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Get Your Glow On This Winter: Top 5 Destinations For Winter Sun

Posted by RCI fans on September 23, 2014 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Let’s face it – who wants to think about Winter? The vast majority of us want to hold onto the blue skies, warm sunshine and balmy temperatures for as long as we possibly can. My name is Sally and I’m a travel writer and a former cruise ship worker who spent many years – and thankfully many Winters - away from the ice and cold. Spending time back on my home soil has made me realise just how beneficial a little bit of blue sky and warmth can be for you. With that in mind (and also with the knowledge that it’s only just over ninety days to Christmas) why not cheer yourself up by looking at some of the loveliest destinations for a little late year sunshine? You can read all about them here.


Dark mornings, ice covering the drive way and freezing temperatures that have us wrapped up so tight we can barely move – welcome to winter in England. It seems to come round quicker every year and we dread the long winter season that has us feeling dreary and remembering the sun as only a distant memory.


I know summer has only just began and I am already thinking about where I can get my sun fix when the bleak weather sets in. Some great winter sun deals are starting to circulate in the office, so it is the perfect time to start thinking about a winter break.


I am sure you would agree there is nothing better than jetting off to somewhere hot when everyone else is having to turn on their electric blanket to recover from constant sneezing and dreading the thought of having to step outside. However, whilst the ice thickens in England, elsewhere in the world the sun is at its hottest so here are my top 5 places to cruise to during the winter:



Florida

Known as the sunshine state of America, Florida is one of the friendliest places I have ever been. It is not only the sun that shines bright all day here, the people are extremely welcoming and invite you to enjoy everything this exciting wonderland has to offer.


With miles of sun-soaked beaches, water-front restaurants and an array of unique attractions, Florida is the ultimate adventure playground. With most cruise lines basing their ships in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Miami during the winter you will be able to choose from an extensive range of different itineraries and ships.


Whether your cruise starts or finishes here you can spend a few days enjoying the fun way of life lived here. Enjoy a day at Miami Aquarium watching incredible shows featuring killer whales and dolphins or take a trip to the Everglades where you will glide over the swamps in a hover boat whilst learning about the distinct wildlife living here.


If it is just the sun you desire, Florida is your perfect haven with its long stretches of heavenly beaches that can reach temperatures of up to 32°c during the winter.


The average temperature in Florida during November – February is 29°c.



 


The Caribbean

Defining paradise, the Caribbean islands are the most blissful destinations in the world that guarantee to take you on the ultimate escape. Picture-perfect beaches with pure white sand, crystal clear waters and swaying palms make these islands the most desired cruise destinations in the world.


Boasting year round hot temperatures, the long days of sunshine will enable you to soak up the scorching temperatures to your hearts content. For the more adventurous you can try snorkelling, para-sailing or jet skiing around these intreguing islands.


A Caribbean cruise will include stops at islands including the Bahamas, St Lucia, Barbados and Antigua. Although all of the islands may look the same, they all have their own unique character that make every stop a new experience.


Known to many as 'the friendly islands' the locals invite you to explore their home and experience everything they have to offer as well as try their traditional dishes and island cooked food.


The average temperature in the Caribbean during November – February is 32°c.



 


Canary Islands

The Canary Islands entice every visitor with their breathtaking landscapes, stunning beaches and tropical way of life. From indulging on tapas on a rooftop restaurant to sunbathing on the heavenly beaches, a trip here will ensure you completely forget about winter.


Tenerife will amaze you with its backdrop of soaring mountains lining the pristine beaches, perfect for lazy days in the sun or family beach activities. Along the way, Lanzarote invites you to explore its volcanoes and black sand beaches. When it’s time to unwind Gran Canaria is bursting with quaint fishing villages and attractive harbours that create the perfect scene for switching off.


For the active cruisers, these islands are home to an array of memorable adventures. From extraordinary snorkelling, exploring the iconic National Parks or rock climbing up one of the famous mountains, there is no shortage of adrenalin-pumping explorations to be had here.


The average temperature in the Canaries during November – February is 24°c.



 


Dubai

A world of its own, Dubai stands ready to show off its luxurious and extravagent lifestyle to everyone. Nowhere in the world exploits the diversity that Dubai does, one minute you are in the middle of an empty dessert, the next you are surrounded by towering buildings. A cocktail of amazing sights, every time you turn you are faced with something that stuns you once again.


Don your explorers hat as you experience adventure after adventure with everything this extraordinary city has to offer. Go skiing in a shopping mall, slide under shark infested waters at the Atlantis waterpark or ride a camel through the enchanted desserts. Not many places in the world can offer the variety of excursions that Dubai does.


As evening sets in the city turns into a magical wonderland with fountain shows, vibrant nightclubs and award-winning beach front restaurants serving up some of the most exquisite dishes you will ever taste.


The average temperature in Dubai during November – February is 32°c.




Hawaii

There is nowhere else in the world quite like Hawaii, this tropical paradise will excite all of your senses as you are welcomed into this fresh, tranquil haven. Crystal clear waters line the dramatic mountains and lush forests, making this island a blissful retreat.


The soothing sounds of volcanoes bubbling away combined with swaying palms are a recipe for the ultimate winter getaway. Along with hot temperatures and warm waters, it has everything you dream of during winter.


It is not only the scenery that is beautiful here, the locals love to share their lifestyle with you. Encouraging you to join in traditional Hawaiian activities and try their iconic island cuisine, it will not be long before you are in full 'Aloha' mode!


This colourful island is home to an array of some of the world’s most intriguing National Parks and plant life. Even if you plan to go on a relaxing getaway, I would definitely recommend a stroll around one of these parks.


The average temperature in the Hawaii during November – February is 26°c.

 


Article written by Sally Grimes of Iglu Cruise.

Royal Caribbean Scandinavia & Russia Itinerary 2014

Posted by RCI fans on February 12, 2014 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

For 2014, Royal Caribbean are offering a fantastic opportunity to take in some of the most culturally intriguing destinations in Northern Europe, including an overnight stay overlooking the magnificent neoclassical architecture of St Petersburg, for which the city is renowned. Sailing on board the newly renovated Brilliance of the Seas, this truly is a voyage of discovery - both of the exciting new features and amenities onboard Brilliance, and of the remarkable sights and spectacular scenery of Scandinavia. Here are the wonderful ports you’ll visit whilst enjoying this journey through the Baltic Sea:


 

Copenhagen, Denmark

If you’ve never visited Copenhagen before, you may be surprised! Despite being Denmark’s capital, the city is remarkably small, cozy, and compact, with a charming intimate town atmosphere, as opposed to the busy, bustling nature of a major city. If you stand in the Inner City district, between the waterfront and the picturesque lakes, you’re rewarded with a view that is very much reminiscent of a historic village, with narrow, cobbled streets and colourful houses - it can sometimes be difficult to remember you’re in the most important city in Denmark!




Like the UK, Denmark’s tourism is greatly boosted by the Royal family, and parts of the Royal residence, Amalienborg, can be viewed and toured daily. If you have visited Copenhagen before, and are familiar with the main sights in the city, including the Little Mermaid statue down on the waterfront, you may wish to venture a little further afield on this trip. Just north of the city, you’ll find stunning beaches in Charlottenlund, and if you fancy a trip over to Malmö, Sweden, it’s just a quick jaunt across the 5 mile long Øresund Bridge.


 

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden, is much more lively and city-like, in terms of both atmosphere and aesthetics, than Copenhagen. Despite it being evidently much more urban, it is, perhaps, one of Northern Europe’s most beautiful big cities, with more than half of the area dedicated to waterways and lush, green spaces such as parks, such as Hagaparken and Bellevueparken - great places for both kids and adults. One of the most fascinating features of Stockholm is how the city really divides itself between old and new - becoming one of the most modern and contemporary destinations in Northern Europe whilst still maintaining much of its old world charm. Sergels Torg is a prime example of how the city is very much ahead of its time, with the glass obelisk, dancing fountains, and designer stores and restaurants. However, just across the river is the Gamla Stan - the Old Town - where it’s cobbled streets, tiny, independent stores, and the historic Royal Palace. A place of contrasts, it’s hard not to fall in love with Stockholm.


 

Helsinki, Finland

Arriving into port in Helsinki, Finland’s capital, can be somewhat confusing! Nestled between Sweden and Russia, the city is very much a combination of both. In fact, the history of Helsinki is truly intriguing. Established by the Swedes, the name Helsinki derives from the Swedish province of Hälsingland. However, unhappy with the undeniable Swedish influence in the city, Alexander I of Russia rebuilt Helsinki using the same architectural design - neoclassical - that was common throughout Russia. The Helsinki we see today is a true blend of Finnish, Swedish, and Russian influences, and you can learn more about this fascinating history at the National Museum of Finland, right in the heart of the city. If you’re interested in exploring some of Helsinki’s islands, be sure to head to Pihlajasaari, just to the south. When the weather is nice, the beaches here are a hotspot for locals and tourists alike, often considered the place to see be seen.



 


St Petersburg, Russia

Undoubtedly the highlight of the voyage, an overnight stop in St Petersburg is an experience you will never forget. Russia is perhaps one of the most mysterious and historic countries in the world and a visit here is like stepping into a completely different world. In the daytime, simply strolling around, gazing at the neo-classical architecture, exhibiting a blend of European and Asian influences (check out the Church of the Saviour on Blood for a prime example), is enough to fill an entire day, but be sure to make time for the other must-do activities here. A wander down the Nevsky Prospekt is great for picking up some authentic Russian vodka, and there are also opportunities to paint your own Russian nesting dolls - a fantastic experience for kids. The beauty of this itinerary is that, as your ship docks overnight, you can even head out to the Mariinsky Theatre to watch a beautiful ballet performance from some of the world’s most talented performers.


A little note about visiting St Petersburg - all passengers are required to have a visa for entry. You can apply for a personal visa in advance of your trip. Alternatively, you can also book an excursion through Royal Caribbean, as you will then be included on a group visa. If you’re travelling with others, you may even wish to arrange a chauffeur through the cruise line - you’ll still be included on the group visa, but you can see the city at your own pace.


 

Tallinn, Estonia

Despite being located just 43 miles south of Helsinki, across the Baltic Sea, there is a definite Bavarian atmosphere in Tallinn that makes it very fairytale-esque. If you climb Toompea hill and gaze out of the city, you will see just how beautiful and magical Tallinn really is, overlooking the Soviet turrets that turn each building into something from the Disney movies. Alternatively, head up to the observation desk at the Tallinn TV Tower for amazing views that reach right across to Finland on a clear day. Pirita Beach, on the shores of Tallinn Bay, is a great place to relax if the weather is nice, while the secret tunnels are excellent for taking shelter from the rain. The tunnels winding beneath Toompea Hill are surrounded in mystery and intrigue, and, having been built in the 17th century to protect against Russian invasion, they certainly have some stories to tell!


 

Visby, Sweden

There is nowhere better for your last port of call on this busy and exhilarating journey than Visby, Sweden. Located on the popular holiday island of Gotland, this chilled out, relaxed town is perfect for taking some downtime after racing around city after city. There’s actually very little to do in Visby, but that’s its charm. Be sure to take your camera with you, as the harbour and the city walls are beautiful. If you’ve visited this historic town before, it’s well worth taking a shuttle to nearby Faro to unwind on some of the most luxurious beaches in Northern Europe - very few tourists make it this far so it’s considered to be a real hidden gem.


 

Sea Days

With four sea days included in your itinerary, there’s plenty of opportunities to explore the newly renovated Brilliance of the Seas. If you’ve travelled on Brilliance in the past, here are some of the new features you’ll find when you sail on this magnificent ship in the future:


* New restaurants and bars including Giovanni’s Table and R Bar

* Royal Babies and Tots Nursery

* A gigantic outdoor movie screen overlooking the pool

* A brand new Concierge Club for suite guests


 





Along with these new additions, you can still find all the Royal Caribbean favourites, including the Windjammer Cafe, Adventure Ocean, and the Starquest Nightclub.


If you’re looking for a holiday that is more on-the-go than your typical beach getaway, then this is the cruise for you. Packed full of rich culture, delicious cuisine, fascinating people, and beautiful sights, this is a fantastic Scandinavia & Russia itinerary for 2014.


For more information, visit Bolsover Cruise Club.

Ghosts, Queues and Booze: What do you find annoying on a cruise?

Posted by RCI fans on November 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Do you find cruises to be relaxing all the time, or are there certain little things that niggle at you? I imagine it wouldn’t surprise you to find out that there are a number of people who end up getting frustrated by certain things on cruises, whether it’s the other passengers, the service or the waiting times.


So recently, a study has been carried out into cruising to find out what annoys people on cruises most. Bon Voyage asked 1,738 people who had travelled on a cruise at least once in their life to name the most irritating features in particular on their cruises. The most common response that came up was that it was the inane chatter from fellow cruisers that got on peoples’ nerves the most, with a huge 38% answering this. A lot of people like to make small talk around the ship, but for many it seems that they would prefer that they didn’t! Unfortunately this, and the second most common answer that they didn’t like others entering their personal space, is not something that cruise companies are able to do much about.




However, the purpose of the poll, as stated by Steph Curtin, the Cruise Development Manager at Bon Voyage, was to collect the findings in order to see what they could do to improve services on cruises. She stated: “A sign of a great cruise company is one that would take these annoyances on board and actively try to improve conditions for all future passengers.” This is why you end up filling out those ‘annoying’ surveys at the end of your cruise!


The results found that there are a number of places where cruise companies could intervene to save on hassle and annoyances for passengers, including sorting out the long wait times and queues you often experience at the buffets or activities due to other passengers’ taking their time to decide. 14% answered that this was the most frustrating thing for them, but that is something that can be looked into and rectified by companies in future.


Other answers included the drunken behaviour, such as fighting and loud arguments, of fellow cruisers (22%), which is unsurprising with the number of bars and restaurants available as well as the nature of cruising holidays; and the constant noise of young children on board (11%).


Another few, slightly more interesting and obscure, responses came to light in collecting this data, such as the Mediterranean cruise that was rudely interrupted for one man by the loud sounds of love making in the cabin next door every night! And an old couple felt their cruise in the Caribbean could have been much improved if their cabin had not been haunted! Unfortunately, it might be a little over the heads of cruise staff to check cabins regularly for ghosts, but many of these minor issues that came up in the study are quite easily investigable and can be improved upon.




Find cheap deals and book cruise holidays at:


 

Royal Caribbean or Carnival?

Posted by RCI fans on March 10, 2012 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Royal Caribbean Fans recently recieved an email asking us to compare Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines with Carnival Cruise Lines. As we have never cruised on Carnival, we called upon our friend Mikey Faust to share his likes and dislikes about the two lines.

 


CARNIVAL - Thumbs Up

- Great service thanks to a great crew! They are always very caring and willing to help you with anything you need.

- Nice cabins! Carnival actually has the largest cabins out of the main cruise lines. Obviously Silversea and Seabourn will have huge cabins, but Carnival's are the largest compared to NCL, RCI, Celebrity, etc.

- Great food! I have never had a meal on Carnival that I did not enjoy!

- Nice sized ships! I have cruised on the Carnival Victory twice, the Carnival Valor twice, and the Carnival Freedom once. These ships are the perfect size since they carry only about 2,500 passengers and because of their size, they can go almost anywhere in the world!

- The shows! On my most recent cruise I attended almost every show, because they were so good! These productions were some of the best that I have ever seen on a ship! The best one had to be, Ticket to Ride, which is generally accepted as Carnival's best production show!

- The poolside theater! During the day, Carnival plays videos highlighting ports of call, and at night they play recently released movies with lounge chairs and popcorn!

CARNIVAL - Thumbs Down

- The pools. -On Carnival, the pools can be a little small and because their saltwater, it doesn't really help them.

- The water slide. On Carnival's older ships the one water slide is a bit boring, but on their newer ships, they look amazing and are some of the best at sea!


ROYAL CARIBBEAN - Thumbs Up

- The interior design. I do look on Royal Caribbean the interior design of the ships. They sue very soft colors and is a bit more relaxed. I have been on Brilliance of the Seas, and I loved the interior design!

- The innovations. I will say Royal Caribbean has come up with some great ideas, such as the zip line, surfing, and the split superstructure idea for Allure and Oasis, but I don't really want all of that on a ship. It seems like to much to do. In fact, Princess Cruises had a commercial showing some Royal Caribbean features and they said, "tired of floating amusement parks?"

ROYAL CARIBBEAN - Thumbs Down

- The food. When I cruised on Royal Caribbean, the food really wasn't all that exciting. The Winjammer Buffet kind of bored me and it felt weird eating a slice of a sandwich that was made to serve like 100 people int he buffet. Plus, I hear a lot that people don't enjoy the food on Royal.

5 Most Disgusting Norovirus Cruise Ship Outbreaks

Posted by RCI fans on March 1, 2012 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The most common outbreak that occurs on a cruise ship is called the Noro virus. It is a highly contagious gastro-intestinal illness that strikes mainly where people are living in close quarters, and displays symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. There can't be much worse than getting ill on your vacation. While the Noro virus isn't too serious an illness, the aggressive way it can spread on a cruise ship makes it particularly grotesque. The worst outbreaks are notable for the sheer volume of passengers afflicted and the way the crew dealt with the illness.


 

All major disease-related activity on cruise ships is required to be reported to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This information is aggregated and combined with passenger reports and other online news sources on Cruise Junkie, where information for this article was gathered.


1. Carnival Conquest, 12/12/11

 

This Carnival Cruise Lines ship was struck with the Noro virus and several passengers spoke out about the poor way the crew handled the situation. The crew seemed to try to keep knowledge of the outbreak at bay and neglected to inform most of the passengers that could have otherwise been more cautious about the spread. Inflicted passengers were isolated to their rooms without much in the way of food or drink. The sneaky way in which the crew kept the outbreak a secret is what worsened the situation in this cruise. Had they been a bit more forward in relaying the facts, the illness may have been less noteworthy, as it wouldn't have attracted a public outcry.


2. Celebrity Constellation, 12/9/11

 

After a previous cruise gone awry, this cruise ship took precautions to a whole new level, spraying down the rooms with bleach after each event and restricting all passengers from any self-serving of food. A passenger commented that, "the prior cruise Istanbul/ Turkey was so bad it was reported people got #2 at the buffet, and in the Solarium Jacuzzi!!! The men in orange suits arrived, but people continued to eat.” The ship may have been spooked by the earlier outbreak, but the fact of the matter remains that there is little you can do to prevent Noro virus from spreading since as many as a few particles are enough to spread the disease from passenger to passenger. The best method is instructing everyone to engage in their own proper hygiene, not scare the passengers with aggressive bleaching and HASMAT suits.


3. MSC Opera, 6/23/10

 

A disgruntled passenger wrote that "400 passengers [were] taken ill" on this ship, on a cruise that generally accommodates about 3,000 people. Passengers were so inundated with sickness that they were vomiting in public areas around the ship, unable to make it to their rooms or public restrooms. While passengers were given free doctor visits, this does little to mitigate the situation, since there is no real treatment for the Noro virus but to expel it from your system and drink plenty of fluids.


4. Independence of the Seas, 11/5/09

 

A couple from this Royal Caribbean International cruise threatened to sue over contracting a serious bout of food poisoning on the ship. According to the couple, they "sent food back several times and also saw curdled milk and yoghurts in faulty chiller cabinets," implying a marked lack of sanitation on board. The husband experienced such intense illness that he lost a reported 10.5 pounds in weight as a result of the food poisoning. Unlike the Noro virus that must run its course, the food poisoning had to be treated with antibiotics.


5. Voyager of the Seas, 7/31/09

 

On this cruise, the crew took the brunt on the illness, with 60 crew members coming down with the Swine Flu and 70 showing possible signs of it. The crew was quarantined until they recovered and only one passenger was struck with H1N1. This ship did a decent job of confining the illness, although it was made more public to the media given that the Swine Flu had received so much negative attention. The Swine Flu presents typical flu-like symptoms, which are miserable to endure, but certainly not as bad as the doubled vomiting and diarrhea of the Noro virus.


Cruise ships to stop sailing to Venice?

Posted by scottishemma123 on December 12, 2011 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (3)

Today I read a number of articles that have stated that the residents of Venice and people who are responsible for the upkeep of the city are calling for a ban on cruise ships over fears that the ships wakes are causing unnessecary waves and therefore erosion of the foundations and buildings of the city. The mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, has suggested that Porto Maghera on the mainland of Italy be used as the main port for cruise ships visiting Venice instead.

This would put an end to cruise ships sailing past St. Marks Square, dwarfing the buildings and everything around them. I have previously cruised in and out of Venice a number of times and have really enjoyed the view it allows over the city as the ships are considerably larger than everything around them. I have never thought about the impact of the ships wake on the city and if the impact of the ships is enough to put this beautiful and truly unique city in dangers then I certainly back the proposals to move the port to Porto Maghera. If not being able to sail in and out of Venice and having to travel further from the ship to the centre of Venice will mean that the city can be preserved for longer then I absolutely support it. Venice is such an amazing place and I think that everything should be done in order to preserve it for as long as possible.

What do you think about cruise ships sailing in and out of Venice? Do you agree that they should be stopped in order to preserve the city?

Splendour of the Seas Refurbishment

Posted by scottishemma123 on November 19, 2011 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (3)

Yesterday I read a great article by Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of of RCI about the refurbishment of Splendour of the Seas which is taking place in dry docks in Cadiz right now.

One of the changes he detailed was the changing of the Viking Crown Lounge into Chops Grille which I think is a great idea as passengers will have amazing views from the highest point of the ship while they dine.

124 balcony cabins are being added to the ship which will be a welcome addition for those who enjoy a bit of private outdoor space. All bathrooms are being completely refurbished too.

I was onboard Splendour of the Seas in September 2010 and really enjoyed the ship. I thought it was a great size and liked the open plan feel of the two-teir dining room with its large windows.

There is also major changes taking place in the centrum of the ship (pictured above in September 2010) and a new nightclub Izumi is being created.

We're a Guest Blogger!

Posted by RCI fans on November 18, 2011 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (3)

Thats right. I am now a co-blogger on Mikey Faust's brilliant cruise blog, mikeyscruiseblog.com. I will be posting some articles on cruising and Royal Caribbean.

More details to follow!

My first post as guest blogger!

Posted by scottishemma123 on November 10, 2011 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (2)

Hi everyone and welcome to my first post as guest blogger here on RCI Fans website.

For my first post I just wanted to share some information with everyone on my previous Royal Caribbean cruises and why I love cruising so much.

I've been lucky enough to complete 10 cruises, 5 of them with Royal Caribbean and I always enjoy the great service onboard RCI. The staff are always very friendly and accommodating which always makes for a great holiday.

My very first Royal Caribbean cruise was onboard the beautiful Legend of the Seas way back in 2005. We sailed out of Southampton to the Western Mediterranean and I totally loved it. I haven't been onboard the Legend since then but my memories of the ship are great. I loved the two tier dining room and the staff were amazing.

My most recent cruise was onboard the Grandeur of the Seas in September of this year. We sailed from Palma to Cannes, Civitavecchia (for Rome) La Spezia, and Palermo. I had been to each of these places on previous cruises but the the South of France is one of my favourite areas and Rome is a place I could never tire of so I had a great time.

As has been previously said on the most recent Grandeur of the Seas review the ship is in definite need of refurbishment, luckily this is scheduled to take place in May 2012. The ship is going to be given the full treatment including technology upgrades, speciality restaurants and many of the other features which passengers come to expect from Royal Caribbean's fleet. There is more information on Royal Caribbean's refurbishment of the Grandeur on my blog www.emmastraveltales.blogspot.com if you want to know more.

My next cruise will be onboard the Grandeur in June 2012 so the ship will have just been refurbished and I can't wait to see what will have changed. The introduction of speciality restaurants is one feature which I think I will enjoy most as I love being able to have different choices of where to dine.