Tag Archives: Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Ship to Undergo Major Overhaul

imageCarnival Cruise Lines has announced plans for the Carnival Destiny cruise ship to undergo an extensive dry dock in early 2013.   The Destiny was launched in 1996 as the world’s largest cruise ship carrying 2,642 passengers and began the current era of the mega ships.  The dry dock will last for 49 days and cost $155 million, radically transforming her into the Carnival Sunshine.

The Carnival Sunshine will receive the full Carnival Funship 2.0 experience, an additional 182 cabins, and the expansion of 2 decks completely transforming the layout of the ship.  Carnival President and CEO released the following statement,

Britain pledges jobs, protection

imageBritain is promising to help create more than 10 000 jobs and protect dozens of communities from crime as it increases its development commitment to the Caribbean over the next four years, the United Kingdom Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has said.

Mitchell has ended a brief visit to several Caribbean countries and according to a statement from the British High Commission in Barbados, London is promising Jamaica that UK assistance will target 50 of the most volatile inner-city areas.

Mediterranean cruise guide

imageMediterranean cruises are a wonderful way of taking in a number of fascinating sights with a minimum of hassle. Douglas Ward offers a complete guide to taking a Mediterranean cruise.

Mediterranean cruises can be rewarding in so many ways – culturally, educationally, visually, architecturally, and historically, as well as from a culinary viewpoint. The Mediterranean is the second most popular cruise region in the world, after the Caribbean. It is loosely divided into two cruising areas: the Western Mediterranean (typically including France, Spain, Portugal and Italy) and Eastern Mediterranean (countries east of Italy, such as Croatia, Greece and Turkey).

The world’s best adventure cruises

imageFancy climbing a volcano, husky sledding or flying in a fighter jet? Wendy Gomersall picks the best adventure cruises for 2012.

Gone are the days when an excursion meant a gentle potter around a picturesque town centre or a scenic ride on a comfy coach. Nowadays, adventurous and unusual experiences you would never be able to enjoy at home are all part of what makes a cruise holiday so memorable.

Here’s a taster of the more “extreme” excursions on offer.

Alternatives to Mega Cruise Ship Tourism

imageCruises are one of the most popular and low-cost vacation options, allowing passengers to visit multiple locations while enjoying all the standard amenities of a luxury vacation. However, cruises also contribute a disproportionate amount of waste when compared with other means of travel. The U.K.-based Climate Care estimates that cruise ships emit more carbon dioxide than long-haul flights, and other studies have shown that cruise ships generate about 21,000 gallons of sewage a day, 170,000 gallons of grey water (waste water from laundry, showers, and dish cleaning), and other harmful wastes. Cruise ship passengers are also estimated to dispose of more trash daily than local residents.

Travel Tips From Fellow Travelers

imageSo, I like researching the web and I figured I would do a post on unique and genuinely helpful travel tips I have found.

If you’re going camping and plan to build a fire, collect the lint from your dryer in a Ziploc bag to use as a starter. It weighs almost nothing, ignites right away, and saves you from having to gather kindling. Kim Senkler, Knoxville, Tenn.

The disposable shower caps in hotel bathrooms make great shoe covers. Just slip a cap over each shoe and you won’t have to worry about getting everything else in your suitcase dirty. Charlene Winges, Burlingame, Calif.

I found a fun use for change from foreign countries. Attach a piece of magnetic tape to the back of the coin, and voilà — instant fridge magnet! It makes for an inexpensive souvenir, and it always reminds me of good times. Joshua House, Pensacola, Fla.

A guide to finding cruise deals

imageEven today, when travel is becoming increasingly affordable, cruises are still somewhat surrounded by an air of luxury and unattainability. Magazine pictures of the rich and/or famous lounging on the decks of cruise ships sailing through aquamarine water with a tropical sun shining down on them often seem out of the league of the regular traveler, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you are not well-versed in deal finding, going on a cruise might seem a bit improbable to you, but luckily there are ways to get cruise tickets for cut-rate prices. Here is a short guide to finding cruise deals that are too irresistible to pass up.

Belize Cruises

imageThere are a few different ways to get to Belize, and among them are the Belize cruises. Some 1 million people a year enjoy cruises to Belize, and a good amount of the country’s visitors take advantage of the smaller Belize cruises and sailing charters that operate within the country.

Generally, cruises to Belize will include other stops in the Caribbean and Central America, so you’ll have other exciting places to explore in addition to experiencing some of what Belize has to offer. It’s always a treat to pass through the Panama Canal. Once you pull into port at Belize, there will be no shortage of fun Belize cruise excursions to enjoy, from zip-line tours to trips to one of the Belize Mayan sites. Since most of the top cruise companies offer cruises to Belize, you should have little problem booking one, and should you be staying in Belize for an extended period of time, you might entertain the options for inner-country Belize cruises. A sunset dinner cruise is sure to add spice to that romantic getaway.

St Lucia: Bowled over by the island of calm

Trust Andrew Strauss to do something a little bit different. When England cricket captains buy Caribbean property, you expect them to plump for the Royal Westmoreland in Barbados, a luxury resort where every other villa seems to be owned by a celebrity sportsman. Michael Vaughan has a villa there. So does Freddie Flintoff.


Not Strauss. The man who has just led England to world domination on the cricket field by crushing India 4-0, is a mild-mannered, retiring type who seems happier away from the limelight than hogging centre stage. He lives in the quiet Buckinghamshire town of Marlow with his Australian wife, Ruth, and their two small boys.

Instead of the glitz of Barbados, Strauss has opted for the understated chic of St Lucia. It is the most beautiful island in the Caribbean to its admirers, but not one where you would expect to find Simon Cowell chatting to Sienna Miller under a palm tree.

Transatlantic cruises: The Queen and I

Even after more than 150 crossings, Douglas Ward feels a thrill of anticipation as he boards the Queen Mary 2 for a voyage to New York. But can the largest ocean liner ever built match the style and glamour of its majestic predecessor?


It was July 1965 when I boarded the original Queen Elizabeth as the fresh-faced leader of a jazz band for my first transatlantic crossing. Some 46 years may have passed, but as my wife and I drove to Southampton’s Ocean Terminal last month for my 157th crossing, I still felt the same thrill at the prospect of embarking on an ocean liner – and sailing in grand style. The journey may now be a more leisurely seven nights rather than the five of yesteryear to save on fuel, but the voyage from the Old World to the New remains special.

Disney Dream ship review : Disney Cruise

Jane Archer reviews Disney’s latest ship, Disney Dream and finds something for everyone, including an aquatic roller-coaster.

Only Disney would christen a ship by emptying on to it a giant bottle of dreams collected by Captain Mickey. OK, it was air to you and me, but Disney is all about suspending belief, accepting the magic. If you can’t do that, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream, named last week in Port Canaveral, is not the ship for you.

It’s the first ship Disney has launched for more than a decade, and 50 per cent bigger than its other two vessels, so there has been room to expand the areas for children, for teenagers and for “adults only”.

The best cruise deals on offer

This is the time of year when cruise companies unveil many deals and special offers. Sara Macefield highlights some of the best.
This time of year is traditionally when cruise companis bring out some of their most tempting offers. Known as the “wave” period, it runs during December and January and is marked by discounted prices and other benefits, including cabin upgrades, free port parking and complimentary drinks.

With more ships to fill than ever before in 2011, competition is fierce. Here’s a selection of some of the best deals. Prices are per person and include flights unless otherwise stated.

Customers booking a winter 2012 cruise with Thomson (0871 231 3235; www.thomson.co.uk) by January 31 can enjoy free drinks as part of the company’s £1 million “Great Bar Giveaway”. Thomson Spirit will be based at Limassol, Cyprus, in March and April, 2012, offering one-week eastern Mediterranean voyages visiting Alanya in Turkey, Alexandria and Port Said in Egypt, and Ashdod in Israel. Prices start at £799 and include a free, all-inclusive upgrade.

Experience Carnival Cruises’ newest “fun ship” Carnival Magic, which launches in May and promises, among other things, corkscrew waterslides, an aqua park, mini golf and a seaside theatre. Carnival (0845 351 0556; www.carnivalcruise.co.uk) offers a 12-night fly-cruise from Barcelona with calls including Marseilles, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Naples, Venice (where it spends a night) and Messina in Sicily. Prices start at £1,209, with departures on May 22.

Cruise specialist agency, The Cruise Village (01253 341014; www.thecruisevillage.com) is offering a Royal Caribbean International cruise from Palma aboard Grandeur of the Seas from £381, though this excludes flights. The one-week sailing on May 22 visits Barcelona, Ibiza, Malaga and Gibraltar before returning to Palma.

Spend autumn in the eastern Mediterranean aboard Seabourn Quest, the newest ship of upmarket line Seabourn (0845 070 0500; www.seabourn.com), due to launch in June. A seven-night Turkish Delights and Greek Isles sailing from Istanbul to Athens, starts at £2,149 and includes a suite upgrade. The cruise departs on October 10 with calls at Dikili and Kusadasi in Turkey, plus the Greek islands of Mykonos, Rhodes, Patmos and Mylos.

Cultural cruise line Voyages to Antiquity (0845 437 9737; www.voyagestoantiquity.com) has axed supplements for single travellers on its “Sicily is the Key to Everything” sailing from Athens to Rome on May 20.

The cruise calls at ports in Italy, Malta and Sicily and costs from £2,250. Discounts of up to £1,000 are offered for couples. Also included are tours, wine with dinner and gratuities.

Hurtigruten (0844 448 7601; www.hurtigruten.co.uk) is offering free cabin upgrades on bookings for selected voyages made by March 31. An 11-day Pearls of the Baltic Sea sailing departs on April 25 from Oslo, calling at Copenhagen, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Gudhjem before returning to Oslo. It costs from £2,511 cruise-only.

Noble Caledonia (020 7752 0000; www.noble-caledonia.co.uk) is offering savings of up to £500 on a Baltic Renaissance cruise booked by February 28. The 14-night sailing on Island Sky departs on August 9 from Stockholm and finishes in Leith. Ports of call include Helsinki, St Petersburg (where it spends three days), Gdansk and Copenhagen. Prices now start at £3,895.

Enjoy a break in Dubai and travel back to the UK amid the grandeur of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 on this 21-night package from Reader Offers (0845 458 8909; www.readeroffers.travel). The cruise departs on March 29 and includes four nights in the emirate followed by a 16-night sailing through the Arabian Sea and Red Sea into the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

Ports of call include Sharm el Sheikh, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Prices start at £2,399 and include flight; hotel stay and breakfast; upgrade from inside cabin to balcony stateroom; and $300 on-board credit for customers booking Princess or Queen’s Grill suites.

Explore Vietnam on a nine-day voyage from Hong Kong to Singapore with Silversea Cruises (0844 770 9030; www.silversea.com). Highlights include the outcrops of Ha Long Bay and an overnight stop in Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh. Other calls include Haiphong (for Hanoi), Chan May (for Da Nang) and Nha Trang. Prices for the Silver Shadow voyage start at £4,223, including drinks and gratuities. A $1,000 on-board spending credit per suite is also included, along with a free shore excursion in Ha Long Bay.

P & O Cruises (0845 678 0014; www.pocruises.com) has slashed £1,100 off the price of its 72-night sailing to Alaska – the first time the line has cruised in the region in nearly 40 years. It departs from Southampton on April 12 and includes two transits of the Panama Canal, with calls in the Caribbean, Mexico, the US west coast and Alaska. Prices start at £6,399 and adults receive an on-board credit of £250.

Across-the-board savings of up to 20 per cent are being offered by tall-ship line Star Clippers (0845 200 6145; www.starclippers.co.uk) on bookings for Mediterranean sailings made by January 31. Customers looking at Caribbean and Central America cruises need to book by April 30.

A saving of £177 is offered on a six-night Caribbean pre-Christmas cruise on Star Clipper, departing from St Maarten on December 17. The itinerary includes Nevis or Saba (depending on the wind); Iles des Saintes in the French Caribbean; Falmouth Harbour, Antigua; and St Barts. Prices start at £708, excluding flights and port charges.

Windstar Cruises (020 7292 2369; www.windstarcruises.co.uk) has reduced the price of one of its Caribbean voyages by more than £650. A round-trip cruise from Barbados on March 13, calling at St Kitts, St Martin, St Barts, Iles des Saintes and St Lucia now starts at £2,485.

AmaWaterways (0808 223 5009; www.amawaterways.co.uk) has waived its 50 per cent single traveller supplement on four seven-night “Tulip Time” sailings of the Dutch and Belgian waterways with stops including Antwerp and Ghent. Prices now start at £1,095 based on two people sharing, or £1,376 for single travellers, departing on March 28. Other departures are April 1, 8 and 25.

Avalon Waterways (0800 668 1865; www.avaloncruises.co.uk) has reductions of up to £900 per couple on some river cruises. Save £450 per person on a Danube cruise to the Black Sea, which departs from Vienna for Oltenita (for Bucharest) and includes stops in Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria. Prices start at £1,705, departing on March 30 or April 9.

Savings of up to £3,200 per couple are offered by Titan HiTours Elegant River Cruises (0800 988 5858; www.titanhitours.co.uk) on the 15-day “Imperial Capitals of Europe”, which visits seven countries. The trip starts with three days in Istanbul before passengers fly to Bucharest to join the River Princess at Giurgiu for the Danube sailing. Stops include Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Belgrade. The cruise, leaving on April 16, costs from £2,499 if booked by January 31.

Discounts of up to £500 are offered on various sailings by Viking River Cruises (020 8780 7900; www.vikingriver cruises.co.uk). An eight-day Rhine Discovery sailing from Amsterdam to Basel is down from £1,395 to £895 and includes wine with dinner, six escorted tours and a programme of talks and demonstrations. There are weekly sailings between May and October, but bookings must be made by January 31.

What to avoid

Some ex-UK cruises finish at an overseas port, so think ahead to arrange transfers accordingly (or ask your cruise line or travel agent to). Don’t fall into the trap of leaving your car at a UK port and returning to an airport miles away.

Beware the Bay of Biscay – especially in the winter, when conditions here and in the English Channel and North Sea can be enough to turn the strongest stomach.

Don’t confine your cruise departures to Southampton. While this is the UK’s premier cruise port, there are regular sailings from around Britain, including Dover, Tilbury, Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle, Greenock and even central London at Tower Bridge.

If you’re cruising between the UK and the Mediterranean, remember that the first and last two days of the voyage will be spent at sea – and the weather won’t necessarily be good. So make sure you pick a ship with enough facilities to keep you entertained, especially if travelling with children.

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