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In mid July I went on a family holiday to the south of Tenerife. There were four adults and two children, age 6 & 4. My daughter and her partner were on a limited budget and so we booked two apartments at the Colon 11, situated very near to the Palmeras Sol hotel and very handily placed for eateries and shops.
I was a little anxious before going, as I am more of a 4/5 star hotel person, but I agreed to go and be with my lovely grandchildren.
On arrival, the entrance seemed a little strange as there are tables and chairs outside on the pavement and it appears to be a cafe/bar. However, once through the door you see the reception area to one side. The building is deceptive as it then goes back for quite a long way and is a bit like the tardis – it is bigger on the inside.
Our apartments were next to each other on the first floor and were a really good size. They were spacious, clean and well furnished. The only possible down side, if travelling in the middle of summer, is that there is no air conditioning – only ceiling fans, We had a good view out over the pool and we could see the sea in the distance.
The pool and pool bar were very good and the children were most happy. The restaurant across the road offered a three course menu for just 9.50 euro.
We went to Siam Park, europe’s largest water park, which was amazing and we even took a bus round to the other side of the island to Puerto De La Cruz to visit the Loro Parque, which was again an amazing experience.
In late June we took a holiday in Gouvia, Corfu at a lovely boutique hotel called the Art De Bono which is family run and proved to be a real treasure.
The staff could not do enough for us and the food was really good. However, I should mention that the hotel is up quite a steep slope and so not really suitable for disabled guests. It just helped us to get fitter as the week went on. There was local entertainment twice a week for guests and a lovely lounge where you could watch tv or play cards or just chill out.
Corfu is a very lovely island, and we visited the capital and we took a bus round to Paleocatritsa, a really pretty bay and we spent a few pleasant hours there before catching the bus back to our resort.
We also went over by boat to Albania on an organized day trip. Whilst there we visited the Unesco World Heritage site of Butrint, and ancient Greek and later Roman city in Eparus and then we went to the holiday resort of Saranda.
In mid June I was lucky enough to be invited over to the Bahamas as a guest of the Bahamas Tourist Board. The trip was divided between two of the main islands. We spent three nights on Nassau and two nights on Grand Bahama.
The hotels in the Bahamas vary from small reasonably intimate and colonial types up to the enormous modern Atlantis Hotel with a plethora of amenities!
The beaches are amazing and as well as soaking up the sun there are plenty of opportunities for sight-seeing and action sports. One of my best memories will be our experience at Dolphin Cay, where I was able to get up close and personal with the local dolphins. It was a wonderful moment that will stay with me forever.
It is also possible to island hop and visit some of the quieter and scenically beautiful places, like Eluthera and Exuma.
Another choice is to take a Caribbean cruise – most of the main cruise lines operate from Nassau and there is selection of cruises available from 3 nights upwards.,
Direct flights to Nassau are operated by British Airways and take about 7 hours from London and less on the return thanks to the tail winds which mean you can be back in just six hours or so.
Cyprus – Early in the season
At the end of April we took advantage of some very keenly priced hotels and went to Cyprus for a week. We stayed at the 4 star Constantinos The Great Beach in Protaras.
The hotel and food were very good and the weather was also very kind to us. The slight down side of going this early in the season is that many of the shops, bars and evening venues were not open. Most of them were due to open the second week in May. This did not stop us having a thoroughly good week and taking time to go across the border and visit Northern Cyprus. Now a much easier thing to do. It was interesting to compare the two and we found Kyrenia was a buzzing and happening place!
All in all it was a very enjoyable week in the sun!
Clia Cruise Convention in Southampton
On 20th May I went down yet again to Southampton. This time it was to the Clia Cruise Convention and the opportunity to visit three great ships (all of which I had been on previously).
The conference sessions on day one were on the Royal Princess, which is a lovely ship operated by Princess Cruises. On day two we were on Anthem of the Seas, a fabulous new ship operated by Royal Caribbean and on day three we were on Britannia, the latest addition to P & O’s fleet.
All three ships, whilst very different, offer the same high quality food and entertainment and excellent value for money.
Be sure to give me a call for more exciting information and offers!
Anthem of the Seas
I have been so busy last month and this month that I am only just managing to report back on the fabulous two nights aboard Anthem of the Seas. I was very privileged to have been invited down to the naming ceremony of this amazing ship and afterwards to experience the fantastic amenities and activities on board.
The ship from the outside looks a little ungainly, but once inside it is magnificent. The dining is spread between eighteen different eateries and you never have to queue. It also makes it more of an intimate occasion. It is a good idea to take the drinks package as prices on board can be quite high. The food was excellent throughout our stay.
I took great delight in sampling the dodgem cars, in fact it was so good that I immediately went back on for a second time. I also went up in the North Star, which is the pod that rises 200 feet above the ship and gives a birds eye view of ship and sea. The most exciting activity, however, was the Rip Cord by I-Fly. This is where you experience free-fall status within a perspex tunnel with a mighty blast of air from below it to keep you airborne.
The evening entertainment was first class. In the theatre we were treated to the full show of We Will Rock You and the production was excellent. The following evening we experienced an amazing show called Spectre, which was performed in the 270 lounge using the most awesome technology. These two shows alone would make any trip on Anthem worthwhile.
If you want more details then please give me a call on 01302 711491 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hurry if you want to catch a bargain!!!!
Magellan Naming Ceremony
Just two days after being in Southampton for the Britannia ceremony, I was invited to attend the Magellan naming ceremony at Tilbury Docks with Gloria Hunniford acting as Godmother.
The Magellan is an old ship which has been wonderfully refurbished and offers very interesting itineraries from both Tilbury and other regional ports.
My oceanview stateroom was a good size and had the bonus of a walk-in wardrobe! The bathroom also was a good size.
Our evening meal was excellent and the hot food was really hot. A great improvement on my previous ship experience.
I can certainly recommend Cruise & Maritime to everyone who prefers the smaller ships with the more personal service.
Britannia Naming Ceremony
Having been lucky enough to be invited to the Britannia celebrations in Southampton on 12th May last I was more than a little excited at the prospect of seeing the Queen.
It was a lovely sunny day and Queen Elizabeth was resplendent in a delightful peach coloured coat and hat. She performed her naming duties impeccably.
The ship is extremely large and all the furnishings pristine. However, it felt just a little too large and the sun loungers were set out like sardines in a tin. Our deluxe balcony cabin was quite small with an equally compact bathroom. The evening meal menu offered an excellent choice, but the food was only luke-warm.
The evening show in the theatre was excellent and the acoustics superb.
Doubtless this ship will be a hit with P & O enthusiasts, but I think I prefer something smaller.
I was fortunate to be invited on an 8 day river cruise along the Danube with Emerald Waterways. I flew from Manchester to Munich and then transferred by coach to join the river cruise ship, Emerald Star, at a place just outside Nuremberg. There was a welcome party on board and then we sailed during the night to Kelheim arriving at 8am the next day. On 9th November we left the ship to visit Weltenburg Abbey and then we went for beer tasting and a boat ride on the Danube Gorge. Our ship picked us up again at Regensburg and then sailed to the city centre where we did a gentle walking tour of Regensburg. Back on board we had a Captain’s welcome dinner and enjoyed Bavarian music in the lounge. Our ship then sailed through the night to Passau, arriving at 8am. After breakfast there was a choice of either visiting Saltzburg or crossing over the border and visiting the UNESCO Heritage centre of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. As I had visited Saltzburg several times before, I elected to go on the Cesky Krumlov trip and I am so glad I did – It is an amazing and beautiful place. That evening the ship sailed to Melk arriving at 06.30am. After breakfast we transferred by coach to Melk Abbey, which is a truly beautiful building and after our visit we returned to the ship for lunch and it then sailed at 1315 hours to Durnstein. We had a free afternoon to explore Durnstein before setting sail at 1945 hours for Vienna, where we arrived at 0200 hours. After breakfast we had a part coach/ part walking tour of Vienna and were thrilled to watch a rehearsal of the famous Spanish Riding School. After dinner on the ship we transferred by coach to the Viennese Concert Hall for a stunning concert of Mozart and Strauss music with additional dance performances by two members of the State Ballet Company – it was amazing!
Just before midnight the ship set sail for Bratislava, arriving 06.30am. After breakfast we had a walking tour of Bratislava followed by lunch on board ship and some free time. Later in the afternoon we went to visit a local Slovakian family in a home-hosted visit. We enjoyed wine tasting, egg decorating and gingerbread icing – it was a lovely experience. That evening the crew put on a show for us and the ship sailed during the night to Budapest, arriving 08.30am. After breakfast we had a Budapest City Tour (mostly by coach) and we visited St Matthias Church and then had some free time before returning to the ship. The afternoon was free to do what we wanted and so we walked once more into the city and explored its beautiful places and we even went on the Budapest Eye for a birds eye view of the city.
I can thoroughly recommend both the itinerary and the company. Prices start from about £1495 per person.
That evening on board we were treated to a Hungarian Folk Show which was excellent. At 2200 hours we were invited to go on deck and the Captain sailed down one side of the Danube and then back up the other side in order to let us see all the fantastic buildings and bridges lit up, whilst at the same time listening to the Blue Danube Waltz playing. It was truly wonderful! The ship stayed overnight in Budapest and on Sunday after breakfast we had to leave this wonderful vessel and make our way to the airport for our return home.
Well I am just back from a lovely week in Barbados, staying at the all-inclusive resort of Club Barbados & Spa. The flight with Virgin Atlantic was excellent and it took just under 8 hours. There was plenty of films, tv and music to choose from and the food and drink was very good also – it did not seem to take long at all.
Barbados is a fun place with plenty to do if you want it or beautiful beaches and warm blue sea if you just want to chill! We went on the Reggae bus into the capital, Bridgetown. The journey takes 20 minutes and is great fun with reggae music playing at full blast and all for just 2 Bajan dollars (65 pence).
I will be happy to expand on Barbados if anyone needs more information, but for now I will just add a few photos to give you a taste of what you can expect on the island.
Short UK Cruise
Well I am just back from 4 nights on board the Cruise & Maritime ship Discovery and what a great 4 night cruise it was. We set off from Liverpool and cruised to Cobh the port for Cork in Southern Ireland. The weather was calm but cloudy and a little on the cool side, so my travel colleague and I decided it was only right and proper to test drive some of the shops as well as do a little sightseeing. Overall a very pleasant day!
The next day we arrived at St Mary’s in the Scilly Isles and again the weather was a little unkind. A sea swell made the decant into the tenders somewhat difficult but we made it and stepped ashore to explore the pretty little island. We tried the local food and ale and then we took a tour on a local classic bus (dating back to 1948). It was full of character and made the trip even more enjoyable. After this we set off walking to locate the grave of Sir Harold Wilson who used to holiday regularly on the island.
Our last port of call was at Milford Haven in Wales. From here we took a taxi to Tenby, which is a lovely little holiday area. Th e visit was made even better by the sun making a rare appearance and showing the beaches and town in its full glory. We just had to sample the ice cream!!!
Cruise & Maritime is a 3 star cruise line and provides good value for money. The Discovery was a little tired and in need of refurbishment, but she is actually leaving service later this month and being replaced by the MV Funchal.
Now I have a week to catch up with my work before I set off for the Caribbean – watch this space!!
Small but perfectly formed!
Like her sister ship, the sturdy Azamara Journey is a mid-sized beauty with a deck plan well-suited to the needs of modern voyagers. You’ll never feel crowded in the comfortable social spaces of her bars, restaurants, lounges, Casino and Cabaret. Nor will you feel like a sardine jammed in around the pool, where the attentive staff are always ready to offer a complimentary bottled water, soft drink or fresh towel. Staterooms feature modern amenities, furnishings, and European linens. And one of the greatest features of this ship is the large number of staterooms with verandas. There’s nothing better than opening your door to the fresh sea air and views. Azamara’s friendly ships are an altogether wonderful place to call your home away from home!
What will it be, a suite or stateroom? Look at your options forward and aft, and give some serious consideration to a room with your own private veranda!
You’ll work up an appetite just thinking about Azamara’s wonderful restaurants. Dining options range from casual to elegant, with menus featuring classic to modern cuisine from the world’s great culinary destinations.
Let them pamper you head to toe with a broad range of professional spa services to enhance beauty, health and relaxation. Learn about our great spa packages, too.
Step back in Time
I have just returned from spending a night in one of the most unusual hotels. It was not abroad in some exotic location, but in deepest downtown Burnley in Lancashire. It looked like something out of an Agatha Christie novel and was set back amongst the trees. So much so that we drove past it the first time. It is called the Rosehill House Hotel and is a 3 star property with a difference.
Once inside we were greeted by an elderly gent on reception and given a key to a room on the first floor. Our first surprise was when we me Scrooge on the landing, or rather a live size statue of Scrooge! It was most unnerving, followed closely by the small pram with child under the stairs.
Upon entering our room we were faced with very old wallpaper, equally old lamps and dressing table accessories and a huge 4 poster bed.
Despite all my reservations, we had a good nights sleep in what proved to be a very comfortable bed and despite the antiquity of our surroundings, the hotel actually offered free wifi in the rooms – quite a contradiction in terms.
Gran Canaria Report
Well I am pleased to report that our trip to Gran Canaria was a complete success. The Hotel Ifa Beach in San Agustin, whilst only a 3 star, was excellent. It was spotlessly clean and had very good public rooms with free wifi access. The bedrooms were not overly large but had everything you need including free amenities in the bathroom, a hairdrier, fridge and safe. The view from the balcony was classed as a side sea and pool view and was lovely. The food was plentiful with lots of choices and as it was self-service you could choose your favourites and of course how many times you wish to revisit the buffet!
The local bus stop was about 150 yards from the hotel and we chose on one day to take the No 1 bus and visit the lovely area of Puerto Mogan. It really is a delight with lots of flower covered streets and a lovely marina. The bus ticket cost the vast amount of 4.15 euro and the journey took just under an hour, so you had your own private tour of the island included in the fare! The weather throughout our stay was glorious which also helped with the overall enjoyment.
I can certainly recommend this holiday!
Very hectic few days as I try to finalise all my quotes and holiday requests before jetting off to Gran Canaria. I have not visited the island for over 10 years and so I am sure that I will find quite a few changes. I will report back on the best and worst aspects of the trip and hopefully share some photos of the local scenery. Watch this space!
Six Star Luxury
Well I have just returned from 4 nights on board the wonderful Regent Seven Seas Voyager, where I had a concierge suite on deck 10 – amazing space and luxury fittings and amenities.
The staff were all extremely helpful and could not do enough for you. No matter which restaurant one dined in the food was excellent and the choice of wines and spirits also excellent – best of all – it is all included in the price!
Every evening I felt obliged to try a different cocktail (again included in price), so I went from a Pina Colada to Sex on the Beach (say no more).
On the day at sea I played croquet, shuffleboard, bean bag tossing and many more – great camaraderie and a good way to meet your fellow cruisers.
Cruise Convention Report
The 2014 Cruise Convention was a huge success. I met with some of the major cruise lines, listened to their plans and projections for 2015/6 and picked up some amazing offers for the remainder of 2014.
I went on 3 ship visits first was Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas – what an amazing ship – it has plenty to offer both couples and families and the quality of the food is excellent. They very kindly put on for us a scaled down version of the ice show and it was superb! I would be more than happy to sail with Royal Caribbean.
The second ship visit was on Cunard Queen Victoria, a lovely ship with classic lines and a nice feel to it. Again Cunard offer a good product at a reasonable cost.
Our third ship visit was MSC Opera. MSC offer a mid range product at an exceedingly good price. They have a more cosmopolitan feel on board and draw clients mainly from Italy, Spain, Germany and UK. Their newer ships are indeed very beautiful and offer good value for money.
Next week I am off on a 4 night cruise from Southampton on the 6 star Regent Seven Seas Voyager – I cannot wait!
I will report back in due course!
2014 Cruise Conventionn
It is now only just over a week to go to this years amazing Cruise Convention in Southampton. I will be speaking with all the major cruise operators, listening to what they have to say about the coming season and then taking time to visit in turn each of the six cruise ships in port for the occasion.
I hope to return with exciting news and even more exciting cruise offers for the 2014/2015 season.
Watch this space!