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Singapore: A Foodie's Haven

clock 27th December 2017 | comment0 Comments

 

South East Asia is known for delicious and diverse cuisine that has become popular the world over. For many people, this is reason enough to visit this incredible part of the world, and if this applies to you, it’s likely that you might be struggling to decide just which areas to visit. The answer to this dilemma could well be Singapore. With influences from China, India, Malaysia, and Europe, many argue that food in Singapore offers the best of a number of cultures. Discover incredible places to eat and things to try, on a cruise in Singapore.

Raffles Hotel

Even if you haven't heard of much traditional Singaporean food and drink, we'd be willing to bet that you do know about their signature cocktail: The Singapore Sling. Thought to have been created by a bartender in 1915, in Singapore this drink is synonymous with Raffles Hotel - a stunning colonial hotel which is home to the Long Bar, where said bartender rustled up this delicious concoction. The main ingredients of this refreshing cocktail are gin, pineapple juice, and grenadine.

Laksa

This classic is said to have been brought to Singapore by the Peranakan people – those who immigrated to the Malay region from China, between the 1600s and 1800s. As such it has become well integrated into the cuisine of Singapore, and today remains a firm favourite among both locals and tourists. Essentially laksa is a noodle soup (or broth), made with spices, coconut milk, and usually chicken or fish.

Maxwell Food Centre

Singapore is known among food lovers for its hawker (street food) stalls. These offer affordable and yet delicious meals and great variety. Hawker stalls can be found here, there, and everywhere, but you will also come across centres which are known for this type of cuisine, such as Maxwell Food Centre. Here there are over 100 stalls selling all kinds of Singaporean favourites, and indeed some more modern and even international dishes.

Abacus Seeds

Having originated with the Hakka Han, or Han, people of China, abacus seeds are sometimes referred to as Hakka abacus seeds. They are similar to gnocchi, but instead of potato they are made with yams. They are a tasty and fairly versatile creation that can be found in various dishes with noodles, prawns, chicken, and vegetables. They are said to represent wealth, and so are often found in meals at celebrations such as New Year.

Kueh

Kuehs are traditional, bite-sized snacks that can be sweet or savoury. These too are especially popular among the Peranakan people, and can most commonly be found in supermarkets and coffee shops. They also frequently make an appearance at food festivals. Look out for favourites such as sweet steamed sponge, meat dumplings, and mini crepes made with sugar, coconut, and pandan leaves and juice.

Michelin Star Hawker Stall

Like many of the world’s big cities, Singapore is home to a number of Michelin-star rated restaurants. But what makes this location slightly more unusual, is that it boasts Michelin-star holding street food stalls! Both Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, and Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle have been awarded this prestigious status, making Singapore one of the only places on earth where you can get a Michelin-star meal for about £3.

Pau

Singapore’s pau are known elsewhere in Asia as ‘bau’, ‘baozi’, and ‘mantou’, or to English-speakers, ‘steamed buns’. They are often stuffed with barbecue pork, however in Singapore potato, chicken, or beef curry are also popular fillings. These can be found at stalls or in restaurants, and are a really tasty option for lunch, or a snack to see you through until your evening meal.

Today, food is a highly regarded and significant part of Singaporean culture, and is something that the locals take great pride in – and rightly so. Foodies will not be disappointed with what they find here, and will hugely enjoy the countrywide celebration of cuisine. For an extra-special treat, consider a Singapore cruise in July, and see what’s in store at the annual Singapore Food Festival.

Find out more about things to do in Singapore.



River Cruising at Christmas

clock 13th December 2017 | comment0 Comments

The infamous European Christmas markets are right on our doorstep, and yet so many Brits are yet to see them. With cities like Cologne, Vienna, Strasbourg, and Copenhagen all offering some of the best options around, it can be difficult to decide just where to visit when you do finally make the decision to go! One way to remedy this, however, is to opt for a river cruise in December. This way it’s possible to see multiple destinations on one trip.

 

Which Christmas markets can I see?

Europe is not short of waterways by any means, and as such there are a number of strategically-positioned, important cities that can be accessed on a river cruise. In December, The Rhine, The Danube, The Rhone, and The Seine are just some of the most popular rivers that can transport you to some incredible winter wonderlands. The Rudesheim market, in The Rhine valley boasts over 100 stalls with gifts and treats from all over the world, Budapest on The Danube offers a traditional Hungarian feel, and of course in Paris on The Seine visitors will find delicious crepes, tartiflette, and all manner of keepsakes. These are just a handful of the top Christmas markets you could see.

Can I bring my children?

While most river cruise lines are designed for adults, in general children are also welcome onboard. Amawaterways have taken steps to make their ships more family-friendly, by introducing adjoining staterooms on both AmaViola and AmaStella. Tauck River Cruises and Uniworld River Cruises are also slightly more geared towards children than some other river cruise lines, offering excursions like scavenger hunts and family bike rides. Selected Uniworld ships also offer a games room for kids and activities like craft workshops and cookery lessons which can be especially fun at Christmas. It is worth keeping in mind however, that some Christmas market locations can get very busy, and can involve a considerable amount of walking, so it’s important to consider this if bringing children.

 

What’s it like for solo travellers?

River cruising can be a fantastic option for solo travellers, owing to the extremely relaxed and sociable atmosphere onboard. Generally, river cruise ships have multiple public lounges where entertainment such as live music and quizzes will take place. This makes it all the more easy to meet fellow cruisers and converse with new friends. Excursions on these cruises are also perfect for solo travellers. Take part in an organised group tour of a new city and, of course, its Christmas markets. River cruise lines like Scenic River Cruises and Avalon Waterways often do great deals for solo travellers too.

Are there other Christmassy things to do?

While river cruises in December do have a real focus on European Christmas markets, there are other festive things to do and see in these beautiful cities. When you’ve had your fill of gluwhein and pretty trinket stalls, take a look around and you will find all sorts of other activities. Why not show off your skills on the ice rink on the Champs-Elysees, sip on a hot chocolate while becoming enchanted by the twinkling lights and decorations in Vienna, or admire the magnificence of German Christmas trees – or Tannenbaum – in Cologne.

 

 

River cruises in December can be anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your preference and time limitations. Considering this, and the wide selection of destinations, dates, and types of cruise, it is usually possible to find a European Christmas market cruise to suit everyone.



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 the capital city Juneau, the pretty and colourful buildings only serve to complement 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.

     

    Let Norwegian Cruise Line show you Alaska

     

    Among the cruise lines visiting this alluring destination is the fantastic Norwegian Cruise Line. This family-friendly line offer a range of itineraries in Alaska across their fleet, with the youngest – Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy – among these.

     

     

    These state-of-the-art vessels are sister ships and boast many of the same onboard facilities. From a wealth of dining choices to some world-class entertainment options, there is certainly plenty onboard to suit all tastes. Here’s a snippet of what you can find;

     

  • Laser Tag. An activity for cruisers of all ages, laser tag is a great way to meet fellow cruisers or even compete against those you’re travelling with!
  • Aqua Park. Not only will cruisers love the spacious pool area and hot tubs, but it’s also possible to let loose in this fun waterpark complete with slides and a drench bucket.
  • Mandara Spa & Salon. One for the grown-ups, this luxurious space provides the perfect setting to indulge and unwind. The salt room and snow room are particular favourites.
  • Food Republic. One of many restaurants onboard, Food Republic is a great option for a group with a variety of tastes. You’ll find scrumptious cuisine from all over the world.
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    Of course, in addition to enjoying all these onboard treats, your cruise itinerary will incorporate plenty of chances to enjoy the incredible setting that is Alaska. Excursions can include experiences like dog-sledding with Alaskan Huskies, and kayaking to explore glaciers and spot wildlife.

    See our range of Norwegian Cruise Line Alaska itineraries, or talk to our sales team to find out more.



    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.



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