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Cruise Blogs

Our cruise blogs are all written by consultants from the Cruise Republic. Get updated on cruising news, cruise reviews and the latest cruise deals with the blogs below.

Stow Away with Sarah

  • Getting to Know the Queen

    Posted 11 Mar 2014

    Cunard's ships always evoke a bit of old-world glamour, a glimpse of the heyday of the great ocean liners which carried passengers across the Atlantic and all over the world when ships were the preferred method of travel. This has always appealed to my more romantic side, so I jumped at the chance to spend five nights aboard the Queen Elizabeth as she made her way from Auckland to Sydney via the Bay of Islands, arriving in Sydney in time to celebrate Mardi Gras weekend.

    I boarded the ship at Auckland's newest cruise terminal, Shed 10 on Queen's Wharf. The check-in process was streamlined and easy. I simply handed my luggage to staff at the terminal who labelled it with my name and cabin number, then handed over my passport and set up my onboard account with my credit card at the check in counter. After receiving my Cruise Card and going through customs, I was away and free to explore the ship. The quick and easy check-in procedure was much appreciated by me and other passengers, as it meant a stress-free start to the holiday. I also found the tender process easy when I got off the ship to wander through the shops and markets in Paihia. After breakfast I got my tender ticket and waited for the staff to call my number. I only had to wait about five minutes before my number was called and the next tender was ready to ferry us across.

    The ship! My first impression was one of elegance and beauty, which was due to the lovely artwork, polished wood, plush carpets and the chandeliers. My cabin on deck six had a balcony and plenty of space for me to stretch out when I wasn't out and about, which wasn't often. The cupboards had a lot of hanging space, which is great for the dresses required for formal nights, but there wasn't much in the way of drawer space. I found the bed comfortable and loved being able to sit out on my balcony with a book and get a bit of fresh air. A favourite feature was the moveable partitions between the balconies- so when my friend in the cabin next door and I wanted a few drinks together on the balcony we could combine balconies and had more space to share.

    Over the next five days, when I wasn't exploring the gorgeous and sunny Bay of Islands during the port stop, I was exploring the ship and taking advantage of its many facilities. The Queen Elizabeth has two swimming pools on deck nine, the Pavilion and the Lido as well as four whirlpool spas. Deck eleven has a games area and I really enjoyed trying my hand at croquet and bowls- which again felt a little old-fashioned and fitting with the style of a Cunard cruise. There is also a tennis court and a giant chess board, as well as a library for the readers.

    I gave the spa a go on day 4, and took advantage of one of the daily specials which are advertised in the daily newsletter. It is very important to read these as they often contain very useful information! My massage was wonderful. I also found the Garden Lounge a great place to go to relax, drink a smoothie or a few cocktails, and read a book. Almost as good as a spa treatment!

    Organised activities, shows and events is one area where Cunard really shines, with traditional cruising activities and new ventures. The very popular Cunard High Tea was certainly a highlight, served by white-gloved waiters and complete with cucumber sandwiches and scones. There was a band playing beautiful background music, and it truly felt like an experience of times gone by. Bingo was also a lot of fun. Dancing is an important part of life onboard a Cunard ship, especially ballroom, so I had to try out some ballroom and latin dancing in the Queen's Room. It was a great way to interact with other passengers- and some of them could really dance!

    The Royal Court Theatre has an array of shows, with entertainment every night. I caught a movie there one afternoon, and on different evenings during the cruise I saw a broadway-style musical, a local kiwi musician and a Traditional Aboriginal Dance show. All were wonderful and I loved the variety.

    The main dining room where I ate a lot of my delicious meals is the lovely Britannia restaurant, but I also tried out the Verandah, a french-inspired restaurant which is just divine! I tried the pan-seared scallops with lime butter and herb printed pasta with truffle emulsion, and loved it all. The surcharge here is charged per dish. My favourite lunch spot was the Golden Lion Pub, which is pretty unique to Cunard. It is included in the cruise fare, and serves up real English pub cuisine. My favourite traditional dish was the fish and chips complete with mushy peas. It was a fantastic atmosphere and they even had a great band playing over lunchtime.

    I stayed a night in Sydney, so had the chance to get off the ship and do some shopping!Disembarkation on Sunday was as easy as embarkation, so I was quickly on my way, sad to be leaving but grateful for the experience and the opportunity to have learnt more about Cunard and the Queen Elizabeth.

    Have a look here for upcoming Queen Elizabeth cruises!

  • Are you worried about getting seasick?

    Posted 30 May 2013

    Won't book a cruise because you're worried about the constant movement?

    The cruise ships these days have stabilizers which help a ship move more smoothly and will reduce passengers getting seasick. Cruise ship stabilizers extend out below the water line on the port (left) and starboard (right) hand sides of the ship. They prevent it from rolling to the left and right as it moves through the water. Although no stabilizers can prevent 100 percent of a cruise ship's movement, they can significantly reduce it. This is especially desireable in rough conditions when the waves are high or the wind is strong. 

    The key to stop seasickness is that as soon as you notice you have symptoms, do something about it! There are many options out there that really help with this several of which you could try before having to try tablets. The first option you could try are the Acupressure bands. They are bands that are made of elastic and material and looks a lot like a thick hair tie on both of your wrists and they have a round button that you position on the inner wrist. The second option you could try is Ginger which you can eat and it will help to stop any feeling of nausea and the third option you could try is a Patch. What you do is apply the patch behind your ear and it releases an active substance that helps through the skin and into the bloodstream to stop the side affects you get from seasickness.

    Here are some other good tips to avoid getting sea sick...

    • When you going through the booking process please ask us for a cabin in the middle of the ship - this is the best place to be because this is the most stable part of the ship. 
    • Stay busy! Concentrate on something else to keep your mind otherwise occupied. Sometimes it is mind over matter
    • Get some fresh air - you will be able to find a quiet spot onboard the open decks with a view out to the horizon. By focusing 
    • Avoid excessive alcohol as this has a direct effect on your vestibular system and depending on the degree of consumption you may be made to feel dizzy anytime you or the boat moves, especially with overindulgence.
  • Princess Cruises to Base Ship Year Round in San Francisco

    Posted 11 May 2012

    Princess Cruises has announced that for the first time they will base a ship in San Francisco year round, beginning in May 2013!!

    The extensively renovated Grand Princess will first offer a series of Alaska cruises during the summer months from the "City by the Bay," followed by a schedule of Hawaiian Islands, Mexico and the California Coast sailings during the fall 2013 to spring 2014 season.
    Last year the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess underwent the largest drydock in Princess Cruises history, adding a host of new features so that passengers will enjoy the same onboard experience as offered by the line's other newer ships. "Princess has been cruising from San Francisco nearly as long as our company has been in operation, so we have a rich history with the city, and we are the leading cruise line homeporting there," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "Our Bay Area passengers have long been asking for more cruise options from San Francisco and our new year-round schedule with Grand Princess will now give them a great selection of itinerary choices, plus the benefit of sailing on a ship that offers our signature features and amenities." "Princess ships have been cruising from San Francisco for more than 40 years, and we greatly appreciate the company's longstanding partnership with our city," said Monique Moyer, executive director of the Port of San Francisco. "We are delighted to now have our first year-round ship based here, and it is a natural fit that the vessel is the caliber of Grand Princess. Having this ship sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and berth at the foot of Coit Tower will be spectacular, both for the passengers on board and the people of San Francisco." During the 2013-14 season Grand Princess will sail roundtrip from San Francisco to: Alaska -- Grand Princess' first Alaska season features 10-day Inside Passage sailings. The ship will offer 13 voyages featuring the stunning scenery of Glacier Bay National Park or Tracy Arm, with calls at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria. Cruises depart between May 10 and September 7, 2013. Mexico -- Grand Princess will offer two sailings on a new 10-day itinerary to Mexico, featuring two new ports for Princess -- Loreto and La Paz, both in Baja California. Passengers will also enjoy calls at Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Sailings depart on September 17, 2013 and March 5, 2014. California Coastal -- An increasingly popular Princess itinerary, Grand Princess will take passengers to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Diego, and Ensenada. Four sailings are offered on September 27 and October 19, 2013; plus March 15 and April 6, 2014. Hawaiian Islands -- Passengers can explore each of the main Hawaiian islands on this 15-day voyage to the Big Island (Hilo), Oahu (Honolulu), Kauai (Nawiliwili), Maui (Lahaina), and Ensenada. Grand Princess will offer 12 departures between October 4, 2013 and April 28, 2014. During last year's drydock Grand Princess added a variety of passenger amenities, including a completely new Piazza atrium, several new eateries -- including Alfredo's Pizzeria and the Crown Grill -- and the line's first specialty tea lounge called Leaves. Also included in the renovation were a remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner's Martini Lounge and a new nightclub, The One5.

    Grand Princess will offer Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and California Coast Sailings

    Please call me today to talk about cruises on the Grand Princess on 1300 44 00 26 (AUS) or 0800 12 21 29 (NZ)! Let us know in the comments below on Facebook

  • Whilst onboard your cruise why not start thinking about your next one...

    Posted 25 Apr 2012

    The benefits of doing this are that when you have decided on a cruise you would like to take:

    1. If you have prepaid your Future Cruise Deposit and now decided on the cruise you wish to book you can contact us and we can book it for you at our specially discounted fares

    2. You can use your Future Cruise Deposit to confirm your booking - In many cases that will confirm your booking until balance payment is due

    3. In addition to any onboard credits we are offering you will also receive any onboard credit that the cruise line have offered you by prepaying your Future Cruise Deposit

    A fantastic offer that many cruise lines have available is whilst you are onboard one cruise you have the opportunity to prepay a reduced deposit towards your next cruise! Many of the cruise lines only require a $100.00 deposit per person to do this. In most instances you don't even have to choose a specific sailing at that time and with many of the cruise lines you have up to 4 years to decide and book your next cruise! As a general rule and if you do already know the next cruise you want to book, most lines will offer you the lowest currently available pricing, along with some form of extra savings as well as onboard credit. You simply choose the ship, sailing date and accommodations, and provide the line with a deposit, and they will send the confirmation of your new booking to your current travel agent

    So when you are onboard your next cruise and you are having such a fantastic time don't forget to pop down to see the Future Cruise Sales desk onboard and find out what they can offer you for your next cruise!

    If you have any queries about Future Cruise Sales please call me today on 1300 44 00 26 (AUS) or 0800 12 21 29 (NZ)! Let us know in the comments below on Facebook

  • Rhapsody of the Seas Refurbishment

    Posted 27 Mar 2012

    One of our most loved ships Rhapsody of the Seas is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar refurbishment! This is the third Royal Caribbean ship to receive these upgrades in recent times, meaning that Rhapsody of the Seas will be able to compete with bigger and newer ships coming down to New Zealand and Australia in this competitive cruise market.

    The list of upgrades include

    • Five new specialty dining venues
      • Chops Grille
      • Giovanni’s Table
      • Park Café
      • Izumi
      • Chef’s Table
    • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery
    • Diamond Lounge for Crown and Anchor Society members
    • Concierge lounge for suite guests
    • New furniture
    • New carpets
    • New upholstery
    • Renovated staterooms

    “Rhapsody of the Seas has been a tremendous success in Australia and New Zealand where she has carried over 175,000 guests and developed a very loyal following. Now we’re adding a host of extra innovations and popular features to really raise the bar for local fans. Originally scheduled for only a two-week ‘drydock’ for regular maintenance, we have since extended the project to four weeks in order to allow more extensive enhancements across the entire ship, including dining, cabins, entertainment and technology.” says Royal Caribbean's Commercial Manager Adam Armstrong

    To book or check availability please call me today on 1300 44 00 26 (AUS) or 0800 12 21 29 (NZ)! Let us know in the comments below on Facebook

  • Holland America Line Enrichment Programme

    Posted 2 Mar 2012

    When Holland America started its "Signature of Excellence" program many years ago, the initial improvements were all about structural changes to the ships only. But more recently, the line has shifted its focus to improving the onboard experience. One of the best new enhancements is to the line's onboard Enrichment Programme. Some of the fantastic Enrichment Programmes that Holland America are currently offering are:

    Dance programme:
    Dance directors are also an integral part of this new programme. They will offer classes on most sailings. They will teach guests to learn a variety of dance moves, from modern to traditional. Guests will then get the opportunity to practice their steps in a variety of dance venues throughout the ship.

    Culinary Arts programme:
    Holland America Line’s Culinary Arts Center Program will host more than 60 celebrated chefs, cookbook authors and television personalities this year. Among them are "The Next Food Network Star" personality Serena Palumba, "Top Chef: Just Desserts" participant Zac Young, and Chef Tony Maws, winner of the 2011 James Beard Award for "Best Chef: Northeast."
    The Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine magazine, hosts demonstrations in a full show kitchen as well as tastings, question-and-answer sessions and hands-on classes which are conducted by top chefs, wine experts and leading cookbook authors.
    "The Culinary Arts Center is at the core of Holland America Line's enrichment program and each year we bring on board the most talented and entertaining culinary experts in their field," said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line's executive vice president of marketing, sales and guest programmes. "We want our guests to have a special experience that makes them want to go home and tell friends and family they learned how to make a new dish from a well-known chef."

    Book Lovers programme:

    On some of Holland America's longer itineraries, they will also run a book club during the cruise. Hosted by a book club leader passengers will discuss pre-selected titles. Guests on these voyages can check with Holland America before departure to find out which book(s) will be discussed during their sailing, so they can read them in advance. Often the books will relate to the destinations visited during the voyage, such as "Path Between the Seas" on a Panama Canal sailing. Once onboard, participants can join discussion groups in the Explorations Café to benefit from the added insights of fellow passengers.

    Explorations programme:
    On some of their voyagers like ones to Europe, Alaska and Panama Canal Holland America will arrange for a travel or destination specialist who will be an expert on the regions the ship is visiting. In many cases, they will have expertise beyond just the destination's geography for example a wildlife naturalist on Alaska sailings, a Panama Canal historian on crossing voyages, an archeologist on Europe sailings, etc.The destination lecturer will not only give talks and presentations while onboard, but also maintain desk hours to answer passengers' questions. Working with the Shore Excursions staff, they will be able to provide knowledgeable recommendations on how guests should spend their time in port, based on their individual circumstances and possible limitations.

    Microsoft Experts

    Finally, there's something new called the "Techspert." Holland America have a partnership with Microsoft, these "techsperts" will teach passengers to use software products that will help them make the most of their voyage and share the results with friends and family back home. They will offer workshops onboard will cover such topics as preparing a digital scrapbook, setting up photo slideshows, editing videos, setting up a travel website, and using it to blog or write a journal about their cruise adventures.

    To book or check availability please call me today on 1300 44 00 26 (AUS) or 0800 12 21 29 (NZ)! Let us know in the comments below on Facebook
  • Calling all Families...!

    Posted 11 Jan 2012

    Pacific Dawn - Oceanview cabin

    P&O have announced that their ship the Pacific Dawn will soon be offering interconnecting cabins for families! We here at Cruise Republic are all very excited about this news as one request we get alot is for interconnecting cabins onboard the P&O ships especially from larger families with young children. In addition to the interconnecting cabins P&O are also adding a giant entertainment screen on deck and upgraded dining facilities!
    A popular option with Australasian cruisers, the Pacific Dawn will also offer upgraded mini suites and suites with new furniture and artwork by Sydney photographer Tony Rae, and revamped
    venues including the Show Lounge, buffet and La Luna restaurant. Meanwhile, the Baccus Bar will be transformed into the Mix Cocktail Bar, as seen on the Pacific Pearl and Jewel,
    and the Bengal Bar will become the Orient Pub, featuring sporting memorabilia and a range of draught beers and ciders.
    This will all take place when she goes into dry dock in April 2012.
    To book or check availability please call me today on 1300 44 00 26 (AUS) or 0800 12 21 29 (NZ)! Let us know in the comments below on Facebook

  • P&O Pacific Pearl - New Cruises ex Auckland for 2013!

    Posted 18 Dec 2011

    P&O Cruises have announced that due to increased demand they have now extended the number of cruises out of Auckland for the 2013 season!! They have added a 10 Night Island Fiesta cruise, a 9 Night Island Gems cruise, a 4 Night Short Break cruise making it the longest and biggest season ever for Kiwis!
    The Island cruises offer some fantastic ports of call in Vanuatu and New Caledonia whilst the Short Break Cruise heads to Sydney.

    To book or check availability please call me today on 1300 44 00 26 (AUS) or 0800 12 21 29 (NZ)! Let us know in the comments below on Facebook
  • Do I need a passport to cruise?

    Posted 10 Nov 2011

    Do you need a passport to cruise?

    The simple answer is yes. All passengers will need a passport to be able to embark on their cruise.

    For international cruises (cruises that visit a foreign port), passports are required for all passengers and must be valid for a minimum of 6 months after you disembark the ship.

    The only exception to this rule is for an Australian resident travelling on a domestic cruise (cruises that do not visit a foreign port), a government issued photo identification is required (Queensland Proof of Age cards are not be accepted). For Australian passengers, a current Medicare card can be used for passengers under 18 years of age. For New Zealand passengers, an original or certified copy of the child’s birth certificate or a school pass with photo will be accepted.

    Do you have any other questions? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or drop us a line on 1300 44 00 26 (AUS) or 0800 12 21 29 (NZ).
  • Dining times on Royal Caribbean

    Posted 25 Oct 2011

    Dining can play a very important role in making someone's holiday. Our team here at Cruise Republic and Royal Caribbean also understand this which is why they offer their guests 3 choices of dining times. They still offer the traditional First seating at 6pm, Second Seating at 8.30pm and the third option is My Time Dining.
    The traditional dining times of 6pm and 8.30pm are best suited to those passengers who love the traditional aspect of getting to dine at the same time each evening with the same people.
    The My Time Dining options provides guests with the flexibility to dine anywhere between 6pm and 9.30pm each evening. This is a fantastic option for passengers who
    enjoy meeting new people (as you are not always seated at the same table each evening) and like having the flexibility to dine at a time that will suit them. Passengers who do wish to confirm My Time Dining must prepay their gratuities.

    Important note: Royal Caribbean only allow a certain number of passengers to be confirmed on any one dining option before departure so we recommend booking your cruise early to secure the cabin and dining option you want! If however when you book your cruise, Royal Caribbean have reached their maximum number of passengers on your preferred dining option then you will need to speak with the maitre'd onboard and see what they can do.
  • Have you booked a cabin but don't have a cabin number yet?

    Posted 19 Oct 2011

    This is what the cruise lines call booking on a Guarantee basis.

    Often when cruise lines are offering special deals on cabins they put the category on a “Guarantee”. What that means is that you are Guaranteed a cabin in the category you pay for or potentially higher - meaning there is a chance you could receive a free upgrade to a higher priced category and could be placed anywhere on the ship (forward, aft or midships). The cabins are allocated at the discretion of the cruise line and normally are not allocated until closer to sailing. Once a cabin number has been allocated to you it is near impossible to have it changed.

    If there is a particular position or cabin you need on the ship I would not recommend you book on a guarantee basis. For example if you know you suffer from motion sickness, I would recommend paying a little bit more and choose a cabin in the midship area and making sure you get a cabin number on booking. If you are travelling with family and friends who are cruising in another cabin and need to be close together I would also not recommend booking on a guarantee basis as even though we advise the cruise line that you are travelling together there is not guarantee you will even be allocated cabins on the same deck.

    Is a guarantee for you? If the cruise line is offering a guarantee at a lower price than the least expensive assigned cabin, and you don't mind about where you will be positioned on the ship, then I would definitely recommend it.You are, after all, guaranteed to get at least what you paid for, and you just might be lucky and get that great upgrade. It does happen sometimes.

    My number one rule for booking guarantees: Don't book a guarantee in any given category unless you would be happy with a cabin in that category! In other words, if you will not be happy with anything less than a suite, don't book an inside guarantee (hoping that you would get a free upgrade to a suite).