Sparkx’s top experiences of 2018

As we welcome in 2019, it’s a great time to reflect on everything that’s happened over the past year.  2018 really has been a fun year, packed full of exciting adventures and new experiences.  I’m so grateful for this – I’ve met and spent time with some really lovely people and learnt so much along the way.  I’ve now been cruising for over 25 years, so I shared my love letter to cruising, talking about what inspires and drives me to blog and cruise.

So, without further ado, here are my top ten moments and experiences of the year:  

10. My first ship yard visit

Something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid is to visit a ship yard to see up close how modern-day cruise ships are built. And boy this experience didn’t disappoint!  In June a group of us were invited by MSC Cruises to visit St Nazaire in France to see not one, but three key milestones in ship construction.  Firstly, was the steel cutting ceremony for MSC Virtuosa, then the coin ceremony for MSC Grandiosa and finally we watched as MSC Bellissima was floated out for the very first time.  Take a look at this blog to see more about this unique experience.  Also, if you’re interested in how ships are built, take a look at this blog 

 9. Kayaking in the Caribbean

I have a real soft spot for the Caribbean and at the beginning of the year I visited a number of islands on board Viking Sea.  One of the most memorable experiences was kayaking through a mangrove in St Thomas, learning about the importance of these beautiful areas, before snorkelling in a gorgeous cay. Such a great experience and something I thoroughly recommend it if you visit St Thomas.  You can learn more here 

8. Visiting Bruges Christmas Market

I love visiting Christmas Markets, but Bruges takes this whole experience to a whole other level.  We took a weekend cruise from Southampton to Bruges on board P&O Cruises’ Ventura, spending the day exploring and enjoying everything festive Bruges has to offer.  It was so much fun, and Bruges really knows how make you get into the holiday spirit.  Take a look here at the blog from our wee adventure.  

7. Exploring Maine

I’ve always wanted to visit Maine and in September this year we took a cruise from New York on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas that visited, Boston, Maine and Nova Scotia.  To say I fell in love with Maine was an understatement.  From the fun city of Portland, with its many lighthouses and rich history, to the beautiful area of Bar Harbor.  It was truly exceptional … not to mention all that lobster!  Take a look at our adventure here (more posts coming soon).  

6. My first river cruise experience

I became a founding member of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Choose Cruise Club in 2018.  This is a cooperative of bloggers working with CLIA that advocate why you should choose to cruise.   I’m so thrilled and flattered to be part of this and I look forward to bringing you more in the coming year.  Take a look here to learn more about it.  

In November, a group of Choose Cruise bloggers attended the CLIA River Cruise Conference that took place in Paris.  This was such a great first experience of river cruising, from the destination immersion, enrichment and really well-designed ships.  Take a look here at what I thought of it all.  Watch this space for more River Cruising updates in 2019!  

5. Husky trekking in Tromso

One of the more active experiences this year was visiting the Tromsø Wilderness Centre in Norway.  Here we were greeted by many excited Alaskan dogs and pups wanting to take us on an adventure. We paired up with a husky and trekked through the beautiful Norwegian landscape.  It was so lovely to spend time with these wonderful dogs, learn about them and get outdoors with them. Read more here

4. The Christening of Azamara Pursuit

I took part in my very first ship Christening this year. In August I spent time on board Azamara Pursuit, when she was christened in Southampton.  It was an amazing event filled with champagne, fireworks, and cruise-industry VIP’s. It was also my first cruise with Azamara so I was keen to get to know more about the brand up close, as well as all that they’re famous for.  Take a look here to learn more.  

3. Going to the top of Europe

Venturing into the Arctic Circle (particularly during the 30-degree heat) was a really special experience during the summer.  Topped off, literally, by going to the very top of Europe. Take a look here for more.  

2. Living like a Viking

I had my first taste of Viking Cruises this year and it honestly blew my mind – I’m definitely a Viking convert.  From the intimate spaces on board, to the gorgeous scandi-design and amazing food … there’s nothing to hate about Viking.  Take a look at some of my experiences on board here and here.

1. Experiencing the midnight sun 

The most humbling and awe-inspiring experience of the year has to be experiencing the midnight sun on board Viking Sea as we sailed through Norway.  It was honestly so amazing to see the beautiful sun at 12am and I am so grateful to have seen such a marvel of nature.  

This list could go on and on!  While all these experiences are utterly amazing and unique, they have really been made by the numerous people that I have shared them with over the course of the year. I have spent time with so many lovely people and made some great new friends.   

What’s in store for 2019?  

I’m already working on a number of exciting things for 2019, including the maiden voyage of MSC Bellissima in March, as well as a few other bits and pieces that will be revealed in due course.  I’m starting the year on a high with a holiday on board Celebrity Edge. I seriously cannot wait to share everything about this ship on Social Media, on here and via other outlets.  Make sure to follow me! 

A big thank you to everyone who has made 2018 and I hope you all have a peaceful new year!