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Cruising for Wine Lovers

7th February 2018

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.


See the Real Havana

30th January 2018

Thanks to improved US - Cuba relations brought about with the Obama administration, the incredible city of Havana is appearing on more and more cruise itineraries.

A number of US-owned cruise lines have jumped at the chance to include this beautiful country on Caribbean cruises, much to the delight of passengers. Cuba – or Havana in particular – is indeed a logical stop for cruise lines departing from Florida, and is a city that was once often entirely by-passed on routes down to the Caribbean islands. So now that it’s on the agenda, the question remains – what are the top things to do in Havana?

Have a Cocktail in El Floridita

Thanks to Ernest Hemingway, this small Havana bar has made it on most ‘must-see’ lists for those visiting Cuba. The renowned author frequented El Floridita when he lived just outside the capital city – from 1940 until 1960. Whether you prefer a classic Cuban mojito, or a flavoured daiquiri, or indeed something else entirely – rest assured the friendly staff at El Floridita have you covered.

Admire the architecture

As soon as you enter the city you will come face to face with some stunning architecture. Unsurprisingly, many of the buildings were built by colonial Spaniards after Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492. The city was then shaped to emulate the great European cities, and so many buildings were designed in Baroque-style architecture. Some of our favourite spots include El Capitolio (the National Capitol Building), Museo de la Revolucion (Museum of the Revolution), and Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (Palace of the Captains General).

Enjoy the sounds of street music

Havana is one city in which you can’t escape the intoxicating ambiance of music, dance, and laughter. On street corners, parks, and plazas you’re likely to find men and women playing all kinds of instruments, from the Cuban Tres guitar, to harmonicas, and bongo drums. With music of course comes dancing. You’ll see salsa, mambo, merengue, and much, much more all over the city. If you’re feeling brave join in, or you can of course sit back and watch while enjoying the warm breeze.

Watch a game of dominoes

Dominoes is played on just about every calle (street) in the country. You can find men, women, and children of all ages playing together, and you’ll be amazed at just how long the games can go on for. A riveting dominoes game to Cubans can be as Wimbledon is to us Brits; you can find hundreds of locals gathered around just one game, even placing bets on who will win. If you come across a game, just find a spot in the shade and study the moves for yourself.

Take a taxi

Classic cars have become synonymous with Cuba, and it should be said that all the pretty images out there are no exaggeration of the truth. From bright pink Cadillacs, to beefy-looking Chevvys and classic Ford Sedans, even those who thought they didn’t have an interest in automobiles will be impressed. And the beauty of the matter is that these cars are so common, they are widely used as taxis – and are generally reasonably priced. It's the perfect chance to take a ride in your dream car.

Browse through our range of Caribbean cruises to Cuba.


Cruises for Foodies

12th January 2018

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:

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

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

 

Cookery Classes and Gastronomic Experience

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.

Pullmantur Cruises' Gastrolab. Experience the delectable cuisine created by a team of professional chefs, led by three Michelin-starred chef Jordi Cruz.

 

 

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.


Azamara Cruises Internet Options

15th December 2017

Updated July 2019

Azamara Club Cruises make it easy to stay in touch with your friends and family at home, by providing a range of internet packages to choose from. This means that whether you just use the internet every so often to send a quick message or check Facebook, or if you need to log on for extended periods for any reason, there will be an option to suit you.

 

Why Do I Need an Internet Package?

 

  • To get information about your next port of call
  • Visiting a new destination on a cruise is always exciting, but it can be helpful to get to know it slightly before arrival, to ensure you are prepared for what’s in store. Things like currency converters, language translation, local weather, and maps can be very useful throughout your trip, especially if you are visiting a number of ports in different countries.

  • Contact with your favourite people at home
  • Obviously you can’t take everyone on holiday with you, so it’s likely that the friends and family that you’ve had to leave behind will want regular updates! By logging on to the internet you can keep in touch via messages and emails to let others know what you’re up to, what the weather’s like, and most importantly, where in the world you are on that day!

     

     

  • Stay in the know with current affairs
  • If you like to stay up to date with the news at all times, a Wi-Fi package during your cruise can help you stay in the know.. When connected to the internet you can check your favourite news site or app, and even set alerts to make sure you stay informed about the topics that matter to you.

    How can I buy an internet package?

    Guests can buy an internet package at the time of booking, or while onboard during the cruise. Speak to our sales team for more information. Because the needs of each passenger are different, Azamara offer a range of options when it comes to buying internet. It’s possible to purchase 30 minutes of use for around $19.95, or for one day the price is typically $29.95. For those who would prefer to use the internet on a daily basis, the rate will drop to roughly $19.95 per day. This latter package can be bought at anytime during your cruise, but must be purchased for the duration.

    After I have bought a package, how do I get online?

    Azamara’s ships are equipped with an ‘In Touch’ area, in which there are workstations where you can use the internet 24 hours a day. Alternatively, it’s possible to connect to the Wi-Fi onboard from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, from anywhere on the ship, why not head to the cosy Mosiac Cafe and settle in whith a coffee? Please note that if bringing a laptop onboard you will need a wireless network card to access the internet, and if using an Apple device, Safari will need to be version 3.0 or above.

     

     

    While Wi-Fi on Azamara ships is usually reliable, it is important to remember the nature of your holiday. Being on a cruise, various obstacles might interrupt your signal – whether this be weather, large buildings in a port, or glaciers. It should also be noted that as the internet is shared, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stream any movies or series onboard.

    See our Azamara Cruises.

     


    River Cruising at Christmas

    13th December 2017

    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.


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