Thursday, August 31

How to choose the right cruise ship

With nearly 100 ships to choose from, this becomes a very important question for the first time cruiser, especially as many of us can be very easily taken in by the glamourous & glossy brochures, clever marketing and promises of perfection. This can often leave you feeling as though every ship will be good for your needs and only the price need be a consideration. This isn't so i'm afraid! If you choose your ship on price alone, you may come back disappointed!

Firstly most cruise ships fall roughly into one of 3 categories - budget, premium or luxury. As with anything, the more you pay, the higher the level of personal experience you expect. The main difference between luxury liners and the others is usually that the staff to customer ratio is higher - meaning that those cruise lines employ more staff to attend to your personal needs - hence being able to receive butler service and the like.

The first thing i would recommend is read to read as many customer cruise reviews as you can - that way you can many different perspectives from real people who have sailed onboard the ship. Often this way, you can see a little further than the brochure discription. For example, you may read a ship has a theatre with nightly shows and feel this is adequate for you but what the brochure won't tell you is the types of shows, whether they are performed by professionals or by amatuers, how good the view or sound is, whether the theatre gets very full quickly etc.

If you have kids, look out for ships with the best activities for kids. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line are some of the best family ships. Fitness fanatics have it pretty easy as all ships have spas, gyms, jogging tracks and exercise classes. Royal Caribbean goes even further than that - Its Voyager class & Freedom class ships (Voyager, Adventurer, Explorer, Freedom of the Seas) have rock climbing walls, roller blading and ice skating.

If you’re traveling with a large group of family or friends, i would look for a large ship with plenty to do for all age groups, such as Royal Caribbean’s Voyager/Freedom class ships.

If you are on your honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary, you may wish to opt for a small more intimate ship such as the Windstar ships, with their high standard of cuisine and personal service. Alternatively you may wish to have a completely child free cruise and opt for an adult only ship such as P&O's Artemis or Arcadia.

Besides going ashore, what are your personal preferences to how you spend your time onboard? While all large cruise ships have theatre shows and bands, they’re not necessarily equal in terms of quality - this is usually where reviews will help you decide.In the large ship category, Celebrity Cruises stands out in food and service or if you’re feeling flush, head for a luxury vessel like Crystal, Radisson or Silverseas for gourmet dining and personalized service. Crystal Cruises have guest lecturers and computer classes so that you may sail & lean all at the same time!

Whichever ship you choose, as long as you have researched it thoroughly, should ensure a wonderful holiday! Try for the best value cruise holidays today.

Thursday, August 3

Ship focus on Norwegian Jewel

The Norwegian Jewel is currently the newest NCL ship although that is set to change with the launch of the Norwegian Pearl later this year.
The Norwegian Jewel is brimming with amenities including 10 distinct restaurants, 13 bars and lounges, 3 swimming pools, spa and much more. I will try to touch upon the whole experience here.

Like all it's sisters, this ship offer 'Freestyle Cruising' which basically means Freedom! Freedom to dine in whichever of the 10 restaurants that takes your fancy and there are no fixed seating times. Restaurants open from 5:30 pm to midnight so that you can choose from an early dinner before the show or a later romantic dinner for the two of you. And of course there’s always the option of 24-hour room service. You’re free to dine where, when and with whom you choose. 'Freestyle Cruising' also means you can where what you want when you want, dress up, dress down its your call! For more information, take a look at the 'Freestyle Cruising' FAQ on the NCL website

Facilities onboard Norwegian Jewel

  • 10 restaurants including passenger favorites such as Cagney's Steak House, Chin Chin Asion restaurant, Tangos Tapas and NCL's signature restaurant, Le Bistro.
  • 13 bars and lounges including a Sushi bar, Karaoke rooms, Champagne bar and Corona Cigar Club.
  • 2 swimmming pools surrounded by 6 hot tubs.
  • Bora Bora Health Spa where you can relax and be pampered.
  • Body Waves Fitness centre - a state of the art gym.
  • Sports facilities including Jogging Track, Basketball/Volleyball, Tennis Court and Golf Driving nets.
  • Library.
  • Card room.
  • Splashdown kids club - read more further down the page.
  • Club Underground where you can dance til the early hours.
  • Ice Cream Bar - Ben & Jerry's to be precise!
  • Galleria shops.
  • Chapel.
  • Art gallery.

Take a look at the pool area..

With over 25 categories ranging from the ultra-spacious Garden Villas down to the inside stateroom, Norwegian Jewel’s accommodation options are practically unrivaled. New for NCL are the Courtyard Villas, ten spacious, top-of-the-ship suites. From each of these villas, the view opens onto the sea, thanks to their large, private balconies. The other, interior side opens onto a private courtyard, shared only by the other privileged passengers with Courtyard and Garden Villa accommodations. This private courtyard includes a whirlpool and its own swimming pool – luxury features unique to this ship! Plus, they share a small gym, a private sundeck and a private lounge, too!

Although dimentions and facilities can greatly differ between staterooms, each Norwegian Jewel stateroom includes the following facilities and amenities:

  • Muti channel TV
  • Telephone
  • In-room mini-safe
  • Refrigerator
  • Hair Dryer
  • In-room tea and coffee makers
  • Lower beds convertible to queen-size bed in virtually all staterooms

For further information and to book a cruise onboard the Norwegian Jewel, click here.

Keeping the kids amused
Are you looking for excellent fun and facilities for your children/teenagers? Well the Norwegian Jewel was designed with families in mind – and it shows. An entire mid-section area of Deck 12 is devoted to the little and not-so-little ones. Couple these facilities with NCL’s popular, complimentary “Kid’s Crew” youth program and you’ve got a winner!

Kid’s Crew Highlights:

  • Age-appropriate, supervised activities for kids 2 through 12
  • Use of children’s pool area
  • Pizza making,
  • Treasure search/scavenger hunt
  • Arts & crafts
  • Family activities
  • Video arcade (age 6-17)
  • Parties (age 6-17)
  • T-shirt for painting
  • Mom and Dad’s “night out”
  • Kid’s/Teen’s Crew News
  • Chef’s hat (for cooking classes)
  • Birthday party (for kids celebrating a birthday)
  • Child care center
  • Special Teen events

Splashdown Kid’s Club offers age-specific fun zones for kids. Its location near the main swimming pools and the always-popular Garden Café buffet make it easier for parents to drop off or pick up (or snoop on) their kids. There’s a Kid’s PC World Library, a Video Arcade and just outside the door, the Kid’s Pool. And right across the hall is the Kid’s Café section of the Garden Cafe! NCL has got the kid-pleasing formulas down!
NCL has the formula for teenagers, too. The Club Underground is their space; their place. In fact, it’s their 'club,' complete with dance floor and lounge seating. And teens will like its 'out of the way' location – a little farther from the eyes of curious parents, but close to those pools, the grills and the Video Arcade!