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Cruising a Pirate’s World

clock 27th March 2019 | comment0 Comments

The adventure of sailing around the world often brings to mind images of the pirates of yore, especially since films and TV series have romanticised this historic way of life. There’s something thrilling about docking at ports where in years gone by pirates were swash-buckling, looting, and trading their wares. As well as in the Caribbean islands, pirates were once rife all over the world – from Asia to Ireland. Read on to learn more about cruise destinations which have a pirate history.

 

 

Tortuga (Haiti)

Made famous by the popular Disney films, in actuality, Tortuga acted as a refuge for English, Dutch and French thieves and escaped slaves back in the 17th century. These characters became what was known as the ‘Brethren of the Coast’, and they would attack Spanish ships in the Caribbean for treasure. Today, visitors to the island can see what’s left of Fort de Rocher – a 24-gun stronghold that was used by pirates to protect against Spanish invasion.

 

Nassau (Bahamas)

Nassau became a great pirate hang out in part due to its location in shallow waters. This meant that large warships could not approach the island, but pirate tall ships could. In the mid-18th century, there were around 100 natives compared to 1,000 pirates living on the island, and it was one of the latter – Benjamin Hornigold – who declared the place to be a Pirate’s Republic. Hornigold’s success as a pirate-inspired many other young adventurers, including one Edward Teach – who came to the island to join his posse. Other notorious characters including ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Charles Vane were all frequent visitors here. Today there are a number of pirate tours available on the island, on which guests can see various historical attractions.

 

 

Macau (China)

For centuries the South China Sea was a major setting for pirate activity, with Japanese pirates sailing south to raid and loot from the early 16th century. Activity went on for many years, and infamous Chinese pirate couple Zheng Yi and Ching Shih dominated the seas by the late 18th century with a fleet of more than 1,500 ships known as the Red Flag Fleet. After Zheng’s death, Ching continued with new husband Cheung Po Tsai, until they were defeated by the Portuguese Navy at the Battle of the Tiger’s Mouth in 1809. Madame Ching kept her pirate loot, however, and set up a gambling establishment in Macau, where many pirates had settled. Macau is accessible during a cruise to Hong Kong.

 

Port Royal (Jamaica)

Possibly the most well-known pirate haven is Port Royal in Jamaica – once referred to as ‘The Wickedest City on Earth’. Located close to modern-day Kingston, Port Royal was able to become such a place because the Jamaican governors offered it to pirates in return for help protecting against Spanish invaders. This led to the opening of many taverns and brothels, thereby attracting more pirates. Eventually, authorities began to intervene and by the mid-18th century, Port Royal had become a common location for pirate hangings – including those of Charles Vane and ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham. Visitors can see historic pirate and Jamaican Royal Navy paraphernalia at the archaeological museum here today.

 

 

Ile Saint-Marie (Madagascar)

Also known as St Mary’s Island, this small piece of land off the coast of Madagascar was once a popular spot among pirates. It is thought that a kind of utopia called Libertalia was developed among the pirate community here, although there is no real evidence of this. It is known, however, the pirates such as William Kidd and Edward Teach once walked here, and today there still stands an eerie pirate graveyard.

 

Charlotte Amelie (St Thomas)

Famous English pirate Edward Teach – better known as Blackbeard – lends his name to an important site in St Thomas’ capital; Blackbeard’s Castle. Built in the late 17th century by Danish colonists, the castle was originally known as Skytsborg. It is not known when or why the name was changed, but local tales say that Blackbeard regularly used the castle as a lookout point during his years of piracy in the Caribbean.

 

 

These destinations can be explored with a number of different cruise lines, on some fantastic modern cruise ships. Alternatively, if you’d prefer an experience more akin to those of a pirate, consider cruising with one of the more traditional tall ship style lines such as Windstar Cruises and Star Clippers. The beautiful ships in these fleets have been designed in an authentic, traditional way using plush, dark wood furnishings and rich colours.



10 Questions You Forgot to Ask Your Cruise Consultant

clock 27th March 2019 | comment0 Comments

We are all forgetful at times, especially when going on holiday and excitement starts to take over. As well as forgetting to pack the essentials – which ends up with us spending double or even the triple the price abroad - sometimes we also forget to ask those important questions. If this sounds like you don’t panic, as we’ve put together this handy list of ten questions to remind you of what you should be asking your cruise consultant.

 

What exactly is included in the fare?

With many cruise lines branding themselves as ‘all-inclusive’, it’s important to understand that this may not include certain amenities – so it’s a good idea to ask before boarding as you don’t want a surprising bill at the end of a great holiday. Some cruise lines known for their all-inclusive packages are Royal CaribbeanNorwegian Cruise Line, and MSC Cruises, of course, there are many others but these are a few of the popular ones. There are different types of all-inclusive cruises; it could mean that you have your accommodation, meals, drinks, entertainment, and flights included in the price. However many cruise lines offer separate drinks packages. If you opt for one of these be sure to check for any limitations, such as beverages at meal times only. This can be unhelpful, particularly with family groups who would prefer to have drinks on their own terms.

 

 

What should I book in advance?

Depending on you the cruise you choose, there might be certain things that you aren’t able to book onboard - this can vary from childcare to excursions. With every cruise line having their own rules, it’s better to find out before. Save yourself the hassle of pushing through the crowd to guarantee to seat at a speciality restaurant, or joining a long queue for a spa treatment.  Cruise lines have online methods to book before you board, for example, guests can book certain services using Carnival Cruise Lines’s ‘manage’ tab on their website homepage. Simply create an account to arrange gifts in your cabin, drinks packages, and transfers. This can be done right up to one week before the sail date. 

 

Will I always dine with strangers?

Leave this myth in the olden days! With most cruise lines the choice is yours – more often than not you can eat where you want, with whomever you want, and when you want.  Having said this, there are some cruise lines which still use allocated seating and dining times. If this is the case, remember you can request a change if you’re not happy with your given arrangement.  It truly depends on how you want to cruise, as many guests do still enjoy the traditional seating atmosphere, but of course, casual dining suits many people better.

 

 Will I get fewer opportunities being a single traveller?

Many cruise lines specifically focus on offering packages for single travellers to meet guests’ needs. Norwegian Cruise Line has a special single traveller package which offers a studio cabin, and access to a colourful, elegant lounge for single cruisers to meet and mingle.  Nowadays single travellers don’t need to worry about fewer opportunities, as cruise lines are hosting activities such as dances, workshops, and other chances to socialise.  To get the best out of your solo trip make sure you speak to your cruise consultant for more information about what specific activities will be on your cruise.

 

If something happens to me will I get medical attention?

Every cruise ship has a qualified doctor or nurse onboard, meaning guests don’t need to worry about not being attended to should

they need medical attention at any point during the cruise – day or night. Most ships are fitted with some medical equipment, however, facilities do vary so it’s important to ask your cruise consultant to find out the level of service available if you have any specific concerns.

I'm not used to tipping, do I have to?

Depending on what cruise line you’re travelling with, gratuities are usually prepaid before going on the cruise. Sometimes there are promotions in which gratuities are included in the package, and sometimes they are added on. Guests who don’t want an automatic cruise gratuity might be able to amend this, however it depends on the cruise line. It’s important to mention to your cruise consultant if you don’t want to pay any gratuities to save any financial surprises. When gratuities are not included – for instance with many river cruise lines – often an envelope will be slipped under your cabin door to enable you to tip as you wish, anonymously. When this is the case, the cruise line will usually suggest an amount – for instance (at the time of writing) AmaWaterways suggest €12 per passenger, per day to be divided among the crew. This works out to €84 each for a one week cruise.

 

Can I bring my own food and drink?

When it comes to bringing onboard your own food and drink, each cruise line has its own policy. With some, guests are allowed to bring their own alcohol, however, there are strict lines who don’t even allow simple juice or water. It depends on what cruise line you travel with, so this is another important question to ask your cruise consultant during the booking process.

Will I have internet?

Staying connected is important for a lot of guests, as it’s a great way to share and communicate with friends and family at home. Almost all cruise lines offer internet packages, however, the charges and connection quality will vary depending on which line you travel with. Although internet access is widely available, don’t expect to be lounging around watching your favourite TV programmes online, as only a handful of cruise lines offer packages that allow the use of streaming.

 

Is it always going to be busy?

Right now,  the largest cruise ship in the world is Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas – which has a max capacity of 6,680. You might think that having such a large number of people onboard would cause a busy atmosphere, however, this isn’t the case. Symphony of the Sea has 18 decks, and so – as with many large ships – there is plenty of open space for everyone to enjoy. In fact, many guests describe larger ships as a ‘city on water’, and say you may not even see the same face twice.  This isn’t to say that some of the main attractions onboard don’t get busy, however. If you are one who is keen to try things like the rock-climbing wall and surf simulator, try to time your visit to avoid queues – for instance early in the morning or on cooler days.

 

Can I get an upgrade while onboard?

Before embarkation, some cruise lines such as P&O Cruises might offer a complimentary upgrade if higher-level cabins have not been booked up and are still available. Guests are able to put themselves forward to be considered, however, this must be done at the time of booking.  If an upgrade hasn’t been given before you embark,  guests on the waiting list could still be contacted when onboard.

Any questions we forgot? Check our before you go FAQs to find out about more questions you possibly haven’t come across. Or, if all you have left is to pack, make sure you read our hints and tips about the five worst mistakes you can make. 



Have a Halloween with Disney Cruise Line

clock 11th October 2018 | comment0 Comments

If you’ve seen Disneyland® Paris or Walt Disney World Resort in Florida at Halloween, you’ll have a pretty good idea about what you can expect onboard a Disney Cruise at this time of year. Those of you who haven’t, however, are in for a real treat. Little kids and big kids alike will adore the festivities onboard, from the Disney characters in costume to the scary story time, not forgetting the adults’ costume party. Read on for a window into Halloween with Disney Cruise Line.

 

What's Onboard?

 

At every turn, you’ll be well aware that it’s Halloween season, with the ship being fully decorated complete with plenty of pumpkins, and a bare, eerie tree in the atrium.

 

 

Get engrossed in a scary story all about an old sunken ship, told by an authentic captain out on the top deck. Listen to the tales of this wise old captain as the sea air around you helps you to transport you to another world.

Most guests tend to get involved in the fun by bringing along their own Halloween costumes or accessories to wear, whether this be a glamourous Disney princess dress, or an all-out zombie outfit!

 

Disney Characters Onboard

 

As with any Disney Cruise Line holiday, plenty of your favourite movie Characters will be making an appearance, but this time with a difference! Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Disney characters will also be donning their Halloween costumes, ready for the Mickey's Mouse-querade Party. You can expect to see the likes of Mickey and Minnie, Chip and Dale, and Donald Duck out and about meeting cruisers and posing for photos. The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally and Jack will also be there to say hello to guests, after telling their tale at Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream interactive event.

 

 

Halloween for Adults

 

Whilst the daytime and kids activities are fun for all the family, of course, adults are likely to want a bit of time to play themselves. Well aware of this, Disney Cruise Line host a Halloween Isn’t Just for Kids adults-only party, where you can dance, drink a cocktail or two, and show off your own elaborate costume – or not if you prefer! Find out more about Disney Cruise Line fun for adults.

If Halloween with Disney Cruise Line sounds like the perfect holiday fun for you and yours, take a look at our range of October cruise itineraries with Disney.



Ponant Partners With National Geographic

clock 1st October 2018 | comment0 Comments

The only French cruise line, Ponant is still relatively niche with British cruisers despite sailing luxury yacht cruises all around the world since 1988, offering bilingual, all-inclusive sailings to Alaska, the Indian Ocean and even the Amazon River. Having said this, with National Geographic selecting Ponant as their partner cruise line, we are set to see Ponant emerge fully onto the already growing British cruise market

Beating off fierce competition from their competitors such as Seabourn and Silversea in a partnership said be worth around 200 million euros, National Geographic was impressed by Ponant’s upholding of the non-profit organisation’s three core principles of adventure, education, and conservation.

 

 

With their luxury explorer yachts named after famous French explores, Laperouse, Champlain, Bougainville, Dumont-D’Urville, Surville and Bellot, Ponant are trailblazers when it comes to adventure and expedition cruising. Their small yachts have hull draughts of less than five metres, meaning Ponant’s fleet of luxury yachts can go closer to nature than other ships. Plus their new icebreaker, le Charcot, is the world’s first officially classified, cruising icebreaker-class ship. Their fantastic Blue Eye lounge even lets you be immersed in nature while aboard the ships too. The multi-sensory lounge is located 2.5 metres below sea level, and features a window in each side of the ship to gaze through, as well as hydrophones, and vibrating furniture to pick up and immerse you in your surroundings.

Education also plays a large part of the Ponant cruise experience. To fully appreciate the wonders you are seeing each day, Ponant provides fantastic lectures and excursions led by expert guides. Now in partnership with National Geographic, many of these excursions and presentations will be hosted by one of National Geographic’s own naturalists and photographers. Ponant are also dedicated to the communities they work with around the world, and take pride in showing their guests the real lives of people who live at one with nature. Experiences include everything from local aboriginal dances in Australasia to cooking seal outdoors with a native Alaskan fisherman. The partnership with National Geographic gives these communities even more of a chance to flourish.

 

Conservation is another factor that’s important to Ponant, and influences the creation of their life-changing itineraries and the design of their yachts. With their new icebreaker, le Charcot, Ponant are the first line to not only have a genuine icebreaker, but also have a hybrid powered cruise yacht with liquid natural gas engine. The result is a noise and toxin pollutant-free sailing, a dynamic positioning system rather than anchors that destroy fragile seabed ecosystems, energy saving lighting, liquid refrigeration, and even pollutant free paint. Ponant and National Geographic share a mission of showing the present generation the wonders of our world, and preserving it for those in future.

The amazing sailings from 31 July 2018 will go to all corners of the planet, from the poles to the tropics. Check out our Ponant sailings with National Geographic and start your adventure here.



Disney Cruise Line Announce 2020 Itineraries

clock 28th September 2018 | comment0 Comments

Family-focussed cruise line, Disney Cruise Line, has recently announced what’s in store with them in 2020. There will be some fantastic opportunities on offer, making it even easier to find the perfect cruise holiday for the whole family. Read on to discover more about your options.

 

 

Two Amazing Hawaii Cruises

 

It’s been five years since Disney Cruise Line ventured to Hawaii, and the idyllic North American state is now sorely missed by cruisers and crew alike. So, in 2020 Disney Wonder will be hosting two very exciting cruises to the region – one departing from Vancouver and ending in Honolulu, and the other on the return trip back to Vancouver. The itineraries will offer guests the opportunity to visit Oahu Island and its gorgeous Waikiki beach, see the stunning waterfalls and greenery on Kauai island, and gaze out at the extensive tropical views from the summit of Maui’s Haleakala Crater.

 

More Cruise Departures from Florida

 

The folks at Disney Cruise Line know that the sunshine state is a brilliant holiday destination in itself, and so with this in mind, in 2020 they will be offering more cruises departing from both Miami and Port Canaveral. Itineraries starting here mean that guests can spend a few days at the start of their holiday exploring Florida and all it has to offer, whether this be the theme parks, the beaches, or the shopping! All cruises from Florida will include a stop in Disney’s exclusive Castaway Cay island in the Bahamas, as well as a number of fabulous sunny Caribbean destinations.

 

 

New Homeport of New Orleans

 

Perhaps the most exciting announcement for 2020 is Disney Wonder’s new homeport of New Orleans. This world-famous city of jazz, food, and festivals was the setting of the beautiful Disney film, The Princess and the Frog. So Disney film lovers can start their holiday off right by exploring the colourful streets, listening to soulful music, and eating local treats such as soft beignets and punchy gumbo just like Tiana and Naveen. There will be six different cruises to choose from, each departing from New Orleans in early 2020.

 

 

Have a browse through our latest Disney Cruise Line deals, and start planning your family’s next big adventure.



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