Disney Magic: Re-imagined…

Imagine the excitement of our product manager Nadine when she heard the news that she had been invited aboard the newly refurbished Disney Magic to meet Mickey and Minnie…it was so extreme that we had to send General Manager Sharon to chaperone. Big mistake. We then had two ladies bouncing off the walls. Here is how they found the experience…

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Thursday 24th October 2013

Today we arrived at Heathrow and met our Disney representative Lindsay Dixon. We were introduced to some of the group (12 of us in total) and then we went to check our bags in. Once we had done this we went to see a Virgin Atlantic rep to see if we could change airline seats as we were in ‘E’ & ‘F’ in the middle of others. We were able to change to 56 ‘A’ & ‘C’; these had extra leg room so we were really pleased. There is a huge selection of movies on board to watch along with TV programmes and music.

We were given a menu for the aircraft of the food we would receive. I had crisps for an appetizer, vegetable pasta for lunch, a fab ice lolly, cheese & pickle sandwiches for dinner and drinks were free flowing.

Virgin seats are very comfortable and it was a great airline to travel with. There was a bit of turbulence that made my tummy go a few times but was fine apart from that.

We arrived in Miami to 24 degrees heat, it took us one hour to get out of the airport, and it was a slow process. We got a taxi (organised) to come and take us to the Marriott Biscayne Bay, it was exciting to see a yellow taxi. Once we checked on we had one hour to get ready for dinner in ‘Catch’. I had tomato soup for starter (this was very spicy) and chicken for mains (very nice). After dinner we all took a taxi to South Beach where we went for a drink & dance. We partied in ‘Cleavlander’. This was great fun, vodka & orange was around $15 for a double. We ended the evening about 12am as we had an early start on Friday.

Friday 25th October 2013

I woke up quite early today (around 0630 am). When we woke it was dark but we could see Disney Magic in the distance, this was very exciting.

We went to Salon E to meet all the trade for breakfast. After breakfast we had a presentation by Joe Lanzisero (Senior Vice President of Creative – he heads up the animation/creative for Walt Disney, Disney Cruise Line and Hong Kong Disney). He talked us through all the changes that occurred on Disney Magic. I love the way they talk about the characters as if they are here with us now. Every character has a story. Once the presentation was over MICKEY MOUSE walked in, I was sooooo excited. We had pictures taken with Mickey Mouse. At 11am we checked out and made our way to the ship.

We then boarded Disney Magic, this was magical, Goofy was running around and all the kids were getting very excited. Once we got on board we headed straight for the restaurant and went for lunch, this was a buffet lunch and was delicious.

We then went to look at the children’s areas (these were open between 1:30-3pm only). The first one was a baby’s nursery; they take children as young as 3 months until 4 years. There are toys, cots and learning equipment, babysitting facilities are also available. Net we went to Oceaneer Club, this was for 5-11 year old, there are four rooms in here; Pixie Fairy’s’, ‘Mickey Mouse Club’, ‘Andy’s Room’ and ‘The Avengers room’. The Avengers room allows you to control Iron Man, it is awesome. There was a man filming in here. From here we moved on and went to Oceaneers Lab, this is for children 11+ years, it has craft rooms, game rooms and learning rooms. Every age group is accounted for.

We then went to see ‘Minnie Mouse’ and have our photo taken with her, she was very cute. Then we toured the facilities, restaurants, clubs, pubs and swimming pool. We ended at the adults bar and pool and had a few drinks. At 4 pm was the life boat drill and straight after this was the sail away party, we went along for a dance. All the characters came out to see the kids and get the party started. At 5 pm we went to get ready for the show and dinner. At 6.15 pm we entered the theatre to watch ‘Twice Charmed’, this was a beautiful show about Cinderella and the step sisters breaking her glass shoe so she could not marry Prince Charming, but love conquered all and they lived happily ever after, after all.

From here we went for a drink in the ‘D Lounge’ and then made our way to ‘Animators Palate’ for dinner. As you walk into the restaurant there are sketches on the wall of all the character, these are all in black and white, the waiters are dressed in shirts that are black and white, there are plates with Mickey’s face on and knifes shaped like a paint brush (from Fantasia).There are screens all around the room that throughout the evening draw the characters in black and white, throughout the night, the room changes into colour. There was a show of all the films on the screens, these were in colour and when the waiters came out they had coloured ties. At the end of the meal Mickey came out dressed in his Fantasia outfit. For dinner I had a tomato and goats cheese tart, veal for main and cookies and ice cream for dessert.

After dinner we went to ‘Gills’ (the Irish pub), they played live music in here, which was very good. We then went to ‘Fathoms’ and danced the night away.

When I returned to the room there was a Monkey waiting for us made of a towel. Sharon and I sat on the balcony and watched the world go by. We then went to bed.

Saturday 26th October 2013

Today we woke up around 9 am, got ready and went to see Chip and Dale outside the Theatre; we queued up and got our picture taken with them. After this we went for breakfast in the buffet restaurant (on deck 9), the food was lovely, we then went onto top deck to see if anyone was around. When we found Anna & Sara we decided to go shopping so we made our way to deck 3. We spent a lot of time in here as there was so much to choose. I was not able to buy everything I wanted as I did not have enough space in my suitcase, therefore I had to scale down.

Once I spent $165 in the shop I went back to the room to drop everything off. We then chilled on the balcony for a bit. Then we went to the top deck to get some lunch and meet up with the rest of the agents. Sharon and I took a tour on top deck and had a chat about what Disney could do and what we could do when we got back from our trip.

I then went to meet the girls and Sharon went to the room. I stayed with the girls chatting and drinking and then went to get ready.

Once ready we went down to the theatre to see the show ‘Disney Dreams’. This was absolutely fantastic. The story was about a young girl called ‘Anne Marie’ and she wanted her dreams to come true like they do in the Disney films. This was absolutely magical, Peter Pan came to her with tinker bell and told the story of each Disney film, there was Beauty & the Beast, The Lion King (Timone & Pumba sang), The Little Mermaid (of which Sebastian was singing from a treasure chest), Cinderella & Aladdin. When Sebastian was on all these bubbles came out from the roof and when Beauty and the Beast was on, snow fell from the ceiling, this made everyone very emotional and they were all crying. This was by far the best show. After the show we went for dinner in ‘Carioca’s’, we were all able to sit together on one table. I had steak for dinner and it was very nice. There was a great theme in the restaurant tonight, which was like Mexican, all the staff where dressed in bright yellow.

After dinner we went to ‘Gill’ for a couple of drinks and played Fantasy Football, we came third (which was good even though we did not know what we were doing). Next we went back to ‘Fathom’s’, tonight was 70’s night, this meant a lot of dancing. I went to bed around 12 am and packed my suitcase ready for our trip home. It was a struggle as I had too many presents to take home.

Sunday 27th October 2013

Today was a sad morning as we knew we were leaving. We got up and went to breakfast; we were eating in Lumiere’s restaurant. This restaurant was amazing, the cup and saucer was shaped like ‘Chip’ from Beauty and the Beast. We ordered our food from a menu and it was lovely. The restaurant was themed just like the film, fabulous.

We then went back to our room, grabbed our bags and disembarked. We were taken back to the Marriott Biscayne Bay where we had a day room to leave our bags and freshen up in.

Sharon, Jemma, Roz & Jo stayed in the hotel and arranged to meet us later in South Beach for lunch. Anna, Kim, Sara and I all decided to go shopping in Miami. The Marriott offered a free shuttle to South Beach; this was great value as the drive was around 20 minutes from Biscayne. Once there we started our walk, the first place we came to was ‘Miami Ink’, we went in here and took some pictures, which was amazing, and met some the men on the TV programme. We brought some souvenirs. Next we walked to the shopping area and browsed through the shops (there were so many). We also came across a flea market. We headed back to the main road, once here we went to South Beach and walked along the beach (this was miles long and beautiful). We then walked down Ocean Drive and met up with the other four ladies where we had lunch.

After lunch, we caught a taxi back to the Marriott, this took forever and cost lots as every Sunday in Biscayne they have an event, this week it was cycling so the road was closed. Out taxi driver was very erratic and it was not a very nice experience. We arrived at the hotel, freshened up, said our good byes to Lindsay as she was staying on in Miami and then made our way to the airport.

On arrival at the airport (which was a very small terminal), we checked in and luckily for us they were offering a discount on one of the lounges, it was only $10 for drinks and food and free Wi-Fi. This was great as it really helped the time go by. We boarded our flight (we were mostly all sat together), the Virgin Flight was great and I managed to get some sleep through the night (Sharon said there was quite a bit of turbulence due to the storm – but thankfully I did not feel it).

Monday 28th October 2013

We arrived at Heathrow the following morning with no complications, checked out and made our way home.

Micky in the Caribbean

Micky in the Caribbean

Overall

Overall, this was the best trip I have ever been on, it was absolutely amazing and Disney is completely under rated. The brand is not in your face, if you want to see it you can. It is very subtle across the whole ship and even if you do not have children, you can really enjoy this cruise. It is definitely worth the money you pay. The whole experience was so magical and I would definitely cruise with Disney again.

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The Golden Triangle

Our very own cruise specialist, Jade, recently experienced a cultural visit to three amazing destinations in India, known collectively as the Golden Triangle. Since her return, she has been enthusiastic about sharing the highlights of this once-in-a-lifetime experience with those of you who have never had a chance to visit…

Wonderful landmarks of India

Wonderful landmarks of India

Day 1 – Outbound

Flying with Jet Airways, I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to business class for the flight to Delhi, which took just over seven hours. If you have never travelled business class I would definitely recommend it – each pod has a retractable chair that lies flat in case you wish to sleep (however, I was too excited to sleep!). The service was excellent and the flight was comfortable, with delicious food served course-by-course (on real plates), and with options of beverages including Bollinger champagne. It was amazing – and that’s just the flight!

Day 2 – Arrival in Delhi

On arrival, we were met at the airport by our local representative who would be taking other guests and me on our beautiful tour. The tour bus was modern, clean and air conditioned, with our guide and the driver staying with us for the full duration. After a
short transfer, we arrived at our hotel for the next two nights – the Hilton Jankapuri – and it was everything you would expect from the Hilton; modern, clean and professional. Later, we visited The Oberoi hotel in New Delhi, part of a well-known hotel chain in India. This hotel overlooks the very exclusive Delhi Golf Course, and the rooms all come with butler service as standard. Having lunch here was amazing, with a selection of Sushi, Chinese and Indian delights – looking back, one of my favourite meals of the holiday! Many come to this hotel just for lunch and it is well known in the area. Lunch was followed by a guided sightseeing tour of New Delhi. We went to Humayuns tomb where a building similar to the Taj Mahal stands, often referred to as its predecessor. Within it is the final resting place of the family of the King that built the Taj Mahal, part of the Mughal dynasty. We also visited a Hindu temple with beautiful hand-carved columns and an ancient tower that was built level-by-level by Persian kings over many years – amazing when you think that they had no machinery!

Day 3 – Old Delhi

On day three we visited the largest Mosque in India, in what’s known as ‘Old Delhi’. We were not allowed to take cameras in, and had to take off our shoes and wear gowns to enter. Next – one of my highlights of the trip – taking a rickshaw ride through the back streets of Old Delhi. This is a world away from the shiny new perfection of the hotels; busy streets filled with traffic, people on mopeds, everybody beeping, cows dragging trailers, dusty shops, electric wires everywhere – it seemed like each street was dedicated to a different trade. It sounds like mayhem, but this is everyday-life for the locals. We went for lunch in a lovely restaurant which I couldn’t believe was in the same area as we had just experienced – a lovely place called Chor Bizarre where we had a huge lunch. In the afternoon we visited the place where Gandhi was commissioned, his final resting place. This attracts millions of tourists every year who come to pay their respect.

Day 4 – Drive to Agra

We set off early in the morning for the five-hour drive to Agra. At first impression the area was lacking in any modern-day developments, but you couldn’t tell upon stepping in to the Raddison Blu hotel. The hotel is within walking distance of the Taj Mahal and offers a contemporary and chic atmosphere, it offers free internet to all customers. Next on the agenda was the absolute highlight of my trip –The Taj Mahal. Designed by the architect to appear as if it were a painting, you approach the tall gates, and the anticipation starts to kick in. The first moment you see it is incredible! I must have taken a hundred pictures here alone. The Taj took 22 years to build. The Raj that built it designed it as a memorial for his favourite wife, the mother of his children, who unfortunately died during childbirth. It’s been standing for 350 years, and has survived earthquakes and wars. In the second world war they covered the area in scaffolding, to make it appear from above that it was an incomplete building. On the way out we stopped at a couple of stalls on the side of the road to do a little souvenir shopping – Here I got myself a mini Taj to take home! You have to haggle for the prices as it usually starts off around 6 times the price it should be. Thankfully, our local tour guide gave us a rough idea of the prices we should be paying. The afternoon consisted of more hotel visits. We visited the Oberoi Rambart, which has a stunning view of the Taj from its rooms, and is obviously one of the top end hotels in this area. It was a stunning hotel and felt like a palace.

Day 5 – Drive to Jaipur

En route to Jaipur, which was approximately an eight-hour drive, we stopped off at Agra fort and also Fatehpur Sikri the ‘Ghost City’ as it is now known. It is perhaps one of the most important pieces of Indian history and was once the Mughal capital, but it’s always overlooked by the nearby Taj Mahal. We arrived in Jaipur, better known as the ‘Pink City’, and stayed in Le Meridian Hotel which was very nice, even though the entertainment fi nished at 11pm.

Day 6 – The Pink City

Our final day brought one of my favourite memories; we got to ride on an elephant!
It had a square seat on top of it, which was big enough for two people, and had rails to keep us upright. Some of the elephants have painted decorative designs on their trunks as they are sometimes used for wedding ceremonies and festivals. It took us up a winding road to a place called the Amber Fort. Our local tour guide was fantastic, explaining all the history and bringing the fort to life. During our sightseeing tour we visited the City Palace Museum and took a trip to The Rambagh Palace – part of the Taj group, they have deluxe rooms which look like a tent from the outside but are like a small apartment inside – amazing! Our last historical monument was the Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological and astronomical site which holds the world’s largest sundial. This sundial has the accuracy of two seconds! It is hard to believe this was built in the 18th Century! Some of the other structures are perfectly aligned with the stars, and in accordance with star signs. Many Indian cultures strongly believe in the signifi cance the stars have to their everyday life and will always consult their family astrologer before making any large decisions in life – whether it is marriage or starting a new business etc.

Day 7 – Homeward bound

We had to rise early for our long journey home, for which we had to take two flights. Jaipur to Mumbi which was two hours, and then Mumbai to London which was nine hours (this time in economy class – not so lavish but still a comfortable journey). All-in-all we were all exhausted by the end; however the trip was a huge success. All of our local tour guides were excellent – knowledgeable and friendly. India has such a rich and vibrant culture and I feel so much richer and well-educated on many aspects of India that only a visit here would bring.

Pigments in India

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Ask the Experts – Featuring Mick Dupont (National UK Account Manager for Crystal Cruises)

Lately, we had the chance to catch up with our good friend Mick Dupont; one of Crystal Cruises’s national UK account managers. Being one of the World’s top luxury cruise lines, Crystal Cruises take great pride in the quality of everything they do, and we were keen to hear more on how they achieve the unquestionable service and exceptional attention to detail all year round. Those minutest of touches that ensure a Crystal Cruise is everything you would expect from a 6* all-inclusive luxury offering…

Crystal Symphony in Sydney

Crystal Symphony in Sydney

How has the introduction of all-inclusive cruising changed the on board experience of a Crystal Cruise?

Since the introduction of our all-inclusive on board experience, our guests receive a much more relaxed offering with so much added value. On board is a more entertaining experience as guests need not worry who picks up the bill or how much is added in gratuities and service charges. As everything is included, guests get optimum time to relax and enjoy what really matters and the destinations they visit. It was a natural progression for us to offer guests the complete cruising package.

Luxury cruises are renowned for having special itineraries that travel to exceptional destinations. What are some of your favourite, more unusual destinations that Crystal Cruises visit?

Personally, I’m a big fan of the Far East itineraries with the overnights in Ho Chi Minh, Yangon, Shanghai and visits to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia plus Semarang and Makassar in Indonesia. The variety in scenery, culture and cuisine is quite simply incredible.
Not-to-mention, the stunning Easter Island, Pitcairn Island and the Society Islands of the South Pacific are part of one of our most popular itineraries.

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises

Luxury ships are often smaller than mainstream ocean cruise liners, how does this affect the customer service and experience?

We have medium sized ships which we only allow to carry half the number of guests possible on ships of their size. This means for guests, an enhanced experience and a much greater space to guest ratio. Attentive service and exceptional cuisine makes for a mouth-watering experience. As a result, we are able to offer an array of facilities in an intimate environment with plenty of space and choice for our guests.

With everything included, a Crystal Cruise offers surprisingly competitive for money, are your customers loyal to luxury travel?

We have the highest repeat business in the industry and with the lowest turnover in crew our service is reliable and consistent with guests returning to see familiar faces. With the introduction of ‘All Inclusive’ our ‘new to Crystal’ business has also increased dramatically with guests moving up to Crystal Cruises from premium cruise lines. Once guests sail with Crystal Cruises, they will find travelling with another line a very differing experience.

Crystal Cruises are extremely proud of the appearance of their ships. How often do your ships get revitalised and how do you reinvest in your fleet?

Our two Crystal ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, are refurbished every other year. In other words – we refurbish one of our ships every year. Our most recent refurbishment programme cost over $100 million. We ensure ships are kept to the highest of standards at all times.

Crystal Atrium

Crystal Atrium

For more information or to view a selection of Crystal Cruises sensational itineraries, visit planetcruise.co.uk – the cruise holiday specialists…

 

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Christmas markets of Europe

Christmas is without doubt a wonderful time of year where affection, kindness and giving are all rolled into one. When the festivities are celebrated globally, each town, city or region is competing to stand out from the crowds and provide a truly memorable experience. Well the famous Christmas markets of Europe are no exception and as a result we see different atmospheres bustling with culture and authenticity created. As a result, this is always a busy time of year for the cruise industry and those of you who are looking to grab a bargain cruise holiday this winter. There are cruises specifically tailored to do the rounds at these market-extravaganza’s or others, which may stop in at one of the famed destinations.

Typical stalls of a Christmas Market

Typical stalls of a traditional Christmas Market

Find the magic of Christmas in this, our top five European Christmas markets. Expect stalls where you can shop for trinkets and hand crafted goods in the quaint wooden huts, or simply sit beneath the cascading starry lights and take in the aroma of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. We’ve picked out the best locations in Europe to experience the romantic holiday that comes to life in grand tradition – when the stalls are up and the ice rinks are at the ready. You can forget the hassle of frantic seasonal shopping in city centres
(well most of it), the ambiance of these markets encompasses everything a shopping centre experience does not – think smiling gingerbread men, candlelit carol singing, stocking-fillers and handcrafted wooden toys, not to mention the occasional traditional treat to help you on your merry way.

Copenhagen, Denmark

The 19th-century Tivoli Gardens is where the party is at – and each year the gardens are transformed into a spectacular Russian fairy tale often featuring a setting such as a Russian
village and St. Basil’s Cathedral. Here you can sample well over 50 stalls clustered around and the main lake, which will be transformed into an outdoor skating rink. Copenhagen hosts an idyllic and traditional market, complete with nearly four miles of twinkling lights, artfully hung decorations and of course the gorgeous Tivoli Gardens are transformed into an illuminated wonderland. Stroll around the colourfully painted stalls, hawking porcelain and wooden dolls while sipping on a warming glögg, (this is Danish for mulled wine and very good, so I am told!) which is laden with liquor, raisons and spices, followed by a hot apple dumpling to ward off the cold chills. Now doesn’t that sound perfect?

Tallinn, Estonia

This fairy-tale feel market is only small when compared to some of the other European Markets – but it’s only been running since 2001. Tallinn’s market is set in the heart of the medieval Old Town, in Town Hall Square, a cobbled expanse dominated by the Gothic Town Hall. To get in the festive spirit try some Estonian delicacies such as mulled wine, hot soups, spicy sausages with sauerkraut, black pudding with sour cabbage and delicious gingerbreads. The picture-perfect Christmas market is great for picking up original gifts
including hand-made, wool hats, candles and elaborate quilts. The wooden stalls are all clustered around a huge Christmas tree, decorating a tree goes back to 1441 in the city, and don’t forget to post your Christmas cards from Father Christmas’ post office. A truly authentic festive spirit will be found here!

Vienna, Austria

Steeped in history, Vienna’s ‘Christkindlmarkt’ is one of the most renowned Christmas markets in Europe and dates back over seven hundred years. Follow Viennese customs and wrap up in your finest faux-fur, sip on glühwein, purchase the deliciously scented natural beeswax candles or even try the crescent-shaped Christmas biscuits (vanillekipferl) while soaking in the city’s magical market atmosphere. Perhaps this would be better accessed by a river cruise, which will take you right to the heart of the markets but Vienna is the perfect setting none-the-less.

Brussels, Belgium

Here in Brussels, the Christmas market acts more as a gastronomic affair, offering plump French olives, sumptuous Belgian chocolates, waffles, steaming plates of moules-frites and snails, and seasonal ‘croustillons’ (sugared doughnuts), the tantalising choices can be somewhat overwhelming. Nevertheless the theatrics continue in the midst of the market, expect everything from artisans selling craftware and hand-made goods, ice rinks and glittering ferris wheels to jugglers and street musicians. We are starting to see a pattern occur! Also in Belgium is Bruges, with little wooden huts that cluster around the square and cascading bright lights, this Christmas market provides the perfect romantic setting, complete with an abundance of fairy lights, classical music and a vast ice rink that stands
as the centerpiece of the impressive seasonal market.

Prague, Czech Republic

The two Christmas markets, yes two, are situated on the slopes of Wenceslas Square and appear like a medieval movie set in the Old Town Square, the scene comes complete with huddled craft stalls surrounding a giant glittering Christmas tree with an authentic manger scene and small zoo. You can even sample gourmet cuisine delights such as honeyed gingerbread, vánocvka (a braided pastry with raisins), and vosíhnízda (biscuits laden with nuts and rum)

Beautiful Vienna

Beautiful Vienna

Other noteworthy Christmas markets include…

Budapest, Hungary – Get the best of Budapest and experience Hungary’s impressive array of traditional celebrations including authentic cuisine, folk dances, nativity scenes and cheery carolling, not to mention the annual visit of the Hungarian Santa Claus.

Strasbourg, France – Claiming 441 years of success, Strasbourg is the oldest Christmas market in France, and boasts carolling choirs, Nativity plays and mulled wine served in bootshaped mugs, surrounded by the perfect backdrop of a Notre Dame Cathedral.

A testament to time, these five Christmas markets have been growing for years-upon-years and you can expect a refined experience that is filled to the rafters with fabulous treats, excellent local cuisine and, most importantly an atmosphere that will stay with you long after a visit.

Cruises to the famous Christmas markets begin from as little as £295pp

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Experience the magic of a Disney cruise…

Disney Cruise Line selects the most stunning destinations, in the most exciting regions around the world. For cruises you and your family will always remember, discover the world of delights waiting for you on your next Disney cruise. There’s a special place where kids can train to be a pirate with Captain Hook while parents are off lounging the day away at an adult-exclusive pool. It’s an enchanted place where the entire family can experience one of a kind rotational dining where you rotate through three amazing restaurants with your servers travelling with you, laugh and cheer during an original Disney-themed musical, or watch a fireworks show under the stars. All of this and so much more is included in the price of your Disney cruise. If you’ve never sailed with Disney Cruise Line, you’ll find that a Disney cruise offers an experience unlike any other.

Meet the characters on board!

Meet the characters on board!

Set sail for lifelong family memories.

A holiday of pure magic mixes all the
culture and sun-kissed style of the Mediterranean with unforgettable Disney
experiences for the whole family. With Disney Cruise Line, everything’s up to
the magical standard you’d expect from Disney. Roam in your spacious family sized
stateroom and enjoy deliciously different dining each night from casual quick service to gourmet, while round the-clock service ensures smooth sailing for your crew.

Disney’s legendary commitment to service and family entertainment provides a wealth of wonders for families to share together and enjoy in their own unique way. Experience unique family entertainment ranging from incredible themed deck parties, spectacular original Disney musicals and classic Disney Character interaction.

For the Family…

Families will be thrilled by breath-taking original Disney musicals, movies on deck, first run films and incredible deck parties including fireworks at sea. Offering a vast array of exclusive, Disneythemed entertainment, a Disney family cruise brings families together in unique, memorable ways. Each day will bring something new and exciting for your family to experience. Enjoy family discos, karaoke, dive in movies and fun filled family amusement on board.

For the Adults…

Every Disney Cruise Line holiday offers unparalleled experiences for families to share together and memorable moments for everyone to enjoy at their own pace. While kids explore their own dedicated wonderland, you’ll be delighted by an exclusive adult pool,
romantic restaurants and incredible night-time entertainment. Discover a moment’s bliss at the Spa Villas complete with private hot tub and balcony. Each of you can do everything you dreamed. Or simply do nothing at all.

For the Kids…

With the most imaginative and immersive children’s programming available at sea, and teen clubs including a private lounge, sailors of all sizes are invited to step inside their favourite Disney films or kick-back and party with the coolest counsellors at sea. And with the latest technology on board, the magic never ends. Flounder’s Reef and It’s a Small World Nurseries – Each ship offers whimsical, soft play areas where children under 3 are carefully watched over by our caregivers, so parents can enjoy some time on their own. There is a small additional charge, and space is limited. Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab are designed for kids aged between 3-10 years old. When kids 10 and under are signed into Youth Activity programs, parents are given a ship-wider pager. So parents are only a beep away.

EDGE is designed for 11-13 Years Olds where tweens can play the latest video games, hang out and kick off all sort of dedicated activities.

VIBE is the private teen club – a place packed with music, video games, bigscreen plasma TV’s, its own lounge area, access to the internet, a teens only onboard social intranet site and more.

Raising the standard below deck

On board a Disney Cruise, accommodation is second to none. All staterooms are designed with an elegant, nautical Disney flair, creating a comfortable family-sized getaway that
gives you plenty of personal space so you can enjoy relaxing in your room. You’ll also find extra storage and other clever conveniences that make life on the open sea easier for everyone. Staterooms are 20% larger than industry standard and include split bathrooms for your convenience.

Cast off to quality

Disney Cruise’s legendary service is something to treasure. The magic begins from the moment you are welcomed aboard with personal touches and elegant details designed to delight. With a stateroom host, excellent round-the-clock service and dedicated personal
servers who ‘rotate’ with you through three different restaurants, Disney Cruise Line ensures every minute of your voyage is special and caters for every taste with fabulous food and dining options.

Endless delights, day or night

Every Disney Cruise Line holiday offers unparalleled experiences for families to share together and memorable moments for everyone to enjoy at their own pace. While kids explore their own dedicated wonderland, you’ll be delighted by an exclusive adult pool, romantic restaurants and incredible night-time entertainment. Each of you can do everything you dreamed. Or simply do nothing at all.

The magic of Disney entertainment

Families will be thrilled with the most imaginative and immersive children’s programming available at sea, and teen clubs including a private lounge and spa, sailors of all sizes are invited to step inside their favourite Disney films or kick-back and party with the coolest counsellors at sea.

Beautiful Disney Cruise Ships

Beautiful Disney Cruise Ships

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Are you considering a River Cruise?

We explore why you should definitely add it to your ‘to do’ list…

You may be surprised to learn that river cruising has become one of the fastest growing trends in the holiday market and it is for this reason that there are many river vessels making their debut in the near future.

The beautiful ms Serenity 2

The beautiful ms Serenity 2

As most of the world’s greatest cities and towns were built on rivers, this makes a river cruise one of the most exciting ways to visit historical and popular places of interest. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a river cruise, as European waterways are one of the most popular – most of the new river vessels this year will be heading here.

You may be wondering how different a river cruise is to an ocean cruise… To put it simply, the main attraction is the beautiful scenery rather than the activities and facilities on board, not a rock climbing wall or surfing simulator in sight!

River vessels are much smaller meaning they can cruise where no ocean liner could ever go. Imagine docking right in the centre of Amsterdam, hopping on a complimentary bicycle and admiring the beautiful 17th century homes and stunning churches all with-out having to take a long transfer from the ship to get there!

An intimate Experience

With vessels only accommodating up to 200 people, it is an intimate cruise experience.
Size is limited by the size of the locks and bridges they are required to get through, so you can be assured it is likely to remain this way. Another attractive benefit of the vessels being small is that most of the cabins have a river view – perfect, as you wouldn’t want all that beautiful scenery to pass you by!

Another big appeal with river cruising is the shore excursions. Often they are included
within your fare and you will have an itinerary of which sights you may be able to visit before you travel. This not only saves having to budget, but means you will stop at these more unusual ports and actually get to see the main sights too! If you are feeling more adventurous and would prefer to do some exploring on your own then some, such as the River Cruise Line offer complimentary use of bicycles on their European itineraries.

Staterooms on the luxury side

It can be a misconception that river vessels aren’t as luxurious as large ocean liners, but this is not strictly true. Many lines offer staterooms with white-on-white plush bedding, a cosy sitting area, hair dryer, bathrobes and slippers. The bathrooms are stocked with spa-standard toiletries and showers with multi-jet heads.

Opt for a French Balcony cabin and you could expect will a floor-to-ceiling glass door, among other distinctive features. Dining is a sophisticated and elegant affair. Imagine outstanding food created by chefs with the local flavours and culture in mind, combined with free flowing local wines mixed with stunning views – it all makes for an impressive experience.

After dinner, dance to the Hungarian folk music or relax to a classical quartet. There is bound to be something to take your fancy as at many ports of call local performers will come aboard to entertain you whilst reflecting their culture and traditions.

Europe isn’t the only area you can jump aboard a river cruise – For something even more unique, the Mekong is an up and coming area and allows you to get right to the heart of both Cambodia and Vietnam, or even an African safari followed by a cruise on the Chobe River…

Visit the centre of famous destinations like Hamburg

Visit the centre of famous destinations like Hamburg

A river cruise is a fantastic way to travel and if you decide to travel with our friends the River Cruise Line, you can expect a whole host of added value…

The River Cruise Line

The River Cruise Line

  • Executive return coach travel from your chosen departure point
  • Return ferry crossing
  • Welcome drink, Captain’s get together and Party Night
  • En-suite cabin accommodation
  • Full board during the cruise
  • Visits encapsulating destinations
  • Daytime commentary highlighting places of interest
  • Entertainment on every night of your cruise
  • Services of our experienced and friendly Cruise Director and Cruise Manager

One of the most popular times of year to embark on a River Cruise is for the World-famous Christmas markets! You can sail into the heart of these traditional festivities and expect glistening ice rinks, hand-crafted goods and winter warmers such as mulled wine and regional speciality dishes.

For a selection of cruises with The River Cruise Line, head over to our site.

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Discover: Copenhagen

Thrust in to the lime light, the Baltic & Scandinavian capitals have fast become a hot spot for cruisers and tourists far and wide. The fusion of exceptional cuisine, exuberant culture and wonderful experiences has caused a surge in popularity to these destinations, rich in architecture and heritage. From the famous Christmas markets to the bustling streets that are bursting with originality and charm, these sights are definitely one to behold.

Copenhagen is certainly no exception and has attractions and sights to suit every taste and interest – and most of them are within walking distance! The three most famous attractions in the city are the more than 100-year old amusement park Tivoli Gardens, the statue of The Little Mermaid, and the freetown of Christiania. But Copenhagen has a lot more to offer. With a history that dates back to 1043 the city is full of historic landmarks, significant buildings and interesting sights and museums. Be sure to visit Amalienborg Palace – home to the Royal Family – and walk down the shopping street Strøget. We discover the treasures of Copenhagen.

Beautiful Copenhagen Architecture

Beautiful Copenhagen Architecture

Amalienborg Palace

Considered one of the greatest works of Danish Rococco architecture, the Queen’s residence is made up of four identical buildings spread around the octagonal courtyard. Get a glimpse into the Royal abode or watch the daily shift-change of the Royal Guard.

Bakken

Right north of Copenhagen you find Dyrehavsbakken (or in short Bakken). This is the world’s oldest amusement park. The park is set in the lush woodlands of Jægersborg Dyrehave, a wonderful green area, where you find yourself surrounded by 400-year-old trees and almost 2000 free range red deer, sika deer, and fallow deer. It is the perfect spot for a ride in a horse carriage or a picnic before your visit to Bakken.
426-year-old Bakken, situated in the northern Copenhagen suburb of Klampenborg, is the world’s oldest amusement park, and probably, one of the most beautifully located parks of its kind. With 34 roller coasters, ferris wheels, drop towers, and many more exciting and extreme adventures Bakken offers more rides than any other amusement park in Scandinavia.

Stroget

Copenhagen’s largest shopping area is centred around Strøget in the heart of the city. Strøget is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets with a wealth of shops, from budget-friendly chains to some of the world’s most expensive brands. The stretch is 1.1 kilometers long and runs from City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv. The stretch was originally called Routen, and it was not before 1962 and in the years after it was converted to a pedestrian street. Big international brands like Prada, Max Mara, Louis Vuitton, Cerutti, Mulberry, Chanel, Marlboro, Karen Millen, Hermès and Boss are represented at the end of the street facing up to Kongens Nytorv.

Visit Carlsberg

Visit Carlsberg will give you an idea how the world-famous Carlberg Beer is made. Carlsberg is among the largest tourist attractions in Copenhagen and now you have the opportunity to get closer to the roots of Carlsberg, the history and the beer. The Old Carlsberg Brewery from 1847 has been converted into a modern centre for visitors covering 10,000m². The unique displays and interactive exhibitions take you on a trip through the world’s largest collection of beer bottles, the history of beer, and the Carlsberg development.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden is a 25 acres of landscape garden in Copenhagen (laid out in 1874) with rare trees, shrubs and herbs. Danish plants, rhododendrons, old rose varieties, mountain, aromatic, dyeing and aquatic plants. Large Palm House (built 1874, renovated 1982) with tropical and subtropical plants. Other greenhouses with collections of cactus, begonia, orchids, carnivorous plants and more.

Christiansborg Palace

Located on the tiny island of Slotsholmen, the Palace contains the Danish Parliament Folketinget, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State. The Royal Reception Rooms include The Tower Room and The Oval Throne Room where foreign ambassadors to Denmark are received by the Queen. The Throne Room gives access to the balcony where the Danish monarchs are proclaimed. The Great Hall is the most imposing room in the palace. This is where you will find the Queen’s tapestries.

Nyhavn

During summer, Nyhavn is the perfect place to enjoy a spot of al fresco dining. Or, if you prefer, you can do like the locals and buy a beer from a nearby store and rest your feet at the quayside. Den Nye Havn, ‘the New Haven’, was originally a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world would dock. ‘Den Nye Havn’ eventually changed its name to ‘Nyhavn’ (‘Newhaven’), and gradually the beautiful old slanted houses were renovated and classy restaurants started popping up.

Copenhagen Zoo

Copenhagen Zoo has new and unique facilities for polar bears, North Atlantic birds and seals and The Arctic Ring have recently opened but besides the fact that the animals have much better living conditions and space, the new facilities also allow you to get extremely close to the fascinating animals both above and below the water surface; unparalleled in Europe. The Copenhagen Zoo has more than 3,000 animals from around the world and a total of 264 different species.

Transport

The public transport infrastructure of Copenhagen is among the most efficient and reliable in the world, and it is still being developed and improved. Public transport will get you anywhere you wish to go in the capital region. Copenhagen offers various possibilities for public transportation. You can jump on the bus, get on the train or ride the metro. Due to the good infrastructure it’s very easy to get around in Copenhagen.

Iconic Landmarks

Iconic Landmarks

Our website in busting with cruise holidays to the Baltic Capitals…For our full selection of cruises visiting Northern Europe, head over to planetcruise.co.uk

 

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Alaska: the final frontier

A land of jagged glaciers and unforgiving mountains. A place of grizzly bears, whales and elk. Aboard the Rocky Mountaineer and Celebrity Century you can experience this last great wilderness in all its untamed glory.

Glacier Bay - Alaska

Glacier Bay – Alaska

Alaska is situated in the extreme northwest of the North American continent, with the Arctic Ocean to the north, Canada to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. The largest state of the United States of America, it is characterised by subarctic conditions with stunning scenery and wildlife found nowhere else on earth. Waterfalls, lakes and glaciers are populated by bears, whales, otters and eagles to name but a few.  There really is nowhere else like it in the world!!

For those who are searching for spectacular sights Alaska is ideal. Mt McKinley, the highest peak in North America, is an unparalleled sight, all the more so when catching its alpenglow whilst visiting the wonderful Denali National Park. A towering brown bear expertly catching a leaping salmon in its jaws is not something not often seen, but is common place in this spectacular wilderness. Another unique Alaskan sight is a giant glacier, sometimes up to five miles wide, shedding huge chunks of ice.

For the more adventurous there are countless activities, whether it’s kayaking through a sea full of icebergs and seals around the coast, or abseiling down a glacier, this state is a hard place to pass up for even the most adventurous.  Witnessing a colossal humpback whale breaching is enough to humble even the toughest of travelers.

Experience Alaska's incredible wildlife

Experience Alaska’s incredible wildlife

Cruising Alaska

As well as being big, beautiful and offering countless attractions, Alaska is also very far removed, rurally isolated and often expensive. Alaska is a traveler’s dilemma and cruising offers a realistic and affordable passage through this beautiful yet widely unknown territory.

Alaska is very high on most cruise lovers list of destinations to experience.  It is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world.  Indeed, some of the most spectacular sights of Alaska can be best viewed from the sea, this combined with the fact the Alaskan cruise season runs only between May and September, ensures that cruises sell out very quickly.  Hardly surprising when you consider what is on offer.

Many of the major Cruise Lines send their fleet sailing to Alaska in the spring. Many of these include cabins with private verandas. Cruise customers venture to Alaska to see the wonderful wildlife, the spectacular glaciers and magnificent mountains views. Indeed, how better to see these spectacular sites than from your own private balcony? In addition to the verandas, ships cruising Alaska often include huge observation lounges and heated indoor/outdoor pools. You certainly do not have to rough it to see all that Alaska has to offer.  An additional bonus of cruising through the region is the range of amenities that the larger ships offer.

Royal Caribbean, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Cruises and Celebrity are a selection of the cruise lines that send their fleet to the region throughout the spring time. Different cruise lines offer differing atmosphere, options and excursions.

Shore Excursions

By and large people visit Alaska to take in the scenery, and to look for the local fauna in the sea and on the shore.  Alaska is vast, and though much of it can only be seen from the water, because of its size, you will miss much of the state if you only touch on the ports.  So to enhance your experience of Alaska further, many cruise lines offer an amazing range of shore excursions.

Spectacular flight-seeing tours

If its breathtaking views you are after then look no further than the various float-plane and helicopter tours of the area that operate in conjunction with the leading cruise lines.  Glacier flight-seeing tours are a spectacular way to see the jaw-droppingly beautiful views of the landscape from thousands of feet above sea level.

The Denali National Park

The wonderful Denali National Park features the highest mountain in the continent of North America, Mt. McKinley, as well as a huge range of flora and fauna native to the Alaskan surroundings.  Cruise companies often work hand in hand with local tour operations to gain access to the park.  Some cruise lines offer additional pre and post cruise stays in their wilderness lodges thus enabling you to explore this wonderful wilderness further.

More adventurous excursions

A fishing enthusiast? It is possible to hire a guide for a fishing trip to the back country. Other adventurous options include dog sledding, sea kayaking, mountain biking, and heli-hiking, whereby a helicopter takes you to a remote location and drops you off. You go hiking, and then are picked up by the helicopter later.

Each cruise line has differing options and shore excursions.  What is for certain is that you will have no excuse to be bored on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Alaska.

A Glorious Lake in Banff

A Glorious Lake in Banff

Planet Cruise offers a wide variety of expedition cruising from Alaska to the Galapagos Islands; the Northern Lights to Antarctica.

To find out more, pick up the phone to one of our specialists FREE on 0800 781 5464 or for the full selection, visit our website.

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Ask The Experts: Featuring Steve Williams – Head of Sales – Royal Caribbean International)

Lately, we had the chance to speak to Steve Williams; Royal Caribbean’s UK Sales Manager and question him on some upcoming news from Royal Caribbean. We have spent year’s building a seamless relationship with Royal Caribbean.

What is it that makes Royal Caribbean’s two new ships stand out?

Like every Royal Caribbean ship launch and particularly when we launch a new ship class we are always so excited to see what new ‘firsts’ will be unveiled and with Quantum Class Royal has yet again raised the bar, there are so many new innovations such as the new and amazing Skydive at Sea, Bumper Cars, Circus training, Seaplex a multi-functional indoor sports complex, The NorthStar which is a London eye inspired pod that will take you on a 15 minute journey over and above the ship. Also single staterooms with balconies, another first at sea and the new and incredible virtual balconies showing real time imagery of whats outside projected on to a huge LCD screen on the stateroom wall and not forgetting new family interconnecting staterooms in a variety of sizes and options. Many more features are still to be announced so we are all excited to see what else will be onboard.

An impression of the NEW North Star feature

An impression of the NEW North Star feature

So, what is your favourite Quantum class feature announcement to date?

I think the skydive at sea is totally amazing, I have actually tried the experience on land and it is a really exciting experience without having to actually jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet, it’s a real adrenalin rush and actually not as hard as it looks. But whoever would of thought you could be sailing around a Caribbean Island while skydiving on the back deck? Royal Caribbean are all about offering you the opportunity to experience WOW features.

Sky Diving at Sea!

Sky Diving at Sea!

Balconies for solo travellers? – at last I hear! Is this something that has been requested by Royal Caribbean  passengers?

Absolutely, we really listen to guests feedback and build that into future builds where possible, I think the solo sector has long been asking for single cabins but to date no cruise line had built single cabins with balconies, a few singles yes but no balconies. The great news with the new Quantum class is we have the choice of both, singles and singles with balconies; there are 16 staterooms in total.

 What type of passenger can we expect on board Royal Caribbean’s ships?

Thats a very difficult question as the range of guests varies huge in both age and nationality. On average our customers tend to be late thirties early forties, very young for the wider cruise industry and that’s because we have a very strong family appeal highlighted by our award winning Adventure Ocean Youth Programme and we break the norms of what to expect on a cruise ship, where else can you ice skate or rock climb while sailing out of Sydney harbour? We are a truly Global cruise line with 21 ships sailing oceans all over the world and we attract guests from all countries, yes if you sail from Southampton there will be more British guests aboard, out of New York there will be more Americans but you can expect a truly international guest mix which really does add to the the holiday experience.

Why should people choose Planet Cruise to help them book their perfect Royal Caribbean cruise holiday?

We have worked with Planet Cruise for many years and they have always offered superb customer service, something that is so important to Royal Caribbean as we want our guests to have a seamless booking experience and be offered good advice, they invest heavily in training to ensure their sales teams know there products well to offer the right ship to the right guests, generally if someone does not like cruising it’s because they were sold on to the wrong ship or the wrong cruise line for them, it is so important to get this right and Planet do a great job in ensuring their team have seen as many ships personally so they can pass on that great experience to their customers.

The 270-degree entertainment platform

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A Ray of Sunshine…with Carnival Cruise Line

As part of our extensive training and development here at Planet Cruise, we are often lucky enough to spend time on board some of the industries glorious cruise ships, new and old. Jon-Paul and I from the Marketing and Commercial department recently took a visit to join the newly refurbished Carnival Sunshine and see her exceptional added features. She sailed from Livorno to Naples, popping into Rome en route and may I say how impressed we were with both the extent of exciting facilities and the on board atmosphere that catered for an extremely relaxing ambiance. Here is an insight into our Carnival experience…
Jacuzzi time whilst in the port of Civitavecchia

Jacuzzi time whilst in the port of Civitavecchia

My first experience on board a Carnival Fun Ship was breath-taking, and certainly will not be my last!

As we arrived in Livorno after a 20-30 minute transfer from the airport, what stood before us was the impressive Carnival Sunshine, gleaming in the 30-degree heat! We could not wait to get on board! At first impressions, I was pleasantly surprised at the mix of people on board – families, grandparents, couples and singles all enjoyed the plentiful amenities on and the on board aura was more relaxed than I first anticipated. I may be excused for expecting a ‘fun ship’ to be overrun with excitable children and loud noises, but that was certainly not the case. This ship is very pleasant indeed.

Our balcony accommodation was spacious, airy and most importantly comfortable –
the balcony was the perfect fit as I arose to watch us skilfully sail into Rome – I enjoyed
the message ‘Welcome to Civitavecchia – the love of Italy’ artistically displayed in port.
A trip to Rome was on the agenda for very many holidaymakers, but for me, I was too curious to explore this fantastic ship from bow to aft.

Approaching Rome from our Balcony

Approaching Rome from our Balcony

During the day time, my youth was relived as I tossed and turned down one of the exhilarating flumes, enjoyed a top deck round of mini golf and participated in a spot of basketball – needless to say I was a tad rusty!

Upon the pool deck, where you can also find the Spa, we conveniently stumbled across
the Red Frog pool bar and the Blue Iguana Tequila bar – both offering a reasonably
priced selection of frozen cocktails, world-famous rums, Carnival’s very own Thirsty Frog beer and exciting soft drinks. Just feet away we also found two of our soon-to-be favourite on board features, included in the price; Guys Burger Joint – succulent burgers, hand-cut chips and a toppings station which you could pile up to your heart’s content! Did we mention this is included in the price? ; To the other side of the ship was the Burrito bar, a haven for Mexican food, pick and mix your fillings, no need to pay!

During the day there were also activities, quizzes and games happening in the liquid lounge.
For that extra special retreat, for adults only, there is the serenity area which is something rather special, a plunge pool, waterfall, private cabanas and arguably the best views from the ship; you could easily spend a day in this paradise! There is also a bar for your convenience.

The EA Sports Bar - a Haven for sports lovers!

The EA Sports Bar – a Haven for sports lovers!

On the first night, we chose to dine in the speciality Italian venue ‘Cucina Del Capitano’, priced at just $12 per adult and $5 per child – that’s $34 dollars for a family of four! The food was exquisite, as was the service, not forgetting the singing waiter who made the evening a real delight as we set sail.

For the sports-lovers out there the EA Sports Bar is wall-to-wall screens showing live sports, so you won’t have to miss the big game! As for the evening, we were spoiled for choice. Live music in the atrium, comedy in the Punchliner and sing-a-long in the Piano Bar, for which one evening I was selected to be Mr Tambourine man!

The Casino was well-appointed and often a meeting point for the ship as it joined to the main atrium and other venues including the Alchemy Bar – a science lab for cocktails – they were divine!

When you return to your cabin, a turn down service with chocolates and a towel animal awaited along with a simple tick-box sheet for room service which we tested and was received on-the-dot, setting us up nicely for yet another action-packed jacuzzi-filled day!

The Sunshine also had a show lounge and plenty of other nice touches including the boutique shopping, 24/7 pizza offering, dive-in movies and a spa (with reduced rates after 4pm). There is a vast array of other exciting public spaces, dining venues and bars on board which I simply could not fit in – but a trip with Carnival is an exceptional experience for all.

During this itinerary we made calls at Livorno (for Florence and Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Naples – but as agonising as it was, I remained on board for three straight days, simply because the ship had so much to see and do!

The $160 million dollars spent refurbishing the Carnival Sunshine completely overdelivered in all aspects, from a perfectly cooked 16oz New York Strip Steak in ‘Fahrenheit 555’ steak house, to one of the succulent ‘Guys Burgers’ with hand-cut
chips. The Red Frog Pub to Havana Bar and the water-slides to private cabanas, the Sunshine is a fine example of why cruising is such great value. There has never been a better time to get on board.

Carnival is a 4* offering whose emphasis is on fun, relaxation and rejuvenation – they could not be truer to their word. Not a tuxedo in sight!! Carnival expects their guests to enjoy their cruise how they see fit. I left feeling I had not laughed so much in years and felt completely stress-free all the way home.

For all of you who are long overdue a break and that bit of excitement, I can’t stress
enough what a great holiday experience you’ll receive on board a Carnival Cruise!

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