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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


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


Star Clippers Christmas in the Caribbean

14th January 2014

At the end of last year Marketing Manager, Laura Forward spent a week in the Caribbean with Star Clippers Cruises, here's what she had to say about this unique cruise experience

December in the UK. A time when we succumb to the gradual onset of winter. When soft grey mornings descend into stony afternoons and the joyful colours of autumn are buried under tightly drawn coats and frozen earth. With hunched shoulders and the instinctive resolve to carry on, we trudge into the isolation of winter, deaf to the rumbling heat that beckons across the Atlantic - for while we slumber in winters grasp, the radiant heat of the Caribbean endures.

Answering the call, with a mere 8.5 hour flight from London, seven pale, overdressed, excited travel agents stepped, blinking into the golden sunshine of Barbados, shrugging off the icy drizzle for flip flops, shorts and shades. We were here to join the largest sailing ship in the world, Star Clipper’s, Royal Clipper but we also took the opportunity to make the most of the beautiful island of Barbados with 2 nights pre cruise stay at Tamarind. The Tamarind Hotel is located on the sparkling West Coast of Barbados, locally known as ‘The Gold Coast’ for its premium properties and celebrity guests.

We were welcomed with rum cocktails and friendly staff just as the sun slipped into ocean on the horizon. Local fishing boats and drooping palm trees were silhouetted against a streaked crimson sky as we sat down to a spectacular a la carte meal on the beach. The meal was as exquisite as the setting and was a sign of things to come. Elegant Hotels, of which Tamarind is a part of, also boast Colony Club, Crystal Cove and The House, all situated on this illustrious coast line. Tamarind and Colony Club are perfect for couples and families’ alike, balancing friendly public spaces with idyllic hideaways for private relaxation. The rooms are all recently renovated to a very high standard with water sports and available across all the resorts. Crystal Cove and Turtle beach (located on the south coast) also offers all inclusive packages which are great for families and groups. For the ultimate romantic getaway there is, The House, an adult-only sanctuary of exceptional elegance with the acclaimed ‘Daphne’s restaurant just next door.  All luxury properties are highly recommended and the perfect way to start a holiday.

 

You could easily enjoy a week here hopping from sun chair, to bar stool, kayak to dance floor but a must for any stay in Barbados is a day on a catamaran.  Sailing up the West Coast of Barbados, rum cocktail in hand, we lay across the open sea hammocks, waved to cruise ships in port and I crossed another thing off my bucket list, snorkelling through the turquoise waters with seas turtles. The bleak grind of London seemed but a distant memory, in this paradise there was only crystal calm waters, smiling locals, the best rum in the world and the remarkable Royal Clipper who greeted us in spectacular fashion.


Launched in 2000 she is the largest ‘true sailing ship’ in the world with 5202 square metres of sails, carrying just 227 guests. Offering a completely unique opportunity you would be mistaken to compare the Star Clipper experience with any other cruise although full modern facilities are featured onboard. Celebrating our relationship with the sea and wind, there is a resounding feeling onboard that we are to be a part of something very special and there is a fantastic sense of camaraderie between guests and crew. Guests vary from young couples and families trying their first voyage to retired friends and family on their 5th sailing with Star Clippers. The tropical bar, headed up by the flamboyant Manalita, offers the perfect location to make new friends with a spread of canapés laid out each afternoon before the day climaxes with a dramatic sail away ceremony. Gathered on deck with a flute of champagne, under a sea of stars (or against crimson sunsets) the sails are lowered to the haunting soundtrack of Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise each evening – the ultimate tribute to the power and majesty of this vessel. Once sailing the ship confidently powers through the ocean with stability and speed allowing guests to wander freely around the spacious ship with ease. The main atrium hosts an elegant tiered dining room where buffet lunches and a la carte dinners are served. The food is exquisite as it is varied with new menus every day and hospitable, familiar crew attending to every need.

On the second day, sailing from St Lucia we were treated to a spectacular experience as we met sister ship, Star Clipper off the coast of Dominica. This rare opportunity saw both ships pulling out all the stops for a race across the Caribbean Sea. Sails full and keen, Royal Clipper tore through the ocean, her sister proudly shadowing at our side. With everyone on deck, staff waved and cheered to their friends on the sister ship as ‘We will rock you’ blared across the speakers, egging on the friendly competition. With Royal Clipper charging forward Star Clipper made a last ditch campaign, nimbly falling back and tacking into the sunshine portside, but the sheer size of the Royal Clipper was in the end no match for the smaller vessel. As the coast of Dominica approached and Star Clipper faded husky into the horizon, we returned to enjoying the sunshine onboard with warm conditions inviting us to stretch out in the sea hammocks, take a dip in the deck pools or even test our nerves climbing to the crow’s nest.

With just 227 people onboard it can feel like your own private ship. From sunrise breakfasts on deck to evenings drifting off, under the stars to the gentle lap of the ocean, there are unique moments of bliss to be captured throughout the journey.  Smaller than standard cruise ships, the ports visited are local and authentic with unique shore excursions and complimentary water sports offered at each idyllic location. If it were not for the tinsel laden cocktail huts and twinkling fairy lights you would think we were in the height of summer.

There really is no excuse for begrudgingly hibernating all winter when the Caribbean awaits all year round. So while the wind and rain whips around the UK, seek solace in the sun and climb aboard a Star Clipper ship for an escape like no other.  With Royal Clipper gracing the Caribbean waters year round and her smaller sister, Star Flyer, heading to Cuba there has never been a better time to enjoy a traditional luxury sailing experience. Short sampler cruises can also be book on Star Clipper as she sails in the Mediterranean this summer/autumn. I cannot recommend this enough and am eagerly anticipating my next voyage with Star Clippers.


Walter and Rico's Norwegian Adventure With Hurtigruten

13th December 2013

Updated March 2017

 

Walter from our Commercial Team and Rico from our Sales Team were lucky enough to go onboard Hurtigruten for a Norwegian adventure, here's how they got on...

Hurtigruten, as the name suggests, is a fast route along Norway's coastline. As a working post ship, these ships fly a split flag, a requirement for all ships delivering mail. You get a sense of this when the ship occasionally docks for only 15 minutes delivering mail to these remote fishing towns. Other stops are considerably longer to allow for sightseeing and excursions. The ease with which these ships dock and depart from each port with minimum fuss took me by surprise. Onboard announcements are made in Norwegian, English and German. Whilst day to day sailing through this region is one breathtaking view after the next, the overall experience is authentically Norwegian including a ceremony on the open deck where shots of schnapps are raised with the ships horn marking the crossing at the Arctic Circle. After announcing the launch of a new programme to source local Norwegian foods, Hurtigruten offer freshly prepared salmon sashimi on the open deck, a welcome accompaniment to the majestic surrounding scenery of waterfalls, snow capped mountains and natural wildlife.

 

Cruise on Hurtigruten

 

The impeccable service, friendly & helpful staff and the finest locally sourced cuisine served onboard Hurtigruten stand as proud testament to this great Norwegian brand. If in any doubt, rest assured that a place of honour in the reception area is reserved on the entire fleet of the official portraits of His Majesty King Harald (in Admiral uniform) and Her Majesty Queen Sonja - keeping an eye on the proceedings onboard.


 

The Northern Lights

It's not surprising that due to their unpredictability, a great deal of mystery surrounds the Northern Lights, ultimately the prevailing scientific explanation for this natural phenomena is nonetheless interesting and enlightening. Taking memorable photos of the Northern Lights takes some preparation - Hurtigruten supply a flyer onboard with tips and detailed guidelines on how to set your digital camera to take the best pictures. There is much to explore and experience in this largely unspoilt natural wonder beyond the Arctic circle. My suggestion is to go for the destination - the Northern Lights will be an added bonus.

 

Norwegian Fjords cruise

 

Dog Sledding

Finding yourself on the back of a sled attached to a pack of huskies must be the quintessential winter experience. Alaskan huskies are harnessed in prescribed formation. Lead, racing, team, wheel and swing dogs - each with their own specific task working as a team lead by the verbal commands of their musher. A reminder of the partly lost role of mans loyal working companion providing an efficient means of transport across this otherwise impassable wilderness. Avid mushers compete in dog sled races and share interesting stories of their arduous feats of this winter dog sport.

 

Cruises to the Norwegian Fjords

 

Bidos - a traditional Sami dinner is served after the dog sledging excursion. Reindeer herding is still central to Sami culture and crucial to their subsistence providing meat, fur and transportation. So it comes as no surprise that Bidos is reindeer stew accompanied by a broth made from the same meat and vegetables.

 

Norwegian Fjords cruises

 

View all of our Fjords & Norway adventures.

 

Related blogs:

We cruise to Norway and the Arctic Circle with Hurtigruten

Top 5 Norwegian Fjords


What's Your Favourite Cruise Ship?

7th June 2010

What's your favourite cruise ship? We have a few here at Iglu Towers. [More]

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