October 8th, 2017 by Jordan Bailey
WOW! What a ship. I’ve just joined U by Uniworld’s new ship The B for the maiden cruise on the Seine, and I already know it’s amazing. U by Uniworld is a cruise line exclusively for 21-45 year olds, and the onboard experience is perfect for millennials. Arriving at the riverside, the jet black hull of The B is just one of the things that make this ship standout from other river ships. After checking in, which involved a quick scan of a passport and a photo, followed by writing down your phone number to be added to the ship’s Whatsapp group, I went to find my studio. It was on the small side, but there was plenty of storage space, and a large shower. The studio features a selection of plug sockets. There’s 9 sockets in total – a UK socket, an Australian, a US socket, plus four European sockets. There are also two USB ports and even a Bluetooth sound system. An interactive TV displays the daily events, meeting times, as well as movies and a range of television channels from around the world. Along the walls in the accommodation corridors are portraits of famous 21-45 year old faces, such as Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, Zayn Mallik, and James Cordon.
Brunch was served in the U Dine restaurant. There was a mix of breakfast items, salads, and soup. Choices were excellent for those who are health conscious, vegetarians or vegans. It’s a casual dining affair.
After settling in and exploring what The B has to offer, I headed out with the group on our first shore excursion – a bike ride along the Seine. This 2 hour bike ride took in some of the best sights of Paris, including the Louvre and Notre Dame. Considering I hadn’t got on a bike in years, and that I could barely touch the floor, I don’t think I did too bad!
After getting back, there wasn’t too long to wait until dinner in the restaurant. This is a very social affair, with sharing platters, perfect for sharing on Instagram. There’s no traditional menu, instead each course is displayed on television screens. To start was a platter of antipasti, pizza bread, and other little nibbles. Up next was a thick tomato soup. Another platter followed, consisting of zucchini lasagne and chicken skewers. The meal ended with a platter of choux pastry desserts. Just want to say here…who thought sharing desserts was a good idea? I want that all to myself!
It was straight outside after dinner to join the evening excursion. We walked over to the Eiffel Tower and went up to witness the amazing views. The impressive structure looked so impressive glowing above the Paris skyline.
Excursions are included in the price of a U by Uniworld river cruise and there is a focus on exploration, rather than looking out of a coach window all day. Returning to the ship, The B looked magnificent with purple neon lights glowing around the name and top deck.
Join me tomorrow as I experience more of Paris with U by Uniworld!
September 29th, 2017 by Jordan Bailey
On September 7, Ocean World Travel and a group of our customers boarded MSC Magnifica in Southampton for a ship tour, and lunch.
MSC Magnifica was launched in 2010 and can accommodate 2,550 passengers. 2018 will see the ship homeport in Southampton with several enhancements, including a British cruise director and tea making facilities in all cabins.
Accommodation on MSC Magnifica is spacious and comfortable decorated in pastel colours. Cabins feature either two soft chairs or a sofa which can also be turned into a double bed. There's also a vanity table with a pouffe. When the ship sails from the UK, the cabin will have a kettle, with a selection of tea and coffee, including Yorkshire Tea. Bathrooms are standard size for a cruise ship and feature a shower.
For an Italian ship, it's no surprise that the pizza and pasta aboard is always amazing! In the Sahara buffet, pizza chefs work their magic expertly cooking various flavours of pizza. Best of all you can see the process from them kneading the dough, to adding toppings, and popping them into the oven, before guests tuck into them within minutes. The buffet has plenty of choice and has a range of worldwide cuisine as you enjoy eating with floor-to-ceiling views of the destinations outside. MSC Magnifica has two main restaurants, the Quattro Venti and L'Edera. The food in the restaurants is a let down compared to other cruise lines, but the food is still nice enough. It's likely that food offerings will change to meet British expectations when the ship sail from Southampton for the season in 2018.
The magnificent emerald green Royal Theatre is nothing short of spectacular. Here, there's not much the MSC entertainment team don't do; They sing, dance, do magic tricks and perform amazing stunts. There are plenty of bars onboard MSC Magnifica to enjoy a drink in - there's 11 in total, and plenty of seating areas dotted around the ship. The purple L'Amestista lounge is the main evening entertainment lounge, home to evening disco cabaret, game shows and comedic acts. This is a great sociable space, with a mix of small tables, large bench seating for groups, and high tables for drinking near the bar. And for when you're ready to move on for the night, head straight up to the T32 Disco - a late-night lively disco on the top deck of the ship, playing all the latest popular chart music, and Latin dance music. For any sports fan, the L'Olimpiade bar is the best place to be on the ship. The lounge is filled with iconic sporting memorabilia, and shows the latest sports games, including top UK football games and popular events, such as Wimbledon, and the World Cup.
The MSC Aurea Spa is the perfect place to relax on a day at sea. Enjoy a beauty treatment with a spectacular view, or enjoy a tranquil day in the thermal spa. With impressive vistas out to sea, going to the gym and exercising is definitely worth it. Deck 16 is home to an exclusive sun deck, accessible for an additional charge, with waiter service, private hot tubs, and giant sun loungers. MSC Magnifica has two main pools. A spacious outdoor pool and an indoor pool which remains perfectly warm no matter what the weather is like outside - definitely useful for the unpredictable climate of the UK!
With fantastic family facilities, a combination of traditional and glitzy decor, plus spacious accommodation, MSC Magnifica is perfect for the UK market. If you are looking for a great-value cruise, perfect for the family, look no further than an MSC cruise from Southampton.
Call 0800 368 9059 or contact us to discuss booking your perfect cruise with MSC Cruises. Remember, when you book with Ocean World Travel, you'll benefit from exclusive savings, plus great customer service.
July 21st, 2017 by Matthew Bayford
On Saturday 15th July, Carrie and myself along with 18 of our customers went for a ship tour and lunch onboard Oceania Cruises ship Nautica.
Once we checked in we all embarked and went into the Lounge and were given a brief talk about Oceania Cruises and a lovely glass of buck’s fizz! We were then split into groups and each group was allocated 2 guides from Oceania to show us around Nautica.
My first impression was “WOW” it was such a beautiful ship, having sold many Oceania cruises over the years, it was fantastic that we could finally see the product. You could certainly see the attention to detail and care taken.
Our first stop were the staterooms, and we were able to see the penthouse balcony, concierge balcony and owners suite and they were very impressive and such a high standard. Each stateroom is decorated with traditional hardwoods, rich fabrics and original art. The beds have a seven-zone mattress featuring 400 encapsulated springs and two inches of memory foam, a two inch think gel filled “pillow top” cushion wrapped in chamomile infused fibre which is meant to make you sleep better! Plush down comforter and hand quilted throws.
Facts about Nautica:
Gross Tonnage: 30,277
Year Built: 2000
Refurbishment Date: 2014
Guest Capacity: 684
Staff Size: 400
Other ships in the Oceania Fleet: Marina, Riviera, Regatta, Insignia, Sirena
What is featured in all suite and staterooms:
- Refrigerated mini bar with free and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water changed daily
- Twice daily maid service
- Full-size bathtub/shower
- Flat screen television with satellite
- DVD player
- 24-hour room service menu
- Handheld hairdryer
- Writing desk with stationary
- Thick cotton robes and slippers - what more could you ask for?!
After looking around the amazing staterooms, our tour continued to the rest of the ship to see what it had on offer. This included the Canyon Ranch Spa club, Horizons observation lounge, Grand Bar & Library. We then headed to the 2 speciality restaurants onboard, Polo Grill and Toscana. Each guest gets 1 free visit to either speciality dining restaurant on your cruise, if staying in a penthouse suite or above you can visit it as many times as you wish! In each room the décor is kept to the same standard and style throughout the ship, for Nautica this would be “Elegant boutique”
After our tour had finished we saved the best bit until last... a superb 4 course lunch! It was amazing and it certainly lived up to their reputation of being the finest cuisine at sea, rivalling even Michelin-starred restaurants ashore.
It was then time to leave, and everyone commented on how wonderful the food and ship were. The Oceania strapline is “Your World Your Way” and they certainly live up to that!
July 4th, 2017 by Matthew Bayford
Carrie recently went aboard NCL's Norwegian Jade and this is what she thought...
I was invited on board NCL's Norwegian Jade along with other agents to have a tour of the ship and lunch whilst on board.
There was a slight communication error at the beginning which held up the signing in process, however this was sorted and we were allowed on board. We were then greeted by a member of NCL staff whilst having a cup of tea in one of the meeting rooms.
First we were shown the Haven Suite, WOW how impressive! A 3 bedroom suite with its own private deck area with hot tub, a separate dining and sitting area all with an amazing view of the deck space.
The Haven area is a private area for the Haven Suites - absolutely stunning!!
Moving on, we visited most of the dining venues on board. There were quite a few to choose from, including Cagney’s – An a la carte steakhouse restaurant
Moderno – An a la carte Brazilian steakhouse
Jasmine – An Asian fusion restaurant
Grand Pacific – Main Dining Room
The outside areas have a lot of space and have a separate adults only pool. The Topside Grill serves all the tasty food you would expect whilst enjoying the lovely weather.
The Mandara Spa offers all of the treatments any spa at home would offer along with a lovely relaxation area with hot beds and a great view.
On the opposite side of the deck is the Pulse fitness centre, enjoying a work out to work off all the tasty food you can consume whilst on board.
Stardust Theatre – A fantastic venue to see the wonderful shows the NCL staff put on. Two shows are put on every night to ensure everyone can see it before or after dinner.
The Atrium – A really lovely area to share a quiet moment in
We were shown back to the restaurant for a 4 course dinner. The menu got me very excited to what was to come, however I felt that the food didn't quite deliver. The starter was melon and parma ham which was very nice, but felt it could be a bit more exciting. There was a slight mix up with the soup as I was meant to get baked potato soup however I was given a fish soup. This was very tasty, it was just a shame it wasn't what I ordered. The main course was a roasted beef, cooked very well but a little dry, although adding some extra Jus made it perfect. I had to refrain from have a dessert course as I couldn't fit in anymore food!
After lunch we disembarked and let the Norwegian Jade continue on to it's next port, Hamburg.
June 27th, 2017 by Matthew Bayford
Crew members: 37
Passenger Capacity: 128
Number of Cabins: 64
Entered Service: 2014
Date: 10/06/17 – 17/06/17
Reasons for being on board: An Avalon fam trip, to experience river cruising first hand.
Who are you? Matt – Marketing Assistant from Ocean World Travel
Name of the ship: Tapestry II
Cruise line: Avalon
A week spent aboard Avalon’s Tapestry II
I was lucky enough to sail down the River Seine on board Avalon’s Tapestry II. This is what I thought -
Food: The food was the best food I have ever tasted! Breakfast was a buffet and also had a menu waiter service. Lunch was a buffet with lots of variety. Dinner was usually a 4 course meal and on the farewell dinner it was 5! The food was mostly inspired by France and at a 5* standard, and if you did not fancy the set menu, they always offered alternative options.
Entertainment: This was minimal and it is what ocean cruisers will find the biggest difference (as well as the size of the ship) to their regular ocean cruises. Every evening we were treated with entertainment by the residential musician with well known songs to encourage sing-a-longs and dancing.
There were other musicians that came on board such as string trio and a local party covers band. One evening before heading to the Normandy beaches, there was also a lecture from Nigel Stewart who gave us some background information before going on the trip, which was very helpful and insightful.
Facilities: Facilities included 2 lounges for you to while away the time, a gym, a hair salon, bikes to hire, tea and coffee making facilities and the sky deck that had life size board games, premium lounge chairs and a hot tub. You also had access to free on board Wi-Fi.
Cabins: The cabins were very spacious and very luxurious. I stayed one of the Panorama suites, which are 200 square feet - 30% larger than the industry standard! We were also shown around the one of two Royal suites on board as well as the Avalon Deluxe stateroom. Having a panoramic window to look out of was amazing to see the different sceneries as you were traveling down the river. It was also nice to wake up to the view of the place that you were going to spend the day.
The Royal Suite -
Type of décor: The boat was a very modern and luxurious which suited the type of cruise.
Courtesy of the staff: The staff were an asset to the company, especially the waiters. Where it was a small ship it didn’t take them long to recognise you and remember what drinks you would like with lunch and dinner. They were very friendly and always had five minutes to spare if you wanted to talk, they also had some good knowledge of the ports that we were stopping at too!
Excursion staff also deserve a mention. They were so knowledgeable and engaging and were able to help you with any questions you had about the excursions you were on.
What did you like most of this ship? The things I really liked about this ship was the staff and the food. I also liked that excursions are included in the price. This meant that you were always off the ship and doing something and the lack of entertainment/facilities onboard didn’t matter because you were occupied elsewhere. It was also great that you were docked right in the centre of the city, this meant you could get off the boat when you wanted and be in the heart of the town instantly picking up the flavour of the city.
What did you like least of this ship? There was a couple of things that I believe let this ship down. The first is the lack of disabled access. However I think this is a common issue around all river cruising, and would hope in the near future this issue will be resolved. The second is that there was no pool. I was very fortunate to have nice weather all week, but there was a lack of pool area to cool down in. The boat does have a hot tub facility but this isn’t ideal in hot weather.
Overall my first experience in river cruising was a good one. It is very different to ocean cruising and would suggest that it was for people that liked the slower pace of life, or perhaps have done every ocean cruise imaginable. It may seem slightly more expensive but for all what's included, it’s a bargain! If you are looking to have the world on your doorstep within a truly luxury experience, river cruising is the one.