MSC Cruises replaces autumn and winter Egyptian and Ukrainian calls with alternative destinations

MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and fourth largest global player in the industry, have just announced that it has suspended remaining 2015 calls in Ukraine and Egypt, replacing them with a number of choice Mediterranean alternatives.

Sunset, Kaliakra, Bulgaria © Plamen Stoev

MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera, MSC Fantasia and MSC Musica will, from autumn 2015 to winter 2016, incorporate Bulgaria, the Greek islands of Rhodes and Crete, as well as Cyprus and Israel into their sailings. The move has been taken in response to market demand and the on-going political unrest in Ukraine and Egypt.

The affected cruises are:

MSC Opera: 12-night Eastern Mediterranean sailings – Rhodes, Greece and Heraklion, Crete replace Alexandria, Egypt. Three departures affected [September 28, October 10 and October 22 2015].

MSC Sinfonia: 12-night Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea sailings from Genoa – Burgas, Bulgaria replaces Odessa, Ukraine. Two departure dates affected [September 17 and October 11 2015].

MSC Fantasia – 11-night Eastern Mediterranean sailings – Rhodes, Greece and Heraklion, Crete replace Alexandria, Egypt. Six departure dates affected [December 17 2015, January 8, January 30, February 21, March 14 and March 25 2016].

In addition, Egypt port calls have been removed from the repositioning ‘Grand Voyages’ of MSC Sinfonia and MSC Musica when the ships leave Europe in October and November and head for their winter home ports in Durban, South Africa and Dubai, UAE respectively. MSC Sinfonia will instead visit Heraklion, Crete and Eilat, Israel, and MSC Musica will call at Heraklion.

For more information see www.msccruises.co.uk or call 020 3426 3010

© MSC Cruises

How to pack for different climate zones

Cruising can be fantastic fun for the whole family whatever the weather. With an ever expanding list of exciting destinations accessible via cruise ship plus a constant developing arena in on-board entertainment and conveniences, it is rare you’ll ever hear the phrase “it’s a shame about the weather” on your cruise holiday. Come rain or shine; activities, amusement and exploration are in abundance on modern cruise holidays and providing you are prepared for the climate zone of your choice, you can eliminate any weather woes from spoiling what’s bound to be your best holiday to date.

I’m packed © the opoponax

So you’ve chosen your next port of call, booked your holiday and your famous (yet slightly annoying for anyone not going) holiday countdown has begun. But when it comes to packing, what should you take and how can you ensure a good time is had no matter what the forecast has in store? Take some time to learn a little about the weather zone you are entering and with these handy tips plus some essential pre-planning, you will be well on your way to forecast fortune telling and smooth cruising in no time.

Equatorial

No prizes for guessing these are the countries hugging the equator. If you are cruising to the Equatorial climate you’ll likely be visiting some truly exotic destinations such as Columbia, Brazil and Ecuador in South America, Central America, Central Africa, India, Indonesia and the northern coast of Australia. When cruising along the equator itself you’ll be at zero degrees latitude, the widest point of the earth and exactly between the northern and southern hemispheres. Most countries within the equatorial climate experience just two seasons, wet (tropical rainfall and higher humidity) and dry (cooler temperatures with less rain). Biodiversity is rich here due to the surge in tropical humidity; this also means some of the world’s greatest rainforests are found within this climate zone. If the air feels dense and heavy be prepared for some short but heavy rainfall, plus if you’re cruising during rainy season, air conditioning and onboard entertainment should be high on your check list.

Equatorial Essentials: Rain mac, 50+ sun protection, bug spray, long sleeves, sports socks and closed toe walking shoes or boots for jungle excursions, binoculars, book on wildlife spotting.

Arid

Are you planning a cruise to the Middle East, Australia or Western America? You might find yourself entering an arid climate. Destinations such as (inland) California, Arizona, Texas, Morocco, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Australia can have extremely dry regions and deserts. Although they are astounding in physical appearance, these deserts and their surrounds can be extremely hot and inhospitable places. On the upside, annual rainfall is low and you can experience some beautiful blue skies as descending air and areas of high pressure eliminates the presence of clouds. An arid climate can also bring much colder temperatures as night falls so bare that in mind for evening attire and sleepwear.

Arid Essentials: Water bottle, sun hat for shade, cover ups (choose comfortable materials like cotton and linen), sunglasses, sandals, thermal pyjamas, eye drops, Vaseline.

Mediterranean

Cruising the Mediterranean is a dream come true for most holiday makers, and the balmy Mediterranean climate makes it easy to see why. This climate zone includes countries and regions roughly up to 40 degrees latitude either side of the equator but can also be present slightly further afield. Countries within this climate zone include Portugal, Spain, (the south of) France, Italy, Greece and Turkey but also (far south) Western Australia can experience similar conditions. Due to a seasonal shift in descending air, summers of the Mediterranean climate zone can be warm, sunny and dry with low rainfall. Pleasant and bearable temperatures are generally experienced throughout summer and some of the world’s best beaches are blessed with this weather, but searing heatwaves can also occur so sun protection is still important. Winter will bring cooler temperatures but still shouldn’t be cold enough to warrant packing a bulky overcoat.

Mediterranean Essentials: Swimwear, beach towel, snorkel, waterproof camera, shorts, thin layers, lightweight jacket, walking shoes.

Snow

You may not always see snow when cruising within the snow climate zone but overall temperatures are definitely colder for the most part and summers are short lived. Destinations within this region include Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Within this higher northern latitude the winters can be long, harsh and very cold so you’ll want to take some extra thermal layers if you plan on doing some shore exploring outside of the summer months. Frost melting and birds tweeting announce the awakening of spring in some areas and you’ll need good quality hiking boots to explore the magnificent terrains of Alaska, Canada or Sweden. Despite its snow coated stereotype, temperatures can still reach up to 30 degrees in the city of Moscow so consider short sleeves if you’re travelling to Russia’s capital city during summer. Stunning scenery changes drastically from vast thick fir tree forests to baron and empty acres of tundra the further north you explore the snow climate zone.

Snow Essentials: Hat, gloves & scarf for winter, warm (waterproof) coat, lightweight fleece, synthetic fibres (warm in winter, cool in summer), hiking boots, moisturiser, nature or bird spotting book.

Polar

The north and south Polar regions experience different climates but both harbour some of the coldest temperatures in the world. However, those that don’t mind a colder cruise will be rewarded with breath-taking scenery, amazing uninhabited landscapes and some incredible opportune photo moments. Destinations covered by the polar climate zone include (northern) Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, (north and north east) Russia, Antarctica and some areas of western China. The Arctic climate can be more bearable than the south due to moderation from the Atlantic Ocean, meaning that temperatures can reflect those of a mainland European winter. You’ll likely witness frozen ocean and some incredible ice glaciers during a cruise to the arctic north so prepare for the possibility of freezing temperatures. The sky is clear and you’ll want to bring a travel telescope or decent camera for star gazing or chasing the famous northern lights. Wrap up extra warm for a polar cruise to the south because temperatures here have been recorded at -80 Celsius. The air here is drier than most deserts so protect your skin and keep hydrated.

Polar Essentials: Thermal clothes, hiking or snow boots, coat, hat/scarf/gloves/balaclava, digital SLR camera, waterproofs, pocket tissues, torch, polarised wraparound sunglasses, sea sickness medication, swimwear (for natural thermal springs), travel telescope, book on star gazing.

Temperate

Expect a bit of a mixture if you are entering a temperate climate, as this category can include aspects of a Mediterranean, sub-tropical or maritime climate. You could even expect four seasons in one day if you are visiting the UK for example, an island with a typical maritime climate which means conditions are influenced by the ocean. A rain mac, sunglasses and scarf could all be of use during a trip here no matter the time of year. Other destinations experiencing a temperate climate include northern mainland Europe, (western and central) USA, (western) China, (north west) Argentina.

Temperate Essentials: Rain mac, sunglasses, hat, comfy walking shoes, sense of humour, layers, sea sickness medication, guide to cloud spotting

*Climate zones depicted from the Koppen climate classification. Weather conditions are always subject to change and it is advised to check official weather forecasts pre-departure for a happy holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

Beat the winter blues – book up a January getaway now!

January – it’s just around the corner, and perhaps the most depressing month of the year. We find ourselves with bare bank accounts, bulging waistlines and a freezing temperature to boot. The unsolicited reality of the New Year can no doubt leave us feeling rather miserable, so why not escape the dreary post-festive season and book a quick break away. Ozel Rowland picks some of the best January getaway destinations…go on, book up now!

The Algarve

Regarded as Portugal’s most premier holiday destination, the Algarve can reach averages of up to 16˚C in January and is loved for its beautiful coastal setting lined with magnificent limestone rocks. Go on a walking expedition, or book a boat trip, through a scenic route of the cliffs of Ponta de Piedade in Lagos, or head over to the wilderness of the west coast to discover Cabo de São Vicente, Portugal’s least developed region for a quiet retreat. If it’s a bit of culture and sight-seeing you’re after then discover the town of Faro to get a feel for Portuguese life in the old town. Book your getaway with bargain prices from £120pp.

Punta Cana  

Lining the eastern edge of the Dominican Republic’s is more than 50km of a stunning white coastline where you can get your dose of sun, sea and sand. The renowned Coconut Coast is a favourite among many for its dramatic seascape and lofty palm trees, as well as its abundant water sport activities and buzzing night scene. Temperatures can reach an impressive high of 29˚C as January marks the start of the island’s dry season, so you can lounge to your heart’s content on the beachfront before taking a dip in the crystalline waters of the Caribbean. Otherwise, why not explore the land and visit the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve to get up close with local wild life and tour its 12 freshwater lagoons. Find deals starting from £638.50 and begin your journey to this exquisite island today.

Antalya

Sitting along the glittering turquoise coast of the Turkish Riviera is Turkey‘s largest and most popular resort. Visit Antalya this January and find yourself in the narrow cobbled streets of Kaleici, the city’s historic quarter, to see beautifully preserved ancient Roman landmarks such as Hadrian’s Gate and Hidirlik Tower. Take a break at one of the many restaurants and get lost in the view of the Marina below before checking out the Antalya Archaeological Museum, where you can discover even more about the city’s rich history. For a more tranquil experience take a stroll along the coast or visit one of Antalya’s beautiful parks for picturesque landscapes and greenery. Temperatures in January can reach averages of up to 15˚C and with prices starting from £235 you wouldn’t want to miss out on this Turkish delight.

Gran Canaria  

The Gran Canaria is classic holiday destination that offers an eclectic mix of options for visitors. Whether it’s for a relaxing getaway on a beach, heady nightlife, or an active adventure of hiking and rock climbing, there’s much to enjoy on this fabulous island. While January is the coolest month of the year with averages at 17˚C it’s still warm enough to get the most out of your holiday. Stay at Las Palmas for a touch of culture and city life, or join a camel train in the sandy dunes of Maspalomas before hitting the plaza for a dose of high-end retail therapy. Playa del Ingles is best for party-goers, while Puerto Rico is ideal for sophisticated nights out in the town. Whichever resort you choose, you’re bound to find something that suits you. Deals start from £245pp.

Sharm El Sheikh

Surrounded by the aquamarine waters of the Red Sea is the charming coastal resort of Sharm El Sheikh. Located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, it’s a favourite among holidaymakers for its year-round sunshine, which is hardly surprising considering it enjoys January averages of 22˚C and value-for-money package deals. The area is an ideal spot to embark on an underwater adventure of snorkelling along the stunning coral reefs of the Red Sea, or for soaking up the sun on the inviting white sands of Sharm, which boasts more than 60km of coastline. A day trip to the historic city of Cairo is only three hours away and visitors can see such world famous ancient landmarks such as the grand stone monuments of the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza. Book your all-inclusive holiday now with prices starting from as little as £245pp.

 

The bizarre lengths us Brits go to for a cheaper holiday

What would you be willing to do to for a free round-the-world trip or a heavily discounted holiday? Run through the streets naked? Not talk for an entire year? Sunshine.co.uk found out what strange lengths people around the UK would go to.


They polled 2,176 people aged 18 and over from around the UK and asked them a series of questions and what they would be prepared to do for a cheaper holiday or a complimentary round-the-world trip (and no, they weren’t just talking competition entries and bargain hunting).

65% of people would stand up for an entire flight for a cheaper holiday

Initially, respondents were presented with the fantasy scenario of being able to save a significant amount on their holiday (described as at least 50% off) if they adhered to certain, slightly unusual, requests.

Respondents were presented with a number of things they could do to save money, in this fictional scenario, and were asked which they’d be willing to do for the money off. The top five responses were:

1. Stand for the whole duration of the flight – 65%

2. Share the hotel room with total strangers – 42%

3. Sleep on a sun lounger (outdoors) each night – 33%

4. Work a shift in the hotel during the stay – 21%

5. Not drink alcohol for entire holiday – 13%

24% of people would give up a non-vital organ for a free round-the-world trip

When we raised the stakes and asked what they would be prepared to do for a free round-the-world trip, 27% of the people taking part said they would streak naked through a busy high street, 24% said they would give up one of their non-vital organs and 18% told us that they would quit their job. 12% said they would leave their partner.

When asked if they had ever been dishonest when on a holiday abroad in order to benefit in some way, 21% said that they had. We asked what they’d done, 42% claimed they lied about a special occasion to get special treatment, such as a birthday or anniversary. 13% had lied about being on honeymoon to get preferential treatment or upgrades. Haven’t we all? No? Just us then…and to be fair, considering the oft-dreary, wet weather we have to contend with for much of the year in the UK, it’s hardly surprising that many of us are prepared to resort to desperate measures for a bit of sunshine! Talking of which, the Canary IslandsMexico and Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt are all nice and warm right now.

© Sunshine.co.uk

Good news! Britons behaving badly abroad reputation has improved

Let’s face it… us Brits don’t seem to have the best reputation abroad when it comes to our behaviour at holiday resorts. Yes, the majority of us are as good as gold and just keep ourselves to ourselves when away, but there are a few that let the side down.

Sunshine.co.uk decided that they’d speak to hotel workers around the world. 500 hotel employees took part in total, from popular tourist destinations such as the Canary Islands, mainland SpainFranceTurkeyGreecePortugalMexicoItalyEgypt and the Balearic Islands. Everyone we spoke to had been at the same resort for at least three years.

65% of hotel workers think Britons are more generous with tips now

They asked those taking part asked to think about tourists from Britain that they had encountered whilst at work and asked to compare their interactions and opinions of those from the UK at the present time to their experiences from three years ago.

First of all, the people taking part were asked if British tourists were more or less generous with their tips to hotel staff than they were three years ago. 65% felt they were being tipped more generously by British holidaymakers now than they were three years ago; while 18% said ‘less generous’ and 17% said there had been ‘no change’.

Britons are ‘more polite’ holidaymakers than they were 3 years ago

Next, Sunshine.co.uk asked if the British holidaymakers they encountered were more or less polite than they were three years ago, to which the majority, 54%, said ‘more’. 35% said there hadn’t been a change in the politeness of Britons, while 11% said they seemed ‘less polite’.

When asked a similar question, but in relation to the general behaviour of Britons, 71% said they’d noticed an improvement in this department; whilst 12% said they hadn’t noticed a change and 17% said they’d noticed holidaymakers from Britain becoming more badly behaved.

Dutch holidaymakers are most pleasant to hotel staff

When asked which nationality was the most pleasant to deal with when they were on their holidays, the top five answers given were as follows:

1. Dutch – 21%

2. Britons – 16%

3. Germans – 13%

4. Spaniards – 11%

5. Irish – 8%

Despite politeness, tipping generosity and general behaviour having improved according to the majority of the hotel workers, our research revealed that the majority (52%) felt that Britons were ‘drinking in excess’ when on their holidays.

It’s great that holidaymakers from the UK are finally getting a better reputation abroad. For too long, we’ve been known for our overly patriotic outfits, our stingy tips and our 24-hour drinking culture. Well, perhaps we’re still known for our ability to put away ten pints before lunch, but at least hotel staff around the world have noticed a change and people are being more courteous – cheers to that!

© Sunshine.co.uk

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