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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 to create new tour company

Posted by RCI fans on June 26, 2014 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Royal Caribbean has revealed to Seatrade Insider plans to create a new tour company specialising in land tours around the globe.

 


The company, to be called TourTrek, is still in formation, but Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has named John Weis, its former vice president of global tour operations, to oversee development of the company.

 

Royal Caribbean already offers guests thousands of tours in hundreds of destinations, however TourTrek will be exclusively for the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises brands, allowing more dedicated and unique tours to be arranged.


In a statement, Royal Caribbean revealed TourTrek will operate in 90 countries. Royal Caribbean went on to describe TourTrek as a technology company that will be wholly owned by RCCL.


Further details about the company will be annouced in the coming months, explained Royal Caribbean.

57 night 'Global Odyssey' for Quantum of the Seas

Posted by RCI fans on May 19, 2014 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Royal Caribbean has today announced Quantum of the Seas' repositioning voyage from Bayonne, NJ to Shanghai, China.




The 57-night  'Quantum Global Odyssey' will call at some of the top cosmopolitan cities in the world, including Barcelona, Dubai and Singapore, as it sails on its nearly 2-month, epic journey around the world. 


The ship will leave New Jersey on May 2nd 2015 and traverse the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.


For those unable to do the entire 57-night voyage, guests can choose among six other sailings along the way ranging from three- to 16-night itineraries. 


The Quantum Global Odyssey will go on sale from May 20th 2014 for Crown and Anchor members and 22nd May for the general public. 

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British Isles Blog: Day 10 - Dover

Posted by RCI fans on April 5, 2014 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)


We arrived into the port of Dover at 8:30am. The weather was rather dull. Dover is not a very affluent town, despite its many marvellous and grand buildings. The cruise terminal occupies the old Dover Western train station, which closed in the 1990's. Walking through the grandeur of the former station was one of the most unique, yet eerie experiences of the trip.

 

A private shuttle service operates from the port to the town centre and castle. A return to the town costs £3, whilst a return to the castle costs £4. The town centre has a variety of chain stores and local businesses. I had a walk through the town looking in the shops, before a drink in Wetherspoons, using the free Wi-Fi. Back on board, I spent the remainder of the afternoon packing the suitcase ready for disembarkation the next day.

 

Tonight was our last evening meal on board. This evening, I had a beef consommé, chicken breast filled with ham and swiss cheese, and a heavenly chocolate éclair for dessert!

 

The final show of the cruise was 'We Will Rock You', a unique twist on Queen's hits. The show was ok, but it certainly was not the best we had seen over the 10 nights.

 

After the show, I headed to the Discovery Theatre at 9:45pm to catch the evening film, Disney's Frozen. It was a great film for all ages, with a fantastic soundtrack.

 

After the film, I headed back to the cabin, put the last items in the case, and placed the cases outside just before midnight.

British Isles Blog: Day 9 - Guernsey

Posted by RCI fans on April 4, 2014 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)


After waking up earlier than usual at 8am, we headed for breakfast once again in the Lido Buffet. The weather looked very uninviting with fog and rain greeting us. I decided to wait until the rain eased off a little, but it was clear it would not be stopping any time soon. I decided to head ashore to St Peter Port.

 

The town has a unique mix of English and French architecture. The walk from the harbour jetty to the town centre is just a short walk and the main street features a variety of UK shops and local cafés. After spending as long as I possibly could staying dry in various shops, I headed back to the harbour, to catch the tender back to the ship.

 

By the time I arrived back on board, it was approaching 1pm, so we headed to the buffet for lunch. Delicious golden fish and chips were being served.

 

Tonight was formal night and the farewell 'Baked Alaska Parade'. It was a fantastic meal and our waiter, Phyo, demonstrated his amazing towel folding skills and produced two fabulous peacocks using a wine glass.

 

Tonight's show was called 'Around the World' and featured songs for all different countries and cultures, including Irish, Italian, Turkish and of course, British. It was a fantastic production and included some very tricky dance moves.

 

Tomorrow is our last day on board and we will be docked in Dover from 8:30am until 5pm, when we will set sail back for Hull.

British Isles Blog: Day 8 - Isles of Scilly

Posted by RCI fans on April 4, 2014 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)


We did not wake up until twenty to ten this morning, which meant we would miss breakfast. Instead of getting a tender ticket, I decided to wait until demand for the tenders had decreased. There was a break in operation from 12 till 1, as a ferry would be arriving in the harbour. This made an ideal time to have lunch in the Severn Continents restaurant. I had some delicious mozzarella croquettes with plum tomato sauce. For the main course, I choose leg of chicken with mash, vegetables, and gravy. Dessert was strawberry ice-cream.

 

After lunch, demand for the tenders had decreased, so I jumped on the next tender and headed ashore. The ship was not using its own tender boats for this port of call, as the drop off area was unsuitable. There was no landing pontoon, just a series of steps that we moored alongside.

 

As the boat pulled away in the crystal blue waters, the mvDiscovery glistened in the sun. The image reminded me of the Caribbean and it certainly did not feel like we were just a few miles from the English coast.

 

Once on land, I walked around the quaint main street, before taking in the beautiful views of a bay filled with rock pools and wildlife.

 

After spending roughly an hour and a half ashore, I ventured back on a very full tender. Passengers seated at the rear of the boat were even treated to the sight of a dolphin swimming by.

 

As evening came, we had another fantastic dinner in the restaurant, before making our way to the Carousel show lounge, for the evening's show time – Bruce Thomson, a one-man band performing songs, magic and comedy.

 

After the show, an important announcement was made across the ship. A medical evacuation by helicopter would take place at the aft of deck 6. A passenger had fallen seriously ill during dinner, and guests were told not to venture onto open decks and that due to this, the Discovery Lounge would be closed. If guests were still seated in the restaurant or Carousel show lounge, they were advised to stay seated. The evacuation meant that the 'Give Us A Clue' game show, which was scheduled to be held in the Discovery Lounge, had to be moved into the show lounge. We decided to watch the show team play a game of charades, with two of our table companions Roz and Marlene. The helicopter approached the ship at 2120 and 10 minutes later, we were allowed access to the open decks and the Discovery Lounge.

 

Tomorrow, we will anchor at St Peter Port in Guernsey at 0730 and depart at 1700.

British Isles Blog: Day 7 - Dublin

Posted by RCI fans on April 2, 2014 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)


After being woken up by our cabin attendant at 8am again, we headed down for breakfast, just as the ship was mooring into Dublin. We had pre-booked a sightseeing tour of the city through Cruising Excursions, so we disembarked the ship just after 10am. There was a long line of guests waiting for the free shuttle to take us into the city, thankfully the line quickly moved as each bus could hold 78 passengers.


After the 30 minute journey, passing The O2, Custom House and Trinity College, we arrived on Kildare Street, just around the corner from Nassau Street, where the nearest sightseeing tour stop is located.


The tour took approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes and covered the main sights to see in Dublin including Trinity College, Christchurch Cathedral, the famous Guinness Storehouse, Glasnevin Cemetery and Botanical Gardens, Croke Park Stadium and of course O'Connell Street. Our guide Anne, was very informative and explained all the sights and history as we drove past them. We even briefly witnessed a military funeral take place, whilst at Glasnevin Cemetery. The bus drove into the graveyard and was forced to park up as a procession of military vehicles following a casket draped under an Irish flag slowly passed by. Although there are now many visitors that come to view the cemetery every day, it was quite disrespectful to bring a bus into the graveyard, especially when a funeral is taking place. It couldn't have been nice for the family, with all these tourists taking photos from the large double-decker bus.


We decided to get off the tour at O'Connell Street to grab some lunch before we got back to the ship. The size of the street and the architecture is very impressive, especially the GPO building.


After lunch, we jumped on the closest city sightseeing bus, which would take us back to Nassau Street, where we boarded. City Sightseeing tickets can be used for unlimited trips for 2 days, so if you are spending a weekend in the city, it is a great way to get around and visit the sights as hop on and hop off.

 

We caught the bus back to the ship at 2pm. The last bus back to the ship was 1430, ready for sail away at 1545. Once we arrived back on board, it was just a short wait until afternoon tea. Today they served a delicious white chocolate mousse cake.


Later that evening, was a British themed dinner, serving beef sirloin with Yorkshire pudding and tasty gravy. For dessert, there was a fantastic honeycomb cake.


The show tonight was called Rock 'n' Roll Dreams and the production team performed all the 50's and 60's rock and roll classics.


Tomorrow, we will arrive at the charming St Mary's on the Isles of Scilly at 9am and depart at 6pm.

British Isles Blog: Day 6 - Belfast

Posted by RCI fans on April 1, 2014 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)


We headed up to breakfast at twenty to ten. We were just approaching the beginning of the harbour as we sat down. Throughout our breakfast we had great views as we approached the city. The gigantic yellow Harland & Wolff cranes loom over the city skyline, giving a strong reminder of the city's ship building heritage. The ship docked close to where the doomed RMS Titanic was constructed. The former shipyard is now home to the new Titanic Belfast exhibition.


After breakfast and once we docked around 15 minutes later than scheduled, I hopped on the free shuttle into the city. The bus dropped us off right in the city centre opposite the magnificent City Hall.


I spent a couple of hours walked around the main shopping streets, looking in a few of the shops, including the Victoria Square shopping arcade. I had a quick break in a Starbucks, before heading back to the bus for the ship.


Now we have left Scotland, the weather seems to be improving. For the first time on the cruise, the sun appeared!


After arriving back on board at 3pm, it was just a short wait until afternoon tea. Today's selection was less appetising than previous days.


Today's dinner was a delicious French onion soup, tender beef with mash and vegetables and ice cream.



Tomorrow we'll be in Dublin, where we will be taking a sightseeing tour of the city.

British Isles Blog: Day 5 - Tobermory

Posted by RCI fans on March 30, 2014 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)


“What's the story in Balamory, wouldn't you like to know!?” - Today we were in the picturesque village of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, better known as Balamory from the UK children's TV series. We anchored just outside the harbour in the bay, where the tender boats would shuttle us to the marina.


 

We awoke just in time to catch breakfast, after losing an hours sleep due to Daylight Saving Time. After breakfast, I then headed down to the Pursers Desk, to collect a 'tender ticket' to go ashore. I was letter E and within no time at all, my letter was called to board the tender. The short trip to the marina offered fantastic views of the ship up close as well as the surrounding landscape.


 

Once ashore, I walked along the main street, taking in all the fantastic views of the multi-coloured houses. After a brief stop to take photos of the ship at anchor, I headed back through the village and up one of the steepest hills I have ever walked in my life! However, the reward at the top was worth it. The hill gave fantastic views of the shops below and the ship out in the bay. After the descent, I then headed back on board the ship ready for a well deserved lunch.


 

After lunch, we relaxed in one of the on board lounges taking in the panoramic views as the ship rotated around its anchor.


 

Tonight's dinner was Italian themed. I had minestrone soup, a lovely giant slice of lasagne and chocolate profiteroles.


 

Tomorrow we will arrive in Belfast, Ireland.

British Isles Blog: Day 4 - Scrabster

Posted by RCI fans on March 30, 2014 at 5:55 AM Comments comments (0)



Today we arrived into the small village of Scrabster at 7am. We awoke at 8am after being woken up by our cabin attendant, checking to see if she could clean the room yet. After a leisurely breakfast, I then disembarked the ship and caught the free shuttle service into Thurso town. Unlike the service in Rosyth, there were no queues and I managed to jump straight on the waiting bus, which pulled off within minutes. Thurso is approximately 2 miles from Scrabster. The town's name derives from the Norse word Thorsa, meaning “River of the God Thor” and in Viking times, it was a major gateway to the mainland. The shuttle dropped meoff right in the centre of the town and after a quick look around the town, I headed for the seafront. After taking in the views of the bay, I headed back inland towards the train station, where I would then head for the town of Wick.


 

The single line track traverses the rural wilderness of Caithness. I caught the 1104 train from Thurso, which arrived into Wick at 1132. Wick station is the end of the line that runs all the way from Inverness. As the trains are very infrequent, I would only have an hour to spend in Wick, otherwise I would face missing the ship. If I didn't catch the 1236, the next train would not depart Wick until 4pm – the time all passengers should be back on board, ready for the ship to sail at 4:30pm. As I stepped onto the platform, it was like the train had never moved. Both Thurso and Wick stations look identical! With a short time limit, I had a quick walk along the town and had a drink in the Wetherspoons bar. By this time it was already time to head back to the station.


 

After arriving back into Thurso, I once again headed for the seafront. This time, I'd be seeing a lot more of it, as I decided to walk the 2 miles back to the ship. The coastal walk offered great scenery of the ship and the jagged cliff face below.


 

After arriving back onto the ship, it was not long until we headed up to deck 9 for afternoon tea. Today's selection included walnut cake and some delicious butter shortbread.


 

Evening meal soon came and tonight it was formal night. On the menu tonight were delicious vegetable spring rolls, chicken consommé, beef Wellington and chocolate fudge cake!


 

Tomorrow, we'll be in the beautiful town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, although better known as Balamory from the children's television series. We arrive at 9:30am and depart at 7pm. The ship will be anchored in the harbour.