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Live in Luxury with AMAWaterways

clock 25th May 2018 | comment0 Comments

We sent some of our lovely ladies out to experience the wonderful luxury onboard AMAWaterway's AmaKristina, watch the video and read the review to find out just what they thought.


 

First impressions of the Ship

 

Having only ever been on large ocean ships, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but from the moment we arrived at the port it was clear that AMAWaterways was on another level. Having only been built in 2017, AmaKristina stuck out against the other river ships with her modern and elegant exterior. Once onboard and checked in, we headed to our cabin where our luggage was already waiting for us, along with a welcome package. This included the ‘Daily Cruiser’ newsletter which features the weather forecast and itinerary, a ‘Meet the team’ leaflet featuring key staff members, and a multi-national charger adapter (which we very much appreciated!). We had a Category AB Twin Balcony stateroom and were delighted by the space (235 sq. ft), not to mention the amazing views. Having struggled with seasickness before, I was worried I would feel too closed in, but the floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of light and opened up the cabin space. The bathroom also had switchable glass, letting more natural light into the bathroom if desired. I would recommend this stateroom category to anyone thinking of travelling with AmaWaterways, as the size felt noticeably larger and more open than the fixed-window cabins on the Piano Deck, which would be perfect for single occupancy. The suites on the Violin Deck did have again, noticeably more space, with a sofa, double sink, and Champagne on arrival; if you were looking for a more exclusive and luxurious experience, a suite would be the choice for you – but with only four on the ship, be sure to book early!

We were also delighted to find every cabin had an iMac, providing you with TV programmes and a selection of recent films, the internet, and a music system. It was already clear that AMAWaterways is all about the small details, catering for all people and leaving you to want for nothing.

 

 

Food and Things to Do

 

During the first day we were left to do self-guided tours of the ship followed by a light lunch, including a range of bagels, soups, and dessert. I was impressed with the whole ship, from the restaurants to the spa and gym facilities, which I would definitely have made use of (along with the deck chairs and heated pool on the sun deck) had we had a longer period of time onboard. The fleet of bicycles were also a nice touch; however we weren’t fortunate with the weather so I was unable to give one of their tours a spin.

In the afternoon we had some free time to explore Amsterdam central, which was easily accessible with just a short 6 minute walk from the ship.

Upon returning to the ship, we had our welcome and safety speeches, accompanied by free-flowing Champagne, and pre-dinner canapes.

As members of the prestigious La Chaine des Rotisseurs, the dining throughout the trip was amazing and continued to demonstrate the attention to detail with incredible, colourful presentation. Each nightly menu features a ‘chef recommendation’, as well as a several-course menu with multiple options for starters, mains, and desserts. Each menu also highlights a healthy choice and a local choice, based on the itinerary of the cruise. They will also do their upmost to accommodate any dietary requirements, but I would recommend this be noted when you book. I would also recommend any of their soups; my top dish would have to be the Crayfish Bisque with puff pastry sticks.

 

 

The wine was also delicious with an extensive list and choices made to complement the daily menu.

Although the second night was a formal night, the food excelled on both evenings, and celebrations carried on post-dinner in the main lounge and bar with music entertainment.

 

Overall Experience

 

The genuinely caring and friendly service is what stood out to me, along with the attention to detail, providing facilities beyond expectations. This service extends to post-cruise, where a few weeks later I received a hand-written thank you post card from the Cruise manager, Nick. This is on top of the thank you letter posted into cabins on the day of departure. I would recommend to anyone looking for a hassle-free and luxurious trip, with top class facilities and service. As a river ship, the smaller size does call for those more social-minded or solo travellers looking to mingle with just the one indoor lounge; however, if someone was really seeking solitude, the in-cabin entertainment and twin balcony space would more than meet requirements, in addition to the sun deck space in the warmer months.

 

by Imogen Henderson

 

Find out more about AMAWaterways, or take a look at the range of cruises you could take with AmaKristina.



5 Things to do in Seattle

clock 30th April 2018 | comment0 Comments

Seattle is famous for many things, from Starbucks, to Frasier, and Microsoft, and it unsurprisingly offers a huge range of things to do and see. If your North America cruise includes a stop here, it can seem daunting to decide what to choose – particularly if you only have a day or so. For a little help and guidance, find out what our Marketing Manager Nicole recommends are the 5 top things to do in Seattle.

 

 

Seattle is so much more than Starbucks coffee and music. During my 4 days there I experienced a variety of activities and adventures giving me a good overview of the city. Here are my top recommendations.

1. See the Chihuly Garden and Glass

This is a must when visiting the city of Seattle. It showcases the artwork of Dale Chihuly - an internationally acclaimed artist. His collection contains 8 exhibition galleries and 3 Drawing Walls. Be prepared to be gobsmacked by the creations of blown-glass in various colours and shapes hanging from the roof, suspended in mid-air and growing out of the ground.

2. Dine at the Edgewater Hotel

Please, please order their King Crab platter, truly suited for a king. The restaurant is situated on the water and overlooking the marine, so diners can enjoy beautiful sunsets while indulging their palette. This is the same hotel The Beatles were infamously photographed fishing from their hotel window!

 

 

3. A Ride the Ducks Tour

This is a great one-of-a-kind experience, giving tourists an hour or two of great laughs and sightseeing through the city. After a land tour the bus-come-boat then heads for the water on which you’ll be treated to a gentle cruise, before riding back out on to dry land.

4. A Whale-Watching Tour

One of the most memorable experiences was the Puget Sound Express whale watching tour. We were fortunate enough to see an Orca, humpback whale, minke and sperm whale. The crew onboard is very quick to respond, and they do their utmost to get you as close to the whales as possible. It’s an experience I will truly never forget.

 

 

5. The Savour Seattle Food Tour

This tour introduced us to the history of Pike Place Market; a spot where people come from all over the world to experience the ambience and taste of fresh produce. Pike Place market is also home to the first Starbucks Coffee - where they still use the original logo. On an average day people queue for up to four hours to buy a cup of coffee and their souvenir mug from the first ever Starbucks coffee shop.

Many cruise lines include a stop in Seattle on itineraries in the northwest corner of North America. Discover more about cruising in Alaska and Canada, and combining your cruise with the fantastic Rocky Mountaineer train ride. This exhilarating experience links Canada to the United States – from Seattle to Vancouver – a journey which Nicole was lucky enough to take. Discover her helpful hints and tips for things to do in Vancouver next.



Black Watch Refurbished

clock 23rd December 2016 | comment0 Comments

We had an extra special Christmas treat this week as we were invited onboard one of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines most popular cruise ships, Black Watch as she docked in Tilbury London. Our visit comes just one month after Black Watch entered dry dock at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg for a multi-million pound refit. The extensive refurbishment saw ship-wide enhancements including upgrades to cabins, suites and public areas.

Not only did we get a private tour of the ship, stopping off to see the updated cabins with a talk from Julian – Fred. Olsen’s Deputy Hotel Manager of Operations, but we also got to see the ship decked out in all her Christmas glory. With Christmas trees and gingerbread houses galore!

See photos from our day onboard the newly refurbished Black Watch below.

The Neptune Theatre

The Neptune Theatre

The Neptune Bar

The Morning Light Pub

The Black Watch Room - A new a la carte dining experience serving up delicious steak and seafood

Fresh new carpets

The Glentanar main restaurant

It's Christmas onboard!

Deck 7 - Tenerife Suite 7024

Balcony Suite 9901

Enjoy the upgrade and sail on the newly refurbished Black Watch with our latest Black Watch cruises.



Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches onboard Avalon Tapestry 2

clock 8th June 2016 | comment0 Comments

Kathleen from our dedicated river cruise commercial team enjoyed a river cruise in France onboard Avalon Tapestry 2 with Avalon Waterways, read about her experience and first impressions below.

The ship was lovely, the food was lovely, the crew were just extremely welcoming and friendly and I met some amazing people.

Occasionally with river cruises there are complications that arise which cause changes to the itinerary, and I got to witness one of these complications first hand. as there was going to be strikes in the locks and docks, the cruise director had to make the decision for the itinerary to be sped up, meaning that we had to meet the ship in Mantes La Jolie as it picked up passengers who went on the excursion to Rouen, then we cruised on to Conflans-Saite-Honorine through lunch where the ship docked for the night.

Our Cabin
The cabin as I had expected was really luxurious, with supplied bathrobes, slippers and L'Occitane toiletries. What I especially liked about the cabin was where the beds were facing the window instead of facing away from it, you could just lie on your bed and watch the ever changing scenery along the river bank as you sail to the next port of call, you could even have the floor to ceiling window open to let in some fresh air – or if you’d rather there was a seating area right in-front of the window where you could sit and read a book whilst enjoy the nice breeze from the window as you cruise along the river.

avalon-tapestry-2-cabin

avalon-tapestry-2-bathroom

avalon-tapestry-2-inside-cabin

avalon-tapestry-2-inside-cabin


There were many other things the cabin had to offer such as a safe, a fair size wardrobe a mini fridge (which was stocked with drinks, and weren’t badly priced) and a hairdryer.

Food
The food was also very nice. Lunch and breakfast were both buffets with quite a variety of options of food to pick from, and the options changed every day - there was also if you preferred a menu in which you could order from. Dinner was always a three course meal with a starter, a main and a pudding. Once again there was a set menu that stayed the same every day, but there was also an option that changed daily.

avalon-tapestry-2-food


Excursions
Every evening just before dinner and usually just after or before happy hour (an hour when cocktails were half price) the cruise director would talk over the excursions for the next day and what’s going to happen. Also, every evening a leaflet would be put on the beds in every cabin to outline everything that was happening the next day. This was very helpful as it meant that you could carry it around with you throughout the day and refer to it. Each day there was the choice between included excursion, and on some days there was even an extra excursion with an added cost. Some of the included excursions we went on where a tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral, and a tour of the Château de Malmaison.

Overall the cruise was definitely an experience that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I personally went on the cruise not really sure on what to expect, but also not expecting much. It was a lot better than I had anticipated and it was certainly nice to get away and just sit back and chill and do stuff like relax on the sky deck, maybe even play one of the board games available in the back lounge, or even read a book whilst sipping on a cup of tea whilst eating a doughnut. After this experience, I definitely would go on a river cruise again, and I would highly recommend Avalon Waterways.

Have you sailed with Avalon Waterways? Tell us about your experience in the comments below



We sail onboard Fantasia Class MSC Preziosa

clock 10th May 2016 | comment0 Comments

Updated May 2019

 

We sent Michael from our sales team off to report on Mediterranean masterpiece MSC Preziosa, of MSC Cruises' Fantasia-class. Read all about his experience below.

 

First Impressions

 

After arriving in Nice we had a three hour transfer to Genoa. This would not usually be the airport to use for such a cruise, but the flight had been cancelled to Genoa on this date - so instead we enjoyed a very scenic drive along the coastline.

On arrival to the port, the check in process was very quick and swift as this is one of MSC Cruises' home ports, so they have their own check in terminal. Once boarding the ship we were able to grab a drink before freshening up for a meet and greet in one of the many bars on board.

 



The ship is very opulent, and has a high standard of interior furnishings. It was immaculately clean throughout, and has a contemporary yet stylish feel. It's easy to recognise that this is not an American cruise line, and instead Italian design and hospitality shines through at every turn.

The cabin was very spacious in size and even had a nice lounge area. The shower space was good and the shower had glass doors that could be folded back to allow more changing space if preferred.

 

The Entertainment

 

We saw one show in the Main Theatre. This area is very modern, and the focus of the entertainment is more on visual and sound effects so that everyone can enjoy the entertainment, regardless of their language. In particular there were lots of acrobatic performances which were very impressive. The only downside was that there was no bar service in the theatre.

We were lucky enough during this cruise to have a behind the scenes tour; this was very useful as we met some of the crew during their working hours. The tour gave us a great insight into their lives onboard, and completely justified the gratuities policy. The crew areas were immaculate and it was great to see the galleys (kitchen). The ship is very economical and any food waste is burnt into ashes and used as fuel; a great step toward greener cruising.

Note: gratuities can be removed or adjusted with MSC Cruises. I was more than happy to keep mine in place due to the fantastic service we received.

 

 

The Facilities

 

The Infinity Pool at the aft of the ship is very impressive. The middle of the ship features a heated pool area where competitions are held, some of us ended up joining in and it was a great experience. The Vertigo Slide is great fun and the clear section even extends off the side of the ship. Kids can enjoy the Doremi Castle Area.

The gym was very well stocked with all the latest equipment, and had great views looking out over the front of the ship. The spa is one of the biggest we'd seen on a cruise ship, and I treated myself to two massages! Both of these were very well priced. There is a Day Pass system for access to the Sauna and Spa - when we were onboard this was €16 for 1 hour or €29 for the day, but there were special offers available on various days throughout the itinerary. The spa area boasts fabulous choices of sauna and steam rooms - there is even a Coconut Steam Room and a Fridgenium (crushed Ice room to put on your body before the sauna).

 

 

The Spa Café is a quiet spot to enjoy one of many teas or smoothies (some were included in the package and some come at a supplement price). There are many other bars and lounges onboard which offer entertainment in the form of live music of varying styles, some with audience participation and some more relaxed with fine wine to accompany the music.The Piazza was especially classy and impressive with its Swarovski Crystal staircase - in the MSC Yacht Club the staircase features Gold Swarovski Crystals.

 

Food Onboard

 

As this ship is popular among Mediterranean nationalities, there is an Italian flair throughout the cuisine onboard. The chef explained to us that us Brits typically love our food hot, but generally in the Med the food is warm - something that can seem strange at first if you like your food hot! At breakfast we enjoyed a buffet option with a variety of hot and cold foods: croissants, cold meats, cheeses, fruit, cereals, sausages, hash browns, bacon, beans, and more. There is always self-service coffee, tea, and hot water available in the buffet 24-hours a day, and it is open for 20-hours a day for Food. Another option is to have breakfast in the restaurant with menus and waiter service. I preferred this as it was less busy and a more relaxing experience. Tables are allocated by the waiters.

For lunch and dinner guests can choose between the buffet or waiter service in the restaurants. One of my favourite venues was the Golden Lobster, an a la carte restaurants in which I experienced great service from the waiters and maître d. Each evening here there was a choice of something new or something from the staple menu.

Golden Lobster Example Menu

Shrimp Cocktail / Puff Pastry with Snails / Chickpea and Hummus and Aubergine Ghanoush Sweet and Sour Salad / Rock Lobster Bisque

Tortellini Mascarpone Cheese / Rissatto allo Spumante / Fish of the Day – Seabream / Leg of Lamb / Fillet of Beef

There are two Specialty Restaurants onboard, Eataly and Galaxy. I chose to eat in Eataly which had laid back décor which made it seem more like a café than a restaurant. The best part of this experience was the chefs talking to us about the local produce, and the way in which the dishes are created.  

 

 

Eataly Example Menu

Selection of Cold meats and Cheeses

Pasta with Seafood / Steak Medium Rare with salad and potatoes

There was plenty of choice for dessert, and wine at the table was included.

Dietary requests are very well looked after throughout all restaurants onboard, and guests with these needs are provided with an individual menu to suit if required. 

The drinks available are all popular brands, and you can enjoy cocktails, coffees, and ice cream (Ferrero Roche being the best one!).

 

Lasting Impressions

 

This cruise line are known for being very competitive on price, and are great value for money. The best way to describe MSC Cruises in order to set them aside from other cruise lines would be that that they are ideal for anyone who enjoys being among other nationalities, sipping on fine wine, dining on Italian flair food and relaxing in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

 

Join MSC Voyagers Club for exclusive member benefits and priviliges, and browse our latest MSC Cruises cruise deals today.



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