Oceania Insignia  – 5 star Luxury cruising  – Lucy

I recently inspected to Oceania Insignia which holds 684 passenger.    The ship has recently had a refurbishment of all the staterooms, suites and some public areas.    I do have to say I was very impressed with the new contemporary look,  giving the ship a more spacious feel.  The look has a

very subdued tones making the feel of a luxurious hotel.    We were very fortunate to inspect 2 categories of accommodation.  The Penthouse category suites are beautiful and a good size.  These suites sell first. They come with your own Butler service and receive priority when booking the speciality restaurants. Bathrooms are very well appointed and a good size with large showers.

We also inspected  the entry balcony staterooms which I do believe a smaller than most ships however with the refurbishment does give it a more spacious feel.  The bathrooms now have a more slick look with a clear frameless shower screen.  Not an all-inclusive ship however, Oceania does offer their O’Life inclusions which offers a choice of either some shore excursions, onboard credit or a drinks package.  The ship offers the main dining room which has open dining and the alternative dining options of the Toscana and Polo Grill which require reservations.  The main dining room will offer dining options from each of these restaurant also.  There is no fee to dine in the alternative restaurants.  Oceania does pride its self on having the “Best Cuisine at Sea!

Having cruised on Oceania I can highly agree with this statement.    The ship has a great Spa area operated by the well know “Canyon Ranch”.  This area offers a sanctuary private area with a jacuzzi and deck chairs where you can nicely retreat away from all the other passenger.    I would highly recommend an Oceania cruise to my anyone who is considering a luxury cruises.


Sri Lanka & Maldives – Lucy

I was very fortunate to have recently experienced Sri Lanka and Maldives.   Both destination have so much to offer in their own way.   We had a short stay in Colombo, Kandy and the incredible Galle area.

The country  is steeped in so much history from when the British, Dutch and Portuguese rulings.  Colombo is a small city and easy to get around.   Situated by the Seas there are various hotels along the area which offer great view of the seas.   Colombo is a great city that offers various eating outlets with diverse cuisine tracing back from its melting pot of cultures.   Sri Lanka offers so much diversity from trekking through the Tea Plantations, safari and surfing on the coast.

The Maldives is not far away with a short flight to either Male or Gan.   Flying over the numerous atolls is just break taking.    Here we stayed at the Shangri La Vilingili resort which is a much large island offering a range of activities from pure relaxation  to deep see fishing.   The other property with stay in was the is Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, this is a much smaller island and truly feels like an deserted island with crystal clear water and the whitest sand I have ever seen.

Combining both  Sri Lanka and Maldives is a good mix offering a diverse holiday to our clients and one that I would certainly recommend without hesitation – you can enjoy such diverse history, culture cuisine and then relax in the breathtakingly beautiful blue Indian Ocean.


Ship Inspection: – Azamara Journey 1 March 2019 – Heather

I was very fortunate to inspect Azamara Journey when it was in Sydney on 1 March and have the delightful high tea.  It has a total of

It is looking fresh with the lighter contemporary colours taking away some of the dark timber. They offer great enrichment to the premium cruise market.

The staterooms are not very large however the Club Suites are a good size and have slightly more inclusions.  The offer One AzAmazing Evening which are bespoke and fund evening of local entertainment. They are also in port longer or overnight than many other cruises.  The ship is inclusive of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and specialty coffees and teas. They are taking out the Casino’s on board and making that area into a lounge area and refreshing the ship again in March 19.

Azamara offer great enrichment to the premium cruise market.


Crystal Serenity Cruise February 2019 – Heather

Sailing this year on Crystal Serenity was amazing.  The ship was reimagined in 2018 and it is new colours and light and bright.  The 980-passenger ship is not small but its space to passenger ratio makes you feel like there is not many people on board. Crystal is top of luxury when it comes to enrichment and entertainment.  They have workshops on bridge at all levels, golf, ballroom dancing lessons and digital technology and these class are often booked out on sea days.

The Seabreeze Penthouse Suite has one of the larger modern redesigned bathrooms and the shower is amazing.  They are all inclusive with alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks included as is the Wifi and it is extremely good all over the ship.  They include gratuities and you have one per venue specialty dinning included depending on categories.

The Specialty restaurants Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma and Sushi Bar and the Italian Prego are a must and the French Onion Soup is a highlight in Prego’s.  Crystal are continuing to win various awards like the conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards for 2018. Their service and warm hospitality see many repeat cruisers and one passenger on board had been on over 400 cruises.


MADRID

This was my first visit to Madrid and I have to say I preferred it over Barcelona where I have visited many times.  I took the high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid which took just over two hours. The train was very comfortable and they served a light lunch with tea and coffee.  Definitely would recommend the train option.  The city was bustling and is easy to get around with the metro system. I took the hop on hop off bus initially to just acquaint myself with the area which was excellent. Then on the 2nd round I worked out where I wanted to get on and off.

Madrid is a very elegant classy city and should be on every travelers list when visiting Spain. Amongst the key sites that are a “must” is the Prado of course with an overwhelming collection of masterpieces. I would suggest you take this tour with an experienced art guide to fully appreciate the works on display.  I also thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Royal Palace. The Palace rooms still had the original pieces of furniture and art works by well known artists.  It is the largest royal palace in Europe.  Of course the Royal family do not live there anymore.  I also enjoyed a walk through Retiro Park. This is pure relaxation in the middle of a bustling city and well worth a visit.

Now one of my favourite pastimes is shopping and you cannot go past Madrid’s beautiful shoe shops!!.  The prices are excellent and the quality first class. One other thing I really enjoyed in Madrid and another “must see” is visiting the fresh produce markets.  The Mercado de San Miguel is a must!  Alongside stalls selling fresh produce are tapas bars and cafes. A truly wonderful city!!