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My First British Cruising Experience

9th April 2014

P&O Cruises are the pinnacle of British cruising and they pride themselves on offering a world-class, authentic British experience. One of the most popular lines in the UK, they cruise all over the world. Sally, from the Iglu Cruise Marketing team was lucky enough to experience life onboard Ventura. Read all about Sally's first British cruising experience below.

From chirping birds to splashing waves…

As the clocks went back and England started to glow with sprouting daffodils, spring temperatures and the sound of chirping birds waking us, I retired my coat to the rail and packed my bag for a European adventure.

Even at 4am, check-in was easy and the short flight from London was hassle-free. My nose pressed firmly against the plane window as striking views of ancient architecture swiftly passed me as I landed into Barcelona. You cannot fault the Spanish way of life with its quintessentially Latin flare and laid-back lifestyle of indulging on tapas in vibrant restaurants, however I did not have time for this today as I had someone waiting for me…Ventura.

Arriving at the port, she loomed before me with her sleek exterior eagerly waiting to welcome me onboard.

A warm welcome…

Boarding a ship can be daunting, especially for first time cruisers but after a friendly welcome from some of the ship’s crew and a convenient ship map in hand, the boarding process was extremely smooth. Miraculously my suitcase arrived at my cabin before me and my new home for the week was very inviting with a tempting king size bed, extensive wardrobe space and an impressive balcony that cantilevered from the aft of the ship.

On the first morning I reluctantly staggered out of what can only be described as the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. As I rubbed my lethargic eyes and opened my balcony doors I was hit with the fresh sea air against my face and an awe-inspiring view of the vast ocean swaying calmly around me. With a feeling of looking out at the whole world, it was the perfect way to awaken all of my senses and prepare for the day ahead.

It was the first and only sea day of my cruise. I am guilty of often complaining there are not enough hours in the day, but this clearly does not occur on a cruise. From sun-bathing (and gaining the famous 'British' red-tan!), cheering on Arsenal in the pub and having a manicure in the spa to taking part in fruit carving, having a galley tour and failing miserable at 'name that tune' – my day was packed with adventures. Not to mention the incredible food I indulged on, from the full English breakfast to the fresh pizza cooked at the poolside grill.

English Kings and Queens…

Formal night - a time that allows P&O to represent the traditional but modern style they are famous for. With everyone dressed in their formal attire, sipping champagne and having photographs with the Captain, it was a special evening that has left me with a joyous memory. The constant flow of smiles on everyone’s face was extremely infectious and there was a jubilant atmosphere all around.

P&O Cruises have one or two formal nights during a one week cruise and optional so those who do not want to dress up can dine in the buffet restaurant if desired. However for me, formal night is a great opportunity to dress up in an elegant cocktail dress, that rarely comes out of my wardrobe, and feel like a princess for a night.

After a formal dinner involving New England split lobster, Prosecco poached strawberries, fine wine and plenty of laughter, I experienced one of the line’s production shows. The main theatre spans over two decks and boasts gold décor, HD screens, innovative lighting and a large stage perfect for showcasing the talented singers and dancers.

Europe awaits…

Our first port was Toulon, I took the complimentary water taxi to the city centre where I enjoyed strolling around the quant shops that lined the charming yacht harbours. As we sailed away it was incredible to see how the clear blue sky allowed the sun to illuminate this picturesque city.

Arriving in Monte Carlo the next morning was an experience hard to put into words. The intense colours of the beaming sunset peered through soaring mountains that dwarfed the unique architecture and beautiful yacht harbours. Upon leaving the ship I explored the Grand Prix track before boarding the tour bus. After a scenic drive unveiling famous landmarks and celebrity homes I reached Nice. Moseying around the fresh fruit markets, stopping for a fresh macaroon and admiring the history-enriched buildings were my highlights here. It was then onto Cannes, a place that defines wealth and luxury, it was like being placed in the middle of a fairy-tale. Lavish boutiques, fresh pastry shops and water-front cafes lined the sun-drenched beaches and harbours bursting with extravagant yachts.

It was great to see the extensive range of excursions P&O Cruises had on offer. With adventurous, educational and relaxed options there is something for everyone at every port. The excursion staff were very helpful and had extensive knowledge of every city.

Fly-Med Success…

After canapés and cocktails in the Metropolis Bar, for my last meal onboard I went to The White Room, Marco Pierre White’s signature restaurant. Easily one of the best meals I have experienced on a ship, each dish set my taste buds alight and accompanied the chosen wines perfectly. After four truly exquisite dishes, I still couldn’t resist the Tiramisu and melt-in-your-mouth truffles.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Ventura and everything about the trip gave me insights into the fantastic opportunities guests will have on Ventura's Fly-Med season. Reaching exciting cities without having to spend two days at sea is a bonus and having the opportunity to spend a night (or 2) before or after your cruise is fantastic.

Although there were lots of things that stood out, these are the ones I want to point out:

• The price of drinks onboard were the lowest I have ever seen on a cruise.

• It was easy and convenient to fly and the transfer to the ship was very quick and efficient.

• The selection of afternoon teas and cakes (including shortbread, fruit cake and Victoria sponge) laid out every day were a delightful  'British' touch.

• Tea and coffee making facilities in my stateroom were very useful.

• The Great British Sail away on the top deck as we sailed away from Monte Carlo was very patriotic and fun.

• A Ventura chocolate placed on my pillow every night when I returned to my cabin was a special little touch that made me smile.

As my trip sadly came to an end and I sat in Genoa airport waiting to fly home, it gave me time to reflect on my Ventura experience. From the exceptional service, delicious cuisine and outstanding entertainment to the array of onboard activities, comfortable cabins and fascinating ports, it is clear to see why this iconic cruise line continue to be a number one choice for both first time and experienced cruisers.

By Sally Grimes

9 Must-See European Cruise Destinations

4th April 2014

Updated April 2018


With a cruise rapidly becoming the most desired holiday option for British holiday makers, cruise lines are expanding their horizons and sending their ships to new destinations.

Europe continues to be an extremely popular cruise choice, showcasing history-enriched cultures, breath-taking landscapes, and exciting culinary experiences. The European seas are lined with fascinating cities, and some of the most alluring coastlines in the world.

With more ships than ever based in Europe, there has never been a better time to delve into this captivating part of the world. There are so many cities to explore that it is hard to choose a favourite, here's our top 9:


It is hard to fault the Spanish way of life - sipping sangrias on sun-drenched beaches, and eating fresh tapas on the terrace of an architectural marvel.

Set on the east coast, Barcelona dominates this intriguing country. A city bursting with unusual buildings, exotic restaurants, and an energetic nightlife, combined with a cosmopolitan lifestyle and quintessentially Spanish flare.



A visit here on a cruise allows you to explore all of what this enticing city has to offer. Delve into the mysterious history behind the Sagrada Familia, spend an afternoon in awe of the iconic Montserrat, catch some rays on the beautiful beaches, or spend the day simply exploring this city by foot.

Described in one word: Cosmopolitan

Top thing to do: Try and catch a football game at the iconic Barcelona Football Stadium

Favourite food to try: Tapas

See our Barcelona cruises.


Small enough to explore on foot, Florence is an intriguing city that is sure to captivate every visitor. Its history-enriched architecture combined with modern art galleries and state-of-the-art restaurants harmonises old with new.



Known as the jewel of the Mediterranean, Florence is a true representative of Italian culture. With art and architecture in abundance, you are never short of breath-taking views. The centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lined with famous cathedrals and some of the world’s most famous churches.

A visit here gives you the chance to experience Italy at its finest - gorge on renaissance art work, listen to a traditional opera performance, or indulge on some fresh pizza and locally produced wine.

Described in one word: Intriguing

Top thing to do: Visit the Palazzo Vecchio

Favourite food to try: Fresh bread with olive oil

See our Florence cruises.



Oh Rome, glorious Rome - a city like nowhere else in the world, it certainly leaves a memorable impact.

One of the most photographed cities in the world, there is no shortage of commanding sights and landmarks. Like one big open-air museum, Rome will seduce you with its architectural masterpieces, famous artwork, and extensive shopping.



As well as bursting with history, Rome also boasts modern piazzas bursting with attractive restaurants, ice-cream parlours, and quaint cafes. The perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon to marvel at everything around you.

Visit the awe-inspiring Colosseum, see Michelangelo’s masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel, or toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain.

Described in one word: Historic

Top thing to do: Catch a glimpse of Napoleon

Favourite food to try: Gelatae

See our Rome cruises.

St Petersburg

The dazzling city of St Petersburg holds more history than you can imagine, and this is apparent at every turn. With its winding canals, breath-taking cathedrals, and ancient bridges, it is known as the Venice of the North for good reason.



As you walk around you are struck by magnificent buildings and cathedrals that belong in fairy tales, all separated by romantic canals. There are so many sights to take in, you'll never want to put your camera down.

Be taken back in history on a visit to The Winter Palace in the Hermitage Museum, climb the 300 steps up St Isaac’s Cathedral to take in a panoramic view of the city, or dance under The Peterhof Fountains.

Described in one word: Inspirational

Top thing to do: Visit The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Favourite food to try: Stolle Pie

See our St Petersburg cruises.


Looming out of the clear Mediterranean waters, the enchanting city of Dubrovnik holds history as intriguing as its sights. Known as 'The Pearl of Adriatic', there are few places that are as enthralling as this city.



Named a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old Town comprises tranquil harbours lined with ancient buildings and stony roads. Every walkway leads to another incredible view, and you are sure to be charmed by everything your eyes cross.

Don your walking shoes and stroll around the ancient quarter to learn all about the city, take a ride on the Dubrovnik Cable Car, or visit the magnificent Sponza Palace. After taking in all these sights, tucked in the narrow streets find quaint cafes and restaurants for you to sit and reflect on this magical part of the world.

Described in one word: Stunning

Top thing to do: Visit the Church of St Blaise

Favourite food to try: Oysters

See our Dubrovnik cruises.


Even the word Venice creates a near-instant sense of serenity. A city where roads are canals, cafes outnumber shops, and taking a gondola ride is classed as taking a taxi.



Home to over 500 historic bridges and a maze of cobbled streets set between pleasant canals, Venice is a city of intense uniqueness. Whether you are on the water or walking the streets there is no shortage of unimaginable views.

St Mark's Square will delight with its ancient buildings, al-fresco restaurants, and edges lined with boutique shops and cafes. From here you can branch off to the small walkways that are home to museums, galleries, and market stalls.

Described in one word: Alluring

Top thing to do: Take a gondola ride

Favourite food to try: Pasta

See our Venice cruises.


A trip to Rhodes will take you back in time to a land of ancient wonders. The oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe, it is home to history-enriched architecture and aged ruins.



This picturesque island takes you on a journey of discovery as you stroll around the cobbled streets and marvel at everything it has to offer. The major sights dominate the land, including the pink-domed 16th century Mosque of Suleyman, and the Byzantime Museum.

Whether you want to explore the sights, search the local markets, or indulge in some local cuisine, Rhodes is a destination of great exploration.

Described in one word: Mysterious

Top thing to do: Soak up some sun in St Pauls Bay

Favourite food to try: Greek salad

See our Rhodes cruises.

Monte Carlo

A place exuding wealth and luxury, Monte Carlo is a haven of lavish yacht harbours, upscale restaurants, and enticing beaches.



One of the most glamorous addresses in the world, this pristine land allows dreams to come true when you experience the extravagant lifestyle that is common here. After a day spent soaking up the sun on one of the lavish beaches, or spending your pennies in the chic shopping malls, you can experience the incredible nightlife on offer. This includes exciting casinos and sleek water-side bars.

If you want to delve further than the glitzy town of Monte Carlo, Nice and Cannes are a taxi or train ride away, allowing you to see even more of this impressive part of the world: The French Riviera.

Described in one word: Luxurious

Top thing to do: Tour the Grand Prix track

Favourite food to try: Macaroons 

See our Monte Carlo cruises.


A city that brings pictures to life, Amsterdam is vibrant from morning to night. With streets lined with quaint cafes, shops, and bars combined with the charming canals overshadowed by grand bridges, Amsterdam is the hidden gem of Europe.



Although not a huge city, there is a lot to see and do. From museums, galleries, and biking tours, you will be able to experience all the fantastic things to do that Amsterdam has to offer. A truly special option is a visit to the floating market, where you can haggle for fresh flowers, local food, and unique artwork.

Even with the extensive range of things to do, Amsterdam is a relaxing city that has a serene atmosphere and boasts a truly relaxed way of life.

Described in one word: Cultural

Top thing to do: Visit the House of Anne Frank

Favourite food to try: Cheese

See our Amsterdam cruises.

By Sally Grimes 


Explore Venice Before It Is Too Late

15th January 2014

Following the news that Italian officials have ordered a ban on all larger cruise ships visiting Venice, now is the time to take advantage of visiting this iconic part of the world.

Bon Voyage Venice…

From November 2014 larger cruise ships will no longer be able to stop in Venice following a meeting between Italy Premier Enrico Letta, his ministers, Venice municipal officials and regional authorities.

The decision was made after environmentalists and locals stated their views that large ships cause irreparable damage to the Venetian lagoon’s ecosystem and the city’s history-enriched landmarks. They became concerned that the increasing size of modern cruise ships were ruining the unique features quintessentially ‘Venice’.

The ban will begin this month and the number of cruise ships 40,000 tons or more sailing in Venetian waters must be reduced by 20% of the current volume. Then, in November no cruise ships over 96,000 will be permitted to sail in the lagoon.

Cruise lines are hoping not to eliminate Venice completely from their itineraries and are looking for alternatives to still offer guests a chance to visit this popular city.

A must see…

The Eastern Mediterranean continues to be a popular itinerary choice due to the array of fascinating European cities visited. Venice always features in top 10 lists of destinations to visit in the world, and there are so many reasons why.

Often described by travellers as their favourite part of the world, Venice is an abundance of history-enriched culture, divine cuisine, spectacular sights and a cosmopolitan embellished atmosphere. From taking a gondola ride through the fascinating narrow streets to indulging in a fresh pizza in San Marco Square, Venice is a story-book that awaits to be read.

My favourite Venice explorations…

Here are my top five things to do in Venice:

Take a Gondola ride – The Gondola is a symbol of Venice and provides the best way to see the city. Taking you through narrow passage ways and under stunning bridges, it will make you fall in love with this city even more.

Visit Basilica di San Marco – One of the most iconic buildings in the world, this grand church boasts five large domes adorned with incredible mosaics. Inside is home to special treasures including statues, carvings and the Paka d’oro - made completely of gold.

Eat a pizza (or get a coffee) in San Marco Square – One of the most striking piazzas in the world, San Marco Square is lined with famous architecture, quant cafes and world-class restaurants. The square is the lowest area of Venice and access can be prevented by the high tide sometimes – a remarkable experience to see. The fresh pizzas you experience in Italy can only be described when you have tasted them for yourself.

Visit Ponte de Rialto – This famous bridge represents Italy for its architectural excellence and impressive features. Often highlighted in pictures of Venice, this bridge was built in the 16th century as a result of a competition held to replace the older version on the Canal Grande. The bridge is now home to various shops including jewellery stores and glass showrooms.

Shopping – The variety of shops in Venice truly captivate the famous cosmopolitan European flavour. With everything from quant boutiques, expensive fashion brands and fun tourist shops, it is every shopper’s heaven.

Get there while you can…

With only a short time left for you to experience a cruise here, I have picked out a selection of the best deals for you:

Western Med from Venice with Royal Caribbean 

Greece and Turkey from Venice With Norwegian Cruise Lines

Greek Isles from Venice with Celebrity Cruises

Italy and Croatia with P&O Cruises

Italy, Croatia and Greece from Venice with MSC Cruises

See you in Venice…

With less than nine months to visit this unique part of the world on a cruise and itineraries selling out fast, I suggest Venice being a top prioritie for your 2014 cruising list!

Ci vediamo la (See you there!)

By Sally Grimes

The Most Popular Cruise Destinations of 2009

30th December 2009

As another year of cruising comes to an end, we thought we'd take a look back at 2009 and the most popular cruises and destinations. Unsurprisingly, our number one cruise destination is the Mediterranean - with a huge range of cruise lines and itineraries featured in this diverse and fascinating region. With many Med cruises departing from UK ports, there's often no need to fly and this certainly keeps the cost down. Royal Caribbean's, Independence of the Seas sailings from Southampton reflected this trend, and made her our most popular ship of 2009. Packed with stunning leisure and entertainment options, the Independence delighted cruisers on voyages to the Med and the 5th most popular destination, the Canary Islands.

Our 2nd most popular destination is the Baltic, Fjords and Scandinavia. A growing market, the stunning sights and history of the Northern Europe are proving a favourite with cruisers. Almost all cruise lines offer itineraries in this region now, with Fred. Olsen and Cruise and Maritime Voyages offering superb traditional voyages on more intimate sized ships, for an absorbing experience.

The Caribbean is our third most popular destination and there's nothing better than a spot of island hopping under sun-kissed skies. Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises, premium quality sailings in have proved extremely popular in this region, as have P&O Cruises British style cruises and Royal Caribbean's action packed adventures. In fourth place we find European short break cruises. These cruises offer a great taster of what a cruise line has to offer, with Ireland, Bruges & Amsterdam amongst the most popular ports of call.

Outside the top 5 we find more specialised cruises like the transatlantic crossing and world cruises. Cunard Line are undoubtedly the leaders in the transatlantic voyage with their decadent Southampton to New York sailings. The world cruise sector offers chance to be a part of an epic journey, to discover Australasia, the Far East or closer to home. 'Once in a lifetime' destinations like the Panama Canal, South America and Alaska also make our top 10 destinations with Dubai - a relatively new and fast growing destination for cruise holidays.

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