Posted in Cruise Reviews

Caribbean Princess: Ship Visit Review.

Although not a cruise review as such, we had the opportunity to go and visit Princess Cruises’s recently refurbished Caribbean Princess as part of a Bloggers visit on board. Here we got to meet some fellow bloogers, some familiar faces and some new faces and we were given a tour of the ship which included lunch. So, here is our take on the day……..

 

The day was Friday 30th June. The year was 2017. The cruise line was Princess Cruises and the ship was Caribbean Princess. Ok, ok we’ll stop the epic and over the top sounds short sentences and get on with the review properly.

Caribbean Princess was berthed at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal, berth 106 in Southampton, so the walk from our flat to the ship was a little bit further than what we would have had to have walked if the ship was in berth 46, Ocean Terminal. However, the walk was good and we got a good first glimpse of her and she looked amazing.

Having just booked two cruises with Princess for 2018 and 2019, the visit to Caribbean Princess would further whet our appetite for the Princess brand and we couldn’t wait to embark.

Built in 2004, Caribbean Princess, at 113,000grt, can accomodate 3140 guests in 1556 staterooms (669 with their own private balcony) The ship is recently fresh from an $8.2m refit which saw the installation of 3200 Princess Luxury beds in all staterooms, 63,000 feet of new carpet, 7 new dining venues and an amazing 1000 new digital signs.

Once Jordan (Cruise Capital) and I (Anthony, Cruisemarsh)  finally arrived at the terminal, we checked in to get our pass from the crew office and then waited for our party to arrive. As it was fellow bloggers that were visiting the ship too, it was exciting to meet familiar faces and to meet new ones too!  Then the team from Princess Cruises media and PR department arrived to meet us (Charlotte, David, Lorraine and Vivien) and it was time to embark the ship.

We embarked the ship on deck 5 and instantly we were greated by the wonderful Piazza, which is the focal and social hub of the ship. We were then split into two groups to explore the ship and to do the exploring, we were going to start up on Lido Deck.

Lido Deck (15) is where the main Neptune and Calypso pools are situated. With good amount of deck space, there is ample areas for lounge beds to enjoy the sunshine. Situated on Lido Deck too are The Slice Pizzeria where you can enjoy a complimentary menu which includes Neapolitian-style pizza; deep dish focaccia with marinara meatballs and cheese. For those looking for the classic hot dog, chilli-dog or tacos with grilled chipotle chicken or sweet potato green chile with loaded fries with chili cheese or bacon and cheese, then the Salty Dog Grill is the place to go. Here you will find the Ernesto burger, which was created by Chef Ernesto Uchimura and consists of rib eye beef patty, grilled pork belly, caramelized kimchi, beer batter jalapeno, aioli and cheese. There is a surcharge for this burger- $5 or $8 when chosen with a beer. Great value indeed!

Moving forward, we went up a deck to deck 17, Sports Deck and moved forward where we went to explore The Sanctuary. This is an adult’s exclusive area where you can relax, chill and forget the fast paced world for a half day or the full day. Passes for The Sanctuary are from $20 for a half day access to the area. Plus loungers and chaise loungers are on offer for guests to relax and unwind on. Guests can also enjoy a soothing massage in one of the two private cabanas from the Lotus Spa services. Exclusive drinks and cocktails are made to order with healthy smoothies, energy drinks and iced flavoured waters on offer too. And to nibble on, there are refreshing fruit skewers, lettuce wrapped spring rolls and spicy tuna pate with baked pita wedges. These are available through the Serenity Stewards who are on hand to make your stay in The Sanctuary as comfortable and relaxing as possible.

Looking down on deck 16, Sun Deck we could the fabulously inviting Lap Pool. Was just calling out to have a swim. Alas, sadly I didn’t bring my swimming shorts with me, otherwise would have gone for a dip!

We then continued the tour down onto deck 16 where we saw the Lotus Spa and the fitness centre. The fitness centre was pretty impressive but hey, I’ve hardly been in one, so I can’t really judge to be fair. Plenty for the fitness fanatic to get their teeth into I guess.

We then moved aft along the ship to see the giant seascreen where the ‘Movies Under The Stars’ showings take place.  The screen is situated above the Calypso Bar and pool area and makes quite a commanding sight with the two white columns from the ship’s funnel structure adding decoration. The seascreen is a great thing to have and can be used during the day and at night too. Very versatile.

The next part was really cool, we move even further aft and were able to see the travelator and Skywalkers Night Club for a different perspective. Looking above we could see the height and angle of the travelator better and it looked so cool. It was quite a commanding piece of structure and would give good amount of shade for those swimming in the Terrace Pool.

It was then time for lunch! Yay! The hunger was getting the better of me… well, that’s not true but we were on board and as tradition states, the law of the sea means you have to visit the buffet. This is where we would spend our lunchtime. Formerly known as Horizon Court, the buffet area was given a considerable change when the ship was in for refit and it now known as World Fresh Marketplace. Situated on deck 15 aft on both the starboard side, this buffet area has been transformed in a wonderful area of food stations with plentiful amount of food on offer including a carvery with the roast of the day, pancake station, salad bar and if you are a sweet tooth, a generious selection of desserts on offer. Unfortunately we didn’t take any photos of the food we had, it was too good to stay on the plate for any length of time but what I did have was Roast beef, mashed potato and casserole and brocolli. Dessert was a Grand Marnier flavoured cream horn and Red Velvet cake. Oh my, it was so delicious.

Also there is casual evening speciality restaurants that have been added to Caribbean Princess. On the port side, there is Steamers Seafood and on the starboard side there is Planks BBQ. Whilst they are buffets during breakfast and lunch and is complimentary during these times, the venues then become waiter served venues in the evening with a cover charge of $12 per person. Steamers Seafood offers a wide selection of seafood including mussels , scallops, clams, prawns and crab-stuffed flounder. For an extra $10 more, you can choose King Crab Legs or lobster tail.  Planks BBQ offer family-size planks of loaded ribs, beef, sausages and chicken with also a serving of sides including fries, chilli, coleslaw and dill pickles. Just makes my mouth water at the sound of the selections.

Next it was up to Star/Sky Deck, decks 18 and 19 for the Skywalkers Nightclub. This has a rather unusual and cool way to get to and from the nightclub. It has it’s own travelator! How cool is that?! From here, you are whisked upto the nightclub which has panoramic views out of almost floor to ceiling windows. From here you can dance and party the night away and what a venue to do so in.

  

It was then time to move down to deck 7, Promenade. This is one of main decks on the ship which also has outside access to the promenade deck. We started aft at Club Fushion and made our way forward, visiting venues such as the photo gallery, Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, Wheelhouse Bar, Explorers Lounge and then out into main Piazza area which houses Crooners Bar and Essence. Going further forward, we saw Calypso Cove before entering the Grand Casino. Forward from the casino was the Princess Theatre. A venue which holds around 800 guests, this is where the evening shows take place, from production shows to comedians and variety acts.

 

After departing the Princess Theatre, it was then down to deck 6, Fiesta Deck. From here, we visited Churchill’s Lounge. One of the very few places you can smoke in (Casino being the other venue) on the ship, it’s the first thing that hits you as you enter, the smell of stale smoke. Not very nice. The size of the lounge was pretty small so therefore the impact of the smoking will be greater.

We proceeded then to visit the Crown Grill, which is one the speciality restaurants on board Caribbean Princess. Here you can enjoy the experience of  a premium American Steakhouse all for the cover charge of $29 per person. Sumptious offerings include Grilled Tiger Prawns in Whisky, Chilli & Garlic Marinade, Sterling Silver Beef Chop 16 oz Blackened with Mushrooms and Onions or the tantalising Filet Mignon 8 oz served with Potato and Garden Fresh Vegetables. If you are not too stuffed from that offering there are also desserts available for the sweet tooth.

   

Then it was down to deck 5, Plaza Deck and the end of the tour…..awww!

We met by Vines Bar with the other group and were handed lovely Princess Cruises bags with a press pack and a power bank in it. Very nice. We then headed to the centre of the Piazza for a group photo and to wish Charlotte Humphrey all the very best as it was her last day working for Princess Cruises.

The Bloggers Visit to Caribbean Princess. Image: Princess UK Media.

Then it was just time to grab a few more photos and was time to disembark. We handed in our passes to the crew passport and then said goodbyes to the Princess Cruises Media team and our fellow bloggers and then left for home. What a day it was, absolutely fantastic!

Summing up:

Caribbean Princess is a beautiful ship with great amount of space, light and tasteful decor. She oozes class and I could have just stayed on board. The layout is easy to follow and will be easy for those new cruisers adjusting to their new surroundings. Having been on her fleetmate Emerald Princess last year, this was a lot better than her, both in the decor and the actual ship. We were disappointed with Emerald but Caribbean has stolen our hearts. The recent refit has added vitality too and the World Fresh Marketplace is such a wonderfully designed buffet area and a big thumbs up to those who worked hard bring it all together in the refit.

There was a warm and friendly feeling about the ship as soon as I stepped on board and felt completely at easy. I can see why she is a popular ship and I wouldn’t argue against sailing on her. Would happily do so. Unfortunately, she is only here for one more season (this summer) before heading for the Caribbean next year. She will be a big miss to the UK here and hopefully one day she will return to these waters again. With Royal Princess returning for a season next year, that might soften the blow somewhat.

As this is just a ship visit review, it’s hard to give it a full review so I am only just going to give it a rating out of 10.

So, we think Caribbean Princess is worth:  8/10

Fantastic ship, great layout, good food and service. Piazza perhaps not as grand looking as Emerald Princess and Royal Princess but I’m now just splitting hairs. To really give it a full review, I would need to sail on her. So, if any of the Princess Cruises Media team are reading this review…….. haha, only joking. Perhaps we will sail on her though in the future, I’d really hope so.

Well, until next summer when we sail on Sapphire Princess, we have had our taste of Princess Cruises for this year and really enjoyed it very much…..

So all it remains for me to say is, thank you Princess Cruises and Princess Cruises Media UK for having us on board yesterday afternoon. Thank you to our fellow bloggers too, was great to meet you all. Was a brilliant day…..

Now, it’s back to my baked beans on toast for dinner. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

Posted in Cruise Reviews

Columbus: Maiden Voyage Review

When Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) announced last year they had acquired Pafific Pearl from P&O Cruises Australia, it was a game changing announcement from the company. She was to be re-named Columbus and would become the flag ship of CMV’s fleet.  Soon after the announcement, we booked on her maiden voyage and since then we watched with interest the announcements and developments throughout her transition from Pacific Pearl to Columbus. Fast forward  a year and it was time to embark her on her maiden voyage…….

 

DAY 1: Embarkation, London International Cruise Terminal, Tilbury:

After being on board for Columbus’s naming ceremony on Thursday 8th June, our editor, Anthony, was excited to be heading back to Tilbury to embark Columbus for the 3 night maiden voyage, The coach journey to London Victoria from Southampton went very smoothly and we then had to take the underground from Victoria to West Ham and then C2C overground train to Tilbury Town station. After what seemed like an eternity walking from Tilbury Town to the port, we finally made it to the terminal and checked in fairly quickly. Security was an interesting situation as we were ushered through without having to put our bags through the scanner, this was indeed very odd, we had never come across this before and surely not a good sign from London International Cruise Terminal. However, we were on board just soon after mid-day and we went straight to the Plantation Buffet Restaurant for some lunch as that is the law of the sea.  Food was much needed and after refuelling, it was a case of exploring the ship and also to watch the arrival of Silverseas’s Silver Wind which was sailing up the Thames to berth next to HMS Belfast as her sister ship, Silver Cloud was sailing down river.

Initial impressions of the ship were the same from the naming ceremony. Fantastic amount of outer deck space, really good promenade deck and very tastefully decorated throughout. Having said that, the refurbishment in Rotterdam was pretty much purely cosmetic as there was clues from around the ship of her P&O Cruises Australia days. Having had a major refurb in 2015, the need for CMV to spend money on another full refurb was therefore not needed, although there was a few areas that could have benefited from more attention, particularly the windows on decks 12 and 14 which were pretty dirty.

Muster was soon upon us and we were to head to Taverners Pub as this was our muster station. It was a busy muster station and hardly any seats. Most people would have to stand and the air conditioning didn’t seem to be working as it was very warm. Was an uncomfortable muster. Also some passengers were talking over the announcement and laughing too.

Once muster was over, it was back to the cabin to put our lifejackets back and then a mad dash up to deck 14 for sailaway from Tilbury. We decided to head to the front, with a view overlooking the bow.  As it was a maiden sailaway, we were expecting big things. However, was slightly disappointed that there was just a splurge of a water cannon and a rather tame ticker tape cannon to see us off. Not like the naming ceremony, when we had fireworks.  However, the maiden voyage had officially began and so it was time to enjoy the sail down the Thames.

My friend and cabin mate, Dan and I then decided, after taking photos and videos of the sail down the Thames, to enjoy a nice refreshing Coca Cola. Whilst doing so, Dan got a call from our other friends on board, Jordan, Harry and Gavin, asking for us to meet them on Deck 11, forward. Litte did we know, we were being invited to the bridge, courtesy of Harry Cotterill who was presenting his drawing to the Captain. That was a real nice surprise that we managed to get on to the bridge. There were spend a good 25 minutes getting pictures on the portside bridge wing and observing the bridge team at work.

After the bridge visit, it was time to get ready for the show, ‘Anchors Aweigh’ before dinner at 20.30. The show was very good and had a distinct nautical feel to it. Was highly entertaining and set up nicely for dinner ahead.

Dinner was second seating in the Waterfront Restaurant at the rear of the ship on Deck 7, Promenade Deck. A lovely appointed restaurant with a modern vibe to it. However, service was very slow, with dinner taking close to 2 and a half hours to complete. Food was of good quality though. After dinner, we had a brief walk before heading up to the Dome on Deck 14 forward. This venue would turn into the late night disco venue from 11pm but we managed to get to see one of the residence groups give a few numbers before proceedings were handing over to the DJ.  A couple of hours in The Dome and then it was time for bed. What a long, exhausting and rewarding day that was.

 

DAY 2: Amsterdam.

Today’s port of call was in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. Having had the clocks put forward during the night, it was a bit of an initial struggle to actual get up but once up and about, it was time for breakfast.

Breakfast in the Plantation Buffet was rather interesting. Whilst having a good selection of food, the layout was somewhat disconcerting. People didn’t know which side they were going to and then there was the wait for food to be replenished after something ran out. It was bit of an organised chaos to be fair at times.

Once breakfast was over, it was time to go ashore but not before waiting in a rather long queue to disembark the ship. There had been a problem with the gangway and so we were behind scheduled which meant our scheduled departure was changed to give us more time in the city. Once off the ship, it was then through passport control and then out to explore the city. Initially, Harry, Gavin and Jordan joined Dan and myself on our walking tour, however Dan and I split from the rest of the group to go and see the Windmill whilst the others went to play mini golf.

It was quite a comprehensive walk around Amsterdam we did and yes, we managed to see the windmill. We then met up with Jordan back close to the centre of the city and then went to have to lunch at an international eatery known as McDonalds. We then went to have a look at the impressive Central Station before heading back to Columbus via some river cruise ship spotting.

 

Back on board, it was time for afternoon tea and a visit to the Plantation Buffet. There was a fairly good choice of items on offer but I chose the traditional scones, with cream and jam and a minute cake or two. All washed down with a fantastic cup of coffee.

We then met up with Harry and Gavin in the atrium where photos of the wonderful drawing of Columbus were taken. Having spoken with them, we then headed up to the outer decks to see us sail from Amsterdam.

Tonight, Dan and I had chosen to eat at the Plantation Buffet as we had wanted to see us sail down the River Amstel and into the lock.  Even though we did dress up, as it was formal evening, it was nice to get our evening meal at our own pace. However, the service in the buffet was pretty poor this evening and the wait for food to be replenished again was another problem. By the time I got back to my seat, my food was nearly cold. However, it was tasty and nourishing and that was the main thing.

After dinner, it was time to go and see the show “Back to the 80’s” and yes, you’ve guessed it, it was a tribute to the music decade that was the 1980s. Again, an excellent production and was very entertaining. After the show, it was time to go and meet our travelling party upstairs in the Dome. Harry, Gavin, Jordan, Jason, Janet and John. We had a few drinks there and enjoyed the atmopshere before heading to bed. Again, another fufilled day. Tommorow, Antwerp.

 

DAY 3: Antwerp.

Having been to Belgium on a few occasions previously, I had never been to Antwerp so was excited to be going ashore.

After a hearty breakfast in the Plantation, we had a thorough tour of the ship to get some photos and videos as this was the quietest the ship would be as most passengers had already gone off ashore to explore.

After the tour, it was time for lunch and then a trip ashore.

We initially took the tunnel under the river to get to the otherside so we could get some photos of Columbus berthed at the cruise terminal. It was a unique experience going more than 30m under the river and the walk from one side to the either was around 300m. At the other side, we got some great angles of Columbus, which enabled us to get some decent photos.

Columbus berthed in Antwerp.

We then took the tunnel back across to the main city centre area and had quite a walking tour around the city. Our furthest point would be the main train station. What an impressive building that was. It remnded us of a Cathedral, very ornate and spectacular. Antwerp is a beautiful city with some fantastic buildings. A friendly city with a friendly atmopshere.

After another gruelling walk, we eventually got back to the ship and for myself, a lie down on the bed was in order whilst Dan, Jordan, Harry and Gavin all went up to the pool deck to enjoy the swimming pool and the sunshine.  So I missed out on afternoon tea. However, I did tuck into the Belgian chocolate bar that I had bought ashore.

After a suitable rest, it was time to go and see us sail. What seemed like an eternity to actually release the lines, life the gangway off and depart, we finally slipped away from the berth and made the spectacular 180 degree turn in the river. That was quite a sight indeed and with blasts from our horn to say goodbye, the day in the beautiful city of Antwerp had been a success.

Again, Dan and I chose to eat the Plantation so we could see us sail down the river and tonight, the food was so much better as was the service and I didn’t have to wait for food to be replenished, it was so much better.

After dinner, it was showtime again. Another fantastic production entitled “Feel the Rhythm” and this time there was a plethora of up beat songs throughout the ages. Was very good. Then as it was the last night, we went to the atrium for a farewell display from the entertainment team, which was excellent and poignant. After that. we hotfooted it to the Dome where we met with John, Jason and Janet and enjoyed a few drinks together for the last time in the cruise. Was a convivial evening.  But all good things must come to an end and another good evening was drawing to a close. It was time for bed but not before a walk on deck and a chat with Harry and Gaving before retiring.  An early start tomorrow!!

 

DAY 4: London International Cruise Terminal, Tilbury: Disembarkation

After another great sleep, it was time to get up and vacate the cabin before 7am. We then headed to the Plantation for our last breakfast on board and we managed to get seats out on deck to enjoy breakfast. It was rather busy in the Plantation but that was to be expected as it was disembarkation day.

Whilst having breakfast, we heard the awful news of the fire at Grenfell Tower, London. We were shocked by the images we saw and couldn’t believe it.

After breakfast, it was time to disembark the ship as we decided to choose express disembarkation whereby we take our own luggage off with us.  It was now official, the cruise had come to an end and all that remained was for us to get back to Southampton from Tilbury, via train, underground and coach.

We arrived back in Southampton just after 3pm.

 

Overall, I enjoyed the cruise. Absolutely loved the ship and the entertainment was superb however, service both in the restaurants and reception were left to be desired and hopefully these troubles will be ironed out along with the key card problems experienced throughout the cruise.  Although, these problems won’t deter us from sailing with Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) and Columbus in the future. She certainly is a gem of a ship which is going to fit in very well at CMV.

Ratings: Stars (out of 10)

Ship: ********

Staff: *****

Food: *****

Service: ****

Accomodation: *******

Entertainment: *******

Cleanliness and upkeep: ******

 

OVERALL RATING: ******

Onwards and upwards for both Columbus and CMV!

 

 

 

Posted in Cruise News, Cruise Reviews

MSC Preziosa: Italy, Spain And France Cruise 18-22 October 2017

CRUISEMARSH MSC PREZIOSA PRESS RELEASE:

We are very pleased to share some recent news our Assistant Editor Christian received, well over the Easter Weekend he entered a completion held by a travel company and much to his surprise and delight found out that he had won one of five Mediterranean Cruises courtesy of MSC Cruises.

In October Christian and our Editor Anthony who’ll be joining him, will fly from London to the Italian port city of Genoa where they’ll enjoy a two night pre-cruise stay allowing plenty of time to soak up the local atmosphere and Italian hospitality before embarking MSC Cruises MSC Preziosa for a relaxing 4 night cruise stopping off at the Bohemian Catalan city of Barcelona, famed the world over for eclectic architecture and of course the city that hosted the 1992 Olympic Games. After that MSC Preziosa sails for the Balearic Island of Mallorca and to the city of Palma de Mallorca for a two day call before sailing for the next and final port, the French city of Marseille where they’ll disembark before flying back to London later in the day.

      Itinerary of cruise on MSC Preziosa. Image: MSC Cruises.

This indeed is a unique opportunity for both Christian and Anthony as this will be their first experience of MSC Cruises – so naturally they will both be keen to explore the 4,345 passenger ship which offers a vast array of facilities including an infinity pool, sophisticated dining venues and no end of entertainment venues, bars and boutiques and much more besides.

 

Feature and map image: MSC Cruises

Posted in Cruise Reviews

Boudicca: A True Classic. 1 Night Cruise: Southampton To Falmouth

It had been nine years since we last sailed on Boudicca and the opportunity arose for this one night cruise from Southampton to Falmouth and we couldn’t say no. So along with our assitant editor of Cruisemarsh and founder/owner of Cruise Capital, Jordan Bailey, we decided to go ahead and book it!

 

DAY ONE: Southampton.

As per usual, sleep before a cruise of any duruation for our editor is in short supply. The excitement is too much but finally after getting a few hours shut eye, Anthony was ready for the day ahead.

After meeting Jordan at 1pm, we then headed to Mayflower Park to snap some shots of the ship berthed at the City Cruise Terminal (Berth 101) The tide was extremely high, one of the highest we’ve seen it here in Southampton, so the illusion was given she was taller than she actually was as she was sitting very high in the water.

Boudicca berthed and waiting for us at City Cruise Terminal: Image: Cruisemarsh

We then proceeded to the City Cruise Terminal to begin the check in process. It was very eerie to arrive and go through security without waiting in a long queue. It was very quiet. Although City Cruise Terminal is probably the best and easiest of the 4 terminals in Southampton. After security, we went to the check in desks, where we registered our debit cards for our onboard accounts, showed ticket and passports and got our security photo taken. It was rather quick, slick and easy and along with our boarding pass we then took a seat in the departure lounge after the obligatory welcome aboard photo from the ship’s photographer.

We were only sitting for 15 minutes maximum when our boarding pass colour and number was called and we were then invited to embark Boudicca. Very impressive. So from arriving at the terminal to stepping on board the ship, it only took 20 minutes. Now that’s slick.

Once on board, we were greeted by members of the ships crew and stewarding team who then showed us the way to our cabin.

Our cabin, 4078 was situated on Atlantic Deck, deck 4. It was an interior cabin but for the duration of the short cruise, we were hardly going to be in it. It was a tad on the small side but still a decent layout if not a little outdated with the furnishings. The bathrooom was a decent size and more modern than the actual cabin. The temperature in the cabin was stifling and with the temperature at the lowest it can go on the air conditioning, we decided to venture and explore the ship with a bite to eat.

Cabin 4078

 

Exploring the ship, it’s hard not to fall for the charms of the ship. She may be over 40 years old but that is only a number. The layout of the ship is pretty good with furnishings and interiors on the whole to a very good standard. You know you are on a Fred Olsen ship when you see the carpets in the main stairwell and cabin corridor areas. Quirky is a word that fits Boudicca well and it’s something we like.

We first of all had a bit to eat at the Secret Garden, where afternoon tea was being offered. Admittedly, this was a tad disappointing with a limited selection of things on offer and the quality not to the same standard as Cunard, P&O and Saga when it comes to Afternoon Tea musings. However, it was still nice to get something to eat.

Secret Garden

We then proceeded to explore the ship, starting from the very top, deck 10, Sun Deck. Here you found the gym, golf nets and good areas in which to sunbathe and enjoy a quiet read.

Sun Deck, Deck 10. Image: Fred Olsen

   

One deck down on Marquee Deck, deck 9, this is where the suites are situated. At the front, there is the Oberservatory Lounge where fantastic views are afforded over the bow, port and starboard with fantastically large windows. Further aft on this deck, there is a splash/swimming pool where guests can enjoy a dip and then enjoy a drink at the Marquee Bar.

Marquee Deck, deck 9: Image Fred Olsen

 

Down to Deck 7, Lido Deck (Deck 8, Bridge only had suites) and you can gain access onto the promenade deck where you can walk fully around the ship on beautiful teak decks. Whilst inside, there is the Lido Lounge, the venue for late night music and disco. Or for those who like a spot of chocolate, there is the Bookmark Cafe where you can choose from a wide selection of chocolates. In the midst of the Bookmark Cafe, there is also the library where you can pick up a book, relax and enjoy a quiet read. Also on this deck, there is the gaming tables and card room.

 

Deck 7, Lido Deck. Image: Fred Olsen

 

As we venture further down the ship, we reach Deck 6, Lounge Deck. As the name suggests, this is where the main lounges and restaurants are situated on the ship. For the nightly shows, there is the Neptune Lounge and this is situated aft on this deck with access out onto the open deck where the large swimming pool and hot tubs are situated. On the portside of this deck, situated just in front of the Neptune Lounge is the Morning Light Pub. This is where you can enjoy a nice British style pint both pre and post showtime. Moving forward on this deck are where the main restaurants are situated, including the Secret Garden, The Iceni Room, Tingatel Restaurant and the Heligan Room.

Deck 6, Lounge Deck. Image: Fred Olsen

 

 

Down to Deck 5, Main Deck and this is a deck mainly made up of cabins however the Guest Services Desk, Shore Tours Office, shops, photo shop and gallery are situated. There is also a Future Cruise Sales office and situated aft on Deck 5, there is a laundrette and meeting room.

Deck 5, Main Deck. Image: Fred Olsen

Down to Deck 4, Atlantic Deck and this is where our cabin was situated. 4078. It was an inside cabin, small but practical but really needing somewhat of a makeover as furnishings were a tad dated.

 

Deck 4, Atlantic Deck. Image: Fred Olsen

Also on Deck 4, Atlantic Deck is the Sauna and Steam Rooms and Atlantis Spa.

 

So, we managed to fully explore the ship before it was time for muster. As on every cruise ship, it is mandatory to attend the muster drill and so we proceeded to our muster station, D which was the Secret Garden/Heligan Room. After the muster drill was performed by Captain Degerlund, we then proceeded on to the outer decks for sailway.

Sailaway was more or less on time at 16.30 and we proceeded to depart from berth 101. Our companion in port that day, Azura wasn’t leaving until a little later, so it was just us making our way out into Southampton Water. The weather was wonderful on deck, if not a little windy but we didn’t let that spoil it.

We then decided it was time to go for a drink. So, we went to the Lido Lounge and I had a refreshing Pina Colada. At £4.75, it represented great value and whilst it was nice, it didn’t reach the high standards that P&O Cruises have set with their Pina Coladas but still, a very good drink.

After we were refreshed, it was time for another walk around the ship and to capture some more photos.

Dinner was a one sitting affair as it was only a one night cruise cruise. We managed to get a table for 2 in the Heligan Room and did Fred Olsen put on a menu? They sure did!! Absolutely wonderful food

Duck Pate for starters
Chicken and vegetable soup
Lamb, potatoes, green beans and mint sauce.
Chocolate fudge cake, with Vanilla ice cream.

 

After the sumptious dinner, we went for a walk around the ship before going to the Lido Lounge to listen to the live music on offer. It wasn’t very busy which was a shame for the duo who were fantastic. We stayed for around half an hour before it was time to go and see the show in the Neptune Lounge.

The show was pretty good. It was a comedian called Barnaby from Lancashire. His material was very clean and entertaining yet some of the audience were playing hard ball, which was a shame because he was funny.

After the show, we decided to go back to the Lido Lounge where we would enjoy the late night music and disco. We started having some more alcoholic drinks, which was nice. As the numbers began to wind down around 1am, the last orders was sounded and we were officially the last people out of the nightclub.

After leaving the nightclub, we practically stepped into near darkness as the lounges had their lights either switched off or were dimmed. It was rather unusual to see this on a cruise ship, it added a haunting atmopshere. That was a sign then it was time to head to bed, which we then did.

 

DAY TWO: Falmouth

After a late night, it was time for an early start as we arrived into Falmouth. We decided to go and see us sail in and whilst it was a lovely morning on deck, it was a tad on the chilly side. Still, it helped with our appetites as we then headed to the restaurant for breakfast. It was a buffet breakfast and so therefore I went for a good old Full English cooked breakfast which was very enjoyable and would me up for the long journey back to Southampton that lay ahead for us on the coach. After breakfast, we then went to collect our bags from our cabin and didn’t have long to wait until our disembarkation announcement was made.

We then made our way to the gangway and off the ship where we were whisked away to our coach. After a stop at Exeter Services for a break, we arrived back into Southampton around 2pm. The end of another cruise and the end of a tiring journey.

Whilst our time on Boudicca was short, we really enjoyed our time at sea. The ship is a wonderful example of how ships used to be built. Full of charm, character and style, she really is one of the nicest looking ships afloat and on board you know you are on board a ship.

In this instance, we are only going to give an overall score as one night on the ship doesn’t give the whole picture so we think it is more than sufficient to just give it an overall score.

OUR VERDICT:

Boudicca Scores 7 out of 10.

Really enjoyed the ship, the cruise, the staff and entertainment. It was a highly enjoyable 1 night away and good value for money too. The transfer back to Southampton was hassle-free as well and was a good decision made by us to sail on her for the one night cruise. It has only whetted our appetites for a longer cruise on her.

Well done Fred Olsen, yet another highly satisfying cruise we have experienced.

Feature Image: Cruisemarsh

Deckplan images: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

 

Posted in Cruise Reviews

Rule Britannia! 19-21 May 2017

Cruisemarsh are delighted to announce that Editor, Anthony and Assitant Editor, Christian, will be embarking P&O Cruises flagship on the 19th May for a two night weekend cruise to Zeebrugge, Belgium.

Anthony has previously sailed on Britannia but this will be the first time for Christian.

So keep a look out for our review on the cruise late next month!

Posted in Cruise Reviews

Boudicca Mini Cruise 31st March-1st April 2017

We are delighted to announce that our next cruise will be a one night mini cruise to Falmouth from Southampton on board Fred Olsen’s Boudicca.

Departing 31st March, we will spend a night on board the ship and will be able to enjoy all of Boudicca’s features and facilities before arriving in Falmouth on 1st April where we are transported by coach back to Southampton.

We endeavour to take as much photographs and videos on board and the review will be posted shortly after our return.

We are excited and the countdown has begun!

Feature Image: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Posted in Cruise Reviews

Sovereign Cruise: Palma To Lisbon, 19-22 November 2016

The thought of sailing with Pullmantur had crossed our minds quite a bit but we never really took the plunge and booked a cruise with them. That was until last September when we, Jordan,  Assistant Editor of Cruisemarsh and Editor of Cruise Captial and I decided we would test the water and book a short two night cruise on Sovereign. We would be joining the ship in Palma de Mallorca and disembarking two days later in Lisbon, Portugal. However, with flight times on the day of the cruise being extremely tight with check in for the ship, we decided that it would be best to book a hotel in Palma the night before and flight out then. That way, it would mean that we would get more time to explore a bit more of Palma.

Day One: Southampton to Palma via Gatwick:

It was an extremely early start in the early hours of the morning on Saturday 19th November. In order for us to have a smooth as possible journey, we had booked the 01.40 coach from Southampton Coach Station to London Gatwick. Our flight from London Gatwick to Palma de Mallorca was at 06.15, so it gave us plenty of time to get to the airport. The coach journey itself seemed like it was never going to end and with a toilet door that kept opening every time the coach turned a corner, it was a very frustrating couple of hours on the coach, we were extremely relieved to get to London Gatwick.

Having not expected many shops to be opened at the airport at Gatwick, we were pleasantly surprised to see that a Costa at the North Terminal was open and we duly obliged with a visit and had a lovely hot chocolate to warm us up.

With us already checked in on line, it was a pretty straightforward process through security and into the departure lounge. We were flying Easyjet and I have to admit, I was pretty dubious about them after my previous experience with them in 2007. However, these fears were unfounded and the flight actually went very smoothly, even though there was paint scraped off the plane’s fuselage and strange noises coming from the hydraulics and wheels.  It was so smooth, that we even arrived 15 minutes or so early in Palma. That was a pleasant surprise.

Once through passport control, we proceeded to exit the terminal at Palma and went to join the Number one bus that would take us from the airport into the port area of Palma, where our hotel was situated. It was 5 Euros for a single ticket and the buses were pretty clean and comfortable, so was a fairly pleasant journey from the airport into the city.

We were looking forward to trying out the hotel’s unique funichular that would transport us from close to where we got off the bus, upto the hotel. However, we found out that it wasn’t working and so had to walk up the steep hill to get to the hotel. It was well worth the walk though as our hotel was very nice indeed.

We had opted to stay in the 4 star Hotel Catalonia. With a lofty position at the top of a hill, there was fantastic views from the front of the hotel overlooking the harbour and the rest of Palma.

Check in at the hotel was pretty straightforward. It was also a bargain price of 37 Euros each for the one night stay at the hotel.  The booking was done through Booking.com and worked out extremely well indeed.  Our room unfortunately didn’t have the famed frontal sea view, however we were impressed with the size of the room and the view from the spacious balcony was pretty decent as well.  For a snip of a price, we weren’t arguing, this was a very good room.

After a drink on the hotel’s terrace and a quick nap, we decided to take the local bus into the centre and explore what Palma had to offer. We visited the famous Palma Cathedral and Palace and had a great walk through the centre of the city looking at the shops before having dinner at Burger King, which was excellent. We then took the bus back towards the hotel but got off a couple of stops later as we wanted to explore the shopping mall that was located close-by. We stocked up on supplies for the evening ahead at the local supermarket which were reasonably priced and then headed back to the hotel. We decided to chill for a little while before heading to bed at 8pm as we were absolutely shattered. We had been up a full 24 hours and we were really feeling it!

 

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The view of the hotel from the terrace.
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The view from our room.
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The view over the harbour in Palma.

 

Day 2: Embarkation Day:

After a fantastic sleep in one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in, in any given hotel, it was time to embark Pullmantur’s Sovereign. It was really quite strange going to check in for a cruise at 9.30am but that’s what we did.  We took a taxi from the hotel to the cruise terminal, which to be fair was only a 5 minute ride away but meant we didn’t have to walk down the steep hill. Once the taxi driver dropped us off at the cruise terminal, we were left quite confused. The signs for the ship weren’t clear and with disembarking passengers already congregating around the terminal, it was difficult to see where we were supposed to head to to embark the ship. 5 minutes after looking, we finally found signs to Sovereign and proceeded to a pre-check in desk. At this stage, we were asked our names and nationality and were told that we were upgraded to another cabin, so that was a nice surprise. We then gave our luggage to them and proceeded into the cruise terminal to go and collect our cruise card. Along the way, we had our embarkation photo taken as well. Once we received our cruise card, we were then invited to embark the ship and to proceed to deck 4 reception to complete check in. A rather unusual way of doing things but however, it worked.

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After completing the check in process on board, and an initial exploration,  we then proceeded to go for breakfast in Buffet Panorama, which was the lido style buffet restaurant on board. Interestingly, this was situated towards the front of the ship on deck 11. The norm usually is that lido restauarants are situated aft on a cruise ship but on Sovereign, the layout worked very well and with seating overlooking the bow, it provided great panoramas of the sea.  The choice for breakfast was good, with cooked Spanish style breakfast and traditional continental breakfast on offer. I had the cooked breakfast and really enjoyed having Spanish Omelette, I could have eaten that all day, it was so good!

The best part of embarkation day is exploring the ship and it’s always fun trying to get your bearings. Sovereign though was a pretty easy ship to find your way through. We started at the top and worked our way slowly down the decks. The former Viking Crown Lounge on deck 14 is now called 360. It offers stunning 360 degree vistas across the outer decks of the ship and the sea. A great place to enjoy a quiet drink and to admire the views on offer.

The pool deck on Sovereign is very spacious and is reminiscent of Royal Caribbean ships. Of course, Sovereign was once Sovereign of the Seas for Royal Caribbean, so it’s easy to see where the similarities lie.  She has two outdoor pools and two whirlpools. The pool sizes are generous and nicely finished with the Pullmantur logo on the base of the pool.  There are two outdoor bars within the pool area, Bar Panorama which is forward of the pools and Bar Marina which is aft of the pools. There is ample seating areas on both port and starboard sides of deck 11. The smoking area is situated on the starboard side. With refurbishment taking place, both sides would be closed at one point but at different times in order for new deck carpets to be laid. This was also being done on starboard side of deck 12 too and there was a hive of activity. However, it wasn’t a huge hindrance at all and was quite fun to watch the progress they were making.

We then proceeded to muster. This was situated in the Broadway Showlounge, which was aft on deck 5,  and was compulsory for all passengers embarking in Palma that day. It was quite a strange affair as there was only a handful in the theatre for the muster briefing from the cruise director. It was initially conducted in Spanish and then he came over to the small band of English speakers to go through it in English, although to be fair, we got the jist of what he was saying in Spanish.

Soon after, it was time to sail for Lisbon and we proceeded to deck 12 to see us sail from the berth. It was a rather low key affair with very few people on deck to see us sail. Having said that, there was very few passengers on the ship, which made it a little eerie in all honesty but was great for taking photos.

The afternoon on board was a continuation of exploring and relaxing and enjoying the all inclusive nature of the cruise. Relaxing in the bars and lounges was complimented with a nice soft drink or two before eventually deciding to have an alcoholic beverage. The bar staff were so friendly and we quickly built up rapport and banter with a trainee bar waiter and whenever he saw us again later in the cruise, he would say hello. They served with a smile on their faces and that really made a lasting impression. We also enjoyed lunch in the El Duero Restaurant. It was a buffet style lunch but there was a very good selection of food.

The main atrium of the ship is the hub centre. However, with very few passengers, it felt like a ghost ship! The stunning staircases and glass elevators created an expansive space and in between there was good shopping area on deck 5.

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We then went to rest for a little while in the cabin and to get ready for dinner that evening. Our cabin orginally was supposed to be 2957 situated on deck 2 and was an inside cabin. However, since we were upgraded at the cruise terminal in Palma, our cabin was now 6020 and was a superior outside cabin situated forward, starboard side, on deck 6. Although rather compact compared to the larger and more modern ships today, the cabin was perfectly serviceable and practical and most importantly very comfortable.

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Dinner time came around fairly quickly and we were in the El Duero Restaurant on deck 4. There is another main restaurant below on deck 3 and both were situated aft on the ship. We were dining at 19.30, however the first night was pretty much open dining and you could choose to eat anytime between 19.30 and 21.30. The restaurant was a nice size and tastefully decorated but clearly was identifiable at a former Royal Caribbean ship.  The menu for dinner had a good choice of items and courses on it and was split into various sections which made it much easier to read. This would however be a set menu for the duration of the cruise, so not much variation was available but still, the choice was good and the quality of the food was excellent. We enjoyed not having to put our hands into our pockets for our cruise card to order wine as that indeed was inclusive too. The food was presented very well indeed and the service was quick and efficient. In fact, we were only in the restaurant an hour but still had a four course dinner and drinks too! That’s what I call service!

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After dinner, it was a case of having a walk around the ship before enjoying a pre-show drink. We then went to watch the show, ‘The Voyage of Life’. It was by the resident theatre group on Sovereign and they certainly put on a show! It was more about visuals than sound and was a highly entertaining show. It was something different to see and a change from the more mainstream shows you see on board other cruise lines.

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After the show finished, we took a walk around and then decided to have a drink in Rendevous. After which, we decided to head to Zoom, the nightclub on board Sovereign. This was around 11.30pm and to be brutally honest, it wasn’t that busy. There was a few people, whom seemed to have had a tipple too many, up on the dancefloor and enjoying themselves. We just sat back, enjoyed the drinks and music and watched them dance.

It must have been about 2am by the time we got back to the cabin, after initially having a walk along the promenade to kind of clear our heads as we had both consumed a fair amount of alcohol. But when it’s all inclusive, the drink flows more freely.

Needless to say when my head hit the pillow in the cabin, I was away to the land of nod.

 

Day 3: At Sea

The second and final day of the cruise. Admitedly we did lie in after the previous night’s alcohol consumption and so therefore missed breakfast. We did however go to El Duero restaurant for buffet lunch, which again was very good, with a fair selection of food on offer.  After lunch, it was a case of exploring the ship more and taking more photos and videos for both our respective blogs. We did have the odd drink of coca cola here and there in the afternoon with the Spinaker Bar being the favourite place.

We were also taking a passing interest in the refurbishment work that was being undertaken on the upper outer decks, with the removal of old flooring and replacing it with newer flooring.

It was a fairly relaxing afternoon on board in which we played the tourist card and got the photos and videos we needed. We then had to go and hand in our passports for immigration the next day in Lisbon.

It was very eerie though as the ship was not full at all. Rumour was that there was only 200 passengers on board for the leg of the cruise between Palma and Lisbon. We therefore didn’t experience any real queues but atmosphere wise, it was rather flat. Especially in the evenings when the bars and nightclub should be busy.

We then watched us sail past Gibraltar and the African coast as we headed through the Straits of Gibraltar. Unfortunately it was overcast and misty and only got a glimpse of the Rock but was still worthwhile to head up on deck to see.  (Pics below of sailing through Straits of Gibraltar, the Rock and the African coast)

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After returning to the cabin for a brief rest, it was time for dinner and was to be frank, very hungry.  Dinner again was very nice and served very promptly. Food quality was superb and the chicken soup was again out of this world. Certainly a favourite dish.

After dinner, it was a case of having a look around the ship and having a pre show drink.  The show again was superb and was called, ‘Rock Never Dies’ which played homage to some of the biggest rock stars and bands including Guns n Roses, ACDC and Queen. The singers and dancers were superb and really felt like you were at a rock concert. I pretty much knew most of the songs, so that was a bonus!

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After the show, it was time to take some photos of the ship and the outer decks at night. We had to brave the squally weather though!

 

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After our walk around the outer decks to get some photos, it was time to head to Zoom for a few drinks and to enjoy the music from the DJ. Again, as the ship wasn’t full, neither was the nightclub. There was a few brave souls up on the dance floor but we only spent about an hour and a half in the nightclub before deciding to call it a night and head back to the cabin.  (below are two pics from the nightclub)

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Day 4: At Sea/Lisbon/Disembarkation

So, it was sadly our last morning on board Sovereign and was quite a strange feeling that we were still at sea was we approached our final destination of Lisbon. It was therefore a very leisurely morning as we didn’t have to vacate our cabin until 12 noon. We therefore managed to make breakfast in the restaurant before walking around the ship taking final photos as we headed into Lisbon.  (Photos below of approach to Lisbon)

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The final approach to Lisbon is just stunning. With the April 25th Bridge spanning the river and the Cristo Rei Statue (Jesus Christ) overlooking the  bridge from its hilltop vantage point, it is a wonderful city to sail into. The sun was shining but unfortunately the wind wasn’t doing us any favours and felt quite chilly up on the forward decks as we approached the bridge.

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We did spot a couple of cruise ships  berthed in Lisbon. Grand Circle Cruise Line’s Corinthian and P&O Cruises Arcadia.  We got a much better view of Arcadia as we berthed right behind her in central Lisbon.

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Well, it was time then to head to the El Duero for one last meal on board before we would head to collect our passports and then proceed to the showlounge to wait until we were called to disembark the ship. Thankfully, it was only a 5 minute wait before we were advised we could disembark the ship.  It was time to leave and with sadness as we really enjoyed our two nights on board.

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Disembarkation was relatively straight forward although the gangway didn’t seem very stable!

Once dockside, after taking a few bow shots of Sovereign, we proceeded to the terminal tent where our luggage was being held after it was landed from the ship.

We then proceeded to go to the local train station and to take a train to go and see the laid up Portuscale Cruises ships, Porto and Funchal which were berthed in a suburb of Lisbon. After getting to grips with the ticket machine, we proceeded to embark the train, which was a double decker one. After a few minutes wait, we were on our way and it didn’t take long until we reached Braco de Prata, the station where we would get off. With our suitcases in tow, the paths around the station and down towards the docks were not great and neither was the area which was in general decline. To be honest, the walk to see Porto and Funchal and back to Braco de Prata station wasn’t pleasant. It was nice to see the ships but the trip in itself wasn’t worth it. After which, we then took the train back into Lisbon where we caught a connecting metro to the airport.

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We arrived at Lisbon Airport in good time and after proceeding through security, we grabbed a McDonalds as we had sufficient time before we had to board the plane. Time soon passed and we were on board the flight and on our way back to Gatwick. The flight was fairly smooth with the odd bit of turbulence but nothing of any real significance.  We arrived back at Gatwick safe and sound before proceeding through passport control and then to Costa for a hot chocolate and piece of cake.  It wasn’t a long wait before we were on the coach back to Southampton. We finally reached the flat at just after 3am. It was some hectic weekened but wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It was an experience which was highly enjoyable and one we would reccommend.

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Ratings: Marks out of 10. 1 being poor, 10 being superb. 

Accomodation:  5/10

Cabin was practical and clean but on the small side. Bit dated as still was in same design as she was when she was with Royal Caribbean International as Sovereign of the Seas.

Bars and Lounges: 7.5/10

Good selection of bars and lounges to choose from, with 360 Bar and Lounge the pinnacle of the lounges with fantastic vistas over the ship and out to sea.

Recreation: 7/10

Good amount of deck space and outdoor activities on offer. Swimming pools are of a good size.

Entertainment: 7.5/10

Good entertainment on offer with the shows in particular a highlight. The cabaret acts and singers around the lounges cater for the Spanish markets and tastes whereas the main shows were in English and Spanish.

Service: 8/10

Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and crew, Smiles on their faces, they were very friendly and courteous.

Value for Money: 9/10

For what you pay, you get a lot of holiday for your money. With the drinks being mainly all inclusive, small surcharge to upgrade to premium brands, there wasn’t any need to be penny watching. For a cruise experience, it gives a lot of value for money.

Family Friendly:  6/10

Pullmantur embrace a family atmosphere on their ships and that was no different on Sovereign. There are kids clubs and teens clubs to keep the younger passengers happy whilst the adults are enjoying themselves during the day. Although the ship wasn’t anywhere near full, it was hard to gauge how many families were on board but there wasn’t many children. On longer cruises, that surely will increase and the numbers of families will be greater.

Overall rating: 7.1/10

A good and enjoyable cruise experience which has provided a lot of food for thought. A product that clearly offers a great product at value for money prices. A predominantly Spanish clientiele, there is still an international feel about the ship as most of the crew and staff were multi-lingual and could speak Spanish, English and French.  A few issues with embarking procedures, the refurbishment program being undertaken and the lack of passengers on board were the only downsides to the cruise. If we were to reccommend Pullmantur to people who were thinking of sailing with them, we would highly reccommend them and indeed we ourselves will look to sail on one of their ships again in the future but on a longer itinerary.

 

 

 

Posted in Cruise Reviews

Pullmantur Sovereign Mini-Cruise 20th-22nd November

We are excited to be joining Pullmantur’s Sovereign in Palma on the 20th November, along with Cruise Capital.

We will be taking many photos when we are on board and will be posting them on here when we arrive back in the UK.

Also look out for our Facebook Live posts on our Cruisemarsh Facebook Page where we aim to film sail away from Palma and also a tour around the ship.

The countdown is well and truly on. 2 weeks this Sunday!

 

Feature image of Sovereign: Courtesy of Pullmantur.