Friday, May 26

Rockin all over the World!

Who would think that a cruise ship could be cool? Think again - P&O cruise ships will be rocking to indie music more likely to be heard in night clubs rather than the onboard a cruise ship this year.

A summer programme has been designed to keep teenagers and children entertained by covers of bands such as the Arctic Monkeys and the Kaiser cheifs.The live gigs mark a shift in attitude for P&O, whose entertainment has been more traditionally based around classical performances, cabaret acts and dancing.

These 'gigs' are just the beginning of a new era to signify the changes to P&O's onboard entertainment style, showing that they can keep up with the changes in contemporary society.
A band will be onboard every Oceana cruise leaving Southampton between July 8th and August 25th 2006. P&O’s entertainment programme also includes theatre workshops by Katch 22 Productions, magicians and parties for children under 12.

Monday, May 22

Cruise Glossary

Need help deciphering all that cruise jargon? No worries, help is on the way with my handy A-Z of cruise terms!

A
Aft: Near, toward, or at the rear (stern) of the ship.
Ahoy: The traditional greeting onboard ships. The term originated as a Viking battle cry!
Atrium: An interior, often sky-lit, multi-deck, open area of a ship. Typically, atriums are centrally located near elevators, shops, restaurants, caf├ęs, and guest services.

B
Beam:
The width of a ship at its widest point. Ships in excess of 110 feet are too wide to transit the Panama Canal.
Berth: There are two definitions: the dock or pier where you embark or debark from the ship; the bed in which you sleep onboard the ship.
Bearing: The ship's compass direction, such as a "northwest bearing."
Bow: The front part of a ship. The opposite of the bow is the stern.
Bridge: The navigation and command center of the vessel. If your cruise offers a tour of the bridge, take it!
Bulkhead: Basically, a wall. A bulkhead is an upright partition dividing the ship into compartments or cabins.

C
Cabin: Your room. Call it a cabin, a stateroom, a suite, an accommodation, whatever - it's your personal space onboard.
Category: A price gradient of cabins, usually presented from the most expensive to the least expensive. Cabins in the same category are usually on the same deck and general location, and provide similar features and amenities. Individual cabin layouts and furnishings may differ slightly.

D
Davit: A shipboard device used in lowering and raising the ship's lifeboats or tenders. Stroll out onto your ship's promenade and introduce yourself to the davits.
Debark/debarkation: To exit, or the process of exiting the ship. The term "disembark" is also used.
Deck: On a ship, the different floors are called "decks."
Deck Plan: An overhead diagram illustrating cabin and public room locations in relation to each other.

E
Embark/embarkation:
To enter, or the process of entering or boarding the ship.

F
Fantail:
The rear overhang of a ship.
Fore: The front (or bow) of the ship.
Forward: Toward the fore (or bow) of the ship.

G
Gangway:
The ramp by which passengers embark or debark a ship.
Galley: The ship's kitchen. A mega-ship's galley may serve over 6,000 passenger meals each day.
Gentleman Host: A cruise-sponsored program whereby well-traveled, mature gentlemen (usually retired bankers, businessmen, etc.) are employed shipboard to serve as dance partners, conversationalists, and shore excursion escorts for single women.
Gratuities: Basically - tips extended to cabin attendants and dining service personnel.
Guarantee: Pay attention here - A "guarantee" is the cruise line's promise that the passenger will sail on a stated voyage in a specified price category or type of cabin, at an agreed rate no higher than would ordinarily apply for that voyage. Due to space and yield management requirements, a cruise line may "upgrade" guarantee passengers to a higher level of service. Passengers who choose a guarantee arrangement, however, are unable to choose a particular cabin.

I
Inaugural Sailing: The first "official" sailing of a ship with passengers, usually directly following the ship's "Naming Ceremony."
Inside Cabin: A cabin having no exterior-facing (sea-view) windows or portholes.
Inside Passage: The sheltered channels of British Columbia and southeastern Alaska protected from the Pacific Ocean by forested islands.
Itinerary: A ship's schedule of port stops and days at sea. Most cruise itineraries vary from 3 to 12 days.

J
Jacobs Ladder: A rope ladder lowered from the deck of a ship while at sea, to facilitate the boarding of crew or emergency staff.

K
Keel:
The centerline of a ship running from fore to aft. Think of it as the spine, or backbone of a ship.
Knot: A unit of speed reflecting one nautical mile per hour, or 1.15 land miles per hour. (A nautical mile is 6,080.2 feet; a land mile is 5,280 feet, hence the speed differential.) Most cruise ships move along at about 18 to 23 knots.

L
Lifeboat:
Small boat carried on the vessel and used in case of emergency. By law, the total capacities of all lifeboats far exceed the total number of passengers and crew members onboard.
Leeward: The side of the ship sheltered from the wind.

M
M.S.: Abbreviation for "Motor Ship."
Maiden Voyage: The first sailing of a ship following sea trials.
Midship: In or toward the middle of the ship; the longitudinal center portion of the ship. Midship cabins tend to be pricier because they generally experience less motion during rough seas.
Muster Drill: A safety demonstration conducted by members of the ship's staff that instructs passengers on the route to and location of their muster station, use of their life preservers, and other important safety information. The muster drill is usually conducted before or shortly after the cruise departure.

N
Nautical Mile:
A distance equal to 6,082.2 feet. A land mile is 5,280 feet.

O
Open Seating (or Open Sitting): Access at any time to unoccupied tables in the ship's dining room, as opposed to specific table assignments.
Outside Cabin: A cabin having window(s) or porthole(s) offering an exterior view.

P
Panamax:
The Panama Canal permits ships no wider than approximately 110 feet - any wider and the ship just won't fit. Ships that measure under that maximum are often referred to as "Panamax" ships.
Pitch: The rise and fall of the ship's bow while at sea.
Port(Portside): The left side of the ship when facing forward.
Porthole: Circular "window" in the side of the ship's hull or superstructure.
Port Charges: A charge levied of cruise lines by local government authorities. This charge is passed on to the cruise passenger.
Port-of-Call: A country, island or territory, or population center a cruise ship visits.

R
Repositioning: Typically, when a vessel moves from one seasonal cruise area to another i.e. from Alaska in the summer to the Caribbean in the winter.
Roll: Sway of the ship from side to side while at sea.

S
Shore Excursions: Shoreside tours operated by independent tour companies specifically for cruise passengers. An extra charge is usually applied to your shipboard account.
SOLAS: An acronym for Safety Of Life At Sea. An international convention convened whereby the design, construction methods and materials, life safety equipment, fire protection, and safety training of all cruise ships and staff were implemented. The result? SOLAS. All major cruise lines abide by all SOLAS requirements.
Stabilizers: Wing-like retractable devices extending form the sides of the vessel to reduce roll and produce a more stable ride.
Starboard: The right side of the ship when facing forward.
Stem: The extreme bow or prow of the ship.
Stern: The rearmost part of a ship.

T
Tender (or Launch): A smaller vessel used to move passengers to and from the ship and shore when the ship is at anchor. Some cruise ports, due either to limited docking facilities or harbor depths, require ships to anchor offshore, necessitating the use of tenders to transport passengers ashore. Passengers with certain disabilities may be restricted in their use of tenders.
Theme Cruise: Any cruise that offers or suggests a specific onboard "theme" such as sports or 70's disco music. Other themes include history, cooking, arts & crafts, or even lunar eclipses or comet watching.
Transatlantic: A cruise that crosses the Atlantic Ocean.

U
Underway:
A ship in motion. Once your ship has left the pier or its anchorage, the ship is considered "underway."

W
Windward: Facing into or the direction from which the wind is coming. (Opposite: Leeward)

Friday, May 19

Cuba Trip

If you get the opportunity to go to Cuba, do it. Just once. What a great place.

I stayed in Varadero but i visited Havana whilst there. The buildings and cars in Havana really are something else, so much culture. I wish i could have seen what the city was like in its peak (in the days of Scarface) when it was a playground for the rich and famous. The people here are friendly and have a great sense of humour. Saying that, its not wise to wonder around Havana without holding on tight to your handbag, there were 3 incidents of bag snatching while we were there.
I stayed at the Blau Varadero, altho 4 star, easily the 2nd best hotel in Varadero. Beaches was next door and looked pretty tatty in comparison. The hotel backs directly onto Varadero beach which was breathtaking. It was safe to walk along the sand at any time of day or night as it is guarded (pretty heavily) to protect the tourists. My only gripe was that the Cubans press very hard to be tipped, which is fine for things like waiter service but not from a bus driver that had taken you on a 10 minute trip!
Claim to fame... Sonia from Eastenders was staying at our hotel too. Poor girl got linched by all the english holiday makers. To be honest she was a little rude. I would've thought that a four star hotel in the commercial center of Cuba would not be the obvious choice for someone famous wanting a 'quiet' holiday but hey ho, it made my day!
If you like top cuisine and experimental cooking when you go away then Cuba won't be your bag at all. They dont import much at all so their food ingredients are pretty limited making their cooking quite bland. Fresh fish is always a good option though. We spent a day fishing out at sea, I caught a Cabrilla (i think thats what he called it). The captain of the boat cooked up what we caught while we snorkled. I've never had fish on my plate that was 20mins from fresh - wow!


The poor fish didn't stand a chance...

So many cars...

If you fancy a cruise that stops in Havana click here

Wednesday, May 17

Menu Example

I picked this menu up onboard the Freedom of the Seas just to give you an example of the food available. This was an a la carte restaurant not the buffet mind!

Monday, May 15

The Biggest Ship Today!

Recently we saw the launch of the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. Freedom of the Seas towers 208 feet tall, approximately the same height as two Statues of Liberty, placed head to toe and carries 3,634 guests.

Freedom of the Seas has many never-before-seen-on-a-ship features such as:

  • The first boxing ring on a cruise ship in the Freedom Fitness Center, the largest-ever cruise ship gym.
  • The first cantilevered whirlpools at sea, suspended 112 feet above the ocean in the adults-only sun lounge.
  • Studio B the onboard skating rink open for skating lessons and free skating during the day while used to stage the original ice show Freedom-Ice.com by night.

  • The first FlowRider(R) it's a surfing simulator at sea, found on the same deck as the multi-coloured interactive sculpture garden found in the H20 Zone water park.
    The 32-foot-wide by 40-foot-long FlowRider® generates a thin sheet of water that flows over the ride surface, creating a wave-like shape. Similar to swimming against a current in a stationary lap pool, riders surf or body board against the waterflow of 30,000 gallons per minute, carving turns and trying tricks. Guests can try their hand (and legs) at stand-up surfing, known as flowboarding, or opt for less-balance-demanding body boarding. The FlowRider’s® design features a tensioned-fabric surface similar to a trampoline that provides a cushion to absorb the impact of falls.

video

Nile Cruise - A great way to start Cruising

Itinerary example offered by Ideal Cruising

7 night Nile cruise on board the Viking I
Depending on dates, this itinerary costs from £350 per person

The Ship
With 30 cabins, the Viking I is designed with comfort in mind. The main accommodation is on two decks and each cabin is 9 square metres and comes with mainly twin beds, en-suite shower and WC, panoramic windows and air-conditioning. Suites are also available and are twice the size of a Standard Cabin. Each Suite is equipped with en-suite shower and WC double or twin beds and a living area with a convertible sofa bed.

To book this cruise call Ideal Cruising on 0800 050 1093

Friday, May 12

Welcome

You probably have a rough idea of what you think cruising is all about. But be prepared, chances are you'll be totally surprised once you get onboard.

Are you the type of person that would go on a cruise?
A cruise is something that can appeal to all sorts of people; from families to couples to singles. For singles who travel alone, most ships hold parties to make it easy to meet people. For families with kids, many cruise ships provide various activities such as sport, video games, clubs and swimming pools. Also in many cases, cruise lines offer reduced fares for children. For couples, newlyweds and friends, a cruise is an opportunity to get together for a special occasions like a honeymoon, birthday or anniversary.

How to choose your cruise?
You have to bear five things in mind when you are making a decision about a cruise: Where, When, Which, How Long and How Much.

Where? - Where do you want to go?
There are so many itineraries to choose from, it may get confusing or overwhelming. Perhaps write down some of the places you would like to visit and see if your cruise agent can recommend an itinerary that encompasses some if not all of those destinations. Most cruises cover a certain area, ie the Med or the Caribbean, for those that are more adventurous or have more time on their hands, a world cruise may be for you!

When? - When do I want to go?
If you want to cruise the Mediterranean, its best to choose the summer months (May - Sept), though if it's the Caribbean you prefer, you will find the weather better during our winter (Nov -Apr)

Which - Which ship should you choose?
This can be the hardest decision. You may find many ships are offering the type itineraries you like so the next thing is the compare the facilities and overall 'feel' of the ships. You may prefer a smaller more intimate ship that has fewer facilies or a larger ship with much more to do. You may have children to consider, so comparing kids facilites may be the most important thing to you. Maybe the eveening entertainment or the food is your preference, whatever advice you need, your cruise agent is there to advise you.

How long? - Itineraries vary largely, from a minicruise (1-5 nights) right through to the world cruises that can be as long as a year! Really the choice is yours, though remember that your mind may be willing but your budget may not be!

How much? - Again, this varies from agent to agent. Ideal Cruising are an independant cruise agency that recieve large discounts, easily passed on to you the customer. Visit their website here www.idealcruising.co.uk