Queen Mary 2 to be Remastered!
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Proposed new look Princess Suites

Cunard’s recently announced that the Queen Mary 2 is to undergo a major refurbishment.

While the ship will stay true to its iconic style, Cunard want to offer a more contemporary interior to their guests.

The suites and restaurants will be completely redesigned. Known as the ‘Queen Mary 2 Remastered’ project, the refurbishment will begin on 27th of May and end on 21st June next year. This will be the first stage of renovations with other changes to follow.

So what is on the agenda for phase one? According to Angus Struthers, the cruise director of the QM2; “Queen Mary 2′s Grill suites and restaurants are already rated as the best of the best. The work to be undertaken in 2016 will ensure they continue to be the finest luxury experience at sea, with an unparalleled glamour and sophistication.”

All of the Queens and Princess Grill Suites are being reformed with additional extras. The Concierge service will offer the ultimate experience with private butler available for Queens Suite passengers. Both categories will have more storage space added and a soothing redesign with hints of Cunard’s legacy over the years. All of the 172 suite’s décor will have muted tones and beautiful textures.

Proposed new look of the Q5 and Q7 suites

New carpets will be added, featuring singular designs from the first Queen Mary ship as a sign of promoting the original’s heritage. Grill Suites guests will be offered a choice of bath & body gift amenities from Penhaligon’s, the London perfumer.

The Grill dining room is to have a retrofit, making it more airy and open, whilst toting an updated décor. There will be a distinction of interior design between the Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants. The two Grill restaurants when finished will be able to seat more passengers. The changes will also promote more intimate dining with several tables for two. Once opened, guests staying in Queens and Princess Grill Suites can enjoy new menu options as well.

Proposed new look Queens Grill Restaurant

The QM2 will keep most of its entertainment options intact for now. There will still be plenty of activities to keep guests entertained during at sea days. There are daily group sessions with games of bridge and Texas Hold Em as well as trivia competitions with unique prizes.

QM2 has a wide range of speakers available during their enrichment programmes. These seminars, known as ‘Cunard Insights’, cover a vast array of topics. Celebrity guests will include former politicians, musicians and historians as the expert participants giving special talks and answering questions in their specific fields. Former speakers who have participated on the QM2 have included rock star Roger McGuinn, author Bill Bryson and film director Wes Anderson.

The Julliard Jazz Series will continue onboard the QM2, featuring both students and faculty jazzing it up as the night rolls on. If it’s theatre you’re looking for, see the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts hour long productions of classic plays and novels. There is also a movie theatre that shows films throughout the day.

The Queens Room has the largest ballroom at Sea!

For those that want to dance the night away, the Queens Room contains both the largest ballroom and the largest dance floor at sea. The Queens Room is also used for the Captain’s cocktail parties. The disco takes up two entire floors and is located behind the Queens Room. Although it’s in a strange location, the place is jumping every single night with its sleek interior and pumping beats.

There are also some unique aspects that aren’t found on any other ship and Illuminations is the only planetarium available on any cruise ship. The space is used for lectures, films and special planetarium shows.

More live entertainment can be enjoyed at the Royal Court Theatre, with shows ranging from acrobats to a piano concert.

2016 will be an exciting year for the Queen Mary 2 beginning with her January 10th sailing of the 120 day World & Exotic departing from Southampton. Even if the time element is too vast, segments are sold to explore North and South America, the Pacific, Asia and the Med.

After dry-dock, the Queen Mary 2 will resume her transatlantic signature heritage sailings and cross the atlantic several times from Southampton to New York City and back again. She also will do a number of Norwegian Fjord sailings from Southampton.

Images courtesy of Cunard

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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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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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Powering up – A Look at Yesterday and Today
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cruise ship power banner

Your cruise holiday is not enjoyable if the power fails onboard. See how these floating hotels are powered and what is done in the event of an emergency.

History

Seafaring vessels in the early years were only used for the transportation of cargo. The evolution of the industry changed their power sources.

The first shipping company to offer scheduled passenger transatlantic crossings from New York to Liverpool in 1817 was America’s Black Ball Line. Britain dominated the globe with their cargo shipping market, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 19th Century that ships began to carry passengers, even if the traveler experienced only a small degree of comfort.

The leading British line, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) saw positives by carrying passengers and commanded the marketplace with the Cunard Steamship Company, running a close second. Impressive improvements in the quality of the cruise holiday experience emerged.

Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
Image courtesy of P&O Cruises

Over time, ships began to cater solely to passengers and resulted in such added luxuries as electric lighting, entertainment options, dining experiences and eventually to the modern ‘oohs and aahs’ found on today’s cruise ships..

Steam Engine

When the steam engine was unveiled in 1712, it created a stir and became a revolutionary way to harness power. This single development pushed the shipping industry to great heights. Sitmar’s FairSky was the last passenger ship built with a steam engine in 1984. Today, many of the existing older ships are still at sea.

They use reciprocating diesel engines to generate power for moving through the water, also known as propulsion engines. Transmission systems operate the actual propellers and manage the number of revolutions and thus the speed.

Diesel Electric or Gas Turbines

The more modern cruise ships use either gas turbine or diesel electric engines for propulsion. The mega-cruise ships use two or more systems for various needs throughout the ship.

Newer ships utilise diesel electric propulsion. Celebrity’s Solstice Class was one of the first to change over to this more efficient means of producing a ship’s energy.  Instead of being connected to the propeller shafts, the principal engines are directed to large generators to produce electricity.

This provides the ship with all of its electrical needs including turning the propellers for movement.

The first company to fit their cruise ships with gas turbines was Royal Caribbean International. The company determined this alternative to be more environmentally friendly and cost efficient than the other options. Ships can sail with fewer members of their maintenance crew as well as reducing the inventory of parts.

By driving its generators to provide power to the ship’s propeller motors, the gas turbine then accelerates its produced heat into the steam turbine. This in turn produces all electricity onboard the ship including the air conditioners and hot water for a bath or shower.

Cunard’s QM2 use azimuth thrusters. These housed propellers can rotate a full 360 degrees to allow maximum flexibility when manoeuvring the large ship in various ports and locations. These thrusters create better fuel efficiency when used in conjunction with the gas turbine or with diesel electric engines.

Cold Ironing

Another emerging trend regarding cruise ship power is the need for efficient power while in port and some ports are implementing shore-based power. This is also known as cold ironing and is an innovative and simple way to reduce CO2 emissions by allowing the ship to power down while in port and provide onboard guest services through shore-provided electricity.

Watch the Video: Port of San Diego Shore Power System

This option is clean and sufficient energy that keeps the lights on rather than remaining idle with engines running and burning fuel. More and more ships have decided to plug into these shore-power systems when available.

New Regulations and Improvements

In response to the recent mishaps passengers have experienced with the loss of electric power and drifting at sea, improvments are now being put into place. The Royal Princess and Norwegian Breakaway were the first and other ships are following suit and now being retrofitted.

It’s called ‘doubling up’ and everything pertaining to running a ship from cables to electrical systems and the engine room are doubled. If the unfortunate event of a fire occurs in the engine room, the second engine room can take over with ample power to remain operational.

Even essential services, including electricity will remain functional. A cruise ship can now navigate without the aid of tugboats, although at a much slower pace and no longer be stranded at sea. The ships are better equipped and safety measures are a priority.

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The Uniqueness of Cunards Queen Victoria
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Queen Victoria

Only one cruise line can profess to having three ‘Queens’ in their fleet and that is Cunard. The Queen Victoria is a shining example of luxury combined with traditional British style cruising. In 2007, she was unveiled to provide ‘Old World’ charm by reflecting the past amongst the modernity of the 21st Century cruise ship.

There is no uncertainty that the plush and rich design is reminiscent of the romance and tradition of the old transatlantic liners. Heavy woods and marble are commonplace throughout the ship with a touch of glitz. The ship’s theme plays and emphasises upon the long history of cruising, particularly with Cunard, which were famous for their cruises on steamers.

Photographs of past celebrities and famous figures who sailed on their great ships can be observed in virtually every part of the ship.

Cabins

Queen Victoria can hold over 2000 passengers and there are over a thousand cabins with more than half offering verandas. The cabin system is very unique as it is divided into many different categories that have everything from small but cosy rooms with twin beds, balcony cabins to Grand Suites that have over 2000 square feet of space.

queen victoria balcony a3

All cabins onboard the ship contain well appointed and state of the art features such as flat-screen television with international programming, a refrigerator, a hairdryer, a storage safe, a telephone and a daily paper about activities on the ship. Bathrooms come equipped with a small shower in the standard cabins with baths available in the more expensive staterooms.

Dining

There is an attempt to create a few special enclaves that have been an integral part to Cunard story with the class system. Consisting of the Queens Grill premium cabins and Princess Grill suites, passengers have access to exclusive restaurants as well as private lounges.

One bit of tradition that still follows in the Grills is high tea in the afternoons.

afternoon tea

Cunard has placed quite a bit of effort into the other dining options as well onboard the Victoria.

One of the restaurants, the two story high Britannia Restaurant serves casual fare with a warm demeanour. There is also the Lido Café which is a buffet style restaurant. Another option is the Verandah on deck two which serves sophisticated and yet contemporary cuisine under the direction of world-famous Chef Jean-Claude Zimmermann.

There are also many lounges on-board including Churchill’s Cigar Lounge.

Entertainment

Don’t worry about being bored as the Queen Victoria has a wide variety of activities to keep you entertained. There are some very interesting shows every night ranging from Celtic dance to a comedic view of Victorian era life, Victoriana. The Hemispheres nightclub offers a wide range of music to get you out of your seat and into the groove

There’s a casino that, while it’s not too large, it contains all of the standard games to challenge your gambling instincts.

queen victoria casino

Other Interests

The Queen Victoria also plays host to the “world’s first floating museum”, providing insight into the rich history behind Cunard and it’s fleet. In addition, there are two standard swimming pools available that provide a perfect place to cool down after a long day. The young ones can spend time away from their parents at the children’s club on the ship.

For those who want to be rejuvenated, the best place to head to is the luxurious spa and fitness centre. The spa offers a large amount of treatments such as facials, oxygen treatments, “aroma soul” massages and deep tissue scrubs, all of which are guaranteed to make you feel younger. In addition, the fitness centre focuses more on health and cardiovascular rather than muscle tone.

queen-victoria-spa

Destinations

The best part for those who reside in the UK is the Queen Victoria has made her home port in Southampton during the spring, summer and autumn. Travel to the Med, Canary Islands and then sail a transatlantic through the Panama Canal. She has a winter hiatus on the other side of the atlantic with sailings out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Cunard’s uniqueness is always offering the perception that there is something different about being on one of their ships. They certainly have made that possible on the Queen Victoria.

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