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Best Whale Watching Cruises

26th August 2020

Majestic in size and design, there are fewer holiday excursions that could be as memorable as getting up close and personal with one of the Big 5 of the marine world. While they may seem like an elusive species, there are in fact several places around the world where you'll be able to spot them, from close to home spots to far away destinations. [More]

Cruise Ships With Waterslides

18th August 2020

Nothing says you're on holiday more than a trip to a waterpark, where no matter your age you're bound to have fun cooling off in the water and making the most of the fun attractions. Waterslides are a particular hit, with the thrill of launching yourself down the twists and turns guaranteed to get your blood pumping. [More]

10 Questions You Forgot to Ask Your Cruise Consultant

27th March 2019

We are all forgetful at times, especially when going on holiday and excitement starts to take over. As well as forgetting to pack the essentials – which ends up with us spending double or even the triple the price abroad - sometimes we also forget to ask those important questions. If this sounds like you don’t panic, as we’ve put together this handy list of ten questions to remind you of what you should be asking your cruise consultant.

 

What exactly is included in the fare?

With many cruise lines branding themselves as ‘all-inclusive’, it’s important to understand that this may not include certain amenities – so it’s a good idea to ask before boarding as you don’t want a surprising bill at the end of a great holiday. Some cruise lines known for their all-inclusive packages are Royal CaribbeanNorwegian Cruise Line, and MSC Cruises, of course, there are many others but these are a few of the popular ones. There are different types of all-inclusive cruises; it could mean that you have your accommodation, meals, drinks, entertainment, and flights included in the price. However many cruise lines offer separate drinks packages. If you opt for one of these be sure to check for any limitations, such as beverages at meal times only. This can be unhelpful, particularly with family groups who would prefer to have drinks on their own terms.

 

 

What should I book in advance?

Depending on you the cruise you choose, there might be certain things that you aren’t able to book onboard - this can vary from childcare to excursions. With every cruise line having their own rules, it’s better to find out before. Save yourself the hassle of pushing through the crowd to guarantee to seat at a speciality restaurant, or joining a long queue for a spa treatment.  Cruise lines have online methods to book before you board, for example, guests can book certain services using Carnival Cruise Lines’s ‘manage’ tab on their website homepage. Simply create an account to arrange gifts in your cabin, drinks packages, and transfers. This can be done right up to one week before the sail date. 

 

Will I always dine with strangers?

Leave this myth in the olden days! With most cruise lines the choice is yours – more often than not you can eat where you want, with whomever you want, and when you want.  Having said this, there are some cruise lines which still use allocated seating and dining times. If this is the case, remember you can request a change if you’re not happy with your given arrangement.  It truly depends on how you want to cruise, as many guests do still enjoy the traditional seating atmosphere, but of course, casual dining suits many people better.

 

 Will I get fewer opportunities being a single traveller?

Many cruise lines specifically focus on offering packages for single travellers to meet guests’ needs. Norwegian Cruise Line has a special single traveller package which offers a studio cabin, and access to a colourful, elegant lounge for single cruisers to meet and mingle.  Nowadays single travellers don’t need to worry about fewer opportunities, as cruise lines are hosting activities such as dances, workshops, and other chances to socialise.  To get the best out of your solo trip make sure you speak to your cruise consultant for more information about what specific activities will be on your cruise.

 

If something happens to me will I get medical attention?

Every cruise ship has a qualified doctor or nurse onboard, meaning guests don’t need to worry about not being attended to should

they need medical attention at any point during the cruise – day or night. Most ships are fitted with some medical equipment, however, facilities do vary so it’s important to ask your cruise consultant to find out the level of service available if you have any specific concerns.

I'm not used to tipping, do I have to?

Depending on what cruise line you’re travelling with, gratuities are usually prepaid before going on the cruise. Sometimes there are promotions in which gratuities are included in the package, and sometimes they are added on. Guests who don’t want an automatic cruise gratuity might be able to amend this, however it depends on the cruise line. It’s important to mention to your cruise consultant if you don’t want to pay any gratuities to save any financial surprises. When gratuities are not included – for instance with many river cruise lines – often an envelope will be slipped under your cabin door to enable you to tip as you wish, anonymously. When this is the case, the cruise line will usually suggest an amount – for instance (at the time of writing) AmaWaterways suggest €12 per passenger, per day to be divided among the crew. This works out to €84 each for a one week cruise.

 

Can I bring my own food and drink?

When it comes to bringing onboard your own food and drink, each cruise line has its own policy. With some, guests are allowed to bring their own alcohol, however, there are strict lines who don’t even allow simple juice or water. It depends on what cruise line you travel with, so this is another important question to ask your cruise consultant during the booking process.

Will I have internet?

Staying connected is important for a lot of guests, as it’s a great way to share and communicate with friends and family at home. Almost all cruise lines offer internet packages, however, the charges and connection quality will vary depending on which line you travel with. Although internet access is widely available, don’t expect to be lounging around watching your favourite TV programmes online, as only a handful of cruise lines offer packages that allow the use of streaming.

 

Is it always going to be busy?

Right now,  the largest cruise ship in the world is Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas – which has a max capacity of 6,680. You might think that having such a large number of people onboard would cause a busy atmosphere, however, this isn’t the case. Symphony of the Sea has 18 decks, and so – as with many large ships – there is plenty of open space for everyone to enjoy. In fact, many guests describe larger ships as a ‘city on water’, and say you may not even see the same face twice.  This isn’t to say that some of the main attractions onboard don’t get busy, however. If you are one who is keen to try things like the rock-climbing wall and surf simulator, try to time your visit to avoid queues – for instance early in the morning or on cooler days.

 

Can I get an upgrade while onboard?

Before embarkation, some cruise lines such as P&O Cruises might offer a complimentary upgrade if higher-level cabins have not been booked up and are still available. Guests are able to put themselves forward to be considered, however, this must be done at the time of booking.  If an upgrade hasn’t been given before you embark,  guests on the waiting list could still be contacted when onboard.

Any questions we forgot? Check our before you go FAQs to find out about more questions you possibly haven’t come across. Or, if all you have left is to pack, make sure you read our hints and tips about the five worst mistakes you can make. 


Thomson Cruises' Latest Ships

1st September 2017

Updated July 2019

Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson) remains a very popular cruise line with British holidaymakers, and as such it should be no surprise to learn that their fleet is ever expanding in order to meet the needs of their customers. The last few years have seen multiple additions to the fleet; so we thought we should dive in a little deeper and take a closer look at Marella Cruises' latest ships. 

 

marella lifestyle

 

Of their fleet of six, the most recent four are the largest, providing more accomodation choices, dining options, and onboard activities. Another valuable aspect of cruising on these ships is that they are all All-Inclusive as standard. This means that all passengers can make the most of the included food, drinks, and facilities – including a range of cocktails, prosecco, and speciality restaurants.

Read on to find out more about each of these impressive ships.

Marella Discovery

Once part of the Royal Caribbean fleet, Marella Discovery was bought and refurbished by Marella Cruises in 2016. It can host 1,830 passengers, and consists of 11 decks and 915 cabins. Its considerable size also allows the cruise line to provide some fantastic facilities to their guests, our favourites being the brilliant outdoor movie screen, exhilarating climbing wall, and extensive array of dining choices.

 

marella discovery

 

Take a look at our range of upcoming cruises on Marella Discovery

Marella Discovery II

Also an ex-Royal Caribbean ship, Marella Discovery II is of a similar size to its namesake. The popularity of the first ship led to the demand of an additional one – which comprises most of the same features and amenities. These also have a range of 15 different cabin options, including the stunning Royal and Executive suites which offer new heights of luxury.

 

marella discovery 2

 

Browse through our cruises on Marella Discovery II.

Marella Explorer

There was much excitement among loyal Marella customers, surrounding this ship. It was previously owned by German cruise line TUI Cruises, under the name of Mein Schiff 1, and is now one of Marella Cruises’ largest vessels. With room for over 1,900 passengers, 13 decks, and 962 cabins, Marella Explorer also boasts 11 different dining options, a great selection of bars, and a fantastic range of different activities. In particular there are ample opportunities when it comes to sports – with table tennis and mini golf facilities, and even an entire deck devoted to outdoor sports such as basketball and football. There is also a jogging track on this deck.

 

marella explorer

 

See our available cruises onboard Marella Explorer.

Marella Explorer II

After Marella Explorer proved so popular, the cruise line decided to replicate the ship in the form of Marella Explorer II. However, there is one big difference; this one is reserved for adults only! This means that couples and singles looking for a relaxing holiday sans kids can enjoy the many attractive features and amenities in peace. This ship is ideal for those who want to socialise thanks to the many inviting venues and entertainment options, but likewise, the stunning Champney's Spa facilities mean it's possible to unwind and relish in some valuable 'me-time' too.

 

marella explorer 2

 

Have a look through the range of cruises onboard Marella Explorer II.

 

Each of these ships truly have some wonderful features that will be loved by all their guests. Not only the number of activity choices, but also the pools and spa which offer a chance to relax at the end of a day of excursions. Childcare options include kids clubs suitable for 3-11 year olds, and can be helpful should parents wish to have some time to themselves to enjoy the ship.

If you're still undecided about which ship is for you, see our entire range of itineraries with Marella Cruises instead.


8 Incredible Technologies Onboard Cruise Ships

15th January 2015

Whether you are a tech lover or not, there is a part of everyone that gets excited when a new gadget takes the world by storm. Whether it’s a new app on your phone, a robotic hoover that claims to clean your house without you moving or an exciting new wireless device that you all of a sudden 'need' in your life, we can’t help but evolve into the ever changing technical world.

Technology is everywhere and plays a major part in all of lives, and this doesn’t stop when we go on holiday. The cruise industry has taken a lead on the technology front and these floating hotels are now home to some of the most exciting technologies in the world.

Here are eight incredible cruise ship technologies:

Movies Under the Stars

It is possible to catch the latest flick almost anywhere now, whether on an aeroplane, train, or pretty much anywhere with your smartphone or tablet.

Although all cruise lines have televisions in staterooms and throughout the ship, it was Princess Cruises that took this one step higher with the 'Movies Under the Stars' concept. A gigantic 300 square foot, 69000 watt movie screen was added to the top deck of select ships. Offering guests the unique opportunity to enjoy blockbuster movies with a real backdrop of sea and sky, this concept has been a huge hit.

Available on: Royal Princess, Regal Princess

Robotic Bartenders

The leaders in cruise ship technology, Royal Caribbean did not disappoint with their latest creation on new ships Quantum and Anthem of the Seas. The Bionic Bar consists of two robotic bartenders that serve up a host of exotic cocktails.

Guests order their cocktail of choice via tablet and then watch in amazement as the robotic bartender mixes their desired drink. Each robot can produce one drink per minute and up to 1000 drinks a day.

Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas

Interactive Restaurant

A dining experience like no other, Disney wanted to create an experience for guests to bring their imagination to life and successfully accomplished this with 'Animators Palate'.

As guests sit down at their dining table, they will find a black sheet and markers where they can draw characters of their choice within the lines given.

During dinner the restaurant changes colour and design through a shift of lighting and digital walls. As dessert time approaches, the entire restaurant comes alive. The interactive screens throughout will display movie clips featuring your very own drawn character.

Available on: Disney Magic, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy

Digital Wayfinders

With cruise ships increasing in size, it made sense to cater for those with a fear of getting lost or missing a show due to not finding their way.

When the world’s largest ship, Oasis of Seas launched in 2009 she came equipped with a new LCD wayfinder system. Located throughout the ship these screens offer a way for guests to find their way around using a touch screen display. These screens also show whats on, the way to your stateroom and a map of how to get to the location of your choice.

These Wayfinders won three awards for technological excellence from the Digital Screenmedia Association and Hospitality Technology Magazine.

Available on: Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Legend of the seas

Cruise Apps

There is an app for almost everything nowadays. From fitness, cooking, and checking your finance to making your shopping list, booking a taxi and even planning your next holiday. With the significant increase of smartphone users, apps are vital.

Many cruise lines now have their own apps to enable guests to pre-book entertainment, view their itinerary and find out what’s happening onboard.

Some cruise lines raised the bar even higher, among our favourites are Norwegian Cruise Lines who realised an app where guests can keep all their holiday pictures in one place, navigate around the ship and get up-to-date event information.

Available on: Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises 

Virtual Balconies

Everyone likes to see the outside view when cruising so Royal Caribbean wanted to ensure even those staying in an inside stateroom could experience the incredible views the ship is passing. Early in 2014 it was announced virtual balconies would be added to select ships, starting with Navigator of the Seas.

These 80 inch LED screens are attached to the inside wall and project a real-time view of the outside. They work both in port and at sea so guests can experience exactly what it is like to have an outside stateroom.

Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas 

Salt Room at Sea

Norwegian Cruise Line made a breakthrough in the spa category with the first ever Salt Room at sea onboard Norwegian Breakaway.

This special treatment room releases dry aerosol micro particles of salt into the room in a session with is proven to improve the immune and respiratory systems, leaving guests feeling healthier and refreshed.

Available on: Norwegian Breakaway

Sky Diving Simulator

Known for pushing all industry boundaries, Royal Caribbean wowed once again with their latest innovation on Quantum of the Seas. iFly is an indoor sky diving simulator that stands at the back of the ship to offer flying views like no other.

This 23-foot tall glass cylinder blows wind up to a speed of 160 mph for guests to feel like they are taking part in a real life sky dive.

Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas


By Sally Grimes


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