cruise holidays

CruisesTravel Tips

Top 10 Tips For Booking Cruise Holidays


While I believe that there is a cruise for everyone out there – knowing which one to choose is the tricky part! Check out my top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays and ensure you choose the right cruise for you.


1. Speak to a cruise specialist.

Booking flights and hotels online is one thing , but booking cruises – I don’t think so! There are so many different cruises to choose from and so many special offers available, I would be amazed if anyone managed to get a cheaper deal on line than you would find with a cruise specialist. Most travel agents have staff dedicated to selling cruise. They will have first hand knowledge of most cruise ships and be able to advise you which cruise is right for you. They will also know about the latest special offers available and you may be able to secure free flights, free drinks packages or free upgrades.

 tips for booking cruise holidays




2. Pre book drinks packages, WiFi and gratuities before you go.

Buying drinks on board can be pricey so I always advise to purchase drinks packages before you go. Many companies offer these as early booking incentives but check exactly what is included. Some drinks packages don’t include spirits yet some include any drinks up to a $15 value. Check Wi-Fi prices and try to pre book a package if you are planning on using it a lot on board. Remember if travelling on a Med cruise you will probably only have one day at sea, so you can always catch up on your emails or social media when in port. Pre pay your gratuities too, some automatically include it in the price but if not, its better to pre pay than tip each time you get a drink or meal on board.

Top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays




3. Pre book speciality dining restaurants.

Some of the most popular speciality dining restaurants can be extremely busy so I would recommend pre booking those that you specifically want to dine in. Norwegian’s 12 seater Teppanyaki restaurant where chefs perform and cook in front of you is always busy, as is Jamie Oliver’s Italian on Royal Caribbean’s ships. If you forget to pre book before you cruise, try to book them on the day to board.


Top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays




4. Choose your cabin wisely.

If you are going to be in port on most days, don’t waste your money on a balcony cabin / stateroom ( btw they mean the same thing!)  If on the other hand there are lots of days at sea, you may find you will be in your cabin more – therefore can justify paying for a cabin upgrade. Look at the deck plans before you choose your cabin. You may wish to be close to the swimming pool or away from the nightclub. If you don’t want to be woken at 7 am with the sound of people going to breakfast, don’t select a stateroom beside the lift or stairs. Sea-sickness is minimal on modern cruise ships, however if you are one of the unlucky few who suffer from it, choose a cabin mid-ship as they are less affected in rough seas. Some ocean-view staterooms may have a view of life boats, they are usually called obstructed view rooms.  Many modern ships have interior balconies which look out on to the promenade decks on the ship, these can be a better value option than sea-view balconies.

Top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays




5. Check the dress code.

Some cruises have one formal night, others have two or three. If you don’t want to dress up, you can avoid these in most cases, by going to the buffet restaurant for dinner. Norwegian dress code is casual but Cunard and P&O Cruises are more strict on formal nights and really encourage it for their guests. Cunard even offer masquerade balls and a Royal Ascot Ball!

Top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays



6. Book cruise connection with your travel insurance cover.

If your flight is delayed or if an airline goes on strike (which is not uncommon nowadays!) and you miss your cruise, cruise connection cover allows reasonable onward travel expenses and accommodation until you reach the next embarkation point of your cruise. and Blue have an option to add on cruise connection with any standard travel insurance policy. This could prove invaluable and I would strongly recommend anyone booking a cruise to make sure they have it.



7. Check in online and arrive early on embarkation day.

Depending on the cruise ship and the port, this can actually be quite an ordeal. Some of the larger cruise ships that carry 6,000 passengers can take a long time to board. If you have checked in online you will generally go to a shorter queue, but my advice is to arrive early and take a tour of the ship before the masses arrive!

Top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays

8. Spend a day on the ship when it’s in port.

If you have already been to one of the port stops, use the time to stay on board instead. Pool areas are less crowded, many of the speciality dining restaurants have special offers and spa treatments are always available at reduced rates 🙂

Top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays



9. Pre book shore excursions

Some of the top excursions can get booked out early, so if there is something you specifically want to see, pre book it. In some cases if you dock in the heart of a city you can easily explore yourself. However, if you need to travel a long distance to see an attraction it’s is usually best to book the shore excursion. There are lots of independent shore excursion companies that will probably offer cheaper prices than the cruise company, but if travelling long distance I like to book direct with the cruise company – at least you know the ship will not leave without you if you get delayed!

Top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays



10. Try something new.

Modern cruise ships are so innovative you will be amazed at what amenities are at your disposal.  You can try surfing, rock climbing and even sky diving on some ships – where else would you get the chance to try these activities, and most of them are free! Go on, make it a holiday to remember…
Top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays


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




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 The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery




My Review Of Norwegian Star

Norwegian Star

I had the pleasure of stepping on board the Norwegian Star while it was docked in Dublin recently. This was my first time to see a Norwegian cruise ship, check out my review 🙂


The first thing that needs to be said is that despite the name, Norwegian Cruise Line is actually American! It also cruises all over the world and not just to Norway and the Baltics… Avid cruisers may well know both of these important facts but it is amazing how many people are mislead by their name! They have been cruising for 50 years, have 14 ships and they have received the World Travel Award as Europe’s leading cruise line for the ninth year in a row! Norwegian’s slogan is free style cruising and they provide just that. Everything on board is relaxed, with flexible dining and casual dress – you can leave your cocktail dresses and dinner jackets at home!

Norwegian Star

The Star is one of Norwegian’s older ships. Built in 2001, it was refurbished in 2015 as part of Norwegian’s ongoing $400 million extensive upgrade of it’s fleet. (They claim that their ships will look better than the day they were launched!) Although relatively small in today’s cruising terms ( carries 2348 passengers), it still has 15 dining options and 11 bars! You can sip Champagne in Gatsby’s Champagne bar or drink a wide selection of international beers in the outdoor Bier Garten. There are two main dining rooms (menus are changed daily) as well as a variety of cafés and fast food outlets, all included in the price of your cruise. They also have many speciality dining options, which incur a separate charge. We had lunch in the Teppanyaki restaurant and it was excellent. We had wasabi cocktails with mouthwatering prawns and fillet steak, all cooked in front of us. The chefs even showed us their tricks and got the whole group involved. It was a fantastic experience and one I would highly recommend. This room only seats 12 at a time so make sure you make a reservation at the start of your cruise, or even before hand.

We had great fun dining #teppanyaki style on #norwegianstar @norwegiancruiseline #cruise #foodie #freestylecruising

A video posted by The Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

The pool deck comes complete with two waterslides and six hot tubs. This is great for families although if you fancy a quiet place to swim, you should visit the indoor lap pool in the Spa. There is a charge to use the indoor pool, jacuzzi and hydropool however, I was a little surprised at this. There is also a fitness centre with a jogging track, a golf driving net and a volleyball/basketball court – so plenty of ways to expend some energy on board.

Norwegian Star

The kids facilities on board are excellent. There are slides in the main pool but also in the kids pool. This is equipped with two rocket-shaped slides and a kid’s hot tub. Their kids clubs offer activities for kids from 3 -12 including a cinema and a jungle gym. They also have crèche facilities for babies from 6 months old. For teenagers the ‘Entourage’ program offers activities from age 13-17. They have their own exclusive teen-only area, with a jukebox, dance floor and a communal area to ‘hang out’. This area comes equipped with computers, an air hockey table and a video gaming zone. And this is where is gets really interesting….. Parents can have a ‘Date Night’ where kids are supervised and dropped back to your cabin before 1am!

Norwegian Star

Speaking of  ‘date night’, Norwegian has a massive theatre showing the latest West-End style shows. The theatre holds 1000 people so you don’t need to make a reservation. If shows are not your thing, there are plenty of bars with live music as well as their own in house entertainment shows. Norwegian are renowned for their top class entertainment both in their theatres and throughout their ships.

Norwegian Star

Norwegian’s newer and larger ships, Breakaway, Escape, Getaway and Epic have even more features. You will find that ten pin bowling, rock climbing and state of the art aqua parks are the norm (see image below). They are also famous for their rope courses which have zip lines and planks that hang over the side of the ship – definitely not for the faint hearted! Sadly they are too big to fit into Dublin Port so I’ll have to actually go on one of their cruise holidays to see them properly 😉 Fortunately, Epic will be cruising from Barcelona for Summer 2017 and there are some excellent early booking offers, including free drinks packages, free speciality dining packages, free wifi and even free spending money – so watch this space!

Norwegian Star

Norwegian’s freestyle cruising brings more than just flexible dining. Their action packed cruises will ensure you have a fun filled holiday with top class entertainment and activities on board. So leave the cocktail dresses at home, pre book the all-inclusive drinks package and simply enjoy 🍹

For more details visit their website or see your local ITAA travel agent.


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



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery



Cruise Hong Kong and Japan with Royal Caribbean, 9 Nights inc flights €1199!

Voyager of the Seas

Enjoy a cruise of a lifetime for a once in a lifetime price! Cruise Hong Kong and Japan with Royal Caribbean for only €1199!


It doesn’t get much better than this – this is a one time limited offer, so if you can fly off to the Far East at a moment’s notice – then do it! You won’t set sail till 5pm on the second day so you should have plenty of time to enjoy the the amazing city of Hong Kong, where culture and modern society combine. Take the cable car ride for the best view, a dragon boat ride ( just to say you did ), or shop till you drop in the markets or designer shops, FYI – there is no sales tax in Hong Kong! At night time enjoy the iconic skyline as you taste the orient’s best choice of cuisine.

Hong Kong

Once you board Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas you will be delighted that you have some days at sea. This modern cruise ship has so much to offer including an ice skating rink, a luxury spa and a royal promenade with excellent shopping. There are also outstanding restaurants on board as well as top class west end style shows.

Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas

Your stops in Japan include the stunning island of Okinawa. The scene of one of the fiercest battles of World War II, Okinawa now offers a laid back vibe with stunning beaches. Often described as the Hawaii of the East, this is not typically Japanese. With crystal clear waters, sub-tropical jungles and a bustling city, this is bound to be one of your highlights.


You will also get the opportunity to stop at the spa town of Beppu. Home to over 2,000 hot springs, you can enjoy a bathe in one of their therapeutic mud baths.  Another highlight will be the attractive city of Hiroshima. Renowned also for the second world war atrocities, it is a vibrant city that has recovered and is now thriving.


Fly from Dublin to Hong Kong on the 17th of September and cruise Hong Kong and Japan with Royal Caribbean  for only €1,199 per person. Price includes flights, over night in Hong Kong, eight night cruise, checked baggage and taxes! Price is based on an inside stateroom, upgrade to an ocean-view from €80 or balcony from €240.


Click here for more details: or Call 01-5397713 – Open 7 days a week!


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


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



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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.


For more cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.



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Transatlantic Cruise From New York On The Queen Mary 2 only €1199!

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Imagine cruising from New York city on the iconic Queen Mary 2! Audrey Hepburn, Clarke Gable and even President George Bush have all cruised on this luxury liner. Now you can too…

Cunard’s flagship cruiseliner the Queen Mary 2 has been remastered with a staggering £90 million makeover. She has all the glitz and glamour associated with luxury cruising but now with added contemporary styling. Expect fine dining, the best wine cellar at sea, exceptional service and sophisticated shopping.

There are five main dining options on board all included in the cost of your cruise, as well as two speciality restaurants which incur a charge. Have a glass of Vueve Cliquot in their dedicated champagne bar or try Cunard’s signature Commodore Club. This bar majestically overlooks the bow of Queen Mary 2 and provides glorious panoramic views as you sail towards the horizon. Of course no Cunard cruise would be complete without their signature afternoon tea, which incidentally is included in the price of your cruise.

Entertainment is what you would expect from Cunard – world class. From West-End style shows in the grand Royal Court Theatre to string quartets in intimate bars, the choice is yours. The Queen Mary 2 has a full-scale planetarium, famous speakers giving informative presentations, the largest library at sea and a luxury spa. This really is cruising at another level.

Fly from Dublin to New York on the 5th of November and over night in a 4* hotel before boarding the Queen Mary 2, for your seven night cruise to Southhampton. Price including flights, all meals and one night pre cruise stay in New York, is only €1199 per person. Other dates are also available so if this date doesn’t suit contact the sales team and they will be able to assist you.


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


Click here for more details: or Call 01-5397713 – Open 7 days a week!


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



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery


October Mid Term Break, Royal Caribbean Cruise. 10 Nights, inc Flights €1169!

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Spend the October mid term break on Royal Caribbean’s newly refurbished Jewel of the Seas, for only €1169 per person.

Jewel of the Seas has just undergone a massive $30 million makeover and can now boast contemporary styling, smart technology and an even outdoor movie screen! It his bright and airy, with floor to ceiling windows, glass canopies and skylights, all ensuring a fantastic ocean views.  If you are feeling energetic, try the running track, rock climbing wall or fitness centre.  For those who want to relax, take some time out at the whirlpool, spa, or take in a show. If travelling with kids, the Adventure Ocean programme is sure to keep them happy. There are numerous restaurants on board including three new speciality restaurants and the popular Windjammer café.

Rhapsody of the Seas offer for the October Mid Term Break from The Travel Expert

And if all of this wasn’t enough, you will be visiting some of Europe’s most loved destinations! Cruise from Rome and visit Crete, Mykonos, Athens, Santorini, Ephesus, Sicily and Naples before finishing your cruise in Rome. Price of €1169 per person includes flights from Dublin on the 27th of October, a ten day cruise on a full board basis, baggage and transfers!

The only other advice I can give you is book your October mid term break Royal Caribbean cruise now, before the prices increase!


Click here for more details:


Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

Interested in cruising? Check out my latest cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals 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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My MSC Splendida Review


I had the pleasure of boarding the MSC Splendida while it was docked in Dublin. So did it live up to the hype and what is it like inside? Read my MSC Splendida review and find out!


There is no doubt it was fantastic for Ireland attracting a ship of this magnitude to our shores, in fact it made history as the largest ship ever to enter Dublin Port. For most of us we imagined enjoying a weeks holiday on board but it was also great for Dublin and Cobh with over 3000 passengers disembarking and spending money in our cities. There is more good news because the MSC Splendida is one of eighty three other ships who are due to dock in Dublin Port this year.

MSC Splendida, Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert

So what’s it really like?

I have sold Splendida to clients many times and it is always so reasonably priced. The first thing that struck me was the size of the ship, there was eighteen floors or decks!  She can carry over 5000 passengers and crew, weighs 140,000 tonnes, her max speed is 21 knots and she cost almost €500 million to build. It is really hard to grasp the enormity of such a massive ship unless you are on board, it literally is a floating hotel.


Like most cruise ships the MSC Splendida has fantastic facilities on board. What I did notice is that there was a great sense of space. Despite the fact that it can accommodate five thousand people I got the impression that it wouldn’t feel crowded, there is so much space and so many different parts to the ship, you could even get lost! It is also very lavishly designed, with plenty of ‘bling’. There are Swarovski crystal staircases with each step valued at a whopping €30,000 as well as very high quality fabrics and furnishings throughout. There are numerous bars, restaurants, lounges and relaxing areas. The Aurea Spa is fantastic and could rival any of the top spas you would find in any luxury hotel worldwide. They have excellent facilities for children with a Formula 1 simulator, games rooms not to mention the four different swimming pools. There is a sports bar, disco, a casino and an enormous theatre which features top ‘west end’ style shows. There really is something to suit all tastes so that cliche that you may get bored on a cruise ship – eh I don’t think so.

MSC Splendida, Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert

The cabins were a welcome surprise and quite spacious. MSC’s prices overall are very competitive and because 80% of their cabins have balconies, these are particularly good value compared to their competitors. There is an excellent choice of dining options and both the buffet and main restaurant served excellent food. As Splendida is an Italian ship, the atmosphere is very Mediterranean and this is also reflected in their dining. Unlike UK or US based cruise ships the clientele is more mixed, in fact you will hear several languages on board with English not necessarily being the predominant one.

If you are looking for a more luxurious option try the MSC Yacht Club, complete with a separate pool, bar and dining area. It has a completely different feel to the rest of the ship. You have a private butler and have access to unlimited snacks and drinks throughout the day, you would think you were on a different cruise ship.

I always knew the Splendida was excellent value for money, with free child places and an a fantastic all inclusive drinks package available, but I was impressed with the ship overall. It is modern, spacious and has excellent facilities on board – go see for yourself!




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