1.What was your first cruising experience?
My first cruising experience was way back in 2007 for my honeymoon. An amazing back to back 14 night cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas taking in both the Western & Eastern Caribbean
2. What inspired you to take a cruise?
To be honest it was my wife’s decision, and I remember at the time being so nervous. I couldn’t get the image of the love boat TV serious out of my head and pictured a much older clientele. I couldn’t have been more wrong! And I haven’t looked back since; our main holiday each year is now a cruise holiday.
3. How has cruising changed since your first one?
For me it hasn’t changed at all from the cruise experience point of view, The service you get on some of these cruise lines is second to none, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity to name a few. Amazing food, great entertainment plus lots to do.
The only significant change, and the one that I suppose really matters in this day of age is that the prices have come down so much and cruise holidays have become more and more popular for this reason. Take MSC Cruises for example, they let children under 18 cruise for free! You can’t get that in normal holidays and I have noticed more and more families cruising over the last few years.
A cruise holiday can be what you want it to be. You can choose to relax by the pools, get pampered in the spas or you can have an energetic cruise full of excitement and sore morning heads – Cruising really is the only holiday where you get everything in one place, onboard these floating resorts.
4. Where do you see cruising in 20 years time?
This is a tough one to answer and opinions are definitely split. Some people think the whole bigger is better will start to take over. Look at Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships holding 5400 passengers – with more things to do and places to see than your average city! But for me I think the smaller ships will start coming back stronger in the next few years, offering more unique places to visit with even more exciting onboard activities available.
5. What is your favorite cruising region?
For me it has to be the Mediterranean, there are just so many ship options with some amazing destinations along the way.
6. What is your most memorable cruising experience?
So many to remember, but I’d have to pick the most recent one, Last August I took my family (Wife, child & Grandparents) onboard MSC Divina for a Greek Isles & Turkey cruise, and for the first time in over 15 cruises we got to meet the captain.
So to keep the story short and sweet my crazy child, Miss E was so excited to be getting to meet “El Capitano” and wanted to get done up like a princess. When it finally happened it was so nice to see how he treated her and everyone else who was lucky enough to be invited.
7. What are the most important aspects to a good cruising experience?
All depends on who I’m cruising with, if it’s our family cruise it comes down to 3 simple things;
– Good value
– Great service
– Onboard children’s activities ie kids clubs
If it’s a cruise for just my wife and me then it has to have;
– Great service
– Fantastic spa and relaxation areas
– Adult only zones
– Good entertainment, ie Casino, Nightclub and plenty of live music
8. Is there a ship that you have yet to sail on but yearn to do so?
I have 3 that I want and plan to get on as soon as I can;
– Disney Dream – I have to get Miss E onboard this and fast, she is princess mad and I can’t wait to see her reaction when she gets to meet all her favorite princess throughout the cruise.
– Royal Caribbean’s Oasis or Allure – I just have to see these! When we cruised onboard both Freedom & Independence of the seas, they were the biggest in the world at the time, and the sheer size of them was daunting, so I can’t imagine what these are going to be like, but with some of the activities onboard I’m pretty sure I will like them. Next year the first Oasis class ship will sail out of Europe around the med so I think I will have to wait till then.
– MSC Cruises recently announce a new ship class that looks amazing. I was following the twitter feeds closely when it was announced, Giles Hawke (MSC Cruises Managing Director UK & Ireland) described it as “very south beach” and looking at some of the artist impressions it’s hard not to get excited, just look how close you will actually get to the sea – While sailing!!
9. Do you have a cruising ‘bucket list’?
Well including the 3 above, I really would like to try a Transatlantic or repositioning cruise, how cool would it be to sail from the likes of Brazil back to Europe for 20-30 days – Pure bliss!! I have a feeling I might have to wait for Miss E to be all grown up for that
10. Are you a fan of ‘select restaurants’?
I love them; I cannot recommend highly enough that if you take a cruise holiday you just need to try these amazing restaurants at least once. Now don’t get me wrong the service and fun of meeting new people around the table along with the interaction with your servers in the main dining restaurants are fantastic, but if you want that little bit of piece and quite or maybe that romantic dinner for two you really have to try the select or specialty restaurants.
11. What is your favourite restaurant at sea?
Eataly Steakhouse onboard MSC Divina – This place is amazing, the food is second to none and the staff are always so helpful and happy
12.What is your ‘top tip’ for a first time cruiser?
I have a few but they will all make your cruise holiday a holiday to remember;
– Upgrade, Upgrade, Upgrade! Always check how much that balcony cabin is, you will be surprised how little extra it is. I know you might not plan to spend a lot of time in your cabin, but there is nothing like being able to sit outside while you set sail sipping a glass of bubbly or just chilling reading a book while your wife/partner gets ready.
– Plan ahead! Do some research on what ports you are visiting, see what excursions are available, think about what you want to experience in each port, will you get off the ship or stay onboard, and always, always book your excursions as soon as you board the ship, you would be surprised how quick they sell out.
– Check the what drink packages are available – do this when your booking your cruise holiday, it will save you in the long run
– Once onboard! Check out the specialty restaurants & Spa menus – If you are going to use them book them as early as possible
– Last but not least – Have fun & enjoy every minute of it!
12. You live in Ireland, where would you recommend a first-time visitor go to see the true beauty of the Emerald Isle?
There are so many – but to experience the city life in Ireland has to be Dublin, take a trip to Guinness Storehouse and a stroll down Grafton Street for some shopping.
Thank you to Paul for taking the time to answer these questions.