Upcoming Sailings to Pique the Interest
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Cruise goers are always looking forward to new experiences and the cruise lines are only too happy to oblige. The following three ships are just a small example of what ideas they have been coming up with.

NORWEGIAN JEWEL’S ADVENTUROUS NEW PORT

Norwegian cruise line plan to be the first cruise line to forego Roatan Bay Islands in Honduras and instead head to the first mainland cruise port known as Banana Coast Trujillo. The port of call promises an authentic Caribbean experience far away from rows of hotels and shops. The true beauty and culture of this new destination will be a first for many of their loyal guests.

Trujillo Honduras

“Trujillo is an alternative to Roatan which is an island – this opens up mainland Honduras for the first time” stated Honduras Tourism Minister Emilio Silvestre.

The Banana Coast‘s natural diversity is waiting to be discovered with waterfalls, mountains and tropical rainforests. Norwegian plans to cater for passengers with 15 varied shore excursions geared to meet everyones interests.

The Guaimoreto Lagoon Nature Reserve boasts rare species of hummingbirds and spoonbill. Diving is optimum in this region and the coastal waters contain exceptional coral reefs that are teeming with marine life. Family-oriented snorkeling excursions will be made available and if you are seeking a ‘wet and wild’ adventure you can try your hand at white-water rafting.

There are many historical areas to visit that will give you a new perspective of the country. The Bay of Trujillo was the first mainland landing spot in 1502 during Christopher Columbus’s final voyage. Many artifacts pertaining to Honduran history can be viewed in the local museum. You can even visit an indigenous Garifuna tribe.

The 2,376 passenger Norwegian Jewel will call on Banana Coast Trujillo weekly during the months of October and November through to April of next year.

Other ships such as Holland America Line’s Ryndam, SilverSea’s Silver Shadow and P&O Cruises Adonia will also be making the journey shortly after.

A GRAND VOYAGE BACK TO EUROPE WITH MSC DIVINA

In 2015, the MSC Divina will prove that all roads lead to Rome including those upon the water. The goddess of the seas, MSC Divina is the third ship in the Fantasia Class.

Christened by international screen legend Sophia Loren in Marseille, France in 2012, the ship was going to remain ‘permanently’ in the Western Hemisphere. Her itineraries were exclusively for the Caribbean.

However, changes do take place and the CEO of MSC Cruises; Gianni Onorato announced that MSC Divina is returning to her European roots during the summer months. She will have her first Grand Voyage on 26 April, 2015.

The Grand Voyage is more than an exclusive ocean cruise across the Atlantic according to MSC. Taking a leisurely 20 nights, this one promises plenty of quality time in each port of call.

The Voyage departs from Miami and makes a call in New York for two full days and an overnight stay. She then sails to Bermuda for some fun in the sun before continuing on to Ponta Delgada in the Azores, next is two days and an overnight stay in Lisbon and then on to Cadiz, Barcelona and Naples before ending up in Civitavecchia (Rome).

New York

If the Grand Voyage is too long you can experience life onboard the MSC Divina with seven-night itineraries in the Med beginning on the 16th of May through to the 3rd of October 2015.

MSC Divina features 1,751 staterooms and contains a casino, five swimming pools, a 4-D Cinema, Formula 1 Simulator, the first Aqua Cycling at Sea and seven restaurants with 18 bars and lounges.

In November 2015, MSC Divina returns to Miami to continue her familiar seven-night Caribbean sailings after a one month stint in dry dock.

RHAPSODY OF THE SEAS WILL SAMBA IN THE OTHER AMERICA 

The cruise world is buzzing with the news that Royal Caribbean has a new exciting South American itinerary in store.

The company announced that their luxurious ship, the 2,040-passenger Rhapsody of the Seas will be deployed under the Equator in South America from the 5th of December 2015 to the 10th of April 2016. According to the corporation, it will be centred mostly on the Brazilian area. Starting out of Santos, the sailing will go on a seven day journey to cities such as to Punta Del Este, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires Argentina

In addition, the company will offer shorter 3 to 5 night mini-cruises. However, there will also be a special New Year’s celebration cruise that will allow their passengers to witness firsthand the Copacabana Beach in Río de Janeiro’s spectacular firework display.

Other exciting trips include a 14 night trip through areas such as Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Apart from visiting some of the aforementioned areas, the ship will also head through the Chilean Fjords, the Strait of Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Cape Horn and Puerto Madryn.

The Vision-class ship was refurbished in 2012 and after dry dock additional staterooms were added plus an outdoor movie screen joined other shipboard favourites such as a Ben & Jerry ice cream parlour, full-service spa, specialty dining venues and two swimming pools.

Royal Caribbean has put a lot of stock into South America in the expectation that it will continue to be very successful in the future.

Cruise lines always hope that a cruise passenger will become a repeat customer. To entice them, they will continue to serve up new and innovative sailings.

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A review of the Arosa Flora
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Experienced cruise writer Anthony Nicholas reviews the Arosa Flora Ship

The recent explosion in the popularity of river cruises has brought to the fore a whole raft of new boats and lines, each seeming to offer more enhanced facilities for leisure and relaxation than the other. With such a plethora of excellent options on offer, navigating through the choices can be something of a minefield, to put it mildly.

I sailed on the brand new, year old A-Rosa Flora on a seven day round trip cruise from Cologne to the highlights of Belgium and Holland. And, while the itinerary and sights along the way were both eminently enjoyable, it was the actual hardware – the boat herself – that made the entire adventure such a joyride from first to last.

The A-Rosa Flora can accommodate some one hundred and seventy passengers in cabins arranged over two decks; all come with sliding, floor to ceiling glass doors that open onto a panoramic Juliet balcony. The fixtures, fittings and bedding were all of an incredibly high quality, easily the finest I have ever seen on such a boat. Though not as big as the cabins on some boats, they were more than expansive enough for a week sailing along the springtime Rhine.

Flora Deluxe Suite

Public rooms comprised of a forward, horseshoe shaped panorama lounge, with floor to ceiling windows, light wood accents, and a starboard facing bar at the rear. This led into a walkway that abutted the main dining room. Lined with huge picture windows, this gave the effect of a small, intimate interior boulevard.

The restaurant is light, airy, and elegant. With vibrant colours and simple but exquisite styling, this deck gave the A-Rosa Flora a very open, sunny feel. Everything- from the flatware and stemware to the actual food itself- was of the absolute highest quality. Service across the boat was deft, efficient and a constant delight.

Flora Restaurant

On top, a small pool is surrounded by sunbeds shielded by windbreakers. This leads down to an outdoor bar, and a forward facing observation terrace sprinkled with wooden tables and white canvas chairs. Afternoon tea can be taken here when the weather permits.

Inside, a small sauna and leisure room has portholes looking out over the rolling Rhine itself. As an all inclusive product, A-Rosa includes all drinks- alcoholic and soft- for the entire itinerary, rather than just the normal lunchtime and evening wine and beer set up offered by so many competing boats.

The Flora Bar

Fitness fans will find that the boat carries a full complement of pedal bikes for use in the various ports of call.

In sum, the A-Rosa Flora is a fully inclusive, finely crafted floating ‘grand hotel’ that elevates a trip down the river to the status of a dream adventure. The staff are friendly and competent without ever being overly intrusive; you can literally be as engaged or not as you want.

To find out more about Anthony please visit Travels with Anthony

Marco Polo’s Commemorative Anniversary Voyage
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The Marco Polo Ship

There are very few cruise ship remaining that have a long history behind them and are still sailing. The Marco Polo is one of them and is gearing up for her 50th anniversary.

HISTORY OF THE MARCO POLO

The Marco Polo has a long and distinguished history behind her. She originally began as one of five identical ships in the Russian/Ukrainian fleet back in 1965. She originally sailed under the Baltic Shipping Company as a transatlantic ferry to Montreal, Canada and then back to Leningrad in the USSR.

In order to break through the enormous amount of ice, the ships were constructed with a heavier hull for stability, making the Marco Polo a lot sturdier than the normal passenger ships.

Her exterior design has a larger storage area than most seafaring vessels and at her peak she had a cruising range of 10,000 nautical miles.

The Marco Polo was capable of carrying 700 passengers in two classes of service and 500 additional passengers who remained cabin less.

The ship was purchased in 1991 by Orient Lines and renamed the Marco Polo. She was retrofitted for passenger service using the normal standards of the cruise industry at that time. She changed hands several times over the coming years. She is currently under charter to Cruise & Maritime Voyages in the UK.

UK passengers never have to travel far to board this grand lady of the sea. Her capacity remains at 800 passengers, making for an intimate cruise holiday experience with departures in 2015 from London Tilbury, Newcastle and Leith.

However, the biggest event of the year will be Marco Polo’s Commemorative Anniversary Voyage to Canada & Greenland.

AN ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION FIT FOR A LADY

In celebration of her 50th anniversary in 2015, Cruise & Maritime Voyages have decided there’s no better way to salute this event than by holding an anniversary voyage. She will be reproducing her original transatlantic sailing roots by heading to Eastern Canada. 

This specific sailing to Canada and Greenland will depart from Tilbury on the 24th of July in 2015 for 36 nights. As the ship will be sailing during the height of summer, it will incorporate a few ports from the land of the midnight sun.

WHAT OTHER EXCITING DESTINATIONS WILL YOU SEE ON THIS VOYAGE?

Marco Polo will first visit the Shetland and Faroe Islands and make its way up the various fjords in the region. Some of the areas that she will be visiting include Lerwick, Tórshavn and Reykjavik.

From Reykjavik, you can choose to take an optional Golden Circle cruise where you will be able to see sights such as the Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermic area of Geysir and the lush Thingvellir National Park.

In Greenland, the largest island in the world, you can visit the town of Tasiilaq on the island of Ammassalik. Located around a fjord and surrounded by mountains, this stunning sight will be a location to remember.

At Cape Farewell and Qaqortoq, there are enormous drifting icebergs that gracefully glide across the ocean. From here, the ship will head towards Narsarsuaq, located near the ice sheet. Flower Valley, which is strangely covered with flora is yet another must see area. After this, the ship will head up to the Tunugdliarfik Fjord.

The remaining 17 days will be spent exploring Eastern Canada. Take a relaxing trip along the St. Lawrence River and sees regions such as Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Montreal and Quebec.

It must be noted that the Marco Polo is an adults only ship and in addition caters to a more mature audience.

To book this cruise you will need to be quick as cabins are selling fast! Click here to see the Itinerary

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Crossing the Atlantic in Style
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transatlantic cruises

Crossing the Atlantic by ship conjures up images of the past with Louis Vuitton steamer trunks, society figures and celebrities dressed to the nines and lounging on the deck with a cup of bouillon and a Burberry blanket.

That nostalgic image of Atlantic cruise crossings is long gone.

Cunard has been the dominant player in this category for years. The Queen Mary 2 does non-stop crossings between Southampton and New York and back again from May through to December in six night stints.

What the other cruise lines offer are known as a repositioning cruises. They usually make one crossing eastbound from the United States and the Caribbean during April and May and westbound from Europe in September, October and November.

ADVANTAGES

The biggest advantage of this type of cruise is having more days at sea and the lower prices. You can sometimes be upgraded to a higher category cabin, such as a veranda or even a suite, for what an inside cabin would cost on a traditional sailing visiting several ports.

Repositioning and transatlantic cruises vary in duration from six days to 14 days with some that take almost three weeks or longer.

ACTIVITIES

More time at sea and less ports of call means activities are plentiful. There are a wide variety of activities offered that cover anything you want to do. From language or cooking classes to private tours of the engine rooms and the bridge, there’s an experience for anyone. In addition, most ships offer a large selection of entertainment with a theatre offering creative shows as well as a cinema that shows current releases.

Take advantage of the latest treatments for looking good and wellbeing in the spa and health centre. No matter what the weather or the temperatures, bring along your bathing suit. Ships have overhead awnings so taking a dip is possible anytime whilst at sea.

For those who are feeling lucky the casino has all sorts of  games to play. Everything from poker to roulette will be featured here. There are clubs open until dawn to dance the night away in and this can be a great way to meet new people.

The other draw after partaking in a daily choice of activities is star-gazing. There is nothing like being at sea with the stars gleaming from above.

DINING

Just like port intensive cruise holidays, dining is pretty much the same onboard transatlantic or repositioning cruises with traditional dining options plus the many specialty restaurants on board. Those with a sweet tooth will be glad to hear that there might be both a gelato bar and an ice cream bar available as well. Casual food such as burgers are readily available during the day as are the more healthier options.

HOW TO CHOOSE

Apart from Cunard who offer the direct transatlantic cruise there are quite a few cruise lines who offer repositioning cruises and it can be difficult deciding which one to choose. You will need to decide what type of experience will suit you. There are the megaships making the crossing with activities such as rock climbing, bowling and ice skating. Then there are the smaller yacht type of ships oozing with casual luxury but with with elegance and grace too.

Every cruise line’s fleet offers a different style of cruising; it’s up to you the passenger to decide according to your tastes.

CRUISE LINES OFFERING ATLANTIC CROSSINGS

Check out any of these cruise lines as they all offer atlantic crossings in 2015.

  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Cunard
  • Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines
  • Holland America
  • MSC Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Seabourn
  • SeaDream
  • Windstar

Is the transatlantic cruise holiday a good fit for every traveller? If you want to get from Europe to the other side of the atlantic in a relaxing manner and at a slower pace, then the transatlantic cruise is the perfect way to do it. However, for those of you who have little interest in socialising and are seeking to visit many places, or maybe you’re not the type to sit about, these cruises may not be for you.

There are still a few ships on the continent heading westbound this year. Now is the chance to see what it’s all about.

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An Introduction to Saga Cruises
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saga cruises

For the mature and discerning traveller, a smart choice to consider would be a holiday with Saga Cruises. The Saga company was founded by Sydney de Haan, when he purchased a small seaside hotel located in Folkestone.

He noticed that his cliental tend to be older when the high season was finished. He also noticed a specific niche needed to be filled for the senior traveller.

By presenting affordable holidays exclusively to people over 60, Saga was was born and their corporate headquarters still remain in Folkestone. The instant success of his idea had the Saga business model unmatched in the travel industry.

As time progressed, the age group changed to being ‘over 50′ to attract more customers. With an established name in the industry, Sydney de Haan was awarded the ‘Officer Of The Order of the British Empire’ for providing exceptional tourism services.

Saga Cruises (also known as Saga Shipping) did not get their start until 1997 and contain a distinctly British feel to them. This may be due to its staff, many of whom previously worked on Cunard ships. Saga does appeal to a similar audience as Cunard with their high quality service and elegant ship features.

Highlights

Their luxurious liners, Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II are both child free. The ships also cater for the single passenger and cabins for people cruising alone are available. Generally, a Saga Cruise follows its original philosophy to attract those over the age of fifty. It should not be considered if you are seeking an endless party atmosphere and thrilling attractions such as water parks and rock climbing.

Although the ships offer an elegant demeanor, it is also very informal in its dress code and smart casual is the order on most days. The entertainment on the ship is low key, with casinos and extravagant shows being replaced with libraries and trivia games.

Saga Pearl II

Their smallest and one of their most recent ships, Saga Pearl II is perfect for those looking for an intimate cruise experience. The vessel only holds 450 passengers and this allows you to get to know your fellow shipmates during your holiday.

saga pearl

The main area for socialising is in the Discovery Lounge. This is the place where lectures, important information about the ports and games are held. There’s even a dance class, for those who want to get up and improve their moves. A traditional English tea is served every afternoon and ballroom dancing and cabaret style entertainment is available in the evenings.

saga pearl discovery lounge

The library contains over 3,500 books and a large collection of DVDs. In addition, there’s an E-Library for the passengers who are more up to speed with new technology.

Relax after a long day with treatments in the spa or one of the yoga or Pilate classes both of which are a great way to reduce stress and feel refreshed in both body and mind.

Meals are served three times a day with a formal dining area staffed by waiters and offering international fare. For a more informal experience, try out the Verandah which is a buffet during breakfast and lunch and becomes a casual dining restaurant in the evening.

A few lucky passengers might get to dine with the captain in the Chart and Ward Rooms. These special rooms only sit 16 so make sure you get there early.

Saga Sapphire

Many of the features found onboard the Saga Pearl II are also present on the Saga Sapphire.

Originally known as the MS Europa, the Saga Sapphire was renamed after it underwent a major renovation in 2012. The Sapphire has a capacity of 706 passengers with a limited number of full size veranda cabins as well as having six suites also with balconies. There are also additional cabins fitted with small French balconies.

saga sapphire

Saga has made this vessel a delightful place to be and is contemporary in décor and style. The ship contains Wi-Fi and iPads on loan to all guests, letting you know that you are in the 21st century.

However, the ship is representative of the popular British seaside communities of the’50s and ’60s, whereas indulging in fish and chips is the norm, and the atmosphere is more attuned to a social club.

Public spaces include a principal restaurant, a show lounge, two specialty dining venues at no extra cost, and several lounges. The Main dining room, ‘Pole to Pole’ reflects the eight different continents of the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Although the venue holds 600 passengers, the continents are separated from each other, which enables you to feel as though you are in a more intimate restaurant.

There are two swimming pools, one inside and one outside. The ‘St. Andrews crazy golf’ contains just six holes and is great fun for non golfers too.

Tips are always included in the cruise fare. Next years schedule has these two favourites sailing the seas to the Americas, the Far East, India, Iceland, the Middle East plus places closer to home.

Take pleasure in tasteful and comfortable settings with exceptional facilities, itineraries visiting lesser known ports of call, delicious cuisine with service that is impeccable.

Images courtesy of Saga Cruises

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Over 50 and like British style cruising? Please add your comments below.