Iglu's Product Manager, Esther Collas, went to visit the Disney Dream earlier in the month and has come back filled with Disney magic following the experience, here's what she thought of the experience.
Having just returned from a Disney cruise in the Caribbean, there are only two words to describe the trip — absolutely, incredible!
I had a lot of ill perceived notions about Disney, and luckily for me, they were all wrong. I thought by the end of it I would want be bored of Mickey, and every other Disney character, because I would be fed up of seeing them everywhere I went. Not only was I not bored of seeing them, but I was actively seeking them out to have my pictures taken with them by the end of the cruise!
I thought the cruise would all be about families and it wasn’t. In the evenings, the bars are open for adults only after 8pm. Pink is the girly pink champagne bar, Skyline is a cocktail bar with ever-changing sky lines — one minute you can be in New York, the next Hong Kong — or 687, which is an American sports bar. Evolution, Disney Dream's nightclub, is where the evening entertainment definitely becomes adult-only, with games such as Mr & Mrs — where you discover just how well people know their partners.
I thought that the ship would be very bright, colourful and in your face, despite seeing photos beforehand where it clearly wasn't! In actual fact, Disney Dream is one of the most beautiful ships I have had the pleasure to be on. The detailing throughout the ship really makes it. When you first walk onto the ship and arrive in the lobby there are carvings of all the Disney characters. There is also a bronze statue of Admiral Donald which everyone — child or adult — has their picture taken with.
The food was fantastic. In the day we mainly went to Cabanas — the buffet restaurant on deck 11. There was so much choice and they served the biggest, freshest prawns I have eaten in a long time. On the first evening we ate in the Enchanted Garden, which is a beautiful restaurant, very fresh and elegant. On the second night we went to the Royal Palace, inspired by Disney Classics such as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. If you ever want to feel like a princess that is where you want to be, it is stunning.
On the third night we dined in Palo — one of Disney’s adult-only restaurants. The cover charge is $20 and it's worth every penny. The food is an amazing Italian culinary delight. For the final night we ate at the Animator's Palate, which really topped the cruise off for me. This restaurant really does come alive. All around the outside of the room are large screens, and as you are sitting there the light changes and you are made to feel like you are underwater. All of a sudden there is Crush (from Finding Nemo) and he swims up to one of the screens and starts having a conversation with diners and interacts completely with the room. It will make you leave wondering and asking yourself how do they do that. It was amazing.
Every evening we went to the theatre to see the shows — and they were spectacular. The first night we saw a show called The Golden Mickey's, which is an award show in which Disney characters win awards for such things as heroism. People know the songs and sing along — it's fantastic. The second night we saw a show called Villains Tonight. It is very funny and definitely a must see! On the final night we saw Disney’s Believe — which starts with a father no longer believing in magic and being so busy he forgets all about his daughter's birthday. Trust me when I say they really did save the best until last.
In the day if you want some quiet time you can find this on Deck 11 or 12, near the quiet cove pool in the adult-only area section. We never saw any children and were able to relax. There was always a reason to check out the rest of the swimming areas though, and, as a fully grown child I wanted to play on the slide. The AquaDuck is a 765 ft long water coaster, that at one point takes you out over the side of the ship, and the view is stunning!
We spent a morning in Nassau snorkelling, which was a lot of fun! The second day we went to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, and there are no words that I could use to describe this that would do it justice. We spent most of the day at the adult-only part of the beach and it was just stunning. It was like something you see on a postcard or poster and you don’t really believe it exists — but trust me it does.
As much as I have mentioned the adult-only sections of the ship it is a very much family-focused ship, but you can choose to take part in the fun and frivolity or stick to the adult-only sections. Whatever you choose to do, believe me when I say you will have the most incredible time.
Fred. Olsen Jr and all of his Captains may be Norwegian, but Fred. Olsen Cruise Line have become a quintessentially British cruise experience. Last week I stepped foot onto one of their most iconic ships, Black Watch, and departed on a mini-cruise to Rouen.
When I was first asked about a cruise onboard Fred. Olsen I have to admit I was a little tentative. I really wanted to find out about the Fred. Olsen experience, but I wasn't sure how I'd find a ship where the clientele is a little more, shall we say mature, and the ships are a little older. But, my pre-conceptions to how the next three days would pan out couldn't be further from the truth.
Black Watch basking in the Dover sunshine.
On Wednesday, Fred. Olsen were announced as winners of the Best Affordable Cruise Line award at the Cruise International Awards, which is a much deserved accolade, as not only do their cruises offer great value for the food and service onboard, but you'd be hard pressed to find me a ship that offers bottled beers from £2.25! The value onboard Fred is exceptional — and my weekend bar bill was testament to that.
From the moment you step onto the Black Watch it feels homely. She looks a little older and worn from the outside, but after 40 years of cruising and regular refurbishments, she is as clean, relaxing and warm as any ship you will come across. All the furniture in the public areas is well-kept and the Braemar Lounge looks newly upholstered. The rooms are comfortable and simple, though being an older ship don't expect a double room unless you are in a suite. At 800 passengers the Black Watch is also a great size, I love being 5 minutes from everywhere no matter where you are onboard and never feeling crowded.
Our favourite waiter in the Lido Lounge, Moses, with a giant moth.
What really makes the difference with the Black Watch isn't the ship, it's the crew onboard. The service wherever you go is exceptional — the waiters and bar tenders never stop smiling and all seem genuinely proud of what they are doing. We chose to eat in the Glentanar restaurant for all of our meals, and we were mostly served by the same waiters. Not only was the service great, but their company was enjoyable. On one occasion the waiter forgot to give someone a bread roll, his response was to sing "I apologise" in a charming fashion.
Another area where Fred. Olsen truly exceed expectations is the evening meals. The food during breakfast and lunch is very good and often understated, whereas the evening meals were all exceptional. I've enjoyed steak onboard with P&O, Princess, Cunard, Disney and Royal Caribbean and the tornado of steak (a slightly better cut than filet) was amazing. The meat was of a good standard and it was cooked to perfection — giving Oceania a run for their money in my opinion. The evening menus were well-written without the need for a fussy description — such as cheesy mash as opposed to creamy potato puree with a hint of cheddar.
The amazing tornado of beef.
I could go on and on about the fact they use proper back bacon for breakfast, as opposed to streaky bacon so well cooked it disintegrates, how good the pancakes were or the rack of lamb in a mint crust. I could talk about how good the custard was or how cheesecake featured at least once a day — and I love cheesecake — or about the procession of fireworks (well large sparklers) and singing (When the Saints Go Marching In) on the final night before the baked Alaska was served. But I won't.
Yes, Fred. Olsen's ships are a little older and the majority of passengers are closer to retirement than myself, but there were a lot more people in their 30s onboard then I would have expected, and the experience was great.
If you are looking for great — and I mean great — food, wonderful service and an unpretentious, unfussy atmosphere, but like a formal night, and well priced drinks, then look no further than Fred. Olsen. I loved the Black Watch and the Braemar is now firmly in my sights.
Today marks the beginning of P&O Cruises and Cunard Line's 2014 World Cruises going on sale. The brochures have long been printed, posted and stacked on shelves, and in little over 48 hours we will be able to get our mitts on all the best deals as they trickle open the bookings process.
So, what are we looking forward to with the 2014 World Cruises?
First of all there's the ships.
Cunard are world renowned for circumnavigating the globe. Queen Mary 2, with her vast size, imperial feel and traditional, high-class standards never fail to impress. Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, the twin-like sister ships, are more modern ships, but still offer a traditional, British Empire feel. Cunard offer the ultimate in large ship world cruising luxury, and though this is nothing new, it still excites us.
P&O Cruises have gone with a variety of ships for this years World Cruises. Adonia is the ship that stands out for me. She is much smaller than a the rest of the P&O fleet, but this means access to more intimate ports — that larger ships can't get to — and a more exclusive atmosphere onboard, all wrapped in P&O's traditional, yet modern, British approach to cruising. With Aurora and Arcadia also sailing around the world they are also offering an adult-only mid-sized ship and a family-friendly P&O favourite.
World Cruises aren't limited to a full round the world in 80 days experience, in fact most people tend to book a World Cruise Sector, meaning you get to pick a section of the itinerary with the destinations you would like to visit. So, what's exciting for 2014?
Any sectors departing from or arriving in Southampton are always popular, with San Francisco to Southampton and Southampton to Cape Town the pick of the bunch according to Dave Mills, our renowned Head of Commercial.
There is a fantastic trip from Southampton to Hong Kong which I would love to go on. The adult-only Adonia takes in Cairo, transits along the Suez Canal before visiting diverse and intriguing destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Singapore, Manila and Hong Kong — that's more culture in one cruise then many people would come across in a lifetime!
Another trip which really stands out to me is Southampton to Rio onboard Queen Victoria. The opportunity to visit Rio, Montevideo and Buenos Aires in style, before a relaxing cruise home.
These exotic 2014 World Voyages go on sale from:
There are some fantastic early booking benefits to entice you, if getting your preferred cabin and dining times aren't enough, which include:
If cruising around the world or visiting some unique destinations is on the agenda for 2014, then now's the time to take to book a cruise, especially with the new Vantage Fares offering the best value that P&O Cruises and Cunard Line have ever boasted.
Here's the full selection of 2014 World Cruise deals.
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