a few weeks) as the winters come early and are long and harsh.

However, the response for this journey was so big, that Crystal has announced it will sail the route again in 2017.

But Crystal might not be the only cruise line to attempt to tackle the Northwest Passage in the future. It was rumoured that another luxury line, Regent Seven Seas, may offer cruises to the area but as of this date, no schedule has been set up.

Click on the link for more information on Crystal Serenity.

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The Port of Singapore


The Port of Singapore is Southeast Asia’s largest port and consists of two different cruise terminals. Ships dock at either the Marina Bay Cruise Centre or at the Singapore Cruise Centre. Although ports aren’t usually a highlight for most cruise passengers, both ports in Singapore are notable exceptions and make a great impression before venturing to see the city’s many jewels.

Marina Bay Cruise Centre 

The Marina Bay Cruise Centre is Singapore’s newest constructed two-berth facility and accommodates the Mega-ships of the major cruise lines and is able to hold more than 6,800 passengers at a time. The cruise centre boasts stunning views of the Singaporean skyline as well as the Straits of Singapore.

The terminal is also notable for its architectural design, with a unique “wave” shaped roof and other nautical elements that take centre stage. It is relatively close to the famous Marina Bay Sands, known for its science museum and one hectare roof terrace and garden perched 55 stories above.

Two MRT train stations serve the cruise centre, as well as taxis and bus #402 making it easy to get into some serious sightseeing.

Singapore Cruise Centre

The larger Singapore Cruise Centre was retrofitted in 2012 and boasts state of the art facilities that match it newest counterpart. There are two terminals; Regional Ferry Terminal (RFT) and the International Passenger Terminal (IPT), which is the one that handles the major cruise lines. It also has only two berths and is located at the Sentosa Harbour Front Precinct. This area contains a major shopping mall on site offering many of the world’s leading retail brands.

There are easy connections to get to the city centre in minutes as well as Sentosa Island. All points of interest are easily accessible from the terminal by train (MRT), bus, or taxi or a cable car to Sentosa Island. Taxis are rather inexpensive when compared to other cities.

More Points of Interest

With all of the amazing attractions and things to do in Singapore, you will need to return. A one day or two day stopover as part of a cruise holiday will definitely offer a healthy sampler. Singapore was designed with the visitor in mind with several theme parks, natural wonders and is a haven for multicultural points of interest.

If only in the city for the day, the best bet to see as much as possible is with the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. The passes are for 24 or 48-hours and you will explore the city across four different bus routes with approximately 40 stops. All the main sites are covered including stop-offs at the following highlights.

Located on 52 hectares of land, the Singapore Botanic Gardens must not be missed. Filled with a wide variety of flora of the most beautiful flowers, the park specialises in so many varieties of orchids.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Accessible via cable car, taking a quick trip to Mount Faber is always recommended for photo opportunities. The peak of the mountain offers panoramic views of the harbour and Sentosa Island as well as the surrounding islands.

Sentosa Island is also known as Resort World. It was specially developed as an entertainment centre and resort area. Besides beaches providing a cool respite from the heat, there’s a waterpark too. The S.E.A. Aquarium is a must see for lovers of all things under the sea.

The aquarium plays host to 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species and is notable for containing exhibits on obscure areas such as the Strait of Karimata and the Java Sea. There are also themed locations such as Shark Seas and Shipwreck.

Sentosa Island

One of the most recently added attractions to Sentosa Island, Universal Studios Singapore offers all your favourite film franchises with a twist. Ride on thrilling experiences such as Shrek 4D, The Revenge of The Mummy and Transformers: The Ride or pretend that you’re walking down Hollywood Boulevard.

Golfers can tee off at one of two different courses including the Sentosa Golf Club known for being the course the Barclay’s Open was held at from 2006 to 2012. Other complexes of interest on Sentosa include Madame Tussauds Singapore and IFly Singapore for a gravity free experience.

London may have its ‘Eye’ but Singapore City has its ‘Flyer’. The 169 m (554 ft) tall wheel rotates to unobstructed views of the city and the South China Sea.

For temple viewing, Singapore City contains Buddhist, Muslim and Hindi temples. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is one of the most striking Buddhist Temples in Singapore.

The Burmese Buddhist Temple is home to an 11 feet white marble Buddha statue; whilst the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple offers a colourful entrance in traditional Chinese architecture. Singapore has over 35 Hindu temples including the golden Sree Maha Mariamman Temple and the Sri Thendayuthapani Temwith with its 75 feet tall blue Gopuram tower.

Buddha Tooth Relic & Museum

If your ship is fortunate to stay in port overnight, evening entertainment is easy to locate in the area at Clarke Quay and Boat Quay. Located just nearby the Singapore River, these former warehouses transform into entertainment spots, shops, casual restaurants and many nightclubs.

This is a great place to just relax as you can walk alongside the river or get some shopping in before your ship leaves.

Of course, one of the evenings highlights (near to where the ship is berthed) is Wonder Full. This is a light, music and sound show presented from the top of the Marian Bay Sands. The 13-minute extravaganza lights up the cityscape with fireworks and laser lights.

The season for cruise holiday makers in Singapore ranges from late October to early May.

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Europe’s leading cruise show is back this autumn!

The cruise industry continues to grow with amazing new ships, exciting new destinations and a never ending array of innovative onboard activities. This year alone, there will be seven new ships adding over 18,000 berths to the already huge number available. Firsts at sea include a sky diving simulator, virtual balconies and even a bionic bar tender!

Even more impressive is the river cruise sector which is growing at an even faster rate. No less than 23 new river ships will be deployed in 2016 with continued emphasis on luxury and new ideas for instance a swimming pool with a retractable roof and a bigger choice of restaurants.

Want to see what else is new for 2016? Then the CRUISE SHOW must be on your to-do list this autumn. If you have never cruised before or you are an experienced cruiser looking for new ideas, this event is a great way to begin planning your next cruise holiday.

A trip to the annual Birmingham and Glasgow shows will give you the opportunity to listen to the experts and gain invaluable free advice and of course get access to exclusive offers only available at the shows.

The CRUISE SHOW takes place at the Birmingham NEC on 10-11 September and at Glasgow’s SECC on 8-9 October.


We have 20 pairs of tickets to give away for the shows. To enter the contest just add your email address below, it’s as simple as that!

Your details are confidential and covered by our privacy policy.

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If you want to go and don’t want to rely on the contest, we have negotiated a special offer of just £4 per ticket(normal price £10). To book please call 0871 620 4024. (Calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras).

To view the cruise lines exhibiting at the show visit www.cruisingshow.co.uk

My recent Cruise Onboard ms Koningsdam

ms Koningsdam

Holland America are one of the most famous cruise lines in the world. Their latest ship, the ms Koningsdam has fulfilled their elegant image with a casual vibe creating a truly unique cruising experience.

Having just been inaugurated in the past few months, the ms Koningsdam is truly worthy of the title of  flagship of the fleet. I’ve just got back from a 7 night cruise on the Norwegian fjords and it was an experience and ship I would not want to have missed.


There are several types of cabins on the ship, consisting of Inside Staterooms, Family Ocean View, Verandas and Suites with Balconies. In my opinion the best type of cabin to try and get is a corner balcony cabin as it provides a truly stunning panoramic view while blocking you from intense winds and other weather conditions that occur in this region. I recommend that you request cabin no’s 8031 and 8032.

ms Koningsdam Inside Stateroom

These cabins offer more spacious areas when compared to the others in the Verandah category. I was most impressed with the high quality furnishings in the cabin as well as innovative storage areas.

A large flat screen TV dons the wall and offered a wide variety of films, news and some of my favourite shows too. The bed is a true king featuring luxurious cotton linens. There is also a sofa that opens up to a bed and a desk and chair.

The bathroom was absolutely impressive. Equipped with thick Egyptian cotton towels, Elemis Aromapure shampoos, conditioners, soaps and lotions are provided, along with a plush robe for all in the room.

I especially enjoyed the peppermint body gel, which gave an instant wake up under the super powered massage showerhead. It is adjustable to your personal liking from a mild blast of water to a super power surge. This was one ship, where I never worried about flooding the floor outside of the shower. It has been smartly designed to have a lip at the bottom elevated so it is nearly impossible for it to overflow.

ms Koningsdam veranda


One area that Holland America excels in is the quality and presentation of food. It is all fresh and carefully prepared with no preservations or economical substitutes.

I found the dining venues on the ship are no less exquisite. The main dining room is spacious and spans two decks. Food choices vary from day to day but the choices remain premium.

There are a wide variety of specialty restaurants, ranging from the French inspired seafood of Sel de Mer, to the family style Northern Italian delights of Canaletto to the Asian Fusion wonders of Tamarind. These fill up quickly and it is best to make reservations online prior to your voyage. I did indulge in all three and can honestly say that they were enjoyable not only to the palate but each was a feast for the eyes.

Even the Lido Market is high quality on this ship, blowing any other cruise buffet out of the water. The choices are grand, so sampling a bit of each makes for an interesting lunch. I must state that the rib steak was by far the best I have eaten from a buffet. It was so tender, juicy and tasty, that no knife was needed.

Near poolside, gourmet burgers and hot dogs and fresh cut fries are served for yet another choice in daytime dining. Pizza or a Reuben sandwich can be ordered in an area directly one floor up at the New York Deli.

There’s an Italian gelato bar near the pool offering so many freshly made flavours that it would be impossible to try them all in just a one week’s holiday.

For specialty coffees and teas, the Grand Dutch Cafe will suffice. Although there is a fee for the beverage, all sweets and appetizers are free of charge with your purchase.


For those long days or evenings at sea, you are well covered for entertainment. The casino, located on Deck 3, has all of the typical gambling options such as slot machines, poker tables and roulette wheels.

Located on the same deck is the World Stage which plays hosts to different shows each day. The World Stage is an interesting concept as it includes visuals which surrounds the audience with a 270-degree LED screen. The visuals match the entertainment, making it a unique entertainment experience.

One evening, I watched some stunning footage from BBC Earth with the ship’s orchestra playing; the next day there was a digital magic act. Music is the theme of the ship and a variety of tastes are addressed in the other entertainment venues.

Billboard offers classic pop and contemporary hits as a piano lounge with 2 entertainers. BB King’s Lounge is the place for some soothing jazz, blues or R&B and the Lincoln Centre Stage lives up to its namesake by offering classical music in a traditional style with strings, piano and more.

ms Koningsdam Billboard


The spa is also located on the 10th deck and is a great way to unwind from all of the high intense tours I did in the ports of Norway. Aside from massages, facials and an invigorating Jacuzzi, the spa also offers cosmetic treatments plus hair styling and Shellac nail services. I indulged in a facial and I believe I knocked off ten years. My skin was so firm and alive.

The Spa Retreat is the place to lounge and get away from it all; featuring thermal pools, heated ceramic lounges and sauna/steam rooms. A week or day pass can be purchased for this retreat. If you are prone to getting off the ship and running about, then this is perfect to rewind and recharge the batteries.

Closing Thoughts

The opportunity to venture on the ms Koningsdam was not only a treat but an opportunity to experience a cruise ship that proves less is more. It is a cruise ship with a slower pace.

There may not be the glitz, rock climbing, water parks and non-stop action that are found on other mega-ships; but isn’t a holiday the perfect time to just sit back, take in the surroundings and reflect upon the nice things in life. I think the ms Koningsdam does just that.

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