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.

Lisbon is Europe’s second oldest capital (after Athens), and was once home to the world’s greatest explorers like Vasco da Gama, Prince Henry the Navigator and of course our favourite explorer Magellan! Becoming the first true world city, Lisbon was the capital of an empire spreading over all seven continents from South America (Brazil) to Asia (Macao). The former launch pad for many of the world’s greatest voyages is now where modern travellers come to explore.

Lisbon Panorama

CopenhagenCopenhagen is certainly the coolest kid on the Nordic block - the Danish capital gives Scandinavia that X factor.

It has parks, beaches, award-winning food, safe cycling routes and lots of cool attractions, and with all this in mind it is unsurprising that Copenhagen and Denmark regularly top the international happiness surveys.

If you are going on a planned mini cruise to Copenhagen, then follow our guide to help you tap into the city’s happy vibe. We reveal the top three excursions you can do, top free attractions you can visit and share some expert tips you should be aware of before your trip.

Orkeny IslandsHauntingly beautiful wide open vistas, a proud Norse heritage and a thriving local community. Is it any wonder that the islands of the Orkneys cast such a magical spell over visitors?

For many people, the Orkney Islands are no more than a small smattering of tiny specks on a map of the British Isles, sitting off the eastern tip of the Scottish mainland. Along with the Shetland Isles (which are even further north), the Orkneys represent the far reaches of the United Kingdom where it stretches up into the North Sea and the realms of Scandinavia. In fact, so far north are these outposts, that Orkney capital Kirkwall sits on the same latitude as the Nordic capitals of Oslo and Stockholm – but thanks to the Gulf Stream, enjoys a milder climate.

North Cape, Norway

Few countries are as dynamic, dramatic and beautiful as Norway. Journey through the ancient waterways of this unique Scandinavian country on this once-in-a-lifetime Norwegian fjords cruise, where you will experience some of the most stunning landscapes, fascinating history and impressive architecture in Europe. There are an endless array of things to do and see in Norway, but here are our ultimate favourite experiences in an unforgettable Norway cruise.

GBRSpectacular, mesmerising and awe-inspiring. As one of the seven wonders of the natural world, a cruise of the Great Barrier Reef lives up to every superlative you can think of. You don’t get many natural wonders more wonderful than this. Whether you’re embarking on your first cruise or going on the adventure of a lifetime on a round the world cruise, the Great Barrier Reef has to be on your bucket list.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef needs little introduction. This underwater wonderland of colourful coral stretching for 1,200 miles off the coast of Queensland takes the crown as the largest living thing on Earth. It can even be seen from space! Those lucky enough to get a close-up view of this natural phenomenon can see marine life in glorious technicolour with vivid corals competing with the bright hues of shimmering shoals of tropical fish.

It’s no secret that visiting the Great Barrier Reef is many travellers’ dream. Getting the chance to plunge into the crystalline waters is an out-of-this-world experience. Feel yourself become part of a constantly evolving masterpiece – where turquoise shades form a moving translucent backdrop that ripples and flickers in time to the sun’s dancing rays.

the Church Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg Russia  Copy

Words alone cannot do justice to the breath-taking extravagance of the Imperial splendours of St Petersburg. This Russian city puts the grand into grandeur with its awe-inspiring collection of ornate palaces, museums and cathedrals that rose to royal glory under the Russian tsars and survived the subsequent Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and, more recently, decades of Communist rule.

There is no shortage of tourist sights in this former capital. In fact, visitors need plenty of time to appreciate what this grand city has to offer, which is why CMV ships always stay overnight, giving guests two days to explore. One of the best ways for cruise passengers to discover St Petersburg is on cruise line excursions as UK passport-holders are covered free of charge by the ship’s group visa. Those wanting to go ashore independently need their own visa, and this has to be arranged in advance.

Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and built on a series of islands in the Neva River connected by iron and stone bridges, St Petersburg is overflowing with cultural gems, inevitably spiced up with accompanying tales of murder, mayhem and intrigue. The top draw is undoubtedly the famous Hermitage Museum, housed in the 18th century Baroque Winter Palace, which could easily take days to explore on its own. Dating from 1764, when it was founded by Catherine the Great, it is one of the world’s largest and foremost art museums, boasting more than three million exhibits housed in at least 1,000 rooms.

Isles of Scilly

Few destinations offer a more quintessential taste of England’s coastal glories than the Isles of Scilly. This engaging cluster of tiny outposts dotted just 28 miles off the tip of Land’s End is a delectable haven of escapism, combining effortless natural beauty with a blissfully serene way of life.

In some ways, these sleepy isles are more reminiscent of another era, taking visitors back to a time when life was simpler and moved at a slower speed. It’s easy to fall under the islands’ soporific spell and immerse yourself in the rich traditions and legends surrounding these remote Atlantic settlements, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.

These are lands of shipwrecks and treasures; of deserted villages and ancient remains, with granite Tudor castles and military garrisons sitting as a reminder of more turbulent times.

Marco Polo – South American Treasures, 5th January 2016

by CMV Passenger John Wilkes


The cruise was due to start from Avonmouth but inclement weather on the previous cruise resulted in Southampton being the port of embarkation. Comfortable coaches took us there from our initial gathering place at Avonmouth cruise terminal. Aboard my coach, good conversations were enjoyed; and packed lunches were supplied. I was on board Marco Polo before 4pm and was escorted to my ocean view cabin on Atlantic Deck 6. The pleasantly warm and quiet air-conditioned cabin was kept scrupulously clean and well stocked for the entire voyage. The mattress was very comfortable. The washroom had a shower compartment but no bath. I had two round portholes. After unpacking and some refreshment in the Bistro, I attended the mandatory Safety Drill. We left the port before 9pm seeing two other cruise liners, Boudicca and Queen Elizabeth, in the Solent. The Welcome Show in the Show Lounge was enjoyable.

A full day at sea followed; the ABBA tribute show entertained. Clocks were put forward an hour. Swells as in the Bay of Biscay were not too pleasant. Midday on Day 3, we arrived at La Coruna, Spain. It was raining but I still enjoyed a seafront walk to view the spherical San Pedro glazed elevator and beach-front art works. That evening UK guest act, comedian Andy Leach cheered us all up with his humour. He also performed the following evening, incorporating some magic into his act. Earlier Dr Clive Leatherdale had given the first of his excellent geo-political talks: ‘Introducton to South America’. There was also a Port excursions talk by the Shore Excursions team; and a talk on photography by John Riley ably assisted by his wife Linda.

Marco Polo - What makes this ship special