A little while ago I was lucky enough to be sent on assignment by Cruise International to take a cruise on what’s been billed as the ‘best cruise ship in the world’, Hapag Lloyd’s Europa 2.
Regular readers will know that I’m a massive fan of Three, not least for their ‘Feel at Home’, which means you can use your normal minutes and data while you’re abroad (it now covers Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland the the USA) – it’s a must for a social media nut like me. Just before we headed out to Texas and then on to our cruise around the Caribbean, and knowing that I’d be around water and beaches (dangerous), wanting to upload #holidayspam to my accounts, I ordered a waterproof case for my iPhone6. The LifeProof FRE iPhone 6 case is a hard case with a grippy rubber edge that completely encloses the phone and claims to make it completely waterproof.
So, Grandad English has a biiiiig birthday coming up. I won’t mention it otherwise I might get one of his customary ALL IN CAPITALS emails (he’s a regular reader). Thoughts have naturally turned to an epic pressie to celebrate the big day – maybe a joint one between us all. And of course, being me, the first thing I thought of was that old thing about life experiences and not things – snapshots, not stuff.
So last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the gala celebrations on board P & O Cruises’ gorgeous new flagship, the £500 million super-liner, Britannia. The ship is breathtaking. From the Union Flag on her bow, to the stunning three floor atrium featuring the most incredible chandelier you’ve ever seen, she’s a modern miracle.
So last night, I was invited to join the great and the good of the cruise industry at Ham Yard Hotel for the CLIA UK & Ireland Cruise Journalism Awards. The CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) is the main hub of the cruise industry in the UK and Ireland, bringing together cruise lines and travel agents, and basically promoting cruising to the wider population.
Port Canaveral, Disney Cruise Line’s home port in Florida, is based about an hour from Walt Disney World Resort (you can book transfers when you book your Disney cruise, and if you’re going straight from Orlando Airport to your Disney ship, your luggage will be whisked straight to the ship while you board one of Disney’s Magical Express coaches).
Oh, the Disney Dream. The delightful, delicious, delovely, delectable Disney Dream. Regular readers will know that I adore all the Disney Cruise Line ships, but there’s something about Disney Dream in particular that makes my heart sing. I think it’s because my first ever Disney Cruise was on board the Disney Dream. I just love everything about it – the restaurants, the fabulous AquaDuck water coaster, the gorgeous restaurants, the gorgeous cocktail bars, the sumptuous spa… So, if you’ve ever wondered what a cruise holiday on board a Disney Cruise Line ship is like, wonder no more. Sam (my oldest son) and I kept a diary during our cruise trip last week, and here’s part one.
So Sam and I are off on a trip on Sunday (don’t feel too bad for Charlie – we’re travelling together in April) on the delicious Disney Dream. Before I travel, I have a few little pre-trip rituals and pampering treats, and pack a few tried and trusted essentials. Here are my recommendations:
You know me, I adore Frozen. So the news that Anna and Elsa (and Sven and… yes, Olaf!) will be coming to the Disney Cruise Line ships has made me a happy girl.
As regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of Disney Cruise Line. DCL’s fleet comprises four beautiful ships: the first, the recently reimagined Disney Magic, originally set sail in 1998, closely followed by Disney Wonder in 1999, both with the capacity to welcome 2700 guests on board. Then DCL launched two larger ships, Disney Dream in 2011 (my first, and favourite – with the incredible ‘AquaDuck’ – the world’s first ‘watercoaster’ at sea), and the Disney Fantasy in 2012, both longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, and with a maximum occupancy of 4000 passengers.
It’s been a mad week here at English Towers. The Sainsbury’s #loveyourfreezer campaign has gone live and it’s been really lovely receiving tweets, texts and Facebook messages (and AWFUL screenshots – thanks guys haha) saying ‘ooh, I’ve just seen you on the telly!’. I’m SO proud of this campaign – Sainsbury’s have been amazingly lovely to work with, and there are loads more exciting things coming up.
So last time I told you all about Quantum’s incredible technology. It really has transformed nearly every aspect of the guest experience, from super speedy check in and luggage tracing, right down to the dining. Guests can reserve at iQ stations, by the new app, by phone or in person and with 18 restaurants and 14 bars to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Table staff take orders on a tablet, keeping them where customers need them most, in the restaurant, and this technology will track you no matter where you eat, so if you love a glass of champagne while you order, or if you have any specific dietary requirements, this will all be logged and the information will be available to each restaurant when you arrive.
This weekend, I was lucky enough to join the inaugural voyage of Royal Caribbean’s brand new Quantum Class vessel: Quantum of the Seas. This is the first of the class, to be joined shortly by Anthem of the Seas.
These days, everyone has a smartphone, so Royal Caribbean have ramped up their latest ships into, well, smartships. Here’s what to expect:
So after all the begging and pleading, yesterday I finally got to slip on my new favourite LBD (thank you, Mint Velvet) and my gorgeous sparkly new necklace from Alice’s Wonders, lash a load of concealer over my hideous jetlaggy eye bags, and head off to London for the Cruise International Cruise Awards 2014.
Every parent of teenagers knows that feeling when you start to wonder exactly how long your children will keep wanting to come on holiday with you. As they grow up, they naturally develop their own tastes, likes and dislikes (and even more naturally, these will tend to be the exact opposite to yours), so agreeing on a holiday destination (and indeed, persuading them to dump their mates and come on holiday with you) is never easy.
Enter, the Caribbean cruise. Here’s why:
I’ve always written about travel. But over the last few years I’ve been writing more and more about cruising. I adore cruise holidays and have become almost evangelical in my attempt to get the word out to everyone just what a FABULOUS holiday you can have aboard a cruise ship. Last month, as part of my job as an ambassador for Royal Caribbean (follow us on Twitter and Instagram – our hashtag is #RoyalMums) we travelled to the Caribbean on the largest cruise ship in the world, the Allure of the Seas…
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