Getaway to the Caribbean from Port Tampa Bay
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It’s the Caribbean cruise season once more. Many cruise lines have repositioned all or some of their fleet to the islands in the sun. Many sailings leave out of Port of Miami or Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

However, another alternative that is becoming popular is Port Tampa Bay. Tampa is positioned on the western coast of Florida, around 40 miles west of Orlando.

PORT TAMPA BAY SAILINGS

Voyages making calls in the Western Caribbean islands, Eastern Mexico, Belize and/or Honduras are the most common itineraries for cruises from Tampa.

Alternatives include cruises to the Eastern Caribbean and the Southern Caribbean calling at the exotic islands of Aruba and Curacao.

This month, Holland America announced that the MS Oosterdam will make Tampa its winter home. Enhancements of nearly £300 million for renovations have been made for 1,964 passengers and a crew of 812, which includes new lounging, dining and entertainment venues and refreshed suites. The ship will offer a variety of cruise options, from seven day, fourteen day and twenty one day itineraries to the western and southern Caribbean.

Holland America Oosterdam

Image courtesy of Holland America Cruises

Port president and CEO stated during the MS Oosterdam first sailing out of Port Tampa Bay this past week, “For nearly 35 years, we have enjoyed a stellar relationship with Holland America Line, and it is gratifying to us that our cruise partners continue to show faith and enthusiasm in the strength our market. We look forward to many more years of sailings.”

However, Holland America is not the only major cruise line that sails out of Tampa Bay. The Carnival Pride and Carnival Paradise will offer a series of five to 14 day trips from Tampa, as will Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of The Seas and Rhapsody of The Seas. The other major cruise line to offer sailings out of Port Tampa Bay is NCL’s Norwegian Jade.

There are many advantages of sailing out of Tampa and this Port of departure is also a top destination in itself.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE OR AFTER YOUR CRUISE

Make it a true holiday experience by extending your cruise with a pre or post stay in the Tampa Bay area. The biggest and best are within driving distance. A quick few days in Tampa to relax and unwind before or after your cruise holiday really will enhance your holiday.

The biggest attraction is located in nearby Orlando, which is filled to the brim with exciting theme parks that will appeal to all members of the family. The most famous, of course, being Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Having opened its doors in 1971, the complex contains four theme Parks, two water parks, thirty on-site Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, a sports complex and a shopping and entertainment centre amongst many other facilities.

Walt Disney Orlando

Nearby is Universal Studios Florida, where you can live in the movies by seeing some of their favourite films represented by exciting rides. There are two different theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with the standout attraction of the parks being the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which brings an amazingly detailed Harry Potter world to life.

If Orlando is not feasible, you can always head to Busch Gardens, the local theme park. Here, the 19th century African theme will make you feel at home while at the same time offering fun activities and adrenaline pumping rides such as the SheiKra, a 61 metre fall roller coaster with a 90 degree drop.

Dare you take the trip? Busch Gardens also has many animal habitats such as the Bird Gardens, an aviary with over 500 different species of tropical birds, a cheetah run and the Curiosity Caverns, which allows you to see nocturnal animals during the daytime.

ONLY ONE DAY TO SPARE TOURING?

Venture beyond the horizon of theme parks to other points of interest too. The city is very cosmopolitan with a number of museums. If time is limited, take the opportunity to experience some of the city’s top attractions. Port Tampa Bay offers easy access to some of Tampa’s most popular attractions with many even within walking distance.

The historic Ybor City, also known as the “Cigar Capital of the World” takes you back to a golden age. Walk amongst the peaceful 19th century style gardens and tour a typical 1800’s cigar worker’s home. The Ybor City Museum State Park contains temporary and permanent exhibits to conjure up what life was like in Ybor’s past.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has more than 2,000 animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America residing amongst 63-acres of lush habitats. This zoo is officially recognised by Florida as the top centre for wildlife conservation in the state.

Lowry Park Zoo

More entertaining education can be found in the Museum of Science & Industry. This museum contains the only IMAX Dome theatre in the state and makes learning a fun experience. The museum has many different exhibits such as the 3D Printing the Future exhibit, where you can learn how 3D Printing can lend a hand to the improvement of the world such as creating body prosthetics.

The Mission: Moonbase station is an area which speculates what the world will be like in 2070 on a possible moon base.

This extensive section is the crown jewel of the museum, offering interactive experiences of space travel.

Along Tampa’s scenic river bank walkway, sits The Tampa Museum of Art. The museum houses an extensive collection of 20th-century sculpture, paintings and Greek and Roman antiquities.

There are numerous white beaches dotting the coastlines of Florida’s Gulf Coast with warm and pristine waters.

Consider Port Tampa Bay as the departure point for a Caribbean Cruise

If seeking an escape of winter’s wrath, then choose a Caribbean cruise holiday departing from Port Tampa Bay. This modern and efficient port has more points of interest and is close to Tampa Airport. Numerous nonstop flight services from the UK makes it an easy journey.

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Just How Big is Harmony of the Seas?
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Harmony of the seas is the largest cruise ship at sea at with a gross tonnage of 226,963 and can hold over six thousand passengers plus two thousand crew!

But just how big is the Royal Caribbean ship? Watch this video and take a look at the fascinating infographic below to find out.

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Harmony of the Seas Infographic

Harmony of the Seas Infographic

Image thanks Royal Caribbean Cruises

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The London Cruise Show 2017
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London Cruise Show 2017

The leading cruise show in Europe is coming to London again!

The annual show sponsored by the Daily Mail has become very popular with those of you who are contemplating your first cruise holiday and also seasoned cruisers who are looking for something out of the ordinary.

Two days of wonderful cruise advice and free talks from the experts giving you the chance to find out more about certain ships and destinations. You will not find this kind of information in the brochures so be sure to visit the show on the 18th and 19th of February!

WIN TICKETS FOR THE LONDON CRUISE SHOW BELOW

We have 20 pairs of tickets to give away for the show. Simply enter your email address below and you’re done!

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ABOUT2CRUISE SPECIAL OFFER

If you want to be sure of getting a ticket we have arranged a discounted price for our readers. For just £4 you can guarantee your place at the show. That’s a discount of £6!

To take advantage of this offer visit www.cruisingshow.co.uk and use the code ’2CRUISE’ or call 0871 620 4024. (Calls cost 13p per minute plus network costs)

A Hot Cruise Season is Promised for New Zealand
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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
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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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