Pacific Pearl’s Family Christmas Festival

Posted on Monday, November 15, 2010 | 1 comments
P&O have just announced the the official celebrations for the Pacific Pearls launch in Auckland on the 21st of December 2010.

To mark the occasion there will be a spectacular fire works display over the Waitemata Harbour (if it is half as good as the display put on the mark the first visit to Auckland by the QM2 then we are in for something special) and there will be free performances by Stan Walker and Dane Rumble, a huge ferris wheel and circus and street performances.

As it will be a "family festival" the naming ceremony will begin at 5pm, with the God Mother of the ship to be Barbara Kendell, a triple Olympic medal winning Board Sailer for NZ.

The event will also be an opportunity to sample the fantastic food that is served onboard in the restaurants and cafes and also in Luke Mangan's specialty restaurant Salt Grill.

The Cruises Online team will be going on a two night travel agents "shake down" ( a shake down cruise is where all the ships services are tested before the first cruise) cruise before the ship is launched so we will keep you up to date with photos and stories from the new ship.

I have also been invited to the naming ceremony so keep an eye out for my blog on the 22nd of December where I will give a full rundown on the event, and of course with lots of pictures.

Allure of the Seas arrives in Fort Lauderdale

Posted on Sunday, November 14, 2010 | 0 comments
Royal Caribbean International’s newest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, arrived at her homeport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today. Eagerly awaiting and celebrating the world’s largest and most revolutionary cruise ship’s arrival were hundreds of onlookers as well as a flotilla of maritime escorts made up of fireboats and private watercrafts.

The Oasis-class ships will made history once again when Allure of the Seas is joined by famed sister-ship Oasis of the Seas for a one-of-a-kind visual of the world’s two largest ships together for the first time on Saturday 13 November 2010.


Posted on | 0 comments
Orion have been named Best Responsible Cruise Operator at the internationally acclaimed 2010 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards which took place as part of World Travel Market in London on Wednesday 10th November (World Responsible Tourism Day).

Thousands of tourism organisations and travel experiences were nominated by the public in just 13 categories with the central tenet being that all types of tourism – from niche to mainstream – can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people. These prestigious awards recognise individuals, companies and organisations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to the culture and economies of local communities and are providing a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation.

Commenting on Orion Expedition Cruises, the judges said: “Orion Expedition Cruises is the only cruise company with Earthcheck certification, and shows a real commitment to the communities it visits. By acknowledging that authenticity can only be realised for their guests by working in partnership with communities, they conduct community research ahead of establishing new ports of call - helping protect cultural heritage and environment while offering real benefits to the places they visit. They have influenced suppliers to make positive changes like moving from plastic containers to cardboard and aluminium bottles over plastic. Cruise is a growth area and this small operator is one to watch.”

Commenting on the award, Sarina Bratton, Founder and Managing Director of Orion Expedition Cruises, said: “The destinations visited by Orion are some of the most pristine and sensitive wilderness areas on our planet, with little or no infrastructure to support visits by one hundred people at one time. Understanding this, we have a social responsibility to develop a marine tourism blueprint that is sustainable, one that is at the forefront of eco-sensitivity and a benchmark for internationally recognisable and environmentally sound operating practices. For Orion, sustainability is more than a fashion, a trend or a compelling need. Sustainability is a core component of our company’s originating vision and values. To explore “a path less travelled” requires a gentle step. To work with the challenges and opportunities these environments offer is the starting point of every journey.”

To view cruise deals on MV Orion click here

Alaska: the cruise of a lifetime?

Posted on Monday, November 8, 2010 | 0 comments
Alaska: the cruise of a lifetime?

The hour had arrived.

As the "Golden Princess" pulled away from Seattle bound for Alaska, I wondered would an Alaskan cruise meet my high expectations? After all, I'd heard it dubbed 'the cruise of a lifetime' so many times.

Having experienced cruising in Mexico, the tropical Pacific, and Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, my expectations were already high. After a brief look around the ship and a fantastic dinner I settled in for the night.

The next day was the first of only two sea days. This was the perfect start to the cruise as it gave me the opportunity to explore further and discover what the ship had to offer. I wasn't disappointed. I quickly found the indoor swimming pool, hot tubs, numerous places to eat and drink, and superb entertainment options. This was seeing Alaska in style and comfort!

On day three of the cruise we had made our way to Juneau, the capital of Alaska, where there was an abundance of tours, including a whale watching tour that guaranteed you would see Humpback Whales or your money back. With so much confidence in their product how could I say no? And considering we saw more whales than I can remember, surfacing right next to our boat, I was happy I didn't need a refund.

The day ended perfectly with a beer at the authentic, but very touristy Red Dog Saloon. The bar had everything, including an American wearing an NZ Warriors hat.

Next stop was Skagway, gateway to the Klondike - a town that embraces its Gold Rush past. Again there were plenty of tours on offer, but I preferred to explore the town streets where all of the buildings have been to faithfully restored. This gave a great insight into the history of this town.

But for me, the highlight of my Alaskan Cruise was the day we spent scenic cruising at Tracey Arm Fiord. With a Park Ranger on board to give expert commentary, and crew out on deck handing out hot drinks, we made our way into the Fiord heading towards Sawyer Glacier. Scattered across the water were large blocks of ice that had carved off Sawyer Glacier - some of these mini icebergs had seals pupping on them. I had been to Milford Sound, but this was much grander in scale! What better way to enjoy the moment than to get into the hot tub on deck and enjoy the view.

The following day we arrived in Ketchikan, regarded as the Salmon Capital of Alaska. In the peak of the salmon season (late June, early July) the salmon run up Ketchikan Creek that cuts through the middle of this small town.

The last port of call was a visit to the city of Victoria, Canada. Known as the “City of Gardens”, Beacon Hill Park was a highlight, but a standout place to visit is the The Empress Hotel. At night it is simply stunning, adorned in thousands of tiny fairy lights.

Reluctantly we made our way back to Seattle left with hundreds of wonderful memories and photographs. I asked myself, had my Alaskan cruise met my expectations? Yes was my answer. A cruise through Alaska is a cruise of a lifetime.

Allure of the Seas

Posted on Thursday, November 4, 2010 | 0 comments

Last Thursday Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship Allure of the Seas departed the STX ship yard in Turku, Finland. She passed Denmark's Storebaelt Bridge with very little clearance to spare, proving a successful start to her 13-day transatlantic journey to her home port in Fort Lauderdale.

Allure is set to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday the 11th of November were she will join her sister ship the Oasis of the Seas. Now the question that the cruise industry is asking, will two ships of this size be able to go out each week close to capacity can be answered.

For many people ships of this size is too big and there are concerns over embarkation and disembarkation on how you can easily move so many people on and off the ship. Personally I look forward to the day I get to experience a ship like this because they are something very special.

To view cruise itineraries on the Allure of the Seas please click here