5 Ships for the Kids Summer Holidays
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Kids Summer Cruise Holidays

With the summer holidays approaching fast, a cruise makes for a great holiday choice. More and more cruise lines realise the importance of a family traveling together, whilst also understanding that all involved have their own needs.

Many cruise lines make it easy for the adults to dine alone away from the children. Yes, couple’s can still have dinner for two in a specialty restaurant indulge in the spa and head to a casino or view the sunset.

Meanwhile, during these couple alone periods, children can enjoy their own activities to the fullest in a supervised and safe environment.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2

When people think of Cunard’s elegant style, it comes as a surprise to see that children are well catered for. The Queen Mary 2 more than delivers in the child friendly aspect with a packed daily activities programme, especially for their summer holiday voyages.

The Play Zone and The Zone are located on Deck six and cater to all age groups. Deck 6 is home to Minnows Splash pool too, a favourite amongst the toddler set. The Play Zone is suitable for toddlers to 7 year olds with fun competitions and arts and crafts.

Older children and teenagers can have fun at The Zone with activities such as table tennis, video games and sports on the deck. Teens also have access to Apple Mac computers and can learn amongst other things, new graphic design software.

Watch the Ask Cunard video

The Queen Mary also has a designated nursery just for infants, so even the youngest member of the family will be well looked after, whist the parents can visit a port or dine alone.

Many sailings depart from Southampton, making it a huge convenience for those who reside in the UK.

Besides transatlantic sailings to or from New York, first time cruisers can venture on one of the short three or four day sailings to Le Havre, Hamburg or Bruges. A longer closer to home adventure offered this summer is an eight day Norwegian Fjords sailing.

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic

Well known for their family friendly entertainment, Disney has spared no expense when it comes to fun on their ocean liners such as the Disney Magic. Disney’s Oceaneer Club stands out from other cruise lines as it features detailed replicas from classic Disney and Pixar films such as Andy’s Room or the factory of Monsters Inc.

Of course, kids have plenty of chances to play with their favourite characters and take part in special events all trip long. Teenagers aged 14 to 17 can also enjoy themselves in the Vibe Club with movie screenings, karaoke competitions and other fun filled activities.

Disney Cruise Line offers cruise holidays varying from five to ten days for their cruise holidays aboard the Disney Magic Cruise Ship.

Watch these kids remembering their Disney Cruise

Enjoy the Western Mediterranean out of Barcelona or take one of the few sailings right out of Dover, which will alleviate the need for air travel. These voyages visit Copenhagen, Oslo, Kristiansand and Stavanger. The Disney Magic Cruise Ship is also scheduled to depart from Copenhagen making port of calls at Stockholm, Helsinki, Saint Petersburg and Tallinn.

MSC Meraviglia

MSC Cruises has expanded and caters to children more than ever before. The newest ship to MSC’s fleet, MSC Meraviglia will begin sailings in June 2017.

Look for attractions onboard such as a dedicated lounge for all family quality time activities called the DOREMI Studio Lounge. For children who love technology send them off to the DOREMI Tech Lab. Get together and see the world famous Cirque de Solei.

Planned facilities for the youngest have been designed in partnership with the LEGO Group and Chicco. Other age appropriate activities are scheduled through children’s’ clubs. The double-deck indoor amusement park will assure parents that their children will never be bored.

Watch the MSC family cruises video

Summer 2017 sailings have the MSC Meraviglia cruising around the Western Mediterranean visiting Genoa, Marseille, Sicily, Naples Malta and Barcelona. Passengers can embark in Barcelona, Genoa or Marseille.

P&O Ventura

Although it may not be as large as the other cruise ships, P&O Cruises Ventura still manages to go above and beyond when it comes to children’s entertainment. The Ventura, which had an upgrade in 2013, has a large Kids Club and is the most family friendly ship of the P&O fleet.

This club includes an entire water fun area complete with a splash pool and a substantial water slide as well as a kid’s disco, the Reef Rangers where children can dance to their heart’s content.

For parents wanting a night on the town, they offer a night nursery for the under 4 age group. Besides designated areas for both the adults and kids, there are family friendly swimming pools and dedicated family restaurants with early eating times.

Watch the P&O family entertainment video

This certainly makes for a balance of parents having periods to themselves without worries and food family quality time spent together.

Besides all the advantages of taking your children on holiday with you and still having time alone, the Ventura’s 2017 summer sailings depart from Southampton. Various sailings from four to seventeen days makes it just the right fit for all. Ports of calls include those in the Greek Isles, Western Mediterranean, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands.

Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas

It should come as no surprise that there are many things to do for young passengers on a Royal Caribbean ship and the fifteen deck Independence of the Seas does just that.

The ship has a unique aspect that appeals to both young and old; an ice skating rink which is a real challenge with some winter fun in the midst of the summer! The FlowRider surf simulators located on the very top deck lets the whole family catch a wave or two.

The Adventure Ocean Club is well known amongst Royal Caribbean fans and has an abundance of activities, that entails enrichment, creativity and recreational. With five different age levels, each age group have their own dedicated facilities. The younger set can get a chance to meet some favourite DreamWorks characters too.

“My Family Time Dining” is a huge hit on the Independence of the Seas and gives families a chance to dine together and expedites service for the children at the table. When they finish, they are whisked back to the Adventure Ocean Club by a staff member. Parents can finish their meals leisurely and catch some entertainment such as the show, “Grease”, the musical.

Watch the Royal Caribbean top 5 family destinations video

Just in time for the summer holidays, with various dates available from May to October, the Independence of the Seas will leave and return on a various number of nights to and from Southampton. Itineraries include the Canary Islands, Western Mediterranean and the British Isles.

Without having to weigh the pros and cons of every cruise line and ship, any of these five top cruise ships are bound to be a hit for families looking to go on holiday this summer.

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Get Lucky on your Cruise Holiday!
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Gambling is a popular activity for a lot of holidaymakers. However, for those that can’t make it to Las Vegas, Macao or the other big casino towns, a good alternative is to take a cruise holiday. The ship’s casino is literally the only place in town and who knows, ‘lady luck’ may shine its eyes upon you.

Some cruise line’s offer more gambling facilities than others; however, most ships should generally have the basics of blackjack, poker, roulette, and slot machines. A notable exception to this is Silversea Cruises, which does not offer poker.

Many cruise companies have increased their gambling offerings in terms of size and gameplay to reflect the “high roller” Las Vegas style atmosphere.

A current development is the idea of Player Programs, offering perks and prizes for those that gamble with large stakes.

If a casino is an important part of your cruise experience then take a look at these five cruise line clubs for a well rounded gaming experience.

CELEBRITY CRUISES BLUE CHIP CLUB

Feel like a VIP when you step into a Celebrity Cruises’ casino. The Fortune Casinos are reminiscent of Caesar’s Palace with marble statues and Roman columns. If it wasn’t for the gentle waves, you’d swear you were in Vegas.

Celebrity ships offer some of the largest casinos at sea, with some containing six blackjack tables and over 270 different slot machines. All this variety will keep you busy for a while!  Regional games such as Caribbean Stud Poker or American Roulette give a unique twist to the casino.

Celebrity Eclipse Casino

 

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CASINO ROYAL

Royal Caribbean’s megaships differ from the norm in many ways and are sure to appeal to even the most casual gambler. Before stepping foot in their casinos, the Hall of Odds and Museum of Gaming presents a timeline history of gambling and casinos.

The casinos in general are some of the largest available on a cruise ship and some of the fleet have an amazing 480 slot machines, an enormous table section, a bookie section and even a bar and grill where you can relax and enjoy a meal in between games. There are also free gaming lessons for those keen to learn.

Casino Royale

 

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE CASINOS AT SEA

NCL’s Casino At Sea has won many awards and has gained many fans around the world for their enormous array of games. Almost 3000 slot machines and 200 table games are available fleet wide and there are special arcade games too.

These games, known as Cash Crane and Penny Pushers, have carved the word ‘fun’ into their gaming. NCL was the first casino at sea to offer Texas Hold ‘Em, which continues to be popular to this day. The casino has proved to be so popular that it has its own newsletter called The Deal.

Norwegian Jewel Casino

 

HOLLAND AMERICA CLUB 21

Well known for their elegant and classy demeanour, Holland America’s casino’s reflects their style perfectly. With a wide variety of games, including penny slots, poker, blackjack or Texas Hold ‘Em and a high energy style that is sure to get you betting, this is a good place for novice gamblers too.

The company also plays the MegaCash jackpot game which can top one million dollars and the Holland America lottery offers a week long cruise as its main prize. For all of you expert gamblers, try the slots or poker tournaments.

Casino on HAL's Maasdam

 

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES OCEAN PLAYERS CLUB

Carnival Cruise Lines’ party atmosphere extends right into the décor of their casinos which are pure glitz. Don’t let the fantasyland atmosphere fool you; when it comes to the games, they’re all business and high-rollers are commonplace onboard their ships. They follow all the rules and regulations of a Vegas casino such as using a soft 17 at blackjack or playing craps with double odds. Carnival holds several different gambling tournaments throughout the year.

Casino on the Carnival Sensation

 

From avid poker players to those who place a few pence in a slot machine, today, cruise ship casinos offer something for everyone.

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How to Match Your Personality to a Cruise
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How do you know if your personality matches a cruise? Determining which cruise line is the right fit is one of the most significant parts of a successful cruise holiday.

Cruise lines tailor their activities to accommodate passengers, but each individual line tends to have their own demographics for their average passenger. Nothing could turn somebody off a cruise holiday in the future if the most recent did not meet expectations.

There are cruises designed to suit virtually every niche, interest and personal preference. There are those tailored for special interests. Those specialising in unique destinations or those that are more port intensive will offer less days at sea.

Many cruise lines create special “themes” on board, with the focus on cultural enrichments ranging from cooking side by side with renowned chefs, golf clinics with pros, celebrity talks and murder mysteries to solve whilst at sea. If something like this is not of interest, booking this type of cruise holiday could turn out to be a big mistake.

Are you a people person or someone happy to just spend quality time with a companion or on your own? That can make a difference towards the success of your cruise holiday too.

Examples of cruise holidays can range from luxury yacht style vessels, mega-ships with an array of recreational facilities and entertainment, classic and traditional ships reminiscent of days gone by, river cruises and special interest or exploration cruises heading to Antarctica.

It all boils down to a matter of personal taste. Below is a brief list of some of the more popular lines to see if their personality matches yours.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Party lovers everywhere will enjoy the fun activities and fun, fun, fun that takes place on each of the 24 fleet members. Appealing and designed to a younger demographic, these ships are filled with eye catching décor of neon colours and million dollar Las Vegas styled productions. Night time is when the ship comes alive with plenty of venues of all types pumping out the music.

Cunard Line

This line is perfect for those that want an elegant and British experience. This company has been offering a royal treatment to customers since the 1840s with their names such as Mary, Victoria and Elizabeth being iconic in the cruising industry. It is no surprise, then, that they are well known for their elegant British charm and excellent service, to the extent that afternoon tea is served by cruise members with white gloves. They are also well known for transatlantic crossings from Southampton to New York and back.

Afternoon Tea

Image courtesy of Cunard Cruises

Disney Cruise Line

Families looking for a great cruise holiday would do well to look at this line. All of the Disney magic and quality can be seen everywhere on these 4 ships, including the portholes which display animated scenes. Amazing musical productions can be enjoyed, the children’s clubs are top of the range and don’t forget to disembark on Castaway Cay.

Fred.Olsen

Another favourite of the British passenger, Fred Olsen appeals to those couples and singles over 60 and is in line with the traditional cruise ships of the past, where passengers still dress up for dinner. During school holiday times, the Braemar can become a huge family reunion. During this period there are just as many activities for the adults as there are for the grandchildren.

MSC Cruises

MSC has an Italian flavour but has been trying to reinvent itself and in the past attracted retirees. With the number of state-of-the-art enhancements made on their newer ships, they are gearing towards a new market of families with children. Activities onboard include a Formula 1 Simulator and the 4D Cinema on-board the Divina and its affiliation friendly companies such as Chicco® and LEGO®.

MSC Formula 1 simulator

Image courtesy of MSC Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line

Whether you’re a food connoisseur or just someone that likes to go out and eat, Norwegian will be a good cruise line for you. There are over 20 different specialty restaurants that serve everything from Parisian cuisine to a teppanyaki style meal on each of the 11 ships in their fleet. Their ships keep getting bigger and bigger and the amenities are aimed to impress with plenty of ‘firsts at sea’.

Princess Cruises

Romantics are going to be flocking to Princess Cruises, which is popular amongst honeymooners and newlyweds. The 17 ships that make up Princess’s fleet are specially designed to accommodate those that are looking for a beautiful getaway. Princess offers  stunning locations, a contemporary look and classy service.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

If you want to be pampered to your heart’s content, try a Regent cruise. All 3 of their ships have complementary goods that are sure to impress, with fine dining, wine and spirit tasting and even complementary shore trips that go off the beaten path. This is six star cruising at it’s best!

Royal Caribbean

Want to have a sporty experience that is sure to leave you exhausted in a good way? If so Royal Caribbean could be the right choice for you. Just a few of the thrilling activities that can be found on their ships include a rock-climbing wall, surfing pool, ice-skating rink, bungee trampolines, a boxing ring and even a zip-line that stretches above the pool deck. There is also an extensive gymnasium in the spa area on all of their ships.

Rock Climbing with Royal Caribbean

Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruises

Matching your lifestyle and personality to a cruise holiday is the best recipe for an outstanding time.  Do some research and speak with others. Before you know it, you will book a cruise holiday year after year.

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Musicals at Sea
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musicals at sea

Musical fans and cruise goers are sure to be pleased with the enormous amount of options available today with the major cruise lines. Get to see that hit musical show and have all the benefits of a first class holiday travelling from one destination to another.

Most cruise ships have 1000+ seating theatres and all of the seats are filled up quickly when the show is scheduled during a ship’s sailing. Each cruise line offers different musical experiences and all of them are sure to get you tapping your feet!

See what these cruise lines offer below:

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Now playing onboard the Norwegian Getaway, a production of the Tony Nominated “Legally Blonde” will be playing for audiences. Elle Woods shows you that you never know what surprises life holds for you. She is a good-time California girl who goes to Harvard Law to get her boyfriend back, and ends up defying expectations by succeeding in becoming a solicitor. This mega-musical is based on the Reese Witherspoon film.

Norwegian Breakaway, on the other hand, offers “Rock Of Ages” the 5-time Tony Award nominee of 2009. The script draws attention to a small town girl who arrives in Los Angeles in 1987, where she hooks up with a metal rocker and falls in love. The music is centred from the heavy metal hits and groups of the 1980s.

Royal Caribbean Lines

“Chicago” has played not only London’s West End but also throughout the world.  ‘All that jazz’ in true Fosse sexy moves and Kander and Ebb’s decadent score is taking place on the Allure of the Seas. The theme behind the 20’s Jazz Age sets the tone with Roxie Hart as the wannabe and Velma Kelly, a cabaret star who finds they have something very much in common…Front page news and murder.

The cruise company’s newest acquirement is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “CATS”, based on the poems of T.S Eliot. Holding court in the longest-running musical category, it will debut on the high seas aboard the Oasis of the Seas in the autumn of this year. It will also be playing at the London Palladium for a limited 12-week engagement; however, there is no admission charge for seats on the Oasis.

Currently playing on the Oasis of the Seas is the hit musical show “Hairspray” where it has entertained audiences since 2009. The development in the storyline shows a girl achieving her dream of performing on a 1960s TV dance show.

“Saturday Night Fever” struts it stuff with the music of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb aka the Bee Gees on the Liberty of the Seas.

This autumn, the dancing queens of “Mamma Mia” will be the latest entry of shows onboard RCCL’s newest ship Quantum of the Seas. The stage presentation is not just a musical revue but a fully fledged musical that weaves ABBA’s hit songs into the plot.

Royal Caribbean allows booked passengers to secure seats in advance of any show before the ship even sets sail.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney certainly has stretched its entertainment wings to the fullest from movies to the stages of New York and London’s West End. Their ships are also adding stage shows to their wide array of entertainment.

This will be a positive introduction for younger members of the family who really embrace the musical theme. For all ages, Disney is showcasing their first musical version of the hit film “Aladdin” on their ship Disney Fantasy, well before it is due to make its premiere on Broadway. If all goes well, Disney shows will appear on the rest of their fleet.

With the price of a typical West End show now averaging close to £100 a person, it is not something a family can take advantage as often as before. Within the past ten years, the cost of a seat at the theatre has trebled.

Musicals at sea are just another example of how the cruise lines are constantly looking at ways to “up their game” and offer their guests something different.

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Top Trends in Cruising for 2014
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Cruising has considerably risen in popularity over the past few years, possibly because the cruise lines manage to push the envelope in terms of innovation and new ideas. Here are just a few of the biggest trends that the cruise industry has in store for 2014 and beyond.

Destinations

Cruise ships travel to nearly every continent of the world, but many passengers are requesting the big lines to offer more itineraries away from Europe and the Caribbean. The cruise industry has listened and cruises on the continent of Asia are a top attraction for 2014.

There are over 200 sailings in Asia aboard Crystal, Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean ships amongst others this year. The trend will continue and this will see a sizeable increase in cruise tourism in Asia. Shanghai will be the major catalyst of the program.

chinese building

The official Chinese Cruise Tourism Development Pilot is noting that prospects for cruising in China will rise sharply through advancements being made. Presently under construction are two new development zones through the efforts of the Shanghai International Cruise Industry Development Comprehensive Reform Pilot Area to handle the increase.

Entertainment

There is going to be a series of new entertainment styles to be found on cruise ships. A more fun approach is being taken with a particular emphasis on spectacle.

Everything from show stopping Broadway and West End musicals on Royal Caribbean to the hit reality show ‘Dancing with the Stars’ at Sea on Holland America await passengers.

Carnival has just introduced series of concerts called ‘Carnival Live’ with a line-up of different celebrities performing. There will also be some star gazing taking place on other parts of a ship. A shining example of this is the North Star observatory which can be found on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.

River Cruises

River Cruises are once again in vogue. The river cruise market has expanded, and is looking to take on more exotic and interesting destinations. One of the major lines is AMA Waterways, who have decided to include locations in Africa and Asia on some of their 2014 cruises.

Cape Town

A great example is their Dicover Africa tour which departs from Cape Town and takes in the legendry Victoria Falls.

Other river cruise lines are beginning to renovate their ships and preparing for their passengers to experience more diverse destinations. This is one experience everyone should try.

Safety

Onboard safety procedures are the number one priority and will continue to be consistent throughout the cruise industry. Regulatory changes are in effect and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) “certify that all ships meet all applicable regulatory requirements and standards are met”.

IMO ensures that all ships will comply with relevant laws, regulations and international treaties. A more cohesive standard throughout the cruise industry for all crew and passenger’s safety is anticipated in 2014.

Spa Staterooms

One of the biggest sellers in terms of staterooms for 2014 will be ‘spa cabins’. They are referred to as spa cabins for the simple reason that they are strategically located right next to the spa and just steps away for a rest, relaxation and pampering. Due to this placement, they are often more expensive.

MSC Aurea Spa

Image courtesy of MSC Cruises

However, they also offer priority appointments and a reduced rate for most spa treatments, so it’s well worth the money. In addition, luxurious robes are provided for maximum enjoyment of the treatment as well as various higher quality lotions and toiletries.

Technology

Many passengers just can’t leave home without their Smartphone or tablets. System wide, staying connected is easier than ever as cruise lines have developed Wi-Fi hot spots onboard their ships.

Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas even supplies every cabin with an iPad for use for the entire duration of a cruise holiday. Silversea Cruises has recently increased their onboard media options to their complimentary digital service.

Passengers of the line can now use their personal Smartphones or tablets and access newspapers and magazines from hundreds of sources.  

Each year brings new innovations, amenities and fresh possibilities which makes a cruise holiday nothing short of a positive and memorable experience.

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