Iglu Cruise’ Marketing Manager Natalie recently spent a sunny seven days in Orlando Florida. We couldn’t help but pick her brains for a Universal Orlando Resort® survival guide. Check out Nat’s top tips before you go and share some of your own with us on Facebook.
There are so many great places to eat once you’re in the park. My favourite treat of the day was the butterbeer icecream at Florean Forescue.
Do this before you arrive at the park as it gives you live updates on the queue time for each ride. Avoid disappointment and save time for more fun by being well prepared on queue times.
I would recommend going to the park later in the day and visiting this area in the evening when a lot of the crowds have gone home. The parks are usually open until around 11pm at night.
Keep costs down significantly more on the day by booking your tickets in advance. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, make sure you purchase a ticket that allows you to visit both parks on the same day so you can go on the Hogwarts Express.
If you don’t mind going on a ride on your own I would recommend going in the single passenger queue. This brings the queue time down and I ended up sitting next to my partner 4 times out of the 6 rides that offered this type of queue.
But it can get really busy in the daytime. Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure is only a short walk apart so I would recommend walking from one park to the other in the daytime and hopping on the Hogwarts Express in the evening. I don’t want to ruin the amazing surprise of what happens on the train but you won’t miss any scenery by doing it in the dark.
The two parks are situated within the Universal CityWalk Orlando area. This area is a great place to visit in the evening and is home to the Hard Rock Café Orlando.
There are lots of shows on at the park and watching these is a great way of having a little rest in-between rides. I loved the Fear Factor Live, if you are brave enough, arrive about an hour before the show time and you can audition to take park. Beware, if you don’t like heights, insects or slimy objects this might not be one for you.
Although there are lockers at the park by each ride a few of the rides won’t let you on with handbags so the less you have with you the quicker it will be to get on the ride. Lockers are free while you ride but if you want them for a longer period you will get charged.
There are so many fun things to buy but you don’t want to get stuck lugging around wands, hats and mugs all day. Save this for the last part. See for yourself with a cruise and stay holiday to Universal Orlando Resort®
5th November '14 - Not even a day later than stepping off Royal Caribbean's newest ship Quantum of the ship, I was on my way to Florida to be see Princess Cruises newest beauty, Regal Princess.
Celebrating 50 years of Princess and introducing the newest member of the fleet, it is an extremely special time for the company and I am honoured to be a part of the celebrations.
I am currently sitting in what can only be described as the most spectacular atrium I have ever seen on a ship, I am sipping on a coffee and watching the crew prepare for tonight's naming ceremony. Moments like this are hard to put into words but the fact I am in complete awe of everything going on around me, should set the scene of how magical this really is.
I was extremely excited to arrive back in Miami yesterday as this is one of my favourite cities and one I have spent a lot of time in. The fresh beach air that hit my face as I left the airport reminded me just how much I have missed it here. After a short 20 minute taxi ride to Fort Lauderdale, we settled in our hotel for the night. With the most striking views over the water, it is clear to see why Fort Lauderdale is the 'water' capital of the world. From one side of my balcony I could see Regal Princess shining in all her glory and the other side gave me views of extravagant mega yachts. I can only dream of having this lifestyle!
After a restless night (mainly due to excitement) we took a five minute transfer and arrived at the port. Regal Princess dominated the port and stood proudly as she welcomed us with open arms. The check in staff greeted us with infectious smiles and I could tell they were excited to show of this iconic new ship.
Although I have been on sister ship, Royal Princess, stepping onto Regal took my breathe away more than I can recall when boarding any other ship. The neutral decor with gold trimmings set the scene of a luxury liner that cruising dreams are made of. With an atrium 60% bigger than any other Princess ship, it is the heart of the ship that captivates you from the first moment.
I spent yesterday exploring everything the ship has to offer. Of all the ships I have been on (and we all know that's alot) I think the decor and finishing touches on Regal Princess are my favourite. She is grand and luxurious, yet elegant and welcoming.
She has something for everyone onboard, I had fun being a child again in the kids club, as well as relaxing in the adults-only Sanctuary area. She is the perfect ship for every type of cruiser, and that for me, makes her exceptionally appealing.
Dinner last night in the main dining room went above my expectations and the service exceptional. I was scared to have breakfast this morning incase I lost the tender flavour of the roast pork lingering in my memory - that was until I spotted the freshly baked muffins when getting a coffee!
The whole ship and crew are currently preparing for tonight's naming ceremony and it looks like it is going to be a spectacular affair. The cast of The Love Boat are rehearsing their naming speech, the fireworks are at the ready and the champagne glasses are being stacked. Every single person onboard from crew to guests are beaming with excitement.
I am off to prepare my 'nautical' attire for tonight and take in some more of this extraordinary ship...I will let you know how the naming ceremony goes...
The Naming Ceremony
6th November '14 - As the sun set behind Regal Princess, the view of the Miami skyline made impressive shadows on the surrounding water. With warm temperatures and striking skies, it was the perfect evening for such an iconic celebration.
As I left my cabin to meet the rest of my group in Bellini’s Bar it put a smile on my face to see everyone had made such a special effort to dress in nautical coloured clothes. With only travel trade, VIP's and special guests onboard it was clear to see everyone had a strong passion for cruising, especially Princess Cruises. After a glass of champagne it was time to head to the top deck for the naming ceremony.
As everyone gathered around the outer decks in their blue and white attire, there was an apparent 'love for the sea' oozing from everyone. I could not help share the excitement and joy that was spread all around. The evening kicked off with the introductions of Regal’s new Godparents. As I was not particular familiar with the cast of 'The Love Boat' this was good for me to understand why they are so loved in America.
After performances from the singers and dancers, a clip of T'he Love Boat' was shown on the gigantic screen that stands as the centre attraction on the upper deck. I could see people relive memories of sitting in front of the television watching this show, it was clearly extremely popular.
Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruises and Arnold Donald, Director of Carnival Corporation then spoke about their brand and what Regal Princess will bring to the company. They were both inspirational characters who are very passionate about their cruise line.
My favourite part of the evening was when they showed an emotional clip of Princess Cruises founder, Stanley McDonald. Having such a love for the cruise industry myself, it really tugged at my heart strings as he spoke about how he made it all possible and a message from him blessing Regal Princess from his family home..
As Princess Cruises were celebrating their 50th anniversary, they did not smash one champagne bottle as the tradition goes, instead they lined 50 bottles up along the side of the ship and smashed them before the main large bottle was shattered over the pool deck. The naming of a ship is such an iconic moment and an experience that remains in the memory of everyone who attends. This celebration appeared to expose an infectious amount of passion that I have witnessed before.
We were then treated to a six-course gala dinner, a toast with the ship’s crew and a chance to meet other agents before we gathered on the top deck to see the fireworks. I have always wanted to experience fireworks at sea and these did not disappoint. Every time the sky illuminated with the intense colours of the fireworks, it lit up the whole ship reminding everyone just how lucky we were to be a part of this memorable moment.
As the grand finale firework exploded, the evening was followed with dancing, socialising and celebrating onboard this stunning new ship.
I was honoured to be part of these exclusive celebrations and to take part in this special milestone for Princess Cruises. I feel proud to work in such a fantastic industry and I would like to congratulate everyone at Princess Cruises, especially the staff and crew onboard Regal Princess. I know everyone who sails on her is going to love everything she has to offer.
By Sally Grimes
Dark mornings, ice covering the drive way and freezing temperatures that have us wrapped up so tight we can barely move – welcome to winter in England. It seems to come round quicker every year and we dread the long winter season that has us feeling dreary and remembering the sun as only a distant memory.
I know summer has only just began and I am already thinking about where I can get my sun fix when the bleak weather sets in. Some great winter sun deals are starting to circulate in the office, so it is the perfect time to start thinking about a winter break.
I am sure you would agree there is nothing better than jetting off to somewhere hot when everyone else is having to turn on their electric blanket to recover from constant sneezing and dreading the thought of having to step outside. However, whilst the ice thickens in England, elsewhere in the world the sun is at its hottest so here are my top 5 places to cruise to during the winter:
Known as the sunshine state of America, Florida is one of the friendliest places I have ever been. It is not only the sun that shines bright all day here, the people are extremely welcoming and invite you to enjoy everything this exciting wonderland has to offer.
With miles of sun-soaked beaches, water-front restaurants and an array of unique attractions, Florida is the ultimate adventure playground. With most cruise lines basing their ships in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Miami during the winter you will be able to choose from an extensive range of different itineraries and ships.
Whether your cruise starts or finishes here you can spend a few days enjoying the fun way of life lived here. Enjoy a day at Miami Aquarium watching incredible shows featuring killer whales and dolphins or take a trip to the Everglades where you will glide over the swamps in a hover boat whilst learning about the distinct wildlife living here.
If it is just the sun you desire, Florida is your perfect haven with its long stretches of heavenly beaches that can reach temperatures of up to 32°c during the winter.
The average temperature in Florida during November – February is 29°c.
See our: Florida Cruise Deals
Defining paradise, the Caribbean islands are the most blissful destinations in the world that guarantee to take you on the ultimate escape. Picture-perfect beaches with pure white sand, crystal clear waters and swaying palms make these islands the most desired cruise destinations in the world.
Boasting year round hot temperatures, the long days of sunshine will enable you to soak up the scorching temperatures to your hearts content. For the more adventurous you can try snorkelling, para-sailing or jet skiing around these intreguing islands.
A Caribbean cruise will include stops at islands including the Bahamas, St Lucia, Barbados and Antigua. Although all of the islands may look the same, they all have their own unique character that make every stop a new experience.
Known to many as 'the friendly islands' the locals invite you to explore their home and experience everything they have to offer as well as try their traditional dishes and island cooked food.
The average temperature in the Caribbean during November – February is 32°c.
See our: Caribbean Cruise Deals
The Canary Islands entice every visitor with their breathtaking landscapes, stunning beaches and tropical way of life. From indulging on tapas on a rooftop restaurant to sunbathing on the heavenly beaches, a trip here will ensure you completely forget about winter.
Tenerife will amaze you with its backdrop of soaring mountains lining the pristine beaches, perfect for lazy days in the sun or family beach activities. Along the way, Lanzarote invites you to explore its volcanoes and black sand beaches. When it’s time to unwind Gran Canaria is bursting with quaint fishing villages and attractive harbours that create the perfect scene for switching off.
For the active cruisers, these islands are home to an array of memorable adventures. From extraordinary snorkelling, exploring the iconic National Parks or rock climbing up one of the famous mountains, there is no shortage of adrenalin-pumping explorations to be had here.
The average temperature in the Canaries during November – February is 24°c.
See our: Canary Island Deals
A world of its own, Dubai stands ready to show off its luxurious and extravagent lifestyle to everyone. Nowhere in the world exploits the diversity that Dubai does, one minute you are in the middle of an empty dessert, the next you are surrounded by towering buildings. A cocktail of amazing sights, every time you turn you are faced with something that stuns you once again.
Don your explorers hat as you experience adventure after adventure with everything this extraordinary city has to offer. Go skiing in a shopping mall, slide under shark infested waters at the Atlantis waterpark or ride a camel through the enchanted desserts. Not many places in the world can offer the variety of excursions that Dubai does.
As evening sets in the city turns into a magical wonderland with fountain shows, vibrant nightclubs and award-winning beach front restaurants serving up some of the most exquisite dishes you will ever taste.
The average temperature in Dubai during November – February is 32°c.
See our: Dubai Cruise Deals
There is nowhere else in the world quite like Hawaii, this tropical paradise will excite all of your senses as you are welcomed into this fresh, tranquil haven. Crystal clear waters line the dramatic mountains and lush forests, making this island a blissful retreat.
The soothing sounds of volcanoes bubbling away combined with swaying palms are a recipe for the ultimate winter getaway. Along with hot temperatures and warm waters, it has everything you dream of during winter.
It is not only the scenery that is beautiful here, the locals love to share their lifestyle with you. Encouraging you to join in traditional Hawaiian activities and try their iconic island cuisine, it will not be long before you are in full 'Aloha' mode!
This colourful island is home to an array of some of the world’s most intriguing National Parks and plant life. Even if you plan to go on a relaxing getaway, I would definitely recommend a stroll around one of these parks.
The average temperature in the Hawaii during November – February is 26°c.
See our: Hawaii Cruise Deals
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