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The Best Cruise Destinations for Wildlife

clock 19th March 2018 | comment0 Comments

Our world is home to an incredible array of flora and fauna. Landscapes are teeming with millions of species, and some of the creatures you spot on a wildlife cruise could even date back millennia. The ever-changing environments of the world give life to weird and wonderful creatures, and new species are constantly being discovered. Often the best way to see these is by cruise – on which there are usually plenty of excursions and exploring opportunities. Here are some of our top wildlife-viewing destinations.

Amazon River Cruises

One of the most well-known rivers in the world, the Amazon river reaches just less than 7000km, through Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. It’s home to over 50,000 plant and tree species, over 430 mammal species, and over 1000 species of amphibians. Not to mention the various reptiles, birds, and fish. In the Amazon animals need to disguise themselves from prey, so to spot wildlife you’ll often have to be very quiet and patient. If you’re lucky you could catch sight of the pink river dolphin, the three-toed sloth, or the squirrel monkey to name a few. Spot the powerful jaws of a black caiman as it chows down on its prey, and watch in awe as the bright and colourful macaws swoop past. Cruise lines like Cunard and Viking often cover parts of the Amazon when passing through Brazil or South America in general.

 

 

Indonesia

Indonesia might not be your go-to destination for a wildlife cruise but the creatures here are incredibly diverse; from the great apes to the legendary Komodo dragons. With so many different islands offering hugely different habitats, you’ll rarely see the same animal from one isle to the next. That means cruising is one of the best ways to see several different parts Indonesia. On Kalimantan you could spot orangutans swinging in trees, or on Papua try to glimpse the elusive tree kangaroos. In Sumatra, you’ll actually be able to witness tigers, rhinos, elephants, and orangutans living together – the only place on earth! And you’ll surely fall in love with the wide-eyed Tarsius Tarsier (owl monkey) in Sulawesi.

 

 

Galapagos

The remote Galapagos Islands are an excellent showcase of biodiversity, boasting species that are unseen anywhere else in the world and hold an almost mythological status. A major highlight of any visit here is the chance to see the legendary Galapagos penguins - the only penguins to live north of the equator in the wild. The islands are also well-known for the giant Galapagos Tortoise, which can famously live for several centuries and is the largest species of tortoise in the world. Other highlights include the red-footed and blue-footed booby birds, flightless cormorants, the waved albatross, and a huge diversity of marine life. Silversea Cruises and Celebrity Cruises are two of the only cruise lines to venture into this remote region with specially designed expedition ships.

 

 

Alaska

Alaska is a true bucket list destination and it’s not hard to see why; surrounded by soaring snowy peaks and an abundance of wildlife it offers an experience unlike any other. You can often catch a glimpse of eagles hungrily surveying the coastline, or humpbacked whales playing in the icy channels. Spot a moose with her calf with the sound of a wolves howl in the background, or catch a grizzly emerging from its den. Locations like the Sitka Heritage Park and Icy Strait Point offer prime wildlife viewing opportunities for the likes of sea otters, whales, and bears, and most cruise lines that traverse Alaska will offer a range of fantastic excursions to give you more chance to see these. Princess Cruises and Holland America Line even offer optional land programmes with stays in wilderness lodges, putting you right in the heart of Alaska’s wildlife.

 

 

Antarctica

Find yourself in one of the most remote areas in the world, surrounded by vast white horizons and oceans brimming with icebergs, glaciers, and marine life. On a cruise to the Antarctic you’re likely to dock in several locations on the continent, giving you an unbelievable up-close experience with all sorts of different wildlife. Come face to face with colonies of penguins, seals, whales, and a stunning array of seabirds. It’s possible to take an exhilarating expedition cruise here with Hurtigruten, Scenic Cruises, and Ponant.

 



7 Tips to Survive an Airport Delay

clock 23rd February 2018 | comment0 Comments

Anyone who enjoys a holiday is likely to experience an airport delay at one time or another, and those who opt for a fly-criuse might be faced with this problem one day. No doubt your first concern will be how the delay will affect your ongoing travel - and specifically embarkation of the cruise ship. Our cruise agents keep a watchful eye on any travel delays, however in this instance it's always advisable to make contact with your tour operator when you are given the information of the delay - whether this be our team or the cruise line. Informing the tour operater means they will then be able to offer assistance as quickly as possible.

 

 

After you have made contact with the tour operator, and logistical arrangements have been taken care of, the next thing to consider will be how on earth to while away the time. Whether it’s for 2 hours or 24 hours, there’s no getting away from the fact that a delay is always going to be an irritating occurrence. Having said this, there are plenty of ways to beat the blues, and make the best of the situation; here are our top tips for surviving an airport delay.

1. Take emergency snacks

While it’s rarely possible to plan for a delay, bringing a few extra goodies with you can certainly do no harm. When departing from the UK, foods like fruit, crisps, biscuits, and sandwiches can all be taken through customs as long as they are wrapped or in a container. Liquids such as dip, soup, and yoghurt are prohibited. Be sure to check local information when departing from foreign airports.

 

 

2. Take a foldable stool in your hand luggage

One of the most irritating things that can happen when you're forced to wait at an airport is for there to be no available seating. Intead of being forced to take a pew on the floor, or merely staying stood up, take a foldable travel or camping stool. Be sure to check your size allowances for hand luggage, but usually these will fold up small enough to fit inside.

3. Bring a travel games and a notepad and pen

If you haven’t brought any with you, fortunately most airports stock a selection of games and activity books. Choose from things like word-searches, crosswords, and Sudoku, or if you want something more interactive, travel-size board games like Scrabble, Guess Who, and Connect 4 are particularly popular. A simple notepad and pen can be a real lifeline when faced with boredom. If you’re travelling with others, these enable you to play games like hangman, noughts and crosses, and dots and boxes. Or, if travelling alone, why not set about planning various aspects of your trip? Or get a head start on your Christmas gift list? Or even begin a travel journal?

 

 

4. Bring mini-toiletries

When you’re forced to sit and wait for long periods of time, there’s nothing worse than feeling grimy and stuffy at the same time. For this reason, it’s advisable to pack a few small toiletries in your hand luggage. As long as everything is under 100ml, items like deodorant, dry-shampoo, wipes, and a toothbrush and toothpaste can help you feel refreshed again.

5. Consider an airport lounge pass

If you’re going to be stuck for a good few hours, think about purchasing a pass to access one of the airport’s lounges. These areas tend to have a completely different atmosphere to the rest of the airport – one of comfort and calmness. Lounges are perfect for relaxing with a book and a drink, and many of them offer amenities like complimentary snacks and good quality WiFi.

 

 

6. Explore the airport

Whether or not you’re interested in planes, airports can be interesting and exciting places. Many boast unexpected features that you simply won’t find unless you go looking - take care not to wander into any restricted areas though. As well as celebrity-chef restaurants, spas, galleries, and even movie theatres, other facilities include:

• Rooftop Pool, Singapore Changi Airport

• 30,000 Gallon Aquarium, Vancouver International Airport

• Sports Equipment to Hire, Zurich Airport

• Yoga Studio, San Francisco International Airport

• 9hole Golf Course, Hong Kong International Airport

7. Catch up with someone

Though an airport delay rarely seems like a good thing, an optimist would tell you you’ve been given the gift of time. With this positivity in mind, you can begin to think of valuable ways to use it. One great option is to get in touch with a loved one. Reply to those messages that you haven’t had time for until now, or send a nice long email to your aunt. Spending a few hours on the phone with an old friend or sibling will also help while away the time. Make sure you pack chargers for your devices too - there are usually ports available for you to plug in when you need to.

 

 

Of course no one ever wants to experience a delay at an airport, but unfortunately they are hard to predict and can be simply unavoidable at times. Having said this, if this truly is the stuff of your nightmares, and might even stop you from wanting to go on holiday, it is possible to avoid the situation completely. Consider opting for a no-fly cruise for your next break, and escape the hassle of airports altogether.



So You Think You Know the Canary Islands?

clock 29th January 2018 | comment0 Comments

Cruising in the Canaries is hugely popular among holidaymakers for a number of reasons. The islands offer some stunning scenery, delicious food, relaxing beaches, and a whole world of interesting anecdotes, traditions, and snippets from history! While many Brits have been to at least one of the islands, there are so many things that remain unknown to its visitors. You may think yourself an expert on the Canary Islands, but did you know these ten interesting facts?

 

 

1. The word ‘Canaries’ has derived from the Latin word, ‘Canaria’, meaning dog. It’s thought that the name was attributed because early European settlers found wild dogs on the island, or Roman explorers chose it because of the nearby seals - which they called sea dogs.

2. The most popular sport in this part of the world is known as Lucha Canaria – a form of traditional wresting. Dating back to the 15th century, Canarian wrestling can still be seen in full swing in many venues across the islands.

3. While the small, yellow Canary birds are native to the islands, many people don’t realise that it is they who are named after the land, rather than the other way around.

 

 

4. The total population of all the Canary Islands is just over 2 million, but this popular holiday destination generally sees more than 12 million tourists every year!

5. Admiral Lord Nelson is most famous for his military action against the French, but it was actually in the Canaries that he lost his right arm – at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.

6. At the time of writing, La Palma is home to the world’s largest working telescope. It’s situated at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, and has a mirror of just over 34 feet (10.4 metres) in diameter.

 

 

7. Various parts of Spain – including Tenerife, La Palma, and Gran Canaria – maintain the ‘Burial of the Sardine’, or ‘Entierro de la sardina’, tradition to end carnival events. This ceremony dates back many centuries, and involves a symbolic portrayal of burning or burying a fish.

8. The aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands are known as Guanches, who hailed from the North African Berber people. It’s thought that they migrated to the islands in around the year 1000 BC.

9. The Canary Islands were a common stop on journeys between the Americas and Europe. This means that there are culinary influences here from all over the world, and produce such as potatoes, beans, and avocados were all introduced from South America.

 

 

10. The ancient whistling language of La Gomera – known as Silbo Gomera – is still used and even taught in schools here today. It was originally created to help communicate across the hilly terrain.

There is much more to the Canary Islands than first meets the eye, but take the time to explore it, and get to know some of the locals, and you will find a land of intrigue and rich history. Take a look at our range of cruises to the Canary Islands and discover more on your next holiday.



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.



Looking Back at 2017 in Cruise

clock 22nd December 2017 | comment0 Comments

This year has seen all sorts of surprises and huge events all across the globe, and in the cruise industry specifically, 2017 has certainly been significant in a number of ways. We at Iglu Cruise have had a whirlwind of a year full of some amazing memories, here are our top highlights.

Events

After the success of our Iglu Cruise Holiday Show in recent years, this year once again we hosted two highly successful events. The spring show was held in April at Sandown Park Racecourse, and saw a great number of cruise fans benefit from specialist cruise advice not only from our experts, but invited guests from several suppliers as well. We were also lucky enough to be joined by travel journalist Jonathon Beaumont, and TV personality Nina Myskow. Our autumn show took place in October at the Epsom Downs Racecourse. Here, once again hundreds of cruisers came along to listen to guest speakers and cruise enthusiasts, and enjoyed the stories and experiences of BBC’s Nicholas Owen.

Relaunch of Iglu.com

In an effort to make our website more accessible and user-friendly, we decided upon a few changes, and relaunched Iglu.com in autumn of this year. The developments included the option to search for the site using voice-recognition technology, on your mobile or with a digital home assistant. As well as this, we have made the site more responsive to various mobile devices, meaning it has become easier to browse through our selection of cruises and book online from your phone or tablet.

Tailor-Made Experiences

This year we also made it possible for some of our customers to be a part of exclusive tailor-made experiences, hosted by members of the Iglu Cruise team. In July we arranged an amazing trip to the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo show in Alberta, Canada, during which cruisers enjoyed what has been dubbed as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. As well as this, throughout the year we organised some guided tours at the Grand Prix, including those in Barcelona, Monaco, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi.

Team on Tour

Iglu Cruise as a trusted travel company is passionate about having knowledgeable staff who can pass on sound advice to customers. As such a conscious effort is made to send employees away on trips throughout the year, in order to increase their understanding of both destinations and cruise lines. This year was no exception, and members of the team were able to discover more about destinations like Alaska, Florida, and Tuscany, and enhance their knowledge of popular cruise lines such as Viking Ocean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Azamara Cruises.

Big Cruise News

One of the biggest cruise stories in 2017 has been Thomson Cruises’ name change to Marella Cruises. Announced in October, the travel company decided a new name was in order, so that their cruise line could be more distinct from the rest of the business – known as TUI. Another exciting development this year was Carnival Corporation’s reveal that same-sex marriages can now take place on P&O and Cunard ships. The first ceremony has already been scheduled onboard P&O Azura, just next month; warm wishes to the happy couple.

 

More Destination Options

2017 has also seen an increase in potential cruising destinations. Thanks to warmer relations between North America and Cuba, Cuban ports like Havana and Cayo Largo del Sur can now be included on more itineraries. Also, Swiss-owned MSC Cruises can now take guests to their exclusive island off Abu Dhabi’s coast – Sir Bani Yas Island. This is a beautiful haven, offering beaches, an extensive nature reserve for endangered animals, and all sorts of activities ranging from snorkelling to massages on the beach. November 2018 will also see the opening of another private island for MSC - Ocean Cay in the Caribbean will be the largest private island owned by a cruise line, at 95 acres.

New Ships in 2017

This year has seen a number of new ships introduced to the world of cruising, which has given regular cruisers more choice and diversity when it comes to what kind of holiday they are looking for. New vessels include:

  • MSC Meraviglia & MSC Seaside, MSC Cruises
  • Majestic Princess, Princess Cruises
  • Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Silver Muse, Silversea
  • Viking Sky & Viking Sun, Viking Ocean Cruises
  •  

     

    As well as this, cruise lines like Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Cunard, and Silversea have all declared new ships in their future, but what new ships can we expect next year? Here are some of the vessel’s we can’t wait to see:

  • Carnival Horizon, Carnival Cruises - April 2018
  • Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean - April 2018
  • Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Cruise Line - April 2018
  • MSC Seaview, MSC Cruises - May 2018
  • Nieuw Statendam, Holland America Line - November 2018
  • Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Cruises - December 2018
  •  

    Awards

    We are so excited to be able to say that Iglu Cruise has won no less than ten awards this year! To be recognized for our skills and professionalism as cruise experts is truly gratifying, and very encouraging for the year to come. The awards we have achieved are:

     

  • Online Agent of the Year 2017, Travel2
  • Best Online Cruise Travel Agent 2017, Cruise International Awards
  • Top Agent for Scenic Waterways in the South, Scenic
  • Best Online Travel Agency 2017, Agent Achievement Awards
  • Cruise Specialist of the Year, Royal Caribbean
  • Highly Commended - Best Online Travel Agent 2017, WAVE Awards
  • Highly Commended - Passenger Favourite Cruise Agent 2017, WAVE Awards
  • Travel Business Partner of the Year 2017, Carnival UK
  • Outstanding Contribution Award 2017, Princess Cruises
  • Top Specialist Agent 2017, Celebrity Cruises
  •  

    As well as this we have been nominated for two awards in next year’s WAVE awards, happening in 2018. Please vote for us for Best Cruise Travel Agent and Best Cruise Online Travel Agent.

     

     

    On the whole, 2017 has been a real adventure, full of surprises and some big changes in the industry. With this in mind, we expect 2018 to bring with it all kinds of fun, so all that remains is to cheers to the New Year!

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