Authors Posts by Natalies Nautical Tales

Natalies Nautical Tales

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Ahoy There! Welcome to my blog regarding all things cruise. My name is Natalie and I have been working in the travel industry for 17 years and specialising in the cruise sector for over 9 years now. Not only do I book dream cruises for my clients every day but I love to cruise myself! There is just something about waking up in a different place every day and experiencing new cultures and destinations that appeals to me. Cruise ships are just like floating resorts and each has its own personality, no ships are the same so I enjoy trying different cruise lines and sizes of ship. I will be posting pictures from my various cruising adventures and any news from the industry to keep you up to date with the goings on. There will also be some fantastic special offers coming your way in due course so keep your eyes peeled for these too. Please visit my contact page to get in touch if you would like me to check prices for you on any cruise, I promise to get you a great deal! If you want to share any of your cruising experiences or photos with me, I would love to see them!

Welcome to the third installment of Cruising Alaska as we look at the wonderful port of Juneau.

Juneau is the capital of Alaska and has been previously known as Rockwell and also Harrisburg. These are all names of gold prospectors from the area at the time.

The city itself sits at sea level at the bottom of some very steep mountains which at the top is the Juneau Ice Field.

My first glimpse of Juneau was from the restaurant at breakfast time and the ship was docked right next to the side of a mountain which had all sorts of ships logos painted on them. I learned that it is a ships right of passage that on their first visit to Juneau the date and name of the ship is etched on the mountain face for all to see. I think this is such a great idea and makes very interesting reading over breakfast!

Welcome to part two of cruising Alaska – Ketchikan

Ketchikan was the first port of call on my Alaskan cruise and is known as ‘The Salmon Capital of the world’. This was definitely one local delicacy I indulged in! The variety available was huge and it was hard to choose which one to try which is why I ended up bringing some home with me!

The town itself is so pretty, very quaint and has an old world feel to it. The name of the town originated from the creek which runs through it called ‘Ketchikan Creek’ and along the creek there is a variety of shops, bars and restaurants which is known as ‘Creek Street’.

I think Cruising Alaska is on most travelers bucket lists! My series of blogs will tell of my story to this fantastic destination and hopefully give an insight to anyone looking at visiting in the future.

Jane McDonald is featuring on Channel 5 tonight ( Friday 3rd March 2017) on her own Alaskan Adventure on board the Holland America ship, Nieuw Amsterdam. This will definitely be one to watch!

If you are looking at sailing around Alaska you have a choice of cruise lines. I sailed with Princess Cruises but there is also Holland America, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Your choice of cruise line will depend on whether you are looking for a more formal option or would rather something a little more laid back, like Norwegian Cruise Line. Of course the itinerary is very important for Alaska so finding the right combination is key.

My journey started with flying out to Seattle for an overnight stay before flying to Anchorage the following morning to join up with the Coral Princess. I sailed from Whittier through the inside passage to Vancouver on my 7 night cruise.

Carnival enrichment cruises, named ‘Carnival Journeys’ have announced 13 new 12-14 night adventures, departing from East and West Coast American homeports

Carnival Journeys gives you the opportunity to visit some of the world’s most beautiful destinations.

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Sample local cuisine: enjoy on board cooking demonstrations with local restaurants and chefs

Entertainment performances which take place onboard or outside the ship

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Educational enrichment sessions

Throwback sea day – 1987, with retro pool and deck games, old school dining options and popular movies from that era

The 13 new Carnival Journeys voyages include:

  • Carnival Splendor: a 14-day Alaska cruise round-trip from Long Beach 25 Aug to 8 Sept. 2018
  • Carnival Breeze: a 14-day Southern Caribbean voyage departing Galveston 16 Sept and arriving in Port Canaveral 30 Sept. 2018
  • Carnival Splendor: three 14-day Hawaii cruises round-trip from Long Beach departing 13 Oct. 2018, 1 Dec. 2018, and 12 Jan. 2019
  • Carnival Freedom: a 14-day Panama Canal voyage round-trip from Galveston 27 Oct. 10 Nov. 2018
  • Carnival Breeze: a 14-day Southern Caribbean voyage operating round-trip from Port Canaveral 3-17 Nov. 2018
  • Carnival Pride: a 14-day Southern Caribbean cruise round-trip from Baltimore 4-18, Nov. 2018 Carnival Ecstasy: a 12-day Southern Caribbean cruise round trip from Charleston 10-22 Nov. 2018
  • Carnival Miracle: a 14-day Panama Canal voyage round-trip from Tampa 2-16, Dec. 2018
  • Carnival Pride: 14-day Southern Caribbean voyage round-trip from Baltimore 6-20, Jan. 2019
  • Carnival Sunshine: a 13-day Southern Caribbean cruise round-trip from Port Canaveral 12-25, Jan. 2019
  • Carnival Freedom: a 14-day Southern Caribbean sailing round-trip from Galveston 19-2 Feb. 2019

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 Take your cruise further with a Carnival Journey limited series of special sailings, made to amaze!

Did you know here at Cruise Club UK we have a Loyalty Bonus Scheme. Book your chosen cabin type and you can receive up to 50 Bonus Points (1 Point = £1). That’s a saving of up to £50 off your next cruise booked with us.  

Email or call me to discuss your dream cruise: Natalie@cruiseclubuk.com 0161 798 2506

 

 

 

What better way to arrive in Puerto Vallarta than by sea. Docking at Terminal Maritimo has been modified to berth 3 ships at any one time.

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The following cruise lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess & Royal Caribbean will visit in 2017. Carnival Miracle is the main cruise line operating all year round. From 2018 Carnival Splendor will replace the 2,100 passenger Miracle, which will result in a 41% increase to tourism in the area

Weather

It’s warm all year round with tropical temperatures, however summer months are very hot and rainy. Best time for us Brits to travel is our winter time, when the rainfall has stopped and the temperature has cooled off a little

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is located between the Sierra Madre Mountains & the 7th largest bay in the world- Banderas Bay, which is the largest in Mexico and 2nd largest in North America. The bay extends 26 miles with Puerto Vallarta in the middle.

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Puerto Vallarta is one of the most exceptional places in Latin America due to its biodiversity. From it’s tropical vegetation to the hundreds of species of birds. Watch the migration of humpback whales in the winter months. They move from the North Pole to the Bay to have their calves in the warm waters November to March.

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There is quite a big artistic scene in Puerto Vallarta, with artists from around the world inspired by the mix of beauty and romance. You will find numerous art galleries, public sculptures and cultural festivals

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With excursions featuring tree top canopy tours to a sunset horseback ride, or whether you’re seeking quality beach time or adventure, a cruise featuring Puerto Vallarta is a must!

Did you know here at Cruise Club UK we have a Loyalty Bonus Scheme. Book your chosen cabin type and you can receive up to 50 Bonus Points (1 Point = £1). That’s a saving of up to £50 off your next cruise booked with us.  

Email or call me to discuss your dream cruise: natalie@cruiseclubuk.com 0161 798 2506

 

Norwegian Cruise Lines have released some exciting news about one of their brand new Breakaway Plus class ships, Norwegian Bliss.

This will be their first ship specifically designed to cruise Alaska and will set sail in June 2018. The ship will have custom built features and amenities to enhance cruising in this region.

As yet, dining, accommodation and on board facilities are to be announced over the forthcoming months but this is a real innovation from NCL and is sure to prove very popular. Bliss will be the youngest ship to sail in Alaska and this is bound to be a great pull for those wanting to experience Alaska on a state of the art new ship.

The hull art of the ship, which is synonymous to Norwegian Cruise Line, is to be revealed later this month and is to be designed by Marine Life artist, Wyland. This sounds very fitting for Bliss and I can’t wait to see the design!

Ship facts

Passenger capacity; 4000

Gross tonnage; 167,800

Shipyard; Papenburg, Germany

Itineraries on sale today and her homeport will be Seattle, sailing 7 night cruises departing on a Saturday. Bliss will visit Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Victoria ( British Columbia ) and scenic Glacier cruising.

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Prior to her Alaskan season she will be doing a transatlantic cruise and a Panama Canal cruise before sailing to her homeport of Seattle. This gives plenty of opportunity for those wanting to be one of the first to sail on her but have maybe already sailed Alaska. After which Norwegian Bliss will relocate to Miami for winter 2018/19

The Bliss will be a fantastic addition to Alaskan offerings and I for one can’t wait to find out more! Here’s a sneak peak at her interior:

The Haven Observation Lounge

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Built for the spectacular vistas of Alaska and The Caribbean, Norwegian Bliss will offer guests staying in The Haven exclusive access to a 2-story observation lounge with expansive, panoramic ocean views.

The Observation Lounge

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Imagine sheer amazement from our revolutionary observation lounge offering the most expansive views at sea. The Observation Lounge is located at the front of the ship and provides the same stunning views as the views from the bridge and features a full service bar for guests to sit back, relax and take in the views.

If you are considering a cruise to Alaska and would like further information you can read my fun and informative 5 part blog by clicking here.  I loved my cruise to Alaska so if I can help you plan your trip please do not hesitate to drop me an email or give me a call! My contact details are below.

Did you know here at Cruise Club UK we have a Loyalty Bonus Scheme. Book your chosen cabin type and you can receive up to 50 Bonus Points (1 Point = £1) That’s a saving of up to £50 off your next cruise booked with us.  

Email or call me to discuss your dream cruise: natalie@cruiseclubuk.com 0161 7982506.

Princess have reimagined their youth & teen clubs, ensuring the youngest cruises stay happy all day long. The new youth programme is designed for cruisers aged 3 to 17

Princess will work in partnership with Discovery Communications, who have developed the new programme

Camp Discovery (was The Fun Zone) is dedicated for kids age 3 to 12

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Age 3 – 7, The Treehouse (was Pelicans) – Forest themed and created for hands on activities and programs

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Age 8 – 12, The Lodge (was Shockwaves) – Cosy great outdoors theme, ideal place to hang out and be comfortable. Filled with sport activities

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Teens only, age 13 – 17 The Beach House (was Remix) – Ideal place for your teens to socialise & hang out with new friends. Includes ‘Rock the boat party’, video game tournaments plus lots more

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Want to keep your children occupied then look no further than sports, games and physical activities:

Dance classes with competitions, miniature Olympics, interactive scavenger hunts

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Discover places, animals and science:

Mythbusters activities, learn the science of magic, become an engineer for the day

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Fun interactions:

Talent shows, themed nights including pirates, sea carnival – with music, dance & trivia

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Arts, crafts & inventions:

Help explore the ocean, make animal planet puppets, art projects

Looking for some family fun time:

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How about some healthy competition from family game nights to family fitness in the sports court

Or spend some quality time together watching a movie under the stars

With so much on offer for kids and families, Princess are the perfect choice for a family getaway!

Did you know here at Cruise Club UK we have a Loyalty Bonus Scheme. Book your chosen cabin type and you can receive up to 50 Bonus Points (1 Point = £1). That’s a saving of up to £50 off your next cruise booked with us.  

Email or call me to discuss your dream cruise: natalie@cruiseclubuk.com 0161 798 2506

 

 

 

To book or not to book, that is the question!

This is something that we all ask ourselves time and time again. Do we book early and take advantage of the great perks such as free drinks packages, on board spending money and cabin upgrades OR do we take a risk and leave booking until closer to departure in the hope the price will reduce and we will get a better deal, albeit forfeiting some of the perks available to early bookers.

There are a few types of cruises however that I would always recommend booking early for, as leaving these for a later booking will leave you disappointed one way or another; Your chosen cabin number or favored position may not be available, your perfect date might have sold out which means a compromise must be made.

Take a look at the list I have put together below and If you are looking at booking any of these cruises for the future, consider doing so as soon as possible. I would recommend a year in advance at least.

  • CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR 

Any cruise that involves a peak date will be more expensive, generally speaking, including any sailing involving Christmas and or New Year. If you are looking at a fly cruise the airlines will take full advantage of this. Flights with scheduled airlines will be released 10-11 months in advance, low cost airlines a little later, but the earlier these are booked the lower the price will be. This is the same with cruises, even those that are sailing from the UK.

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  • PANAMA CANAL

With only a few ‘full transit’ sailings to choose from each year and limited ships that can operate the route that are under ‘Panamax’ size this is definitely one to book early.

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  • ALASKA

With numerous ships sailing this area you might think that this is cruise you can leave until nearer departure to secure a deal. This is why I would advise against doing this… Alaska has a limited season which runs from the end of May to September. The peak time to visit, where generally speaking you get the most wildlife sightings and the best weather, is between June and August so this is only a 3 month window. Of course you can still visit at the beginning or the end of the season but if you are looking for the best time to travel to maximise your trip this needs to be booked early.

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  • INAUGURAL OR SECOND SAILING ON A BRAND NEW SHIP

There is such a buzz created from media coverage when a new ship is launched and everyone wants to be a part of it, me included! For this reason the first and second sailings are always in high demand for all cabin types.

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  • EXPEDITION CRUISES

Cruises to destinations such as Galapagos or Antarctica are a definite bucket list trip. These small ships are in high demand, due to around only 30 cabins on board each ship, and the season is very limited.  This is a cruise you will certainly need to book as far ahead as you can to avoid disappointment.

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  • LUXURY SHIPS

By the very nature of luxury cruising the ships are smaller with a much more personal feel therefore popular itineraries are in demand. With less suites being available, and a lot of repeat bookings made on on board, sailings get full very quickly. The itineraries are unique and often not repeated so booking early is a must!

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  • THEME OR SPECIAL EVENT ITINERARIES 

Any itinerary that will be in port when a special event takes place will always attract a lot of interest. For example; when Azamara Club Cruises featured 2 overnights in Monaco during the Grand Prix the demand was phenomenal. Celebrity Cruises have a Baltic sailing in July 2018 which will be in Russia during the World Cup final so I can see this being extremely popular.

Some cruise lines will have themed departures with various activities taking place on board and special guests centered around the theme. For example; P&O has a Strictly Come Dancing sailing for April 2017, which is currently sold out, which is to feature dancers from the show with dance classes and evening entertainment fit for all Strictly fans!

If I can help you secure a booking for any of the above please do not hesitate to contact me. 

 

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Did you know here at Cruise Club UK we have a Loyalty Bonus Scheme. Book your chosen cabin type and you can receive up to 50 Bonus Points (1 Point = £1) That’s a saving of up to £50 off your next cruise booked with us.  

Email or call me to discuss your dream cruise: natalie@cruiseclubuk.com 0161 7982506

Fred Olsens Black Watch is due to emerge from Blohm + Voss shipyard next week following a 26 day dry dock refurbishment.

It seems a lot of work has been undertaken in this relatively short time frame with more public spaces being created AND all cabins, restaurants, bars and lounges being given a new lease of life. Fred Olsen have promised that the updates will be in keeping with the intimate and traditional style of the ship that is known and loved by guests.

The managing director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Mike Rodwell, said: “Black Watch is one of Fred. Olsen’s most popular cruise ships, and it is important that she always looks her best. During her 26-day dry dock in Hamburg, as well as the usual maritime inspections and maintenance work, we will also be undertaking major upgrades to the cabins and public areas throughout the ship, to ensure that we continue to provide the best facilities possible to meet our guests’ expectations.”Our significant investment in refurbishing and upgrading Black Watch will ensure that our guests will be able to enjoy her classic looks and unique, intimate ambience for many years to come.”

It has also been confirmed that the other ships in the fleet; Balmoral, Braemar and Boudicca, will have a similar refurbishment in the next few years.

Here are some of the details we have found out so far….

Cabins – All of the cabins on the ship are being given a full refurbishment and each one will now feature an interactive TV system. A safe and minibar will be installed as standard in all cabins and all bathrooms are being up dated.

Lounges and Bars – As with the cabins, all the lounge and bar areas will receive a face lift. The Morning Light Pub will now occupy the space where the former Braemar Lounge on Deck 6 is. The pub will feature new upholstery/furniture and a new bar. This will allow a larger area for this popular venue. In place of The Morning Light Pub will be a brand new bar called Neptune. The Lido bar and Observatory will both benefit from new furniture/upholstery.

Entertainment – The cinema on board will have the latest 3D technology installed to allow high definition and 3D films to be shown.

Dining – Braemar Garden Cafe, which is the buffet restaurant on board, will be replaced with a new restaurant called Brigadoon. This will still be a buffet restaurant and will feature a mix of British and International cuisine.

The old Black Watch Room is to be replaced with a new specialty restaurant called Braemar Courtyard which will seat 46 passengers. The restaurant will specialise in seafood and steaks and is to have its own galley kitchen.

The main dining room on board, The Glentanar, will be receiving a new layout and new carpets, furniture and decor.

The existing Grill restaurant, which is next to the pool area, will be renamed Poolside and will be serving Mediterranean style food.

 

The first sailing on the refreshed Braemar is this weekend! I would love to hear your thoughts on the refurbishment if you are on this sailing.

Top 50 Cruise Blog High Res

Did you know here at Cruise Club UK we have a Loyalty Bonus Scheme. Book your chosen cabin type and you can receive up to 50 Bonus Points (1 Point = £1) That’s a saving of up to £50 off your next cruise booked with us.  

Email or call me to discuss your dream cruise: natalie@cruiseclubuk.com 0161 7982506

Encore

Seabourn have received their newest fleet addition from the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. They have been patiently waiting for over 2 years for this day and are hoping this is going to set a new bar for ultra luxury cruising.

Encore will be the largest in Seabourn’s fleet, being able to accommodate 600 passengers.  Her 3 sister ships are slightly smaller at 458 passengers.

The ship is headed off to Singapore where she will be named in a glitzy ceremony on 7th January by her godmother Sarah Brightman.

Her maiden voyage is a 10 night Indonesian voyage from Singapore to Bali which is a stunning itinerary! She will then be operating cruises around Australia, New Zealand with a few ports in Indonesia featuring as well.

In Summer 2017 Encore will be based in the Mediterranean so a series of re-positioning cruises to Athens will be available from destinations such as Bali, Singapore and Dubai. If you would like to look at these unique itineraries click here.

The designer Adam D. Tihany has created indoor and outdoor spaces on board. New features on board include the ‘Retreat’ which is a relaxation area featuring private cabanas to hire plus a spa treatment cabana.

Artists impression of The Retreat.
Artists impression of The Retreat.

The Grill by Thomas Keller will feature on board Encore which is the signature restaurant from three star michelin chef  Thomas Keller plus a new restaurant called Sushi.

A new production show will feature on board called ‘ An evening with Tim Rice’ along with a new Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil mindful living programme. Exciting news for the inaugural sailing is that both Tim Rice and Dr. Andrew Weil will be on board.

Some fantastic additions here for Seabourns newest ship!

If I can help with your next Seabourn cruise booking please do not hesitate to email natalie@cruiseclubuk.com or call me directly on 0161 7982506.

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