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Find your American Dream with a cruise and stay

clock 27th October 2016 | comment0 Comments

carnival cruise line

When it comes to bucket list holiday destinations, North America often ranks quite highly, and with a collection of cities and states offering a wide range of experiences it’s easy to see why. From the east coast to the west or the deep south there is something special and unique about each place with different foods, dialects, traditions and even climate. Find your American dream with a cruise and stay in one of North America’s captivating cities, here’s our top 5 for starters!

Orlando – For Fun

orlando

Home to world renowned theme parks such as Walt Disney World®, Universal Studios Orlando®, SeaWorld® and more, Orlando is an epicentre of fun. A destination bursting at the seams with activities and things to do, Orlando is ideal for families, couples, singles and just about anyone looking for a good time. Full days and even overnight stays can be enjoyed in the theme parks whilst outside the magical walls there are also opportunities for wildlife encounters, sporting events, thrilling adventures with zip lines and Broadway style musicals.

Miami – For Sun

miami

Miami sits on Florida’s south eastern tip and dazzles in the light of America’s sunshine state. Good vibes and laid back lifestyles are unavoidable here with plenty of beaches and reasons to be outside. Cuban influences add some Caribbean soul and the achingly cool Art Deco district sets an iconic scene for great holiday snaps. South Beach is a real buzz of activity with entertainers, skaters and rollerblades and when the sun sets the neon nightlife wakes up for those inviting Miami nights.

New York – For Shopping

new york

Everything seems grander in New York City and the same can definitely be said for the shopping. Whether it’s the glowing luxury designer boutiques on Fifth Avenue, huge department stores like Macy’s or the thrift shops and flea markets of Brooklyn, you’ll want to set some spending money aside for your time here. Find fashion, art, technology e.t.c and fuel your days with delicious dishes from the famous New York delis.

Las Vegas - For Nightlife

las vegas

Las Vegas stays awake for all night party fun and provides a fantasy land for hedonistic escapism. Sin City sits in the Nevada desert calling all night owls for endless entertainment and after dark amusement. The extensive hotels and brightly lit casinos are buzzing day and night with attractions, live shows and things to do. Whilst the nightclubs come in all shapes and sizes from stunning rooftop locations to poolside parties.

Memphis – For Music

memphis

A stay in Memphis is a must for any music fans passing through the deep south of North America. Known as the home of blues music and the birthplace for rock’n roll, Memphis holds amazing histories and to this day is still a major music centre. Fans of Elvis will love a trip to Graceland or a visit to Sun Records, the main source of inspiration for the popular West End production - Million Dollar Quartet.

Find your American dream with a Carnival cruise and stay holiday.



Try before you buy at Taste London with Celebrity Cruises

clock 17th June 2016 | comment0 Comments

Celebrity Cruises are famed for their award winning cuisine and extraordinary dining venues. So we were more than pleased to be invited to their grand stand at the Taste of London Food Festival for a tasting menu with wine pairings this week.

 


Bringing their modern luxury lawn club to London, the Celebrity Cruises stand beckoned us with their bright white furnishings, fresh green picnic lawn and sweet soulful sounds from an acoustic duo.

Already excited at the prospect of tasting Celebrity Cruises award winning menu, we then discovered that Celebrity Reflection Head Chef Tato Garcia had been flown out especially to spearhead the event. We sat down to take our seats and took a mouth-watering glimpse at the specially prepared tasting menu.

 


Representing classic dishes from Celebrity Cruises acclaimed restaurants, the menu presented us with a taster of what can be expected onboard.

Our first course came from Suite Class restaurant Luminae and gave us an insight into the exceptional suite life of Celebrity Cruises. The delicious celeriac veloute with black truffle was poured in front of us from a porcelain teapot and complimented with toasted sunflower seeds. This course was perfectly paired with a glass of Viognier, Jean-Luc Colombo, “La Violette”, Languedoc with explanations on the pairing from guest sommelier Kiki Evans.


Second course was representative of the cuisine available onboard Celebrity Xpedition, Celebrity Cruises 100 guest mega yacht sailing the Galapagos. Corvina sea bass with sage brown butter and cavolo nero with asparagus tantalised taste buds around the table as Chef Garcia recalled real life experiences of the fascinating Galapagos Islands. This dish was perfectly paired with a fruity Sauvignon Blanc, Clifford Bay, Marlborough.


Next came signature pistachio crusted lamb loin with juniper jam from Aqua Class Restaurant – Blu. Aqua Class guests can enjoy serene spa-inspired staterooms and exclusive access to specialty restaurant Blu, serving the finest of clean cuisine. Our lamb loin was complimented by a smooth and velvety Chilean Carmenere.

Just when we thought the tasting was finished, a silver platter of mini lemon meringue bites were served, packing a zesty punch that stayed with us for the rest of the afternoon.

Celebrity Cruises offer tasting sessions during the Taste of London festival for £15 pp. We can’t think of a better way to experience a snippet of life onboard a Celebrity Cruises sailing than a gourmet luxury tasting at their stunning pop up lawn club. Catch them before Sunday to try before you buy! 



Viking Sea Cocktails Onboard

clock 6th May 2016 | comment0 Comments

Linda our resident cocktail reviewer is back in business! We sent her off to check out the new Viking Ocean cruise ship, Viking Sea. Read on for her fantastic account of the ship and of course, the cocktails onboard.

 

It has been a while since I had the opportunity to spend some time onboard a new ship, but it was worth the wait. Viking Ocean Cruises newest ship, Viking Sea is a beauty! She is small and intimate with toned down Nordic style furnishings in neutral colours. We got invited to spend three days onboard during her maiden voyage. How lovely?!

I work in customer services and one of the main questions we get is always about drinks. It is difficult to find out much about them prior to travel as sometimes the information from the cruise lines can be limited. So I prefer to try the drinks and take notes, so we can share more information about them with our customers in advance. It is all strictly educational and the research is solely for work purposes, of course.

The prices onboard Viking Sea are very reasonable for drinks. Cocktails are between $7.50 and $10. I would recommend getting the Silver drinks package if you want to have a little more than the standard house wine and a couple of cocktails a day; as it works out better value for money. Water is free here, though, and you get wine, beer and juices during lunch and dinner. Tea and coffee are available all day.

So, with that in mind, I put my taste buds to the test.

Let’s start with the drink that lent its name to the terrace bar at the back of the ship. Aquavit. Never heard of it? Me neither. It is a caraway or dill spiced Scandinavian spirit. On its own… how shall I put it… it requires an acquired taste. I wouldn’t recommend sipping it. If you want to be polite and drink it, just neck it back in one go. In a cocktail however it can add an interesting edge to the taste. I tried it in a cocktail specifically created by Viking Cruises. I would recommend this drink, it has a slightly herby taste, but the bubbles in the sparkling wine round it off nicely.

viking sea drinks onboard Viking Cocktail, Strawberry Daiquiri


At the Pool Bar I had a strawberry daiquiri. An old favourite on a hot summer’s day. Ok it was only May, but it was very warm and sunny in Lisbon. I must say it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but certainly enjoyable.

Then I suddenly felt a bit homesick and picked Pimm’s. To be honest I just wanted to see how a Philippine bartender in Lisbon on a Norwegian ship would make it. It tasted lovely, but it didn’t come with all the fruits you’d expect and the cucumber was missing.

viking sea drinks onboard Pimms, Caipirinha


The next day after our trip into Porto and a couple of spa treatments we all had afternoon tea around the pool. The tea and cakes were very nice and so was the champagne! After tea we got ready for dinner and went to explore the ship further. Eventually we got to the Explorer’s Lounge where we befriended one of the barmen who offered us advice on what to have.

My colleague opted for caipirinha, which I thought was a solid choice. It wasn’t to her taste, so the barman made her a rum-based cocktail off the menu. That was delicious. I had a planter’s punch. It’s one of my favourite cocktails, because it reminds me of all-inclusive summer holidays on a sandy beach. I thought it was made very well, one of the best I’ve ever had.

We had a bit of time to kill until dinner and a talented guitarist came on, so we just chatted and enjoyed the sea view with fellow guests. The Explorers Lounge is the place to be for that. It is at the aft of the ship where the whole back wall is made of glass, so you have a spectacular view of the sea and your surroundings. Live music, good company, a refreshing cocktail and watching the water. Bliss.

Before dinner there was time for another two types of cocktails, which I had to try. The Viking Cocktail is made with brandy and sparkling wine in a tall champagne glass. I love drinking out of a champagne glass; it gives me the feeling of an occasion. I quite enjoyed this drink; it was refreshing and cold, a good choice.

The grasshopper was fantastic, but perhaps I should have had it after dinner. It tastes like After 8, so I could have had that instead of pudding. (Instead… Who am I kidding?)

Some brave colleagues tried my old favourite the Bloody Mary, but with a twist. This time the tomato juice got replaced by crab juice. Yes, you read that right. Apparently it’s lighter and obviously has a distinct seafood taste. No thank you.

viking sea drinks onboard Planters Punch, Grasshopper


Overall I really enjoyed this cruise, not just the cocktails, but the whole experience and I would love to return to the Viking Sea for another trip.



Mother's Day Gift Guide

clock 3rd March 2016 | comment0 Comments

Updated March 2017

 

Win your mum’s heart with an extra special gift this year, one she can treasure not just for Mother’s Day but for years to come. Whether it’s the gift of an upcoming holiday or you’re both already onboard and need a little inspiration, we have the gift guide you need.

 

Something to look forward to

 

Cruise with celebrity chefs


For the love of food! Popular British cruise line P&O Cruises have their very own team of Food Hero’s onboard ready and willing to welcome you to foodie heaven. Featuring the famous faces of Britain’s incredible culinary scene, P&O Cruises Food Hero cruises invite guests to join cookery masterclasses, exclusive chef’s tables and expert Q&A sessions onboard. Treat mum to a Mediterranean cruise on Britannia alongside famous faces James Martin and Eric Lanlard. *Food Hero activities may need to be booked in advance.

 

p and o cruises


Sail with Strictly Come Dancing


Tell mum to grab her dancing shoes for a dazzling Strictly Come Dancing cruise. The music, the costumes, the dances all come to life and light up the atmosphere onboard this spectacular and unique cruise. Fans of the show will love the live experience with special guests such as Craig Revel Horwood, and fans of dancing can enter the dance competitions.


 

Wine tasting with Celebrity Wine Experts


Celebrity Cruises have one of the largest and rarest wine collections at sea. Their new partnership with ITV's international hit, The Wine Show, which will see Joe Fattorini and Amelia Singer onboard, elevating the guest experience even further. Joe Fattorini uses his 25 years of experience providing captivating expert talks at conferences, writing for leading magazines and hosting unforgettable wine dinners. Amelia Singer has her own business in the wine market and has worked with well known importers, retailers and fine wine merchants. She hosts interactive wine tastings, dinners and events.

 

Why not treat your mother to a sailing onboard Celebrity Reflection with one of the fantastic wine experts for special wine tasting events.

11 Nt Best of Western Mediterranean cruise with Joe Fattorini - 11/09/17

11 Nt Best of Western Mediterranean cruise with Amelia Singer - 09/10/17

 

 

A taster cruise or a mini break


From weekend breaks to Dublin to short Christmas market cruises, there are plenty of mini breaks that mum would love. We find mini breaks are a fantastic option for anyone who is new to cruise or can't always commit to longer length holidays.

If you or mum are in need of a spa break, AquaClass Balcony staterooms with Celebrity Cruises have complimentary access to the Persian Gardens Spa. These staterooms are also available on taster cruises. 

2 Nt taster cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse from Southampton - 19/05/17

 

 

Onboard and Ashore

 

A spa fit for a princess

 
Spa treatments have long been well received gifts for Mother’s Day, giving mum the opportunity to relax completely, put her feet up and enjoy some quality ‘me’ time. If you know that a spa treatment or even an indulgent day trip to the spa is guaranteed to make mum smile, make sure she gets her gift even if away on holiday. Most cruise lines feature excellent spa facilities; Princess Cruises boast one of the best spas at sea with an attractive range of treatments on offer and Celebrity Cruises host the award winning Canyon Ranch SpaClub. If you already have a cruise to look forward to, our Concierge Team can help you pre-book and save money.

 

princess spa


Wine and dine with speciality venues

 
Make Mother’s Day dinner extra special and reserve a table in one of many speciality restaurants at sea. Cruise and cuisine go hand in hand with many cruise lines collaborating with culinary experts, celebrity chefs and leading restaurateurs. Treat mum to an afternoon tea like no other onboard Britannia, delicately designed by Master Patissier Eric Lanlard. Savour the authentic Italian flavours with Princess Cruises Sabatini’s or enjoy the expertise of Nobu-trained chef’s in Crystal Cruises Silk Road and The Sushi Bar.



Something completely different

 
Destination rich itineraries give cruisers the opportunity to experience new cultures and local life in an array of exciting ports of call. Cruise lines are answering the demand for shore excursions with programmes for Destination ImmersionR (Azamara) and exclusive experiences (Celebrity ExclusivesSM). Make mum’s cruise even more memorable by booking a unique shore excursion like Celebrity Cruises Slovenian Truffle Hunt or a Caribbean rail and sail trip.





7 Ways to keep fit on your cruise

clock 8th January 2016 | comment0 Comments

Updated April 2017

 

Maintaining fitness can be hard with a busy lifestyle, let alone on a cruise where you are constantly faced with tempting food and hours relaxing around a pool. With the pressures of making time for fitness in our daily lives, going on a cruise can bring daunting thoughts of putting on weight and no exercise. However, rest assured staying fit on a cruise can be easy and enjoyable.

It is said one of the most important factors considered when people are choosing a cruise is the quality and quantity of food onboard. From the moment you wake up to the minute your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, there is no shortage of exquisite dishes at hand.

Although you may think this makes it hard to maintain your health and fitness levels on a cruise, there are still a number of ways to stay fit onboard. Modern day cruise ships are not just about eating and lounging, they are kitted out with new high tech facilities and provide a fantastic array of activities to stay active onboard.

Having that balance of indulgence (you have to on holiday!) with keeping fit will ensure you return home happy, healthy and rejuvinated knowing you made the most of your time away.

 

Here are my top 6 ways to stay fit onboard:

 

Onboard Gym

Cruise ships are home to some of the most innovative and spacious gyms in the world and certainly boast the best gym views. Imagine running on a treadmill peering over the ocean, cycling to an intriguing view of a European city or lifting weights as you watch the sunset.

Onboard fitness centres are increasing in size and cruise lines know the potential of having a state-of-the-art gym onboard. Included in the price, there is no excuse to not take a trip to the gym during your stay. No need to spend your entire holiday in the gym, but a couple of visits will make you feel less guilty about the extra calories you could be consuming. From the latest cardio equipment, extensive range of weights and innovative flat screen televisions, you'll wish your gym at home was as good as your gym at sea.

Most onboard gyms come with a running track, saunas and other fitness facilities. The running track is a great way for you to maintain your fitness during your time away, especially if the gym is not your thing. Most have multiple lanes so you can walk, jog or run.

Cruise Fitness Fact – The running track on Oasis of the Seas is 0.43 miles long and features motivational signs such as 'Tonight’s dessert can be guilt free'.

 

keeping fit on a cruise: gym

 

Exercise Classes

Whether you are a regular at gym classes or you want to try one for the first time, a cruise is the perfect place to do this. With everything from yoga, pilates, body balance and box fit, cruises have an extensive range of classes for you to enjoy.

There is normally an extra charge for classes (usually about $10), but compared to what you would pay for them at home they are reasonably priced and offer great value for money. If you do want to take part in a class I would advise signing up early as they do fill up quickly. There is limited space and with high numbers of guests onboard you don't want to be disappointed.

The great thing about classes onboard a cruise are the locations. Yoga on a private beach, pilates on the top deck or boot camp on the outside rock climbing walls are fitness experiences you will not get anywhere else in the world.

Cruise Fitness Fact - Disney Cruise Line offer yoga classes on their private island, Castaway Cay.

 

keeping fit on a cruise: exercise classes

 

The Midnight Buffet Is A Treat

Ok I know what you are already thinking, how can I avoid the midnight buffet? The time when you are confronted with the most exquisite array of food you have ever seen. Don't avoid it completely, but perhaps don’t go every night after you have already eaten a three course meal!

Most cruise lines will have a midnight buffet on various nights of a cruise and it is a fun event for you not to miss. Usually taking place on the outer decks accompanied by live music and dancing under the stars, the midnight buffet is the ultimate cruise party.

Unlike buffets you have seen before, there will be a wide selection of hot and cold foods including exciting sea foods, tasty meats and delicious salads. This is the opportunity for you to go on a culinary journey and try foods you have never tasted…just remember you do not need to go every night.

Cruise Fitness Fact: Cucumber has such few calories, you can eat as much as you like. Dipped in some humous makes a great choice for the buffet.

 

keeping fit on a cruise: not overindulging

 

Eat Smart

Food glorious food, one of the reasons we love cruising. Some of the most divine menus and famous Michelin chefs are found at sea and you will experience some of the most delicious culinary experiences in the world during your cruise. 

Even though most of us use a holiday to allow ourselves to indulge on anything that is available to us, remember to dine in moderation. Yes there is food available to you 24 hours a day but that doesn’t mean you have to eat it.

Most cruise lines now offer a low fat menu and having tried these options myself, you would never know they are from the alternative menu. Many of the options are less than 500 calories but still fill you up and leave a tiny bit of space for a dessert.

Cruise Fitness Fact: The average cheeseburger has 1100 calories, meaning you would have to do two hours of running at 5mph to burn it off.

 

keeping fit on a cruise: eat smart

 

Active Excursions

Whether you go away to relax or explore, staying fit can still be achieved even when you are not thinking about it. Taking part in an active excursion is a great way to do a full day of exercising without feeling like you are.

Walking is the best way to truly experience a city and I would always choose this over a coach or bus tour. If you spend a day exploring on your feet you will not need to go to the gym or worry about what’s for dinner.

If walking isn’t your idea of active fun you can try zip lining, water rafting, rock climbing and other active explorations in many fascinating cruise destinations.

Cruise Fitness Fact: You burn around 310 calories on a 10 mile city walk, walking at an average speed.

 

keeping fit on a cruise: active excursions

 

Take The Stairs

Cruise ships are big and sometimes the easiest way to get around is via the central staircase. With no more than eighteen decks, cruise ship facilities are spread out, so you are likely to be walking between different floors a lot of the time. There are both stairs and elevators on either end of a ship so you have the choice.

When going from one venue to another taking the stairs is a better option and often quicker than having to wait for an elevator.

Cruise Fitness Fact: One flight of stairs is said to burn 15 calories and taking an elevator will burn 0.

 

keeping fit on a cruise: take the stairs


Try Something New

 Modern day cruise ship design has taken the experience of cruising to a whole new level and you can now spend a sea day learning adventurous new skills if you choose.

Royal Caribbean made waves when they introduced their hugely popular FlowRider surf simulator. Keen surfers can learn tips and tricks from the highly skilled surf instructors monitoring the attraction. Other adventures available onboard with Royal Caribbean include the climbing wall and Ripcord by iFly sky diving simulator – the very first at sea!

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Escape is packed with fun thrill factors for anyone who wants to get their adrenaline pumping. Check out their extensive ropes course, zip line plank (over the open water) and fun water slides and Aqua Park.

Cruise Fitness Fact – Testing your limits (within reason) can cause an adrenaline rush, this increases your heartbeat and can maximise your workout.

 


By Sally Grimes



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