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Keen for a new travel adventure? Can you imagine yourself cruising the great rivers of Europe? Gliding past the medieval castles and lush riverbank vineyards on a luxurious river cruise ship as it winds its way through some of the most beautiful sights and delivers you to Europe’s most celebrated towns & cities.

If that sparks the wanderlust in you then now is the time to pick up the brand new 2018 Avalon Waterways’ brochure from your local travel agent and start planning a European river cruise.

Just one year ago this month, New Zealand’s very own Judy Bailey became the godmother of Avalon’s newest ship as she took part in its inaugural cruise and officially christened it; Avalon Imagery II.

The Avalon Imagery II is just one of 12 revolutionary Avalon Suite ships in their European fleet of 15 ships offering casual luxury and amazing travel experiences on the waterways of Europe.  These new ships are so innovative in their design that guests get to experience Europe from a unique and intimate perspective.

If you are a seasoned cruise traveller or if this is your very first voyage, you’ll find the Avalon Waterway’s experience something very special. If you’ve never enjoyed the delights of river cruising, you’ll be sold on the way Europe’s best arrives at your expansive Open Air Balcony.

And that’s part of the Avalon difference - losing a tiny exterior balcony off your room to incorporate the space inside your Panorama Suite and provide floor to ceiling expansive windows that open back to let the outside in. And Avalon’s Panorama Suites have been cleverly designed so the bed faces the view so you wake up to a new European vista every morning.

Avalon Suite Ships are modern and clever in their design, allowing them to feel significantly bigger than others. With two full decks of Panorama Suites offering 30% more space than staterooms on standard river cruising ships, Avalon has allowed for greater comfort along with the views.

And there is an extra incentive for picking up a brochure hot off the press and getting your 2018 booking in early, with great offers available until 6 June this year.

Last year Avalon offered an air credit deal and it was so well received the company has bought it back by popular demand. Depending on the cruise itinerary and departure dates, early bookings will be rewarded with air credits of up to $2,500 per couple on European cruises.

Also new for 2018, Avalon Active cruises will be introduced on the Rhine River. It’s an interactive and energetic option for the more adventurous traveller.

Beginning in Amsterdam, guests can choose an energetic guided running tour, bike rides along the spectacular Rhine, participate in adrenaline fuelled re-enactments of the Roman Games or even climb the steps to Marksburg Castle to experience exceptional views over the river & vistas below. 

After breath-taking excursions through aromatic orchards or vibrant city streets, guests can retreat toward the comfort of their ship. Evenings spent cruising the Rhine, dining whilst surrounded by panoramic views or spotting castles on the hillsides from the sky deck are all part of an Avalon Waterways holiday.

 

Ask your Mondo Travel cruise specialist for the latest itineraries or brochures!

0800 110 108

 

submitted by -- Gayle

When Celebrity Solstice, the region’s highest rated cruise ship*, departs Auckland on 24 April to migrate to warmer climates, she marks the conclusion of an historic cruise season for New Zealand and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

The cruise company brought three lines and an unprecedented seven ships to Australia and New Zealand this season, including superliner Ovation of the Seas, which broke all the records when she arrived at Kiwi shores.

Ovation of the Seas cost USD$1 billion to build, weighing in at 168,666 GRT with capacity for close to 5000 passengers and 1500 crew, making her by far the biggest and most technologically sophisticated cruise ship to ever call this region home.

With 17 visits to ports including Dunedin, Picton, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland and Paihia, the inaugural local season has been declared a major success. The 358m long giant has also been confirmed to return here in December 2017 for a longer season.

Adam Armstrong, Managing Director AU & NZ, says that bringing the largest and most advanced vessel drew new crowds to the market.

“What we have learned is that there is a demand for cruises to New Zealand on a large feature-rich ship like Ovation of the Seas, which has validated our decision to invest in this market. SuperCruising has now emerged as an all new category.”

It was also a record breaking season for the cruise line in terms of overall passengers. More than 300,000 guests sailed on seven ships during the 2016/17 summer cruise season.

A quarter of those guests – around 75,000 - sailed itineraries that visited New Zealand.  This injected an estimated $40 million in passenger spend alone into New Zealand’s regional economies.

Australians made up the core demographic of cruisers to New Zealand at 60%, while the other 40% saw a number of nationalities including from the US, Europe, UK, and of course Kiwis themselves.

In addition to Ovation, Royal Caribbean Cruises also brought Radiance of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Celebrity Solstice, and Azamara Journey for a total of 133 NZ port visits. 

Boutique cruise ship Azamara Journey made her maiden voyage to NZ this season bringing its destination focussed style of cruising to our shores, showcasing our beautiful country with the brand’s signature longer stays and more authentic local experiences.

Returning fresh from an all-encompassing makeover, Azamara Journey’s revitalisation saw the addition of new venues and technologies, a beautiful redesign and rework of her suites and staterooms, a complete refresh of all public spaces and pervasive wi-fi throughout. 

The region’s favourite and highest rated cruise ship, Celebrity Solstice, celebrated a milestone sailing her fifth consecutive local season, fresh from a stunning makeover. Additions included the first Tiffany & Co store at sea for the region, beautiful cabanas on the famed real grass Lawn Club, and an outdoor movie screen to host her new film and gastronomic experience, “A Taste of Film” for guests.

Royal Caribbean is reminding travellers to book their 2017/18 season cruises early as spaces sell out fast. Simply contact your Mondo Travel specialist for information on forward itineraries!

 

www.mondotravel.co.nz

T: 0800 110 108

 

submitted by -- Gayle

Carnival Cruise Line has raised a glass to the success of Australia’s first bespoke cruise beer – ThirstyFrog Summer Ale, with almost 200,000 schooners enjoyed at sea since the refreshing craft ale was launched three years ago.

Created in partnership with The Lord Nelson Brewery, ThirstyFrog Summer Ale has proved one of the most popular beers on Australia-based ships Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend.

Celebrating the three-year milestone at a special event at Sydney’s The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel on the United States’ National Beer Day (April 7), Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Beverage Operations Eddie Allen said ThirstyFrog Summer Ale had paved the way for the cruise line to work with similar breweries around the world.

“As a nation of beer lovers, it’s no surprise that ThirstyFrog Summer Ale has been a huge hit on our Australia-based ships Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend.  We worked closely with The Lord Nelson Brewery to create a quality beer that Australians would appreciate and enjoy during a holiday at sea,” Mr Allen said.

“Following the success of Australia’s summer ale, we’ve rolled out similar partnerships with no less than 10 local craft breweries in homeports in the States. And because our guests have such a penchant for craft beer, we’ve even taken the process to sea with the craft brewery on Carnival Vista proving to be a huge hit. We expect similar results when Carnival Horizon debuts with her own onboard brewery.”

ThirstyFrog Summer Ale, which takes its name from the RedFrog pubs featured across Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet, is only available on tap onboard Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend. The beer is a 100 per cent natural ale, which combines Australian and American hops to create subtle malt flavours and floral citrus aromas in a thoroughly drinkable beer, which was designed to capture the spirit of a holiday at sea.

Since the beer was launched on the cruise line’s Australia-based ships in 2014, Carnival Cruise Line has become one of The Lord Nelson Brewery’s biggest outlets in Australia. 

Ask your Mondo cruise specialist about the itineraries!

 

submitted by -- Gayle

Richard Fain, the chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, is willing to bet $5 billion that he can take everything you know about cruising and flip it upside down. Or at least outside in.

On Monday, he and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises - one of three brands in the Royal Caribbean family - announced a new category of ship that, among other transformational design moves, brings stateroom balconies indoors. With a push of a button, the floor-to-ceiling windows of Celebrity Edge-class staterooms retract like a super-sleek garage door, leaving nothing but a simple glass railing between your living room furniture and the crystal-blue sea.

Portholes and balconies are set to become a thing of the past. At least, that's what Fain and Lutoff-Perlo are betting on.

These balconies on-demand are just one of the first-to-market design features raising the price tag of Edge-class ships to $1 billion a piece. Here's what else to expect on these tricked-out ocean liners, which are packed with enough bells and whistles to make even the most fervent anti-cruiser consider a trip on the high seas.

"Infinite" Verandas

By redefining the balcony, Celebrity is able to expand cabins right up to the edge of the ship - almost like an infinity pool. As a result, stateroom floor plans are (on average) 23 percent larger than before, with bathrooms gaining an extra 20 percent of square footage.

A Magic Carpet Ride

Imagine a mini-deck that is the length of a tennis court which hovers off the edge of the ship, moving up and down along a vertical track almost like an elevator. That's the Magic Carpet, a new public space that will serve different purposes at different times of the day - a stylish disembarkation point. a lunch spot with wraparound views, an extension to the pool area (sometimes with a DJ), a fine dining restaurant that's cantilevered over the sea. 

Floating Villas With Private Plunge Pools

Suites have traditionally made up 5 percent of Celebrity's room stock; on Edge ships, they'll represent 12 percent of the accommodations. Included are six duplex villas that shed the traditional décor you'll find on, say, luxury cruise line Cunard's two-floor suites-instead, they have private plunge pools and direct access to the one of the ship's sundecks. Eucalyptus-treated cashmere mattresses from Italy, Bulgari bath amenities, butler service, packing and unpacking support, and a bar that's set up based on your own preferences: They're just a few of the signature amenities for suite guests.

Mobile-Controlled Everything

Wearables are a thing of the past. On the Edge ships, you'll be able to do everything on your phone, from checking in to unlocking your stateroom door or controlling your room's temperature and lighting. It all happens via a proprietary Celebrity app, which also puts the concierge, ship map, and daily event schedule in each guest's pocket.

The Ultimate Adult "Playscape"

The so-called resort deck on the Celebrity Edge ships takes the adult pool concept to a whole new level. The pool itself (The Solarium) is enclosed by a tessellated, glass-like dome for all-weather access. It  leads to a rooftop garden landscaped with sculptural trees and maintained by a dedicated horticulturist so that it can be used for parties (think live music, wine, and blankets) or dinner-and-a-movie nights.

The Bottom Line

Lutoff-Perlo and Fain both talk about the Edge class as an evolution in modern luxury, capable of drawing more affluent younger travelers and converting them into cruisers.

"When you have to sign a contract for $5 billion, your hand shakes. But now that I've seen the design, my hand no longer shakes," said Fain. And Lutoff-Perlo indicated there's more to come. "Every new feature needs to be a must-see, must-have experience-that's true of all these additions, along with several more amazing things we'll be revealing later on," she teased.

Want to get a spot on the inaugural sailing? Bookings are officially open for the first ship's maiden voyage, departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Dec. 16, 2018, for a week-long Caribbean circuit.

GET IN TOUCH NOW - Space is guaranteed not to last - Call us on 0800 110 108!

As reported by The Herald and Washington Post

submitted by -- Gayle

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth is to be based in Australia for a record two months to accommodate the growing demand for local cruises on the luxury cruise line's ships.

Seven cruise options offer destinations such as: New Zealand, South Australia, Tasmania, departing Sydney and Melbourne February-April 2019.

The cruises are a major highlight of the Cunard's 2019 World Voyage program due for release mid-March 2017.

 

submitted by -- Gayle

We've often heard people discussing their upcoming cruise and debating whether to try and sneek the odd bottle of alcohol onboard with them.

All we can say is: DON'T!

Much like airlines, cruise companies have cottoned onto the fact that travellers will sometimes go to great lengths to get that bottle of Jim Beam or Smirnoff into their cabin without detection. Over the years, they have uncovered a raft of attempted deceptions ... decanting drinks into mouthwash bottles, having specific containers made up, stashing vodka in makeup bottles and more!

Do you really want the shame of holding up the queue on embarkation day while you are made to hand over your illegal booze? Will you be able to show your red face again that night at dinner?

Not only do you stand a darn good chance of losing the alcohol that's just been discovered, you'll then be forced to pay for your drinks on top of losing your stash! Would have been cheaper to just pay the bar tab and be done with.

While on the subject of drinking, remember that while you can legally drink in some countries at 18 years of age, if you're on a cruise that departs from an American port, you'll be faced with a minimum drinking age of 21!

If you're celebrating a special occasion onboard, you can take your own champagne with you - ask about the corkage fees if you intend to pop the cork in the dining areas!

Lastly, drinking to excess on a cruise is NEVER a good idea ... cruise companies have been known to disembark passengers who have violated their alcohol policies ... everything in moderation!

Happy sailing!

 

submitted by -- Gayle