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Historic Cruise Excursions in Normandy France

clock 7th November 2017 | comment0 Comments

European countries generally have a very varied and interesting history, and France is of course no exception. For many people, a cruise in France means relaxing in warm weather, seeing some picturesque scenery, and indulging in delectable French treats such as delicious wine and incredible cheeses and pastries. While this is undoubtedly a fantastic way to experience France, it is also worth considering the wide variety of optional - and often complimentary - historic excursions, which are available on many itineraries.

One brilliant, excursion-rich region is Normandy. A natural first port of call after leaving the UK, many cruises to France include a stop here. Ports include Cherbourg and La Harve, and both are in close proximity to a number of important sites that you could have the chance to visit;

 

  • The landing beaches of World War II. See the infamous sites where British, Canadian, and American troops arrived to invade on D-Day.
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  • Normandy cemeteries. This opportunity is pensive and moving, as you see the extent of the loss of life caused by war.
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  • Pegasus Bridge. This played an integral part in the events that make up D-Day; it's where British troops were sent to prevent Germans from accessing and attacking the allied forces.
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    Many cruise lines will offer excursions to these locations, complete with informative guides who will explain the significance they had during the war. But in addition to these, Normandy offers several opportunities to learn about earlier French history.

    Bayeux

    One fascinating spot is the commune of Bayeux - home to the famous Bayeux Tapestry. This medieval location still boasts cobbled streets, traditional beamed-housing, and the 1077 Cathedrale Notre-Dame. Not to mention the stunning tapestry itself. This important, 69 metre long record of the Norman conquest of England is on display at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux, and is an absolute must if you are in the area.

    Cherbourg

    The port of Cherbourg has played a major role in the history of France. In the Contentin peninsular, this area of France has several harbours which you can visit for another snippet of a bygone era. Over the years, there have been Celts, Romans, and Saxons in Cherbourg, but it is the Viking invasion that is most well-known. Its history is indicative of its strategic position, which has led to Cherbourg being fortified and repaired a number of times. Unsurprisingly, the city was heavily damaged in World War II, but once again it survived and continues to thrive today.

    Rouen

    Once the capital city of Normandy, Rouen remains an important location, that is steeped in history. Travel the route of the Vikings along the Seine on a river cruise, and explore the place either individually or on an excursion. Since the Viking incursion, Rouen has seen some major historic events, including the famous burning of Joan of Arc by British conquerors. Also having suffered major destruction during the war, there are important sites and memorials here that are both interesting and thought-provoking.

    Those curious about France's past, or even those who are interested in World War II, may not have realised just how much a cruise in this area can offer. Whether you're a history buff or not, a trip around Normandy will undoubtedly leave you feeling fascinated and enlightened after each excursion.



    What can be seen on an Alaska Cruise?

    clock 18th October 2017 | comment0 Comments

    For many people Alaska remains a far-off land full of mystery and intrigue, and as such it can be found on many a bucket list. Thankfully, more and more cruise lines are introducing Alaska itineraries, bringing this fascinating destination closer than you might think.

    If you have booked, or are thinking of booking an Alaska cruise, you might be wondering just what this northernmost American state has to offer. It is well known that the scenery here is spectacular, but what exactly are you likely to see?

    Stunning Wildlife

    Alaska is home to some beautiful creatures, both on land and in the surrounding waters. When cruising in Alaska, ships will stay close to the shore, allowing you the optimum chance to see all kinds of wildlife.

    As soon as you begin to approach Alaska, keep your eyes peeled for fantastic animals such as humpback and killer whales, dolphins, porpoises, puffins, and bald eagles. Then, when you get closer to the shore and on any days spent exploring on land, you might see mountain goats, grizzly, brown, and black bears, wolves, moose, porcupines, and salmon among others.

    To see Alaskan wildlife in its natural habitat is a truly wonderful experience. Sightings will help you to appreciate the complexities of the different interactions within the Alaskan environment.

    Beautiful Landscapes

    Supporting all these creatures is a majestic land which boasts some incredible vistas. Aside from the crystal clear waters that border the region, visitors will come across some very pretty lakes, rivers, and streams – many of which have waterfalls.

    In Alaska, your average view – whether in town or in the countryside - will generally contain commanding mountains, pine tree-filled forests, or extensive green plains, if not all of them. Even when in the centre of a busier area, such as capital city Juneau, the pretty and colourful buildings only serve to compliment the wider scene.

    True Wonders of Nature

    Visitors to Alaska are often blessed with the sight of some real natural spectacles. There are over 600 official glaciers found all over the state, but in fact there are an estimated 100,000 altogether. These are breath-taking to see, and it is sometimes even possible to see great portions of ice cascading away. You might also see floating icebergs in the seas around Alaska, which are remarkable to watch.

    Some lucky tourists are fortunate enough to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. It is thought that the best time for this is between September and April, and of course they can be seen on land or from your cruise ship.

    Considering everything that can be discovered in this enriching part of the world, it is no wonder that so many people feel the need to explore it. If you are among these, have a look at our Alaska cruises today, or for more information, sign up to receive our new Alaska brochure.



    What to Eat in Hong Kong

    clock 17th October 2017 | comment0 Comments

     

    Hong Kong is world-famous for its truly special and delicious food. As such a versatile place with influences from all over the globe, the chefs of the region have embraced the range of cultures that exist there, and the results are incredible. When it comes to what to eat in Hong Kong, there are undoubtedly far more things to try than you will have time for. In light of this, we have compiled a list of our favourites. If you will be embarking on a Hong Kong cruise, be sure not to miss these culinary treats.

     

    1. Dim Sum

    This is in fact thought to have originated in Northern China, but today it’s Hong Kong that is well-known for excellent dim sum. There are well over 100 different items that can be on a dim sum menu, but our favourites are the soft and fluffy steamed pork buns, and wonderfully flavoursome shrimp dumplings.

     

     

    2. Fish Balls

    These can be found in restaurants and at street food stalls, where they might be served in a soup or on skewers. They can be made with a variety of different fish, meats, and fish paste, and are often dipped or fried in a tasty curry sauce. You will develop a taste for these little delights after your very first bite, so be sure to try them in a few different places.

     

     

    3. Tai O Shrimp-paste

    Lantau Island is home to the quirky Tai O fishing village, whose sights and smells will certainly stay with you forever. With a fishing history of over 100 years, this area of Hong Kong still rightly prides itself on their well-known shrimp paste, and fresh and dried fish. Take time to peruse the markets, and try some amazing fresh street food.

     

     

    4. Congee

    While this is served all over China, the residents – and many visitors – of Hong Kong believe that their Cantonese congee sits high above the rest. It’s a rice porridge that can be served plain as a side dish, sweet as a dessert, or savoury as a meal in itself. The latter option usually includes vegetables and meats.

     

     

    5. Chinese Barbecue

    Known in Cantonese as siu mei, this choice of food in Hong Kong is a true favourite among locals and tourists alike. Barbecued pork and goose are the most common, and these are usually coated in a tasty, sticky sauce before being cooked. Like most foods here, there are plenty of different varieties to choose from, in restaurants and from market stalls.

     

     

    6. Fried Rice

    One of the most common dishes found in Hong Kong, fried rice is a favourite among many due to its quick and easy preparation, and wide variety of flavours and ingredients. Vegetarians and those with allergies can more often than not count on fried rice as a wholesome mealtime option, as it is gluten free, and can be served with or without meat, egg, vegetables, and soy sauce to name a few.

     

     

    These are just six of our favourites among all kinds of Hong Kong food, but of course there are so many other new things for you to taste. Before heading out on your Hong Kong cruise, try to research the different places you want to see, and things to do, in order to make the most of your time in this fantastic part of the world.



    Discover Queensland

    clock 11th October 2017 | comment0 Comments

    Australasia cruises generally include a number of fantastic Australian cities among their ports of call, and when deciding which cruise is right for you it can be a little confusing to determine exactly where and what you want to see. To try to help put things into focus, we’ve made this short, handy guide about what can be found in one of the country's most popular regions – discover Queensland on a cruise to Australia.



    Port Douglas for The Great Barrier Reef 

     

    Encompassing the majority of the country’s northeast corner, the state has almost 7000km of coastline. It will come as no surprise then, to learn that Queensland is home to the infamous Great Barrier Reef. More than two million visitors are drawn to this incredible underwater spectacle every year, where adventurers can see over 1,500 species of fish, 134 species of sharks and sting rays, and more than 500 types of coral.





    Abel Point Marina for The Whitsundays

     

    While the Great Barrier Reef obviously steals the focus in this region – for good reason – Queensland does have many other fantastic places that should not be missed. The Whitsundays, for example, are a truly beautiful attraction. This archipelago of 74 islands is perfect for sailing, due to the calm and clear waters. With luck, you might see dolphins, sea turtles, and even whales.

     

    Yorkey's Knob Port for Cairns



    Cairns is another area of Queensland that you should try to find time for. Here you can get your cultural fix in the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, embrace the local lifestyle in world-class bars and restaurants, and get back to nature in the Daintree National Park – thought to be the oldest rainforest on earth.





    The Port of Brisbane

     

    Not forgetting the state capital – Brisbane. Peppered with beautiful parks, historical buildings, and more stunning beaches, this is another place you’ll need more than a few hours to explore! Highlights include Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo – only an hour drive away – which is home to all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures. Or visit the fascinating Sciencentre, various museums, and fantastic Brisbane Botanical Gardens.

    Our guide merely skims the surface of everything this brilliant corner of Australia has to offer, and if you do decide to visit the state, it is highly likely that you will end up planning a return trip.

     

    Look at our Australasia cruises, and start planning your next adventure straight away.



    What to Do in Singapore

    clock 14th September 2017 | comment0 Comments

    Singapore’s colourful history means a fusion of cultures have influenced the country, and made it the unique destination that it is today. Its ever-changing nature has caused it to appear something of a mystery to many people, and we think the best way to begin to uncover and understand it is to explore both the popular and the lesser known spots.

    As a popular port of call on many cruise itineraries, Singapore is probably more reachable than many people realise. Whether stopping here during an Asia cruise for a few hours or a few days, when it comes to planning your stay, our list of top things to do is a great place to start.

    1. Try a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar in Raffles Court

    Raffles Court is a truly majestic hotel that dates back to 1887. It has hosted a plethora of historical figures including Charlie Chaplin and Rudyard Kipling, and is said to be the origin of gin-based cocktail, the Singapore Sling. The drink is thought to have been created in 1915, by a bar tender named Ngiam Tong Boon in the hotel’s Long Bar.

    2. See some incredible animals

    The Singapore Zoo is home to almost 3000 creatures, with everything from elephants, white tigers, and monkeys, to naked mole rats. Arguably one of the most ethical zoos in the world, the animals each have ample space, and the ability to roam free in some cases. For a more unusual experience, Singapore also boasts a Night Safari. This is a separate attraction to the zoo, and allows guests to see animals during the night while riding trams through the centre.

    3. Eat local!

    As a Southeast Asian country, Singapore can certainly compete with its neighbours when it comes to cuisine. There are so many choices ranging the whole culinary scale, from high end Michelin star restaurants to tiny carts selling street food – or hawker food as it’s known locally. You can even find the best of both worlds in Chinatown, with ‘Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle’ – a Michelin-starred street food vendor.

    Our Commercial Manager Callum Buchanan feels that Singaporean food is really something special:

    “Whenever I’m telling people about my time in Singapore the very first subject I talk about is the food. You’ll be blown away by the vast array of dining choices; I especially recommend ‘Mod Sin’ cuisine, simply meaning Modern Singaporean.”

    4. See the Singapore Grand Prix

    Combine your holiday with the Formula 1 racing schedule, and be a part of the brilliant experience that is the Singapore Grand Prix. With most activity taking place during the night, the atmosphere in the streets of Marina Bay is undoubtedly infectious and exciting. Find out more about the Singapore F1 Grand Prix and other F1 cruise holidays.

    5. Stroll through stunning and tranquil gardens

    Singapore Botanic Gardens has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, and is home to hundreds of different species. Visitors will find a spectacular rainforest quarter, the National Orchid Garden, pretty sparkling lakes, and more. Or, Gardens by the Bay offers an altogether more futuristic space, boasting extraordinary features such an aerial walkway, modern sculptures, and technological tree-shaped gardens among others.

    Callum rates Singapore very highly as a holiday destination:

    “Singapore is such an amazing city full of culture and energy, and I guarantee you’ll leave Singapore richer in life and you’ll be planning your next visit before you have even left!”

    Might this be the next destination for you? Find out more about Singapore cruises, and be sure to sign up for our new Asia brochure.



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