Many of my golfing friends have been on cruises and have shared some great stories of their own personal experiences. I have always been curious about cruising but up to now have not taken the plunge. After chatting to keen golfer Cormac Meehan who had just returned from an inspection trip on ‘The Independence of The Seas’ I might just go for it!
According to Meehan, owner of Meehan Travel, Bundoran, County Donegal, the passenger capacity of Royal Caribbean’s newly refurbished cruise ship, Independence of the Seas, at 3,634, puts the population of his seaside resort base in the shadow. Bundoran’s population stand at 1,963!
Cormac was one of a small group of Irish Travel Agents and Travel Journalists who were recently hosted on the ship for a pre~relaunch inspection.
Indy, as the ship is affectionately known, left Southampton’s Mayflower Cruise Terminal for a 36 hour voyage down the Solent, skirting the south coast of England almost as far as the Scilly Isles before turning for the return leg on the Channel Islands side passing Brest and Cherbourg in France and back into the scenic Solent.
Apparently cruising conditions were perfect with a light warm breeze, no rain and temperatures that allowed those on board to enjoy the new desktop attractions such as sky pad, VR trampoline and the amazing wave rider surf machine. In addition to a fine range of excellent staterooms the ship boasts 4 swimming pools, one adults only zone, a magnificent gym and luxury spa and two very unique whirlpools that are cantilevered on the sides of the ship with a bird’s eye view of the sea.
The refurbishment of Indy cost over $90 million, underlying Royal Caribbean’s confidence in the global cruise market. They have a fleet of 25 ships, visiting more than 256 dream destinations on 64 countries on six continents.
Meehan Travel, in common with other travel agencies, have experienced significant growth in the cruise market over the past 10 years. “Following the increasing popular honeymoon cruise trips to Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean, those customers have moved on to A vast suite of cruise alternatives such as the Mediterranean, the Norwegian fiords, Arctic adventure and expedition cruising”, said Meehan, adding that river cruising in smaller boutique style luxury vessels in both Europe and the Far East were showing as strong contenders in the competitive sector of the international travel market.
Meehan concluded that his sales staff in Bundoran felt that after features such as ship and crew excellence, the main attraction of cruising for all customers, young, old, couples, independents and families was the ability to visit several cities in several countries in a short space of time, packing and unpacking your suitcase only once! While price can be an important issue when booking a cruise, Meehan would encourage to get the best that they can afford, the cost difference between an inside and ocean view stateroom is often not significant but can make the a huge difference in the cruise experience. He advises that people think about shore excursions, drinks packages, WiFi costs and on board purchases. The travel agent will always be aware of the regular special promotions that can arise to enhance your travel experience and, most importantly, leave you planning your next voyage before you leave the ship.
Meehan would not be drawn on whether on not we will ever see a few fine fairways and carefully manicured greens on the next generation of super cruisers.
Caps:Top.L/ R. Alan Lynch, Cruisescapes; Fiona Meehan Travel; Kathleen Meehan Travel, Marie McCarthy, Irish Ferries; Caroline, Meehan Travel, Cormac Meehan.
The view from the Eighth gallery, the ship’s Grafton Street, which features 5 shops, incl Michael Kors, 4 Restaurants/Bars.
For further information or to book visit: www.cjmeehan.ie