Will Balmoral be as good as I remember?

It is just over eight years since this photo was taken, frightening really as it really doesn’t seem that long. Myself and the Wilsonette’s spent eight nights on board Balmoral visiting the Christmas Markets in various cities in Northern Europe, and what a fabulous time we had, along with my colleague Louise and her Mom. Fred Olsen really does do what it say on the tin, fantastic service, excellent food and a good variety of entertainment. Yes I have to agree that they don’t have the facilities that you find on the giant new cruise ships but you know, Fred’s just suits me. I don’t need rock climbing walls and surf simulators, ice skating rinks and Disney characters popping up all over the place, just a comfortable ship with good food and service is all I need. It’s the people you meet and the fun that you make for yourself that I enjoy.

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Happy New Year! What will 2018 have in store for us all?

Well that’s Christmas over for another twelve months so we can all breath a collective sigh of relief. I must admit that my tree and all my decorations are down already and I am looking forward to seeing what 2018 has to offer.

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What are your plans for Christmas?

I cannot believe it is twelve months since I posted a pre-Christmas post! Where on earth has the time gone? The older I get, the quicker the years fly by. And what a year 2018 has been, so many new ships launched with many more to come in 2018. Seabourn, Viking, Silversea and NCL have all launched new ships and MSC have launched Meraviglia and Seaside, with Seaview to follow shortly. I think they are trying for world domination in the industry!

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My Wonderful Day with Emirates!

Well what a fab day I’ve had today! A day out of the office thanks to Emirates, an what an interesting day it’s been. Myself and a group of colleagues were invited to join them at Birmingham airport for a sneaky peak around their Airbus 380 during it’s turnaround this lunchtime and then join them for lunch in the Emirates Business Class lounge.

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And they say size isn’t important?!!

Well, when it comes to cruising it seems that everything is getting bigger all the time, not to mention more technologically advanced, more environmentally friendly and more cutting edge. But with all these mega-ships being launched it seems that size is everything.

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Is The Party Over For P&O?

What were for years called “Taster Cruises” seem the have become something entirely different over the last few years. Short, two or three night, cruises were thought to be the ideal way for people who were new to cruising to try the experience and hopefully if they enjoyed themselves they would then re-book a longer cruise and go on to do many more. However, with celebrations such as Hen and Stag Do’s, and milestone birthdays becoming much grander affairs than they were in my day, a few drinks with your mates or a meal out, these short cruises have proved an ideal alternative to city breaks or a long weekend in Ibiza, and celebrate these young people do! So much so that it appears to be affecting the enjoyment of fellow cruisers and P&O have put their foot down and said enough is enough.

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It’s that Strictly time of year! Are you a fan?


Oh happy days! So, by 6.50pm tonight dinner will be ready, the gin will be on ice, the log burner will be lit and I shall be tuning into BBC for what has to be my favourite TV show Strictly Come Dancing, only just pipping Yorkshire Vet to the top spot though! I just love everything about Strictly, the sparkly costumes, the music, the camaraderie, just everything, although I am still not convinced by Shirley as head judge, she really isn’t Len Goodman is she, and I do think that she has been slightly biased when giving her votes for Simon Rimmer, fluttering her eyelashes at him too. How so ever, it all adds to the overall enjoyment of the show I suppose.

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What is it about Celebrity Cruises?

……… that I love so much! Apart from loving their fabulous ships which have a most luxurious feel about them that is? They realy are my favourite main stream cruise line, have been for a long time and probably will remain my favourite unless one of the other mainstream cruise lines really up’s their game.
Of course it will come as no surprise to anyone that it is the food as much as anything that I love. For me, no other cruise line can touch Celebrity when it comes to food, even the buffet restaurant is amazing on their ships, such a selection of food you have never seen, and all cooked to perfection. I will never forget the Eggs Benedict on Equinox, served with Canadian Maple Cured Ham, hand carved at that right in front of me – and that was just one course of my breakfast! I have often mentioned the fabulous, and huge, Creme Brulee in the main dining room, never bettered on any other ship too.
One thing I have never done on Celebrity is try any of the speciality restaurants, mainly because I have been really happy with the food in the main dining room however I have been looking at Facebook with great interest today as a few of my colleagues are currently on board Eclipse and last night they had dinner in Qsine, which is describes by Celebrity themselves as “Where else can you order sushi lollipops, lobster escargot and popcorn fish from an iPad menu? Qsine is unique in more ways than one. Open your mind and diversify your palette with culinary delights”, they go on to say “Let your sense of adventure lead you to Qsine. This innovative specialty dining restaurant serves up modern and thought-provoking cuisine that delights in surprising you.
Your unique experience begins as soon as you are handed your menu – an iPad. Peruse the unusual options and push yourself out of your comfort zone with a range of creative and playful dishes. Expect inspiring twists on classic favourites, unfamiliar flavour combinations and truly impressive (not to mention photogenic) presentations. This is a culinary journey in every sense of the word, and one visit is never enough.” I think the way I would describe the food is ‘whimsical and quirky, but completely fantastic’ – I did see some samples of the food on a ships tour of Eclipse a couple of years ago and it looked amazing, just unlike any way of serving food that I had ever seen before. I have promised myself that next time I am on board, and I hope that won’t be too long, I am heading straight there for dinner – having made my reservation beforehand online of course!
Looking forward to the new, groundbreaking Celebrity Edge though I have something of a dilemma, food I love, heights completely freak me out, and if you combine these two on this fabulous new ship, what do you get? You get the Magic Carpet of course! A ‘floating restaurant, suspended over one side of the ship which goes up and down while you are dining. A fantastic and unique experience I’m sure, but will I be brave enough to try it if I am given the chance? That is the $64,000,000 question. The food would have to be exceptional to even tempt me I can tell you. So watch this space, maybe sometime next year you will see a post entitled “I braved the Magic Carpet” – who knows!
For now folks, happy cruising!

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Why you really need to book NOW for Summer 2018………..

If I had a pound for every call, during June and July, from clients looking for a family cabin for the Summer holidays I would have retired on the proceeds a long time ago. Nine times out of ten I’m afraid those clients end up disappointed as the family cabins have long since sold – when will people learn? If you are looking for a cabin that holds more than two people you need to book ahead, especially for cruises during school holidays. They don’t hang around, they get booked up by people who are savvy.
Would you believe me if I told you that the week before last I booked the last four berth cabin on Queen Victoria for her Baltic cruise departing 10th August 2018? Well, there was one other four berth cabin available if I’m honest, the Q1 at a mere £47,000 for 14 nights, not something your average family can afford!
This year, more than ever, the cruise lines are pulling out all the stops to fill ships early, and to do this they are offering some fantastic extra benefits – free parking, free coach to the port, heaps of On Board Credit and free drinks packages, along with fantastic reductions for 3rd and 4th passengers and children. The deals really are fantastic at the moment! Gone are the days of waiting for the January sales, it isn’t going to get any better than this so now really is the time to book.
We have already seen a reduction in last minute discounts through this Summer as the cruise lines have realised that passengers who wait to pay rock bottom prices at the eleventh hour also spend very little on board, meaning the ship will make very little revenue from those passengers. Obviously with this in mind the cruise lines are giving the best offers to early booker’s in the hope that there will be very few cabin left for late booker’s which means they won’t need to reduce prices so much. The penny finally dropped!
So, my advice to you, especially if you are looking for a family cabin, book now to avoid disappointment. I look at dozens of cruises on a daily basis and family cabins are already quite thin on the ground. You will be seriously disappointed if you try to book late, believe me, so to avoid running the risk of a fortnight on the Costa Del Sol, give me a call on 0330 3030 8184 now and let’s get that cruise booked for you for next Summer.
Above is a photo of myself and my two lovely friends, with our gorgeous cabin steward Junior, in our three berth cabin which we booked twelve months in advance.

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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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