January 5th, 2017 by Francesca Bandini
1. Staying in a hotel the night before your cruise could save you a lot of time and money: spending the night before embarkation at a hotel guarantees a stress-free embarkation day, but may also save you a lot of money in terms of car parking. Hotels close to the ports often offer a stay with parking package.
2. Get ready for your excursions: have a good breakfast before your excursions, you can then have a light bite and save money ashore.
3. Have tea/coffee where it’s free: most cruise ships provide complimentary hot beverages all day in the main buffet area or dedicated areas of the ship.
4. Drink plenty of water during meals: if you didn’t purchase a drink package it is wise to choose water over soft/alcoholic drinks as it is free of charge. Limit your drinking during the pre or after dinner show.
5. The earlier the better: normally Early Saver Fares are the best option to get more value out of your booking. On the down side, sometimes you are limited on your dining choice and cabin number.
6. Time of the year matters: you should avoid to go on a cruise in peak season if you can. It’s advisable to avoid school holidays, mid-summer, and festivities.
7. When more is less (for you): gather your friends on the same cruise ship, not only do you double the fun but you will almost certainly get a space for free – when you book at least 15 people on board.
8. Check Excursions: think twice before booking an excursion as they can be very expensive. You can search if other excursions organised by other operators are cheaper.
9. You really can eat as much as you want, even at the main restaurant: did you know that you can order however many courses you want for your meals? You can have two mains or three desserts etc. You really are the master of your meals.
10. Embarkation day – special meal: some cruise lines provide discounted prices on speciality dining restaurants on embarkation day. Avoid the queue of people in the main buffet area and try something different at a reduced price.
11. Get the best service: travel agents guarantee a more personal and attentive service, for example at OWT we like treating our customers with chocolates and bubbly.
12. Wait for the right time to book: it can be tricky to know when it’s best to book, there is no a general rule! We would suggest the earlier the better, but keep an eye on last minute availability, you may end up grabbing a very good deal.
13. Cabins’ secrets: you can always use more space in your cabin, especially if you are on a long haul. You may actually be surprised at the vast amount of storage space (e.g. under the bed or the sofa). Ask your chamber maid for help.
14. Duty-free stores: as everyone knows duty free stores have great prices. This is a great way to buy presents for family and friends and also stock up on products such as alcohol and cigarettes. Be aware that on mini cruises those shops are usually shut.
15. Buy a bottle of wine (or more): if a bottle of wine feels more expensive than some glasses, you should do some maths. In fact, a bottle of wine is normally the cheapest option. Don’t worry if you are not a big drinker, waiters can keep your unfinished bottle and deliver it to your cabin or bring it to your table the next time you dine.
16. Bring your alcohol on board: most of the cruise lines allow you to bring a limited quantity of selected alcoholic beverages on board. This will allow you to save considerably, but make sure you check your cruise line alcohol policy.
17. Room service is free: want to have a lazy morning or lunch, ask for the room service. This is normally free of charge.
18. Book your next cruise whilst still on board: wash away the holiday blues by booking your next cruise whilst still on a cruise ship. In fact, on board bookings guarantee you extremely advantageous fares.
19. Park smartly: parking at the port can be expensive, however there are often alternative ways to park your car securely. For example, we offer a very convenient car park in Southampton located near the airport, guests can enjoy a free transfer to the port on a high-end minibus. The service is impeccable, save your money and time, as you don’t need to drive down the port.
20. Make your way to the port early: get to the port earlier, the day before your cruise commences is ideal, you can take this chance to explore a new city as well. In case of fly cruises, you may think of flying a couple of days earlier, especially if the departure point is interesting. Ask your travel agent for advice, they will find the best hotels at the lowest prices for you.
21. Know where to book your flights: adding your flights through a cruise line might not be the best option. Do your research to find out if buying your own tickets is cheaper.
22. Get a bargain on shore: be clever when visiting foreign countries, prices ashore might be even more competitive than those on board. Take full advantage of the lower currency value.
23. SPA special offers: during your stay the SPA will promote a different deal every day, e.g. “Today 20% off on facial massage”, keep an eye on the journal so you can check when your favourite treatment gets discounted
24. Free postcards on board: postcards are normally free in staterooms, they are placed together with other documentation in your cabin desk or sideboard. It might not seem very exciting to send a postcard with a ship picture but it’s a good souvenir if you have forgotten someone in back home!
25. Free bottle of water: most of the cruise lines provide at least one complimentary bottle of water in any cabin’s fridge. Be clever, it might be very useful during excursions.
October 3rd, 2016 by Francesca Bandini
We all know how it is important to feel comfortable around other people and the way you dress certainly influences your self-confidence. Cruise lines adopt various dress codes and before packing you should know what is the expected dress code for your cruise. Read below to discover the dress codes for each cruise line.
Cunard Cruises dress code
This cruise line envisages a quiet formal dress code throughout the various night cruises. In fact the dress codes varies from elegant, formal up to semi-formal. For men, jackets are not always required and this will be specified in the on board journal. Having said that there is the possibility to adopt a more informal dress code in certain areas of the ship such as the lido area. Swimwear is not allowed anywhere in the ship.
P&O Cruises dress code
There are two dress codes to be observed on P&O Cruises: Evening casual and Black tie, both apply after 6 pm in the main venues. These will be announced in the on board journal and prior to departure in your booking details. During the day time you can wear what you would be wearing during a holiday, shorts are permitted.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines dress code
The dress code for the evenings vary. Every cruise will include one or more formal nights, whilst on the other nights the dress code required is smart casual, where a pair of smart trousers or black jeans together with a shirt or a polo t-shirt are accepted. In the daytime you can wear what you prefer to feel at ease.
Norwegian Cruise Line dress code
NCL is well known for its Freedom at sea campaign, they in fact envisage a free style of cruising and this reflects in the dress code. You can wear what you like in the evenings and at formal restaurants. NCL asks you only to be considerate and avoid wearing the following items on dining areas: tank tops (for men), flip flops, visors or baseball caps, jeans with holes or below the hips.
Celebrity Cruises dress code
Celebrity Cruises envisage a smart casual dress code throughout most of the evenings on board. There will be a chic evening or more (depending on the duration of your cruise), and in that occasion you are required to dress to impress, without the need of being too formal.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages dress code
The dress code is smart casual on most of the evenings, requiring shirt and trousers for men and a smart outfit (dress/trousers) for women. On formal nights, guests are required to comply with the dress code, wearing a suit with a tie for men and an evening gown for women. Although the dress code is casual during the day, swimwear and similar should only be worn in the designated areas.
Royal Caribbean International dress code
The general dress code on board is smart casual for the evenings. There are formal nights on board with cocktail dresses or elegant trousers for woman and suit for men (black tie is optional) as part of the dress code. During lunch time flip flops, shorts and t-shirts are allowed on board and at restaurants.
Saga Cruises dress code dress code
Saga Cruises are exclusively reserved to over 50s and the dress code is relaxed with an extra touch. On evenings ladies are required to wear cocktail dresses and smart jacket/cardigan. For men chinos and shirt are perfect. There is the chance to wear a more elegant attire on formal nights. During daytime light trousers and smart tops are OK, ideally accompanied by nice jewelry or scarves.
Princess Cruises dress code
Princes Cruises recommend to dress as if you were going to a stylish land-based resort. There will be smart casual evenings requiring shirt and trousers (for men), and on cruises of more than 4 days there will be some formal nights as well. During the day time you can dress according to the climate therefore a more relaxed outfit is fine.
Voyages to Antiquity dress code
The dress code is very informal throughout your cruise. During the day you are advised to dress for the climate and any excursions you are taking part in. As for evenings, a more smart casual dress code is required, but very far from formal. However, if you fancy dressing up for a night, you get the chance to on the Captain's Cocktail night.
Regent Seven Seas dress code
The recommended dress code for the evening is Elegant Casual resort wear (tie is not required), whilst trainers and jeans are not permitted. The dress code may range from semi-formal to formal on cruises of 16 nights or more. Before 6pm the dress code is definitely more relaxed, requiring a more casual style.
MSC cruises dress code
Overall the dress code is casual. However on formal nights men are required to wear ties and jackets and women cocktails dresses. There are also specific themed evenings, and guests are encouraged to comply with the theme.
Seabourne dress code
The dress code on board applies after 6pm. Casual smart outfits are required throughout the ship (trousers and shirt, dresses). During formal nights an appropriate formal code is required in the restaurants.
September 30th, 2016 by Francesca Bandini
To avoid disappointment, it is good to know in advance the alcohol policy of your cruise line. Read below to discover the alcohol policies for each cruise line.
Cruise lines’ alcohol policies
Cunard Cruises alcohol policy
You are allowed to bring a bottle of wine on board on embarkation day, but beers and spirits need to be purchased on board. However, alcohol bought at ports or shops on board can be consumed in your cabin with no restrictions.
P&O Cruises alcohol policy
You are allowed to bring a small quantity of alcohol on board. There isn’t an official restriction, but the cruise line reserves the right to confiscate alcohol. When you buy alcohol at duty free shops, you can collect your purchase only on disembarkation day.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines alcohol policy
Guests cannot bring their own alcohol. Alcohol bought at ports or at duty free will be retained by the cruise line and given back at the end of the cruise.
Norwegian Cruise Line alcohol policy
Guests are allowed to bring Champagne or wine on board, but no spirits or beer.
Celebrity Cruises alcohol policy
Passengers can bring two bottles of wine or Champagne each, but beers and and spirits are forbidden. If alcohol is purchased at ports, it will be retained by the cruise lines and released on the last day.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages alcohol policy
Guests are not allowed to carry any alcohol on board. In regards to alcohol purchased at duty free shops, it will be given to customers at the end of the cruise.
Royal Caribbean International alcohol policy
For private consumption guests can bring up to two bottles of wine/champagne per cabin.
Princess cruises alcohol policy
On embarkation day each guest can bring only one bottle of wine/Champagne. Alcohol purchased during the cruise will be kept by the cruise line and given back at the end of the cruise.
Voyages to Antiquity alcohol policy
Wine and Champagne bought on the shop on board or a shore can be keep in the staterooms, other alcoholic beverages will be kept by the cruise line and deliver back on the date of departure.
Saga cruises alcohol policy
Saga doesn’t have a strict alcohol policy as other cruise line, guests are allowed to consume in their cabin alcohol bought ashore or aboard, so the custom will exercise rule.
Regent Seven Seas alcohol policy
The cruise line does not restrict alcohol carried on board.
MSC Cruises alcohol policy
Guests are not allowed to bring their own alcohol on board. Alcohol purchased ashore will be held until the end of the cruise.
Passengers can bring up to three bottles of wine/Champagne on board, but spirits and beers are not allowed.
Seabourne alcohol policy
The cruise line does not restrict alcohol carried on board.
Cruise Lines alcohol policy are updated at the time of publishing and may change at any time.
September 29th, 2016 by Francesca Bandini
You might not know, but a cruise is the perfect occasion to try out new drinks and cocktails. Cruise lines are well equipped when it comes to their cocktails making skills. Discover which are our 10 favourite cruise cocktails - after all, you are not ready to embark if you don't know the best drinks to try out on board...
Top 10 cruisers' favourite cocktails
1. Pina Colada: This creamy mix of rum, coconut and pineapple is among the cruisers favourite drink. Perhaps this is due to the exotic name, or the inviting glass decorated with fruit and an umbrella that instantly reminds them of remote paradise.
2.Woo Woo: This is a classic Summer cocktail, with it being very popular in the '70s. A mixture of vodka and peach based liquor and cranberry juice gives to this cocktail the perfect kick to your night.
3.Elder flower gin and tonic: This cocktail is appreciated by everyone whether you like gin & tonic or not, the sweetness and the perfume of the elder flower transport your taste buds to the holiday season.
4.Perfect Singapore Sling: This gin based cocktail has a unique taste thanks to the balanced mixture of ingredients including cherry brandy, grenadine and tonic water. The taste is sweet but not too sweet, perfect for after dinner.
5.Sex on the Beach: Another classical hit for the Summer, you meet very few people who don't like a Sex on the beach. An exotic mixture of vodka, cranberry juice, orange and peach liquor make a perfect refreshing cocktail for any time of day.
6.Moscow Mule: A cocktail for those who love a strong and bitter taste. A perfect blend of vodka, ginger beer and angostura.
7.Mai Tai: Already the name makes us think of a holiday! The Mai Tai is a rum based cocktail, complemented by Grand Marnier and pineapple juice.
8.Champagne based/ Prosecco based cocktails: These refreshing cocktails are very popular on cruise ships. Not just because they are ideal at any time of the day, but also because they reflect the elegance of cruising. You will see people drinking cocktails, such as Bellini or Mimosa, these are all the rage.
9.Bikini Martini: This inspiring cocktail doesn't contain any Martini but it's served on a Martini glass. Its taste is sweet and refreshing with vodka, a dash of coconut rum and pineapple juice.
10.Cosmopolitan: There is no surprise that this cocktail is amongst the cruisers favourites. Cosmopolitan is a drink loved by girls and secretly by men as well!
Let's not forget about the Mocktails, the non alcoholic version of cocktails. They are so many variants and the taste is as good as alcohol based cocktails.
September 26th, 2016 by Francesca Bandini
Embarkation day can be a really intense and stressful time of your holiday, but there are ways to make it fun if you get organised in advance. Read our 10 tips for a stress free embarkation day.
How to have a stress free embarkation day:
1. Plan your way to the port in advance - How are you getting to the port? If you are driving for example, you should be aware of the level of traffic at that time - nowadays with Google maps estimating the traffic is very easy. Additionally you should take into account the time you will be spending finding a car park, if not booked prior. Alternatively you can reserve a taxi or a private transfer in advance so you can wait to be picked up stress free.
2.Get the timing right: it is highly recommended to get to the town of the port the day before, so you can get your way to the ship without worrying about the timing.
3. Finding the best car park deal at port - This pre-booking can save you a whopping amount of money. Just browse the internet or ask to your travel agent to provide you with some options to park at the port.
4. Get your documents sorted in advance - Get your documents, tickets/e-tickets, passport and any other documents ready, and pack it in the hand luggage you will carry with you on embarkation day.
5. Magazines have never been so useful - As you may know on embarkation day you are likely to queue at the terminal. This time can be made fun with magazines or other pastimes to entertain the last moments before your holiday starts. You can also use the internet on your smartphone as you are unlikely to have internet access on board unless you've purchased a package.
6. Bring a bottle of bubbly - Embarkation should be celebrated as the start of the holiday! Lift up the mood with a bottle of bubbles to share with your friends or family.
7. Be smartly dressed and ready for any weather - In terminals you can find a variation of temperatures. It could be too warm inside or too cold outside and you may be queuing in both situations. For this reason, you should wear an appropriate outfit.
8. Zero Currency problems - You should be aware of the on board currency prior to departure. The majority of cruise lines operate on a cash free environment, although just remember to bring your debit card with you (credit cards get normally charged fees). You should also think in advance about the currency of the countries you are visiting, you can exchange some cash in advance so you will not need to worry.
9. Last minute packing is forbidden! - You should be familiar with this rule, last minute packing can just cause you a sleepless night and a stressful embarkation day. Start to pack in advance and if you need to bag something in the same day of the embarkation, just make a check list.
10. Book the bookable in advance - Days before your cruise, you can book your excursions and your spa treatments. This can not only help you save money, but cause less stress on your embarkation day and holiday.
Have you enjoyed our tips? Have you got your own personal tip for a stress free embarkation day?
If so, we would like to hear that from you.
September 23rd, 2016 by Francesca Bandini
Have you ever wondered what are suitable books for cruise lovers? We are not talking about the books on specific destinations, cruise lines or travel guides. But those books that real cruisers would enjoy. We picked the 6 must read books that every cruiser should get the chance to read at least once.