Wednesday, September 26

Everything About Themed Cruise Ships

It is likely that you have heard of a themed cruise ship before. Themed cruise ships are popular, all around the world. While most individuals have heard of a themed cruise ship before, many are unaware exactly what they are. If you are interested in making travel plans aboard a themed cruise ship, there are some vital pieces of information that you must first consider. This information is vital to selecting the themed cruise that best fits your needs.

When it comes to themed cruise ships, many individuals automatically think of cruises designed for families with children. Family themed cruise ships are the most popular types of cruises available. In fact, it is likely that you have heard of a number of these cruise ships before. One of the most well-known is Disney Cruise Lines. Disney Cruise Lines offer a wide variety of different cruises that are targeted toward the whole family. Disney is most well-known for are their cartoon characters. These characters are aboard all themed Disney cruise ships.
Disney Cruise Lines is a cruise with a specific theme. In addition to a cruise with particular cartoon characters, it is possible to book a traditional family cruise. To be considered a themed cruise cartoon characters do not have to be present. Simply targeting the cruise to individuals with children is enough to have a created a themed cruise ship. Themed cruise ships with a family focus often include a wide range of services, facilities, and activities that are tailored to children of all ages.

While family themed cruise ships are often considered the most popular of all cruise ships, they are not the only themed cruises available. Another popular themed cruise includes celebrity cruises. A number of different cruise lines offer this popular and highly sought after theme. Celebrity cruises have special onboard guests. These guests may include popular television stars, movie stars, and music artists. Special dinners and autograph sessions are often included in a celebrity cruise.

Romance is another theme that many cruise lines focus on. Romance themed cruises are offered onboard a number of different cruise ships. These cruise ships often target couples. To keep the ship setting mature and in good nature, an age restriction may be placed on passengers. Age restrictions are effective at eliminating excess amounts of children aboard a ship that is designed for couples. Romance is a wide theme that covers many categories. These categories are likely to include honeymoons, weddings, and anniversaries.

In addition to the above mentioned themed cruises, there are a number of other cruise ship themes. These themes may include, but are not limited to, dancing, movies, gambling, and adventure. Almost all cruises ships have a casino or gaming facility. It is also possible to find a cruise ship that offer gambling as their theme. These cruises are often referred to as casino cruises.
Cruise ships with dancing themes are popular among individuals of all ages. Despite their wide range of popularity, dancing cruises are often most enjoyed by senior citizens. Dancing cruises tend to offer a number of different dancing halls. Each of these halls may incorporate a different style of music. In a way, dancing cruises can also be considered romantic. There are many travelers who enjoy being able to relax and spend quality time with their dancing partner.

Thrill seekers may find fun aboard a cruise ship with an adventure theme. Traditional cruise ship services, facilities, and activities can be found aboard a cruise ship. In addition to traditional cruise ship services, it is likely that you will find a number of onboard activities designed for those seeking a thrill. Many of these activities include onboard surfing and rock climbing. The adventure activities found aboard a themed cruise will all depend on the cruise ship in question. As more cruise ships are being developed, so are the number of activities designed for those who want action and adventure.

It is easy to see that there are a number of different themed cruises. If you are interested in scheduling a vacation aboard a themed cruise ship, you will need to find the cruise ship of your choice. This can most easily be done by searching for the activities or themes that you most enjoy participating in.

Written by John Ugoshowa.

Thursday, September 20

Cruise the Nile of Cleopatra

For centuries, the Nile River has been at the center of life in Egypt. The ancient Egyptian civilization relied on the flooding of the Nile to create fertile land for farming in an otherwise desert landscape. Excavations along the Nile have unearthed vast quantities of archeological remnants from ancient times and a leisurely cruise along the Nile takes you through this ancient populated area that is so steeped in history. And remember, you are following a royal route; the pharaohs and Queen Cleopatra cruised the Nile!

A cruise along Nile is an excellent way of visiting scattered archeological sights in a country with less than spectacular roads and airline service. In fact, some quality travel agents recommend cruising as the preferred method of transportation in Egypt. The best time of year to enjoy a Nile cruise is winter, from December to February, due to the hot desert climate.
Think of the romance of a leisurely cruise through such an ancient and historic land. The banks of the Nile are lined with ancient monuments and unusual sites, like banana plantations. Excursions to other famous locations, such as the Karnak Temple and the tomb of Nefertiti in the town of Luxor, are available on most cruises. Other towns that can be touring stops are Aswan, Esna, Kom Ombo and Edfu. Knowledgeable local guides are available and are recommended to explain the finer points of each site.

A Nile cruise can be quite economical. For a three-star ship the cost can be as little as $70 per person per night while a deluxe cruise can cost a mere $130 per person per night, double occupancy. The length of the cruise can vary from 3, 4 or 7 nights. Rooms are well-appointed and meals are included. Of course, deluxe and luxury cruise boats also provide a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, bar and recreation facilities, and gift shops. Air-conditioning is a must for the American tourist who is unaccustomed to the possible one hundred degree heat. And remember, since you are cruising on a river than the ocean, the river cruise ship will be much smaller, with anywhere from 100 to 500 passengers.

Generally, meals on a Nile cruise are served at a specific time, with all passengers being served at a single seating. Expect a full range of cuisine from local to international. Some meals, such as lunch and dinner, may be served buffet style. And, of course, luxury cruise companies employ world-class chefs to pamper the palette.
A cruise is an excellent way for the American tourist to visit a unique and different culture since all services are provided. For example, there is no worry about where and what to eat. Also the cruise company arranges all the tours to the major ancient attractions and provides reputable guides who know Egyptian customs. Thus, you do not need local currency for admissions as these have been paid in advance. By taking a cruise, you are buying a measure of safety in a foreign land, provided that you select a reputable cruise company with a good reputation.
Egypt is an ancient land with fascinating monuments and temples that are adorned with mysterious hieroglyphics. What better way to immerse yourself into this unique culture than to experience it by cruising the Nile like the royal pharaohs.

By Colin Hartness

Saturday, September 1

Useful Tips When Packing For Your Cruise

Here are some helpful and useful tips when packing for a 5 or 7 day cruise.

  • Pack everything you would need, as if you were staying at a resort hotel in the same geographic area of your cruise.
  • Avoid over-packing by reading the recommended dress section of the cruise literature that will be mailed to you after you book.
  • Check to see if they have a theme night or talent show where you might need some special outfits. Even in the warm Caribbean, you might need a sweater on the decks at night. The air conditioning can also be icy.
  • Pack some comfortable rubber soled shoes to get around on the decks.
  • Bring a pocket calculator to help you figure your ports of call exchange rates.
  • Bring a white T-shirt if you plan on going snorkeling or you may have a burned back when you are done.
  • You might also pack some drinking straws to use while at port. This will help you to avoid touching your lips to a can's top.
    The top might be covered with contaminants that will make you sick.

Are cruise ships really formal? No, cruising is not just for the stuffed shirt crowd anymore. Casual attire is appropriate for almost all of your cruise.
Will I need any formal clothes? Yes, cruises still have dinners where more formal clothes are appropriate. The last night of a cruise is usually a formal night, and a seven-day cruise will usually have two formal nights. These are the meals that used to require tuxedos or cocktail dresses. They are now optional but, if you have them dust them off and bring them along. Many Cruise Lines will rent tuxedos, so you can check into this option before you go. Fewer passengers are taking this option and a dark suit and dresses are perfectly appropriate and will probably be the most common passenger attire for the formal nights. On the other nights a sport coat and tie or pants suit are appropriate. Some Cruise Lines are recommending even more casual attire such as sport shirt and pants on all but the formal night. Read your cruise packet or check out the Line's web page for your particular ship's recommendation.
What should I pack in my carry-on bags? Items of value that should never go in your checked luggage such as cash, jewelry, medication, travel documents and a list of everything in your checked baggage.
Since luggage is often not delivered to your cabin until after your first dinner, be prepared and pack a change of clothes.
You might also consider one-day items, in other words all the items you would need to make it through a 24-hour day, just in case your luggage goes missing.
Keep lots of crisp one-dollar bills wherever you keep your money. This will come in handy when dealing with all the skycaps and porters.

You will also be able to find a great variety of types of cruises in many areas of the globe. The Caribbean is sailed by many different Cruise Lines and ships. Each Cruise Line and ship has its own flavor. You will find budget all the way to super luxury available in the Caribbean. The cruise itineraries also offer differences in lengths and ports visited. Any two Caribbean cruises can provide very different vacation experiences.

Samuel Awosolu is a home based travel agent and a freelance writer. He has a weekly deals and steals newsletter for travelers looking to save money and find the best deals on the internet. You can subscribe and visit his website at
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Friday, August 31

Cruise Reviews and Forum Advert

If you're looking to make conversation with like-minded cruise lovers or want to read honest, unbiased cruise reviews then read on...

Thursday, August 30

Jamaica - A Tropical Paradise

From the brilliant white sand beaches to the diverse island culture, Jamaica is one of our favourite Caribbean tourist destinations. The crystal clear ocean waters and the year-round warm climate makes it the ideal travel vacation for sun-lovers. There are many diversions to keep visitors happy: fishing, scuba diving, wind surfing, horseback riding, swimming, snorkeling, golfing just to name a few. In the evening there is fine dining at Jamaica’s elite restaurants and resorts—combined with truly unique Jamaican cuisine, and the night life is certainly hopping!

One of the best things that I have found about Jamaica is the warm, friendly people and the rich, diverse Island culture blended from around the world. In fact, Jamaica’s motto is “Out of Many, One People.” Although African and European influences dominate the culture, the British, Spanish, Irish, Indian, Chinese and German are all represented as well. The official language of Jamaica is English, but sometimes you wouldn’t know it as you will most likely hear “Patois” which sounds like a foreign language but is actually a combination of rhythmic English and slang. “Irie mon” is a common phrase you may hear, which really just means “cool” or “everything is good.” The currency in Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar, but US dollars are widely accepted.

Jamaica is the largest English-speaking Island in the Caribbean and it is the third largest island overall, spanning 4,400 square miles. The best tourist spots are on the north coast, with Montego Bay and Ocho Rios being the most popular, as well as Negril on the west coast. I have toured the whole Island, from Kingston (Jamaica’s capital) through the Blue Mountains to Port Antonio, around the north coast, on down through Mandeville, Alligator Pond and Treasure Beach and back around to Kingston, so I am well able to tell you a bit about each destination you may wish to travel to. Ocho Rios is located, as I said, on Jamaica’s north coast and is known as Jamaica’s garden centre. Some of the most popular daytime activities include biking, diving, deep-sea fishing and golf. Ocho Rios also has one of the best polo facilities in the Caribbean. Of course, the must-see attraction in Ocho Rios is the famous Dunn’s River Falls, where visitors, lead by a sure-footed Jamaican guide, are able to climb up a series of falls that cascade from the mountains to the sea. The falls themselves are a spectacular sight and climbing the falls is an adventure not to be missed. As a bit of trivia, in the film “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise, Duns River Falls is in a memorable scene. Close by, just off of Main Street in Ocho Rios are two craft parks, the Ocho Rios Craft Park and the Olde Market Craft Shoppes, and The Ocean Village Shopping Centre is also nearby. Here there are hundreds of vendors selling local crafts, and everything from gold watches to wood carvings and the famous Blue Mountain coffee. Also, you will be able to sample the traditional jerk pork prepared over an open grill – a spicy culinary experience for the adventurous. There is also duty-free shopping at the Taj Mahal Shopping Centre.

Just west of Ocho Rios in Aracobessa is another favourite tourist attraction, James Bond Beach and Ian Fleming’s former home called Goldeneye.

Montego Bay is where most travelers arrive in Jamaica, which is home to the North Shore airport and the island’s busiest cruise ship pier. Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second largest city and is Jamaica’s original tourist hot spot. Montego Bay’s attractions include a number of plantation tours, as well as a new attraction featuring the legendary great, Bob Marley. For the adventure traveller, there are also bamboo river rafting tours. As well, there is great fishing by fishing charters for marlin, tuna and kingfish. One may also go cycling, golfing, horseback riding or scuba diving here, and there is another popular local shopping district. A popular tour from Montego Bay is to Wyndham Rose Hall Plantation which was once a legendary 18th century sugar plantation, and a popular spot for golfers would be on the Robert von Hagge Championship Golf Course.Of course, the beaches in Montego Bay are not to be missed. But beware – a friend, while visiting Jamaica, sat under a coconut tree and got conked on the head by a falling coconut, in fact three coconuts! I asked her why she didn’t move away after the first one hit her (of course, the coconuts fell in a bunch of three – but I thought it was funny!) (P.S. – She wasn’t really hurt!)

Negril is located on Jamaica’s western coast with a seven-mile long fantastic white sand beach. It extends from the nineteenth-century Negril Lighthouse in the parish of Westmoreland in the south to Bloody Bay (so named for the days when whalers cleaned their catch there) in Hanover Parish in the north. Negril is famous for its “hippie” era where the hippies set up a colony there and enjoyed the laid-back lifestyle and “ganja”. From this hippie-era colony, Negril has been labelled the “Capital of Casual”. Although I wasn’t interested, Negril does offer some clothing optional beaches. Laws control resort development and no building is allowed to be taller than the tallest palm tree. Negril doesn’t offer the extensive shopping of Ocho Rios, but it does have an assortment of unique shops, including the Negril craft market.
Negril is said to offer some of the best scuba diving in Jamaica. You can also enjoy deep-sea fishing excursions, a vast amount of water sports, and golf at a new golf course, Negril Hills. If you choose to go para-sailing, the sight of the sparkling azure waters and the dazzling white sand beach is a truly memorable experience. Other activities can include tennis, squash, glass-bottom boat reef trips, sunset catamaran cruises and spectacular nightly entertainment.

Although I stayed at a number of different locations in Jamaica, a memorable one was at a family-oriented all-inclusive resort. They offered everything one could want, from unlimited alcoholic beverages for adults to baby-sitting services, and even a special snack bar geared to children with all-you-can-eat pizza, macaroni ‘n cheese, and hamburgers. I was very impressed with how the staff entertained and watched over our children. In one instance, our kids were kayaking around a little bay area. Being adventurous they ventured out towards open water. The staff member followed them in his kayak and gently herded them back. I was very impressed how he handled it. It was a very pleasant stay there.

On the whole, I love Jamaica, from the warm friendly people to the crystal clear waters and all-year round warm climate. There is not much that Jamaica doesn’t offer for an ideal vacation. The Island is unique in its culture and cuisine (have you tried boiled green banana, saltfish and ackee, jerk chicken or fried breadfruit?) The resorts are experts in what they offer guests – especially the all-inclusive ones. The only thing that I might caution you about is travelling alone/unaccompanied outside of the resorts. It can be dangerous, but if you stay within your resort or take guided tours, you shouldn’t have any problems. “No problem, mon!”

Denny Phillips has created several articles inspired by her love of cooking, travelling and art. Read other articles by Denny on her websites: and www.vacationtravelquest.comArticle Source:

Monday, August 27

The Disney Cruise Ships

Disney' cruise ships - the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder - embody the style and spirit of the grand ocean liners of days gone by, coupled with every modern amenity you have come to expect from a premiere cruise line. The two ships are basically identical save for some decorating details - the Wonder is decked out in an Art Nouveau style, while the Magic is fashioned in an Art Deco style - and the names of some of the restaurants and clubs. Both ships incorporate an interesting dining rotation, whereby your tablemates (in fact- the entire dining room full of guests) is rotated through the 3 restaurants along with your servers and wait staff, so that you get to experience a different restaurant each night without sacrificing the careful attention and pampering of having your own servers. And what restaurants they are - Parrots Cay embodies a fun, tropical flavor (and incidentally serves a fabulous breakfast buffet, and Disney characters often drop by unannounced, so be sure to have those cameras and autograph books handy!).

Animator's Palate is a most unique restaurant where the d├ęcor starts out black, white and grey, but by the end of the meal is a full burst of colors and Disney pictures, all coordinated with a musical soundtrack, and Lumiere's/Triton's, which is an elegant restaurant decorated with beautiful mosaics depicting scenes from The Little Mermaid on the Disney Wonder and Beauty and the Beast on the Disney Magic.

Both ships have a variety of features and activities designed exclusively for the younger set, including a family pool and water slide (fashioned as Mickey's gloved hand), snack bars poolside serving chicken nuggets, French fries and ice cream, a fully-equipped kids 'camp' open 'till midnight with counselors, great activities, play areas and computers, great Disney-themed shoes (including one starring all of the kids onboard, assisted by their counselors), and more characters than you could ever meet at Disney World. All of this attention to the kids certainly doesn't shortchange the adults, who are treated to their own pool and spas, adult-only restaurant (make reservations as soon as you board- Paolo's is a big hit), adult clubs, and even their own beautiful, private cove on the beach at Disney' own Castaway Cay island paradise.

Rooms on the Disney Cruise ships are about 25% larger than comparable rooms on other cruise ships, and many include a unique split 1 1/2 bath, to make getting ready easier for families. There is certainly more food than you could eat or activities you could participate in to fill several cruises, and you'll certainly find yourself wishing that the cruise were longer - or start planning your next cruise before you even disembark!

Stephanie Larkin is the editor of, as well as She and her family love to cruise - her 3 children especially love the towel animals and chocolates left on the beds at night!

Sunday, August 26

A Cruise Lover's Guide to Repositioning Cruises

Cruise fans have probably noticed a great deal turn up every now and then on something marked as "repositioning cruise." It looks too good to be true, so you might be suspicious. And then you're even more suspicious when the cruise literature does not even explain what on earth a repositioning cruise is. So what is it? And is it really such a good deal?

A cruise line that is moving a cruise ship from one home port to another will call the voyage to go from the old port to the new port a "repositioning cruise". Most cruise ships have a home base and make their cruises in and out of that port. That's why most cruise packages let you set sail and return to the same place.But sometimes the cruise line will want to maneuver its fleet a bit differently. It may be time to change up the schedule. At any rate, they need to move a cruise ship from the old home port to a new home port.

Cruise lines are smart and they know they can sell passage on these unusual voyages even though they are not the typical cruise with a fixed route and lots of fun ports-of-call. In fact, a repositioning cruise may not even offer any ports of call.

The focus of a repositioning cruise is getting from Port A to Port B. However, a repositioning cruise will offer you the usual cruise amenities. The crew will give you the same level of service as on a conventional cruise, you will get to dine and see shows. The only thing is that the cruise is not following the usual "route" with the standard ports of call.

That is the reason that you can often get a good bargain on a repositioning cruise. However, you need to be a particular type of passenger to really make this work out for you.First, you need to be a cruise passenger who enjoys "ship time" more than "port time." You have to be content to spend days at sea. You'll have access to the full facilities of the ship, so you can soak in the sun, go swimming, work out, see shows, get spa treatments, and take advantage of everything else on your ship. (Ask about what is offered on board before you book any repositioning cruise.) If you like long lazy days of eating and relaxing and soaking in the scenery from the deck, this is a perfect vacation for you.

Second, you need to be able to deal with the "to and from" of the repositioning cruise. You'll be leaving from one port but coming back at another. That means your airfare may be a bit more complicated and even pricier. You won't be able to book a round-trip airfare; instead if you need plane tickets, you'll be getting two one-way fares.

As with any cruise, you can tack on airfare to your total cruise package or book airfare yourself. Asking which is the better deal is like asking how much a cruise costs. It depends! You may want to do some online shopping to see what fares cost versus what the airline can package for you.An extraordinary value on a cruise would be a repositioning cruise that starts or stops in a port near your home town, since you'd only need one leg of airfare.

You can learn about repositioning cruises from most cruise line websites as well as from travel websites. They are usually listed in among the regular offerings but they should be flagged as repositioning cruise.Some cruises that work a regular route do start and stop from different ports. This happens, for instance, in Alaska, where a cruise ship may work a route north to south one trip, then south to north the next. This is not a repositioning cruise.The advantages of a repositioning cruise are mainly financial. It usually does not offer any new sights or destinations than the standard cruise packages and it creates a bit of a passenger inconvenience by starting and stopping at different places. However, it is often offered at a definite discount.
For people who enjoy the sheer fun of cruising and spending long days at sea, who don't mind starting and stopping their vacation from different cities, and like onboard activities, the repositioning cruise can be a great value.

If you are looking for a good deal on repositioning cruises or just finding out more about cruises in general, visit . Mandy Karlik wrote this article and is going on her next cruise to Cozumel. She contributes regularly to TheCruise-Shopper.
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Saturday, August 18

Your Adventure Awaits On A Cruise Ship

When most of us think of the words cruise ship, we envision the Love Boat or the Titanic. Well, not all the time, but often that's the first thing that comes to mind. Actually, a cruise ship doesn't have to be that big, and many countries have their own cruise ship lines. A cruise ship is also called a luxury ship, but that doesn't mean that only rich people can sail on her. You may not find Gopher or Doc on board, but a cruise ship offers a unique way to travel at a slower pace so that you get to know your fellow passengers and are able to intermingle at various venues provided by cruise ship activity and entertainment directors. Airline or train travel doesn't allow for such pleasures, nor does driving. For anyone who hasn't been on a cruise ship, adventure awaits!

A cruise ship is also called a passenger ship and is used for those seeking a pleasure voyage to various destinations around the world, from Tahiti to Rio, to the Canary Islands and Hong Kong. Today, a cruise ship line offers the best in travel comforts and perks. With a cruise ship, the entertainment on board is as important as the ultimate destination, and most cruise ship lines will make sure to schedule exciting events that will entertain various age groups.

The very first cruise ship built expressly for the purpose of transporting vacationers from Point A to Point B was called the Prinzessin Victoria Luise. She was built in 1900. So began the age of transatlantic transportation that hit a rough spot after the sinking of the Titanic. Following that accident, Albert Ballin, the manager of Hamburg-America Line, made it a point to send his cruise ship captains across the North Atlantic is the worst winter weather to prove that the ill-fated sinking of the queen of all liners was not the norm, but rather an isolated incident. He succeeded, and other shipping lines followed his example.

A cruise ship is equipped to withstand bad weather and is capable of sailing great distances to exotic ports of call or down your country's coastline. One of the most popular cruise ship destinations for world travelers is the Alaskan cruise, which offers delighted passengers sights and sounds that can't be seen anywhere else.

There are many different kinds of cruise ship, and some are large, which others are only moderately so. Most come with affordable small to medium sized cabins, and a cruise ticket will generally include all the food and entertainment on board as well as tickets to events or locations listed on the ships port of call sightseeing lists. A cruise ship offers hotel style living, fine dining and even theatrical entertainment all in one place. Some cruise lines offer a cruise ship geared more toward the younger crowd, like Disney, while others offer nothing but exquisite elegance. Which cruise ship you choose will not only depend on your tastes, but your pocket book as well.

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Chonticha Marijne: Ready to embark on a cruise ship adventure of your very own? Find out more about starting your cruise ship journey right at

Friday, August 3

Lunch onboard the QE2

I was lucky enough to be invited onboard the QE2 this week for lunch and a tour. The first thing that struck me was her size, i really thought she wouldn't be as big, yet when you stand on the dock she towers above you like any other superliner. The tour was 2 hours long and we took in many cabin grades from insides to suites. My personal favourites were the suites of course - the decor was a little more to my taste with the fusion of art deco and a hint of modernism. The stairs to the penthouses were very narrow and reminded me of my staircase at home but that gave it quite a nice personal feel. These are only accessable via the Queens Grill hence not being able to eat in there unless you're staying in one.
The ship is full of memorabilia and art works depicting her history. There are many paintings of Queen Elizabeth herself as well as models of previous Cunard fleet and other art pieces. One of my favourites was the wall of fame filled with old photos of famous past guests. It was fun to look through and see how many people you could recognise. Another decoration i enjoyed was the Ratcliffe memorial wall - this was filled with Cunard memorabilia from many years ago. It included puzzles, matches in fact anything emblazened with Cunard or QE2. The story behind the wall is that the chap who collected the items actually took them without paying over the years he travelled onboard, yet when he died he left the collection back to Cunard. I thought that was a facinating story which brought a lump to my throat!
The shopping area was pretty good with a Harrods onboard as well as the usual ship fashion and convenience stores although i could only peek though the windows as she was moored in port. We visited all the restaurants and in actual fact, decor wise, i felt the Mauretania had the most character. We were lucky enough to eat in the Princess Grill and had the most delicious 3 course lunch including the best Chateaubriand i have ever tasted.

Although she wouldnt be my first choice of cruise ship, the QE2 had a wonderful charm about her and i am really glad i got to experience her magnetism before she becomes a luxury floating hotel in Dubai.

Friday, June 29

New Cruise Forum & Reviews website

One of the best ways to research your cruise is to visit a cruise forum or read cruise reviews... now you can do both and much more.
Last week saw the launch of Inside Cruise, a community for cruise travellers. Read news, features, reviews and join in conversations on the forum. It is still in a beta phase with extra sections being added very soon - these will include cruise galleries and videos.
Take a look for yourself!

Goodbye QE2

What a sad day when we found out that a piece of british maritime history, the good lady QE2 herself is to stop serving as a cruise ship next year. Even sadder to find out she will be moving to her new home in Dubai to become a 5star hotel. Goodbye Queen Elizabeth II, you will be missed by all who sailed onboard you and all those who never got the chance.... although its not too late, you can still book an itinerary with your local travel agent. Visit Ideal Cruising for a quote today.

Tuesday, May 1

Ocean Village Two Launch plus Karma Spa

I was lucky enough to attend the naming ceremony for the Ocean Village Two last week. I witnessed Jodie and Jemma Kidd christen the ship - the bottle didnt smash first time, it took 2 attempts but everything seemed to be in 2's that day anyway... Ocean Village Two, 2 godmothers, 2 smashes of the bottle!

The ship was very tastefully decorated and I must admit i preferred it to the original Ocean Village. Just that little bit more detail in everything.
We ate lunch onboard too - very nice indeed - There was plenty of choice so i opted for the Lobster Thermadore AND the Lamb Wellington! I have to admit I gave in to the strawberry tart too but it did taste good!

James Martin was also onboard that day as he has opened his second restaurant (his first is on Ocean Village) - The Bistro. Its slightly smaller than the first restaurant so i should imagine booking as early as soon as you board the ship to get the time and date you want.

The Karma Spa and Fitness complex onboard really was the highlight for me! The two-storey, ocean-view spa incorporates a number of industry firsts as well as being the largest spa afloat in relation to the size of the ship.
The upper deck has a state of the art gym fully kitted out with all the latest high tech exercise machinery! There is also a separatefitness room offering spinning, Pilates, yoga and more.

Adjoining the gym is the Spa reception. It is very tastefully designed with relaxing features such as the indoor waterfall and cypress trees. From here you can access each of the eleven treatment rooms. Each treatment room focuses on a particular speciality such as facials, massage (including hot stones and couples massage), manicure and pedicure, dry float and hydrobath. There is even a sunbed so if the weather is bad, you dont need to go home pale!

From the Spa reception area, a stairway leads down to the Karma Sauna and Steam zone. There is a herbal steam room and Hammam hot room where you can turn up the heat in the mosaic-tiled and pillared surroundings. The Hammam therapy room features a warmed marble slab where a specialist Arabian Aromasoul massage treatment specifically designed for Ocean Village Two combines warm water cleansing, heat therapy and the application of nourishing oils. It all looked so inviting, i was pretty gutted i had to get off the ship!

The meditation room provides a back-to-the-womb experience with red padded floor, walls and ceiling, and four hanging chairs - all around a fibre-optic obelisk whose changing colours provide the room’s only light.

Two hours in the Karma Sauna and Steam zone costs £12.50 or £20 for three sessions.
A total of 14 expert therapists make up the Karma Spa team with two fitness experts offering a full exercise programme as well as personal training.
The Spa will offer top quality signature treatments specifically designed for Ocean Village Two including:
• Arabian Hammam Aromasoul Massage – two hours of Hammam heaven to cleanse the skin, smooth the body and soothe the mind.
• A Dream Chair facial ritual which also features a full back, neck and leg massage• ZUMBA fitness classes, the world’s largest Latino Aerobics programme – at sea for the first time!
• A Pilates Institute at sea programme including complimentary Pilates seminars for keen golfers on how to improve their posture as well as their game
• Fitness programmes including glide board Gravity sessions

Passengers will also have the chance to indulge in a range of celebrity treatments such as the Oxy-jet facial (£99), dubbed ‘the miracle facelift’ and said to the facial of choice of the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Madonna.

Other treatments to be offered in Ocean Village Two’s Karma Spa and Fitness include ones already proven popular on Ocean Village’s original ship such as:
• G-Form – a pain free weight loss therapy which uses micro-currents to work on problem areas. (£55 for a 60 minute session)
• Ancient Stones - the direct heat relaxes muscles, allowing manipulation of a greater intensity than with regular massage• Teeth Whitening - for that Hollywood smile. (£135)

All in all i was really impressed with the ship but it was definitely the spa that sold it for me.

Friday, April 13

P&O Ventura Breaks Records

Well if you were trying to book a cruise on the first day the newest ship from P&O Cruises, Ventura went on sale, you may have been one of the many unlucky ones that missed out on her Maiden Voyage. It wasn't just the maiden voyage that sold out quickly though, such was the demand that one third of the ship's entire inventory for 2008 was sold out in one day.

This is so far the best selling ship for P&O Cruises and also their parent company, the Carnival Corporation.

To be honest, i am not surprised by the Ventura's success at all. The ship looks fabulous, with great decor and superb facilities as well as interesting itineraries. The children's facilities alone are really well thought out with an abundance of entertainment to suit all age groups. This will definitely impress families and I'm sure that the Ventura will get receive many repeat bookings after people have sailed aboard her.

If you want further information on the Ventura visit Ideal Cruising.

Friday, March 23

Hate the Idea of a Cruise?

Thats a common feeling from people who have never cruised before, but stop for one moment to think of your dream holiday... is it something like this?
Rather than spending a whole week in the same place, how would you like to wake each morning to a new destination, a new adventure? Imagine all your travelling is done at night while you enjoy a slap up meal, drink at the bar or even while you sleep. Imagine varied entertainment, great duty free shopping and a wide range of excursions. Imagine a place where kids are never bored, adults are never bored and there you have it... you've just described a cruise!

So whats stopping you now? Is it the price? Well you can get a week cruise in the med for the same price as a week in Ibiza now! try lines such as Ocean Village, Thomsons, Island Cruises and MSC for some really good deals, they are definately out there!!!

Alaska Cruises - whats the attraction?

There are some remote corners of the world where the best, and often the only way to travel, is by ship. Alaska is one of those places.
Its very hard to imagine a corner of the USA that isn't peppered with MacDonalds outlets, convenience stores or roads. Alaska's sheer wilderness is breathtaking. Dense forest clings to the mountains right down to the rocky shoreline, where you'll sometimes see a brown bear foraging as your ship glides silently by.Bald eagles perch on branches overhanging the glassy water, keeping a watchful eye out for fish. Pods of humpback whales breach alongside the ship, their shiny skin encrusted with barnacles. If you watch the shoreline for long enough you can spot sea otters, sea lions and even wolves.

Although the wildlife is the main attraction, Alaska has other faces too. The native culture comes alive in the arts, the language and the colourful totem poles you'll see at every stop.The Alaskan architecture is reminiscent of the Gold Rush days, with saloon bars and the like.
Everywhere you go, there's a real frontier feel, perhaps perpetuated by the fact that life in Alaska is tough. Juneau for example, is the capital, but its only accessible by sea or air. There are no roads and no rail links, only a buzz of float planes and helicopters taking visitors up to the glciers for hiking or sightseeing.
The glaciers are one of Alaska's biggest thrills, creaking their way down permanently snow covered mountains to the ocean, shearing off huge chunks that fall into the water with a 'thunderclap' sound.

One of the most spectacular sights is Glacier Bay, where 12 glaciers converge into one magnificient fjord. Only two ships per day are allowed here and a National Park ranger boards each one to tell the passengers about the amazing scenery.
If you prefer to get up close and personal with a glacier, visit the Methendall Glacier near Juneau - there are walking trails through the forest and on a hot day you paddle in the freezing water of the glacier lake while chunks of ice wash up on shore round your ankles.

Fast facts
When to go:
May to September
What to pack: Fleece, sunglasses, binoculars, zoom lens and walking shoes
The upside: Fresh air, active days, amazing scenery
The downside: Small ports can get busy and prices on the ground are high

Suite Tallking - choosing your cabin

The moment you walk through the door to your cabin could be the moment that makes or breaks your cruise. Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised but unfortunately that is not always the case.The size of your cabin or the view of a bright orange lifeboat through your window when you were expecting to see the ocean are just some of the reasons you could be disappointed. Cruise brochures have clear deck plans to show where the categories are but things can get lost in translation between the booking process and the cruise itself. It is up to your cruise agent to give the right sales advice before you book but it is advisable that you take the time to ask the right questions and double check that you are fulfilling all your requirements.

What cabins are available?
Firstly you must decide what type of cabin you want. Do you want an inside cabin with no natural light, an outside cabin with a porthole or a non opening window, a balcony cabin or a suite? Your budget will usually dictate your choice however there are times when paying the extra is well worth it. For example, would you really want to wake up in Alaska and not be able to look out at the incredible scenery? It can work both ways too - for example, is it worth booking a balcony cabin on a transatlantic crossing in winter when it may be too cold to make full use of it? Sometimes cruise ships will offer passengers a "guarantee" cabin, which means you are paying for a category rather than a specific cabin. A guarantee cabin can be less expensive than choosing a specific cabin, but it might not give you the location you desire. You are taking a chance and leaving it up to the cruise line to assign you a cabin in a given category. But, by choosing a guarantee you have an excellent chance of being upgraded to a slightly higher category, usually within the same cabin type (inside to inside, outside to outside, verandah to verandah etc.). Beyond that, while it does happen, it's rare to be upgraded to a higher cabin type.

From time to time, a cruise line has a ship in which a certain category of cabin has sold out or is in an "oversell" situation, meaning that more cabins have been sold in that category than actually exist. The cruise line can hardly downgrade someone who has paid for their cruise, so they select certain passengers at random and upgrade them to whatever has more availability. That's where a guarantee category can be a good deal; as for the random selection, it's just the luck of the draw that can make certain people very happy indeed.
Location, location, location!Inside cabins are the cheapest option but as with all other cabin types, the higher you are the more you will pay. If you are on a budget but you cannot bear to have an inside cabin, why not ask for an outside with a restricted view - these are usually partially blocked by lifeboats but they do at least let natural light in.Being near a lift may be handy for those who have difficulty in walking but they can be noisy at night. Other areas that can be noisy are below the pool deck, below the buffet or near the disco so please bear these in mind especially if you are a light sleeper!! Noise isn't the only factor when choosing the location - if you suffer from sea sickness then the lower and more central your cabin, the better as that is the most stable place to be when sailing through choppy waters.If you are looking for a bit more privacy when in port, cabins at the front or back of the ship are a better option, they are usually bigger too.

Balcony cabins
Once you have had a balcony cabin you may not want to give up the luxury! The attraction is fairly obvious, somewhere private to sit in the sun, a place to read or snooze as well as the view and sound of the ocean.Balcony cabins are a fantastic choice when sailing to destinations of great beauty such as the Norwegian Fjords or Alaska but we aware that some ships have tiered decks that allow people above to peer down.

Suite decision
Suites are out of the reach of many budgets but those who do decide to take the plunge will not be disappointed. Suites come in all shapes and sizes but most have a separate sitting area and big bathrooms - many with a bath and shower, some even have a second toilet. Most have a separate changing room/area, double sized balcony and the latest in technology - dvds, plasma etc.If you choose to cruise with Crystal in a Penthouse suite for example, you get a personal butler while those who in a top-end suite with Silversea get a valet, free laundry service and plenty of champagne. NCL's newest ships have Garden Villas which have 3 bedrooms, a private courtyard with pool, hot tub and sun deck.

Travel enough and you’ll make your choices instinctively. Until then, make a checklist based on things that are important to you in terms of comfort etc and then seek further advice from a travel agent before booking.

Cruise Gratuities - To tip or not to tip?

The art of tipping can seem like a minefield to the British cruiser unlike our American counterparts. Therefore it can get quite confusing when we take a cruise trip to know what is expected of us when we tip. So when it comes to tipping onboard a cruise, what exactly do we do? Are there any fast rules or steady guidelines?

Well the first thing to remember is that the practise of tipping varies greatly amongst the many cruise lines. This can range from a required added service charge to no tipping at all. Therefore it is very important that you know the policy of the cruise line before you cruise so you can budget accordingly as these tips can exceed £100 per cruise! Most tips on cruise ships really are just service charges. This is why many cruise lines have moved towards adding a flat fee to your onboard account rather than make the amount you tip entirely optional.
Traditionally, all tips used to be given to the stewards and dining room staff on the last night of the cruise in an envelope. Some cruise lines for example Royal Caribbean and Celebrity still follow this custom whereas other cruise lines add the one lump charge to your onboard account. This has been introduced to compliment the new ‘freestyle’ way of cruising developed by some cruise lines.
As cruising has become more international, cruise lines have acknowledged that it would be easier for passengers not used to tipping, to add this charge to the onboard account, such as a restaurant or hotel would. Also with fixed seating times, shared tables and pre booked dining rooms being a thing of the past and with different waiting staff each evening, it would make tipping confusing!

It is worth noting that some of these charges added to your onboard account can actually be adjusted up or down according to level of service received and with some cruise lines you can actually opt out of this added charge. This is usually done by filling out a form at the purser’s desk, as some people prefer to give their money directly to the individual who has given them good service. These service charges only cover stewards and dining staff.

For bar staff, cruise lines usually add a 15% charge on your bar bill automatically. You are not obliged to give anything extra, but a little something may bring its rewards, especially on a crowded day by the pool!So how much will you have to pay? The majority of cruise lines work out that tipping averages £5-£10 per person per day. Broken down this is around £3 for dining room staff, £1 for Bistro and £2 for the cabin staff. The service charge added really is a minimum for the service that you receive. Most cruisers tip on top of the charge added to their onboard account, but this is purely to the passenger’s discretion. Many cruisers wish that all cruise lines would adopt the "no tipping expected" polices of top end lines such as Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Silversea. However, it looks like service charges are here to stay.

Wednesday, February 28

Mobile (cell) phones at Sea

Many of today's cruisers can't the thought of leaving their technical toys at home and having no connection to friends and family, even at sea.
Increasingly, major cruise lines are offering a number of high-tech guest options - from Wi-Fi hot spots to cabin data ports, from mobile phone service to iPods and computer classes. Silversea Cruises reports 65 percent of its guests use some form of onboard Internet access, while 50 percent are using their mobile phones at sea. But spare a thought for your fellow travellers amongst all this technology.

Only a couple of years ago, the world news could only come via newsletters that were printed onboard and placed under cabin doors. The enjoyment of cruising was the fact that you could leave the rest of the world behind for a few days and not be stressed out. Cruising had always been a very relaxing way to travel. Since the innovative introduction of mobile phone use onboard many cruise ships, that feeling being unreachable is a thing of the past.

The biggest complaint of late is that some mobile phone users can be rude and inconsiderate. Speaking loudly and leaving their phones on no matter where they are, be it at the dinner table or in the theatre during a show. After a backlash from many cruise customers, some cruise lines are looking at placing restrictions and reminding passengers to turn off phones in areas like the restaurant, theatres, etc.

There are many benefits to this kind of mobile technology; the good thing about internet access and hotspots is that they are usually in given areas, areas that you don't have to visit, should you wish not to. With mobile phones its different, since the user can roam where they wish, disturbing the peace should that dreaded ‘crazy frog’ ring tone start up! I know I will certainly make use of mobile onboard my next cruise but I will limit my use to my cabin – besides, why would I want anyone listening into my conversations anyway?!

Gay Cruise Holiday Guide

Gays and lesbians are among the most enthusiastic cruise passengers around, with no shortage of choices available when it comes to booking the ship or itinerary to suit. Nearly all of the larger cruise companies want to attract gay cruise customers, although some are more gay-friendly than others. They can be a more attractive option than all-gay charters especially for cruisers who want to go somewhere different, or to have a more exclusive experience.

Many cruise operators now include social meetings for their onboard gay community referred to as ‘Friends of Dorothy’ or ‘FOD’ meetings. The term ‘FOD’ now appears on some ships' daily programs - but there's no guarantee you'll see one when you step onboard. The entertainment director onboard can decide to add or withdraw the meetings at any time, at their discretion.

The larger lines such as NCL and Princess cruises will include FOD meetings on most of their ships. Other cruise lines generally hold the FOD gatherings upon passenger request; large popular lines like Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean generally fall into this category. You won’t usually find them on the ultra-premium luxury lines like Cunard (QM2 is an exception), Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Sea Dream, Silversea, Yachts of Seabourn. Because of their small size, they rarely feel the necessity of offering FOD meetings. Just because a cruise line doesn’t hold official meetings, doesn’t mean that gay travellers aren’t welcome on board, that’s not the case at all.
If you don't see an FOD meeting scheduled on the first couple of nights onboard (the meetings are customarily held on one of the first sea days) and you would like to meet some new gay friends, ask for one! Make your request known to the cruise entertainment director early on. Do bear in mind that the length of the cruise as well as how port-intensive the itinerary is can affect whether there is room in the schedule for an FOD meeting.

Many of the cruise lines have trained their staff in sensitivity regarding homophobia, and have learned to extend the same accepting, friendly courtesies to gay passengers as they do to straight guests. This basically means you needn’t feel worried that you’ll be treated any differently by staff members simply because of your sexual orientation.

When it comes to public displays of affection, most people aren’t keen on watching someone sticking their tongue down the throat of their husband/wife/partner/lover at the dinner table, gay or straight. However, there is nothing wrong with a quick kiss, an arm around your loved one, or even holding hands. Just remember, that there will definitely be people who will take notice and disapprove but it’s your holiday and as long you're OK with it, then go ahead and stroll arm and arm along the promenade deck under the moonlight and have a great time!

Tuesday, February 6

How to book a Cruise deal online

There are a few ways to book your cruise:
  • Visit your local travel agent

  • Phone a call-centre cruise agency

  • Book online

No one particular way is better than another, it comes down to personal preference in the end, although its always a good idea to do your homework first whichever way you choose.
If you have not booked a cruise before, i recommend doing your research first and then consult a cruise expert either in a call centre or face to face in a local travel agency. If you are a cruise veteran and know your stuff, the Internet is crammed full of offers that can save you bundles of money!

Why is this so I hear you ask?
Because the internet gives you instant access to the top cruise agencies, those who sell high volumes of cruise and can therefore offer bigger discounts. The fact that human-interaction has been subtracted usually means that the agencies can survive on smaller profits and therefore pass savings and benefits onto the customer. This means basically you get the same cruise and same service for less – what you don’t get is to talk to someone in person when you book – but if you know your cruise onions this shouldn’t be an issue at all.

So what is an ‘online’ cruise agency?
Online cruise agencies are real companies with real staff, in most cases some of the most experienced and knowledgeable cruise sellers you could ever find – it’s just that the actual booking you make is an automated process. This doesn’t usually mean that there is no-one to take your call if you have a problem – however, its always good to double check that an online agency displays their telephone number and address clearly for piece of mind. If you find an agency that has no contact details other than an email, I recommend that you steer clear – the best agencies wont hide their contact details from you.

How to bag a cruise deal
First of all you need to decide on the criteria that you want your cruise to fulfil, with a set date or cruise line in mind, you are then prepared to take the next step and ‘surf’. Take a look at a few different websites and compare prices, look out for extra discounts for booking online which many companies do. Some companies also offer a price match guarantee so if you do find the cruise you want at the price you want – but with an agency you just don’t want to book with – ask other agencies if they will match the price you have been offered. If the price you give is genuine, most agencies are happy to oblige – beware though, agencies know the available margins on a cruise and can therefore spot a fictitious price from a mile off!

Is buying a cruise online secure?
Always look for a security certificate, when you enter any personal details the following should happen:

  • A padlock symbol should appear in the bottom right hand corner of the browser bar

  • The web address should begin with https://

Every legitimate cruise agency should have at least two affiliations: ABTA and PSARA. Before you book your cruise you should verify the agent’s legitimacy by asking the agent for their professional credentials: ABTA and PSARA identification numbers. Then go to the web sites for these organisations and check the agent's credentials.

Good luck and happy cruise shopping!

Unveiling Ventura – The UK’s largest cruise ship

P&O Cruises have managed to excel the high standards that they are renowned for with what promises to be the most anticipated cruise ship launch for the company. Plans for the £300million super liner, designed specifically for us, British holidaymakers, will be the largest ship ever built for the Southampton based cruise line.

Ventura will be launched in April 2008 and will have an emphasis on fine dining, modern and contemporary art and family entertainment.
Marco Pierre White, the world’s youngest to win three Michelin stars, will create a signature fine dining restaurant on board Ventura - to be called The White Room. He is also acting as a dining consultant to P&O Cruises, training staff and designing menus, in the build up to Ventura’s maiden voyage from Southampton.

Ventura will be a floating showcase for the very best in British contemporary art, with 7,000 different pieces from 55 artists will be exhibited onboard thanks to the Tate Modern. These art themed cruises will give passengers the chance to attend seminars, presentations and even take part in practical art classes on board.

The Ventura is going to be a visually stimulating ship , designed by British designer Nick Munro. Nick is renowned for his unique furniture, ceramic and home ware designs and Ventura will be creating bespoke items designed specifically for contemporary British tastes

The Ventura will also be geared towards families with a facility that will be comprised of four activity areas, a family restaurant, and kids & parents-only pools. For the first time, P&O Cruises has designed an area specifically for parents to supervise their children aged less than two years old. Noddy will make periodic appearances on board Ventura throughout the year to bring enjoyment to Ventura’s younger passengers at character breakfasts and during playtime. Older children on Ventura will be offered lessons in how to become a rock star, learning how to play guitar, keyboards and drums.

P&O Cruises have designed Ventura for those who may have not previously thought of cruising as their holiday. Ventura hopes to be an introduction for those who usually choose land-based holidays although families, younger couples and experienced cruisers will all enjoy this big, modern ship.

See for yourself! Take a look at the Ventura virtual tour

Thursday, January 18

NCL Norwegian Pearl Ship Review

Wow! That's the first thing i have to say! What a magnificent ship the Norwegian Pearl really is.
I have been on the Norwegian Jewel and although a great ship, it didn't really 'float my boat' (excuse the pun).
I kind of expected the NCL Pearl to be the same but i was pleasantly surprised. The ship decor was very classy and i was lucky enough to be on board whilst all the Christmas decorations were up so it was pretty magical.
The main feature that did it for me was the bowling alley on board the ship, it was situated in the extravagantly decorated Bliss Bar which featured a bar, lots of chaise lounges, plenty of sumptuous velvet and a dance floor - then either side on this were 2 bowling alley lanes. We had such fun in there! (I lost of course)

The second thing to really impress me were the TV screens dotted around the ship, along corridors or by the lifts - they showed each restaurant on the ship and how much seating was available in 'real time'. This meant that at a glance you could see whether there was room to eat in your selected restaurant and saved a lot of walking backwards and forwards!
I stayed in the romance suite which was beautiful although a little smaller than i had expected. The bed was amazingly comfy and our balcony looked out to the back of the ship - had it not been raining I'm sure it would've been a perfect sun-trap.

The Stardust theatre on board the Norwegian Pearl is pretty impressive, a spectacular view from wherever you chose to sit and the seats were very comfortable.
My favourite restaurant was the Summer Palace which was very regal, reminded me of the Ritz only less tired looking! There are 8 speaciality restyaurants onboard to choose from -
  • Le Bistro French Restaurant
  • Lotus Garden Asian Restaurant (including Sushi)
  • Cagney's Steakhouse
  • Mambo's Tapas and Latin Restaurant
  • The Great Outdoors
  • La Cucino Italian Restaurant (just like mama used to make!)
  • Blue Lagoon
  • Garden Cafe

There are also 15 bars and lounges onboard so its very difficult to get bored and feel like you've seen everything on board in the first day!
The shopping area is quite inpressive and reminded me of an airport lounge as it had so much choice. If you fancy a flutter, the casino is of a decent size, although i only play roulette so i couldn't tell you what other games were being played!

We were also lucky enough to get a look round the Garden Villas which were very impressive. The bathrooms were enormous, the beds were huge and soft and there was even a piano - they have their own hot tubs too!
If you have children, whether they're toddlers or teenagers, there is something just for them. Great play areas, their own cinema with beanbag seats, video arcade - there's even a teenagers nightclub.(alcohol free of course)
The Norwegian Pearl wedding chapel was very classy and i would guess seated about 15 peaopl though don't quote me. Thats something i'd love to see - a wedding on board a ship so if any of my single friends are reading this, take heed!

All in all a great ship and a great time had by all.