St. Petersburg White Nights Festival

When the winter snow and cold finally departs from St. Petersburg in early May, many locals begin to look forward to the warmth of summer that finally returns to the shores of the Neva. From late May to early July the nights in St. Petersburg are bright with the ‘White Nights’, with the brightest period normally lasting from 11 June to 2 July every year. St. Petersburg is actually the world’s most northerly city, with a population of over one million people. Due to being so far north the sun, when setting, does not go under the horizon deep enough for the sky to move out of early dusk and into night. This leaves the sky a bright colour all night from 11.30pm onwards until sunrise which gives you the beautiful white colour after which the White Night Festival is named after.


With our new ship Columbus nearly ready to start her inaugral cruise with us, we thought it might be a good idea to test your knowledge of our new ship. Think you already know Columbus inside and out? Now its time to prove it.

food pun

#NationalVegetarianWeek is in full swing and is a great way for you to get stuck in and try out a different way of living. The week is an annual awareness-raising campaign promoting inspirational vegetarian food and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle. Whilst some may see becoming vegetarian as an easy transition into a cruelty-free lifestyle more people than ever in Britain are beginning to take up Veganism to eliminate animal-cruelty in their whole day-to-day lifestyles. Adopting Veganism is not something to be taken lightly and involves changes which can affect choices including where, who and what companies to travel/holiday with.

Millennium Stadium

As many people know this summer Cardiff will be hosting one of the world’s largest sporting events, the UEFA Champions League Finals. On 1st June the women’s finals will be held at the Cardiff City Stadium and on 3rd June the men’s finals at the National Stadium of Wales. It is touted as being one of the biggest sporting events to ever be held in Wales and the single-biggest sporting event in the World in 2017.

Havana, Cuba

With the house prepped for a long absence and all the packing done, I took a taxi to Bristol Avonmouth port and less than an hour later, I was in my Ocean View cabin on Pacific Deck 7 aboard the elegant and iconic cruise ship Marco Polo. Being a Diamond member of the CMV Columbus Club, I was welcomed in my cabin with a bottle of champagne, canapes, fruit, flowers and a welcome card. Facilities within the cabin were just as welcoming; a flat-screen TV and tea and coffee-making facilities were also great additions. Now we were all ready to head for faraway places including Jamaica, Belize, Mexico, Cuba and Bermuda.

Canadian maple syrup

From decadent poutine to caribou stew, Canadian cuisine is not afraid to be bold. Using their bounty of local ingredients and inspiration from recipes throughout the ages, Canadians have developed some of the tastiest dishes in the world.

Named by Forbes as one of the world’s friendliest countries, Canada has a welcoming feel and an immediate cosiness that is represented in much of its food.

Palace Square at Night

St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city, With a population of over 5 million people, it is one of Russia’s most westernised cities as well as the country’s cultural capital. Formerly known as Petrograd and Leningrad, St. Petersburg served as the capital of Russia until the soviets transferred the government back to Moscow in 1918. Built by Peter the Great in the early 1700’s, St. Petersburg has grown to become one of Russia most important cities, not just culturally, but economically too.

From its iconic architecture to the unique local cuisine, St. Petersburg is a fascinating city offering a taste of Russia’s culture. In this handy guide, discover the highlights of the city waiting to be explored on a Baltic cruise.

Stretching 1,770 miles and passing through some of Europe’s most fascinating countries, the Danube River offers a unique river cruise experience.

From the striking architecture of Nuremberg in Germany to the cultural towns and cities of Serbia, there’s so much to see on a Danube River cruise. Step back in time at famous monuments and medieval towns, tuck into local cuisine or simply relax and watch the world go by.

This handy infographic by Cruise & Maritime is filled with useful details, from key phrases to try out in each country to the top attractions. Discover every step of this remarkable journey and start planning your cruise adventure. Make the most of your trips to these unique cities, towns and villages with Cruise & Maritime’s shore excursions, or step off the ship and explore the sites on your own terms.

However you choose to plan your holiday on the Danube River, we’re sure you’ll fall in love with these bustling European cities and the charming lesser-known towns.


Danube River key phrases and top attractions infographic

Why cruising is an affordable way to see the worldWhen many people think of the word ‘cruising’, it immediately conjures up the sense of unaffordable luxury. It is perhaps true that, in days gone past, cruising the world was a pursuit only really available to the most affluent of couples and families; we would simply gaze on with envy whenever we happened to spot a cruise ship on the horizon or docked in a port we were visiting on a more modestly priced holiday.

Now, however, these days of exclusivity are a thing of the past. For various reasons, discovering the world from the comfort of a cruise ship is a much more realistic option for countless people across the UK and the world, and this is reflected by the huge growth which the industry has seen in recent years, even against an economic backdrop which has seen several other areas of the travel industry falter.

In this article, we will go into a bit more detail about how and why cruising is no longer just accessible to those with second homes and supercars – if you do your research and choose the right package, taking either a long or short cruise break is now an option which is open to just about anyone who enjoys an annual holiday.

Planning a cruise? Whether you’re going to kick back on a tropical beach, or explore the Arctic on a Northern Lights cruise , holidays are all about adventure, relaxation and spending time with your loved ones.

Travelling across borders involves carrying passports and foreign currency, as well as navigating areas you may be unfamiliar with. To give you peace of mind, take a look at this visual guide from Sainsbury’s Bank on how to keep your valuables safe abroad.

This handy guide offers tips on how to look after your money, cards, valuable items and travel documents, as well as what to do if something is lost or stolen.

MS Astor

Guest post from John Wallace & Sylvia Bowman who travelled on board Astor back in March 2016 on her northbound voyage from Fremantle to London Tilbury.

The MS Astor is a small cruise ship. It carries a maximum of 578 passengers and 278 crew.

Originally built in 1987, it was totally refurbished in 2010. During the European summer it cruises the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean with mostly German passengers. In the European winter it used to cruise around the Caribbean until a couple of years ago when the owners decided to base it in Fremantle in Western Australia for the Australian summer where it cruises the West Australian coast and on to Bali in Indonesia as well as around Australia. It transitions between Australia and Europe at the end/beginning of each season.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus has long been hailed as the ‘discoverer’ of the New World. His explorations opened the way for the European exploration and colonisation of the continent. Born in 1451 in Genoa, Italy, Columbus was a master navigator and admiral. In his 30s, he started trying to get support for a transatlantic voyage intended to forge a westward sea passage to the Orient, where the settlers would exploit the production of spices and other natural resources.

Columbus succeeded in securing royal backing from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain and in August 1492, he departed with three ships, including the Santa Maria. He named the first island they found San Salvador in what is now the Bahamas, before going on to Cuba and Hispaniola. However, Columbus was adamant that he was in Asia. On their return to Spain, the crew were received as heroes and Columbus paraded indigenous people he had captured at court along with gold, the previously unknown tobacco plant, pineapples and turkeys.


River Cruising may be less well known than ocean cruising but is becoming ever more popular. More cruise companies are diversifying from traditional ocean cruises and entering the river market and more and more River Cruise Ships are being built each year, every one more luxurious and spacious than the last.

  1. Its incredible value

    Although you will need to check with each cruise line before booking, River Cruise fares offer exceptional value because almost everything is included in your fare (don't forget to check before booking as each line is different). Unlike ocean cruises most cruise lines offer you a free tour of each port your visit, free wi-fi and free beer, wine and soft drinks at lunch and dinner.

    Not included items may include top shelf alcohol, personal items and gratuities.

As many of us where celebrating another New Year like any other, a crowd of 60,000 had gathered in Hull to mark the start of the city’s year as the UK Capital of Culture with a magnificent light show and firework display.

Hull was announced as the winner of the UK City of Culture 2017 back in 2013. The award is given every 4 years to a city that demonstrates the belief in the transformational power of culture.

The arts and cultural programme for the year is set to run from 1st January all the way through to 31st December celebrating the unique character of the city, its people, history and geography.

To think that we know more about the moon than we do the seas that dominate the surface of the earth is mind-blowing.

The sheer vastness of the ocean has inspired and intrigued humans for thousands of years, as we use it for food and travel. 

You may ignore the hidden secrets that the ocean holds while you’re enjoying a short cruise holiday, like underwater volcanoes and mountain ranges, or the many species that are yet to be discovered.

There is still so much we don’t know about the sea; but we do know how deep it is, and this infographic will help you understand just how colossal the water beneath our cruise ships is.

Magellan in the FjordsHow do you travel to Scandinavia to see the majesty of the fjords on a budget? Mark Douglas has the answer.

With its breathtaking scenery, chocolate-box cities and spectacular fjords, Norway should be near the top of any intrepid traveller’s bucket list.

It’s close enough to the UK to make it eminently do-able, and an antidote for those tired of the beaches and bars of Spain or Portgual – yet the fjords’ very geography make them an expensive train or car trip from the cities served by most British airports.

Better by far to go by sea. But not on one of the mammoth ships that look more like apartment blocks and dwarf their ports of call.

Every day the Daily Programme suggests, as a guide, a mode of dress for that particular evening's events. There are generally two 'formal' or gala nights planned on each cruise of six nights or longer when many gentlemen wear a dinner jacket, although a lounge suit is quite acceptable. The ladies on these occasions have a chance to dress up and often opt for evening or cocktail dresses.

On evenings proposed as 'informal', a suit or smart jacket and trousers, with or without a tie, for the men is suggested and the ladies have further opportunities to look elegant in cocktail dresses or trouser suits.

A 'casual' recommendation often covers evenings spent in port or when a special event such as a deck party is scheduled. 

During the day, attitudes are very relaxed and informality is key. Casual clothing is quite sufficient  during the days at sea and for time spent ashore.


What To Wear Infographic

They are one of the most spectacular sights in the natural world, the Northern Lights have inspired people for generations, with more and more looking to seek out the wonder steeped in tradition and mystery.

Northern lights cruise

The Northern Lights are rare, mainly because of the number of elements needed to create them. You may need to spend some days in a particular destination to catch a glimpse, but even then it is no guarantee.

So that makes a northern lights cruise the ideal solution to seeing the lights. Our cruises visit a number of ports of call, so you are constantly on the hunt, giving you a great opportunity to catch the spectacle.

Marco Polo in the Canaries

The days in the UK were getting cooler. Falling leaves heralded the onset of another Winter. Time to head for the Sun. I had booked the cruise to travel South on  ‘Marco Polo’. This would be the fourth time I had cruised on this iconic ship. A taxi came to my Gloucestershire home at lunchtime and I was in Bristol Avonmouth before 2 pm. Boarding is straightforward – sign a health declaration; show your cruise ticket and passport; and collect your cruise card (for cashless transactions while aboard).

All things cruise; how good is your nautical knowledgeSure, you probably know your cruises. You’ve probably been on a few mini cruises, or even a world cruise. You probably know the difference between the berth and the bow, but how many answers can you get on our cruise ship quiz?

This is your port of call for the best facts and questions about cruises, so let’s see if you warrant a place at the Captain’s table.