cruise review


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

CruisesFamily Holidays

My Review of Independence of the Seas – The Ultimate Family Cruise Ship!


Royal Caribbean have launched the largest cruise ship in the world, Symphony of the Seas recently, but Independence of the Seas, the UK’s favourite cruise ship, wasn’t going to be left out of the limelight, she had a multi million pound makeover!


It seems like every other month there is a new cruise ship launch, which makes choosing the right cruise harder and harder. So what makes Independence of the Seas different from the rest? Dubbed the Ultimate Family Cruise Ship, the multi-million pound makeover is a family focused one. Many of the new experiences on board are geared towards families. I was fortunate to be able to cruise on the revamped Independence of the Seas on it’s inaugural sailing from Southampton. I was also able to bring my two children Luke (10) and Alex (7) to Southampton the following week to see what they thought.

We were on Harmony of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean’s larger cruise ships, last year, so we had something great to compare it to. I am so proud that Luke was chosen as one of Royal Caribbean’s Little Extraordinaires, a panel of six children who will act as consultants on future Royal Caribbean ships. The panel was introduced following startling research that 70% of parents will consult their children before booking a holiday! Luke’s first ‘job’ was to road-test Independence of the Seas, and I was delighted to have an excuse to get back on board!


Our first mission was to try the brand new Sky Pad. This virtual reality bungee trampoline experience is another ‘first’ for Royal Caribbean and is only available on Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas; another cruise ship that has had a $90 million dollar makeover. Sky Pad is suitable for adults and children, aged 5 and over. If you want to don the VR head-set you need to be at least 7 years of age. There are four trampolines encased in a bright orange sphere on the top deck of the ship. It looks impressive even before you try it! All three of us had a go and we loved it. Myself and Alex smashed candies in the sugar world while my son went into the future and dodged bouncing balls. There is a knack to bouncing and if you manage to balance in the centre of the trampoline you can go really high! Alex managed to do this and gave Luke and I a mild panic attack in the process!

Much to my surprise, Luke decided to try the Flowrider surf simulator. The expert staff let you use a bodyboard for an easier experience although it is only a matter of time before you fall off… The great thing about this and the Sky Pad is that you can try them over and over again and I would imagine by the end of your week’s cruise, the novice would become the master!

For all around family run there is a large aqua park called Splashaway Bay which is great for kids of all ages, with small slides and a large splash bucket. There are also two larger waterslides for older children, kids need to be 122cm to ride. These were a big hit with Luke and Alex who loved racing each other over and over again.

Independence of the Seas

After a morning at the pool, it was time for lunch. We debated between Sorrento’s pizza  or the Windjammer buffet restaurant, both included in the price of your cruise, but decided the Windjammer ticked all boxes for the three of us. The decadent array of hot and cold foods is enough to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. The only problem I have with buffets is that I eat too much, but needless to say the kids were not complaining!

Independence of the seas

Independence of the Seas has four restaurants included in the cost of your cruise as well as six speciality dining options. Kids will love the Fish & Ships restaurant on the pool deck but it caters well for adults too, with lobster rolls and deep fried calamari. I wasn’t overly convinced about the deep fried chocolate bars though…. I ate in the main dining room for dinner and it was superb. The food, service and even the room itself is very impressive.

Independence of the Seas

I also tried the speciality restaurant, Izumi. This sushi and hibachi grill has the largest teppanyaki dining experience in the fleet. We enjoyed a lively presentation from our host Elvis, as he cooked up delicious asian food right in front of us. If sushi isn’t your thing, you can opt for the beef and tiger shrimp combo, sea scallops and lobster or even steak and chicken breast! It was a great experience and one I would urge everyone to book at least once during their cruise. 

Independence of the seas

There are eight bars on board. For kick-ass cocktails try the latin themed Boleros. There is also The Champagne Bar somewhere – I don’t know how I missed that one! The brand new sports bar Playmakers is impressive. With pool tables and live events on 30 large screen TV’s, it has a cool American vibe. You can also pick up some tasty wings, sliders and a wide selection of beers. 

Independence of the seas

Getting back to the kids! After lunch they played a quick game of mini-golf before trying the team game, Laser-Tag. This incredible set up is in Studio B, where the night club and ice rink are. Did I mention there is an ice-skating rink on board? In true Royal Caribbean style the floor rotates and the ice rink stays underneath, while the studio transforms into a glow-in-the-dark laser tag course, where aliens fight robots in the battle for Planet Z! This was another big hit with my kids and all the other children too.

Independence of the seas

There are plenty more activities on board that they didn’t get a chance to try. The rock climbing wall and multi sports court are no doubt huge draws as is Puzzle Break. This is an escape room where guests need to work together to find hidden clues and solve high-tech riddles to reveal the mystery. Unlike most of the activities on board, there is an additional charge for this. There is also an arcade room with a host of video games, including the latest Star Wars games. Independence of the Seas has traditional kids entertainment too, with a host of kids clubs, from a babies nursery to the teen club, as well as an outdoor movie screen by the pool!

Independence of the Seas

Parents are well looked after too with a spa and fitness centre, jogging track, a host of swimming pools, seven jacuzzis and a casino! There is also an adult-only solarium if you fancy escaping the kids for a few hours. Make sure you try the frozen pina coladas with mango, they are to die for!

Grease the musical is the on show in the Royal Theatre which is suitable for both adults and children. We saw this on Harmony of the Seas and loved it. I had to download the soundtrack and the movie when I got home and the kids watched it over and over again.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

There are numerous live music and comedy acts each night, including a Take That tribute band. We were lucky to be able to see Mark Wright on the decks in Studio B. It was like being at a rock concert, the atmosphere was electric. Who said cruise ships are boring?

Another great show is the party on the Royal Promenade every night. People spill out of the bars and there is a street party feel to it. From Buck’s Fizz’ ‘Making your Mind Up’ to Elton John’s ‘I’m still standing’, the Royal Britannia show is holiday atmosphere at it’s best. This may sound cheesy, believe me it is, but it is also great fun and shouldn’t be missed! The Royal Promenade is one of the focal points of the ship and is full of shops, bars and restaurants. I bought some costume jewellery in one of the shops while the kids tucked into some Ben & Jerry’s! Sugar lovers will love the brand new Sugar Beach candy store. Packed with thousands of sweets and some cuddly toys, this is a children’s dream, or nightmare, depending on how you look at it!

Independence of the Seas

There are a wide selection of staterooms available including panoramic ocean view staterooms with floor to ceiling views, for the ultimate sunset views. We stayed in a spacious ocean view stateroom with a balcony. It even had a large walk in wardrobe!

Independence of the Seas

The revamped Independence of the Seas has 1929 staterooms. This is 830 rooms less than Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Symphony of the Seas. I loved the size of Independence of the Seas. It is a massive cruise ship with 15 decks and capable of housing over 4500 guests, but it doesn’t feel that big when you are on it. It is very easy to navigate, the lifts have all the facilities listed, I didn’t ask for directions once! My sense of direction is fairly poor and I have got ‘lost’ on many occasions on other cruise ships! If you were relaxing on your balcony you could meet up with the kids within minutes, regardless of where they were on the ship. I have no doubt it will continue to be regarded as the UK’s favourite cruise ship. I wonder in time will it be Ireland’s favourite too?

Independence of the seas

Royal Caribbean are revamping 10 cruise ships over the next few years and spending a staggering 900 million dollars in the process! They have been bringing industry firsts to the cruise industry for 49 years, and with over 40 national and international awards in 2017, they want to ensure that they continue to be regarded as the most innovative cruise line in the industry.


For more details visit This post was sponsored by Royal Caribbean Cruises but all views as always, are my own.



The Travel Expert



5 Star Luxury Cruises in July or August from €1199 Including Flights!


There are some amazing offers on 5 star luxury cruises in June, July or August. I had to read them a few times to see was I missing something – the prices are that good!


Three iconic cruise ships, the same impeccable service. Cruising with Cunard is classic, sophisticated and elegant. Expect daily white gloved afternoon tea, glamorous black tie events and unforgettable experiences. There are numerous dining options to choose from, world class entertainment as well as some traditional activities such as deck games, fencing and salsa dance classes. You will also find famous speakers giving informative presentations, another notable difference on Cunard cruises.

Click&Go have incredible offers on all three Cunard ships in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. Choose a Greek Islands, Croatia and Italy cruise or a Western Mediterranean cruise taking in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome. If you fancy Northern Europe, choose from a Norwegian fjords cruise or the Baltic Capitals. If you want a longer break there are also great deals on 9, 12 and 14 night cruises. What ever you choose you can enjoy 5 star luxury cruises in June, July or August from €1199, including flights from Dublin. I have listed two of my favourites below, but for details on all of their latest offers, click here.


Queen Victoria – Flights & 7 Night Greek Isles cruise, 14th July €1199!

Following upgrades to staterooms, the bar areas, sun deck and the new Britannia Club, you will cruise on a ship fit for a Queen. Enjoy a glass of bubbly at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne bar or enjoy the panoramic views in the Hemisphere lounge. Complete with a glass-domed roof this is also the venue for the resident DJ and contemporary nightclub. Practice your swing with the golf nets on deck, enjoy a game of tennis, fitness classes or relax in one of the swimming pools or the Royal Spa.

luxury cruises


Fly from Dublin to Athens on the 15th of July and board the Queen Victoria for your seven day luxury cruise around the Greek Islands. Visit the captivating islands of Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete as well as Saranda on the Albanian Riviera, before returning to Athens for your return flight home. Price of €1199 is based on an interior stateroom but you can upgrade to a balcony for an additional €200!

Click here for more details: or Call 01-5397713


Queen Mary 2 – Flights & 8 Night Norwegian Fjords cruise, 21st August €1299

Imagine cruising around the Norwegian Fjords 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. You will find the best wine cellar at sea and the largest library as well as a full scale planetarium. Of course if you just want to relax, there are five pools and a luxury spa.

5 Star Luxury Cruises in June, July or August from €999

Fly from Dublin to Hamburg on the 21st of August and cruise to the Norwegian Fjords on an eight night luxury cruise.  Visit Bergen, Aselund, Olden, Flaam and Stavanger before returning to Hamburg for your return flight home.

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. This post was sponsored by Click&Go but all views, as always, are my own.


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Introducing Royal Caribbean’s Newest Ship, Symphony of the Seas


Records are meant to be broken I guess! Harmony of the Seas will no longer be the world’s largest cruise ship – that accolade will soon belong to Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Symphony of the Seas.


Royal Caribbean’s 26th ship in their fleet, Symphony of the Seas will launch in April 2018, with summer sailings around the Mediterranean from Barcelona. Typical itineraries will include stops in Palma, Rome, Naples and Provence. Winter 2018 will see her move to the Caribbean featuring exotic ports of call such as St Kitts & Nevis and the Cayman Islands.

Royal Caribbean's newest ship Symphony of the Seas

Facilities will be similar to her sister ship, Harmony of the Seas and will include seven neighbourhoods, robotic bartenders, an aquatheatre, top class shows, water slides and the Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea. It will carry a staggering 6,780 guests and over 2,000 crew. For more information on what to expect on Symphony of the Seas, read about my review of Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.

Introducing Royal Caribbean's Newest Ship, Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean continues to provide extraordinary cruise ships and holiday experiences. They visit 250 destinations in 77 countries across 6 continents, and have a cruise to suit everyone.  Royal Caribbean’s newest ship Symphony of the Seas is now available to book. For more details visit their website or your local travel agent.


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



 The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery




Flights, Hotel & 10 Night Hong Kong, Vietnam And Japan Royal Caribbean Cruise, €1299!


A Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan Royal Caribbean Cruise – see all of these magical places on one holiday! And you will be cruising on one of Royal Caribbean’s newest and largest cruise ships, Ovation of the Seas!


This amazing deal includes flights from Dublin and an over night in a four star hotel in Hong Kong before you cruise. This will give you the opportunity to ride the cable car, take a dragon boat ride, do some duty free shopping ( there is no sales tax in Hong Kong ) and enjoy one of the best night skylines in the world.

Hong Kong



Your cruise itinerary includes two stops in Vietnam, Hue (Da Nang) and Nha Trang.  Discover the famous ‘China Beach’ where American soldiers relaxed during the Vietnam war, or visit the Forbidden Purple City in Hue. Snorkel in the turquoise waters of Nha Trang amidst it’s tropical islands. Vietnam is renowned for it’s delicious food, why not try a street food tour in Da Nang or enjoy some of the best sea food in Nha Trang.

Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan Royal Caribbean Cruise

When you move on to Japan, you will have the opportunity to overnight in Okinawa. You would never think that one of fiercest battles of World War II was on this island. It’s laid back atmosphere, beautiful beaches and clear waters will captivate you. Many describe Okimawa as the Hawaii of the East – once you visit you will see why.

Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan Royal Caribbean Cruise

Although you are visiting some exotic locations, you will also have plenty of time to enjoy all the facilities that Ovation of the Seas has to offer. I had the pleasure of being on board it last year and I loved it. It is longer than three football pitches and taller than the Sydney Harbour bridge. You will be glad you have days at sea to avail of all her fantastic facilities.

Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan Royal Caribbean Cruise

Thrill seekers will love the circus school, surfing and sky diving, and if you just want to have some fun, try the roller skating or bumper cars. Let the robots pour you a drink in the bionic bar before sampling some of the top class entertainment on board. There are seventeen restaurants to choose from, including the popular Jamie’s Italian and fine dining options. and For more information on Ovation of the Seas you can read my blog here.

Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan Royal Caribbean Cruise

Fly from Dublin to Hong Kong on the 6th or 27th of May, overnight in a four star hotel in Hong Kong before cruising the Orient for 10 days on Ovation of the Seas. Visit Vietnam, Hong Kong and Japan before returning to Hong Kong for your flight home. This offer is exclusive to ClickandGo and wont be around for long so call their dedicated sales team on 01-5497713 or click below for more details.

Click here for more details:


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.



 travel deals

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 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
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. Norwegian also cruise 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.

Norwegian Cruise Line or NCL as they are commonly known 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 created the slogan – ‘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

Norwegian 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.


There are many speciality dining options too, these 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 – there are plenty of ways to expend some energy on board.

The Travel Expert review of 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 years including a cinema and a jungle gym, as well as crèche facilities  for babies from 6 months old.


For teenagers the ‘Entourage’ program offers activities from 13-17 years. 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, thats not all, parents can enjoy a ‘Date Night’,  where kids are supervised and dropped back to your cabin before 1am.

Norwegian Cruise Line kids facilities

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 theatre

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 😉

Norwegian Epic

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.


Discovering TUI Discovery

Marella DiscoveryMarella Discovery

Until now, the tour operator Thomson  just happened to ‘do’ cruises under the Thomson Cruises brand. With the launch of TUI Discovery and the recent announcement to launch Discovery 2 next year, they are now (officially) a cruise line. So what makes Thomson cruises different from other cruise lines?

The first thing to point out is when booking a Thomson cruise, you are booking a ‘package’ holiday. This means that your holiday with Thomson starts at the airport. If your flight is delayed, they will either delay the launch time of the ship or make sure you get to the next port. They offer packages from Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Shannon, so no matter where you are living, you should be able to fly from your local airport. Transfers, baggage and tips are all included in the price. Unlike many of their competitors, there are no hidden extras.

Originally launched by Royal Caribbean as Splendour of the Seas, it is now cruising the Mediterranean as TUI Discovery. It can carry 1830 passengers, which is relatively small compared to some of the larger cruise ships, ( Harmony of the Seas can carry over 5700). But that has it’s advantages too. Smaller ships can be more personal, less daunting, easier to navigate and can fit into more ports, so less tendering is involved.

Tui Discovery

The biggest ‘game changer’ is that TUI Discovery will be fully all-inclusive from Summer 2017. This means that everyone on board will be treated equally. No need to wear horrible wristbands, and no need to check who is buying who drinks, and all that palaver. I must say that is a pet hate of mine with all-inclusive holidays. There is nothing worse that listening to guests argue with the bar staff because their ‘drinks package’ doesn’t include certain drinks. And that awful feeling that you are being watched to see that you are not ordering drinks for other non all-inclusive guests! Ordering a drink can be like the Spanish inquisition sometimes! No need for any of that with the TUI Discovery. Branded drinks are also included, which is a nice touch. Ok, so maybe not Hendricks gin or Grey Goose vodka but you get the idea.

Bar Eleven on TUI DIscovery
Bar Eleven

I was on board for the official launch recently, so although only an overnight stay, it was enough time to see all the highlights 🙂  The first thing I noticed was massive open air cinema screen. I originally thought this was a temporary structure for the launch party but then was told by crew that it is a permanent fixture. I thought how cool it would be to watch the latest movies while having an evening swim in the pool! You can get blankets, popcorn and even hot chocolate from the nearby pool bar!

Cinema screen

Speaking of pools, there are two, an outdoor and indoor pool, as well as four relaxing whirlpools. Both swimming pools are surrounded by comfortable sun loungers and I got the impression there wouldn’t be any difficulty securing a place to sun bathe on sea days. I particularly liked the ‘Glass House’ where the large indoor pool is located.

The Glass House Indoor pool on TUI DIscovery
The Glass House

After chilling out beneath the glass roof you can pop over to the classy dining area and have lite bites or tapas, juices or smoothies, all included in the price of your cruise. If you really want to push the boat out 😉 you can use hot stones to cook your meat to perfection, a small charge of £9.95 applies for this.

The Glass House on TUI Discovery
The Glass House dining area

Adjacent to the indoor pool is the Oceans Spa and fully equipped gym. You can get twenty minute manicures, eyebrow threading and even get botox on board, as well as teeth whitening and acupuncture! If you really want to chillax you can hit the adult only pool deck. It is quite small but comes complete with luxury loungers and comfy pods. They even have a call button to order drinks so you don’t have to move! And because TUI Discovery will be all inclusive for Summer 2017 so you can order as many drinks as you like! Remember they also include all tips / gratuities so if you happen to spend the day pressing the call button – no need to worry 😉

Adult only area on TUI DIscovery
Adult only area

The all inclusive package also lets you dine in five of the seven dining venues. The two speciality restaurants, a Surf & Turf Steakhouse and an Asian restaurant carry a supplement of £19.95, which is not bad considering the standard of food and the restaurants contemporary styling. TUI have invested heavily into their restaurant offerings. The steakhouse features crockery from Villeroy & Boch. The steak knives are designed to minimise contact with meat so as not to impact the taste. Celebrity chef Ian Pengelley oversees the menu in the Asian restaurant.

Surf & Turf Steakhouse on TUI DIscovery
Surf & Turf Steakhouse

I loved that the main restaurant offers waiter service. Not one for buffets, I was impressed to be handed a menu at breakfast time. Freshly cooked omelettes, an English breakfast (with nice rashers and sausages!) can all be ordered from your table. They also have, what I can only assume, will be a very popular Snack shack, offering ‘festival food’, i.e hot dogs, goujons etc. It has funky beach hut type booths which are named after their favourite ports of call.

Snack Shack on TUI DIscovery
Snack Shack

The bars are pretty classy too. Bar Eleven is a cool cocktail bar with stunning ocean views. The Atrium bar, complete with a featured staircase is a relaxed prosecco themed bar. Incidentally, prosecco is included in the all inclusive package too – how cool is that!

Atrium on TUI Discovery
Atrium Bar

If you are looking for a lively venue, the Live Room ticks all boxes. As the name suggests, it hosts live music as well as late night parties and discos. It’s design is modern, yet retro and it really works. The small casino is integrated into this room. Whilst this is great for anyone who doesn’t want to miss out on the entertainment, it’s not so great if you want a quiet game of blackjack…

Live Room on TUI Discovery
Live Room

Discovery also offers a broadway show lounge. With a team of big names from the world of showbiz, the entertainment promises to be their best yet. The secondary show lounge will offer interactive game shows where the audience will be able to vote for the winner. Teenagers will love the ‘Hideout’, a room complete with a karaoke booth and a teen disco. Let’s not forget the Gamerzone, with free Xboxes and assorted games. Wifi is available on board and although it wasn’t the fastest,  it is affordable at £49 for a week. They also offer entertainment for younger kids including ‘ Splash Live’ an interactive live show for 6 – 10 year olds. ‘Break out & Escape’ is a novel, real life escape game where kids need to work together to find clues to escape before the time runs out, there is an additional charge of £20 per per person for this. A baby centre, kids clubs, a climbing wall and mini golf are all on board too, and are free of charge.

Kids Club on TUI Discovery
Kids Club

You won’t find the latest Kate Spade or Michael Kors shops on board, you won’t find waterparks or ice skating rinks, that ship has sailed! You will find an intimate ship with contemporary styling, that has made a smart decision to include dining, drinks and entertainment in the price of your cruise. I have no doubt that a new style of cruising has been discovered.


Interested in cruising ? Check out more news, reviews and cruise deals by clicking here. For bookings or enquiries contact your local ITAA travel agent or click here for more details.



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery



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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