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29 APRIL 2013
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Norwegian Breakaway (and Oceania Riviera)
If you are reading this report on Monday morning your editor will be joining 3,000 travel trade people, and the media, for the spectacular inaugural of Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest floating resort, Norwegian Breakaway at Southampton. With the ship built in Germany, and based in New York, it did seem a great idea to overnight at Britain’s major cruise port, a wonderful opportunity to introduce an inspirational product that will clearly set new standards for holidays at sea.
Next month we will bring you a more detailed review.
There are 28 eating outlets to cover, all sorts of entertainment venues, the first Aqua Park at sea, and a variety of accommodation ranging from the most sumptuous of suites to 9sq m internal studios on deck 10 and 11 featuring a one-way window to the corridor.
Norwegian Breakaway’s entertainment will include three Broadway shows: five-time Tony nominated ‘Rock of Ages’; the dance sensation ‘Burn the Floor’; and Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy’. The famed comedy troupe The Second City, Howl at the Moon duelling pianos, and New York’s own Slam Allen will perform on the vessel. Norwegian Breakaway will also feature an exciting fireworks show on every cruise that will dazzle guests on the second to last night at sea each week, and will be the grand finale of a decadent 1980s-themed deck party.
Breakaway’s programme includes a series of seven-day cruises out of Manhattan to Bermuda through the summer followed by a winter season, again seven days, down the US East Coast to Nassau Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay (NCL’s own island), and Port Canaveral. For an inside twin Including flights from Heathrow, and overnight stay in New York and transfers availability starts from £1,583. www.breakaway.ncl.co.uk.
Oceania Riviera – Miami back to back
Helen Wilkinson reports
Arriving on Oceania Riviera was a delight, having been told that Miami is the largest cruise port in the world it seemed a slow and uncertain boarding process was likely, but No, the coach from our overnight hotel dropped us outside the doors of the modern terminal, and escalators whisked us up to the check-in desks with no queues and very easy access on to the ship. Our cruise round the ‘Caribbean Hideaways’ continued in the same fashion.
What a ship!
Launched in May 2012 the Riviera is the newest ship on the emerging Oceania fleet and from first impressions in the light and well furnished reception area, with its grand staircase, beautiful crystal lighting and glass fronted lifts, to all the public rooms and the spacious suites with marble bathrooms including full size bath and separate shower, everything sparkled and gave the impression of modern grandeur.
A special mention must be given to the library, furnished with leather covered chairs and huge footstalls, authentic looking replica fireplaces, the area is broken up into cosy spaces by the library cupboards holding over 8,000 books, most of them as yet unopened!
Oceania prides itself on the food offered in the restaurants, and rightly so. From the Grand Dining Room with its magnificent chandelier and beautiful table settings like a modern palm court, with its formally attired waiting staff who managed to be both professional and friendly at the same time. The Terrace Café my favourite for lunch, though open for breakfast and dinner as well, offered a wide range of food to please every palate from lobster to steak cooked on hot plates before your eyes and pasta dishes, and in the evenings has international specialities. There are other restaurants to choose from, these have to be pre-booked, but are at no extra charge.
Red Ginger is an Asian cuisine restaurant which has an authentic Far East atmosphere; the Polo Grill, a classic steakhouse, Toscana a busy noisy ristorante straight from Italy, and Jacques, a delightful French restaurant with excellent food and wines to match.
There is plenty to do on Riviera, whether you wish to be active either in the well appointed gym, or exercise in a class, swim in the pool, or play deck games; if you want peace have a relaxing treatment in the superb spa; maybe take your chance in the casino, there is nightly entertainment from a pianist in the bar, and from an excellent band, and shows in the comfortable theatre.
Riviera now has a Bon Appétit culinary centre offering hands-on instruction to those wishing to add professional touches to their catering efforts, it is necessary to book these well in advance as they are very popular.
This was my first cruise with Oceania, and from boarding it was a great experience. The ship has a capacity of 1,250 passengers and was full, but the international crew of 850 were on hand at all times to offer excellent service, making us feel like pampered guests. All this attention and free air fares on every voyage made the whole trip excellent value for money.
Founded in 2003, Oceania may be one of youngest in the cruise business but it was obvious that there were many repeat customers on this cruise, a number with over 1,000 days at sea… that’s some testimonial! www.oceaniacruises.com
CroisiEurope, which claims to be the Market leader when it comes to the European River cruise scene, has a brand new and very advanced vessel. Next month the MS Cyrano de Bergerac will join the fleet and will be transfer from Strasbourg to Bordeaux where it join the MS Princesse d’Aquitaine. The inaugural voyage begins on 17 May at the Quai des Chartrons with a resounding send-off. The cruise liner can accommodate up to 180 passengers in cabins located on three decks. It is 110m long by 11.4m wide. The restaurant is large enough to serve all passengers in a single sitting. The ship’s galley kitchens are furnished with top-of-the-range high precision kitchen utensils and equipment in order to provide meals of the highest quality. A spacious lounge bar with a dance floor in the centre offers passengers an ideal area to relax and socialise. There is also a Panorama Bar which is smaller and cosier than the main lounge bar. The large sun deck covers more than 1,000sq m. www.croisieuropeuk.com
Crystal Cruises has come up with a very interesting programme of ‘off ship’ activities for a port-intensive cruise from 5 July into the Arctic Circle through the stunning Norwegian Fjords and Scandinavian Lapland and finishing at Stockholm. During the 15-day luxury holiday guests can sail, fly, ride and hike past waterfalls, over glaciers, along white sand beaches and up village-dotted coastlines during “white nights” onboard Crystal Serenity. The fascinating Northern Europe cruise features several destinations Crystal has not visited in years, including a rare call to Murmansk in Russia, the last official city created under the Russian empire. Imagine what it must have been like for the seaman of the Allies battling through the elements to supply the Red Army 70 years ago. Fully inclusive fly/cruise prices start from around £4,000. www.crystalcruises.co.uk
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises operates the highest ranked cruise ship in the world, according to the 2013 Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, Europa 28,000 tons and just 408-guests. Nominally a German-speaking ship most of the crew speak English and there is an international hostess onboard all cruises. New for Europa in summer 2013, children 11 years of age or younger, sharing a suite with one or two full-price adult passengers, travel free of charge. Children ages 12-15 sharing a suite with two full-price passengers pay £39 per night, which includes all meals and soft drinks for lunch and dinner. In May Europa is joined by Europa 2, larger at nearly 40,000 tons and with luxury all balcony accommodation for just over 500 passengers. The show lounge covers two decks with entertainment programme including stage productions, jazz concerts and comedy evenings, with international stars from the fields of music, literature and show-business. www.hl-cruises.com
Princess Cruises introduce their version of a very large resort ship to Southampton next month for its first public outing. Royal Princess, to be named by a real Royal Princess, will, unlike NCL Breakaway, spend the summer in European waters. The ceremony will take place in Southampton on Thursday 13 June and will be the highlight of week-long inaugural celebrations to welcome the vessel into service. Royal Princess arrives Southampton 9 June direct from her Italian builders; will then make a short shake-down passage to Guernsey before departing 16 June for Barcelona and a series of Mediterranean cruises. She crosses the Atlantic in October for a winter programme based in Ft Lauderdale. www.hl-cruises.com
Silversea is bringing its specialist expedition ship Silver Explorer to Portsmouth on Monday 13 May. She may be an expedition ship with an ice-strengthened hull but passengers enjoy an exceptional degree of luxury including butler service for everyone and a crew to guest ratio of nearly 1:1. A fleet of Zodiac boats allows guests to visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations and an expert Expedition Team provide insight and engaging talks about every adventure. From September Silversea will also be introducing Silver Galapagos, not a true sister ship but much the same size with 100 passengers and very high quality package. Speak to your cruise agent or Silversea themselves if you want to take a look. The Galapagos may be off the coast of Ecuador but the Portsmouth visit will at least give visitors a feel for what will surely be an exceptional product. www.silversea.com
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