Some Interesting Ports of Call in the Black Sea
TEXT SIZE A + A -

Although the season in the Black Sea may be nearing its end for this year, it’s a good time to start planning for a cruise holiday there in 2015.

The Black Sea is an inland sea connected to the Mediterranean by the Bosporus and the Dardanelles Strait. Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine border this large body of water.

Besides stopping at the larger ports such as Istanbul, Odessa and Yalta, let’s take a look at some of the others. These cities should heighten your interest to book a Black Sea cruise for 2015.

Bucharest  

The capital of Romania has much to offer for cruise passengers with a wide variety of attractions. Get to know the city beginning with the impossible to miss Parliamentary Palace. It encompasses 12 storeys and 1100 rooms and is recognised as the world’s second largest governmental building.

The National Art Museum contains an extensive collection of Romanian Medieval Art, Modern Art and the European Art dating from the 15th to the 20th century. Religious history is defined at the Biserica Stavropoleos which was built and completed in 1724 and dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel. Learn the story behind the rural people of yesterday and today as exhibited without conveniences at the Museum of Peasant Life.

 Parliamentary Palace Bucharest

Constanta  

Constanta is teeming with history as it has been inhabited for 2,500 years. The city was mentioned in the epic myth ‘Jason and The Argonauts’, when it was known as the ancient city of ‘Tomis’.

There are plenty of archaeological finds to discover in the city. The Roman poet Ovid was banished here and a large statue of him sits in the town square. Roman artefacts can be found in The National Museum of History and Archaeology. The museum boasts more than 430.000 objects from settlements beginning from the prehistoric era until the 20th Century.

The region remains temperate most of the year and makes it an advantage to the local vineyards in which tours are given. Bring along a bathing suit as the beach is open for a swim in the Black Sea, which is a rarity in this region.

The Folk Art Museum illustrates the folk culture from all parts of Romania in the form of icons painted on glass and wood, ceramics, costumes, carpets, fabrics, ornaments and tools.

The Greek Orthodox Church also plays a large part in everyday life in Constanta. Visit the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral which contains an abundance of religious art and architecture. Islam is also represented with the Grand Mosque.

Constanta Romania

Dnepropetrovsk  

Once leaving your ship you will be greeted with luscious green trees that surround the well-maintained boulevards. Start off by visiting Zhovtneva Square, which is located in the heart of the city. The breathtaking majestic Cathedral was built under the orders of Catherine The Great. The History Museum, called ‘The Public Museum of Catherine’s Governorate’ contains objects from Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, as well as Russian artefacts.

Check out a miniature replica of the world war II battle The Battle of Dnieper River. There are several other churches of interest including one from the 9th century that has been restored on nearby Monastyrsky Island.

Although much of the city was damaged in WWII and under Stalin, some areas are still standing and restored to their former glory. These include the buildings lining Central Avenue, the Globa section and the Shevchenka parks.

Dnepropetrovsk

Sevastopol

Known as the majestic city due to its vibrant scenery, the residents of Sevastopol take advantage of this by strolling under the blossoming chestnut trees, and ending up on the waterfront. The views from the bays and the gardens are impressive. This was a city completely rebuilt by the top architects and civil engineers from the then Soviet Union as it was unconditionally devastated in the last war.

The city also has a large military history, dating back to the Crimean War. There is an eternal flame for all of the lives lost during these conflicts and there are also memorials at several public parks.

The State Historical and Archaeological Museum also has a lot of historical artefacts, some of which date back to 3000 years ago!

On the outskirts of the city are the ruins of the Medieval Greek city of Chersonesus which provides an insight into the ancient history of the Black Sea.

 Sevastopol

The cruise lines that have some Black Sea port of calls scheduled for 2015 include Celebrity, Cunard, Azamara Club Cruises, Seabourn, Seadream, Silversea and Windstar.

A Black Sea cruise will take you to areas filled with history, unrivalled cultures and Eastern European traditions. There’s no better time to hit some of the less known ports such as these and others before they get more popular and overcrowded.

Written by

They don’t get much better than these!
TEXT SIZE A + A -

Take a look at some of the best suites at sea that are consistently on the ‘best of’ lists. These fantastic examples will rival many hotels and even some apartments back at home. The prices for cruising in a suite can soar when compared to the traditional verandah cabin. However, all cruise lines do have sales periodically and you may be able to get one of these beauties at a reduced price.

These five below are a sample of the most luxurious cruise ship suites at sea. With all the amenities, space and with an ever changing view, isn’t it time to book into a suite on your next adventure?

Crystal Serenity: Penthouse Suite with Verandah

Totalling 538 square feet, the luxurious Penthouse with Verandah is an elegant suite including a living area and a separate sleeping alcove. Within it is a queen sized bed with a vanity and picture window. The decor is set in an attractive and soft cream shade. Entertainment consists of a Blu-Ray player and a flat-screen TV.

A large private veranda offers those precious times to unwind and be totally seduced by the glistening waters below. Complimentary wine plus a choice of liquor from the set menu upon embarkation is included in the price. A butler is also on call for you during your stay.

Crystal Serenity Penthouse Suite

Paul Gauguin: Grand Suite

No one would ever be unimpressed by the 332 square feet of space in the Grand Suite. The ship and its staterooms are designed to impress. The suites are designed in an attractive contemporary style. Like its artist namesake, the decor attuned to his palettes used in his paintings of South Pacific amongst wood furnishings.

An enormous wraparound verandah totalling 197 square feet adds to that open concept space. Butler service is complimentary with the suite. The Grand Suite can accommodate four passengers with extra fold out beds available, as well as a bathroom complete with a shower, toilet and bathrobes, slippers and other amenities.

Paul Gauguin: Grand Suite

Regent Navigator: Master Suite

What sets the Regent Seven Seas Navigator’s Master Suite apart is the huge amount of space. With 1,067 square feet combined with the teak-wood, 106 square feet verandah makes it easy to call this suite your country home. The splendid interior is contemporary in design and makes good use of teak.

The colours are soft and comforting beiges and rich browns. There is a separate dining area for that special meal and the refrigerator is stocked with some alcoholic beverages and soft drinks The bedroom with two twin beds will convert to a king size if required. There’s a marble equipped bathroom with a bath, separate shower and many high end amenities. The Navigator’s Master Suite includes butler service for added convenience.

Regent Navigator Master Suite

Silver Cloud: Owners Suite

Be treated like royalty whilst enjoying your stay in the Owners Suite on the Silver Cloud. Following a major renovation two years ago, this classic suite has been refitted with 21st century features such as a mounted large, flat-panel television, ILLY espresso machine and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.

The Owner’s Suite measures an impressive 587 square feet and as you would expect it is elegantly designed. Its expansive verandah is 189 square feet and is accessible from both the main sitting area and bedroom. The suites bedroom has a soft headboard with plush bedding and duvet covers.

The sofa also converts to a comfortable bed for an extra guest. The elegant marble bath is fitted with a rainforest shower that is separate from the bath. Your entire voyage in the Silver Cloud’s Owners Suite includes butler service.

Silver Cloud Owners Suite

Azamara Journey: Club World Owners Suite

After a long day on one of the many shore excursions available, this 560 square foot suite will make you feel like royalty.

The Club World Owners’ Suite includes a 233 sq.foot verandah and is a perfect retreat to reflect on your day. For sleeping, the suite has a master bedroom with two queen sized beds. There is also a fold out bed for another roommate.

Some of the perks include complementary pressing of your clothing items, daily canapés and other foodstuffs being served from 16:00 to 18:00 in the room and a butler service. You will also receive complementary seating in any of the onboard restaurants.

The Club World Owners suite also comes with Egyptian cotton bed linen and duvets, plush terry bathrobes and slippers, freshly cut flowers and binoculars to use on and off the ship.

Azamara Journey Club World Owners Suite

For the ultimate cruising experience, make it a once in lifetime experience. Instead of looking for the cheapest prices, check out the suites instead. Think of it as holidaying at a 5 plus star resort. The one distinction over any hotel room suite is that when you wake up, a different view is offered each day.

Images courtesy of Crystal Cruises, Paul Gauguin, Regent, Silversea & Azamara.

Written by

Stayed in a Suite before? Please share your experiences below.

A New Cruise Terminal for Abu Dhabi
TEXT SIZE A + A -

Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Ports Company in association with the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture sector is working on a fresh development, an enormous new cruise terminal for the Zayed Port.

Although it will have a modern appearance, great care is being taken to reflect the region’s history and culture as well. In the architecture, traditional Arabic ornaments are being incorporated. The use of colours that emphasise the region and celebrate the long history of maritime of the United Arab Emirates is also part of the design.

One such element of cultural heritage being placed in the port is being placed upon the roof. This design resembles that of the ‘Ghaf’, the national tree of the UAE.

The terminal is scheduled to offer 8000 square meters and will have all the modern amenities, from souvenir shops to casual restaurants. The new building is also due to feature an improved border control system that pledges to make the customs process quicker and more efficient. The terminal is due to be completed in 2016 and the work for it has already begun.

This news comes together with the announcement that the UAE will be offering a multi entry visa that will make travelling to different countries in the area very easy, perfect for cruise holidaymakers.

What can you see when visiting Abu Dhabi during a port of call? 

The Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is the world’s largest indoor theme park whose theme is based on the auto company of the same name. Thrilling high speed rides are the main attraction, including a car themed roller coaster that is said to be the world’s fastest rollercoaster, the Formula Rossa.

Ferrari World

For those who are art inclined, architect Frank Gehry is creating yet another of his masterpiece’s to rival his in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will open soon, and his artworks will also be housed in The Louvre Abu Dhabi opening later.

Spend some time at the enormous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Besides a house of religion, the building also serves as a cultural centre to help acquaint visitors with the traditions of UAE and how the religion of Islam ties into it.

There is also the Al Ain Oasis for those who want to cool down on hot days. This oasis is packed with thousands of palm trees and is flanked by huge plantations. The palm trees are watered from the 3,000-year-old falaj irrigation system that are located nearby the Al Ain National Museum.

Al Ain Oasis

The Al Ain National Museum is divided into three sections consisting of archaeology, ethnography and gifts and is housed in the same area as the Sultan Bin Zayed Fort. Many artefacts of ancient history will be housed within with items dating back to the first millennium BC.

With all these points of interest that will please all types of visitors in all age groups, Abu Dhabi is certainly looking towards the future. The cruise industry is anticipating the completion of the new and revamped port in two years time.

Written by

What to Pack for a Cruise to the Fjords
TEXT SIZE A + A -

norwegian fjords

The choice of itinerary and activities on board a ship have never been better or more affordable. The huge numbers of people who head on their annual holiday with a cruise have made a wise choice.

Dressing and what to pack is fairly straightforward and many cruise lines have recognised that casual wear in dress now reigns. For those balmy days at sea, it is smart casual, for dinner depending upon the cruise line it can go up a bit. Dress codes on cruise ships are far more relaxed than in the past and dressing for dinner has become more optional.

There is one type of spring, summer and autumn cruise holiday that a little more change to the norm is in order. The cruise with itineraries that head further north for instance to the Norwegian Fjords.

Before you start packing, make a checklist of everything you need to and should bring.

HERE ARE SOME ESSENTIALS YOU WILL WANT TO INCLUDE

1. A waterproof wind jacket helps protect you from any sudden cold winds and rain that are commonplace in Norway. Use it in conjunction with a waterproof hat or a hood.

2. Inclement weather is not unusual and can surprise you at any time. This calls for an excellent pair of closed toed shoes with soles that offer a good grip, especially for walking on the deck. In addition, bring some sturdy walking boots for those trips to hike in the picturesque countryside, in small villages and stepping onto a glacier. An extra pair of socks should always be on you as they will keep your feet dry if they get wet whilst out.

3. A warm jacket or coat should be brought along as the temperatures in Norway can dip especially during May and October. Even in the midst of summer, the higher elevations will decrease the temperatures by several degrees and you will appreciate the warmth. If weight is a concern, go for a fleece or micro fabric that adds the warmth but not the bulk.

4. In a similar manner, pack clothing that can be layered. Hoodies or pullover jumpers are a few examples. It will be appreciated on those cool days or evenings and if the sun is blasting, and the temps rise; they can easily be peeled off for comfort. T-shirts are a must for extra insulation but are light enough to wear alone if the temperature increases during the day.

5. Try to coordinate basic colours that blend and will interchange easily with each other. Have your primary outfit in monochromatic neutrals such as browns, greys and blacks. Then add the layers in the colour you prefer to look sharp.

queen mary 2 norway

6. If formality is standard on the ship of your choice, bring along dressier dining outfits. Most cruisers like to take a stroll on deck after dinner. For men, a dinner jacket or a sports jacket will do, whereas for women a thick wrap should suffice.

7. Bring some light plastic sheeting or a large cloth to take when you go on shore to cover your belongings. However, better yet, invest in waterproof carry ons such as handbags and backpacks to store your belongings safely from the elements.

8. You may be lucky with the weather as it can happen in Norway as well. However, the best bet is to do as you do at home and place a small umbrella in your day pack.

9. Just as you should for any holiday away, don’t forget to pack the camera. The beauty of Norway is exceptional and you’ll be snapping away from the moment you step onboard.

10. Finally, make sure to pack blister plasters. Walking can cause them to happen especially when wearing a brand new pair of boots or shoes.

Go ahead and bring those sandals and flip flops on your cruise. Most ships have coverings over their pool areas and are temperature controlled for you to take a dip.

As you can see, packing for a cruise to the Norwegian fjords is not all that different from packing for any other cruise holiday. It just takes a bit of organisation. Remember, if you forget something, there are shops onboard the cruise ship and plenty of stores whilst in port to obtain what you need.

Written by

Been on a Norwegian Fjords Cruise? Let us know what we missed!

Our Top 10 Cruise Itineraries for 2015
TEXT SIZE A + A -

Cruise Itineraries 2015

2015 is going to be a great year for cruise goers with many specialty cruises, new ships and interesting new destinations. Now is the time to start thinking and decide where your next cruise holiday shall be.

We have looked at the sailings for next year and selected our Top 10 Cruise Itineraries. If you need details and pricing on any of these please enquire here

Floral Britannia Cruise

Fred. Olsen keep up their tradition of themed cruises with this eleven night trip through parts of Great Britain. Departing from Dover, some of the picturesque locations that will be seen include the stunning Eden Project and St Michaels’s Mount from Falmouth, Edinburgh Castle and Liverpool the home of the Beatles.

When: 28 April 2015

Ship: Boudicca

Grand Danube Cruise

This 23 day journey with AMA Waterways begins with a 3 night hotel stay in Prague and then a fourteen night cruise from Vilshofen to Rousse. At the end of the cruise you will stay in Bulgaria for 1 night before heading to Istanbul for a 3 night hotel stay.

When: Selected sailings from April to October

Ship: AmaPrima

India & Southeast Asia

Royal Caribbean specialises in this area, so it’s no surprise that they’d be heading back here in 2015. They will be unveiling a new ship, called the Quantum of the Seas which is said to be the most technologically advanced ship out there today. This 14 night cruise will sail from Dubai to Singapore with stops in Muscat, Cochin and Penang.

When: 29 May 2015

Ship: Quantum of the Seas

Hawaiian Islands

Princess Cruises are offering a two week long Hawaiian Islands cruise next year. This cruise departs from San Francisco visiting Kauai, Hilo, Maui, Honolulu, Ensenada (Mexico) before returning to San Francisco 14 nights later.

When: 25 September 2015

Ship: Grand Princess

Norwegian Fjords

Most people wouldn’t associate Disney Cruise Lines with cruises to the Fjords however they have a number of 7 and 9 night itineraries available. The nine night version starts and ends in Copenhagen with stops in Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger, Molde, Olden and Bergen

When: 20 June 2015

Ship: Disney Magic

Caribbean

On most Caribbean cruises you will need to fly to the departure point which can put off those people who dislike flying. The beauty of this 24 night cruise with P&O is that it starts and finishes in the UK. Great for people who don’t mind a few days at sea this itinerary takes in seven ports in six countries.

When: 10 October 2015

Ship: Arcadia

In Search of the Northern Lights

A truly remarkable experience, the famed and truly beautiful Northern Lights with  Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. The 16 night itinerary includes ports in Norwegian towns including Bergen, Alta and Tromso. As the ship heads further north towards the Arctic Circle, the Aurora Borealis becomes more concentrated.

When: 21 February 2015

Ship: Boudicca

Brazil, Argentina & Uruguay

Always a popular cruise destination, this eight day cruise with Costa Cruises visits Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Departing from Santos and visiting Buenos Aires and Montevideo before returning to Santos this itinerary will allow you to get in touch with the natural beauty of the mountains, wildlife and waterfalls that these three nations provide.

When: 21 February 2015

Ship: Costa Favolosa

Thailand & Indonesia Voyage

Take a 14 night cruise to six different ports with Azamara Club Cruises. The ship will be island hopping to create a varied and unique experience in cultures and styles. Depart from Singapore to the picturesque areas of Indonesia for fresh java, ride the canals to the striking Buddhist temples in Thailand and bask in the sunshine in Bali.

When: 3 February 2015

Ship: Azamara Quest

South Pacific Cruise

Celebrity Cruises has an exciting new itinerary. This is one of our favourites to start the year in style. This 9 night cruise from Sydney visits Noumea, Lifou, Mystery Island and the Isle of Pines before returning to Sydney.

When: 18 January 2015

Ship: Celebrity Solstice

There are so many delightful itineraries scheduled for 2015 it can be a little daunting knowing where to start your search especially if you are looking for something that is a little different.

Our Top10 Cruise Itineraries for 2015 was put together with the help of our featured cruise specialists who can offer advice and competitive prices on any of these amazing itineraries.

Written by