A Look at MSC’s Divina
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MSC Divina in Miami

Built in 2012, the MSC Divina carries 3500 passengers and like all of the MSC Cruises fleet is a family oriented ship. Take a look at what makes the Divina so ‘divine’.

ACCOMMODATION

There are over 1,700 cabins available onboard the Divina with 95 percent of them having balconies. There are also inside and ocean view cabins and something that will work for those traveling with children, the ‘Super Family Cabins’. These are two balcony cabins combined into one and offering double the space.

Super Family Cabins

There are several classes of suites including the Aurea Suites which offer panoramic views. The Yacht Club cabins and suites are located on the 15th and 16th floors and promise a level of exclusivity to passengers with its “ship-within-a-ship” concept. Those in the Yacht Club Suites have a private lounge with a buffet service, a swimming pool and a sundeck. All cabins have interactive flat-screen TV and Internet connectivity.

Yacht Club Suite

Those booked in suites obtain added benefits such as the concierge service, a Nintendo Wii with a library of games, an enormous marble bathroom with luxury toiletries and a complimentary mini-bar.

DINING

The MSC Divina contains several speciality restaurants including the Tex Mex restaurant. The main dining areas on the ship are The Black Crab and Villa Rossa. Both restaurants contain exactly the same menus and consist of five courses for dinner.

Two extensive buffets, the Manitou and Calumet contain everything from international dishes to hamburgers and hot dogs. In the mornings they serve a continental breakfast.

Divina Calumet Buffet

Other dining areas include the Eataly Steakhouse, well known for their prime cuts of meat, Ristorante Italia which has a large amount of dishes from Tuscany and for those that want something different than pasta, La Cantina di Bacco, is a casual restaurant that offers tapas and a good range of pizza options. If you wish to eat in, there is also room service and a pizza delivery.

The Eataly Steakhouse

THINGS TO DO

Those that are used to traditional shows will be surprised at the extravagance on Divina with its thrilling acrobatic and contortionism in its pirate themed shows and operas. Located in the neon and crystal decorated Pantheon Theatre, these shows are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Those that want to try to sing like a star should try out the karaoke at the Golden Jazz Bar. The Sports Bar located next door offers the latest up to date news on all major sports and has a lot of snack food to enjoy while you are there.

Divina Sports Bar

MSC Divina offers many opportunities for the sports minded. There is a basketball court, football and volleyball facilities and exercise equipment in the fitness centre. There is also yoga and zumba classes offered that are sure to give the body a good workout.

Of course, don’t forget the various pools, all of which are a great place to cool down and relax. The main pool is the Garden Pool which is adults only and contains a more casual atmosphere. The bar nearby provides perfect refreshments.

Divina garden pool

Unique family fun can be found with the Formula 1 Simulator and the 4D Cinema, both of which offer a way to escape from reality and immerse in a private world.

For pure relaxation, head to the Spa which covers an area of over 20,000 square feet. The large number of treatments on their menu range from simple massages to Shiatsu.

ITINERARIES

The MSC Divina is gearing up for her ‘Grand Voyage’ and is returning back to Europe. She will be departing from Miami on the 26th of April for a 20 night sailing. Ports of call include King’s Wharf in Bermuda, a 2-day stop in New York, Ponta Delgada in the Azores, Lisbon, Cadiz (Seville), Barcelona, Naples before finishing up on the 16th of May in Civitavecchia (Rome).

A shorter segment of 17 nights is also available. The Divina will then be doing seven night itineraries throughout the Mediterranean until Oct 24, 2015, when she heads west towards the Caribbean on another Grand Voyage of 18 nights.

Images courtesy of MSC Cruises

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New innovations on Carnivals Latest Ship
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carnival vista

Carnival Cruise Lines made headlines in the cruising world recently with the announcement that their new ship will be debuting in the spring of 2016. The ship will be called the Carnival Vista and will include many new innovations that will allow this fun cruise line to stand out in the mega ship category.

Carnival is pulling out all of the stops with this ship in terms of entertainment, to the extent where there may be more things to do on the ship than in the port! The Vista  will be unique for having the first enormous IMAX theatre on a cruise ship. Other things to look out for are the extensive water park and the Red Frog Pub.

IMAX Theatre

But the main attraction on this ship is the brand new SkyRide attraction. The SkyRide consists of an 800 foot suspended track that offers magnificent views of the ocean. However, if you want a view, you will have to work for it as you will have to pedal on a suspended recumbent bicycle in order to move around. This is a great way to see some beauty and get some exercise in at the same time.

carnival vista skyride

Close by is the SkyClimb, which is a series of suspended ropes that have been specially arranged into an obstacle course. There are many other sport related items at the Activity Park and SportsSquare Clubhouse, which contain table tennis, athletic video games and mini bowling.

The waterpark on the Carnival Vista contains a multitude of slides, the most notable being the Kaleid-O-Slide, which is a thrilling water tube ride. Travel down a heart stopping 455 feet of kaleidoscope colours, creating a trippy effect; with twists and turns at every corner.

The Thrill Theater offers a different approach to seeing a movie; the special effects in the short film come to life in numerous dimensions in this unique show.

New Dining Options

Dining will be no less extravagant, with new options being the Seafood Shack, offering delicious treats such as lobster rolls, fried shrimp and crab cakes.

Fahrenheit 555 is an American style steakhouse filled with class, whereas the Bonsai Sushi restaurant contains ocean views that perfectly match the oriental atmosphere.

A more Latin American flair can be found at the Havana Bar which offers Cuban drinks and traditional snack foods. The Vista has expanded the line’s well liked Havana infusion experience and this bar transforms into an all night salsa dance club after dark.

Vista’s Latino Theme

The Latino theme extends outdoors with a new Havana Pool that will offer stunning views of the sea. Besides whirlpools, a relaxation area has been designated with artificial palm trees, thatched patio huts and comfortable lounge chairs under colorful umbrellas.

Carnival Vista’s staterooms and suites will be decorated in warm hues in the beautifully designed interior staterooms right through to the balconies and suites. The Vista is also introducing two new accommodation classes. The Havana Cabanas are themed on the tropics. These cabins offer private outdoor patios that have standard lounge chairs and a hammock as well.

Havana Cabana Staterooms

The new Family Harbor accommodations will consist of ocean view, balcony and interior staterooms that are spacious enough for a family of five. An exclusive Family Harbor Lounge has been set aside as a family hangout complete with large screen TVs and games.

The Vista is scheduled to operate 8 to13 day cruises in the western and eastern Med from May 2016 until October 21, 2016. She will then cross the Atlantic towards New York. What is planned after that no one knows as of yet!

Mock up images courtesy of Carnival Cruises

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Visit Norway’s Capital City Oslo
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Oslo cruise port

They say there is a cruise itinerary out there for everyone but nothing can compare with an itinerary that includes Norway’s capital city Oslo.

Some cruise lines actually start and finish their itineraries in Oslo making a pre or post cruise stay a great option. However, others include Oslo as a port of call. In 2014 there was 133 port calls and an estimated 260 000 passengers visiting the city.

Oslo boasts over 50 museums and numerous other places of interest. This compact city makes a do it yourself tour very easy. Here are a few ideas to wet your appetite!

ASTRUP FEARNLEY MUSEUM

This contemporary art gallery features unique and unusual works. Figures such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin’s works are featured here amongst many other abstract pieces. The museum is divided into two sections; one with a permanent collection; the other offers rotating exhibits.

FROGNER PARK

The largest recreational park in Oslo is not only a lovely place for a stroll but is filled with art as well. The Vigeland Sculpture Park has striking statues of human figures such as its famous monolith of 121 human figures towering in the sky.
Vigeland Sculpture Park

AKER BRYGGE

The waterfront area is a great way to spend the day as there are dozens of trendy cafes and bars. With a large amount of shopping opportunities and the sailboats floating in the harbour this really is the place for chilling out and people watching and the best part is it’s a car free zone.

FRAM MUSEUM

Norway is famous for its polar expeditions and the most famous ship of them all is the Fram. The Fram once made trips up to the Arctic but today, it resides in the centre of the Fram Museum. Located in Bygdøy, the museum features various artefacts from the ship such as authentic nautical devices and stuffed versions of polar animals. The lives of Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen are also chronicled.

GRUNERLOKKA

As an up and coming neighbourhood, Grunerlokka contains many memorabilia shops as well as designer stores and various restaurants. All of this serves as an interesting contrast to the bohemian lifestyle and urban style that makes up the majority of the area.

HOLMENKOLLEN SKI JUMP

Norway’s “most visited tourist attraction” is the Holmenkollen Ski Jump. Visitors can see some of the best views of Oslo and the Oslofjord from its high altitude. Its Ski Museum is the world’s oldest skiing museum offering 4000 years of skiing history through audio visual displays.

Holmenkollen Ski Jump Oslo

KARL JOHAN’S GATE

This cobble stoned street features a large amount of trendy stores, cafes and upmarket restaurants and holds numerous parades throughout the year.

NOBEL PEACE CENTRE

The Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their contributions to earning the award are focused at the centre. Visitors will be able to see exciting touring exhibits, audio visual displays as well as films and lectures

THE ROYAL PALACE

Located in the heart of the city, the Royal Palace is home to the Norwegian Monarch King Harald V, who has ruled since 1991.Perfect for photo opportunities, the palace also offers one hour tours through the State Rooms during the summer.

Royal Palace Oslo

THE VIKING SHIP MUSEUM

View three original 1100-year old Viking ships. The ships were discovered and excavated in the early 20th century. Besides the ships, on display there are many artefacts that were required for the Viking’s long jaunts to parts unknown.

The season for cruise holiday makers tends to be seasonal from late spring to mid autumn. Cruise lines visiting this Scandinavian jewel in 2015 are Costa, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, MSC, Norwegian Cruise Lines, P&O, Princess, Oceania and Royal Caribbean.

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It’s Tea Time!
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Tea was discovered over five thousand years ago and is the second most consumed drink after water. Tea is a fantastic pick me up and one of the most refreshing drinks available. Of course, here at home, consuming a cup in the afternoons is not only a cherished tradition but part of many peoples lifestyle. Just because you are going on a cruise holiday doesn’t mean that the 4 PM calling for tea must be eliminated!

Each and every afternoon on many cruise ships, there’s the traditional British tea time. What varies is whether they have ‘Afternoon Tea’ consisting of tea, sandwiches, scones and cake and mainly a self serve or ‘High Tea’, a more formal event with white-gloved waiters serving on fine china with several trays of goodies.

Afternoon tea is something not to miss on a cruise holiday. Here is a brief description of what you can expect on some cruise lines that take tea time seriously.

CRYSTAL CRUISES

The Palm Court holds afternoon tea daily with a harpist or musical performances themed towards the composer of the day. The waiting staff are very attentive, whether alone or with a group of friends. The sandwiches and savory pastries are always a delectable indulgence as are the wide variety of fine teas.

afternoon tea

Image courtesy of Crystal Cruises

CELEBRITY CRUISES

Celebrity will be happy to include a bottle of bubbly (if requested) during their version of a proper high tea. One of their specialty restaurants is set up for a fully fledged High Tea with a violinist, premium Forte teas, Wedgwood china and Riedel crystal and finger sandwiches and pastries. The high tea experience takes place once or twice a sailing and is not gratis but afternoon tea is an everyday occurrence and free of charge.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE

Holland America’s fleet is vast with many fabulous dining venues but their themed afternoon tea events really do stand out. One to note is the once a week Royal Dutch High Tea. This features waiter service in the main dining room with music provided by a string quartet. The right tea is always on hand and compliments a menu that includes a stunning presentation of delicate tea sandwiches and an assortment of biscuits and pastries.

CUNARD LINE

There’s always a location for afternoon tea as a standard tradition onboard a Cunard ship. Afternoon tea is served at no extra cost in the Queens Room daily throughout the fleet. Also available is the enhanced Afternoon Tea experience which is chargeable but comes with many extras including a glass of Champagne, gourmet sandwiches and afternoon tea cakes. There will also be a Harpist playing during the event.

afternoon tea

Image courtesy of Cunard Cruises

PRINCESS CRUISES

Afternoon Tea takes place on a Princess ship every day and is complimentary. Indulge in picture perfect finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and petit fours. White gloved waiters serve a variety of teas, whilst passengers listen to the soothing tones offered by a string quartet or other musical entertainers. Discover the variety of teas available instead of the standard originals with exotic fruit and aromatic flavours and pamper the palate with the miniature sandwiches and pastries served.

P&O CRUISES

Afternoon tea is served in the one of the restaurants onboard all of the ships in P&O’s fleet. However, if you are booked on the new Britannia, then a real once in a lifetime treat is available. The owner of London’s Cake Boy boutique, celebrity chef and French patisserie, Eric Lanlard is overseeing Britannia’s new Champagne afternoon tea event in the Epicurean Restaurant.

afternoon tea Eric Lanlard

Image courtesy of P&O Cruises

FRED. OLSEN CRUISES

Fred Olsen offer a complimentary afternoon tea service which includes many sandwich and cake options. They also offer a traditional afternoon service which incurs a small charge but offers fantastic views from the Observatory Lounge plus music from the onboard pianist and a range of premium teas and sandwiches.

Afternoon tea is a real highlight for many even when on holiday and with the different options available these days don’t forget to ask your cruise specialist for details before you book.

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Viking River Cruises New Venture
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Mississippi River

Although Viking River Cruises are primarily known for their European and China voyages the company has made headlines with a new destination and itinerary that will be available in the very near future.

During the 1800’s, scores of big paddle steamer riverboats floated up and down the Mississippi. That era is just a memory now however tourism in the south will rise again thanks to this famous river cruise line.

The line announced that they will be building state of the art river vessels in the United States. The first two ships will be unveiled in 2017 with the luxury ships tailored for the Mississippi River.

If all goes well, then more vessels are planned over the next three-year period. Viking is keeping most of the details under wraps but hinted that maximum occupancy for both ships will be about 300 passengers.

According to the announcement, the home port will be set up in New Orleans. Vessels will be scheduled to depart from the famous French Quarter and travel up the river with the trips taking place over several nights.

Bourbon Street New Orleans

Along the routes passengers will view historic mansions in the distance with ports of call such as St. James, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana in Louisiana, Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis. St. Paul, Minnesota may also be a destination depending on the weather and the season.

Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen revealed the details whilst at the Port of New Orleans, Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal stated, “It’s about thousands of tourists coming to spend money at our hotels, our restaurants, in our city and our shops.”

The Red Wing Port Authority in St. Paul, Minnesota plans on spending ₤3.5 million to build dock space exclusively for this venture. Weather can be an issue during late autumn and the winter months and itineraries may have to be diverted from the St. Paul area during this time frame.

Saint Paul Mississippi

Currently, there are only two riverboats sailing on the Mississippi, the American Queen, owned by the American Queen Steamboat Company and the Queen of the Mississippi, owned by American Cruise Lines. However, the Viking River Cruise vessels will not look like the classic steam vessels that used to be seen on the Mississippi.

Viking River Cruises are known for their fabulous outside staterooms, exceptional dining and scenic stopovers. They promise it will be no different for this new operation.

Visitors will certainly have plenty of things to do in New Orleans prior to embarking. Visiting the world famous Bourbon Street is a must as it perfectly emphasises why this city is so magical. The sound of saxophones will be echoing through the night while the bars are filled with noise and partying. Be sure to check out the street markets and pick up some unique crafts that are sold here.

But there’s more to New Orleans than parties. Take some time to check out a thrilling New Orleans Saints football game and cheer with the fans at the internationally known Superdome stadium. Nature lovers will be thrilled at the Audubon Nature Institute.

Named after famous bird artist John James Audubon who resided in the area, the institute features thousands of species at the Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Insectariums.

New Orleans is constantly associated with jazz music and nowhere is this better seen then at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival which is one of the largest music festivals in the USA. The festival also allows patrons to enjoy local foods such as po’boys and jelly rolls.

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