Many, many moons ago, back when my children occasionally did anything I asked and I was a fully fledged ‘mummy blogger’, I was really proud to be asked by Royal Caribbean Cruises to be an Official Family Ambassador or ‘Royal Mum’. It was a fab time and I really enjoyed my role: as part of my ambassadorship, I wrote about family cruising on the Royal Caribbean blog as well as in newspapers like The Times, and was lucky enough, along with my lovely fellow Royal Mums, to experience wonderful trips like a Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, and a family cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. Another wonderful memory was when we all got together at Southampton for a sunny day on board Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. I’ve always been hugely proud of my long-running association with Royal Caribbean: I love the quality of the brand, the wonderful people who have a genuine love and enthusiasm for creating incredible experiences, and all their beautiful, innovative ships, so when Mr E and I were invited along to experience the shakedown cruise following Independence of the Seas’ multi-million dollar makeover, we were all over it. Here’s how we got on.
I’ve never been to the Chelsea Flower Show before – I’ve seen it on TV and always thought it would be a lovely place to visit, so when an invitation arrived to go along and visit the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden, I popped on my most flowery dress (and Converse – you know me) and headed to ridiculously chic Sloane Square (where all the shops and restaurants were bedecked in flowers too) to meet up with the lovely team from Viking Cruises. Read more
In part one of my little love letter to the beautiful Viking Sea, I wrote about how much I loved the beautiful design details and wonderful service that make the ship so special. as well as telling you about the first stop on Viking’s West Indies Explorer itinerary, San Juan. From there, we sailed on, following a roughly south easterly track that would eventually take us to our final port, Barbados. Here’s the final part of my onboard diary, in which we discover even more of the Caribbean on board Viking Sea.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about discovering (or rediscovering) the Caribbean after it was battered by hurricanes Irma and Maria, and promised to tell you more about our ship, the beautiful Viking Sea. So what’s it like to sail on Viking Sea around the Caribbean? Well, it’s a relatively small ship carrying just over 900 passengers, and on board, you won’t find a casino, on board photographers, gaudy kids’ clubs (in fact, any kids) or drum and bass by the pool. The emphasis is on relaxation, and – cliché alert – connecting with the sea, so what you will find are wide ocean vistas, calming colours, friendly staff and breathtakingly beautiful design details. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a ship as much. Everywhere you look there’s another gorgeous, mid century chair in a perfect little corner inviting you to sit and read, or sip a cocktail.
Last September, we were on the first Virgin Atlantic flight out to Orlando following the airport’s reopening after Hurricane Irma. We met people from the Florida Keys and Miami who had left their homes and belongings behind and been evacuated north to the resort hotels of Orlando. The next morning we walked the empty streets of Universal Orlando Resort, and stepped onto rides with no queues. I remember chatting to our Uber driver, a Puerto Rican who, at the time, was worried about his friends and family at home as the second hurricane, Maria, powered towards the island. It was a sobering time. Fast forward six months, and I’m boarding a flight from Miami to Puerto Rico to join Viking Cruises’ Viking Sea in San Juan for the first leg of Viking’s West Indies Explorer itinerary, sailing from San Juan on a roughly south easterly track that will take us down to our final port, Barbados. I’m curious to know how cruising the Caribbean after Irma and Maria will be, and wondering if, frankly, we’ll be unwelcome guests, strutting around demanding drinks and ice creams while people rebuild their homes and businesses.
There’s no denying it, cruising is big business. CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association predicts that 27.2 million passengers will take a cruise in 2018, and with so much demand, the cruise lines are busy commissioning more and more new ships. This year sees Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, Carnival Horizon, Celebrity Edge, Norwegian Bliss, and many more take to the seas. With so much choice, and so many cruise lines, what’s the best way to choose, and is it possible to get a good deal? Well, if you’re thinking of setting sail on your very own cruise adventure this year, here are my top tips for booking a cruise.
Yesterday I went into London to catch up with the lovely folk at Viking Cruises (you might remember me mentioning that I wrote the recipes for their cookery book and also for the gorgeous Nordic Style book they have on board). Viking Cruises are the sponsors of a brand new exhibition at the V&A: Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, which opens this Saturday, and I really do recommend that you give it a visit. Whether your interest is history, engineering or fashion, the whole exhibition is a fascinating insight into the glamour of the golden age of cruising. Known for their cool, Scandi-inspired ships and attention to detail, Viking Cruises really are the perfect match for this exhibition.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to Disney’s fabulous Halloween party in London. As you can imagine, there aren’t many parties better than a Disney one and sure enough, there were spooky drinks (served by even spookier characters), pumpkins and witches amidst lots of swirling dry ice and, of course, Mickey and Minnie in all their Halloween finery! I know you all love to hear a bit of Disney news too, so I thought I’d update you on a few new pieces of news for 2018 and beyond: from brand new Disney Cruise Line cruises in 2019 to the exciting Marvel announcement for Disneyland Paris made yesterday at Comic Con in London. Read more
October is a super exciting month in the cruise industry. It’s when everyone who loves to cruise comes together to celebrate Plan a Cruise Month: a whole month devoted to everything to do with cruising and the perfect time of year for you to plan your own cruise – especially as there are loads of fantastic offers and incentives available throughout the whole month. This year, the theme of Plan a Cruise Month is ‘destinations’, and I thought I’d tell you about Grand Cayman, one of my very favourite cruise destinations, by having a reminisce of my own lovely trip there, on assignment for Cruise International with Charlie.
We all know that feeling, right? After a gorgeous holiday, the last day is such a massive come-down: you’ve got to be out of your room by midday but your flight doesn’t leave until the evening, you don’t want to get sandy and have nowhere to shower, so your last day is spent miserably killing time, sweating in your travel clothes, before heading home. While I was in beautiful Barbados, though, Virgin announced a brand new concept that’s going to change all that, and I think you’re going to love it. Step forward The Departure Beach from Virgin.
And so, after my big 2016 roundup, let’s move swiftly on to 2017, shall we? What does this year have in store? Lots of happy times and adventures I hope. As you know, I’m a huge Disney fan: I adore everything from the theme parks to the beautiful cruise ships. It’s such an exciting year for Disney magic, with so many new Disney travel adventures to choose from. I thought you might like a sneaky peek at a few of the things I’m really looking forward to in 2017. So if you’re planning adventures for next year now, I hope this helps give you a few ideas too:
What. A. Year. I’ve got plenty more to say about the joy and sadness that was 2016 in my first piece of 2017 (for us, as well as everyone else, it seems, it was a year of huge highs and massive lows), and my plans for 2017. But for now, I want to stay with the joy and take a look back at the highlights of a year of travel and adventure. Here’s my 2016 roundup.
I joined the beautiful Royal Princess in Rome recently to try cruising a different way. With most cruise passengers choosing the cruise line’s own shore excursions, we struck out to find some personalised, hands on shore adventures with a difference! But first, though, a little about the ship… Read more
One of the elements that impressed us most during our wonderful family cruise on Celebrity Eclipse was the quality of the dining. From the great fast food options to the main dining to the speciality restaurants, we really couldn’t fault any of the dining on board Celebrity Eclipse. Most evenings are smart casual, but there are a couple of evenings that are listed in the ‘Celebrity Today’ leaflet left in your stateroom as ‘cruise chic’. There’s never any pressure to dress in any particular way but it’s always tremendous fun to dress up a bit and step out in style. I really enjoyed a bit of people watching – there was everything from ladies in ballgowns and men in white dinner jackets to a few people in full military costume!
So I’ve had an absolutely MAD bout of travelling and can’t wait to update you on all the exciting things we’ve been up to. Firstly, we’ve just returned from a lovely two week family cruise on Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Cruises’ beautiful Solstice class cruise ship, where we sailed from Southampton and visited Gibraltar, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. It was our first time as a family on a Celebrity Cruise (Mr E and I did a wine cruise on Celebrity Infinity a while ago) and we did wonder what it would be like to spend two weeks in a relatively small stateroom as a family (as it turned out, we were treated to extra room, which was fab). Here’s how we got on:
I’ve loved spending the summer at home. I really feel like we’ve been ‘nesting’ in our little house, getting things sorted and finishing a few bits off. We’ve finally planted trees and climbers to disguise our ugly garden fences and Mr E has painted my office a beautiful periwinkle blue and spent ages upcycling old pieces of furniture and shelving from Ebay. The end result is my dream mix of all the colours I absolutely love. I’m so pleased with it. For the rest of the house, we’ve been choosing flooring after living with a fetching mix of lino/carpet/bare concrete since the wall came down between the kitchen and dining room, and I’ve been baking, cooking and working – all the things I love! I’ll be honest though, I’m starting to get itchy feet and we’re all collectively getting VERY excited for our late summer getaway – a cruise on the beautiful Celebrity Eclipse. Read more
- The hush summer sale is here! June 21, 2018
- Visiting Walt Disney World with toddlers June 19, 2018
- Come shopping with me: swim and beachwear from M&S June 16, 2018
- Coconut chilli prawn noodles June 14, 2018
- Marvel Summer of Super Heroes at Disneyland Paris June 12, 2018