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Cruising for Wine Lovers

clock 7th February 2018 | comment0 Comments

Cruising and wine are two interests that make a perfect pairing. Not only can most cruise lines transport you to notable wine districts all over the world, but many also bring wine tastings, presentations, and experiences onboard as well. If you consider yourself something of a connoisseur, or even just enjoy a simple glass every now and then but would like to learn more, there are a number of destinations and types of cruises that could be right for you.

European Cruises

When it comes to European wines there are an incredible number of places worth exploring. Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and Portugal are generally the most popular, but just about every country produces their own blend – not forgetting the UK. Try a punchy local Rioja in southern Spain on a Mediterranean cruise, or a classic Riesling on the Rhine on a German river cruise; wine lovers will not be disappointed in Europe– especially with most cruise lines offering various wine-themed excursions.

 

 

Celebrity Cruises

This popular cruise line has partnered up with Channel 5’s The Wine Show, to bring guests some extra special wine-related experiences. Presenters Joe Fattorini and Amelia Singer have put together a series of recommended excursions – including vineyard tours and tastings across Europe. They will also often appear onboard to host talks and tastings on the ship. Celebrity Cruises also boast an enviable collection of rare wines at sea, and an expert team of sommeliers.

 

Australasia Cruises

Although Australian wine came pretty late into the game considering the history of wine in other regions, its popularity has seen a dramatic rise in recent years. In fact it is now the fourth biggest exporter of wine in the world. There are wine regions all over the vast country, including around Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne. In the Adelaide Hills alone there are around 50 different wineries, and you’ll find cruise excursions taking you to tastings in several of these, with a delicious gourmet lunch included too.

 

 

Cunard: Queen Mary 2

Cunard offer a unique cruising opportunity onboard QM2, in that guests can earn themselves a Level 1 or 2 Award in Wines; a recognised qualification in the wine industry. These are gained by spending time learning about oenology with the help of sommeliers, and renowned global winemakers who are brought onboard. You can expect tutored wine tastings, production workshops, fine wine seminars, and more. Port lovers will be especially delighted with the impressive array of 46 vintage ports in the Carinthia Lounge.

California Cruises

Around 90% of North American wine is produced in the sunny state of California – another popular cruise destination. A number of round-the-world, America, and even Caribbean cruises include stops in California, and ports like San Francisco are a great place to spend a few extra days on a cruise and stay holiday. Visit the glorious wine regions of Sonoma and Napa Valley for some brilliant wine experiences, either on an excursion or individually. Horse-riding here is a very special and memorable way to explore the vineyards.

 

 

APT River Cruises

For those who seek a cruise spent truly immersed in oenology, APT River Cruises’ Wine Series is a fabulous option. The line has collaborated with the winemakers of Australia’s First Families of Wine, in order to provide some wonderful wine-themed experiences on their selection of Wine Series cruises. Wine ambassadors will be onboard to host each river cruise, on which they will give talks about traditional wine-making in Europe, and of course wine tastings and meals with paired wines. These cruises take place in the wine regions of Europe, and include visits to various vineyards.

South Africa Cruises

A cruise in Africa is a fantastic and exhilarating opportunity to experience some of the most wonderful and unique aspects of our world. As well as new scenery, food, and of course culture, if your cruise includes a stop in South Africa, you’re in for a treat where wine is concerned as well. With 17th century European settlers came wine-making, and so viticulture here is in fact older than you might expect. Many cruise lines offer some brilliant wine-themed excursions, including tastings, tours of famous wine estates, and of course the chance to buy some exquisite bottles.

 

 

Please remember to drink responsibily when enjoying wine or other alcoholic beverages.



Cruises for Foodies

clock 12th January 2018 | comment0 Comments

Whether you’ve decided to go on a cruise to relax and get away for a few weeks, see some exotic new places, or simply enjoy the traditional cruise ship environment, there's one thing that just about all of us value on holiday: good food. There are some people who decide upon their cruise ship and destination on the strength of the culinary possibilities, and whether this is you or not, if you have an interest in food it can be helpful to know what’s out there. See our guide for some great foodie inspiration for your next cruise.

 

Cruise Ships with Top Chef Restaurants

Many cruise lines have affiliations with famous and world renowned chefs, some of whom might make special appearances onboard, and some of whom have collaborated with the line to create superb menus. Our favourites include:

Royal Caribbean – you’ll find Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian onboard

Oceania Cruises – offer the culinary stylings of Jacques Pepin

Crystal Cruises – the incredible Sushi Bar from famous Japanese chef Nobu

Costa Cruises – boast chef Ettore Bocchia-approved Italian cuisine

 

Meet and Greets with Celebrity Chefs

P&O Cruises are true pioneers when it comes to celebrating and promoting what us Brits love, and that includes food and wine. With this in mind, they have partnered up with some of our best-loved gastronomic stars:

• James Martin – our favourite Saturday morning TV chef

• Eric Lanlard – French Patissier famed for his incredible desserts

• Atul Kochar – cooking show regular, Britain-based Indian chef

• Marco Pierre White – Leeds-born chef, considered the ‘original celebrity chef’

• Ollie Smith – TV wine connoisseur famed for his enthusiasm!

 

Cookery Classes and Gastronomic Experiences

Considering all these amazing onboard features, it will come as no surprise to learn that many cruise lines offer some fantastic interactive opportunities in which guests can learn from the greats.

Viking Ocean CruisesKitchen Table. Join fellow passengers in an exclusive venue, where you will see world-class chefs prepare your meal made with ingredients purchased locally.

Holland America Line’s America’s Test Kitchen. Watch 45 minute cookery demonstrations onboard, which will be aired on popular US cookery show, America’s Test Kitchen.

 

 

Not only can you make the most of all these fantastic opportunities while on your ship, but you’ll also have the chance to explore the local cuisine at your cruise destinations. While just about every port town will have a certain dish they’re proud of, or cocktail to show off, depending on your own taste you might prefer one to another. If you’re struggling to decide just where to try next, here are some of our own top foodie spots you can cruise to;

 

 

The Mediterranean – From succulent paella and freshly made pizza, to mouth-watering churros and baklava, the countries of the Mediterranean have such a diverse and incredible selection of food that all visitors will struggle not to over-indulge!

Japan – Fans of Asian rice and noodle-based dishes will find that Japan offers simple yet stunning food that’s undeniably moreish. Beyond sushi and sashimi, be sure to try a local katsu curry, nikuman (steamed buns), and ramen (noodle broth).

North America – many people are guilty of dismissing American food as simply large and easy. In fact, the USA is home to some amazing dishes such as barbecue, gourmet burgers, pancakes, steaks, deep-dish pizzas, clam chowder, the list goes on and on . . .

Scandinavia – The cuisine of North Europe is often forgotten, but with such unexpected ingredients and interesting concoctions, it will leave you thinking about what creations you could devise in your own kitchen! The pies and pastries here are especially delicious.

 

 

These are just some of the food-focussed cruising opportunities out there. Research has shown that more and more cruisers believe food to be of the utmost importance on their holiday, and cruise lines are listening to this and constantly upping their game. Because of this you’re likely to find some fantastic speciality restaurants and buffets onboard the majority of ships, and more attention on the culinary aspects of destinations. Take a look at these amazing worldwide food markets for more inspiration about where to see next.



So You Think You Know the Mediterranean

clock 8th January 2018 | comment0 Comments

With the Mediterranean remaining the number one choice of destination for UK cruisers, we thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at some of the preconceptions, and indeed lesser known facts about this popular part of the world.

 

Home to the Original Shopping Mall

Holidaying in the Mediterranean will inevitably involve some souvenir-buying, and most tourists will visit local markets and bazaars for these. But did you know that today’s large, commercial shopping malls actually originated in the Mediterranean? The first complex of this type was constructed in Rome by Emperor Trajan, in the early part of the 2nd century. His emporium is thought to have been filled with all kinds of wares, from spices and foods, to clothing and material.

 

The Same Festivals Celebrated Differently

Festivals like Easter and Christmas are celebrated in most Mediterranean countries. At these times you’ll notice traditions like those in the UK, such as street parades and glittering decorations, but there also some less familiar customs:

• In Valencia, Spain, for instance, you might see flour-throwing on December 28th – The Day of the Innocents

• On Easter Saturday in Corfu you’ll need to keep your wits about you, to avoid injury during the popular pottery-smashing ritual

The Med is Home to some of the UK’s Favourite Foods

Most visitors to the Mediterranean like to explore new foods and try all the best local cuisine, and it may come as a surprise to learn that in fact, many of the most popular foods we eat in the UK have origins here. It’s no secret that favourites like pizza and pasta hail from Italy, but there are also some treats that might not be expected:

• Fruit cake and bacon are thought to have first been introduced by the Romans in Italy

• ‘Fish and Chips’ actually originated in Portugal and Spain

• It’s thought that the creation of pies began with the Ancient Greeks

 

Mediterranean Languages Have Influenced English

Many European languages have borrowed words from one another throughout history, and the English language itself has been shaped by a great number of words from the Mediterranean.

• French - we have France to thank for words like ‘menu’ and ‘restaurant’

• Spanish - Spain has given us the likes of ‘mosquito’, ‘patio’, and ‘vanilla’

• Italian - we use ‘camera’, ‘temperature’, and ‘zero’, from Italy

• Greek - ‘Phobia’, ‘ethos’, and ‘plethora’ all have origins in the Greek language.

Over 20 Countries and States Have Mediterranean Coast

When we think of ‘The Mediterranean’, it’s not uncommon to mention the likes of Spain, France, Italy, and Greece, but in fact, more than 20 recognised states enjoy the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea on their shores. Here are a few more to explore on a Mediterranean cruise:

1. Gibraltar

2. Spain

3. France

4. Monaco

5. Italy

6. Malta

7. Slovenia

8. Croatia

9. Montenegro

10. Albania

11. Greece

12. Cyprus

13. Turkey

 

Cruising in the Mediterranean

As a long-standing, popular holiday destination, and with plenty of pretty ports to choose from, it makes sense that a great number of cruise companies offer itineraries in this part of the world. The UK’s favourite cruise line, P&O Cruises, offers a brilliant range of itineraries in and around The Med. This could be a great option for families, not only because of P&O Cruises’ onboard features, but also because Mediterranean countries are just a short flight from the UK. Or, if you’d prefer not to fly however, P&O Cruises also offer no-fly cruises departing from the UK.

Family Cruising in the Mediterranean

What makes P&O Cruises perfect for a family cruise in the Mediterranean?

 

 

5 ships in P&O Cruises' fleet of 8 have been designed with the wants and needs of families in mind, which means that they offer some of the best activities, entertainment, and family-friendly dining options at sea. Children are welcome in all onboard restaurants, each serving a wide variety of foods to cater for guests of all ages. The entertainment on the ships has also been well thought out to appeal to everyone. The stunning Once upon a time show is a particular favourite among families.

If you do fancy spending a special evening together, without the little ones, be sure to take advantage of P&O Cruises’ onboard kids club: The Reef. This is split into four age groups thereby ensuring that each child can access activities and entertainment materials suitable for them. This might be a soft play area, puzzles, books, or video games for example.

Another great aspect of cruising with P&O Cruises in the Mediterranean is the excursions. P&O Cruises offer a fantastic range, from exploring Rome’s infamous colosseum, taking a trolley train ride in Malta, to river rafting in Croatia, there will undoubtedly be something to suit every age group. Discover just how many places you could see, and what adventures you could have with your family on a P&O Cruises' Mediterranean cruise.



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.



Family Cruising at Christmas

clock 21st December 2017 | comment0 Comments

If the chaos of getting the family together, preparing an amazing dinner, and putting up all the decorations has become a little too stressful, consider treating your loved ones to a cruise at Christmas.

 

 

Cruise lines are offering more and more in the way of entertainment and activities which can be enjoyed by all the family, so no matter what age range your group may be, you can rest assured that everyone will find something to keep them happy – at Christmas time especially!

Movies and Shows

Most of the large cruise lines will offer a choice of venues for theatrical shows, movies, and live music, which means it should be possible to see a great range of entertainment for all the family. Our favourites include Royal Caribbean’s production of Grease, and of course Disney Cruise Line’s Tangled: The Musical. As well as these, you can expect classic Christmas movies to be screened in the theatres and on the big outdoor screens on lines like Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruises.

Pools and Spas

Both parents and children can enjoy the range of spas and pools that can be found onboard the majority of cruise ships. You will often find adult-only spaces including spa facilities, pools, and whirlpools, as well as areas designed for kids. Carnival Cruises’ Dr Seuss-themed water park has some brilliant features including a tipping bucket and splash zone, and MSC Cruises ships MSC Preziosa and MSC Seaside have some incredible water slides.

Dining Options

Most family-friendly cruise lines have a wealth of choice when it comes to dining. Throughout the Christmas season, not only will guests be able to enjoy a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but also their favourite festive sweet treats. You’ll find mince pies, yule log, and Christmas cookies right at your fingertips. On the other hand it’s possible to break with convention and instead go for a classic like Johnny Rockets onboard Royal Caribbean ships, or of course you can make the most of the range of cuisine at the informal buffet restaurants.

Action-Packed Fun

Today many cruise lines have found themselves trying to keep up with each other where onboard activities are concerned. As well as pools, cruisers will find the likes of rock-climbing walls, surf-simulators, and meet and greets with characters from Disney, Dreamworks, Nickelodeon and more. Norwegain Cruise Line have also revealed upcoming plans for laser tag venues, and the largest at-sea racetrack! With all this to choose from, both little and big kids will be spoilt for choice for things to do.

As well as all this, during the festive season many cruise lines also provide exciting seasonal extras which will captivate guests of all ages. Expect visits from Santa or maybe even a Santa’s grotto, Christmas craft workshops, spellbinding carol singers, and beautiful gingerbread villages.

Kids Clubs

While Christmas is of course about spending valuable family-time together, it’s also possible to spend a special evening with your partner during your cruise, safe in the knowledge that the little ones are in good hands. Many of the larger cruise ships will have the option of onboard kids clubs. These are generally separated into appropriate age groups (for example 6months to 3 years, 3 – 12, and 13 – 17), and offer both quality care and great kids entertainment. This could be the latest video games, dance classes, or sports to name a few.

Parents can often have concerns about spending the Christmas season on a cruise with their families, under the impression that the children might be missing out on customary Christmas traditions. However, many would argue that a cruise ship is one of the best places for kids to be at this time of year. Not only will they be able to enjoy almost all the usual festivities, but they can also have great fun taking advantage of all the brilliant onboard features. Have a browse through our December cruises to see what adventures your family could have on a cruise at this time of year.



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