Tuesday, July 1

More information on Oasis of the Seas

Those clever people at Royal Caribbean have created a fab microsite all about Oasis of the Seas. You can view artist impressions, building progress and promo videos.

See for yourself at http://www.oasisoftheseas.com/

Wednesday, June 25

Naming ships - the best job in the world?

I have come to the conclusion that if I could pick a dream job it would have to be 'naming ships' - not as in ship launch, godmother stuff but actually thinking up the names of the ships myself.

If any cruise lines are reading this and would like to hear my fantastic ideas - get in touch! (I would post them here but I dont want my ideas stolen)

Monday, June 23

Royal Caribbean Announces Oasis of the Seas Itineraries

News item: With the astounding array of choices and amenities being introduced on Royal Caribbean International's next generation of cruise ships, cruisers will be hard pushed to find another experience as spectacular as what they will enjoy on Oasis of the Seas.
Today, the cruise line renowned for its innovations announced seven night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries for the new ship's inaugural year, with the inaugural voyage planned for December 12th 2009.

Bookings for Oasis of the Seas will open September 3rd 2008. The ship's homeport is Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Oasis of the Seas will begin her inaugural season with 19 consecutive seven night sailings to the Eastern Caribbean, with ports of call at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas. Starting May 1st 2010, Oasis of the Seas will alternate its Eastern Caribbean itinerary with the Western Caribbean itinerary, which will call at Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach destination in Haiti; the new port of Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. "Royal Caribbean is fortunate to have taken millions of satisfied guests over 40 years to these highly regarded destinations," said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "We thank the government of Haiti, Port Authority of Jamaica, State Government of Quintana Roo, Island of Cozumel, SSA Mexico, Ministry of Public Works and Port Authority of the Bahamas, Virgin Islands Port Authority, West Indian Company, and Port of St. Maarten for their support and cooperation in working with us to provide such compelling itineraries for our guests."

Royal Caribbean has been working closely with the ports on the Oasis of the Seas itineraries to ensure the guest experience is seamless when the ship visits. The cruise line and St. Maarten will enhance the guest welcome facilities, while Cozumel's pier will be widened. Approaches to the docks at St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau also will be dredged.

Royal Caribbean is also working with the government of Haiti to construct a pier at Labadee, the cruise line's private beach destination. Additional plans are underway to expand guest offerings with an alpine coaster and fast-boat tours, among others, to complement Labadee's stunning Dragon's Breath Flight Line, which has proven to be one of the destination's most popular attractions.

When she launches in late 2009, Oasis of the Seas will be the largest and most revolutionary cruise ship in the world. An architectural marvel at sea, she will span 16 decks, encompass 220,000 gross registered tons (GRT), carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. Oasis of the Seas will be the first ship to tout the cruise line's new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which includes Central Park, Boardwalk, and the Royal Promenade. The ship will sail from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Additional information is available at www.oasisoftheseas.com.

Friday, June 20

Oasis of the Seas bookings start in September

The long awaited, Royal Caribbean mega-ship, Oasis of the Seas, will go on sale from 3rd September this year.Oasis of the Seas will have the first outdoor theatre at sea boast dual-level loft suites as well as seven themed areas on board, including the ‘boardwalk’ for families with restaurants, shops, games, and the first carousel at sea.

Off the boardwalk will be the amphitheatre Aqua Theater, with the largest fresh water pool to date on a ship. There will also be two 43-foot rock-climbing walls framing either side of the outdoor theatre.
The ship will offer 37 categories of cabins. Park View and Boardwalk View balcony staterooms will offer inward facing cabins over-looking the open air areas of the ship.
The 28 two-level loft suites will be the highest cabins at sea, featuring floor-to-ceiling double-height windows.

Oasis of the Seas will sail from Fort Lauderdale in Florida, starting its inaugural season of Eastern Caribbean itineraries on December 12 2009.

Thursday, May 15

News item: Cunard’s latest luxury liner, the Queen Victoria, has crashed while docking in the port of Valletta, Malta.
The hit caused a hole to form in the stern of the £300m British ship, which was named by the Duchess of Cornwall.Luckily, none of the 1,887 passengers onboard were injured in the crash.

"The ship touched the quay as she was berthing and sustained some damage which is now being assessed," said Cunard president Carol Marlow.
The Queen Victoria was launched in Southampton last December, but, during the traditional naming ceremony, the champagne bottle used failed to break against the ship, regarded in maritime circles as bad luck. Cunard have stated the damage was being assessed and that repairs were under way and should be completed during the night. "This will necessitate the cancellation of the call at La Goulette in Tunisia which the ship was due to visit tomorrow but its expected call to Gibraltar on the 17th May will go ahead as planned" "Cunard will be compensating guests for the disruption to their voyage," a spokesman said.

Queen Victoria will eventually replace the 40-year-old QE2, which is being decommissioned and turned into a floating hotel in Dubai from 2009.

Tuesday, May 13

Monarch of the Seas experience

Just a brief review of my findings on board Royal Caribbean's oldest (i think) ship, Monarch of the Seas. In true RC style, the food and the service were excellent. The ship itself was the smallest i had ever sailed on so i did find it quite claustrophobic. It still had a beautiful centrum which looked as though it had been refurbished fairly recently but I really did feel the lack of facilities. There were no Portofino or Chops Grille restaurants on board so we found we could only either eat in main dining room or the Windjammer. There was also a Jade Sushi on board but that's not really my bag, it was always empty so i guess we weren't the only ones to feel like that.

We had an inside cabin on deck 2 which always smelt of sewage. They must be having problems with their plumbing as many guests including us, had gurgling from their drains accompanied by a foul sewage smell. They cleaned out our drains twice in 2 days as it got so bad. I had asked to be moved to another cabin but i was told the ship was full. I'll be honest, it didn't ruin our holiday one bit, the shows on board were great and we stopped at some fabulous ports.. San Diego, Catalina Island and Ensenada in Mexico.

I also can't moan because I believe you get what you pay for...I only paid £120 each for the 4 days (cruise only) so even after all that, it was still good value. Thanks Royal Caribbean but I shall definitely choose a Freedom Class ship for my next holiday.

Tuesday, April 29

Royal Caribbean's Genesis - an artists impression

Last week Royal Caribbean unveiled a sneak preview of its plans for the latest evolution in cruise ship design, Project Genesis. They released details on how they will bring the best of the land to the ocean with an area on the ship called Central Park, a revolutionary design in which the ship's centre is open air and features a lush, tropical park spanning the length of a football field.

The images reveal an amazing feature - an open air 'central park' in the center of the ship, with a piazza, tropical plants, flower gardens and lawns, which will be kept alive with special irrigation and drainage systems. Having the cental atrium open to the sky will allow far more cabins to have balconies - of those approx 250 cabins will have balconies over the park.
At 220,000 tons, Genesis comfortably trumps the biggest ships going: the 160,000-tonne Freedom and Independence of the Seas, also owned by Royal Caribbean. It is also close to five times the size of the Titanic, and more than 10 times the size of the HMS Ark Royal, the Navy's biggest ship.

Face of Travel Results

I guess I should say right now that I didn't win the Face of Travel. Instead the female's crown went to Karen Eason from Sunshine Travel and the men's went to Ryan Inman from Cruise Thomas Cook. It's impossible to be a bad loser in this scenario as both really deserved to win.
Coincidentally, both winners used a superhero theme in their presentations, Karen unveiled a 'Travel Girl' outfit and Ryan pretended to be Clark Kent reporting back to Lois Lane from the ship.

The final was held onboard Royal Caribbean's newest mega-liner, the Independence of the Seas while she was docked at Southampton for her launch celebrations. I was one of the 16 finalists and we were all as nervous as each other - which in itself brought great relief!

Each of us had to face an X-Factor-style showdown during which we tried our best to persuade the panel of judges from TTG and Royal Caribbean why we should be the Face of Travel for 2008. After the presentations we had to wait a painful 6 hours for the result of the judges deliberations. In that time we fitted in a tour of the ship, an ice show, a concert by Scouting for Girls and quite a few glasses of champagne. In fact later that night we had the opportunity to meet Roy from the band who turned out to be a jolly nice chap - Hi Roy (he reads my blog all the time - lol!).

The competition was a great experience for me, I don't regret entering for one moment. I met some fabulous people and enjoyed my time on board the ship. I'm looking forward to reuniting with all the finalists on the Celebrity Solstice launch and of course, reading TTG to catch up with the latest antics from Karen & Ryan.

Just for a recap, the finalists were:

From the Boys Under 35 category:
Alastair Baker, Gill's Cruise Centre
Ryan Inman, Cruise Thomas Cook
Aaron McMordie-Ives, Bookable Holidays Ltd
James Revis, The Co-operative Travel

From the Girls Under 35 category:
Karen Eason, Sunshine Travel
Amie Fuller, First Choice
Emily Plunkett, Scotland’s Cruise Centre
Carla Prosser, Ideal Cruising

From the Boys 36 & Over category:
Ian Calvert, Have A Nice Stay Travel
Phil Dargan, Choose and Cruise
Nick McKay, Travel Designers
Mehmet Tepeli, Packyourbags Travel Store

From the Girls 36 & Over category:
Janette Bell, Future Travel
Deanne Gatfield, First Choice
Emma Sanger, Future Travel
Janet Whittingham, St Andrews Travel

CONGRATULATIONS we were all winners in our own way!

Tuesday, April 15

Inside Cruise launches Facebook Page

Inside Cruise - the community for cruise lovers - has now launched a group on Facebook.

You can find it on http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6558599798 - remember you need to be registered and logged in to view or join!

Ventura Welcome Party Cruise

I was lucky enough to get a cabin on the Ventura Welcome Party Cruise, especially considering that the entire ship sold out within an hour of going on sale. With that kind of popularity, the Ventura immediately had a lot to live up to. And to be honest, she delivered pretty well.
The 2-day itinerary set sail on Friday 11th April from the port of Southampton and cruised to Zebrugge (Bruges) and back. This was a cute itinerary that gave just enough time to explore the ship and enjoy a break away from it all. For those onboard that were new to cruising, this particular choice would have been perfect as a taster.

From the outside the Ventura looked huge. Although I knew she would be 115,000 tonnes, I just wasn’t prepared for her breathtaking size and stature in the dock. The strangest thing was that once onboard, she actually seemed quite small. It was very easy to find your way around and walking from one end of the ship to the other wasn’t the hard slog it would first appear to be. It didn’t take long to get our bearings and learn where the main rooms were.

We were most pleased that our cabins were ready within ten minutes of boarding. We had booked a junior suite with a balcony, CC grade on D deck (deck 9) which was positioned mid-ship. The cabin was tastefully decorated and spacious although deceptively narrow. It was a nice to touch to be greeted by a bottle of champagne on ice and Belgian chocolates which, I can assure you, didn’t last very long!

Whilst touring the ship it was clear that the designer Nick Munro had done a fine job. The interior decoration was elegant throughout; I particularly liked the Moroccan feel of the Tamarind Club, the contemporary Asian style of the East restaurant and the cool colour changing LEDs in the Havana Club.

There is a wealth of bars, restaurants and spacious meeting areas. For those not wanting formal club dining the choice is endless.We ate in the Saffron restaurant on the first night, taking the earliest sitting at 6.30pm, the 8.45pm sitting being just that bit too late for us. The meal was good and the service was excellent. It can’t be easy to pull off that level of service when all the guests arrive at the same time but the staff sailed through it.After dinner we opted to see the comedians Sean Meo and Mark Maier in the Tamarind lounge. If I’m completely honest they were a letdown. Both had a really hard time squeezing laughs out of the crowd, but then that’s what happens if your jokes aren’t funny. It was a shame that we missed the Chronicles show in the Arena theatre which by all accounts was excellent.

On the second day, naturally, passengers were encouraged to pay for an excursion to Bruges for the grand sum of £38 each, with many passengers taking it up. However P&O Cruises did actually provide a FREE shuttle bus at the quay side to take us to the local town of Blankenberge where a train could be caught to Bruges for around 6 Euros return and a journey time of 12 minutes.

Following our pleasant trip into Bruges, we donned our formal wear and ate in The White Room. This ‘Select Dining’ restaurant had a cover charge of £30 which may seem high but once you’ve tasted the food you’ll understand why it was worth every penny. (On longer duration cruises I am told that the cover charge decreases according to the number of nights onboard)The meal was truly amazing and of an incredibly high standard as you would expect. The asparagus risotto was to die for and I could’ve eaten another portion of the prune and amaretto ice cream quite easily!No sooner than finishing our desserts, Marco Pierre White made an appearance. We had the opportunity to meet him and get photos taken which we took full advantage of. He was a very charming man, well spoken, polite and showed a great interest in his fans. Meeting him was definitely the highlight of the evening and possibly even the cruise.

After dinner we managed to catch tail end of the Legends tribute show in the Havana club. The Elton John act was top class and sounded uncannily like the man himself, it was just a shame we missed Kylie and Freddy Mercury. We then went on to flutter and lose in the well equipped casino before heading onto the Saturday Night Fever show. Having seen the movie more times than I can remember, I was convinced that it wasn’t possible to mess up such a classic. How wrong could I be? It was a ‘tragedy’ if ever there was one!

In the first few bars of the opening song, it was already clear that the guy playing the lead, Tony Manero, was singing slightly out of tune. This was a real problem because the main plot of the film isn’t about the acting but the singing and dancing, taking one of those elements away kind of ruins the point of it all. It didn’t get much better for Tony when his mike stopped working halfway through. I’m not sure if there was an electrical fault or someone just switched him off to save our ears. Whichever it was, that was the final straw, we upped and left the theatre along with quite a few other audience members.

I can’t say that Tony Manero tainted my perception of Ventura at all even though I feel we may have been ‘guinea pigs’ to iron out any teething problems. The ship itself is an innovation at sea and all her new features and experiences will definitely appeal to all ages. I think she’s an impressive addition to the P&O Cruises fleet.

Thursday, April 10

Cute Cruise Gifts

Whenever I come back from my holidays I like to be reminded of the great time I've had. That's what keeps me going until my next holiday comes round. I try to buy souveniers while I'm away and take as many photos as I can. Then I use them to conjure up happy memories.

Usually this involves putting my photos into an album, placing the holiday fridge magnet in its rightful place or wearing the perfume I bought from the airport. But there isn't usually alot you can buy to remind you of cruising unless its branded by the cruise line itself and you purchase it from the expensive onboard boutique.

Thats why I was so tickled to find this cute little online store dedicated to cruise gifts. The Cruise Gift Store is run by real cruise lovers and packed full of nautical themed gifts to please any cruise addict.

I particularly like the Life Jacket Bottle Chiller priced at a very reasonable £8.95. It would make an excellent stocking filler at Christmas. I know all my cruise loving friends are going to get one this year! (i hope they're not reading this)

Visit the store at http://www.cruisegiftstore.com/

Thursday, April 3

Held to ransom in Madeira!

When I heard the news this morning I couldn't believe my ears! Over 450 passengers have spent a second night stranded in Madeira onboard their cruise ship, caught up in a cash row surrounding their travel company.
The Van Gogh has been held by port authorities since Tuesday in the port of Funchal due to a row over the alleged debts of former operator Travelscope, which went bust last December.

The stranded holidaymakers, who were due to arrive back in Falmouth, Cornwall, on Saturday, are said to have believed this was a April fools prank, but soon realised the severity of the situation. The managing director of Van Gogh Cruise Line issued a statement published in the Gloucestershire Echo that suggested lawyers were arguing for the release of the vessel.
It seems that Travelscope's administrators are behind the detention of the ship, making "alleged claims" relating to previous charter agreements, and refusing to allow the ship to continue on journey.

Lawyers are currently liaising with the authorities in an effort to prevent further delay by requesting this matter to be handled on return to Falmouth, to minimise further distress to the passengers.
It seems the mood of the passengers is mixed, with some feeling it is very unfair that they are being held up in this dispute. Others have held a more positive outlook suggesting there is no better place to be held ransom.

Thursday, March 27

Is Sea Sickness all in the Mind?

Years ago, on a family holiday to Cornwall, I remember getting on a small boat and sailing out to sea to catch some fish for dinner that evening. At 9 years old I was thoroughly enjoying being out at sea, catching fish and learning to “drive” a boat. And then came the sickness…
There is nothing quite like sea sickness, one minute your feeling fine, the next you feel completely green. Luckily enough we were already heading back to shore as the sickness was reaching its peak.

Since then I have moved on to bigger and better ships and started cruising. As of yet, I have not experienced any sea sickness at all (lucky me). Not so surprising when you consider how huge cruise liners tend to be and how well stabilized. However, many cruise passengers claim they suffer badly from sea sickness, even on these large ships.

The chances are that the majority of people who go cruising probably won’t suffer from seas sickness. Having said that, I guess you really won’t know until you get onboard.

Sea sickness is caused when the body, inner ear and eyes all send conflicting signals to the brain which makes you feel queasy. The brain is confused as your eyes are sensing everything’s stable whilst your ears are screaming that its not. But, can you control this feeling? According to this story I read, the answer is yes -

A husband and wife cruised regularly year after year, and each time the wife suffered with sea sickness. The husband was of the less sympathetic variety and decided to conduct a little experiment.He got in touch with an old friend who was a doctor. The doctor then informed the wife that she should drink cranberry juice each morning to cure the symptoms whilst on the cruise. The wife followed his instructions and for the first time had an enjoyable, sickness free cruise. Cranberry juice is not known as a cure for sea sickness, and instead acted as a placebo, convincing her that her sea sickness had been cured!

Whilst this suggests it is all in the head, I don’t think we can dismiss the symptoms completely. There are now prescription drugs to try to help ease sickness, as well as a new gadget which looks like a watch, but sends out gentle shocks to trick your body into thinking you are on land.

My advice? Each person you ask is likely to come up with their own remedy for sea sickness, some more credible than others. A few basic tips to eliminate the affects of sea sickness is to stay hydrated, eat lightly, avoid fatty foods and stay out on deck if possible. You may find that focusing on the horizon or nearby land is also beneficial.

Tuesday, March 25

Update - Face of Travel 2008

I tried very hard to contain my excitement when i turned on my PC this morning and found out that i had made it onto the leaderboard for the Face of Travel competition. I let slip a little squeal of excitement into my coffee which couldn't be helped. (I don't think anyone noticed though)

I just want to thanks everyone that has voted so far... but if you havent't yet already, don't delay, vote today!


Thursday, March 20

Heathrow terminal 5 here I come!

Next month I will have the great pleasure of departing from the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow. From what I've seen in the press so far, it all sounds absolutely fabulous. The quick check in and bag drop...well who wouldn't benefit from that?
The designer shopping including such brands such as Harrods, Tiffany & Co. and Mulberry will certainly please many - excluding my husband or my bank that is. The obvious downside to this self contained fashion village is that you can't access it without flying with BA.And as if all that wasn't enough, Gordon Ramsey has opened a restaurant there as part of the T5 fine dining experiences.
One thing is for sure, I will have spent my holiday money before I even board my plane. I guess I'll just have to keep you updated on my experience next month. Wish my purse luck!

For more info visit http://www.terminal5.ba.com

Tuesday, March 18

Cruise musings

Many experts like to predict the future of the cruise industry in both the short and the long term. Some focus on passenger numbers and destination trends while others veer toward the cruise line's new ships and their on board innovations.

One thing is for certain, we all like to read about what may be coming next, but why do we only think of ocean cruising in one way? There are many ways to visit the world by sea besides the most popular cruise vessels.

One example would be private yachting, once a holiday for only the rich and famous. These days you can charter one of these marvellous crewed vessels for almost the same price as one week on board a super liner. Sleeping up to 10 guests, one company on the net are offering a Rodman 41 for 6 days, carrying 6 people for £1500 per person. It costs even less if you can make the numbers up to 10! That's fully crewed and includes the fuel. And the best bit... you get to choose your itinerary! Granted you won't get the varied entertainment, choice of restaurants and the kids clubs but its certainly an interesting choice.

Another alternative, and probably the more fascinating, is what i like to call the 'cruise timeshare' - or as most know it; the residential cruise line.
Up until 5 years ago, they didn't exist but then along came the first, The World. This is the only one of its kind currently in operation but there are 4 more in the pipeline. (I've listed these and their web links at the end of the article)
The main idea is to own an apartment in a floating resort that constantly sails the globe but you don't need to own one outright to benefit. Depending on the ship, there are several options available: full ownership, partial or shared ownership and short period rentals for those that want to experience the ship as a holiday maker.
On The World you can expect to pay anything between $1,200 to $4,200 a night, with a minimum stay of six nights. Not exactly affordable to most but then that's the whole point isn't it? Being part of something exclusive.

I'm pretty sure that once more of these residential ships are built, as with anything we will see the prices drop dramatically. In the meantime i think I'll stick to traditional cruising.

Further research:

The World http://www.aboardtheworld.com/
Voyage Partners http://www.voyagepartners.com/index.php
The Magdellan http://www.residentialcruiseline.com
The Orphalese http://www.theorphalese.com/

Get the 'Simply a Cruise Blog' widget for your website, facebook, myspace, blog and much more...
Simply click 'get widget' and follow the instructions.

Friday, March 14

Let the voting begin!

I'm not usually one for competitions, I don't like the randomness, the poor odds and I especially don't like the 'losing' part. But when I saw the opportunity to become the Face of Travel 2008, I knew this was my destiny. A little over dramatic maybe but hear me out.

The competition is only open to the travel industry and the winner gets to attend lots of posh events, write articles, wins a free cruise on the Independence of the Seas and becomes part of a trade campaign for Royal Caribbean.

After reading all that you should see why I had to enter, this is right up my street!

So this is the bit where I ask for your help... voting begins today and ends on April 11th. If you click on the following link you can submit your vote:

It should take you no longer than 5 seconds to log your vote. Help make me a star... well, in the travel industry at least!

Thanks in advance ;-)

Thursday, March 13

If you're wondering why I haven't made many blog entries this year, there's a simple explanation. I have been working hard on a new project for Ideal Cruising which simplifies the current 6 page online booking process to a simple single page. Each section of the process is separated by a sliding 'accordian' style window so that you can go through each step individually without having to wait for a page to load each time. The best part of this is the ability to change your choices or amend your details at any stage. We are just putting it through the testing phase right now and will be launching on the main site within the next two weeks.
The technology behind the new system is Ajax... to that comment i will have had some techies nodding their heads with approval but to most people that would only conjure up a vision of smelly cleaning powder from the 80's. Whichever it is, trust me it, its state of the art!
Following on from this we are planning to redesign the entire Ideal Cruising website to make it more user friendly, less cluttered and fresher. There will be a few new features which are a first for the cruise industry so watch this space...my lips are sealed for now!

Wednesday, March 5

Future cruise ship build schedule

Line Ship Launch Tonnage Berths
MSC MSC Poesia 01 March 2008 89,600 2,500
Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas 01 May 2008 160,000 3,634
P&O Ventura Spring 2008 116,000 3,100
Carnival Carnival Splendor 01 July 2008 112,000 3,006
Holland America Eurodam Summer 2008 86,000 2,104
Princess Ruby Princess 01 November 2008 113,000 3,080
MSC MSC Fantasia 01 November 2008 133,500 3,300
Celebrity Solstice Autumn 2008 118,000 2,850
MSC MSC Splendida Spring 2009 133,500 3,300
Costa Costa Luminosa Spring 2009 92,700 2,260
Costa Costa Pacifica Spring 2009 130,000 3,652
Seabourn Seabourn Odyssey 01 June 2009 32,000 450
Pearl Seas Cruises Unnamed Summer 2009 7,600 165
Sea Cloud Cruises Sea Cloud Hussar 01 September 2009 N/A 136
Silversea Unnamed 01 November 2009 36,000 540
Celebrity Equinox Autumn 2009 118,000 2,850
Carnival Carnival Dream Autumn 2009 130,000 3,652
Royal Caribbean Genesis (class) Autumn 2009 220,000 5,400
Star Clippers Unnamed 02 July 1905 7,400 296
Seabourn Unnamed 02 July 1905 32,000 450
Costa Unnamed 01 March 2010 92,700 2,260
NCL F3 (class) 01 March 2010 150,000 4,200
Celebrity Celebrity Eclipse 01 June 2010 122,000 2,850
Royal Caribbean Genesis (class) 01 August 2010 220,000 5,400
P&O Unnamed Summer 2010 116,000 3,100
Oceania Unnamed 01 September 2010 65,000 1,260
NCL F3 (class) 01 October 2010 150,000 4,200
Cunard Queen Elizabeth Autumn 2010 92,000 2,092
Holland America Unnamed Autumn 2010 86,000 2,100
MSC MSC Magnifica Autumn 2010 86,600 2,550
Disney Unnamed 01 June 2011 122,000 2,500
Carnival Carnival Magic 01 June 2011 130,000 3,652
Oceania Unnamed 01 July 2011 65,000 1,260
Disney Unnamed 04 July 1905 122,000 2,500

Wednesday, February 20

Nick Munro in Profile

Great British designer, Nick Munro has recently taken on his biggest project to date, as design consultant for “Ventura” – P&O Cruises latest and largest addition to the fleet, set to be launched this April.

Nick’s brief was to create a collection of products that would be used everyday on board Ventura; in the restaurants and bars but also inside every cabin, and to design a piece of art that would stand in the spectacular atrium of the ship, to be recognised as the symbol of Ventura. In keeping to his trademark style, it is expected that his designs will feature pewter, ceramics, glass and lighting.

A highlight of Nick’s career was to gain the title of UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year, awarded for his use of bedsprings as egg cups. In more recent years, he has undertaken commissions on behalf of prestigious companies including Wedgwood, Victoria & Albert Museum, Spode, Tyrone Irish Crystal, Bugatti, Royal Selangor and John Lewis, and was therefore considered to be well qualified for the exciting position.

Here Nick talks about the project, cruising, and his beautiful ‘Anemone’ sculpture.

How did you become involved in the Ventura project?

“I received a very brief email from P&O Cruises inviting me to attend a ‘meeting about a joint project concerning our new super liner’ – all very intriguing and mysterious!!”

What was you perception of cruising before taking on this project?

“Although I have never been on a cruise before, I have always enjoyed sailing and love the freedom of the open water. The appeal of a cruise holiday was therefore already in place and having an insight into the quality of every aspect of life aboard Ventura, my plan is to take my family up to see the fjords in 2008”

Do you think that people are looking for more than just the cheapest option when it comes to travel?
“I think the cheap flight thing will always have an appeal but I think people are growing a bit tired of the cheap experience that comes with it! The joy of cruising is that you can leave all the hassle behind and enjoy a serene escape into another world. Perfect also for those travelers who wish to experience the delights and beauties of far flung places without packing and unpacking bags between stops!”

What is the inspiration for the Anemone sculpture and what is it made from?

“My 'Anemone' sculpture was inspired by the wonders of the world's coral reefs. I love the diversity and splendour of the forms and colours that are to be found on the ocean floor, and designed 'Anemone' to be an expression of my passion for our underwater treasures. I chose 'bubble glass' as the medium which would best capture the living and breathing energy that is beneath Ventura as she crosses the oceans”

Where does your brief start and end?

“From the outset, I knew that I wanted to be involved with as many aspects of the design of Ventura as possible, which luckily was exactly what the P&O Cruises team was also looking for. This has allowed me access to countless aspects of its operation, from the not so glamorous such as waste disposal – we needed to figure out if the drains could cope with washing away coffee grounds before we could design and specify a cafetiere for each cabin – through to the spectacularly expressive, in the shape of my glass ‘anemone’ sculpture to be sited in the grand atrium!
Along the way we have overcome all sorts of obstacles, such as the weight of the cutlery; thousands of pieces of steel cutlery weigh in at several tons and so the thickness and weight of each piece had to be signed off by the chief engineer. However, with perseverance and patience, the result is approximately 200,000 new items on board Ventura when she sails in April”

What is your favourite Nick Munro design on Ventura?

“Hard question but if I had to choose one thing I think one of the most beautiful objects is the new cafetiere – inspired as it happens by a classic ship’s funnel”

Have you worked with any new materials on this project and how did that affect the design and final product?
“The world of sculpture is a new one for me and I’ve loved working on the ‘anemone’ project. It took quite a lot of figuring out both from an artistic point of view and from an engineering point of view – right up my street you could say!”

What would you like Ventura customers to come away from their trip with?

“Lots of sparkling memories and hopefully not too many stolen objects!”

The 115,000 ton superliner is the largest superliner ever built for the British market and is set to launch a new standard in 21st century cruising.
Culinary legend and winner of three Mitchelin stars, Marco Pierre White, will bring his expertise and flair onboard at The White Room restaurant, along with child favourite, Noddy, who will be keeping the younger passengers entertained. In keeping with the British theme, Ventura will also feature some of the wacky and controversial modern art displayed at the Tate Modern.

Thursday, January 10

Keeping ship shape on a cruise

If you don't want to succumb to the temptations of yummy food available to you 24 hours a day, taking a cruise may not be the answer. That said, a little will power and proper use of the facilities could actually see you return fitter and healthier than before!

Here are some steps to beating the cruise induced bulge:

1. Use the stairs

The obvious way to burn calories is to avoid the lifts and take the stairs. The largest ships can have somewhere between 10 to 15 decks. Whilst performing your daily ritual of breakfast, activities, lunch, dinner and shows, make sure you make full use of your legs. Not only will this keep you trim but you'll avoid any queuing for the lift.

2. Use the fitness equipment

All cruise lines have some form of gym and most are state of the art with instructors on hand to guide. Don't be afraid, even walking briskly on a treadmill can burn up to 300 calories per hour!
If the thought of the gym sends you bolting in the opposite direction just remember that working out doesn't have to involve lifting weights or mind-numbing hours on a treadmill. Most cruise lines offer plenty of ways to keep fit while having fun too. There may be pilates or yoga classes, ballroom or line dancing classes, even surfing simulation and rock climbing! Even dancing the night away in the ship's disco could burn around 400 calories per hour. And lets not forget everyones favourite... the ship pool.
With all those options, the extra weight you gained at the midnight buffet will disappear in no time.

4. Moonwalk... well at least walk

Probably the easiest way of all, walking is good for exploring the ship and the ports-of-call. Added to that, you'll stay fit without breaking a sweat (unless your in tropical heat of course). On shore, try to explore ports on foot rather than with a coach excursion.
Just think, if you walk around a port town for 3 hours at 300 calories per hour... well you do the maths!

5. Stick to 3 meals a day

Lets face it, we are all aware its not the 3 main meals a day that necessarily puts the weight on, its the constant snacking simply because its all free (no such thing as free i know) and available 24 hours a day. Set yourself a rule that you will only visit the buffet or restaurants for those three set meals each day then arm yourself with fresh fruit from the breakfast buffet to snack on the rest of the time.

6. Order smart

Making sure you stick to those 3 meals won't be enough though, you'll need to eat the way you do when you're at home to ensure the best results. If you usually eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast you'll need to avoid having a full monty fry up and I can bet you don't eat a 3 course lunch whilst you're at work so why eat that way on holiday?
During your evening meal select only one or two first courses, or if you must have dessert too, opt for one of the healthy or lighter menu items for your main course. When it comes to dessert, sharing is fun and so much better for your waistline. Follow these guidelines and you'll enjoy your meals without feeling so stuffed you can hardly walk from the table.

7. Treat yourself

No, i'm not contradicting myself, no-one says you shouldn't treat yourself at all on holiday. You can eat that triple choc sundae or tropical cocktail, just don't do it all the time. If you limit yourself, you'll enjoy them more when you do have them.

Try a few of these tips on your next cruise and you'll only need to pack one size of clothing!