2014 Cruises That Coincide With Top Events
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2014 is bound to have an endless amount of activities and events that are perfect to pique the interest of holidaymakers.

However, instead of checking into expensive hotels to see a favourite event and paying too much for dining, there are many holiday cruises available that may just hit upon the special event. The best part is your floating hotel has not only luxury accommodations and fine dining, but also allows one to see an event and travel to new destinations.

Here are some options available for the first half of 2014 available with the comfort of a cruise holiday.

Australian Open in Melbourne, January 13–26: One of the prized Grand Slam tennis events that everyone wants to go to (the others being the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open) is the Australian Open.

Join all the high profile celebrities who come to the ‘down under’ and watch the first leg of the tennis champions grasp their first win for 2014. Cruise line Silversea is offering fans a 3 night pre-cruise package deal to the 109th Australian Open in Melbourne.

The passengers will have the ability to see 3 singles matches on both January 18th and 19th before heading on the small but cosy ship, Silver Shadow for a 15 night voyage that goes everywhere from Melbourne to Bali.

Melbourne

Mardi Gras, February 15–March 4: The world famous New Orleans festival is one of the biggest events of the year on the other side of the pond. This once in a lifetime experience during the first quarter of the year is filled with floats, masks, beads and jazz. Louisiana specialties from spicy Cajun style blacken catfish, Creole gumbo and jambalaya will be flowing in full until ‘Fat Tuesday’ on the 4th of March.

With the festival being so popular, it’s no surprise that a large amount of cruise companies, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line are planning to go there.

New Orleans

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, February 28–March 4: Perhaps the biggest and most spectacular out of all the carnivals in the world, this carnival is certainly not one to miss. Held just before Lent, the carnival attracts over 2 million spectators for every day of the festival and has many interesting sights such as parades, street fairs and costume balls.

The cruise company Holland America is going to be sending their ship Maasdam to Rio for the carnival season for 3 days. This is in junction with their 26 day Amazon tour, a perfect opportunity to see the carnival. Other cruise lines making a visit include MSC Orchestra and Pullmantur’s Sovereign and Zenith.

Rio

70th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, June 6: Celebrity Cruise Line is known for their fine service and since 2010, Celebrity Eclipse has been dazzling its passengers. To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, the ship will dock in Le Havre, France as one port of call on its 14-night Scandinavia & Russia cruise.

Arrangements of shore excursions are available to booked passengers wishing to visit the shorelines along the coast of Normandy during this poignant day in history.

Normandy

FIFA World Cup in Brazil, June 12–July 13: The World Cup is the biggest event of the year for most people around the world and it’s no surprise that the cruise lines are trying to get in on the action. Most notably, departing on 24 May 2014, the MSC Divina has an 18-night cruise from Miami to Rio.

This is the best option to take as it allows visitors to see other areas as well. Before getting into that football fever, experience some Caribbean flavour with other port of calls such as Barbados, Grenada and the Virgin Islands.  Or do it the opposite way after the games on the 14th of July sailing and cruise north to Miami aboard the MSC Divina.

Brazil world cup

There are many more cruises that hit upon major events and festivals. Just pick the event and location and there is bound to be a ship stopping in port.

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Culinary Cruises
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One type of cruise theme that has been becoming increasingly popular over the last few years is the culinary cruise. This gives guests the chance to embark upon a wonderful cruise with a great itinerary and ports of call whilst enjoying an epicurean journey at sea.

Many different cruise lines have created exciting gastronomic adventures at sea and these include sailing with celebrity chefs who will show you the secrets of how they create some of their most popular dishes and how you can use these skills in your own kitchen at home.

Following on from our recent post “Spice up a Cruise Holiday with Holland America” we have outlined below options from 3 other cruise lines.

Silversea

One cruise line which has invited celebrity chefs on board is luxury line Silversea. They have invited chefs such as Jason Atherton on board, a celebrity chef who has worked with big names such as Pierre Koffman, Nico Ladenis and Marco Pierre White. He will be on board giving lectures, cooking demonstrations and other exciting events which are sure to appeal to guests.

Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises, another luxury cruise line, have long been world leaders in the culinary world. Two of their ships Marina and Riviera feature the Bon Appetit Culinary Centre which is a hands on culinary school on board which promotes exciting cooking classes and wine tastings throughout the year.

Their new Cuisines of the World programme which is available on all ships in their fleet will see signature dishes from each port of call that the ship visits highlighted in their on board restaurants each night. This is something which is surely set to appeal to guests as it will give them an insight into the gastronomic flavours of the different countries and ports which they are visiting during their cruise holiday.

Oceania Cruises have also launched Culinary Discovery Tours which will be led by highly trained and expert chefs, will visit local food markets, gourmet shops and delis, vineyards and whatever else is available in ports of call and then result in a cooking class on board using the ingredients which have been purchased.

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Culinary experiences at sea are not just available on the more luxury cruise lines, they are also available on some of the more mainstream cruise lines. Norwegian Cruise Line has introduced a new on board gourmet Chef’s Table experience which will involve a nine course culinary adventure. These will be small twelve person dinners which will take place over two and a half hours beginning, of course, with a champagne reception.

So, would you like to enjoy an exciting gastronomic experience on board your next cruise ship? If so why not check out the events listed above, and the many more which are available at sea.

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New Cruise Line Rules to benefit Non Smokers
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Smoking is one of the most challenging habits there is to change. Over the years, it has been banned from the workplace, pubs and restaurants and almost all public places across the UK. The aim was to reduce the exposure of non-smokers to second-hand smoke, which has a harmful effect on all. After six years with the ban in effect, enforcement officials claim to have seen the benefits and estimate that the next 20 years will halve smoking rates.

cigarette smoke

Cruise ships were not left out and had created dedicated areas smoking areas. However, there is a major change on the high seas for even more restrictions to smoking passengers.

Since August, Cunard and Seabourn placed in restrictive rules pertaining to smoking areas on their ships.

Commencing in February 2014, Seabourn will also ban smoking in staterooms on its six ships. Smokers will still be able to light-up a cigarette on verandas and in designated public areas on deck.

On Cunard’s ships, there has been a ban on smoking in cabins and public places onboard for some time, but smoking on balconies will also be banned beginning with the Queen Victoria on the 28th of April 2014. There will still be designated areas for smoking on the open decks. There is a no-smoking policy in all Cunard ship’s restaurants.

queen victoria queens grill

Image courtesy of Cunard Cruises

P&O Cruises also announced a ban last month that as of March 2014, smoking will no longer be permitted on balconies.

This move has pushed many more cruise lines to implement increasingly stringent regulations towards smoking.

Last week, one of the major players in cruising, Royal Caribbean surprised the industry by following Cunard and P&O Cruises stance, to forbid smoking in their cabin balconies.

The ban on Royal Caribbean ships will go into effect starting 1 January 2014 and will apply to its entire fleet with the exception to those based out of Asia.

RCCL is planning on fully enforcing the ban and those caught smoking on a cabin balcony will be hit with a £190 ($250) fine. Inside stateroom have already had a smoking ban imposed for a while.

The new restrictions apply to electronic cigarettes also.

This ruling on smoking for Royal Caribbean passengers will be extremely restrictive. The only areas that will allow smoking on most Royal Caribbean ships are the Casino (only at designated times), on the outer decks on the starboard side of all ships and in Connoisseur Club on selected ships.

In a public notification, Royal Caribbean says its new non-smoking policies are the result of “careful consideration and review of guest feedback.”

MSC Cruises has changed their smoking policy prior to RCCL’s announcement. The line announced it would expand its smoke-free policy. Commencing 2 November 2013 on MSC Divina’s transatlantic voyage from Venice to Miami, smoking will be restricted to the Cigar Lounge and the port side of designated outside decks.

msc divina cigar lounge

Image courtesy of MSC Cruises

There’s been no word from Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line as of yet. They appear to still allow smoking on balconies, but there may be a few tweaks to their existing policies in the upcoming weeks.

Instead of taking the new rulings as a negative, turn it into an opportunity. A great many smokers say they would happily stop smoking if they could only find a way of doing it.

This is easier said than done and one of the hardest parts of quitting is filling the gap with something that will encourage a person to actually want to abstain from smoking again. Perhaps a cruise holiday is the best way to start. With all the activities and destinations that a cruise holiday provides, make it a stop smoking program that is much easier to endure.

For non-smokers, it allows a cruise holiday with more breathing room. For smokers, it will be a great way to take the cure.

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NCL Announces Second Breakaway Ship
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This week has seen the exciting announcement by Norwegian Cruise Line of an order for a second ‘Breakaway Plus’ cruise liner which is currently being scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2017. The first ‘Breakaway Plus’ ship is planned to be delivered in October 2015 and these two liners will be the largest of Norwegian Cruise Lines’ seemingly ever growing fleet.

The cost of the two Breakaway Plus cruise liners is estimated to be around €1.4 billion and the two Breakaway Plus liners will be approximately 163,000 gross tonnes and will have capacity for a whopping 4,200 passengers plus crew.

Whilst this is a very large amount of passengers, it is still far from the 5,400 passengers plus 2,384 crew that the largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas can hold.

The Breakaway Plus liners will be completed by Meyer Werft GMBH in Papenburg, Germany and are the company behind the current Breakaway class of ship. Meyer Werft have already completed a number of other popular Norwegian Cruise Line ships – Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Jewel – all of which have been well received within the cruise industry as well as with passengers.

The First Breakaway ship was Launched in New York earlier this year

The first of the Breakaway class, the aptly named Norwegian Breakaway, was launched in New York in May of 2013 and has proved to be very popular with passengers.

Norwegian Breakaway has capacity for 4,000 passengers and has exciting features such as a teppanyaki restaurant, sushi restaurant, a childrens aqua park, bungee trampolines and even a suspended activity course for both children and adults.

It is expected that the Breakaway Plus class of ship will have many of the same features as Norwegian Breakaway, and its sister ship, Norwegian Getaway, which will be delivered in January of 2014.

Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO stated that ‘with ground breaking elements, yet to be announced, and an additional deck to incorporate future innovations, our two Breakaway Plus ships will provide guests even more ways to experience all that Norwegian has to offer.’

The Breakaway Plus class of liners will incorporate the Studios that can already be found on board Norwegian Breakaway. Studios are Norwegian’s first accommodations designed and priced specifically for solo travellers. Norwegians Studio passengers can enjoy the same cruise experience as people travelling in groups or in couples at the same great prices which is sure to appeal to many potential guests.

So, what do you think of Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest plans? Would you be interested in sailing on board either of their Norwegian Breakaway Plus ships?

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Norwegian Breakaway – See Whats On Board
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Last week saw the official launch of Norwegian Cruise Lines latest ship, Norwegian Breakaway. This large, modern ship can hold more than 4,000 passengers and has many exciting new features that guests are sure to love.

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway features a host of different dining options for passengers to choose from. These include a steakhouse, an Italian restaurant, a seafood restaurant, a sushi restaurant and a teppanyaki space. Having never experienced teppanyaki at sea before this would certainly be a place I’d love to try out.

Teppanyaki Restaurant

The ship has an Aqua Park for kids and adults to enjoy. It is one of the largest aqua parks at sea and has five large water slides, two pools and four hot tubs. There is also a special area for kids to enjoy, complete with squirting water toys!

Aqua Park

For lovers of sports and activity there is a large sports complex which stretches over three decks of the ship. This includes a mini golf course, bungee trampolines, climbing cages, a rock climbing wall and a suspended activity course. This is sure to keep both kids and adults entertained at all times.

Sports Complex

There are excellent children’s features on board that are sure to appeal to families. Teenagers between 13 and 17 can hang out in ‘Entourage’, where there are video games, a video jukebox, movies and much more. There are also organised activities such as pool and pizza parties and group games.

For younger children there is a two story facility where ages 3 to 12 can dance on the interactive, light up dance floor, play at the circus school, play video games, watch films and do arts and crafts under the watchful eye of the fully trained staff. This means parents can have some well-deserved time off to enjoy the features of the ship that appeal to them.

One popular feature that Norwegian Cruise Lines have adopted on this ship is Studios – the first accommodations designed and priced specifically for solo travellers. This also allows Studio passengers access to the Studio Complex where solo passengers can enjoy the self-service wine bar, watch the 50” big screen television and get to know other solo travellers on board.

Breakaway Studio

There are also designated Spa Mini-Suites on board that aim to appeal to guests who would like to be pampered during their cruise holiday. These staterooms provide easy access to the Spa and Fitness Centre on board and are designed in calming colours which aim to create a soothing atmosphere for guests.

Breakaway Spa

With all of these exciting features, plus many more, Norwegian Breakaway sounds like an entertaining, luxurious new cruise liner. Why not take a look at the itineraries available and try it out for yourself.

Pictures courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

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