Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Planning And Booking Your First Cruise

Booking a cruise for the very first time can be a daunting a prospect, especially when compared to booking a land based holiday.  Don’t be put off, this is just the first hurdle to experiencing one of the best holidays you will ever have so the trick is to just sit back, enjoy the ride and take it all step by step.  The starting point for any cruise holiday is making the decision over what you want the main priority of your cruise to be.  The reason I mention this is because cruise holidays can be chosen for numerous reasons but the best decisions are based around either the ship itself of the itinerary and collection of ports you wish to visit.  This can often depend on the people travelling; families for example will be looking for much different facilities to that of couples or single passengers.
Choosing your ship is a huge ingredient for putting together the perfect cruise. After all, this is the place you will spend the majority of your time and will become home for the duration of your holiday, so you want it to be special. Cruise ship options range from grand superliners to intimate, traditional sailing ships.  Finding the right one for you can seem like a minefield but just remember that this is a holiday, not a chore and spending time narrowing down the right ship for you is a pleasurable problem to have.  The choices are fantastic and picking your first cruise is an exciting time.  There are many brilliant cruise lines to decide between and it all depends on what you are looking for from your holiday.  Questions such as what facilities would you like there to be on board? Where would you like to sail from?  What price range are you looking for?  These are all important questions you need to have in mind when looking at a cruise for the first time. 
For family cruising then look no further than cruise lines such as P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises.  These are all great choices for children and have so many facilities on board for all to enjoy that the hardest decision of your holiday will be deciding what to do first.  P&O Cruises specialise in providing the perfect cruise holidays tailor-made to the British market.  If you’re looking for a ship with superb facilities, excellent service and a British ambiance then this is the cruise line for you.  Then comes the wow factor of Royal Caribbean.  This cruise line provides the ultimate innovation.  With rock climbing walls, ice rinks and aqua theatres, Royal Caribbean are all about fun at sea.  Entertainment on board is truly incredible, combine this with sensational service and the destinations to match and you’re in for a treat.  Princess Cruises are very much in the same mould.  With exciting facilities and exquisite cuisine, a Princess Cruise can never be ruled out.  The brand new Royal Princess has just begun her maiden season and sister ship, Regal Princess will follow in 2014. 
Princess Cruises Royal Princess
The New Royal Princess
 Of course not everyone desires family facilities and for couples you may prefer the perfect getaway and escape from it all.  If this is the case and you’re looking for blissful peace and quiet then consider cruise lines such as Seabourn, Silversea and Azamara Club Cruises.  All luxury cruise lines, each with their own unique characters, they welcome you on board for a holiday that you will never forget.  Each of these cruise lines is all inclusive so there’s no need to worry about unexpected surprises, just relax and enjoy.  Again though, price comes into it.  These cruise lines are magnificent but as they are luxury lines, do come with a higher price than the aforementioned family ships.  You can still enjoy a fabulous cruise with P&O Cruises and get the peace and quiet you’ve been looking for by choosing one of the adult only ships in the fleet.  Oriana, Arcadia and Adonia are all adult only vessels and provide the ideal escape for a perfect relaxing. 
P&O Cruises Ventura
P&O Ventura in Southampton
Now for the itinerary and deciding where to go.  There are so many exciting destinations to visit that once you’ve done one cruise; you will be hooked for life so be warned!  If you’re looking for a simple start to your holiday or perhaps are not too keen on flying, then take a look at cruises from Southampton or other UK ports.  Many cruise lines offer a wide range of itineraries sailing from Southampton including the Mediterranean, Baltic capitals, Norwegian Fjords, British Isles and even the chance to head further afield to the Caribbean or sail into the heart of New York aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.  Sailing from the UK could not be simpler.  With no strict luggage rules to abide by, there’s no worry or fuss about taking that extra shirt or dress and the check in process takes no longer than 30 minutes before you’re on board and being shown to your stateroom. Sound good?  Thought so!  Cruises from the UK really are fantastic and because of the choice available, offer something for everyone.  P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen and Celebrity Cruises are just a few examples of the world’s leading cruise lines sailing from Southampton. 
You may prefer to fly and have the craving to get straight out to the warm weather or to the heart of your desired destination.  If this is the case then no problem.  With a great selection of cruise lines to choose from and all available with flights and transfers, fly-cruise holidays are also a wonderful choice.  Board your flight and on arrival you will be welcomed by your cruise operator who will transfer you to your ship or in some cases a hotel to spend a night in port before setting sail the following day.  With fly cruise holidays available to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Canada, New England, Alaska, the Baltic Capitals and many more, there is always the right cruise out there for you.  Just decide where you want to go and build the rest from there, it’s simple and does not have to be hard work.   
Once you’ve decided on the destination you wish to see and the cruise line you would like to take you there, the next step along your booking journey is to decide on your choice of accommodation.  A cruise holiday offers numerous choices for your time on board and these options range from inside staterooms, outside staterooms, balcony staterooms and suites.  Inside staterooms are the cheapest options on board and often offer exceptional value for money.  The only difference between an inside stateroom and an outside stateroom is that the outside has a picture window out over the ocean where as an inside is on the interior of the ship.  Both of these cabin choices offer comfortable space and amenities, the decision is based on whether you prefer to pay a little extra for a window or are happy to pay a lower price for an interior room.  As time goes on and cruise ships evolve, the alternative option aboard one ship for this is to opt for an inside stateroom with virtual balcony, which can be selected aboard Royal Caribbean’s brand new ship, Quantum of the Seas. 
Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas
Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas
The next step up in both accommodation and price is to opt for a balcony stateroom.  These cabins have become increasingly popular in recent years and this popularity has seen many cruise lines build ships completely orientated around balcony accommodation.  There really is nothing like stepping onto your own private veranda to watch the sunset and sip a glass of champagne before heading for dinner.  The sea breeze is always nice and hence the reason for these beautiful cabins becoming so desirable.  Above balcony staterooms you have the different ranges and variations of suites.  These often begin with mini or junior suites depending on the cruise line you are looking to sail with.  Suites are beautiful but be careful when booking a mini or junior suite as sometimes these rooms do not come with the added benefits of the full suites and this is not always highlighted in the brochure as much as it could be. 
Suites are spectacular on board ships and are not just one category on their own.  You have many different suites to choose from.  Whether you wish to travel in a standard suite, royal suite or penthouse suite, the choice is yours and each of these majestic options come with many added benefits.  You’ll receive priority boarding and disembarkation, a dedicated concierge and butler service, preferred dining selection, priority tender boarding (transfers to port when the ship is anchored offshore) and much more.  The most important thing with accommodation is deciding what is right for you.  Base it on value for money and how much you like your own private space.  If you’re one for socialising and spending most of your time on deck or in port, then you may ask yourself is it really worth going for a larger room when you will be spending most of your time out of it? Or do you really like to relax on a balcony in your own little world with peace and quiet, if so then a balcony stateroom or mini-suite could be just right for you.  It’s all down to the little details and preferences that make us so different. 
P&O Arcadia Suite
P&O Arcadia Suite
For families this is also a key decision as you always want to make sure you’ve got enough space.  We all know how it can be when going on holiday, sometimes when you get back you feel like you need another holiday just to get over the last one but a cruise, I guarantee will not be this way.  Find the right stateroom choice for you and take it from there.  If you’re travelling as a family then be sure to check bed configurations as this will depend on the size of the cabin.  Just another piece of advice to check when booking your cruise than can be important.
Once you have decided on your accommodation, the next stage of your booking process is deciding what dining you would like on board.  Many cruise lines offer open seating dining.  This is where you have the complete freedom to dine in the main restaurants at whatever time you wish between 6pm and 9.30pm.  Simply arrive at a time that suits you and you will be seated to the first available table at the size of your request.  Open seating is called many different names depending on the cruise line you are travelling with.  P&O Cruises refer to this as “Freedom Dining” whereas Royal Caribbean prefer the term “My Time Dining”.  The variations in title of this dining style change with each cruise line but the concept always remains the same.  The alternative option for dining is known as “Traditional Dining” or with some cruise lines “Club Dining”.  This option invites you to choose between an earlier or later sitting time, usually 6.30pm or 8.30pm.  With this choice you will decide what sitting you prefer and then request a table size of your choice.  You will then dine at the same table each evening and enjoy the same waiters serving you.  With open seating dining you will dine at a different table each night.  There is no right or wrong choice with this; it’s simply down to personal preference.  “Freedom Dining” offers exactly that, the chance to enjoy complete freedom to decide when you dine whilst others prefer to know they have the same table waiting for them each evening.  It’s all down to you and what you like; this is what a cruise is all about, tailor-making a holiday to be perfect for you.
You are not just confined to the main dining rooms for your evening meal.  There is a wide variety of choice aboard many cruise ships now and it has in modern times become a way of creating a point of difference between them.  Many cruise lines put a huge emphasis on cuisine and attempt to provide as many different options for passengers as possible.  Deciding where to dine can become a tricky decision.  Speciality restaurant on board are truly amazing and serve the most sublime cuisine you can possibly imagine.  Restaurants range from Italian, French, steakhouse, seafood, Asian, Mexican, Brazilian and many more.   These select dining venues are available for all passengers to book any time on board.  With certain cruise lines such as Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises, these restaurants are included in the overall cost of the cruise but many cruise lines do still apply a small supplement for these venues.  The supplements are usually extremely good value for money. 
Celebrity Chefs have become a regular feature aboard many cruise ships now with P&O Cruises being one of the most popular for this.  Aboard  a P&O cruise you will find restaurants from Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochar as well as wine selections from TV personality Olly Smith and delectable desserts from famous patisserie innovator Eric Lanlard.  Other cruise lines to feature such celebrity personalities as Jacques Pepin aboard Oceania Cruises and Geoffrey Zakarian aboard Norwegian Cruise Line.
P&O Cruises - Celebrity Chefs
P&O Cruises - Celebrity Chefs
 Once you have reached this point and decided on the aforementioned decisions then you are well and truly close to being ready to book.  There are many other things that may be important to you and each individual is different.  For families, be sure to check out the children’s facilities and programmes available for them on board, designed to keep them entertained and make sure they have the time of their lives.  Cruise lines acknowledge that keeping the kids happy makes sure the parents are to and offers the time for adults to have some time to themselves and unwind. 
Spa and fitness facilities are also worth noting.  Most cruise lines come jam-packed with these venues but it is worth deciding on the right one for you.  You’ve probably heard many people say the sentence “you can’t have it all your own way” but with cruising that’s not true, you really can have it all!

Friday, 9 August 2013

The history of the Royal Princess Bell

Content originates from www.bolsovercruiseclub.com

Yesterday on Facebook we asked the question, where does the bell from the original Royal Princess (1984) reside today?  Well the answer is that the bell currently sits proudly presented on the bridge of the brand new Royal Princess.  Princess Cruises continued the proud heritage by including the bell on board the new vessel but the history of the bell does not stop there.

The original captain of the first Royal Princess was named Nick Nash and he was presented the bell upon being named in the position.  Captain Nash had a daughter and the bell was used as a font at her Christening.  The very same daughter was also the Madrina at the float out of the new Royal Princess, once again acknowledging the emphasis placed on heritage by the cruise line.

The float out of a new ship is a tradition of the Italian shipyard{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT} Fincantieri and for the new Royal Princess it was a loveable family affair.  The role of the Madrina at these events is to cut the cord that commences the flow of water into the ships dock.  Attending the float out was Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew,  new Royal Princess Captain Tony Draper and Princess master Captain Nick Nash.  His daughter Victoria Nash cut the cord and the day’s events began to unfold.  The choice of the Madrina for the new vessel was a heart-warming decision from the cruise line.  Victoria Nash has a special connection to the first Royal Princess having been christened on board.  Of course the naming ceremony was also a superbly special day as Her Royal Highness Kate Middleton christened the new vessel, just as the late Princess Diana did the original Royal Princess in 1984.

“The original Royal Princess left our fleet some time ago, but we wanted to bring the spirit of that much-loved ship, also a prototype design, to the new Royal Princess,” said Buckelew during the ceremony. “And who better to do that than Victoria, who has grown up into a beautiful young lady who will now have a special connection with both vessels.”{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}

Victoria’s name was engraved inside the bell to commemorate the occasion of her christening on board.  It is an age old tradition that the ship’s bell be used as the christening bowl and thanks to the Nash family, the very same bell is now aboard the new Royal Princess.  It was in 1996 that the christening of Victoria Nash took place and in the image shown you can see from the left Captain Nick Nash, Sue Nash, Baby Victoria and now Captain Alan Wilson.

“Captain Nash was presented with the ship’s bell from our original Royal Princess following its decommissioning, and we are delighted that he has very generously offered this bell to be placed aboard our new Royal Princess, in honor of his daughter,” said Buckelew. “Thank{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT} you Nick, for this wonderful gift.”

The float out occasion spanned over two days and involved slowly but surely letting water build within the shipyard dock to ensure the vessel was safely set afloat.  Once completed, the ship was then moved to a key location known as the outfitting dock where final construction stages take place before she headed for interior fitting.  Bolsover Cruise Club MD Michael Wilson had the pleasure of attending both naming ceremonies of the original and new Royal Princess ships and was also invited to see the new Royal Princess during her outfitting stages at the Fincantieri shipyard as seen here.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Princess Cruises announce senior officers for new Regal Princess!

Regal Princess senior officers announced
This blog originates from www.bolsovercruiseclub.co.uk

Princess Cruises has announced the officers are set to take charge of the brand new Regal Princess in 2014.  Regal Princess, the sister ship of the recently unveiled Royal Princess will make her maiden voyage on 2 June, 2014 featuring a seven night inaugural itinerary from Venice to Barcelona. 
Royal Princess made her debut in June of this year and was named by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.  The inaugural celebrations were fantastic and the cruise line are now even more excited to welcome sister vessel Regal Princess next year.

Regal Princess will provide the same amenities and facilities for guests on board as the Royal Princess including innovative highlights such as the remarkable SeaWalk and spectacular Movies Under The Stars outdoor screen.  The selection of restaurants, as always with Princess Cruises is set to be superb and Regal Princess, much like her sister ship, is sure to be a big hit with passengers. 
Princess Cruises have now announced the officers that will take charge of the Regal Princess with the biggest announcement coming in the form of the ship’s Captain.  Captain Ed Perrin has been named the master of the vessel for the new arrival to the fleet and will lead his team of officers and crew on board.  Captain Perrin has been with Princess Cruises for a significant period of time now having joined the cruise line in 1996, commencing his service aboard Tahitian Princess.  At a young age Captain Perrin learned his trade aboard cargo ships and has gone on to build a highly successful career within the cruising industry. 
The cruise line also announced the senior four stripe team that will work under Captain Perrin.  Relief Captain Dino Sagani, Relief Captain John Foster, Chief Engineer Rosario Segreto, Staff Captain Aldo Traverso and Hotel General Manager Dirk Brand were all named to be part of the inaugural team to take charge of the majestic new Princess vessel.

Paul Ludlow, UK Director of Princess Cruises said “It takes a talented team to bring out a new vessel of this calibre. These skilled officers bring considerable seagoing and management skills to the new ship’s maiden season.”

Click here to read all about our Royal Princess ship visit experience.

Friday, 19 July 2013

It's all about One2One!

This post originates from www.bolsovercruiseclub.com

With our current visit to the Great Yorkshire Show, we thought what better time than now to talk about why our clients choose us.  We are more than just a cruise agent, we are experts in cruising.  That might seem a little arrogant but be assured it is simply confidence.  As the Number 1 UK Independent Agent for P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises for 26 consecutive years and now the Number 1 Independent Agent for Celebrity Cruises, we know a thing or two about cruising but it’s more than just our knowledge that sets us apart.  Many clients that first come to us are completely unaware of the service that we can provide.  We are unlike many agents with dedicated departments for sales, admin, {MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}customer services etc.  At Bolsover Cruise Club from the first time you speak with us to the moment you step foot on board your chosen ship, you will have one point of contact throughout.  You will be looked after by one of our experiences Sales Consultants, providing you with all the information and support you need and ensuring that a streamlined booking process takes place.  Bolsover Cruise Club provide a dedicated One2One service meaning you can always rely on your queries being taken care of by the same person throughout your booking journey without having to explain your question or query over and over again to different people.  This is an award winning service that we pride ourselves on and when you book with us, you can do so in the confidence that you will be looked after like never before.

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Customer service is not just important in our line of work, it’s imperative but there are many different styles of customer service and many differing opinions on how it should be delivered.  Bolsover Cruise Club are pioneers in offering a personalised One2One service. It is rare that you will find an organisation able to deliver a first class service at every interaction but we pride ourselves on doing just that.  Our expert Sales Consultants are experts because they are put through a rigorous training schedule before they are ready to take care of our clients.  We ensure we cover every angle and are fully knowledgeable about every cruise line that we deal with.  Not only can we answer your questions, we will do so in a timely manner and if at any point you find a question to which we do not know the answer, we will find out for you straight away.  Our staff are here to distribute their knowledge and experience, which is vital to achieving a truly personal service to our customers.

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Our overall aim is to establish your wants, needs, likes, dislikes and preferences to therefore be able to find the best cruise for you.  Our One2One service allows us to do just that.  By dealing with the same point of contact throughout your enquiry and booking process we are able to develop an understanding.  We can gain a greater feel and perspective of what you are looking for from your holiday and in doing so can provide the best advice possible for choosing your perfect holiday.  Our state of the art computer system means that we know your calling before we even pick up the phone and can immediately see it’s you.  You’ll be greeted with a personal welcome or if you prefer you can even visit our state of the art, UK first, designated Cruise Bureau to see us in person to discuss your holiday. To read all about our fantastic industry first Cruise Bureau click here.

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}The phrase “going the extra mile” is used too often in the modern day world, which is why I’ll choose to go about it in a different way.  Customer service is not just about going the extra mile to us; it’s about everything we do and is at the heart of our entire business.  It’s for this reason that we have achieved so many awards over the years.  Unlike other high street Travel Agents we do not mix our focuses on differing types of holiday, we are a cruise specialist and our unrivalled relationship and association with cruise operators allows us to provide exceptional value for money and additional benefits to our Cruise Club members.  We pride ourselves on the fact that the majority of our bookings come from repeat customers and personal recommendations. It’s no wonder we are recognised within the UK cruise industry as the No.1 Cruise Specialist.

For more information on why you should book with Bolsover Cruise Club click here and you can also be assured of booking security and confidence as we are fully financially protected which means your money is always 100% safe, see more here.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Keel laying ceremony takes place for brand new P&O Cruises ship

This blog originates from www.bolsovercruiseclub.com

At 1300 hours today the keel laying ceremony took place for the brand new P&O Cruises ship.  The new ship will be the largest cruise vessel ever built for the British market at 141,000 gross tons and the ceremony took place at the impressive Monfalcone shipyard of Fincantieri in Trieste, Italy.  The ship will be delivered in 2015 and we cannot wait to see what P&O Cruises will unveil. 
The new build once complete will be a “modern classic”, reflecting the best “best of the best” from all seven ships within the fleet.  It will be an inspirationally innovative design taking P&O Cruises to the next level with an unprecedented number of passenger facilities and comforts.  Iconic signatures of the brand will remain and it is certainly set up to be an exciting 2015 for the cruise line.  Ever-popular classic features of Oriana and Aurora will be present on board as well as the variety of Azura and Ventura.  We are most excited however, about the brand new concepts that are yet to be announced, which are set to include a collection of “sophisticated wows”. 
The main aim of the new ship is to deliver a cruising experience for both newcomers to cruising whilst equally resonating with existing passengers.  The cruise line has built a remarkable history of exemplary traditions and the new ship will carry this forward once more.  Alongside a step forward in terms of on board facilities, the new vessel will also take the cruise line into a new generation of operational and environmental efficiency.  This has been a key focus for the cruise line since the original announcement of the new ship and there is certain to be greater emphasis placed on this closer to the time of its arrival.
Our marketing team were in Trieste to witness the special ceremony taking place today and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the new ship begin to take shape.  The ceremony included the famous keel laying as the first section of ship’s hull was placed.  The keel laying is a huge moment in the building process of all new ships and for the new P&O ship it is made up of pipes, cables, insulation and other equipment amounting to 214 tons.  These aspects are then combined with 6 pre-manufactured blocks creating a final, total weight of 408 tons for this hull section alone.
The excitement well and truly begins now that the keel has been laid.  The next stage in the process is for the key designs and development concepts to be formed.  We will bring you the latest news every step of the way leading up to the new ships arrival.  It is believed that 74 sections will be used in the construction of the ship. 
Carnival UK CEO David Dingle was at the ceremony and had this to say: “Each of our new ships has been exclusively designed for the British market. We have ensured that each anticipates the subtly changing trends in what British passengers expect from their cruise holiday – and is equipped to meet those expectations for many years to come. Our success in adapting to the market’s changing needs is why our ships continue to fill and why the whole cruise sector ultimately continues to buck any downward trend. We cannot wait to see this ship finished and underway”.
David Dingle’s comments were followed by the Finacantieri Shipyard Director Carlo De Marco: “We are proud to be on the world stage together with P&O Cruises in this endeavour which will undoubtedly be a marvellous opportunity not only for Monfalcone shipyard but for Fincantieri as a whole. Indeed, this is another occasion to further strengthen our relationship with this well-established ship owner. It will be an honour and a pleasure, to celebrate in 2015 the delivery of this ship and together the tenth anniversary of the collaboration between P&O Cruises and Fincantieri, started in 2005 with Arcadia”.
Our marketing team reported that the ceremony was very special and P&O Cruises Managing Director Carol Marlow gave the order for the keel to be laid using the words “Diamo il via alla posa del primo blocco della più grande nave, la migliore, mai costruita per il mercato Britannico!” (Please lay the keel of the biggest and best ship ever built for the British market!)
Upon the return of our marketing staff we will follow this blog up photos of the ceremony.

Monday, 13 May 2013

P&O Cruises unveil Macmillan parntership!

This article originates from www.bolsovercruiseclub.com

We cover many topics in our blog posts designed to help our members to decide on the right cruise for them and the right destination.  We attempt to discuss the most beneficial issues at all time but today we have the pleasure of announcing a brilliant new partnership.

P&O Cruises recently announced an exciting new partnership with Macmillan cancer support with a yearlong agreement to see the cruise line’s fleet of seven ships hosting a superb range of fundraising activities and events. 

Macmillan is an excellent, longstanding source of support providing help for people affected by cancer.  The organisation is there to provide all means of support possible for patients and also families and communities involved in living with cancer.  This support comes in all forms and is designed to provide a helpful system to cover each step of the way.  This fantastic organisation is more than just medical help.  Nurses, specialist health care professionals and dedicated cancer care centres are all funded by Macmillan but their aim is also to ensure emotional and financial support to attempt to help in any way they can.

It is because of the sensational work Macmillan do that P&O Cruises formed this partnership, to raise awareness of the work they are doing and support the organisation’s aims as much as possible.

P&O Cruises ambassador and master patissier Eric Lanlard unveiled the partnership in some style by revealing a collection of green cupcakes for P&O Cruises staff.  The staff were all dressed for the occasion in Macmillan green clothing and Eric Lanlard himself is a huge Macmillan supporter.

During the yearlong partnership, officers and crew on board P&O’s seven ships will be hosting and taking part in many fitness challenges to raise awareness and funds as well as inviting passengers to coffee morning activities for a chance to donate any spare foreign currency they may have to the organisation.  Guests on each of the ships will also have the opportunity to bid on exclusive keepsakes from P&O Cruise holidays.  These ideas are designed to aid the great work of Macmillan and we praise the cruise line for taking part in such a tremendous partnership.

P&O Cruises managing director Carol Marlow said 'The reality is that more than one in three of us will get cancer. Macmillan is an incredible charity which offers emotional, practical and financial support to those affected. P&O Cruises is determined to help raise as much money as possible in 2013 to help them to do this. Passengers on board our ships will be able to join in with a range of fundraising activities and I am sure will support our efforts for this immensely worthy cause.'

Partnership Account Manager at Macmillan, Ellie Walker said: ‘We’re delighted
that P&O Cruises is supporting Macmillan to raise funds and awareness of Macmillan amongst staff and passengers. For most of us, cancer will be the toughest fight we ever face, but by working with us, P&O Cruises are helping us ensure that no one has to face cancer alone. I’m really excited to see how our calendar of exciting fundraising events goes this year.’

What to pack for your cruise!

This blog post originates from www.bolsovercruiseclub.com

So you’ve booked your cruise and are looking forward to the big day when you embark on your journey. It’s time to make sure that you have everything ready. It can be difficult to resist the temptation to over pack, so we’ve compiled a list of 10 essential cruise items to help ease the pressure and enjoy the build up to your cruise holiday.

  • Toiletries
Your room will include basic toiletries such as shampoo and soap, but it you are particular about the products that you like to use in the bath and shower then make sure that you pack your own.

  • Clothing
It is important to check the clothing advice that your cruise line will provide you with – some cruise lines have specific dress codes such as no jeans or shorts and you don’t want to be left feeling embarrassed! Consider any cultural variations of the ports that you will be visiting as well as it is important to adhere to any dress codes, unofficial or not.

  • Storage
Storage space in most cruise ship cabins is usually better than many hotel rooms so relax and do not worry about this aspect at all.

  • Power adaptors
Usually the socket type on board the ship will depend on the ship’s country of origin so if it’s not compatible with your electrical equipment then make sure that you take enough adaptors. It’s a good idea to take a plug extension lead so that you can plug in a number of different electrical items whilst using just one socket and adaptor.

  • Sunscreen
Buying sunscreen before you sail is much better value for money – it is much more expensive to buy sunscreen onboard or at port. You should also take other sun related items if some of your destinations feature lots of sun, such as after sun, sunglasses and sun hats.

  • Medication and a basic first aid kit
Make sure that if you have any specific medication that you have to take in your carryon luggage just in case there is a delay in getting your luggage to your cabin.  This is highly unlikely but better to be prepared.   There will be a doctor and medical facilities on board your cruise ship should you need to use the facilities at all or require assistance.

  • Camera and binoculars
Of course you will want to capture all of the memories of your cruise so a camera is a must take item - plus if there are any opportunities to spot wildlife then it is worth taking a set of binoculars with you too.  Some cruise lines do now provide binoculars in staterooms so make sure to ask our cruise experts about this when booking.

  • Batteries and chargers
If you are taking portable electrical items with you on your cruise, make sure to pack spare batteries and the correct chargers as this kind of item will be more expensive to replace either on the ship or in port.

  • Day bags
It is really handy to have a selection of day bags packed such as a tote, beach bag or small backpack as you can take items around the ship with you and you do not want to lug around bigger bags than necessary.

  • Your travel essentials
Of course essential travel items such as your passport, currency, cruise tickets and other such things will be needed – plus your plane tickets if you are taking a fly cruise, your mobile phone, wallet and keys too. It is also sensible to take print outs of your cruise ship luggage tags as this will make the embarkation process quicker and easier.

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Now that you know what to pack for your cruise it is important to keep up to date with what to expect on the cruise, to book any excursions and start planning the other things that you are going to do when your ship is in port! Here’s hoping that you have a great cruise holiday and make sure that you let us know if you have any tips for cruises.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A closer look at NCL Breakaway!

This post originates from www.bolsovercruiseclub.com

Having seen her arrive in Southampton last week, what better time to take a closer look at the brand new Norwegian Breakaway?  The fantastic new ship from NCL made her eagerly anticipated arrival in Southampton where agents and guests were welcomed on board to take a sneak peak of her features before she sets sail to begin her maiden season.

The new ship certainly boasts a special wow factor with the incredible hull design developed by the famous artist Peter Max.  No other ship to debut in 2013 will make an arrival like Norwegian Breakaway.  This amazing ship is filled with colour and excitement, the hull design simply sets the tone for the atmosphere on board.

Renowned for showcasing vibrant hull designs, you can always tell an NCL ship in port and the Norwegian Breakaway is no exception.  In true Norwegian Cruise Line style, the new ship glistens with style and the popular cruise line took the hull design a step further with Breakaway by enlisting the help of a legendary artist to make sure she arrived on the scene with a bang.  The staff at Bolsover Cruise Club could not wait to get on board and upon their return, could not speak highly enough of the new vessel.

Since the original announcement that Norwegian Cruise Line was to introduce a new class of ship, the Breakaway’s debut season has been eagerly awaited.  Her inspirational design has been matched by exciting news throughout her development including the world famous {MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Rockettes added to the entertainment line-up and of course the announcement that the fabulous Broadway show Rock of Ages would be brought to life at sea on board.  We cannot remember being this excited to witness a new ship for a long time and the staff were not left disappointed as she made a stunning impression.

First we’ll talk you through our staff feedback followed by a closer look at some of her magnificent features you can experience when choosing a Breakaway cruise.

One common misconception of Norwegian Cruise Line is that the energetic hull designs the ships have mean that the on board facilities, features and ambience will be that of a jam packed, busy, perhaps overwhelming cruise.  This is not the case at all, especially aboard this new ship.  The hull designs are there to simply excite and make sure people take notice of this brand and certainly succeed in doing so.  Our staff commented heavily on the fact that when you get on board this ship you will be met by a thrilling array of luxurious features that give this ship an atmosphere of exclusivity and intimacy whilst also being able to offer the most fascinating choice of entertainment and playful excitement.  It’s almost a perfect development of saying it’s there if you want it, but if you don’t and you want to simply relax and enjoy a peaceful, serene cruising experience then this is still a great ship to choose.  The reputation of being a little brash precedes this ship but believe us when we see, it is simply not the case.  Our staff reported back that from the moment you step on board you are met with refined and sophisticated décor with dark wood interiors and a real sense of elegance.  This interior elegance is also reflected in the ships accommodation with delightfully tasteful staterooms, decorated to provide the perfect welcome and ideal haven to relax.  You will not find bold and brash here unlike we have seen on certain older vessels in the fleet.  These staterooms exude style and you can clearly see the effort and thought that has gone into taking care of every little detail.

One of the major talking points between the Bolsover Cruise Club staff upon their return was the user friendly design of the ship.  Many cruise lines boast speciality dining and innovative entertainment but being able to get a table or a seat in the theatre has been, in the past, a frustrating issue.  This is not the case on board Breakaway.  The staff were blown away by the inclusion of plasma screens throughout all venues of the ship that you can use to navigate yourself around, book dining tables in any of the restaurants, book excursions or gain information about each individual port you will visit and even pre-book entertainment experiences and spa packages.  These things used to require you picking up the phone, visiting the reception desk or visiting each venue in person to make your booking but can now be done at the touch of a button wherever you are on board and even from the comfort of your own stateroom.

Speaking of entertainment, this is something Norwegian Cruise Line specialise in and for the new ship they have 100%, without a doubt got it spot on.  The entertainment facilities and features on board this ship are nothing short of spectacular.  There’s so much to see and do, it could even be hard to fit it all in during your cruise.  The hardest decision you’ll face is to decide what to do first.  {MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Our staff were invited to take in several shows during their time on board and could not fault the experience in the slightest.  They commented that the evening shows were to a superbly high standard with Las Vegas style professionalism.  Staff had the chance to see the Rock of Ages show and also a Tina Turner tribute act, both of which they loved, commenting that they were exceptional.  A Tina Turner tribute act could be perceived as being a little cheesy or not befitting of a ship trying to portray a more elegant persona but not the way NCL do it.  Our staff could not praise the entertainment shows enough and for knowing our staff and how notoriously we are to please, it is certainly impressive to see such fantastic feedback.

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Let’s look at what entertainment features you can expect to find on board.  This is where Norwegian Cruise Line excels and on board you will find a truly outstanding array of entertainment to choose from.  Burn the Floor is a new introduction for the cruise line and offers guests the immersive opportunity to experience a sizzling show.  Based on the renowned Broadway show, Burn the Floor is a 45 minute showcase of outrageous talent.  “Audience-dazzling! Swiveling hips, steamy embraces and high-octane tempos. A non-stop display of pop variations on classic styles, performed with precision and polish,” writes Charles Isherwood, The New York Times.  You’ll experience the passion of many hugely popular dance styles here and the venue for the show is perfectly befitting of the extravaganza that takes place.

Continuing the Broadway inspiration, another fabulous show to see comes in the form of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy.  Having been performed over 2,000 times in more than 200 cities, this incredible show now comes to Norwegian Breakaway.  The concept was originally unveiled aboard Norwegian Epic and has now evolved to a new exotic twist under the colourful big top Spiegel Tent on board Norwegian Breakaway.  The venue itself is unbelievable and must have taken a huge amount of time to get right and the cruise line have outdone themselves here.  Here you will witness a mystical cast performing soaring aerial acrobatics along with spine bending contortionists, jugglers and musicians.  This is the circus NCL style and we cannot praise it enough.

Other brilliant evening entertainment features include The Second City comedy club, a concept exclusive to NCL and considered a comedy empire.  We find it hard to disagree when you realise the Second City alumni have been entertaining people for over 50 years and includes such members as Bill Murray, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein and Stephen Colbert.  You’ll also love Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club on board for a smooth, unique blend of soul music in a venue that pays homage to legends of decades past.

Along with fantastic shows, the new ship from NCL also offers passengers a tremendous selection of bars and lounges to choose from.  Whether you feel like enjoying a refined pre-dinner glass of champagne or indulging in a freshly made cocktail, this ship has it all.  One superb feature our staff could not stop praising was the fantastic Ice Bar on board.  This is an exciting attraction Norwegian Cruise Line has rolled out before on board the NCL Epic and have once again successfully developed a great venue on board the Norwegian Breakaway.  Our staff visited the attraction and thoroughly enjoyed it and came away with good knowledge to pass onto their clients.  Although the venue was excellent, due to its popularity, it was extremely busy and therefore it is definitely reccommended to book a time slot that way avoiding queues.  Our staff advised that it was very well organised but certainly worth booking.

We’ve talked about so much already and we haven’t even got to two of the most interesting features of the ship.  By far the most popular attraction for our staff was the open deck areas.  {MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Norwegian Cruise Line have quite simply outdone themselves, our staff loved the outdoor space commenting that it was incredibly well designed with wide open spaces to enjoy without any feeling whatsoever of being crammed in.  The open deck spaces are the ‘fun’ part of the ship with the stunningly impressive waterpark on board.  Here you’ll find amazing waterslides and attractions as well as superb water features and visual aesthetics.  The Kids Aqua Park is also situated here and if you’re travelling with children they will love it, it’s absolutely enormous and there is so much for them to do.  You can relax and enjoy the blissful sunshine whilst children have the time of their lives, NCL have literally thought of everything on board this ship.

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}The open decks also boast many recreational facilities including the outstanding Sports Complex.  Here you’ll find a great range of sporting opportunities including basketball, volleyball, tennis, golf and even a brilliantly designed crazy golf course.  There are two brand new additions to this ship that NCL have never been able to brag about before.  One is the largest ever rope course at sea.  We can hear you now saying “rope course? What’s that?”  It’s exactly as it sounds.  This fantastic addition challenges guests to see if they can conquer over 40 elements and manoeuvre the multi-level structure.  Imagine the popular attraction in the UK Go Ape but even better and this time it’s at sea.  The other amazing new feature is the chance to see if you can hold your nerve and confront The Plank.  That’s right you have the chance to walk the plank on board this ship and take a stroll right over the side high up above the sea.  This feature extends out 8 feet over the side of the ship and cameras will capture your reaction to see if you can hold your nerve.  Don’t worry too much though as you’ll be strapped into a harness at all times, safety first!

Last but not least at the open decks, another attraction is the spectacular climbing section with a rock climbing wall and a 24 foot enclosed spider web climbing cage.  See if you can do it!

Focusing on younger passengers now, they will really love this ship.  Norwegian Cruise Line have always been exceptional at taking care of children but with this ship they have decided to try something different to see if they could take it to the next level.  After first impressions, our staff are all in complete agreement that they have definitely succeeded.  Many ships offer good children’s facilities but often in the past it has tended to revolve around computer games and their own spaces but this ship takes that concept and blows it out of the water.  Yes the ship does offer children a computer gaming haven but the children’s areas are spread out over two levels on this ship, yes it is that big!  Aboard Breakaway our staff noticed that there was a great emphasis on creativity for children with a sensational range of planned activities to get the kids involved.  They have their own theme nights and even an open air part of the ship just for them.  On board they’ll find Entourage, their very own hang out with giant movie screens for film nights and even the Breezeway Grill, their very own eatery.

One thing parents may wish to do and a positive feedback from our staff was the Nickelodeon pack available to pre-book for children.  The cruise line have developed a partnership with the popular children’s entertainment channel and when pre-ordering the pack, children will receive their own activity pack, towels, stationery and much more.

Now for the accommodation on board and once again the cruise line have excelled.  The Norwegian Epic certainly took accommodation to new heights with its innovative designs and the Norwegian Breakaway has continued this concept.  The staterooms on board are absolutely fantastic.  Furnished to perfection and designed with a sleek elegance, never before seen aboard an NCL ship, the Breakaway takes Norwegian Cruise Line styling to a brand new level.  Wonderfully luxurious, the accommodation on board reflects the new approach to style and grace that the cruise line were looking for.  You will find a range of cabin grades to choose from including the usual selections you find on many ships of inside, {MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}ocean view, balcony and suites but all with a twist.  Throughout all cabin grades an emphasis has been placed on creating warmth and the feeling of a perfect welcome, especially for a first impression.  LED lighting throughout each of the staterooms helps to create this ambience and our staff praised the cruise line for the wide range of stateroom selections available.  Standard balcony staterooms are available and these can be mid-ship facing towards the sea or you can choose an aft or forward facing balcony, the choice is yours.  You’ll also have the choice of the brand new Spa Balconies, ideal for guests looking for a pampering spa experience at sea.  Tranquil décor variations are used in these staterooms to promote ultimate relaxation and all spa balconies offer direct access to the spa and fitness facilities on the ship.  Guests also enjoy complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suites during regular business hours. 

The next step up in the accommodation from a balcony is to opt for a mini suite.  There are once again subtle variations you can choose between such as spa mini suites once more offering direct access to spa and fitness facilities.  Other options include family mini suite with more space and a family friendly layout.  There is also the option of a larger mini suite selection giving more space in the cabin itself and a larger private veranda.

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Every ship at sea has suites but this ship has THE suites!  Norwegian Cruise Line have developed a brand new concept for the Breakaway to give suite passengers something they have never had before.  A ship within a ship design was developed and named The Haven to provide suite passengers with a fully immersive experience and dedicated area to relax.  The Haven accommodation includes Penthouse Suites, {MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Owners Suites, Deluxe Owners Suites and even family Villa accommodation.  All Haven accommodation provide direct access to passengers own dedicated open deck spaces including restaurants, pool areas and much more.  This really is heaven on a ship.

Saving perhaps the best feature to last, a closer look at the Breakaway would not be the same without focusing on the magnificent dining options available.  Cruise ships are renowned for their cuisine but this ship is truly breath taking.  Our staff could not believe the sheer amount of dining options on board from formal glamour to relaxing casual, the ship has it all and we aren’t just saying that, we really mean it.  Sarah Wilson one of our leading supervisors at Bolsover Cruise Club commented that “dining is without doubt exceptional. Even the Palm Café buffet was not your standard canteen; it was a much higher level of standard. There are so many dining venues, all extremely ‘authentic’ with superior standards of service and cuisine. The Waterfront offers open air dining experience which wraps around the promenade deck.”

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}The Main Restaurants offer delightful cuisine each and every night of the cruise and are set in truly special surroundings.  This is the most focus we have seen Norwegian Cruise Line put into their Main Restaurants and we have to say, the time and effort really does show but as always on board an NCL ship, it is the speciality dining venues that really steal the show.  The range of choice is mind blowing, you’ll never struggle to find something your in the mood for on this ship.  From the cruise lines signature Cagney’s Steakhouse to Le Bistro French Restaurant,{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT} Teppanyaki the Japanese inspired experiences, Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, Moderno Churrascaria,Ocean Blue by master chef Geoffrey Zakarian and much more, the cruise ship is utterly sensational and we cannot speak highly enough of the dining choice.

The Breakaway will run a great range of itineraries from the fantastic city of New York.  If you’re looking to try a new ship or perhaps considering your first cruise, the Breakaway is definitely worth considering.  You can even read more about the facilities on board at our dedicated NCL Breakaway ship page.