Celebrity Reflection

I have just heard that Celebrity Cruises have announced the name of their fifth ship in the Solstice class of Ships.  The Celebrity Reflection will be delivered to the fleet in November 2012.  This is for now the final of the Solstice class ships.  The ship will feature a lot of the same features as the other Solstice class ships but with some added extras which they haven’t announced yet.

It seems so far ahead November 2012 but celebrity Cruises do have another addition to their fleet before the Celebrity Reflection launches.  The Celebrity Silhouette is their next ship to launch in July 2011.  I think it is really good that Celebrity will have 5 Solstice class ships in service by the end of 2012. The other ships are Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Eclipse.   I have been on the Celebrity Equinox which was the second Solstice class ship to launch and I have to say it is my favourite cruise ship to date that I have been on.  I really liked the whole ship and I thought the cabins were a really good size.  I think the size of the ships is just right holding 2850 passengers and 122,000 tons.  I loved the food and entertainment onboard.  I think by having the 5 Solstice class ships they can offer lots of different itineraries to be able to travel on the Solstice class as well as their other ships in the fleet where the Millennium class ships will undergo their makeover.  I will keep you posted on any updates on the 2 new ships.
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My Holiday to Sharm El Sheikh

I am back now after my 10 night break to Sharm El Sheikh.  I have had such a great time.  It was my first time to Egypt and I would definitely return in the future.  The hotel was so clean and the staff were so friendly. 

The only down side with the hotel was the food choice was very limited.  I am quite a fussy eater and struggled some nights to find anything to eat.  We ordered a KFC to the hotel one night and I had McDonalds another.  Can’t believe I was in Egypt eating junk food.  The weather was superb blue sky every day and very high temperatures.  We visited Soho Square one evening which was really nice with Restaurants and bars and shops and also Naama Bay which was an eye opener.  I didn’t like the hassle off the shop keepers.  We flew to Cairo on one of the days to visit the Pyramids, this was worth doing.  It was a very long day but I really enjoyed seeing the Pyramids and the Sphinx and also went inside a Pyramid.  We also visited the Egyptian Museum there was so much in there you would need more than a few hours to look around. Cairo was a very poor and dirty place itself and we did have a tour around the city before going back to the airport.  We also took a snorkel trip one day to see all the coral and the fish that was worth doing.  A lot of people we spoke to in Sharm El Sheikh all wanted to do a Red Sea cruise or a Nile cruise.  I think I would consider doing a Nile cruise as there is so much more of Egypt to see. I would certainly recommend if you are on a cruise to the Red Sea to do the Cairo trip.
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I’m off to Sharm El Sheikh

I am now on holiday and will be back to work on Monday 20th September 10.  I am off to Sharm El Sheikh for 10 nights to spend some time exploring and to get a bit of sun as we haven’t seen much this summer.   We are off to see the Pyramids in Cairo so will let you know how I got on when I return.

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ESTA to start charging

You haven’t got long left to avoid being charged for the compulsory ESTA (electronic system for travel authorisation)  From the 9th September this year people travelling to the US will have to pay $14 to obtain their ESTA.
The ESTA had become mandatory in January 2010 and replaces the visa waiver forms you used to fill out on the plane.  Once you have your ESTA it lasts 2 years but why should you have to pay for something that is mandatory?  You have to make sure you have purchased your ESTA at least 72 hours before your flight as you may be declined entry into the US.  Someone I know has recently travelled to New York and had forgot all about the ESTA until he was checking in for his flight.  It wouldn’t let him check in without having the authorisation of ESTA.  He was very lucky as he filled out the form online and finally got authorisation a matter of hours before his flight.  Not everyone will be as lucky as it does state at least 72 hours before travel.  Do you think that there should be a charge for this?  Although a small charge it is still a money making scheme.

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When do I receive my Shore Excursion Information?

I have been taking a lot of calls recently with clients querying when they receive shore excursion information.  All cruise lines have different policies so thought it would be worth sharing some with you.

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Karaoke onboard Carnival

I have recently seen that Carnival Cruise lines have launched Superstar Live Karaoke.  Carnival guests can take to the stage, grab the mic and live their music dreams at sea.  This is the newest entertainment feature onboard the Carnival ships and guests can perform in front of a packed house.
There is a designated Superstar Live karaoke lounge onboard and guests can select from a list of more than 100 song titles.  There will be something for everyone from Rock to classic country songs.  At the moment Superstar Live runs onboard Carnival Conquest, Carnival Valor and Carnival pride.  It will be introduced to Carnival’s 12 ships that operate itineraries of 7 days or longer.  This really takes karaoke to another level.  I think it is great giving people chance to get up and sing feeling like they are being backed by a band.  I am sure that this new entertainment will go down well on carnival.

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24 Hour Relay for Life

I have recently taken part in Cancer Research’s Relay for Life.  I hadn’t heard of this before and normally take part in the race for life.  The relay consists of a 24 hour duration over a weekend and there always must be one of your team members walking at all times.

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Are Art Auctions a waste of Money?

Whenever I go on a cruise I am always totally shocked by the Art Auctions.  I can’t personally see why you would go on holiday and come back with a piece of art worth thousands of pounds.  These pieces of art can take up so much space and they are huge paintings.
 The art auction revolution began about 10 years ago when Park West Gallery proposed taking their act to sea.  Since then it has just grown and grown and now have dedicated rooms just for this event.  So what happens at the auction?  Well they start off giving you free champagne on the first day of auction this is to encourage you to bid.  You will always find as the cruise goes on more pieces of art will be auctioned.  Walking round the ship you see the artwork out on display.  I can never get over how expensive these things are.  So it may be fun bidding and the excitement of you having the highest bid, but are they a waste of money.  How do you know if you are being ripped off?  Are the pieces genuine? Maybe a wise idea to do some research while onboard the ship of the art piece you are interested in.  It is always best to treat art auctions the same as gambling in the casinos.  You need to know your limits.  Don’t get carried away with the emotion of bidding.  What are your views on art auctions?

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Don’t forget to check your Passport!

Recently I have been receiving quite a few calls from my clients about their passports.  We advise people at the time of booking how much time has to be left on them after taking a cruise but it still causes quite a lot of problems.  The cruise lines always state in their terms that 6 months validity has to be left on a British passport from the date of returning after your cruise.

 Sometimes there are exceptions to the 6 month rule if you are on a mini cruise or a British Isles cruise but this is all down to the cruise line and there is no guarantee they will accept this. I took a call only yesterday off a client giving me their passport details and there wasn’t enough time left on there.  It is now going to be a mad rush for the client to apply for a new one before the sail date in about 6 weeks time.  It is something you just don’t think about.  I am the world’s worse for never checking my passport when I go away.  It is such an important issue though when it comes to your holiday. I had a client a few weeks ago where I was checking his details saved on our system at the time of booking and advised him he would need a new passport.  He was so thankful as he said would never have even thought about it until it was too late.

Although people know they need to travel with a passport I think you just automatically think there is plenty of time left on it.  Make sure you check and double check the expiry date in advance of travelling as a new passport will cost you a lot less that losing your cruise holiday.

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