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Cruising a Pirate’s World

clock 27th March 2019 | comment0 Comments

The adventure of sailing around the world often brings to mind images of the pirates of yore, especially since films and TV series have romanticised this historic way of life. There’s something thrilling about docking at ports where in years gone by pirates were swash-buckling, looting, and trading their wares. As well as in the Caribbean islands, pirates were once rife all over the world – from Asia to Ireland. Read on to learn more about cruise destinations which have a pirate history.

 

 

Tortuga (Haiti)

Made famous by the popular Disney films, in actuality, Tortuga acted as a refuge for English, Dutch and French thieves and escaped slaves back in the 17th century. These characters became what was known as the ‘Brethren of the Coast’, and they would attack Spanish ships in the Caribbean for treasure. Today, visitors to the island can see what’s left of Fort de Rocher – a 24-gun stronghold that was used by pirates to protect against Spanish invasion.

 

Nassau (Bahamas)

Nassau became a great pirate hang out in part due to its location in shallow waters. This meant that large warships could not approach the island, but pirate tall ships could. In the mid-18th century, there were around 100 natives compared to 1,000 pirates living on the island, and it was one of the latter – Benjamin Hornigold – who declared the place to be a Pirate’s Republic. Hornigold’s success as a pirate-inspired many other young adventurers, including one Edward Teach – who came to the island to join his posse. Other notorious characters including ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Charles Vane were all frequent visitors here. Today there are a number of pirate tours available on the island, on which guests can see various historical attractions.

 

 

Macau (China)

For centuries the South China Sea was a major setting for pirate activity, with Japanese pirates sailing south to raid and loot from the early 16th century. Activity went on for many years, and infamous Chinese pirate couple Zheng Yi and Ching Shih dominated the seas by the late 18th century with a fleet of more than 1,500 ships known as the Red Flag Fleet. After Zheng’s death, Ching continued with new husband Cheung Po Tsai, until they were defeated by the Portuguese Navy at the Battle of the Tiger’s Mouth in 1809. Madame Ching kept her pirate loot, however, and set up a gambling establishment in Macau, where many pirates had settled. Macau is accessible during a cruise to Hong Kong.

 

Port Royal (Jamaica)

Possibly the most well-known pirate haven is Port Royal in Jamaica – once referred to as ‘The Wickedest City on Earth’. Located close to modern-day Kingston, Port Royal was able to become such a place because the Jamaican governors offered it to pirates in return for help protecting against Spanish invaders. This led to the opening of many taverns and brothels, thereby attracting more pirates. Eventually, authorities began to intervene and by the mid-18th century, Port Royal had become a common location for pirate hangings – including those of Charles Vane and ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham. Visitors can see historic pirate and Jamaican Royal Navy paraphernalia at the archaeological museum here today.

 

 

Ile Saint-Marie (Madagascar)

Also known as St Mary’s Island, this small piece of land off the coast of Madagascar was once a popular spot among pirates. It is thought that a kind of utopia called Libertalia was developed among the pirate community here, although there is no real evidence of this. It is known, however, the pirates such as William Kidd and Edward Teach once walked here, and today there still stands an eerie pirate graveyard.

 

Charlotte Amelie (St Thomas)

Famous English pirate Edward Teach – better known as Blackbeard – lends his name to an important site in St Thomas’ capital; Blackbeard’s Castle. Built in the late 17th century by Danish colonists, the castle was originally known as Skytsborg. It is not known when or why the name was changed, but local tales say that Blackbeard regularly used the castle as a lookout point during his years of piracy in the Caribbean.

 

 

These destinations can be explored with a number of different cruise lines, on some fantastic modern cruise ships. Alternatively, if you’d prefer an experience more akin to those of a pirate, consider cruising with one of the more traditional tall ship style lines such as Windstar Cruises and Star Clippers. The beautiful ships in these fleets have been designed in an authentic, traditional way using plush, dark wood furnishings and rich colours.



Cruise in France with Avalon Waterways

clock 22nd August 2018 | comment0 Comments

Fortunately, our very own Jack Lee from the sales team had the opportunity to experience a river cruise with Avalon Waterways, here’s what he thought of the trip.

 

 

Arrival

The arrival into Paris was quick, and we were greeted by the transport team who led us to the transfer from the airport to the river cruise port, which was about 45 minutes. Upon arrival to the ship, the first noticeable thing would be that there are only 3 decks. The ship holds 120 passengers in total, the entrance might look small but there is ample space for everyone. The gangway is small, and the ship is not located in a big port. Instead, you are seconds away from getting into Paris city centre when walking from the ship.

Cabins

Once checked in, we were able to go to our cabins and get to see them for the first time. The French Balcony is a very nice sized room; to the left when you open the door is the bathroom with a shower. On the right-hand side is a large mirror, which makes the room seem even bigger, and a large dressing table. The beds are set up as twins, but these can be made into a double if you wanted to. The balcony doors are floor to ceiling and can be opened half way.

 

 

Dining

Avalon Waterway’s dining is set every night at 7pm with around five exquisite courses. If you arrive any later than scheduled you may miss a course, which you aren’t able to request again. Having said this, there are always extra appetisers supplied for passengers in the evening. Drinks like wine, beers and soft drinks are included at dinner and lunch times, but other than dining and lunchtime you will have to purchase drinks.

Onboard Activities

There are many ways to enjoy yourself on the vessel, and when in port you are able to use one of the six onboard bikes to cycle around independently. If you stay on the ship, there is evening entertainment every day, which is held in the main public lounge. On the top deck, there are plenty of sun loungers that you can relax on. There is also a hot tub, which can be very relaxing even in the heat. There is no swimming pool onboard.

 

 

Excursions

Passengers usually get together at the nightly cruise director speech, at which you’d find out about the excursions available on the next day. Most are included in your sailing but you can purchase some extra special excursions.

The excursions are great; there was one in particular that really stood out for me – the trip to the landing beaches of World War II. We started at Pegasus Bridge where the British invasion happened, walked around a beautiful museum where you learn about the battle that took place there. Next was the crematorium, where the sheer amount of people who lost their lives in the war really hits you. This was such a beautiful and thought-provoking place, as you walk around seeing name after name. Then we went to an area where the British army had come onto the beaches, it was amazing to see some of the man-made piers/platforms. The final part of the tour was a visit to the Canadian landing beaches. Here we went to a museum and watched a video after a tour. The film shows some original footage, and the touching moment of the film comes at the end when it shows the fallen soldiers walking behind you on the beach just outside where you take a walk yourself.

 

 

Would a river cruise be for you? The option to have almost all your excursions included is amazing, as is the quality of food and intimate style of the ship. Take a look at our range of Avalon Waterways cruises to see where you could explore on a river cruise.



5 Great Things about Cruising in South America

clock 6th April 2018 | comment0 Comments

While many of us may have the curiosity and temptation to visit South America, it can seem like a somewhat daunting idea to travel there independently. Thankfully though, many cruise lines offer fantastic itineraries in this destination which include stops in all the most exciting places. So if there’s anything left stopping you, get the inspiration you need with these 5 great things about cruising in South America.

 

Peruvian Food

 

 

Peru certainly has a lot to offer its visitors. With Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines, and the Ballestas Islands among the top attractions, it’s easy to forget the more matter-of-fact aspects that the country has in store – one of which is the food. Peruvian food is among the best in South America, and capital Lima boasts some of the world’s top restaurants. Here are some must-try dishes:

  • Ceviche – probably Peru’s most famous dish, ceviche is made with raw fish, lime juice, and chilli
  • Lomo Saltado – similar to a beef stir-fry, this hearty, flavoursome dish will certainly satisfy your appetite
  • Papa a la Huancaína – boiled potatoes served with an egg, in a creamy yet spicy yellow sauce
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    Rio’s Atmosphere

     

     

    The world famous Rio carnival has given this capital a reputation it certainly deserves. While the event goes on for only around 10 days, the fun, party atmosphere is evident year-round. You’ll find that both residents and visitors like to spend their days sipping on cocktails and sunbathing on a beach like Copacabana or Ipanema, before heading to the vibrant streets of the city for food, drink, and dancing in the evenings. The friendly attitude of the locals is infectious, as are the sounds of musicians, whose tunes will stay in your head for days.

     

    Amazonian Wildlife

     

     

    On many South American cruises guests will get the opportunity to experience part of the beautiful Amazon rainforest. Stretching around 5.5million km over 9 countries, this incredible part of the world is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which can be seen along its river banks. Sit back as you glide along one of the many rivers, and watch as the wildlife begins to reveal itself. Spot howler monkeys and sloths in amongst the trees, caimans on the edge of the water, and swooping macaws overhead. A cruise in the Amazon is among the best options for a wildlife cruise.

     

    Chilean Views

     

     

    At 2,500 miles from North to South, Chile is the longest country in the world – and as such all kinds of climate can be found across the country. Find extremes like the driest desert on earth - Atacama – in the North, to the impressive ice fields in the south. On a cruise to Chile, passengers will see scenery like never before, including some incredible fjords in the labyrinth of land that makes up the southern tip of the country, and the majestic glaciers in the Patagonian ice fields. Watch in awe as you sail past some of the most stunning views you will ever encounter.

     

    Cultural History

     

     

    South America has a vast and interesting cultural history, having been home to a number of different ethnic groups throughout the years. Incas, Mayans, Aztecs, Quechuas, and Muiscas – to name just a few of the more well-known civilisations – have all had a huge influence on today’s South America, and there is plenty of evidence of this all over. From famous sites like Machu Picchu and Chichen Itza, to the continued use of the ancient Quechuan language, and the traditional recipes still seen in rural areas, it’s clear to see that the significance of these cultures lives on.

    See our range of cruises to South America and find out more about your next adventure.



    Historic Cruise Excursions in Normandy France

    clock 7th November 2017 | comment0 Comments

    European countries generally have a very varied and interesting history, and France is of course no exception. For many people, a cruise in France means relaxing in warm weather, seeing some picturesque scenery, and indulging in delectable French treats such as delicious wine and incredible cheeses and pastries. While this is undoubtedly a fantastic way to experience France, it is also worth considering the wide variety of optional - and often complimentary - historic excursions, which are available on many itineraries.

    One brilliant, excursion-rich region is Normandy. A natural first port of call after leaving the UK, many cruises to France include a stop here. Ports include Cherbourg and La Harve, and both are in close proximity to a number of important sites that you could have the chance to visit;

     

  • The landing beaches of World War II. See the infamous sites where British, Canadian, and American troops arrived to invade on D-Day.
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  • Normandy cemeteries. This opportunity is pensive and moving, as you see the extent of the loss of life caused by war.
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  • Pegasus Bridge. This played an integral part in the events that make up D-Day; it's where British troops were sent to prevent Germans from accessing and attacking the allied forces.
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    Many cruise lines will offer excursions to these locations, complete with informative guides who will explain the significance they had during the war. But in addition to these, Normandy offers several opportunities to learn about earlier French history.

    Bayeux

    One fascinating spot is the commune of Bayeux - home to the famous Bayeux Tapestry. This medieval location still boasts cobbled streets, traditional beamed-housing, and the 1077 Cathedrale Notre-Dame. Not to mention the stunning tapestry itself. This important, 69 metre long record of the Norman conquest of England is on display at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux, and is an absolute must if you are in the area.

    Cherbourg

    The port of Cherbourg has played a major role in the history of France. In the Contentin peninsular, this area of France has several harbours which you can visit for another snippet of a bygone era. Over the years, there have been Celts, Romans, and Saxons in Cherbourg, but it is the Viking invasion that is most well-known. Its history is indicative of its strategic position, which has led to Cherbourg being fortified and repaired a number of times. Unsurprisingly, the city was heavily damaged in World War II, but once again it survived and continues to thrive today.

    Rouen

    Once the capital city of Normandy, Rouen remains an important location, that is steeped in history. Travel the route of the Vikings along the Seine on a river cruise, and explore the place either individually or on an excursion. Since the Viking incursion, Rouen has seen some major historic events, including the famous burning of Joan of Arc by British conquerors. Also having suffered major destruction during the war, there are important sites and memorials here that are both interesting and thought-provoking.

    Those curious about France's past, or even those who are interested in World War II, may not have realised just how much a cruise in this area can offer. Whether you're a history buff or not, a trip around Normandy will undoubtedly leave you feeling fascinated and enlightened after each excursion.



    5 Cruises Dad Will Love

    clock 12th June 2015 | comment0 Comments

    Updated June 2017

    Make father’s day remarkable this year and treat your Dad to a cruise holiday that he will never forget. With totally unique cruise packages now tying in with popular events, amazing experiences and bucket list destinations, you can make his dreams come true with a great gift and holiday in one.




    F1 Grand Prix and Cruise

    Tying in a Formula One racing event with a cruise holiday is a sure fire way to please any motorsport fans in the family. With the famous F1 Grand Prix now taking place in several appealing destinations worldwide, you can treat dad (and yourself) to an unforgettable F1 cruise and stay package. Choose your Grand Prix cruise holiday from a superb selection including Singapore, Barcelona, Abu Dhabi and more.

     

     

    Terracotta Warriors

    Few sites in the world leave an impression like that of the Terracotta Army in China. This magnificent display remains a defining discovery of the 20th Century and attracts thousands of visitors daily. Created to guard the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang in Xi’an, some 7,000 life-size statues stand proudly unearthed in the mausoleum, now a UNESCO world heritage listed archaeological site. It is believed that many more statues remain undiscovered and so far around 600 sites make up the magnificent burial grounds. History fanatics and those wanting to know more of ancient civilisations will be enamoured with a cruise to South East Asia uncovering rich Chinese histories and more.

     

    Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Rail & Sail

    Treat dad to the trip of a lifetime with an ultra-luxurious rail and sail holiday. This excellent journey features a deluxe Mediterranean itinerary and combines a classic Cunard cruise with an overnight on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Featuring vintage carriages, fine wine, refined cuisine and breath-taking views; this is first class travel at its finest.

     

    Calgary Stampede & Alaska

    The rodeo world’s elite come together for the annual Calgary Stampede, prepare to be thrilled by death defying stunts and jaw dropping action. Hailed as the greatest outdoor show on earth, this gripping event is bursting with excitement and welcomes all to the wildness of the west. Visitors can enjoy entertainment from the main events to the music festival (one of the largest in Canada), First Nation cultural events, theme park rides and so much more. Experience the Calgary buzz and make this a once in a lifetime adventure with a combined Alaska cruise and Rocky Mountaineer journey through Canada.

     

     

    South Africa Discovery

    South Africa captivates like no other country can; with cultural diversity, buzzing districts, astounding natural landscapes, exotic wildlife and world class cuisine. It’s easy to see why a trip here is a bucket list moment for many. Fans of food and wine will be wowed by South Africa’s tantalising cuisine and the chance to taste a vast selection of exquisite wines in sensational surrounds. Awaken all senses with a stay in the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, before exploring South Africa's coastline on a cruise.

     

    Find the perfect treat for dad! Browse our unique selection of Handcrafted Holidays or check out our Themed Cruises.



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