(Noon EST) -- Plans are well underway for the Cruise Show at London
's Olympia, which will be held March 26 and 27 and feature representatives of all the major cruise lines in the U.K., plus a chance to meet members of the Cruise Critic team.
Organizers expect a wide range of cruising to be represented, from the biggest lines to smaller operators specialising in river, expedition and ultra-luxury cruises. There will also be special offers, details on new itineraries, new ships and exciting onboard activities.
So how big has the show gotten? Reflecting the increase in popularity of cruise holidays across the U.K., the show has moved to a bigger venue (the Grand Hall) for 2011. Attendees can pick and choose among three theatres for a programme of free talks, lectures and Q&A sessions. Carolyn Spencer Brown, Cruise Critic's Editor-in-Chief, will be among speakers, which include TV personality and author Christine Hamilton and Travel Channel cruise expert Jonathan Beaumont.
Talks will range from panel debates with cruise experts to "meet the cruise lines" sessions and presentations on exotic and expedition cruising. Performances akin to those found on ships will take place on the Cruise Stage (new this year), while the Deck Lounge and Bar is a themed area in which to relax with a glass of wine.
If all this cruise talk has piqued your interest, we have 25 pairs of free tickets to give away.
Just send your name and postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org
by midnight on Monday, February 28. Twenty-five winners will be selected at random.
Otherwise, tickets are £6 in advance and £10 on the door, with under 16s getting in free. Cruise Critic members, however, who buy in advance are entitled to a discounted price of £4; enter the code "Cruise Critic" when booking via the Cruise Show's Web site
or quote "Cruise Critic" when calling the ticket hotline on 0871 620 4024.
The event is at Olympia Grand Hall, London, W14 8UX; hours are 10 a.m - 5 p.m. March 26 and 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. March 27. Watch this space over the next few weeks for more ticket offers and details on what to expect at the show.
-- By Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor