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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Holland America Oosterdam in Melbourne

The Holland America Oosterdam has arrived in Australia for its summer season. I was lucky enough to walk around the ship while it was in Melbourne. Each of the Holland America ships are themed, the Oosterdam honors Explorers of the 19th and 20th century. Upon boarding the ship we viewed a few cabins and the first impression was a sense of space. Most of the cabins have a shower over a bath in the bathroom and room for a couch in the main cabin.

Oosterdam

We were then shown around the ship and it was interesting to learn about a few of the activities that set them apart from other ships.

Culinary Arts Center features intriguing programs

Offers a groundbreaking experience that combines a love of food and wine with unique and engaging programs. There is a theater-style venue and state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen for the following experiences:

Hands-on cooking classes:
Unleash your inner chef and learn new culinary skills alongside award-winning chefs and culinary guests.

Appearances by special guest chefs:
Some of the world’s leading culinary experts will join you on board for live cooking shows, book signings and special menu offerings.

Winetasting and mixology:
Delight your palate with innovative food and wine pairings handcrafted by visiting vintners and Holland America Line cellarmasters. On selected cruises, take home Food & Wine recipe cards and wine tasting notes along with copies of the magazine.

Regionally inspired workshops:
Discover the secrets and unique traditions of regional cuisine, from the flavors of Alaska to pasta making in the Mediterranean. Local market tours are available in selected ports of call.

Another interesting extra is the “Dancing with the Stars at Sea” experience. You are able to participate in complimentary dance classes based on dance routines from the smash hit show “Dancing with the Stars.” This is your chance to learn the basics or new steps. You can also compete in the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea competition. Following an early elimination process, finalists will have the opportunity to take to the main stage with Holland America Line professional dancers. One Cruise Champion will emerge, based on the highest combined point total from our panel of three judges as well as audience participation.

We ended the tour with dinner at The Pinnacle Grill, a Holland America standard. With only 144 seats getting reservations early is a must. There is a $20 cover charge to dine in the Pinnacle. The food was excellent and I would recommend up to two nights dining in the restaurant.

The overall impressive I received of the Oosterdam is of refined elegance without the sometime stuffy tradition of a Cunard ship. The Oosterdam is in Australian waters until April.

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au for the latest deals.

Expedition Cruising – A Journey to the Kimberley

After having traveled on several of the bigger cruise ships, most recently on the Oasis of the Seas, a 225,282 tonne, 5,400-passenger floating island, it was a nice change of pace to be on the Orion – a smaller 100 passenger ship. I boarded the Orion in Broome for a 10 night luxury expedition cruise along the Kimberley coast to Darwin. After I was shown to my cabin, a spacious suite with quality furnishings (all cabins on-board are suites), the cruise started with an enjoyable sail away party as we left Broome and commenced our journey along the Kimberley coast. The first night’s dinner was also a pleasant surprise with the menu created by award-winning Sydney chef Serge Dansereau of ‘The Bathers’ Pavilion’ fame.

Each day we explored and discovered another part of the epic beauty of the Kimberley. We were able to get up close to wildlife, secluded beaches and river inlets on Zodiacs, led by an expedition leader who talked about the history and geology of the area. There were many highlights during the cruise, the wonderful staff and facilities on-board the ship, the spectacular waterfalls and the fascinating indigenous rock art. There were a number of optional activities including fishing and sightseeing flights. The fishing trips were a great success with most passengers catching a number of fish, which were brought back to the ship for dinner. The optional flight over the Mitchell falls in a helicopter was a fantastic experience. We landed on top of the falls and enjoyed spectacular views and a refreshing swim. There was also an complimentary flight over the famous Bungle Bungle ranges.

I have previously traveled through the Kimberley by land, so it was a great experience to cruise along the coast and see the world’s last unspoilt land in a different perspective. I would recommend the cruise to anyone looking for a more active and adventurous holiday but still travelling in luxury.

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au for the latest Orion cruise deals.

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A comedy cruise on the P&O Pacific Pearl

P&O Cruises offers a range of short cruises with different themes such as comedy and food & wine, which is perfect for the first time cruiser. I decided that comedy would be a good distraction for three nights while the ship sails up the Australian coast to nowhere. My first impression of the P&O Pacific Pearl was very good, cabins were spacious with nice wood furnishings, the public rooms also has a good open feel to them. As a first night treat I was booked into the Celebrity chef Luke Mangan restaurant ‘Salt Grill’. For a nominal fee you are treated to first class restaurant food in an excellent environment, definitely a  must do. Each night they had a range of comedians in the main theater, a highlight was Peter Rowsthorn from Kath and Kim fame. For those that wanted to kick on, the night club in the Dome was a highlight. Each day there were many activities to attend, from trivia sessions to driving a V8 car simulator. It really was up to you how little or much you did each day. The staff onboard was excellent, a nice touch was the towel animal that appeared on my bed at night. Overall I would recommend a short cruise with your family or a group of friends, a fun three days.

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au for the latest P&O cruise deals.

P&O towelP&O balconyP&O atrium P&O pool P&O dining room

Carnival Spirit Arrives in Australia

When the Carnival Spirit cruise ship sails into Sydney Heads today, winding up a 16-night voyage from Hawaii, its contingent of Australian passengers will be visible. Many will be on the vessel’s top decks, drinks raised, leading a welcome-to- Australia party. “The Aussies are ready,” says the senior vice-president of guest operations for Carnival, Mark Tamis. “They’re going to bring the ship in for us.”. Carnival, the world’s biggest cruise company, has spent $US7 million ($6.9 million) stripping the vessel of American apparel to fit with the needs of Australian passengers, including installing Australian power points and switching the on-board currency to our dollar. The changes extend to the drinks menu. VB, New and Carlton Draught is on tap, bottles of Pure Blonde and Crownies are in fridges. The “sav blanc” is from Marlborough, the “cab sav” from McLaren Vale. Advertisement Fat Jimmy’s, a barbecue on the ship’s highest deck, is tipped to be the hot spot on board this summer. Here, passengers can order slow-cooked pulled pork, smoky chicken breast or Black Angus beef sausages, with salads, jacket potatoes and onion rings. A few steps up – literally and gastronomically – is the Spirit’s Nouveau Steakhouse, the only restaurant on board that attracts a surcharge ($35 for four courses). The steakhouse is worth every cent: prime cuts are wheeled to your table prior to cooking, seafood options include lobster tail and ahi tuna tartare, and service is excellent. Another change is the launch of theme nights. Beyond the usual fancy dress parties that are held on cruises, Spirit staff start the fun at dinner. Meals and drinks match the theme, and waiters break into choreographed dance moves. Then the party moves to the pool deck, with live music, themed cocktails, games and giveaways. Breakfast aboard Carnival Spirit. Interestingly, when Carnival asked its Australian Facebook fans to vote on favourite themes, locals expressed the same preferences as American passengers: Mexican fiesta and Caribbean beach party. Pack your sombrero and practise your reggae moves; these party styles are set to be held on every cruise. Spirit’s most advertised attraction, Green Thunder, is billed as the world’s steepest waterslide at sea. It lives up to the hype. The almost vertical drop induces shock and awe in equal measure.

Best spots on board

Head for the ship’s Serenity adults-only retreat before everyone else works out where it is. Just before sunset is another ideal time to curl up on a cabana or have a spa at Serenity. Plus, Serenity’s outdoor bar is open later than most (until 3am or 4am, if people are still buying). At breakfast, fresh omelets are also available at La Playa Grille buffet’s back counter – where the queue is shorter. For lunch, be pampered by waiters in the Empire Restaurant (12-1.30pm). At dinner, choose “any time” seating or help yourself at La Playa Grille. The Green Thunder waterslide is busy between 11am-3pm, or try it on port days, when most people are on land.

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Rhapsody of the Seas gets a new look

After five summer seasons in Australian waters, Rhapsody of the Seas has enjoyed a month long refurbishment in March 2012. All of the cabins have been redecorated from floor to ceiling and has raised the vessel to a more sophisticated level to appeal to passengers who wanted affordable cruising but were propared to pay a little extra for finer cuisine and exclusive retreats. There is also extra dining options, more entertainment and new carpets, curtains and furniture. New specialty restaurants are Giovanni’s Table – serving Italian food – the Chops Grille steakhouse – and the Park Cafe, which serves light and healthy food.

The Rhapsody of the Seas returns to Australia in October and there are some wonderful specials including free upgrades and buy one get one 50% off. Visit Cruise Offers for all the latest specials.