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How To Choose The Right Cruise – The Cruise Guide

Cruise ships at Cococay (1)

Thinking about trying a cruise holiday but not sure how to choose the right cruise? My ultimate cruise guide should help.

It seems every month there is a new cruise ship launch with even greater innovation and ground-breaking facilities on board. The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas has eight different neighbourhoods on board, including Central Park complete with 20,000 plants! Norwegian Encore has a race track on the top deck, while Celebrity Edge has a floating platform where you can dine right at the water’s edge. Cruise companies are frantically trying to out do each other and knowing how to choose the right cruise is not an easy task.


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Cruising has changed dramatically in the last number of years. What was once considered the ideal vacation for retired couples, cruising has evolved to become more popular with families and the luxury market.

Gone are the days when you had to sit with strangers for dinner, wearing your finest ball gown. While formal nights are still popular on some cruise lines, you can choose whether to embrace them or not.


I have seen many cruise ships over the years and I can honestly say there is a cruise for everyone. However, knowing how to choose the right cruise to suit your style, requires a lot of planning. The quote ‘the journey is the destination’ springs to mind. It is not only the destination that you need to consider, the cruise line, cruise ship, and time of year are equally as important.


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My ultimate cruise guide should give you some tips and tricks on how to choose the right cruise, however, I recommend engaging with a cruise expert to book your cruise holiday. They will be able to recommend the right cruise to suit your own taste and budget, and will be able to book the right flights and transfers to meet the cruise. 

These cruise deals from Ireland will give you an idea of what is possible, but make sure to read my cruise guide below to know how to choose the right cruise.



How to choose the right cruise ship

how to choose the right cruise for families

A mistake that is often made when choosing a cruise is that people assume that the cruise line is the most important component of your cruise holiday. I believe the cruise ship and time of year you are travelling are equally if not more important.

Just because you liked cruising on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas in the Caribbean in February, this does not necessarily mean you will like cruising on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas in the Mediterranean in July.


Jewel of the Seas can hold 3,500 passengers and crew, but Wonder of the Seas can hold almost 9,300 passengers and crew. Both will offer a completely different cruise experience. Cruise ships are often referred to as floating hotels, but just as hotels vary greatly in size and standard, so do cruise ships.

There are mega cruise ships can carry 9000 passengers, as well as intimate river cruises, that carry 150 passengers. 




Before you choose the right cruise, ask yourself these questions:


What type of holidays do you like?


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When on holidays do you prefer to stay in a boutique hotel and dine out somewhere new each night, or is a lively all-inclusive resort more your style? There are cruise ships to suit families and thrill seekers, as well as more intimate cruises with exclusive spas and adult-only pools.


Pool games and karaoke bars might appeal to some, while others like West End style shows and live music. I loved the Aqua Theatre on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships and the late outdoor bar on MSC Seaview.


My favourite cruise experience was on Celebrity Beyond. I loved it modern design and relaxed atmosphere, but if I was travelling with younger children I would probably choose a different cruise ship.



What time of year are you travelling?

Independence of the Seas

Mediterranean cruises tend to attract a lot of families during the summer months, while Caribbean cruises in the winter attract lots of couples. Couples should avoid Easter holidays / Spring Break in the USA, and while Mediterranean cruises are very well priced in the winter time, do you want to be cruising the Med on a cold November day?



How old is the cruise ship?


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I was on some of MSC’s older cruise ships and didn’t like their dark interiors and traditional decor. However, when I cruised on MSC Seaview I had a completely different experience. MSC Seaview is bright, airy, elegant and sophisticated – she completely changed my view on MSC Cruises and now I consider it one of my favourite cruise ships.


TOP TIP: If you are booking an older cruise ship, check when it was last refurbished and read the latest reviews to know what to expect.

Read: My review of MSC Seaview



What is the dress code?


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Formal nights may be common on most ships but this does not mean you need to wear black tie. In fact I have cruised on many ships and have rarely seen anyone wear Black Tie suit or full length ball gown.

Royal Caribbean have one or two formal nights over a seven day cruise. If you don’t want to dress up, you can avoid these in most cases, by going to the buffet restaurant for dinner.


Norwegian Cruise Line offer a freestyle cruise concept where it is casual and relaxed throughout. There are no set times for dinner and no dress code, so for clients that do not want to dress up at all, this is ideal.


Cunard and P&O Cruises are more strict on their formal nights and encourage it for their guests. Cunard even offer masquerade balls, and the Royal Ascot Ball.




What is included in the cost?

best cruise holiday

Cruises vary in price and standard but one of the main things to consider is what is included in the cost. Most packages are more expensive to book on board so always try to get these included in the cost of your cruise.


If you are booking an all-inclusive cruise, check what the drinks package includes. Most ships have a variety of drinks packages available and you may need to opt for the premium drinks package depending on what your favourite tipple is.

If drinks are not included in the cost, I recommend pre-purchasing a drinks package in advance, as drinks prices can be expensive on board.

review of msc seaview

Check if gratuities are included and pre pay these if possible too. The recommended tip amount is 20% with many cruise lines, so pre-paying gratuities can be a massive advantage.



How many days are you at sea?

how to choose the right cruise for long days at sea

If you are cruising the Med you will likely be stopping in a different port each day. You may want to dine out when in port and therefore not feel the need to pre-purchase a speciality dining package.


However, if you are on a transatlantic cruise or have lots of days at sea you may not want to eat in the main dining room or buffet restaurant for lunch and dinner every day. If that is the case it might be an idea to pre-book a speciality dining package in advance.

Positano view

The same applies to WiFi. You should be able to check emails and messages when in port so you may not need to pre-purchase WiFi if cruising the Mediterranean. However, the opposite applies if you have lots of days at sea.


I hope my top tips for booking cruise holidays have been helpful. I have listed some of my favourite cruises for first time cruisers, couples and families below to help you choose the right cruise. 



Best cruises for first timers:

Marella Discovery
Marella Discovery

Many first time cruisers fear that that they won’t like cruising so tend go for a mainstream cruise that won’t break the bank. This is completely understandable, however, statistics show that over 90% of cruisers will want to cruise again.

A seven-night Mediterranean Cruise is always a firm favourite for first time cruisers. Flights are plentiful and usually inexpensive making them great value and easily accessible.

solarium on wonder of the seas

There are a variety of Mediterranean itineraries to choose from – Western Mediterranean cruises visit Spain, France and Italy, while Eastern Mediterranean cruises visit the Greek Isles, Croatia, Italy and sometimes Turkey and Montenegro too.


Marella Cruises, part of the TUI holiday group, offer great value all inclusive cruises with flights, transfers and checked baggage included in the cost.

Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, MSC and Princess Cruises are the most popular with Irish holiday makers during the summer months. However, it is important to remember that Mediterranean cruises are very popular with families during July and August.


Mega ships can be a bit daunting for first time cruisers, so it might be a good idea to try one of the main cruise lines’ smaller ships. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas is still a massive cruise ship, but carries 4370 guests versus almost 7000 on the brand new Wonder of the Seas.


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Princess Cruises offer kids clubs and plenty of entertainment for children, but they don’t tend to have waterparks, surf simulators or virtual reality games rooms, and therefore can be better suited for couples looking to cruise the Med in the summer time.


For couples or friends looking for a more luxurious option Celebrity Cruises’ 5-star Edge class ships are cruising the Med this summer.



Best cruises for young couples:

MSC Seaview
MSC Seaview

Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises are the most popular with young people. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line or MSC Cruises newer ships are just some of the favourites and offer great entertainment, night clubs, and lively pool areas. If you don’t want lots of children at the pool, make sure you avoid school holidays.


Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships have seven different neighbourhoods, including the Boardwalk, and Central Park which is lined with trees and speciality dining options. You can fly across the ship on a zip line, enjoy surfing in the Flowrider, try your had at ice skating or rock climbing, and slide down the Ultimate Abyss.


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With robots serving you drinks from the bar, and a superb outdoor Aqua Theatre, they are a great choice for a young couple looking for some adventure, modern style. However, drinks packages are expensive with Royal Caribbean, so make sure to book these in advance to secure the best value – see more on this below.


Norwegian cruise ships are also very popular with young couples as they offer great value all-inclusive rates. Despite the name, Norwegian Cruise Line is an American cruise line, and is similar in style to Royal Caribbean with lots of activities on board.


Norwegian Encore has a race track on the top deck. Norwegian Epic is renowned for its lively atmosphere. There are 12 bars including an Ice Bar and an outdoor night club, as well as top performances by bands such as the Blue Man Group.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews cruising
Norwegian Epic.

I loved the expansive outdoor space on MSC Seaview. She has 20 different bars and lounges but my favourite was the Sunset Bar which played music until the small hours.


Carnival Cruise Line are a good choice for young people looking for a lively cruise in the Caribbean, while Virgin Voyages unique adult-only cruises are perfect for couples who don’t want to share the sun decks with young children.



Best cruises for older couples:


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Older couples have the pick of the crop as they can usually travel at any time. Princess Cruises are a popular choice for four-star ocean cruises while Celebrity Cruises are arguably the best choice for those looking for a more luxurious option.


As well as the Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords and Baltic Capitals cruises are popular for couples who don’t want to travel long distance. However, if flying time is not an issue, you can’t beat Alaska for the dream cruise destination for older couples.

More intimate cruises on smaller ships and the ability to dock in the heart of cities, has made river cruising one of the fastest growing sectors within the cruise industry. They tend to attract an older age group than ocean cruises, and are a great way to find out if cruising is right for you.

MS Arena River Cruise Ship

Arena River cruises offer great value 4-star river cruises which are ideal for couples who want to try a cruise for the first time. Uniworld are the more luxurious choice and offer a selection of 5-star river cruises. Owned by the parent company who owns Ashford Castle, these cruise ships feature lavish designs, and offer fine dining and outstanding service.

Read: A river cruise on Uniworld’s SS Antoinette


For the ultimate bucket list adventure, take a transatlantic voyage on the Queen Mary 2. It is a very different feel and experience on board to other cruise ships, where dressing for dinner is still the norm.



Best cruises for families:

Despite what you might think, cruises are a great choice for families and offer excellent value for money when you consider your food, entertainment and most children’s activities are included in the cost.


We have enjoyed a few family cruises and I loved to see my children using their independence enjoying various activities on board, while I relaxed by the pool. I never worried that they will get lost, and if you choose the right cruise will never hear your children say ‘I’m Bored!’


MSC Cruises offer fantastic value for families – kids travel free up to the age of 18 once sharing a cabin with their parents. MSC Meraviglia and Seaside-Class ships have aqua parks and virtual reality games rooms on board, and many of their cruise ships have Lego play areas.


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Norwegian Cruise Line offer great value all-inclusive cruises that are packed with adventure. Most of the newer ships have waterparks, kids clubs and teen zones.


Norwegian Encore has a race track on the top deck, and I was the first person to test drive it! The race track is 1,150 feet long, sprawls over two decks and extends up to 13 feet over the side of the ship – it really is hard to fathom unless you see it, or in my case race it.

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There is also an outdoor laser tag arena and an indoor room with high-tech virtual reality games that is like nothing else I have seen on a cruise ship – this is a teenagers dream!

Read: My review of Norwegian Encore

Royal Caribbean are renowned for their family friendly cruise ships. With everything from water parks, surf simulators, zip lines and even sky diving simulators. Royal Caribbean also have a private island in the Bahamas with a water park on site, making a Bahamas cruise an ideal extension to a family holiday in Orlando. 

Read: My review of Harmony of the Seas

Read: 10 reasons to choose Royal Caribbean for family cruises

how to choose the right cruise for families - disney cruises

Disney cruises are ideal for families with young children, although there are also tween and teen clubs on board. Theme days like Star Wars and Marvel days are big hits with families, and getting the chance to meet your favourite Disney characters on board is a dream come true for many children.

Read: My review of Disney Magic cruise ship



Best cruises for adventure:

antartica bucket list cruise holidays

Hurtigruten will help you search for the Northern Lights. They are not a luxury cruise line and do not offer the same facilities on board as some of the main stream cruise lines, but they are truly made for adventurers. The stunning scenery and the true local experiences have made them extremely popular in recent years.


Expedition cruising is growing more and more popular with many choosing to cruise to places that are not easily reached by land or air – Antartica and the Galapagos Islands being two of the favourites.



Celebrity Cruises Xpedition ship is the luxury ship for adventurers but you will need to plan way in advance, this ship can get booked up as soon as it goes on sale.

Read: 25 bucket list holidays around the world



Best cruises for foodies:

The Magic Carpet on Celebrity Beyond
The Magic Carpet on Celebrity Beyond

I have found the quality of food on board most cruise ships to be generally very good, however I will find it hard to beat Celebrity Cruises Edge Class ships. There are four different main dining rooms on board, which gives the impression you are dining in a speciality restaurant, without having to pay any additional costs.


However, food lovers such not miss the opportunity to dine on the Magic Carpet. This takes al-fresco dining to the next level. Favourite seafood dishes from RAW on 5 are served here which is one of Celebrity Cruises top speciality dining experiences.


Another unique experience is the use of 3D table animation in Qsine. As well as having the menu created by a Michelin Star Chef, your table comes to life with Le Petit Chef experience – this is available on Celebrity Edge Class ships.



Best cruise for luxury:


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Knowing how to choose the right cruise for a luxury experience is probably the most difficult. Silversea, Regent, Seabourn and Crystal cruises are the market leaders in luxury ocean cruising, however if you seek the luxury yacht feel then the smaller Silversea ships with butler service might be a better option.
I loved Celebrity Cruises relaxed modern style and are more reasonably priced than the above mentioned. Their food and service is excellent and the overall feeling is less formal than some of the other luxury ocean cruise lines.


If river cruising is what you seek, Uniworld offer 5-star all inclusive river cruises with fine dining and outstanding service.

how to choose the right cruise for a honeymoon
A suite on board Celebrity Reflection.




Best cruise for winter holidays

how to choose the right cruise for winter holidays

With the possible exception of Northern Lights cruises, the majority of people who cruise during the winter are looking for sunshine. The Caribbean is one of the most popular destinations, with various itineraries covering the Western, Eastern and Southern Caribbean islands.


However, if travelling from Ireland don’t overlook cruising around the Emirates. With daily flights to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha, and sunshine almost guaranteed, this would be my choice for value.

Many cruise companies offer fly-cruise packages with drinks packages and speciality dining options included. You will find they are mostly 8-night itineraries that consist of seven night cruise which includes an overnight stay in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha.


I hope my cruise guide will help you choose the right cruise for you. Remember to contact a specialist cruise travel agency who can suggest the best cruise to suit your style, taste and budget.


Cruise Direct From Dublin to Iceland On 5* Celebrity Reflection, 18th May, 10 Nights, only €1399!


Cruise on one of the world’s best cruise ships, to one of the world’s top destinations, with no need for flights – could this cruise deal be any better? Cruise direct from Dublin to Iceland in 2020, and enjoy ten relaxing days on luxurious Celebrity Reflection.


To be able to cruise direct from Dublin without having the hassle of connecting flights and lengthy lay overs, is massive bonus for cruise fans, and for anyone who doesn’t like flying – this is a game changer! As well as being a convenient way to travel, you will also be cruising on Celebrity Reflection, a 5-star luxury cruise ship. I have teamed up with Irish owned, cruise specialists, Sunway, who are offering this amazing 10-night cruise direct from Dublin, on the 18th of May, for only €1399.

But that’s not all….

If you book and upgrade to an oceanview stateroom before the 30th of September, you will receive a Classic Drinks Package absolutely free, as well as $500 on board credit per stateroom! 


About Celebrity Reflection:

Multi-award winning Celebrity Cruises fully deserve their 5-star rating. From the moment you step onboard, their ships feel more like country-clubs than massive cruise ships. The bright, contemporary decor boldly breaks away from the stereotypical dark wood and plaid carpets. There is even a manicured grass lawn in the Lawn Club, which you can enjoy by day or night. Relax on one of their cabanas during the day, or treat yourself to a cinematic night under the stars. 

cruise direct from dublin with celebrity cruises

You will also find one of the largest spas at sea, Canyon Ranch, on Celebrity Reflection. Complete with hot stone loungers, it is the perfect amenity to get you prepared for the hot springs in Iceland. Relax by the pool and let the pool-butlers deliver your drinks, or visit the World Class Bar for some creative cocktails.

celebrity cruises spa

Celebrity Cruises are renowned for their superb dining options. Make sure you try the sophisticated French cuisine at Murano, the traditional Italian food at Tuscan Grille as well as the famous Sushi Lollipops and Disco Shrimp at innovative Qsine. I had the pleasure of touring Celebrity Silhouette while it was docked in Dublin recently, and I loved it. Celebrity Reflection is the younger sister of Celebrity Reflection, with similar decor and facilities onboard. You can read my full review of Celebrity Silhouette here.

cruise direct from dublin on celebrity reflection


You will have to tear yourself away from the wonderful Celebrity Reflection, as Iceland is a country that is just waiting to be explored. Stay overnight in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik as well as visiting the northern town of Akureyi. I loved exploring Reykjavik, it is packed with vibrant cafés and bars, as well as cultural and historical attractions. Make sure you visit Hallgrímskirkja church – you can’t really miss it, it is visible from almost every angle of the city! It has a panoramic viewing platform at the top, where you will catch the best views of the city.

cruise to iceland direct from dublin

Reykjavik is also close to the one of the world’s wonders, The Blue Lagoon. Don’t miss the opportunity to bathe here, it is a wonderful experience. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, try Ben Fogle’s full day white water rafting and Golden Circle tour, just one of the many excursions that Celebrity Cruises offer.


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You will also have the opportunity to visit the world’s most northerly botanical garden when you stop in Akureyi. Only 100km from the Arctic Circle, this surprisingly, has a warm microclimate, and is filled with exotic plants. If gardens are not your thing, Akureyi also happens to be the whale watching capital of Europe, and it is also only 30 minutes from the magnificent Godafoss Waterfall.

cruise direct from dublin
While Iceland may be the big attraction of this cruise, you will also have the opportunity to visit Liverpool and Belfast. Visit the Titanic Museum or take a trip to the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland, and visit the legendary Penny Lane in Liverpool.

How to book:

Sunway, are offering this amazing cruise direct from Dublin on the 18th of May, for only €1399. If you upgrade to an oceanview stateroom, you will receive a Classic Drinks Package absolutely free, as well as $500 on board credit per stateroom. The supplement for an oceanview stateroom is €500 per person, making the total cost only €1899, including all beers, spirits, wines and cocktails, up to $9 in value.  So enjoy mimosas for breakfast, let the pool-butler bring you a cocktails in the afternoon and enjoy a nice Chardonnay with dinner – all included in the cost of your cruise!

cruise direct from dublin with celebrity cruises

View Offer Here


This post was sponsored by Sunway, but all views, as always, are my own.


Like cruise holidays? See more cruise reviews and cruise deals here. 



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery


Luxury Caribbean Cruise & Stay Holidays, Flights, Accommodation & Cruise, From €1749!


Take your pick from these luxury Caribbean cruise and stay holidays with flights, accommodation and a five-star Celebrity Cruise included.


I have teamed up with American Sky to bring you my top three Celebrity Caribbean cruise and stay holidays. I was fortunate enough to be on board one of Celebrity Cruises Solstice class ships, Celebrity Silhouette recently and I absolutely loved it! All of the holidays below include a seven night cruise on a Solstice class ship, either Celebrity Reflection or Celebrity Equinox. You can expect five star luxury with a wide choice of dining and entertainment on board. Interiors are bright and modern and they even have a real grass lawn! This gives a country club feel, I found it hard to believe that I was on a cruise ship.

But that’s not all…

As well as a fabulous seven day Caribbean cruise you can also choose to add on a few nights in Miami or the Florida Keys, or even both! I have also chosen a cruise holiday with a stay in Orlando, which should satisfy any thrill seekers. Check out my top three Caribbean cruise and stay holidays below and get planning your next cruise holiday!



3 Nights Miami, 7 Nights Western Caribbean Cruise: Flights, Accommodation & Cruise, €1749!

caribbean cruise and stay holidays

This is such amazing value, I am tempted to book it myself! Miami has been on my bucket list for a long time and this amazing offer includes a three night stay in Miami and a seven-night Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Equinox. You will be staying at the highly rated Grand Beach Hotel, which is centrally located to explore the vibrant city of Miami. Shop till you drop, visit chic Little Havana or chill out on the beach right in front of your hotel. After three days in Miami you will board Celebrity Equinox for a Western Caribbean cruise. Visit the lively town of Key West, Puerto Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico, and then swim with sting rays in the Cayman Islands! You will also have two full days at sea to enjoy the facilities on this luxurious cruise ship.

View offer here


7 Nights Orlando &  7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise: Flights, Accommodation, Car hire & Cruise, €1829! 

caribbean cruise and stay holidays

Spend a week in the theme park capital of the world and enjoy the thrills of Disney World, Universal Studios and lots more. You will be staying at Westgate Palace which is right in the heart of Orlando, close to International Drive and all the theme parks. After a week of non stop action, drive to Miami and board Celebrity Reflection for a seven night Eastern Caribbean cruise. Your first stop will be Puerto Rico where you can visit the old town of San Juan or take a trip to the rainforest. You will also visit the small Caribbean islands of St. Maarten and St Kitts, where you can chill out on some of the Caribbean’s white sandy beaches, or go off the beaten track and zip line through the jungle. There are also three days at sea so you can enjoy all of the fantastic facilities that Celebrity Reflection has to offer.

View offer here 


3 Nights Miami, 7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise, 4 Nights, Florida Keys: Flights, Accommodation, Car Hire & Cruise, €1899!

caribbean cruise and stay holidays

Start this holiday of a lifetime with three nights in the trendy Albion Hotel on South Beach, Miami. Explore this cool city or just chill out and people watch, it is that sort of place! You will then board the luxurious Celebrity Equinox for a seven day Eastern Caribbean cruise. Visit San Juan, St. Maarten and St. Kitts, where you can enjoy some of the Caribbean’s white sandy beaches, or seek adventure in their tropical rainforests. You will also have three full days at sea to enjoy this luxury cruise ship.

caribbean cruise and stay holidays

Your holiday doesn’t end there… When you disembark in Miami, you will pick up a hire car and drive to Key Largo, for a four night stay at the Ocean Pointe Suites. You can snorkel, go kayaking or chill out on the beach. Of course no trip to the Florida Keys would be complete without driving the ultimate road trip, from Key Largo to Key West, and with five days car rental included, you will have plenty of time!

View offer here 


I hope you enjoyed my top picks for Caribbean cruise and stay holidays and that this inspires you to book a Caribbean cruise. If you want to change the above itineraries, add on extra nights, or choose to combine with different city, contact American Sky, they will tailor make a cruise holiday to suit your requirements.


Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by American Sky  but all views, as always, are my own.


Like cruises? Click here for the latest cruise reviews and the best cruise deals.



The Travel Expert

Travel News and Reviews

5* Celebrity Cruises Will Cruise From Dublin in 2018

Aerial Celebrity Eclipse

I am delighted that such a prestigious cruise line, Celebrity Cruises, will cruise from Dublin in 2018! This is the first time a major cruise line will homeport out of Dublin. Not only is this great news for Irish cruisers, but also for our local economy too!


Cruise itineraries on the 5* Celebrity Eclipse have already been announced and are on sale in travel agencies across the country. I had the pleasure of touring Celebrity Silhouette while it was docked in Dublin recently and I loved it. Celebrity Silhouette is very similar to Celebrity Eclipse, they are one of the five Solstice Class ships. There are fantastic on board features, including swimming pools, spa and a selection of top class entertainment and dining options. They even have a manicured grass lawn, just to give it a country club ambiance! You can read my full review of Celebrity Silhouette here.

The Alcoves_opt

Fancy a ten night cruise to Iceland on the 30th of April, 10th or 28th of May? Prices are available from €1,369.  If you have always wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords, well now is your chance. Celebrity are offering an eight night Norwegian Fjords cruise from €1368, on the 20th of May. For those who want to stay closer to home, there is a 12 night cruise to Paris, Liverpool and Amsterdam on the 7th of June from €2239. This cruise gives you the opportunity to see the French Open as well as stopping off in Belfast, Waterford and Cork. All prices include port taxes and charges. Celebrity’s early booking offer guarantee, means that if you book and pay a deposit before the 28th February 2017, you can re book the exact cruise without any loss of deposit, if the price reduces at any time before your cruise! That’s confidence!

Celebrity Cruises from Dublin in 2018

Celebrity Cruises are modern luxury cruise line that cruise to 282 destinations in 77 countries across all seven continents. They include overnight stays in forty-one cities and double overnight stays in seven. They offer opportunities to visit destinations during key global events, that otherwise may be impossible to secure tickets or accommodation.  Highlights include the British Open, The Cannes Film Festival and in 2018, the FIFA World Cup matches in St Petersburg.

Celebrity Cruises will cruise from Dublin, exciting times ahead! Lets hope it is the start of many more to come! For more details visit celebritycruises.ie or see your local Travel Agent.


Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.


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 The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery
In The Media

Cruise Holidays as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM


Thinking of cruise holidays but not sure which ship to choose? I discussed cruise holidays on TV3’s Sunday AM this morning, here are the highlights.

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For anyone who thinks cruises are only for elderly people – they are completely mistaken. I have been on board many ships and I can honestly say there is a cruise for everyone out there. Cruise ships are often referred to as floating hotels and in some cases they are more like floating cities. You can choose the massive ships like Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas which can carry 6,700 passengers, or opt for a smaller more intimate river cruise like Uniworld’s SS Catherine, which carries 159 passengers.


Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

Cruise Holidays - Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

Special offer:  28th August, 7 Nights, €1479pp! Includes flights,transfers, baggage and cruise in a neighbourhood balcony stateroom. Click here for more details.


If you want non stop action and great facilities for kids, then it is hard to beat Harmony of the Seas. This is the newest and largest ship at sea and was recently launched in Barcelona. I was on board for two days with my family, and we had a blast. There are numerous swimming pools, a kids splash park, three water slides and also the largest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss. This is a pair of slides that offer a 100 foot drop over 10 decks. You can also zip line (I did and it was terrifying), ice skate, surf, use the rock climbing wall. See what I mean about non stop action! They also offer amazing entertainment at night time with top class west end shows and an aqua theatre at the back of the ship. This modern show sees acrobats and synchronised swimmers perform just as the sun sets over the horizon. It is really dramatic and quite an experience.

Cruise Holidays - Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

There are over 20 different restaurants on board, some with additional charges but there are plenty of dining options included in the cost of your cruise. This is the most innovative ship I have ever seen, even the wifi on board is super fast. They have bionic bars (where your drinks are served by robots) and a bar that moves between decks, so you don’t miss any action. Kind of like a large elevator with a bar inside! There are seven different neighbourhoods on board including the Boardwalk and Central Park, which has 12,000 real trees and plants! It is enormous, but there are so many different places to go, that it can handle all 6,780 passengers. For more information on Harmony of the Seas, read my blog here.




Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Silhouette.

Cruise Holidays - Celebrity Silhouette

Special Offer: Celebrity Constellation 8th December, 9 night Dubai & Emirates Cruise, €1299 per person. Includes over night stays in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, direct flights, transfers, baggage, oceanview stateroom, with classic drinks package. Click here for more details.


For those who are looking for something a little more upmarket, try Celebrity Cruises. I was on Celebrity Silhouette when it was docked in Dublin and I loved it. It carries approximately 3000 passengers so in my opinion a nice size, not too big but not too small either. It has a country club feel rather than a large cruise ship and interiors are bright and airy. They have a manicured grass lawn and cabanas on deck and even the sun loungers are luxurious.

Cruise Holidays - Cabanas on Celebrity Silhouette

Over 85% of the staterooms have balconies. Many opt to stay there reading a book on sea days, meaning the pools are never crowded. The restaurants on board are top class. There are plenty of dining options included in the cost of your cruise or you can choose specialty restaurants which range from $7.50 – $50. They also offer plenty of over night stays which I think is great. They were docked in Cannes for the film festival this year so you could mix with the celebrities without having to pay €500 a night for a hotel room. Although there is a great mix of entertainment and kids facilities on board, it is a more relaxed ship and definitely offers modern luxury. For more information on Celebrity Silhouette, read my blog here.


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Thomson Cruises – TUI Discovery

Cruise Holidays - TUI Discovery

Thomson Cruises have just this month launched TUI Discovery. This was an old Royal Caribbean ship, Splendour of the Seas but they have revamped it and added some great extras like an outdoor cinema and an adult only sundeck. This is a smaller more intimate ship that carries 1800 passengers. For anyone who finds the larger ships daunting, this might be for them. The big ‘game changer’ is that for Summer 2017 it will be all-inclusive as standard. Most cruise ships offer drinks packages and some even give them away free as a booking incentive.  Some can have beer and wine, others can have spirits. It can get confusing at the bar and also expensive, depending on which package you have booked. I love that with the Discovery, everyone is treated equally, no need for wrist bands or the Spanish inquisition when you are ordering a drink. They include branded drinks and prosecco too, so it’s not just local beer and wine!

Cruise Holidays - Live Room on TUI Discovery

They have plenty of good dining options too and two speciality restaurants which carry a supplement of £19.95 each. This is good value compared to similar restaurants on other ships which cost a lot more. Another plus is that it is a package holiday so everything is included flights, transfers and baggage. Fights are available from Cork and Shannon too. I think this will be a very popular with new cruisers, groups or people who like all inclusive holidays. For more information on TUI Discovery, read my blog here.


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My review of Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Silhouette

Walking along the real grass lawn on board Celebrity Silhouette, I had to do a reality check. Was I actually on board a cruise ship?

I knew Celebrity Cruises were one of the leaders in luxury cruising, and I did expect to see modern luxury, but a half acre grass lawn, an ice bar and private cabanas –  I did not expect. Every deck I explored was more lavish than the next, not in a gaudy way, more like a relaxed country club. The furnishings are bright with no heavy carpets or gilded mirrors. Instead there are crisp whites, natural fabrics and bright flooring. The ship felt fresh and airy and above all, bright. There even appeared to be more windows on Silhouette than an average cruise ship.

Every evening a schedule of daily activities is left in your cabin, so there are no noisy announcements throughout the day. Over 85% of the cabins onboard have balconies, so decks are never crowded. Many people will happily stay on their balcony, reading a book or admiring the view, so thankfully there is no need to rise early for a sun lounger. Speaking of which, loungers are extremely large with comfy cushions. There are numerous places to relax: tub chairs, cabanas and hammocks are strategically scattered throughout the ship, giving the overall feeling of pure relaxation.

Solarium on celebrity silhouette

It’s not all about the large open spaces, the interior is pretty special too. Wandering through the shopping area and seeing the Breitling and Bvlgari stores, not to mention the impressive art gallery, I wondered how much people actually spend onboard? Did people get swept away by the romance and purchase a $10,000 watch? I’d like to think so.

There is also an iLounge, which is a combination of an Apple store and an internet cafe. It sells Apple merchandise, the only one of its kind at sea. There is a massive fitness area with spectacular ocean views, the nicest place to work out I’ve ever seen. The spa next door is the perfect place to unwind after a day on shore.

spa on celebrity silhouette

I was really impressed with the wine tasting area. When you find the one you like, you can order it for dinner that evening. Prices were very reasonable, I spotted one of my favourites, Villa Antinori which was only $5 a glass. If wine is not your thing, you could always try a cocktail at the ice topped martini bar, it is very cool.  

The main restaurant was very impressive, in fact, I am sure there are many people who eat there every night. If however, you want to try different restaurants each night, there are over ten to choose from. Each speciality restaurant offers tastings on your first day, so you can sample their dishes. You can then choose to pre-book a table anytime during your cruise. We ate at the Tuscan Grille. The fillet steak and lobster pappardelle were first class, and I was told by a colleague that the tiramisu was ‘to die for’.  They also offer fine dining restaurants, Japanese, Pizzeria, you name it it’s onboard. Some are included in the price of your cruise, others have cover charges which range from $7.50 – $50, depending on the restaurant. Contrary to what some people think you don’t need to eat with the same people each night. Celebrity’s select dining means you can select a table for two and eat together at anytime, once you pre-book.

Tuscan Grille Restaurant on Celebrity Silhouette

The evening entertainment includes top west end shows in a theatre which caters for 1500 people. They offer two shows each night and like most of the activities onboard, they are free of charge. After the show you can enjoy a drink in one of the many bars, both indoor or outdoor, or try your luck in the casino. For any night owls there is a night club open until 4am.

Celebrity Silhouette. Interior feature photos. Silhouette Theater

Although their standard staterooms are some of the most spacious at sea, you can also opt to go for one of their suites – the ultimate in luxury cruising. Complete with 24/7 butler, premium drinks package and a choice of dining options, these really are a different class. The one of a kind reflection suite (on Celebrity reflection only) comes with a jaw dropping shower, cantilevered over the ships side, you have to see it to believe it.

If the suites are beyond your budget, you can opt for a standard stateroom and book an outdoor cabana for the day. These are $149 during sea days or $99 when in port. Situated on the top deck beside the grass lawn, they come with iPads and wifi access. When you are feeling peckish you can pick up the phone and call your waiter. Not only will he bring refreshments, you can even choose to have a themed picnic from one of the speciality restaurants. You have arrived!

Bathroom of reflection suite onboard Celebrity reflection

The Celebrity Silhouette is one of the Solstice class ships. There are five ships in this class; Eclipse, Equinox, Reflection, Silhouette and Solstice. Most of the features on Silhouette are similar across all the ships. They cruise to 7 continents, stop in 286 destinations in 78 countries. They offer many overnight stays in top cities, even during festival periods. Their prices are extremely good value with many early booking offers available. They have listened to what their customers want and offered just that – modern luxury.



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