Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Ventura has now completed her inaugural summer season

Ventura has now completed her inaugural summer season and is starting her first winter season in the Caribbean. Since her launch in April we have welcomed on board over 4,000 travel agents and some 57,000 passengers. Many of you, your staff and your customers have let us know your views on this extraordinary ship and because of this interest, and our shared passion to deliver a holiday like no other, I thought that I would write to share with you my views on "Ventura so far".

As we anticipated, her first year of operation has seen large numbers of our past passengers wanting to experience the ship. She has also played host to unprecedented numbers of newcomers who have been attracted by her innovation, scale and choice.

In general newcomers have reacted very favourably to Ventura and we continue to see this as our primary focus. That said, we have had some challenges in marrying the differing needs and expectations of a new audience with those who have travelled with us many times before. Indeed the first year of operation for any ship is always its most difficult and the team on board have worked extremely hard to consistently deliver against our passengers' expectations. Their commitment has been rewarded with customer satisfaction scores that are now comparable to her fleet companions.

Customers aren't just telling us what a fantastic holiday they've had; they're also telling visitors to the growing number of cruise dedicated online review sites. A large majority of recent reviews on such sites gave Ventura an overall rating of 4 stars and above, and an overwhelming number awarded 5 stars. Don't just take my word for it though, read exerts from these reviews, which I have included as an addendum or, better still, visit one of these sites for yourself.

Despite eliciting such praise from our customers, we continue to review and enhance all elements of Ventura's operation and I am pleased to be able to share with you some of the changes we'll be introducing.

Freedom Dining We have experienced particularly heavy demand for Freedom Dining at peak times, especially during the summer school holidays. In order to realise this concept to the full, and thereby ensure that it does indeed offer customers the flexibility that they desire, we have increased the number of tables within the Cinnamon Restaurant and will be introducing specialist software to enable the team to effectively manage the utilisation of the range of restaurants around the ship.

More significantly though, passengers will no longer need to book a table in advance. Instead they can enjoy the ultimate freedom of arriving at the time they would like to dine and, where possible, they will be seated immediately. This is the system that we operate on board Oceana with great success. Additionally, our entertainment scheduling is being improved and phased to offer increased choice and flexibility at a range of times, thereby alleviating 'peak time' demand.
Beach HouseIt's not just the main dining rooms that will offer an improved service, the Waterside food court and adjacent family dining restaurant, The Beach House, haven't escaped our attention. The standard of presentation is being enhanced in both these food courts and The Beach House will evolve to offer an additional informal dining venue with waiter service. This will offer customers, particularly families, another plated meal option.

Balcony FurnitureI also have some good news for passengers travelling in one of Ventura's 880 balcony staterooms next year. In spring 2009 we will be introducing new furniture including a reclining chair, which will allow sun-lovers to make even more of their balcony. This will have the added advantage of helping to alleviate the high demand for loungers on the open deck, which we experienced during the summer school holidays.

SunloungersI acknowledge that sunbed availability has been an issue during some of the summer school holiday cruises. In order to address this we have decided to devote some of the space originally allocated to Cirque Ventura on Deck 19 as an additional sunbathing area. This will give those passengers who like to spend some time relaxing in the sun more space to do so. We will retain the bungee trampolines which have been a real hit with passengers aged from 8 to 84! And we will continue to offer the Cirque Ventura circus skills school teaching the art of juggling, tightrope and stilt walking.

New TerminalOf course, some of the challenges presented by welcoming such a vast ship into the P&O Cruises fleet aren't just on board; the sheer number of people boarding this vessel has inevitably meant a greater requirement for car parking. This has been at the forefront of our minds when planning for the brand new cruise terminal currently under construction and, as a result, the new terminal will be better able to accommodate such demands when it enters use next year.

The reviews online, the customer satisfaction scores and the letters we regularly receive from our customers, all indicate that Ventura is becoming a much loved member of our fleet, with the children's clubs, East, The White Room, Cirque Ventura, the stage shows and our staff on board all cited as reasons why customers' holidays on board Ventura are so extraordinary. We are sure that the adjustments we are making will compliment the experience and further enhance the success of Ventura.

In summary, Ventura is carving out her own substantial niche within the P&O Cruises fleet and is offering the contemporary and innovative holiday experience that she has been created to deliver, and is appealing to the very customers that she was designed for.
The P&O Cruises brand, and the ships that help define us, is constantly evolving to ensure that we remain Britain's leading cruise line. Azura is destined to add another string to our already eclectic bow, as you'll discover in our next announcement on Tuesday 25th November.
Thank you for your support thus far and I, the ship's officers and crew and my management team look forward to working with you as the next remarkable chapter in our history unfolds.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Esdale
Managing DirectorP&O Cruises

Exerts from online reviews:

Review by Jones, Rotherham on 26th Oct 2008 "We went as a group - myself, husband, 2 children aged 11 and 12, husband's mum and dad, his sister, her partner and daughter aged 3. We read lots of reviews on here and wondered if we had done the right thing, now having been on her all the negative reviews have gone out of the window. The ship is modern, big, and a joy to travel on".

Review by Thomson, Motherwell on 26th Oct 2008"We have just returned from our recent cruise on board Ventura. We had a fantastic time, we ate each evening in the Cinnamon Restaurant and we also had a superb meal at The White Room. The service in the restaurants was excellent and although we opted for freedom dining, we had the same waiter for most of the duration of the holiday. Our two teenage children, aged 17 and 15 years old, spent a large amount of time with the many new friends that they had met in Decibels (teenagers den), they had such a good holiday that they did not want their vacation to end. I would remind people that the ship is in fact a family ship and even although there was over 300 young people / children on board it was hardly noticeable".

Review by: martin, Doncaster on 11th Oct 2008"We were on Ventura canaries cocktail n816 this was our 1st ever cruise and I have to say I was a little worried after reading some negative reviews on this site, we had a wonderful time & I would more than likely return to this ship. We were on freedom dining, ate in the waterside & beach house mainly on port days & used cinnamon a couple of times on sea days, no complaints on either side & there was always plenty of choice! We ate in Marco's restaurant once, plenty availability for bookings in advance & I have to say the food & service was fantastic & worth the supplement! Just wish I had the chance to try East as well, maybe next trip! We were always able to find spare sunbeds they may not always be where you want, but are available".

Review by: jackson, trimdon grange on 30th Sep 2008"Sailed on the 31st of August to the canaries. After reading the reviews was a little concerned but we had a brilliant time. The ship was lovely, inside cabin spacious with a lovely walk in wardrobe and adequate space. Been on Aurora and Oceana and loved both ships and this was just as good. Food was excellent, so was kids club for our 7 year old in fact we hardly saw him. The theatre group was very good but I must say the musicals were very modern and I do prefer something where I know the songs and can join in. The food was of excellent standard in the restaurants, waterside, beach house and frankies grill. Did not try east or white room restaurants as was more than happy with the bay tree restaurant. All in all this was an excellent value for money holiday and beats any package holiday. We will continue to cruise with P&O for many years to come already booked for Ventura in June".

Thursday, 9 October 2008

P&O Extras are so Suite

P&O passengers who buy suites and mini-suites will now benefit from a range of added extras. Priority check-in and welcome flowers and baskets of fruit are part of the deal with a welcome glass of sparkling wine also delivered to your cabin. Pre-dinner canap├ęs will also be offered to these passengers on formal nights in their suites. Passengers who book larger suites will be given a choice of a hot breakfast or afternoon tea also brought to their staterooms.

In keeping with all Cruise companies P&O are trying very hard to attract clients to their luxury offerings. This end of the market tends to be the least affected in difficult times and certainly there are offers available. Cruise Direct have some amazing offers in their specialist Luxury Cruise department, it's well worth a look.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Carnival Cruise announce refit plans

CARNIVAL UK has published plans for the addition of 48 new balconies across 3 of its scruise liners. Carnival Destiny has just sailed from dry dock with an additional 16 new balcony cabins and Carnival Triumph & Carnival Liberty will soon boast 32 new balconies between them when the emerge from dry dock on their next visit.

Destiny and Triumph will also have a have Carnival’s Seaside Theatre added and Liberty will be fitted with 2 new “deluxe penthouse suites” which can accommodate up to 5.

Record Sales for Cruise

A major cruise operator has recorded it's best ever month of sales in September, showing that the cruise market is still alive and well despite the doom and gloom of the credit crunch.

As stock markets plumet the taste for cruising is still as strong as ever with the comapny bringing in over £3 million in sales revenue in the month. Sales were spread out over all seasons and were reflected throughout the market.

Barrhead Travel also are recording similar sales growth over an extended period as are Cruise Direct.

Catriona Parsons, Sales manager said "This is a phenomenal period of growth in the cruise market. We at Barrhead Travel have worked hard to be sure that we have the right product on sale at the right prices" she added our success is also as a result of our insistence on the highest standards of customer service. Weare lucky to employ some very good, highly motivated and experienced staff who are constanly scouring the market to find the best deals for our clients.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Luxury Cruising missing the Crunch

Luxury Cruising is still as popular as ever despite the "credit crunch", it seems that at the very top end there is still a steady demand for the very best of everything.

Luxury Cruising has never really wained despite the popularity that informal cruising has gained over the last 5 years. The section of the market that caters for the most luxurious experiences afloat will always be in demand as those who can afford the time and justify the expence seek their relaxation.

CruiseDirectUK have recognised this and are one of the leading companies in the field offering some fantastic bargains on the best cruises available. Here are some of the bargains they have on offer

14 February 2009 - Crystal Symphony – 19 Night Tour

From £3642.00pp

** Upgrade to Deluxe Veranda Stateroom £640.00pp **


Fly UKMiami

Private transfer from Airport to Hotel

Le Meridien Sunny Beach Resort, Miami

2 nights Room Only

Private transfer from Hotel to Port

14 nights on board the Crystal Symphony

Deluxe Stateroom with Large picture window

Private transfer from Port to Hotel

Hyatt Regency Huntingdon Beach , Los Angeles

2 nights Room Only

Private transfer from Hotel to Airport

Fly Los AngelesUK

Day 1: Miami

Day 2: At Sea

Day 2: Grand Cayman

Day 3: At Sea

Day 4: Cartagena

Day 5: Panama Canal

Day 6: At Sea

Day 7: Caldera

Day 8: At Sea

Day 9: At Sea

Day 10: Acapulco

Day 11: At Sea

Day 12: Cabo San Lucas

Day 13: At Sea

Day 14: Los Angeles


These tours are subject to availability and prices are subject to change until confirmed in full.

14 June 2009 - Crystal Serenity – 7 nights Fly Cruise

From £2458.00pp

** PLUS $100.00pp ON BOARD CREDIT**

**Upgrade to a Deluxe Veranda Stateroom from £425.00pp**


Fly UK TO Venice

Private transfer from Airport to Port

7 nights on board the Crystal Serenity

Deluxe Stateroom with Large picture window

Private transfer from Port to Airport

Fly Rome to UK

Day 1: Venice

Day 2: Venice

Day 3: Dubrovnik

Day 4: Corfu

Day 5: At Sea

Day 6: Taormina

Day 7: Sorrento

Day 8: Rome


Tours are subject to availability and prices are subject to change until confirmed in full.

19 June 2009 – Crystal Symphony – 11 nights Tour

From £3505.00pp PLUS $150.00pp ON BOARD CREDIT

**Upgrade to Deluxe Veranda Stateroom £725.00pp**


Depart Dover 19 June 2009 to Stockholm

11 nights on board Crystal Symphony

Deluxe Stateroom with large picture window

Private transfer from Port to Airport

Fly Stockholm to UK

Day 1: Dover

Day 2: At Sea

Day 3: Oslo

Day 4: Copenhagen

Day 5: Visby

Day 6: At Sea

Day 7: St Petersburg

Day 8: St Petersburg

Day 9: St Petersburg

Day 10: Helsinki

Day 11 Stockholm

Day 12 Stockholm


Tours are subject to availability and prices are subject to change until confirmed in full.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Fantastic Cruise Special Offers from Cruise Direct

New York Stay & Transatlantic Voyage
Onboard Queen Mary 2

26 April 2009 • 8 Nights from just £849pp

6 nights Full Board on the Fabulous Queen Mary 2

Stay 1 night FREE In a 4*hotel

Book a BALCONY cabin & receive 2 nights FREE in New York

Other dates available 14 April & 5 November 2009

Fly non-stop from Glasgow or Edinburgh to New York, transfer to your 4 star hotel  for a 1 night stay.
See the bright lights of the Big Apple, international mecca and melting pot, with expensive brownstones, colourful neighbourhoods, great museums and ambling parks. Some come just for the shopping:
there’s Bloomingdales on Lex, Tiffanys on Fifth, Barneys and the unique boutiques along Madison.
Or head downtown and explore the trendy shops of SoHo

Transfer to  Queen Mary 2 - the grandest, most magnificent ocean liner ever built. She's a true heir
to the timeless elegance, legacy and inspiration of the great Cunard liners of legend. You'll notice it the moment you walk through her doors into her soaring Grand Lobby, and be awed from the first instance you experience the famous Cunard White Star ServiceTM.

Sail between New York and Southampton  and experience six unforgettable days to revel in activities. Your days and nights at sea offer an abundance of possibilities. Spend a refreshing moment beneath a waterfall in the AquaTherapy Centre of the Canyon Ranch SpaClub®, browse the books in the largest library collection at sea, attend lavish Royal Nights balls, indulge in our traditional Afternoon Tea in the Queens Room and dine on the finest cuisine and perhaps best of all, be among the privileged travellers who can say they have experienced an extraordinary legacy

22 October 2008 Silver Shadow 17Nt Tour

 From £4995pp

Fly UK - Papeete Private transfer from the Airport to Hotel
Overnight stay at the Sofitel Tahiti Resort, Papetee
Private transfer from Hotel to Port
16 Nights onboard the Silver Shadow
Suite Accommodation - All Inclusive

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Rangiroa, French Polynesia • Day At Sea • Nuku Hiva • French Polynesia •
Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Hilo, Hawaii, USA • Honolulu •
Oahu, Hawaii, USA • Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, Usa • Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Day At Sea Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Los Angeles, California

Private transfer from Port to Airport
Fly Los Angeles - UK
Upgrade to Veranda Suite £300pp
Upgrade to Business Class Flights £2650pp

 Availability and costs subject to change at all times

15 November 2008 Silver Shadow 18Nt Tour

 From £3765pp

Fly UK - PapeetePrivate transfer from the Airport to Hotel
Overnight stay at the Sofitel Tahiti Resort, Papetee 
Private transfer from Hotel to Port
16 Nights onboard the Silver Shadow
Suite Accommodation - All Inclusive

Los Angeles Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico • Day At Sea •
Acapulco, Mexico • Day At Sea • Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala • Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Panama Canal, Panama • Cartagena, Colombia • Santa Marta, Colombia •
Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Fort Lauderdale, Florida

 Private transfer from Port to Airport
Fly Miami - UK  
Upgrade to Veranda Suite £300pp
Upgrade to Business Class Flights £2375pp 

Availability and costs subject to change at all times

12 December 2008 Silver Shadow 12Nt Tour

Itinerary:  Fly UK – Barbados
Private transfer from Airport to Hotel  
3 Nights at the Almond Casuarina Beach Resort, Hastings All Inclusive  
Private transfer from Hotel to Port
9 Nights onboard the  Silver Shadow Suite Accomodation - All Inclusive

Bridgetown, Barbados • Castries, St. Lucia • Roseau, Dominica • St. John's, Antigua •
Gustavia, St. Bart's • San Juan, Puerto Rico • Day At Sea • Day At Sea • Key West,
Florida • Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Private transfer from Port to Airport
Upgrade to Veranda Suite £120pp
Upgrade to Business Class Flights £1850pp

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Celebrity Cruises announce new routes

New routings for the Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Mercury, offer cruisers more alternatives from the Eastern Seaboard cities of Baltimore, Maryland, and Charleston, South Carolina, and also the popular Caribbean cruises that feature San Juan, Puerto Rico. however Celebrity will alsp not be continuing with 
its Australia and New Zealand sailings that were previously planned for the end of 2009 and 2010 on Celebrity

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Holland America Invest $200,000,000

Holland America Line is to spend $200 million in upgrades, enhancements and new features on five of its ships. 

The work will begin when Veendam enters an extended dock in spring 2009, and the last ship is slated for completion in late 2010. 

Over the next two years, the ms Statendam, ms Ryndam, ms Maasdam, ms Veendam and ms Rotterdam will undergo extensive dry docks to create new venues, new staterooms, new decor and more. 

Enhancements will include a new resort pool concept, on Lido deck called The Retreat, with a shallow area where guests may lounge in chairs with their toes in the water. 

Each ship also will have an additional 44 to 46 staterooms, 32 with verandahs and the remaining will be inside staterooms. 

"In an era where cruise lines are building ships to carry more than 5,000 passengers, Holland America Line remains focused on mid-sized vessels," said Richard Meadows, CTC, executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest services. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

P&O - 2010 Cruise details are out NOW

P&O Cruises’ adults-only ship Arcadia is to embark on its first world cruise in winter 2010. 

The world circumnavigation departs on January 10, 2010, sailing westbound via the Caribbean, Mexico, US, New Zealand and Australia, with two weeks in Asia and a return sailing to the UK via India and Egypt, passing through the Suez Canal. 

Key ports of call are: San Francisco, Honolulu, Auckland, Sydney, Whitsunday Islands, Hong Kong, Sihanoukville, Ko Samui, Singapore and Aqaba. 

Prices for the 94-night itinerary start at £8,599, including a 45% early booking discount.
Meanwhile, Aurora will undertake a 104-night Grand Voyage departing from Southampton on January 5, 2010. 

The vessel will sail via the Mediterranean, pass through the Suez Canal to visit Egypt, India, the Far East, Japan, Australia and the Indian Ocean, before returning via South Africa.  

Prices lead in at £9,549, including the 45% off offer for bookings made by November 30. 

Double on board credit of up to £750 per person is also available before that date.

Line voyages ranging from 38 to 66 nights in duration are priced from £4,099. 

P&O Cruises’ managing director Nigel Esdale said: “These two world voyages complete our most varied winter programme yet, with two week Caribbean fly-cruises and month-long Southampton round trip sailings already on offer for winter 2009/10. 

“Our expanding fleet means we can offer more variety and choice for our passengers, in terms of deployment, destinations, length and cost of holiday.

“Winter cruising and longer voyages are particularly popular with experienced cruisers and present a significant commission opportunity for agents. 

“But we are finding that an increasing number of first time cruisers are opting for world voyages as their first cruise, so should by no means be overlooked when working with ‘new to cruise’ customers.”

More than 2,000 passengers are already booked on complete world sailings for 2009, according to the company.

Courtesy of TravelMole 

Thursday, 11 September 2008

MSC Cruises order 2 New Ships

MSC Cruises yesterday announced that their Cruise fleet will expand further with the order of 2 new ships.
They will be built in the French Aker Yards in St Nazaire. The new vessels will be called the  MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa, and will be completed by early 2011 and 2012 respectively. They will be the 5th and 6th
Vessels in the Musica class, weighing in at 93,000 tons and boasting 1,275 cabins with a potential occupancy of 3,013 passengers per ship. The delivery  of these 2 vessels will raise the total number of ships in the MSC fleet to 14 bringing to a close this phase of the companies development plan.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Holland America to spend $200 million on Ship upgrades

5 Holland America Line vessels will be upgraded in the next year and a half at a cost of $200,000,000. 

Statendam, Ryndam, Maasdam, Veendam and Rotterdam will be taken into drydock to have extensive work carried out which will include new venues, cabins and decoration. 

The improvements will introduce additional balconys and new categories of cabin. The aft Lido Deck's pool will welcome a new area called The Retreat, and will also feature an upgrade to the cabins and bathrooms aboard 

32 new cabins with balconires will be added with another 12 without. 

On the 4 bigger ships, 12 cabins close to the spa will have new balconies also 3 inside cabins, will change to 'spa staterooms' with a range of substantially improved facilities. 

The Rotterdam, will change 23 cabins to the upgraded spa staterooms. 

On the 5 Vessels, lanai cabins will be made by changing the windows of 42 cabins with lanai doors that will open out onto the promenade deck, thuis will also add 4 extra cabins. 

The Veendam will go into dry dock early in 2009, all ships are expected to be finished by late 2010. 


Thursday, 4 September 2008

Oasis of the Seas on Sale

A huge demand is anticipated as the Oasis of the Seas goes on sale.

The Cruise ship which will sail on it's maiden voyage in December next year, is almost half as big again as the world current biggest Cruise liner.

Royal Caribbean, the ships owners are expecting a bumper sales day as interest has been masive in the ship

Extra staff have been drafted in to cope with the sales rush and a series of special events are being staged in CruiseDirect and Barrhead Travel to Mark the occassion.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Ocean Village opens up the Caribbean

Ocean Village will operate 14-nt durations in the Caribbean next winter. 10 of these will operate to new destinations which will not be available on 7 nt sailings

3 different fly-cruise options will be available on 2 ships with the price starting at £1,199 pp.
This price includes a fantastic 45% reduction available from CruiseDirect Samana in the Dom Rep, Grand Turk, Mayreau and Colon will be available on Barbados cruises.

14 night cruises only area available as this is what research has show to be clients preference, with more than 85% of people choosing this option.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Prices revealed for Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International has revealed that prices for nine-night fly cruises on mega ship Oasis of the Seas will start at £1,299 per person.

The ship is one of the most hyped vessels of all time and, with capacity for 5,400 passengers, will be 40% larger than the current largest ship in the world, Independence of the Seas, which is also owned by RCI.

Oasis of the Seas will make its first sailing on December 12, 2009 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The inaugural season will begin with 19 consecutive seven-night sailings to the Eastern Caribbean, with ports of call at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas.

From May 1, 2010, Oasis of the Seas will alternate its Eastern Caribbean itinerary with the Western Caribbean itinerary, which will call at Labadee, Royal Caribbean International’s private beach destination in Haiti; the new port of Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico.

The ship will feature the first ever outdoor park at sea, called Central Park.

Cabins will go on sale on September 3rd and the company is so confident of strong sales that it has decided not to offer early booking discounts.

Jo Rzymowska, associate vice president and general manager, Royal Caribbean International, UK and Ireland, said: “Oasis of the Seas is the most hyped holiday experience ever to be available. We are predicting a day of mammoth sales on 3rd September.

“The prices represent phenomenal value for money and includes access to some of the most groundbreaking facilities ever available from a leisure resort, especially when you consider that this one will be at sea.”

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Carnival Cruise Lines reorganise categories of staterooms

CARNIVAL Cruise Lines is revamping the categories of their staterooms on board their vessels to better portray the cabins in terms of windows, balcony's and also where they are on the ship.
They say the staterooms will now be graded differently on upper and lower decks even though the actual cabins are the same. Indeed this will also be applied according to the position of the cabin within the deck. This they hope will allow passengers to choose more easily their preferred location and type of cabin. This new arrangement means a better cabin will cost slightly more than one in a slightly less popular position.

Carnival Valor will be the 1st to feature this style of grading with the remainder of the fleet following this path later in the year.

MSC Cruises order 2 new Cruise Ships

MSC Cruises has placed orders for two new ships.

The renowned French shipbuilding yard Aker have reportedly received an order from MSC Cruises for 2 Muscia-class vessels, to be delivered in February 2011 and February 2012.

The MSC Fantasia, the companies biggest vessel launches in December 2008. At 133,500-tonne the ship will increase the fleer to 10 vessels, increasing to 12 in February 2012.

Monday, 18 August 2008

New Hot Cruise Deals from Cruise Direct

Cruise Direct have recently brought out some of the most outstanding cruise deals seen fora long time.
We have listed them below please contact CruiseDirect or Barrhead Travel for the details

Ocean Village Exclusive Offers
– these offers are at least £190 cheaper than any other agent

Crete to Barbados
Ocean Village
30 October 2008 12 nights
Fly Manchester to HeraklionAlicante –Madeira – Antigua – Barbados Fly back to Manchester
Prices from £749pp

Mediterranean Mixture
Ocean Village
23 October 2008 19 nights
Fly Man to HeraklionLimassol –Rhodes –KusadasiSantorini- Mykonos- Alicante-Madeira-Antigua-Barbados
Prices from £999pp

Caribbean Chaser
Ocean Village
30 October 2008 19 nights
Fly Man to HeraklionAlicante –Madeira-Antigua- Barbados- Tortola- St.Barts- Martinique-Grenada – Barbados
Prices from £1,099pp

Princess Cruises
– this is an exclusive offer to Barrhead Travel and Cruise Direct
Sea Princess – Caribbean Cruise
28 March 2009 15 nights

Fly Direct from Glasgow to Montego Bay –Gran Cayman – Aruba –Bonaire
La Guaira – Grenada – Barbados –Dominica – Antigua- St.Maarten – Tortola –SamanaMontego Bay fly back to Glasgow
Prices from £1,493
$150 FREE to spend onboard per cabin

Cruise Direct have
FRED OLSEN – These prices are less than any other agent
£50 per cabin onboard spend

Around Britain Cruise
Onboard Black Prince
01 June 2009 9 nights
Cruising from Greenock to Dublin, Falmouth, St Peter Port, Greenwich, Leith, Oban, Greenock

Inside cabins from £719pp
Plus £50 FREE to spend onboard

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Shanghai's new expanded Cruise Terminal is open for business

Last week the Costa Allegra became the first ship to sail into Shanghai's newly expanded cruise terminal. This is a major development for the Chinese city as it will allow the port to handle 4 cruise liners at once.

Given the name the "water Drop" because of the shape of the main terminal building this marks a substantial improvement of the facilities available to the vessels visiting the port.

China and Shanghai in particular are ever growing in popularity as a Cruise and tourist destination, and will benefit substantially again from the focus on China provided by the Olympic games in Beijing.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

P&O Ferries order 2 massive ships for Dover Calais

P&O Ferries have placed an order with Aker Yards for the 2 biggest ever ferries to sail between Dover and Calais. At 360million Euro's (approx £288 million) they represent a substantial vote of confidence in cross channel services. The service will begin in December 2011 when ship number one is launched with the 2nd ship entering service the following September. They will supercede the Pride of Dover and the Pride of Calais, both of which have given the Ferry company sterling service.

Aker will build the ships in Rauma, Finland.

P&O are considering an order for 2 more ships of the same type, weighing in at 49,000 gross tonnes and 210 mtrs long they will be the biggest ships that the facilities in Dover can presently handle. Uniquely for a ferry they will be the first vessels to be able to manouver under their own steam in 50 Knots of wind. An additional 3rd deck will offer space for just under 200 cars, and will have capacity for 2,000 passengers

Monday, 11 August 2008

P&O, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Ocean Village 2009 /2010 Now on Sale

P&O, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Ocean Village have opened bookings for a number of their most popular sailings stretching as far ahead as Summer 2010.

These are all available at CruiseDirect and Barrhead Travel, details of how to book can be found on their websites
The cruises in question are:

P&O Cruises World Cruise 2010
P&O Cruises 2nd Edition 2009
Cunard 09 Main ED2
Cunard World Cruises 2010
Princess Cruises Exotics ED1 2009/10
Princess Cruises Med ED2 2009
Ocean Village Caribbean Preview 2008/09 Advance

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Fred Olsen install interactive television on board

The Fred Olsen Cruiseline have installed an interactive Television facility on 2 of their cruise ships.

The Balmoral and Braemar will offer a facility which will allow passengers to find information on excursions ashore, and enable them to browse and buy from the shops onboard without leaving their cabin. They can order Breakfast, room service, choose from the wine list prior to dinner, or buy goods duty free, line up a film for the evening, reserve shore excursions and book their next holiday afloat, all via the TV.
A major benenfit for both passenger and the company is the resulting reduction in queues However those who prefer the personal touch can still make their bookings in person.
The plan is to introduce this service to the whole fleet in the not too distant future.
Cruisedirect and Barrhead Travel Cruising are recommended agents for Fred Olsen.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Drive a Ferrari whist ashore

P&O Cruises have come up with one of their most inovative ideas for a shore excursion. Driving a Ferrari around town for the day is one of a set of options available along side the regular shore based excursions currently on offer. If that sounds too scary then how about racing a private yacht along the coast. P&O Cruises managing director Nigel Esdale said: “We are attracting more new cruise passengers than ever before and these holidaymakers are looking for something a little different to do on shore than a guided coach tour. “We can now offer them experiences that simply would not be possible on any other type of holiday.” The Ferrari option is of course available in Italy, to cruisers who arrive in Livorno, while racing a private Beneteau 40 yacht might appeal when your cruise takes in Antigua. Zip wiring trips through the rainforest can be experienced in Jamaica. For the more romantic amongst us there is the opportunity to create your very own personal fragrance whilst in Grasse, near Cannes, with help from a master perfumer. Exploring, glaciers and ice-fields near Reykjavik may well appeal to some. Some of these new excursions are available now with others available in 2009.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

MSC Introduce Online Check-in

MSC Express is a new service introduced by MSC Cruise Lines that allows passengers to check-in online for their cruise.
MSC are confident that this will save passengers substantial amounts of time by way of reduced queues, it is available in all Northern European and Mediteranean ports. Prior to the cruises’ departure. Passengers can visit the Crusie lines website http://www.mscexpress.net/ and enter the necesary details, the print out they then recieve will be used to fast track them on arrival at the port.

Express check-in desks will spped up the whole process. “We hope that this new service will help our passengers to start their trip sooner and ultimately" a company spokesman said.

Monday, 28 July 2008

P&O Ban Smoking on 3 Vessels from October

P&Ohave introduced a smoking ban on 3 ships from 3 October 2008

This will apply to all inside areas onboard the Oceana, Ventura and Artemis. The family orientated Oceana and Ventura along with the Adults only Ventura will however still allow smoking in designated area outside on all 3 ships. Passengers will also be allowed to light up on their cabin balcony. Being a British company, P&O Cruises are falling in line with UK law which prohibits smoking in all indoor public areas.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Costa Cruises plan for the future

Costa Cruises are looking to build on their success by opening new routes and markets. Their plans will not be revealed until September as they make plans for the deployment of their expanded fleet for the year 2010. Costa Cruises have led the way in the introduction of cruises that appeal to everyone with itineraries to regions such as Dubai, the Indian Ocean and Asia. Sales for 2009 are already higher than at the same time last year for 2OO8.

Plans also include a double naming ceremony of the 3,78O-passenger Costa Pacifica and the 2,826-passenger Costa Luminosa. This will take place in Genoa on June 5 2009.
The larger ship will then ply it's trade in the Mediterranean while Luminosa will operate out of Amsterdam with voyages to the North Cape.

The Cruise line have plan to add five more vessels to the fleet by 2012, giving them a total of 17 operating Ships.

Get Married by the Captain aboard an Azamara Cruise

Guests can now get married at sea by captains onboard Azamara Cruises’ and Celebrity Cruises' ships. The captain-led wedding ceremonies have been launched to complement the existing vow renewal and in-port wedding offerings. "While many of our guests come onboard seeking a once-in-a-lifetime wedding or vow renewal location, and we've been happy to provide them with in-port weddings led by a local official, their number-one request is for captains to perform the ceremony," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Azamara Cruises and Celebrity Cruises Vice President of Hotel Operations. "Now, we're able to fulfill that wish, while sailing the open waters of the world." Celebrity Cruises, in partnership with The Wedding Experience, has previously offered onboard vow renewals at sea and in-port wedding ceremonies, and with the recent re-registration of seven of Celebrity Cruise's eight ships in Malta, where Azamara Cruises' two ships are also registered, government regulations have changed to allow Captains to perform legal marriages at sea. Guests being married at sea by Azamara Cruises’ and Celebrity Cruises’ captains will be offered a variety of packages that include private receptions in their ship's specialty restaurant to cake and champagne. Basic Captain-performed wedding packages cost from $2,500. Guests who wish to take their love to new heights can also enjoy Celebrity Cruise's unique offering on its cruisetours to Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and The Hotel Alyeska, in Alaska where guests can get married or renew their vows amidst the breathtaking hanging glaciers of the Girdwood Valley, or with stunning views of Mt. McKinley as a backdrop. These ceremonies can take place from June to September as part of a Celebrity Cruises pre- or post-journey cruisetour. Guests should book their wedding in advance of their sailing in order to allow time for the processing of licenses and other legal documents.

Book these at CruiseDirect.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Star Cruises look to Europe

Star Cruises are significantly increasing their European marketing after establishing that interest and sales have grown steadily in the market recently.

Michael Dupont has been promoted to Assistant VP Sales which the company say is a reflection of their optimism for the European market for cruising in the Far East, year round.

Said Dupont: “The untapped potential in the European market is a large growth area for Star Cruises. "The increasing number of long-haul friendly cruises of at least five-nights means that we have more options to sell in these markets. "To support this we have enhanced the booking process and agents can now take advantage of live availability online and sell cruise-only itineraries as part of a tailormade Far East tour.”

Star Cruises sail from the ports of Hong Kong and Singapore.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Carnival wheel for Oasis of the Seas

When RCI unveil the Oasis of the Seas, soon to be the worlds largest cruise ship it will feature a carnival wheel and loft apartments. The ship which will sail in the Caribbean from December next year, will also feature an amphitheatre, the first of it's kind on a cruise ship.

A 43-foot rock-climbing wall and a "zip-line" which will run at a level of 9 decks above the ship's main deck is also a unique feature to be unveiled.

The twin level suites will be the loftiest accomodation available at sea with features such as windows that stretch from floor to ceiling.

This huge new ship will carry 5,400 passengers in 7 areas , each with it's individual theme which will include Central Park. RCI's Oasis of the Seas will also feature 16 decks with 37 different grades and types of accommodation, the views from some of these will be unique.

At 220,000 tonnes the ship is huge by current standards and will initially operate from its home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, begining on 12th December 2009.

Booking will be available from 3rd September 2008. The ship will operate 19, 7 nights cruises in succession to the ports of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas in the Eastern Caribbean.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Norwegian Jewel Sails on Inaugural Cruise from Southampton

With 1,500 British passengers on board NCL's Norwegian Jade started out on its inaugural cruise, leaving Southamptom, its new home port for this Summer.
Having now established a foothold in Southampton NCL, are set to offer competition to Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International who are well established there and are competing favourably with P&O Cruises for a share of the ever increasing cruise market in the United Kingdom. With a projected market of 1,500,000 British people expected to take a cruise in 2008 the number of customers will grow from 1,370,000 in 2007, so say the PSA. Norwegian Jade, the renamed Pride of Hawaii as she was previously named has been made available in a move which has shrunk the operation in Hawaii, to the benefit of the UK and European market.
Norwegian Jade's arrived in Southampton to a warm welcome from the City’s mayor and after the exchange of plaques, the ship made ready to leave for the Mediterranean with a passenger list of principally UK and US citizens who made up the 2,400 passengers. Other than to recognise the British taste for British beer NCL have not changed the theme of the ship, which still carries a Hawaiian feel which may seem misplaced in the Mediterranean, but which NCL are sure will be a hit with passengers.

Norwegian Jade will offer the Freestyle 2.0 upgrades, which include a glass of bubbly on embarkation, better mattresses and linens in the cabins and more lobster at dinner.
As gambling is banned in Hawaii this will be the first time gaming has been available onboard.

Visit CruiseDirect to book.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Silversea's Prince Albert II Ready for Adventure

The Prince Albert II, Silversea's new luxury expedition ship arrived in London earlier this week as it made ready for it's first voyage.
As it sailed under Tower Bridge to collect it's first passengers, the ship which had made its way from Monte Carlo and its naming ceremony, looked magnificent.

With accommodation for a maximum of 132-passengers the Prince Albert II will be be the first ultra-luxury expedition ship in the world, it is claimed by Silversea.

The vessel then made it's way down river, setting off an a series of adventures which will last between 10 and 22 days. The main focus will be Polar adventures, heading for the Arctic Circle, Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland during the summer months. Following this it will sail for South America and Antarctica with a programme of winter sailings planned.

The ship has under gone a multi million dollar renovation and has a 1A ice rating ensuring that the lucky 132 passengers will be carried in safety and ultra-luxurious surroundings throughout their journey

Although it is by definition a smaller ship Silverseas claim the that the cabins offered on the Prince Albert II are on average the largest on any expedition ship. With 66 ocean-view cabins, all of which feature private bathrooms decorated with marble, and many of which have double private balconies or large private verandas, comfort is assured. Butler service is available as one might expect also.

Silversea is a provisional member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, dedicated to managing respectable, environmentally friendly and safe expedition cruising in the Arctic.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Crossing the Panama Canal is an Expensive Business for Disney Cruise line

It has been reported in Panama City that The Disney Cruise Line has paid over 330,000 US Dollars in canal fees to cross the Panama Canal.

The fees were increased in 2007 and are now applied according to the number of beds on board a ship rather than the amount of cargo it can carry. The "Disney Magic" with 875 staterooms is the biggest ship yet to pay the fee at the new tarrif and so now holds the record for the highest price paid..

The most paid by any other ship uptil this point had been 317,142 US Dollars, by a cargo ship, the "MSC Fabienne." Close behind this the record for a cruise ship had been 313,000 US Dollars, set in October 2007 by 2 NCL ships.
The fees increase is obviously needed to help cover the costs of a 5.25 Billion Dollar expantion to the canal which is not due to be finished for at least another 6 years.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Myleene Klasse to name Splendor

Musician and singer Myleene Klass has been lined up to be godmother of and to name Carnival Splendor in Dover next month. The 4,914-passenger ship will be the first Carnival ship to be named in the UK.

In addition to this Carnival Splendor will have the honour of being the biggest, at 113,000-tonne, ship to sail out of Dover after the naming ceremony on 10th July 2008. It’s first work will be a preview cruise lasting 3 days berthing in Amsterdam, Holland and returning to Dover where it will begin it’s official inaugural cruise, lasting 12 days and berthing in Copenhagen, Warnemunde (for Berlin), Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Amsterdam.

“Myleene is the perfect Godmother to name Carnival Splendor, with her many talents complementing the many features on the ship, which is already attracting a broad passenger base - from families to couples to groups of friends – all with a common desire to enjoy a fun, casual and memorable vacation. “The British cruising market is growing fast, with over 1.3 million taking cruises from the UK last year, and this is why we have chosen Britain for our inaugural summer season for Carnival Splendor.” Carnival Cruise Lines president and CEO Gerry Cahill said.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Highlights from the NCL Freestyle Cruising Brochure 2009/10

NCL’s first ever programme of winter sunshine cruises in Europe aboard the beautiful Norwegian Jade.

Fly-cruises from Barcelona to exotic ports like Alexandria, Casablanca and out to the Canary Islands with prices starting at only £699*pp for a 9 night fly-cruise.

Summer 2009 Europe Cruises

Including roundtrip itineraries from Dover and Southampton to the Med and Northern Europe, and Mediterranean fly-cruises – 7 night fly-cruise from £649*pp

Hawaii and Alaska 2009

Two must-cruise destinations and a great time to book with sensational savings.

Early booking discount applies to all of these cruisesSave up to £400 per stateroom*

This unmissable offer is valid for bookings made before 31 July 2008.
Book your cruise right now for the best availability and the widest choice of accommodation.

Call NOW on 0141 242 1313.
Click here for details

On Sale Now

Itineraries now available to book
Europe, Mediterranean & Baltic
Caribbean from Miami
Alaska & the Canadian Rockies

On Sale 6 June
Caribbean from New York & New Orleans

On Sale 13 June
California, Mexico & South America

On Sale 20 June
Canada & New England

On Sale 27 June
Mexican Riviera

On Sale 4 July
Atlantic Voyages

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Celebrity Cruises Offer On-Line Dinner Reservations

Celebrity Cruises has long been known for its outstanding dining. And now, there’s even more reason to celebrate: their onboard Speciality Restaurants can now be booked in advance, online.

Celebrity Millennium will be the first ship available to pre-reserve with full roll out the rest of the fleet over the next few months. By pre-reserving your Speciality Restaurant now, you can relax knowing that you’re all set to enjoy and unforgettable dining experience once onboard.

Logging in to make reservations for our Speciality Restaurants has several great advantages:
  • Shop Securely
  • Modify your confirmed Speciality Restaurant reservations
  • Access your reservation information
  • Reserve a table for all guests in your reservation or another reservation (up to six guests) with the interactive calendar.
  • Pay for Speciality Restaurant reservations with multiple credit cards.

    Full information is available at

Cruising Booms in difficult times

One might be be fooled into thinking that this was a bad time to go cruising.

Fuel prices and the credit crunch have taken the headlines by storm, crude oil prices are at their highest ever levels with expectations of even greater increases. Predictions of doom from the worlds business guru's ensure that all aspects of personal expenditure are coming under scruitiny, not least holidays. For those looking to take a traditional holiday to Europe the problems are compounded by a very strong Euro and little sign that it's strengthening will abate.

All of these are valid reasons to be careful with your choice of holiday both in terms of destination and type.

Under scruitny cruising comes out very well indeed.

Early booker 2009 prices for Cruising with CruiseDirect are in some cases 30% cheaper than previous years, with special offers and bargains to be had all around.

Most of the major cruise operators will have hedged their fuel, giving them a stable platform from which to manage their prices, and bigger ships with more capacity have introduced even greater saving, not to mention increased choice and quality.

American owned ships, of which there are many sailing in European waters, use US Dollars as the currency of choice on all ships. Holland America, Carnival Cruises, R.C.I., Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Lines and NCL to name but a few, give passengers the undoubted benefit of paying for everything on board in Dollars. The US dollar is as weak against Stirling as the Euro is strong giving cruisers a huge boost when it comes to counting the cost os a holiday.

There may be trouble ahead for some but cruising should stay well clear of those stormy waters for the forseeable future.

Expedition Cruise Ship Is To Replace Lost Explorer Cruise Ship

The MS Explorer which sank in 2007 in the Antarctic is to be replaced by the MS Expedition, owners GAP Adventures have anounced.

At the cost of £8 million to buy and refit the larger vessel, this is a significant investment for the company.

Sailing under the flag of Sweden the ship, has until now worked up and down the coast of Scandinavia. It will begin offering trips to the Antarctic in January 2009.

A brochure with full itineraries will be available from CruiseDirect, hopefully by the middle to end of August.

132 passengers can be accommodated but this will be restricted to 120 to allow for those who wish to take single cabins. The Expedition will undergo a four-month refit before it is available to carry passengers for GAP Adventures on January 4 2009.

The vessel is bigger than the Explorer at 345ft, some 70 ft longer.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Costa Cruise Line to sceen Euro 2008 matches

Football lovers will not miss out this summer as Costa promises all matches in the European Championships will be screened live across the whole fleet.
All 12 ships in the fleet will show games beamed live from Austria and Switzerland between 7th June and 29th June.

The 3,780-passenger Costa Serena and Costa Concordia – will install an 18m² screen on the central lido decks to ensure that everyone who wishes will have a good view.

Fans will be able to relax in an exclusive arena with the capacity to seat 1000's or ajourn to a more traditional football viewing environment, the Bar Sport which is a feature of both ships

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

River cruising set for unparalleled growth

Graham Clubb the UK Chairman of Viking River Cruises has announced the companies intention to increase the size of their fleet from 21 to 50 vessels within the next five years.

He also said that Trade sales saw an 80% rise in 2007 and that Viking River Cruises intend to introduce ‘no-fly’ cruises, using Eurostar from the UK, on the rivers Seine, Rhone and Rhine.
Additional flights from more regional airports are also being introduced.

Stuart Perl, managing director of Peter Deilmann River and Ocean Cruising, said: “We are looking at increasing the size of the fleet specifically because of the increase in demand from the UK market.”

9 river cruise vessels are currently operating alongside their ocean-going cruise ship.

The number of passengers from the UK who took a river cruise last in 2007 was around 118,000, with Viking cruises prices averaging about £2,200 per person cruise-only rates with Peter Deilmann came in at around£1,400 pp.

Revenues being much higher than the £1,000 average cost of a cruise on Ocean Village, or £1,500 with P&O Cruises.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Spirit of Adventure marks 200th anniversay of Darwins birth

The Spirit of Adventure will cruise around Central America and up the coast of South America in 2009, to mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth.

352-passengers will have the opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica and experience the amazing Amazon Rainforest next year.

The worlds most famous Naturalist, who was born 200 years ago explored Antarctica, the High Andes and Galapagos, the ship will follow the route he took as he undertook the research which led him to formulate his now famous theory of evolution.

The cruise will Depart 21st February 2009 from Chile, then northwards to Peru and Ecuador where passengers will join the MV Galapagos Explorer II for a 3 day mini cruise to visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre.

offer the 18 night cruise at prices which start at only £4,354 pp for this trip of a lifetime.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Barrhead Travel Cruise Day

Barrhead Travel's Cruise day Saturday the 3rd of May was their most successful ever since their move to the superstore in Oswald Street, Glasgow. 250 people were invited in advance and many, many more came along on the day

Elaine Robb and Luke Smith from CCS set up a Scelectrix that was a great success with kids of all ages but and many other distractions were not enough to distract the visitors from their purpose of booking their next years cruise.
A lot of hard work went in to the preparation for this from the Cruise Direct and Barrhead travel team who throughout the day provided excellent customer service, looking after the refreshments and helping the clients at every turn. All had the opportunity to talk to a consultant and if they wished an appointment one of the cruise line staff.

The day really was a great success for all concerned.

Independence of the seas, a personal recomendation

The Independence of the Seas is the third of the Freedom Class Ships and it is wonderful. It has something for everyone, you will not be disappointed.
From an Inside stateroom to the Suites there are new nicely decorated spacious cabins.
Do not miss the shows as they are fantastic if you miss one then you can catch up on the television in your stateroom.
The kids facilities are really good and they have their own section to play in depending on their age. The food is wonderful, you can eat in the main dining room at 6.30 or 8.30 or if you choose, eat in the Windjammer or one of the specialty restaurants. You will find a wide range of food in all of these restaurants so you will not be limited for choice. All in all a fantastic experience.

Anne - cruise consultant CruiseDirect

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Azamara Journey Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises

Azamara Cruises have detailed their winter 2009-2010 programme of Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises.

Azamara Journey, the 694 passenger cruise liner, underwent a $19 million restoration before launching in 2007, it will sail between December 2009 and mid April 2010 and will visit 23 ports in 15 countries.

Part of the Royal Caribbean cruises family the small luxury ship brand will make first time calls at Castries, St. Lucia; Willemstad. Curacao; San Diago and California.

The ship will also anchor off of the seven-mile island of Bequia in The Grenadines, which is a favoured port of call for small cruise ship and yachts because of its attractions and unspoiled atmosphere.

San Diago rather than Los Angeles will be the turnaround port for each of the two 16-night Panama Canal sailings; one of the ships will be departing westbound from Miami on December 18, 2009 and the other will be departing eastbound to Miami on January 3, 2010.

During both of the Panama Canal sailings, Azamara Journey will call at Port Antonio, Jamaica; Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; Willemstad, Curacao; and Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas and Huatulco, Mexico.

A new 10-night Easter voyage will be sailing from Miami 1, 2010 and will call a St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands; Marigot, St. Martin; Roseau, Dominica; Basseterre, St. Kitts, and Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.

A rotation of the three different 12-night Caribbean itineraries from Miami January to March 2010 will feature a balance between beach, shopping and nature intensive ports. These will include Bequia; Castries; Roseau, Dominica; St. Croix, US Virgin Islands; Falmouth, Antigua; Fort de France, Martinique; Gustavia, St. Barts; Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe; plus others.

Shore tours include visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica from the suspended bridges crossing the treetop canopy, the Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica and Mexican cooking experience in Huatulco, passengers can learn to cook classic dishes such as enchiladas, stuffed chillies and Oaxaca chicken stew.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

First Impressions - A visit to the Ventura

The first impression of Ventura upon arrival at Southampton was how tall she is. A very modern design with more balcony cabins and open deck space than I had imagined.

The atrium is spectacular with mood changing light effects. A very bright and open space with comfortable sofas and easy chairs.

The most amazing children's centre and children's facilities on any ship that I have been on was one of the highlights of this ship visit.

The cabins - although smaller than I had hoped - were well equipped and fitted to a high standard. I was disappointed with the balcony cabins on Riviera Deck as they are all sheltered by a large overhang above. Also the mini suites on C and D deck are overlooked by cabins on A, B, and R deck. This should be made aware to customers either in the brochure or on Amadeus.

Food, as usual, was plentiful and well presented - and it didn't taste too bad either.

Although only an overnight ship visit, I feel the experience of seeing Ventura and sampling her facilities will provide valuable information for the future.

Karen - CruiseDirectUK

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

RCL plan a European Expantion

Royal Caribbean International will be further expanding in Europe as cruising becomes an increasingly popular holiday choice.
Richard Fain, the company’s chairman, speaking before the UK naming of the line’s biggest ship, Independence of the Seas on Wednesday, said he believed cruising was starting to reach “a critical mass” in Europe as more and more people recommend newcomers to the advantages of cruise holidays.
He denied that the US economic decline was influencing their decisions to send more vessels to Europe. He said: “The business decisions had to be made for the long term aspect of the company regardless of the financial climate.
He also said that interest in Europe would continue to grow due to the increase in cruise passengers from the region.
The company expect over 60,000 passengers to sail on the 3,600-passenger cruise liner Independence of the Seas in the first summer, the ship will depart from Southampton to the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Ireland.
The port of Southampton is more than capable of handling over 900,000 passengers based on 280 cruise ships calling this year as total UK cruise numbers are predicted to hit 1.55 million.
Royal Caribbean is offering a range of fly-cruises within Europe across its brands this summer and is waiting to unveil further details of its joint voyage in Germany with TUI AG to reach German-speaking passengers.

31 % more Families Book a Cruise

The largest independent travel company in the UK, The Co-operative Travel have claimed a 31% increase in families booking cruises this year. According to the agency group, families now represent one in ten of all cruise passengers.
As Royal Caribbean International’s largest ship, Independence of the Seas is due to arrive in Southampton for its naming next Wednesday, the figure emerged which followed last week’s launch of P&O cruises largest family-friendly cruise liner Ventura.
According to Co-operative Travel the growing trend by UK families imitate the habits of American holidaymakers.
The International Association of Cruise Lines represents around 97% of US cruise ships, they have reported that they carry approximately one million children every year and the demand has pushed cruise operators to cater for the family market.
Trevor Davis of Co-operative Travel said: “Cruising is one of the travel industry’s biggest success stories, cruise holidays have always been multi-generational which makes it even more appealing for families who want to see what is on offer.”
“Major cruise operators have convinced parents who are looking for a stress-free break to choose a cruising holiday, these cater for families as the ships are fitted with increasingly bigger and better attractions and also making the kids club and entertainment more enjoyable. There is also an increase in ships departing from the UK.”
“A cruising holiday is also very appealing to families as it gives them the flexibility to eat what and when they want and also can allow older children to roam the ship and try out some of the entertainment such as on-board surfing and climbing walls all in a safe environment.”
“Combining a cruise holiday with departures from the UK and you can cut out stress plus the expense of flying with children. It’s an attractive offer.”
He added: "The launch of The Independence of the Seas will further boost the family cruising market.”
"The increased publicity and capacity will show more parents what cruising has to offer them and their children."

Two New Star ships For Louise Cruise Lines

Louis Cruise Lines have made an agreement with Star Cruises to purchase two of their cruise ships. The parent company, Louis plc plan to buy the Norwegian Dream and the Norwegian Majesty for the total of $380 million (240 million euros).
As part of their agreement, the Norwegian Dream will be leased back to Star Cruises until November 2008 and the Norwegian Majesty until December 2009.
The funding has been undertaken by DVB Bank, who is a specialist transportation finance bank.
Louis Cruise Lines have said the move would strengthen its position in the Eastern Mediterranean cruise market.
They added: “The expansion of the company’s cruising operations is expected to lead to a considerably higher profitability for 2009 onwards and will also create new prospects for Louis plc internationally.”
Costakis Loizou, executive chairman for Louis Plc also stated: “This announcement is working with our strategy for the renewal of our ships and also the continuous upgrading of the service that we provide.”
“This isn’t only a major step forward for Louis but also for the Mediterranean cruise market, where the company have been active over a couple of decades now.”
“With the current trends of the cruise market our decision is consistent, since cruising is the fastest growing tourism sector internationally.”

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Oil prices bite as Royal Caribbean increases fuel supplement

The ever increasing price of oil has forced Royal Caribbean Cruises to increase the fuel supplement for all bookings made on or after the 1st May 2008.

An additional $8 (£4 approximately) per person, per day, will be applied for first and second passengers in a stateroom.

They have however restricted this to a maximum of $112 (£55 approximately) per person, per cruise.

The charge will be restricted to $3 (£1.50 approximately) a day, with a limit of $42 (£20 approximately) for any additional passengers sharing a state room.

This additional charge will apply to the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises brands.

To avoid this charge book with CruiseDirect before the 1st May 2008

Friday, 18 April 2008

Holland America anounce 2009 "Grand Voyages"

Four grand voyages will be available from Holland America Line in 2009, with sailings ranging between 50 to 117 days.

Rotterdam’s Grand World Voyage will begin a 117-day journey on the 19th January from Los Angeles and the Grand South America Voyage leaves on the 2nd January for 68 days sailing.
50-days sailing aboard the Prinsendam for the Grand Mediterranean Voyage which will leave on the 11th March from Fort Lauderdale has also been announced.

If a 67-day Grand Australia and New Zealand cruise is for you then its available departing from Seattle on the 26th September.

To take advantage of the early booking offers bookings with cruisedirect must be made by 20th May.

Discounts depend upon which cruise and cabin category is chosen and may include "onboard credit", "pre-paid gratuities", or an excursion of some kind, or a bottle of Champagne.

2009 Cruises 30% cheaper than last year.

CruiseDirect is reporting that cruises companies are reducing 2009 cruise prices by up to 30% for off peak sailings,iIn an attempt to lure price conscious cruisers to book early.

P&O Cruises will launch their 2009 Preview brochure on 21 April, unlike last year when each ship’s program was launched on a different day, will this year release stock in blocks of departures, over a six day period.

Nigel Esdale, Managing Director of P&O Cruises, said that the line had experimented this year, by cutting prices for departures which are traditionally slow to sell and this pricing policy would be extended. For some cruises the daily cost has been reduced to £70 instead of the usual £100.

Sharon Munro, Managing Director of Barrhead Travel says, ‘These are great deals as while cruise lines are cutting prices to lure the early booker, the prices at peak times have actually risen by 2-3% because there is a lull in cruising capacity in 2009. Ex UK, overall capacity increased by 40% this year but no major rise is planned for next year by the leading cruise lines in the UK market’

Friday, 11 April 2008

MSC Cruises Launch Summer 09 Programme

MSC Cruises will feature two new ships in an expanded program sailing from Dover in 2009.

12-Day cruises will be available on the MSC Lirica which will fulfill all of the northern European sailing from the UK including calls in Amsterdam, Bremerhaven, Gothenburg, Talinn, St Petersburg and Copenhagen on 9th May, 14th July and 5th August next year.

St Petersburg is featured with a 2 day stopover in many of the itineraries.
Starting at only £700, from CruiseDirect and Barrhead Travel
the prices for the Dover sailings are very reasonable indeed.

MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida, 2 new ships are also introduced for next year, as well as the MSC Poesia which has only recently been launched.

MSC Fantasia’s maiden voyage will be a Xmas cruise departing from Genoa in December this year, Again prices start at £905 or £2,600 in the ship’s ‘six-star’ MSC Yacht Club suites with butler service. The christening of the ship will take place in Naples.

MSC Splendida, the sister ship of the MSC Fantasia sails out of Barcelona on 7 June calling at Genoa, Civitavecchia / Rome, Messina / Taormina, La Goulette / Tunis, Genoa and Marseilles. This will be its inaugural cruise.

Venice will see visits from MSC Poesia, MSC Musica and MSC Armonia in 2009 – MSC – each featuring differing eight-day itineraries.

Sail to Dover from Fort Lauderdale in Florida on the MSC Orchestra which departs on 2nd May and visits New York City for two days en-route.

Queen to pay farewell visit to the QE2

It has been announced that the Queen will visit the QE 2 for the final time, in Southampton next month.

A spokesman for Cunard have said that the full details will be announced very soon.
QE2, was launched by the Queen at the Clydebank shipyard in Glasgow, in September 1967. The QE2 has been the flagship of the Cunard fleet for 35 years and has sailed for over 5.6 million nautical miles, whilst carrying over 2.5 million passengers. She has completed 25 world cruises; and has clocked up 802 transatlantic crossings.

This will be the third time that the Queen has been on-board the QE2having previously visited in 1969, immediately prior its maiden voyage, and again in 1990 for the 150th anniversary of the Cunard Line.

In November the vessel will head off to Dubai where she will feature as a major tourist attraction. Carol Marlow, the President and managing director of Cunard said: “We are delighted and honored that The Queen has chosen to visit QE2 to wish her farewell.

“Her Majesty has taken a close interest in the ship over the last 40 years, and I am certain this will be a memorable occasion for all involved”