P&O Cruises introduces ‘The Pantry’, to replace the traditional cruise buffet

P&O Cruises are introducing a brand new dining experience to replace the traditional buffet.

Banishing trays, queues and the all-you-can-eat smorgasbord, P&O’s new dining concept is named “The Pantry”, and is similar to an up-market food hall where passengers can choose between eight different stations and have their meals individually plated.

There’s a “Kettle & Bun” bar with sandwiches and soups, the “Fat Cow” bar for a traditional roast dinner, “Mexicana” gives you your taco fix, “Curry House” brings you a taste of Indian cuisine as well as an Asian food bar, coffee bar and fish and chips stand. And when you’re ready for dessert, the “Sugar Bar” offers homemade cakes and pastries.

Bye, bye cruise ship buffet

Looking more like a chic hotel lobby than a cruise ship.

“We’ve been working on this part of our on-board food revolution for some time and to see the concept become reality is very exciting. It’s a game-changer — and it’s clear from our guests’ reaction that they love it,” P & O Cruises Senior Vice President Sture Myrmell said.

“The Pantry is a dining experience like no other at sea. Designed as an international food market, it features eight bespoke outlets reflecting the many flavours Australians love to eat.”

The interior has also changed. Round tables and carpet have been replaced with a mix of bench seats and intimate tables, mosaic tiles give it contemporary chic, cutlery is wrapped in beach style napkins in baskets and homely bookcases stocked with vases and plants create a relaxed vibe.

Despite earlier patron concerns, dining at “The Pantry” will still be all inclusive in the ticket price. “The Pantry” is currently available on the Pacific Jewel, and will unveiled on the Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden later this year.

For P&O specials visit P&O Specials

Family Cruises – What are the benefits

With the amazing increase in popularity of cruising, it’s no secret that cruising has become hugely popular with families. The number of children onboard is growing steadily, and more than 2 million kids younger than 15 sailed on cruise lines in 2013, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Yet, despite the great strides made by cruise lines in accommodating children onboard, choosing the best cruise for your family is still complicated. Where once it was a struggle to find ships that were kid-friendly, the challenge now is wading through the bevy of activities, kids clubs, and child-themed activities of the newer ships offer to determine which cruise ships are best for your youngsters. Cruising from Australia the main competition is between P&O, Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean

Ships: Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s award winning Advenure Ocean Youth Programme and a host of onboard activities ensure your kids will have the time of their lives. It’s family time, and it’s all included. Please find below some of the highlights of their family program.

THE DREAMWORKS EXPERIENCE – Exclusive shows, parades, dining and photo opportunities for the whole family with characters from DreamWorks® Animation

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES – Be entertained with Broadway style shows, rock wall, FlowRider surf simulator, mini-golf, iceskating and swimming pools.

ADVENTURE OCEAN – Our Youth Staff have developed age-appropriate curriculums to engage and entertain kids and teens of all ages: Aquanauts 3 – 5 years, Explorers 6 – 8 years, Voyagers 9 – 11 years, Teens 12 – 14 years, Teens 15 – 17 years

FAMILY-FRIENDLY DINING – With My Family Time DiningSM, our expedited dining service, your kids (ages 3 – 11 years) are served their meals and then picked up by our Adventure Ocean staff so you can enjoy the rest of your dinner.

ROYAL BABIES & TOTSSM NURSERY – Our littlest guests (ages 6-36 months) can enjoy specially designed programmes whilst being cared for by trained professionals.

P&O Cruises

Ships: Pacific Jewel, Pearl, Dawn, Eden & Aria

P&O have a wide variety of daily activities designed just for kids. Their Kids Club program has been designed with help from childhood experts, and they limit the number of children onboard so nobody ever feels left out. At meal time, even the fussiest feeders will love the kids’ menu options, family share platters in the Waterfront Restaurant, and the kids’ only dinner every night at Plantation Restaurant. The kid’s clubs Turtle Cove and Shark Shack are open until 10:30pm and provide a late night child-minding service until 1am while tweens and teens can enjoy the features of HQ & HQ+ until 1am each night. So date nights and downtime are ready when you are.

For those after a serious dose of adrenalin, P&OEdge, the largest adventure program at sea is now onboard Pacific Jewel. That means you can climb, swing, jump and race your way through the ship. Whether you’re ascending high above the Big Screen, climbing up the aft tunnel or flying around the atrium you’ll see Pacific Jewel like never before!

Carnival Cruises

Ships: Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend

Carnival Cruises are fun ships for kids and parents. They are the only ship cruising from Australia with water slides for all ages. The Green Thunder is the steepest waterslide at sea If you’re up for freefalling and being whipped around at up to 65 kilometres per hour you’ll have a blast. If you’re not, take a deep breath, and get ready for the ride of your life.  A new addition to Carnival is the Seuss at Sea. The littlest ones, and their families, will enjoy an all-new, extra-special experience as the fantastical world of Dr. Seuss comes to life around them.  Enjoy a special onboard character parade, interactive story time, arts & crafts activities, character breakfast and more, featuring their favourite Dr. Seuss characters. Seuss at Sea truly brings your child’s favourite books to life.

Camp Carnival offers tons of activities designed for children in three different age groups: 2 to 5 years, 6 to 8 years, and 9 to 11 years. Carnivals counsellors, each with education or childcare experience, are on the clock making sure everyone in the small groups of kids is having fun. When it’s mealtime, kids get their own menus, with faves like mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, and more. And when the sun goes down, we offer Night Owls (fees apply) so kids get to stay up late having fun, while their parents also enjoy themselves well into the night.

www.cruiseoffers.com.au

 

New Cruise Ships Arriving Soon

Each new cruise ship brings excitement and amazing new features. As the appetite for cruising continues to grow by double digits each year the big cruise lines have been placing orders for larger and more luxurious cruise ships. The new ships below range from 3600 passengers to 5400 passengers.  The process, from design to keel laying to launch, generally takes two to three years.

Find below a list of cruise ships that will be launched in 2015-16.

P_O_Brittania_now Britannia-GENERIC

P&O Britannia  

141,000 Tonnage

3,611 Berths

Launch Date March 2015

When Britannia debuts, it will be by far the biggest ship in the P&O Cruise fleet, coming in at 141,000 tons and carrying 3,611 passengers — some 25,000 tons larger than P&O’s previous biggest ship, Azura. It will also be the biggest ship ever built specifically for the U.K. market. The ship will include purpose-built single cabins with balconies and the largest spa in the fleet.

 

Anthem of the Seas

167,800 Tonnage

4,180 Berths

Launch Date Spring 2015

The ship will be the second of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class of vessels, named for fleetmate Quantum of the Seas, which debuted in Fall 2014. Anthem of the Seas will be based in Southampton during the summer, offering Mediterranean itineraries; it will then be based in Bayonne’s Cape Liberty offering Caribbean cruises over the winter months. Anthem of the Seas will be loaded with new-to-the-seas activities such as onboard bumper cars and a skydiving simulator. It also will feature the North Star, a pod that extends up and over the ship for 360-degree views. Inside cabins will feature “virtual balconies” — essentially floor-to-ceiling LCD TV screens linked to a camera mounted on the outside of the ship. It also will feature the wildly innovative entertainment space, Two70, which integrates HD-digital technology with singing, dancing and acrobatics.

NorwegianEscape

Norwegian Escape

163,000 Tonnage

4,200 Berths

Launch Date October 2015

The first ship in NCL’s Breakaway-Plus Class will come in at 163,000 tons and carry 4,200 passengers. It will feature one more deck than the Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, which make up the similar Breakaway Class. The ship will include an outdoor dining and drinking space, called The Waterfront, and will feature famed Miami bar, Tobacco Road. Escape will feature a hull painting by artist Guy Harvey, and it will sail Caribbean itineraries out of Miami.

 

Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas 

167,800 Tonnage

4,180 Berths

Launch Date Mid-2016

Royal Caribbean’s third Quantum Class vessel will sail in 2016. Like its sister ships — Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas — this third ship will feature new-to-the-seas activities such as onboard bumper cars and a skydiving simulator. It also will feature the North Star, a pod that extends up and over the ship for 360-degree views. Inside cabins will feature “virtual balconies” — essentially floor-to-ceiling LCD TV screens linked to a camera mounted on the outside of the ship. It also will feature the wildly innovative entertainment space, Two70, which integrates HD-digital technology with singing, dancing and acrobatics.

Harmony of the SeasHarmony of the Seas slides

Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas               

225,282 Tonnage

5,400 Berths

Launch Date April 2016

Royal Caribbean has just announced the name of their third Oasis class ship as Harmony of the Seas. Harmony of the Seas introduces the first waterslides on Royal Caribbean with a splash. Three thrilling waterslides will bring brand new adventures to the ship’s Pool and Sports Zone, as guests dip, dive and swirl three decks down through a series of twists and turns. Royal Caribbean’s third Oasis Class vessel will be built and ready to sail by April 2016. A fourth-in-class ship will launch mid-2018. When these ships are complete, they will be the largest passenger ships afloat.

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au

Re-positioning Cruises – a cheaper alternative

A repositioning cruise is one that travels from one region to another when the season changes. An example is the Royal Caribbean ships that cruise between Alaska and Australia so they can cruise in the summer months in both regions. Generally you will find repositioning cruises occur in September/October and the reverse cruise in April/May.

Cruise lines sell these one-way itineraries rather than sail the ships without passengers, and they’re usually cheaper per day, longer, and involve more sea days than regular cruises. However, don’t forget that you have to factor in the cost of flights to and from ports at both ends of the journey, which is more expensive than a return flight.

If you’re a dedicated cruiser who loves spending lots of days at sea, want to traverse several oceans in one hit or cross the Atlantic and visit unusual destinations (or those that are out of peak season), you should definitely consider a repositioning cruise.

You’ll have plenty of time on board to enjoy all the ship’s facilities, so choose a ship that you either know already or one that will suit your tastes and needs. As you’re not making port calls every day it’s a very relaxing way to cruise – however, if you’re the sort of person who needs plenty of distractions, it might not be for you.

At the end of the summer in Alaska, ships reposition to the Caribbean along the West Coast of America and through the Panama Canal; or they head to Hawaii and then on to Asia and Australia, for the October-March ‘wave season’.

Another popular repositioning route is from the east coast of America to Europe, across the Atlantic, for the northern spring and summer season (April to October); they return to America to spend a season in the Caribbean. Ships also move seasonally from South America to the Caribbean, and from Europe to Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Contact us at Cruise Offers for prices and itineraries on available reposition cruises.

www.cruiseoffers.com.au

Best Cruise Buffet Tips

When it comes to cruising the 24 hour buffet is a great way to have a quick meal instead of having to dress up for the formal dining rooms. Buffet’s offer plenty of choice and is a great option for families or if you are tired after a long day of sightseeing.

When it comes to cruise buffets, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do them. Here are some of the best buffet tips.

buffet

Breakfast
One of the most important things to know about eating at a cruise buffet is what to stay away from. At breakfast, it’s the static, chafing-dish scrambled eggs. It may seem quick and easy to just scoop some up — after all, they’re already prepared, and really, how bad could they be on a fancy cruise, right? Wrong. They’re made hours before they are put out and are still almost raw even when they hit the buffet.
The eggs are scrambled lightly and then left to cook via the heat from the hot station. On the other hand, omelets are one of the things you’ll find made to order at the buffet, so ask the omelet cook to make you a quick scramble instead — he’s already got the eggs. That way you know you’re eating fresh, fully cooked eggs. (Incidentally, eggs Benedict is always done as you order and usually excellent.)
If you’re not an egg person, you can also get fresh pancakes and waffles — again, forget those nasty ones that are somehow simultaneously crusty and soggy from sitting in the serving dish. Butter won’t even melt on them. If you walk over to the cafeteria and nicely ask the cook to give you some pancakes off the griddle, you’ll be much happier with the result.

Lunch
Salads and stir-fry are big at the cruise buffet lunch. Though the stir-fries are made to order, the cooks tend to overuse soy sauce, so ask them to go easy. As for the salads, watch out for the raw onions — the self-serve lettuce always seem to be overloaded with them.
Another lunch option to be careful of is the smoked salmon. (It’s on all salad and breakfast buffets.) If the edges are beginning to curl or are slightly brown, stay away.

Dinner
Important fact: They have the same dinner entrees on the casual deck buffet as they do in the dress-up dining room. Same food, supereasy. If you’re not into the chafing-dish options, you can also have a steak cooked to order. But beware: The quality of the meat used at the buffet is not as good as the meat used for the main dining room.
Other important dinner tips? If you’re a fan of fish, stick to whatever fish they’re cooking to order.
And who doesn’t love an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner? You at the cruise buffet if you order correctly. Though the pasta dish is put together in front of you, the pasta itself is pre-cooked. When you order your noodles, the cook will put them in a strainer and submerge them in hot water to warm them while finishing the sauces. The problem is the straining of the noodles: The cook will lift them out, give them a shake, and throw them in the pan with the sauce — and you will end up with a watery mess.
If you’re willing to speak up and ask for a better strain or for the sauce to be thickened, then pasta is a good option. If you do choose pasta, do it the day after the sit-down dining room serves meat — they take the leftover high-quality meat and throw it into sauces. And ask the cook to add some marinated veggies from the pizza station rather than the raw ones they use, since they never seem to cook properly.

Dessert
Sweets are one of the best parts of the buffet (just make sure the plates holding the desserts are on ice). Puff pastries, petits fours, crème brûlée, and the like all hold up better than cake, which dries out quickly.
So pile on the goodies — don’t forget the whipped cream! — and you can even take your dessert to your cabin if you like.

The World’s largest cruise ships

Passenger ships have been increasing in size for many years. A hundred years ago, Hamburg – America Line’s SS Imperator was the world’s largest passenger ship at 51,500 tons. Today many cruise ships are two or three times that size.

1. Allure of the Seas and two other ships of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis Class are by far the biggest cruise ships in the world. Weighing 225,282 tons and accommodating 5,400 passengers, these 360 metre long ships cruise the Caribbean.

Allure

2. The Norwegian Epic is the biggest ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines. It is 155,873 tons and 329 metres long. It carries 4,100 passengers.

3. Freedom of the Seas and it’s two sister ships of Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom class are the world’s third biggest cruise ships. They weigh in at 154,407 tons and accommodate 4,370 passengers

4. Cunard’s famous Queen Mary 2 is 148,528 tons and is 345 metres long. The QM2 is also a liner, regularly crossing the Atlantic between Southampton in England and New York, as well as undertaking an annual world cruise and shorter cruises. As a liner it is faster than other cruise ships and more capable of handling heavy seas. It carries 2,620 passengers and when it was built in 2003, it was the biggest passenger ship in the world.

Cunard QM2

5. The fifth biggest class of cruise ships are Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines. At 144,017 tons and 344 metres long, they each transport up to 4,500 passengers from New York to the Caribbean.

NCL Breakaway

6. The Royal Princess  and her sister ships are the sixth largest. Princess Cruises operate two of this class with a third on order. P&O are soon to take delivery of another, the Britannia. Cruising through the Mediterranean and Caribbean, they weigh 142,000 tons, are 330 metres and long and take 3,600 passengers.

7. Voyager of the Seas is the lead ship of a five strong class run by Royal Caribbean International. Built in Finland at the turn of the century, they are 311 metres long, weigh 138,000 tons and transport 3110 passengers.

8. MSC Divina is one of four similar ships by run by Swiss-Italian company MSC Cruises. At 333 metres long and weighing in at 138,000 tons, they mostly operate in the Mediterranean Sea but occasionally venture over to the West Indies.

9. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are 130,000 tons, 340 metres long and run Disney themed trips from Florida.

Disney Dream

10. Carnival Dream and two sister ships sail under the Carnival Cruise Lines banner, while a four ship is operated by their Italian subsidiary Costa Crociere. The 130,000 ton, 306 metre ships operate in the major cruise markets of the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas.

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au for all cruise specials.

Two new ships for P&O Cruises

P&O has announced that they will welcome two more ships, making it the largest fleet of cruise ships home ported year round in Australia. The additional ships will transfer from Holland America Line in November 2015.

New_P&O_Ships

The announcement is an emphatic statement about the leadership of Carnival Australia, confidence in the Australian cruise market and reaffirmation of P&O Cruises’ status as Australia’s iconic ‘home brand’ cruise line.

“This is a very exciting development for the Carnival Group, P&O Cruises and for our teams who have worked so passionately and effectively to build the business and the cruise category. This move signals that the next generation of P&O Cruises is about to commence.” said Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, operator of P&O Cruises.

Both ships are of a similar mid-range size to the three existing P&O Cruises ships, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl.

“The ships will be intimate but offer space, comfort and style giving passengers more destinations to choose from, more onboard experiences to indulge in and more reasons to cruise,” said Senior Vice President P&O Cruises Tammy Marshall.

Having a five-ship fleet will give P&O Cruises greater flexibility in its increased offering of short break cruises, traditional cruises to the South Pacific and exciting new destinations such as Papua New Guinea and Asia.

The additional ships, which will transfer from the Holland America Line, will deliver much needed capacity in the world’s fastest growing cruise market.

Last year, the majority of Australia’s 800,000 cruise passengers travelled with P&O Cruises. Increasing by 130% in the past 5 years, the industry is on track to carry 1 million passengers a year by 2016- four years earlier than forecast.

“This further fleet expansion is entirely appropriate for P&O Cruises, the shipping line that pioneered cruising from Australia more than 80 years ago and has set the pace for the industry ever since,” Ms Marshall said.

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au for the latest P&O specials and itineraries.

Golden Princess shines on Melbourne

Golden Princess, the biggest cruise ship ever to be based in Melbourne, is bound for the Victorian capital.

With Australia’s love affair with cruising holidays at an all-time high, Princess Cruises has announced it will base a record five ships in Australia next year.

The 108,000-tonne ship accommodates 2600 passengers. “More than half her staterooms have private balconies, while she also offers a beautiful spa, four swimming pools and 10 restaurants and cafes, so we think she’ll be very popular with Victorians.”

Golden Princess

Golden Princess will make her maiden visit to Australia in October 2015, arriving in Sydney before moving to Melbourne.

Her five-month season will include holidays to New Zealand, the South Pacific and Tasmania, with fares starting from $1849 per person for a 13-night New Zealand cruise.

As part of Princess Cruises’ record five-ship program, Golden Princess will join Diamond Princess in Australian waters for the 2015-16 summer, while Sun Princess will remain in Australia next winter, joining sister ships Dawn and Sea Princess in providing cruises year round.

Princess Cruises is launching its first summer season of cruises from Fremantle, doubling the cruise line’s Western Australian offering to give the state its first year-round cruise program, as well as Princess Cruises’ biggest ever presence in Brisbane, with Queenslanders set to enjoy nine months of sailings in 2015-16.

Mr Allison said the record fleet would increase the cruise line’s local capacity by 35 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014.

He said Australians now spend more nights on Princess Cruises’ ships than on any other line, with Australia its second biggest market after the US.

For the first time, all ships will offer onboard pricing using Australian dollars as they deliver a program of more than 80 cruises from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Fremantle and Auckland.

For more information phone 1800 616 434 or visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au

Explorer of the Seas coming to Australia

Royal Caribbean International has announced the addition of Explorer of the Seas to its Australian-based fleet. The Explorer of the Seas is the second of five in the Voyager-class series that started with Voyager of the Seas in 1999. The Explorer of the Seas will boast a wealth of facilities, activities and entertainment and put it “head and shoulders” above its Australian competitors.

Upon its arrival in Australasian waters in Nov 2015, the 3,800-passenger Explorer will join sister ship Voyager of the Seas as the largest cruise vessels sailing in the southern hemisphere. The new ship will replace the departing Rhapsody of the Seas, which leaves Australian waters after eight consecutive seasons. Explorer’s maiden season in Australia will consist of sailings to ports in Australia, NZ and the South Pacific, along with Singapore repositioning cruises. The ship will also feature a range of Royal Caribbean innovations including Australia’s first ‘FlowRider’ onboard surfing simulator, “virtual balcony cabins”, ice skating and of course the signature Royal Promenade.

Explorer and Voyager will make an historic rendezvous in Sydney Harbour on 28 Nov 2015.

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au for all of the latest specials.

When is the best time to book a cruise?

It’s a question that I often get asked, when is the best time to book a cruise? There are several factors to consider before you lock yourself in.

1) Do I care where my cabin is located? – The best cabins get booked first, so if you really want that cabin that is mid-ship and around deck 10 you will need to book early. I would say at least 8 months before departure.

2) Do I wait for a sale? – The simple answer is yes. Cruise lines have to fill ships which sail on a new voyage almost every week. The bigger the cruise line the more cabins they need to sell. Therefore cruise lines are willing to come out with a sale, either reduced prices or onboard credit, at least every month. I would subscribe to an e-newsletter and wait for a special to be released on the cruise I’m interested in.

3) Which cruises are usually reduced closer to the departure date? Generally the cruises outside school holidays which have multiple departures are reduced closer to the departure date. There are a lot of cruises to New Zealand, so over the past couple of years its always best to wait for prices to be reduced. Cruises that are unique or are re-positioning cruises often sell out fast and prices don’t fall.

4) What happens if the price goes down after I book? It can be frustrating if you book then the price goes down. Most cruise lines don’t refund the deposit, however if the discount is more than the deposit you might decide to cancel and re-book at the lower price.

5) Are cruises cheaper through the cruise line – I would not book your next cruise direct through a cruise line as you will always be able to get a better price through a travel agency or website.

The final words of advice are wait for a sale and make sure you are happy with the price before you go ahead. Its very hard to predict what will happen to prices in the future, however cruises are excellent value.