Posted on Nov 9, 2017
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.
Posted on Nov 4, 2017
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.
Posted on Oct 21, 2017
……… 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!
Posted on Oct 8, 2017
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.
Posted on Sep 24, 2017
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!
Posted on Sep 11, 2017
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!
Posted on Aug 28, 2017
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?
Posted on Aug 15, 2017
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!
Posted on Aug 2, 2017
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!
Posted on Jul 20, 2017
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!