A New Dining Experience on Norwegian Cruise Lines
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norwegian next dining

Norwegian Cruise Lines have been extremely innovative in their dining facilities over the past ten years. After all, they were the first line to use the phrase “FreeStyle Dining”. When first launched, the program limited itself to an assigned area in the main dining room. This allowed passengers to dine whenever they wished between 17:30 and 22:00, thus making the whole eating experience a lot more flexible.

Dress codes were relaxed from the formal evenings of the past, although the management still frowned upon inappropriate dress, such as shorts and vest type tops.

FreeStyle Dining quickly became a ‘buzzword’ in the cruise industry and forced other cruise lines to take notice and follow Norwegians lead.

After this Norwegian upgraded their dining options with an array of specialty restaurants. The entire fleet has at least six alternative specialty restaurants in each of their ships including the Japanese hibachi-style restaurant “Teppanyaki and the “Cagney’s Steakhouse” both of which are firm favourites with their regular and new passengers.

In 2014 Norwegian made it more affordable for all passengers to experience these restaurants with the introduction of a prepaid specialty dining option known as the Ultimate Dining Package.

THE NORWEGIAN NEXT PROGRAM

The corporation recently announced to the media, their Norwegian NEXT program. Much to the delight of their loyal passengers the menus will be revamped and improvements made in all the dining areas.

Norwegian NEXT began earlier this month, and promises to present more regional focused menus as well as a larger and updated version of their most popular dishes. The menus will also have helpful tips and recommendations from the ship’s chefs on what to order as well as good wine pairings for each dish. For total ‘foodies ‘and gourmets, the full culinary history of what is being served will be provided as well.

Contemporary dishes with an exceptional variety are now available on the menu. Appetizers and entrees such as the Tuna Crudo, Beef short ribs with Cajun shrimp, Atlantic scallops seared with fennel puree are just a few examples. For seafood lovers, there’s good news as more seafood dishes have been added including an increase in sushi and crab onboard.

Norwegians Tuna Crudo

Nothing is forgotten, not even desserts, Norwegian Cruise Line has decided to offer a special dessert event on every ship. The “Chocoholic Night”, which will be held randomly during the cruise, will allow passengers to sample over 7 delectable chocolate desserts. Everything from an enormous chocolate volcano to a pot de crème made with Nutella or even white chocolate strawberry mousse.

Some of the restaurants such as O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, which is located on the ships Getaway, Breakaway, Epic and Jewel, will be offering specialty dish nights as well. A few of the best meals from the restaurants will be free of an excess charge to encourage more passengers to sample these delights.

O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill

Besides all these progressions, their trademark FreeStyle Dining remains intact.  However, passengers will now have the ability to book restaurants up to 90 days in advance and can request a table for up to 12 people. Dining times are in specific slots on the half hour from 17:30 to 20:30.

Norwegian Cruise Line has truly pulled out all the stops to make their menu systems and dining facilities as desirable as possible with this program. The new dining menus and enhancement concepts have begun on most ships. They will be available system wide for the entire fleet by early 2015.

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Hapag Lloyds commitment to the UK Market
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europa 2 pool

Hapag was one of the oldest shipping companies in the world. It has been in operation in one form or another since the 19th century and built a cruise ship, Augusta Victoria, in 1891. The infamous Bismarck was also built by Hapag. By the 20th century, Hapag was the world’s largest shipping company with 175 ships.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s after a merger between Hapag and Norddeutscher Lloyd (another prosperous shipping company that was attuned to the transportation industry), took place that it became a shipping corporation known as Hapag-Lloyd.

Eventually, the line geared itself towards the lucrative luxury cruise marketplace and eventually gave up their transatlantic crossings.

Hapag Lloyd have consistently been classified as the highest rated in the luxury cruise category.

All of their ships are known for their wide open spaces, high-quality dining and spa options as well as the ports of call they offer. Pricing is on the high side but it’s well worth it considering the impeccable features and interesting itineraries available.

At a recent press conference held in London, it was announced that Hapag-Lloyd is about to expand it’s British market share. Previously they had exclusively attracted German-speaking passengers but they are now ready to become a truly global cruise line.

An increase of at least 7% is expected from UK cruisers

After the press briefing, the executives claimed that they expect at least a 7% increase with passengers from the UK and 15% increase in passengers located from other countries outside of Germany. The line has begun to increase its marketing, not only in the UK, but in the US and Australia too as they see the English speaking nations having the largest potential for growth.

To achieve this projection, the EUROPA 2 will feature strongly along with the other expedition ship the HANSEATIC. Launched in 2013 the EUROPA 2 is the latest addition to their existing fleet of luxury ships. Since its inception, she has a 97% recommendation rate, which is exceptional for any cruise ship.

The HANSEATIC

The Berlitz Cruise Guide for 2014 recognised these attributes and awarded her 5-stars. She holds approximately 500 passengers and is an all-suite ship that is very sleek with a casual luxury ambiance. EUROPA 2 is destined to be characterised as the “International” ship of the fleet.

EUROPA 2

After surveying regular customers the company realised that many of them were asking for drinks packages to be made available although gratuities are included in the final cost of the cruise.

To counterbalance this long-standing policy, the corporation announced that there will be a 200 Euro beverage package offered on all bookings for the ships EUROPA 2 and Hanseatic. The beverage package venture will begin in the autumn of 2014.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ CEO Karl Pojer said: “We listen to our international customers, and we know there are needs that are different from the German market … From the feedback we have heard that the subject of all-inclusive is always coming up.”

Cruise devotees should make sure to watch out for any special offers on these ships that are now in progress with more on the way in the future.

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Learn to Cook with James Martin and his Crew
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James Martin with Olly Smith

Have you ever wanted to replicate the dishes that the celebrity TV chefs create?. Well, why not join James Martin and his selected five Food Heroes for a fun-filled cruise holiday which includes the latest innovation from P&O Cruises called ‘The Cookery Club’?

This will be the newest cookery school at sea with the ovens being lit next March on the largest ship of P&O’s fleet, the Britannia. Onboard, the ship’s agenda will include the most extensive schedule of cooking classes. Don’t worry if you have no experience or feel it is too late to learn a thing or two as classes will be open to anyone regardless of your age or ability in the kitchen.

The Cookery Club is managed under the guidance of James Martin, who plans to be available for various cruises. Participants will get the opportunity to work and create new menus right alongside this famous chef. During sailings when James is not onboard, his talented team will be running the club.

“I’m really excited about joining P&O Cruises in this brand new venture,” exclaimed James. “I’m absolutely delighted with the progress of The Cookery Club, the plans look amazing and I think it will be a world-class space,” he added.

The Cookery Club will have cooking stations for 24 participants

When the celebrity chefs including Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, Eric Lanlard and Olly Smith are onboard specific sailings, they will be instructing master classes and hosting interactive sessions during lunch and dinner at the chef’s table. The rumour is that there’s bound to be a few more surprise celebrity chefs on various itineraries.

They too will be letting the group benefit from their expertise with specific demonstrations and classes. Details are to be announced soon on the ongoing program.

po-cruises food heroes

Joining P&O Cruises, Rob Cottam, will serve as the resident chef and manager of the club. His goal is to ensure that all classes are reflective of the cooking trends and tastes.

Hailing from Leiths School of Food & Wine and Ashburton Cookery School, Rob is no stranger to foreign cuisine since he is an avid traveler and has worked abroad too. As an expert in Oriental cuisine, some of his specialties that he will share with the group will include fare that hails from Thailand, Vietnam and China.

What type of theme will be taught? According to Rob, it all depends on the ports of call. Whilst in the Mediterranean, the cuisine, will match the specialities of the region. Nothing but locally sourced and fresh ingredients, herbs and spices will be used. Besides whipping up a new dish, participants will learn how to purchase the best with trips to local markets and vineyards.

Once mixing, blending and even trying your hand at souffle, guests will discover how easy it is to recreate these dishes once they are back in their homes.

P&O has created the ideal kitchen space on deck 17 onboard the new 1837-cabin ship Britannia for The Cookery Club.

The ship’s maiden voyage commences on 14 March 2015 to the Mediterranean from Southampton. Cook up a storm with the best on this 14-night cruise which includes calls in Spain, Italy and France.

Whether you are an absolute novice who can’t boil an egg, accomplished at home or simply love to try new recipes, then The Cookery Club is an excellent way to combine a cruise holiday with learning a recipe or two from the professionals.

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A New Itinerary May Be On The Horizon
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Lake Nicaragua

A popular cruise itinerary during the winter season is travelling from the Caribbean Sea through the Panama Canal to the Pacific side of the Western Hemisphere. Apart from going through the canal, the only other alternative is to travel to the southernmost tip of South America and around the Cape Horn. However this is not feasible due to the time it would take and many safety issues.

The Nicaraguan government and developers have recently announced the details behind a proposed 23-billion-pound canal project. This budget is four times the national gross domestic product (GDP) of Nicaragua.

The HKND group have been appointed to run the project and their chief engineer, Dong Yunsong, stated that the company considered six various routes before deciding upon their final choice. The plan has the canal beginning at the Brito River’s mouth and traveling across 65 miles of Lake Nicaragua from the Pacific Ocean coast. On the other side of the lake, it will continue until it reaches Bluefields Bay on the Caribbean side.

The Environmental Issues are still unclear

Environmentalists are worried about the implications of the route, but there have been no formal disruptions to the project as of yet.

Dong Yunsong evaded mentioning anything about the environmental impact the project would have during the groups presentation.

He did say that the canal would not have any notable effect on water levels in or affect any of the population residing near the lakes and rivers involved in the project. He did state, “The channel will use mainly the water in the basin of the river Punta Gorda, which is sufficient to operate the channel” . He also said an area of 154 square miles will be set aside with the formation of an artificial lake after the construction of the canal.

This is not the first time that Nicaragua and others in the area have considered building a canal. The idea has been discussed for many years with its original blueprint created in the 16th century. The biggest hurdle as to why it was never started before was always down to finances.

Even today this is going to be the biggest obstacle. The fact remains that the canal surpasses the 49 mile Panama Canal in length and is estimated to be 173 miles in total. There are many who are concerned that the budget for this project is not realistic and could exceed the 70-billion-pound mark.

And of course, the developers will need to study more carefully the environmental impact concerning Lake Nicaragua, which is Central America’s largest source of freshwater.

The Canal could benefit the Country in the long term

Others will argue that the canal will benefit the country immensely. By becoming a major shipping channel, exports between nations will have faster arrival times. It is will raise the GDP of Nicaragua and the country will prosper. The government feels it will be worth it to help create jobs and alleviate the six million Nicaraguans out of the poverty level they now have.

How soon will the canal be a fact? Whilst still subject to environmental and social impact studies, it appears the installation will start towards the end of this year. The project will take approximately five years to complete with the first ship tentatively scheduled to pass through in 2020.

For cruise passengers, this will open up new destinations in Central America and will serve as an alternative to the traditional Panama Canal cruise holiday. Perhaps, the cruise line will do it as a bilateral sailing going one way with one canal and returning via the other. During the presentation, it was explained that the planned canal will be capable of handling the largest mega ships that are a feature of today’s cruise industry.

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The Daily Mail Cruise Show
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The CRUISE Show visits Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow this Autumn and will be packed with inspiration and information to help you discover your perfect cruise.

There are an amazing array of destinations and cruise styles available, some you may never have discovered before, so whether you’re an experienced ocean traveller, a lover of the laidback culturally rich river cruises, or completely new to the wonders of cruising, let the CRUISE Show bring you the whole spectrum of incredible holidays afloat and make it easy for you to find your ideal cruise.

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We are also offering readers reduced price advance tickets to the shows! Get your tickets for only £4 (that’s saving £6 off the door price!!) by quoting ‘2CRUISE’ when booking tickets online at www.cruisingshow.com or when calling 0871 620 4024. (Calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras)