Is Jane McDonald selling cruising to you?

Obviously, being in ‘the business’ I have been an avid viewer of Cruising with Jane McDonald since the first episode and have loved watching her adventures on different ships sailing to many different destinations. Jane has a fabulous, outgoing personality and is just the right person to put cruising on the map for people that aren’t familiar with the joys of life on the ocean wave, after all, she did work on cruise ships for many years as a singer too.
It has been fabulous to see her experiencing different types of ships, from a tiny ship cruising around the Scottish Islands to the brand new and enormous MSC Meraviglia sailing around the Med.
Jane is so enthusiastic about everything, from the ship to the destinations, and the people she meets en route. However, I have to be honest and say that there is an element of the programme that disappoints me, we never really get a proper look at the ship she is on and all the wonderful facilities that these ships have to offer. Considering that the series is about cruising the focus is more on Jane exploring the destinations rather than the on board experience. The only time we see anything of the ship is when she does a quick flit round with her selfie stick. Surely the producers could have let us have a proper tour of the ship, the facilities and also a bit more focus on the food? All of these elements are worth focusing on so why so little time is given over to it is beyond me. A look at some of the different cabins you can choose from, focus on the many and varied restaurants you can dine in, special features of each particular ship, all are very important to people looking to cruise.
A particularly disappointing episode was the one a couple of weeks ago which featured the river cruise ship Avalon Poetry II. Now I know that river cruise ships are small and have none of the features boasted by the bigger ocean going ships, but we saw little or none of the ship, just a quick wiggle of the selfie stick and that was it.
I’m really surprised that the ships featured didn’t make sure that they were shown off to their full potential. If they were stuck for time I’m sure we could have skipped the cheesy song at the end of each episode!
All that said, I still love the series and will continue to watch – producers please note though, if there is a third series please show us more of the ships!
If you have watched any of Jane’s programme’s and would like to know more about any of the cruises or destinations featured then please get in touch with me and I will be delighted to chat to you about them.
Until next time, happy cruising folks!

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‘Cheeeeeeeeese!’

As we hurtle towards Autumn at a rate of knots, aren’t the nights drawing in, I had a lovely day out on Saturday, probably what will be one of the final ‘Summer’ days out until next year, and of course it involved food, when doesn’t it with me?
A group of us ventured to the beautiful old market town of Ludlow, in Shropshire, for the annual Ludlow Food Festival which is held within the walls of the castle in the town centre. What a fab day we had! It was just food, food and more food, oh and maybe a bit of drink too 🙂
There were 160+ food stalls which were all local small companies, demonstrations from Michelin star holders, Masterchef contestants, and 3 previous Great British Bake Off contestants along with interactive classes and many other food related stalls and some not so food related. I approached a book stall and was very surprised to come face to face with Boycey from Only Fools and Horses, flogging his latest book. Between you and me he didn’t come across any more cheerful than he did on the small screen!
We wandered from stall to stall trying all the free samples, it would be rude not to wouldn’t it. A firm favourite was the Salted Caramel Vodka which was just divine. A bottle was swiftly purchased and will be saved for a date late in December – i can’t bring myself to say the word just yet. Several wedges of cheese were also purchased, all locally produced. Wrekin Blue is a firm favourite so far, the wedge having been almost entirely consumed already.
Late breakfast was locally produced rare breed Pork Sausage baps which were heavenly, followed by an organic strawberry milkshake, also heavenly. A local handmade pork pie was added to the shopping basket along with a Violet Garlic bulb – interesting!
My friends husband was ready for lunch by now, but what to choose? There were foods from around the world on offer including some very exotic meats being cooked on a South African Braai – BBQ to you and me. Alligator, crocodile, python and so much more, however we settled for locally produced lamb burgers which were truly delicious.
By mid afternoon we were ready for a small something and as the sun had come out it seemed that an ice-cream would fit the bill nicely – salted caramel was an excellent choice 🙂
All in all it was a truly fabulous way to round off Summer in a stunning location. Ludlow is a beautiful town and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Shropshire.
Today i am back in the office and what a busy day it has been. P&O 2019 Summer cruises are now on sale to past passengers and boy are they making the most of the early booking benefits! September is going to be a busy month for sure – good job I lined my stomach with all that delicious food on Saturday!
Ludlow Food Festival takes place next year 7th, 8th, 9th September 2018
Happy Cruising folks!

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This Guys Parisian Adventure is making me Giddy!

I’ve never had a head for heights and many years ago actually went round the top of Plymouth Hoe lighthouse on my hands and knees! Just the thought of it makes me go giddy to be honest so when I came across an article today about James Kingston’s latest adventure I was giddy as! I’d struggle to go up in the lift let alone climb without any ropes or safety equipment.
James Kingston is a British ‘freerunner’ and blogger and he freely admits he used to be terrified of heights. Two years ago he dangled himself from a crane in Southampton and has since climbed a number of structures including chimneys in Germany, cranes in India and the Wembley Arch.
The Eiffel Tower had been a goal for him for quite a while and he and his partner planned to buy tickets to enter the tower and then climb from the stairwell however, they realised there would be too many people around so they climbed the entire structure from the outside.
They started the climb uneventfully but were soon spotted by security guards which almost prevented them from reaching the top, however they did make it just before sunrise. Once they were both safely down on terra firma they were promptly arrested, handcuffed and taken to the local police station from where they were finally released without charge, although Kingston did have to promise not to climb again for 3 years before they could be released.
Free climbing up a structure such as the Eiffel Tower, or just a ladder for fun is something I just cannot comprehend, it fills me with dread but obviously some people find it a thrill. I struggled going ‘To the Top’ when I was in Dubai and that was on the inside of the Burj Khalifa, I couldn’t go anywhere close to the glass screens to admire the view.
There may be those of you who are thrill-seekers and enjoy the more active shore excursions when you are cruising but for me the more gentle approach is just perfect, nothing to extreme.
What is the most thrilling excursion you have ever done, and would you do it again?

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What’s your favourite part of a cruise?

Whether you are relatively new to cruising or a seasoned cruiser, you must have a favourite thing when it comes to cruising? Do you love the formal nights, is it the prospect of a new port of call, is it not having to do the laundry the whole time you are away, or sitting on your balcony just watching the sea go by and enjoying the peace and quiet?
For me it always comes back to the same old thing – the food! I just can’t help myself at all. I spend all of my time just looking forward to the next meal, and I lurch into every meal seamlessly, no effort required, although the amount of choice does sometimes set my head spinning! I constantly have to remind myself that I don’t have to eat all that is offered at every sitting. I just love food.
For breakfast and lunch I am more than happy to use the buffet restaurant, and some evenings too if I’m honest, as I don’t always want to dress for dinner – I am on holiday after all. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships house my favourite buffet restaurants. A favourite breakfast on Equinox some years ago was Eggs Benedict with Canadian Maple cured ham – delicious!
I have eaten many different steaks on many different ships over the years, from 4* ships to 6* luxury ships although I usually plump for a Filet Mignon as it’s my favourite, and if Surf n Turf is on offer, well it would be rude not to wouldn’t it. My favourite ever steak at sea has to be the one I had a few years ago on NCL Epic in Cagney’s Steakhouse, yes, it beat anything I’ve had even on the 6* ships, so if you going on an NCL ship any time soon then make sure you book into Cagney’s.
And so to dessert. My all time favourite is Creme Brulee. I always choose this where ever I am, be it on a ship or the local pub. Creature of habit I am. Now a creme brulee is usually quite a small offering as it’s so rich but let me tell you, the Creme Brulee in the Moonlight Sonata (main dining room) on Celebrity is what I would call a ‘goodly portion’, possibly double the size of your average one, and if you speak nicely to the waiter you can always have a second one – that is of course if you are a pig like me 🙂 I think I have shared the story of the fabulous Basil Ice Cream on a river cruise on the AmaCerto before.
I could talk endlessly about food but that’s all for this week so please do let me know what is your favourite thing about cruising.
Until the next time, happy cruising folks!

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Why are so many of you missing the boat?

It takes a lot to render me speechless but at this time of year I am well and truly rendered speechless several times a day. We are now well and truly into the school holidays and into August too now so really you would think that anyone looking to go on a cruise during August would have booked already. Not so!

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Your River Cruise Questions Answered – by Yours Truly!

Any one who has followed my Blog over the years knows that my favourite type of cruising is river cruising.  I did my first river cruise about 6 years ago, the first of many, and I have never looked back. It ticks all the boxes for me, small ships, friendly staff and passengers, fabulous scenery all day every day, and being docked right in the centre of which ever city you are visiting so no long transfers, not to mention fabulous food!

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Lou and Dave are, quite simply, living the (Thomson) Dream…….

Lou and Dave, friends of mine, have been wanting to try cruising for a while now and are currently on board their maiden voyage, on the Thomson Dream, cruising the Aegean and what a fabulous time they are having. Just this morning I had a message from Lou saying they are totally hooked and don’t want to come home.

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Going Places – from the Garden…….. oh yes we are!

Goodness, I don’t like to complain but isn’t it hot! I know we should be grateful as we get little enough good weather during our Summers, but working in an office in this heat was all getting a little bit too much for my colleague Ben and I so last week we hatched a plan. We both live in the same village, Alvechurch, which is not far from Head Office in Redditch, Worcs, so we made our personal office in my garden. We are lucky to be able to connect to the office server from literally anywhere, so why not outdoors? It worked so well that the ‘garden office’ is still in full swing and will remain so as long as the warm weather lasts. A friend told me last night that this is the start of a 3 month heatwave so i don’t anticipate moving indoors any time soon. While Ben loves the sun, I need the shade of a parasol to work under. I am entirely the wrong age for such temperatures! One client asked if we were working in an aviary as he could hear the birds twittering while we were on the phone!

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Does size matter?

Give or take the occasional smaller luxury ship being launched, it seems that every ship has to be bigger than the last, with more and more facilities on board or more advanced technological features. It just seems to be the way of the cruising world at the moment and it beats me how the cruise lines think they are going to keep getting ‘bums on berths’, there are just so many to fill!

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Her Majesty and I have more in common than you might think!

I love smaller ships, I don’t need a choice of 14 restaurants, multiple bars and lounges, rock climbing walls and ice-skating rinks, if anything it is too much choice and I find you end up flitting from bar to bar all evening, not settling in one place. Give me a Fred Olsen ship with one bar, one lounge and one theatre and I have all I need thank you very much.

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