Africa, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying

In defence of Travel people

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts – Mark Twain

Cathy’s clown: DC Easy DC and www.washington.org

The next time you see a cinema usher, a football steward.

Ave Maria: www.CanariaWays.com In defence of Travel people

Or if you even run into a sports writer, then I trust you’ll pick them up on getting in for free!

Muriel, my pal: With Muriel Bolger

Only you won’t because you’ve got class.

King Louis: Friends of racing in Tobago, Louis, Nadine and Clem. www.visittobago.gov.tt Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

And you know that they’re doing their job.

Kythera: My Greek odyssey www.athensattica.com

And that they’re good at what they do or else they wouldn’t get asked.

Herr for the beer: Hamburgers and ships and www.hamburg.com

My friends

I ran a gauntlet of abuse on my way to becoming Ireland’s Travel Editor of the Year – and from the very people I was helping, my own staff.

Aer we go: With Paula and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com

Who would, and to be fair it wasn’t all of them, put me down when I was on my Travels (in my own time).

Oo Es of Eh: www.visitusa.ie and www.kennedyspacecenter.com

And snidely refer to my trips which always produced articles, written on time and to the brief I was given, as…

Wooah. Barbados: www.visitbarbados.org Let’s rumba in Barbados My kiss with Rihanna

Junkets, Jollies, Beanos, freebies.

Of course it didn’t apply when I sent them.

Fab Four: With Maria www.spain.info/en Eoghan www.travelextra.ie and Sharon www.ttc.com

And they would be the ones who would be late with their copy.

Petra time: With Zuhair… www.vistjordan.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time

Sometimes even embarrassing themselves and a host.

Your Onur: And www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

While their articles would often have to rewritten..

Your USA: With www.visitusa.ie

And all because it was a ‘junket’ and not given the same attention as any other article.

I would then have to apologise profusely to the providers who thankfully and very generously considered me worthy of the ultimate accolade…

Your South Africa www.southafrica.net: With Siseko in Dublin What’s new pussycat?

Their Pleasure To Work With award which was sneered at when I got back to the office.

LA story: Universal Studios’ www.universalstudioshollywood.comJon, The Scottish Sun’s Heather and Tickets Direct’s www.ticketsdirect.com Kate. And My Weekend With Marilyn and Stair Wars.

Back then, and it’s only a year ago, I would call on the services of the finest freelancers who never let me down.

Star women: The Irish at IPW

On the other side

Now I’m on the other side of the fence I have been glad to say that the holiday providers I cultivated then and many writers and editors remain the best of friends.

Zach the lad: My old pal Zach from my Deep South The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings odyssey www.deep-south-usa.com,

And you always know who your friends are in your time of need.

Give it a twirl: At Pic du Midi. www.hautes-pyrenees.com and The Lourdes prayer

Don’t Cancel

So that’s why I’ll not rest in promoting our industry which, like Twain, I believe is vital to the human condition.

Live like a Royal: Messi around on the water In Barcelona www.barcelonatourisme.com withPaula and www.royalcaribbean.com.

And that’s why I’ve been sprinkling this polemic with pictures of us around the world.

Grand oul tome: With BA’s Tara and Queen of Vegas Tryphavana. And www.lvcva.com and www.ba.com. And Strip… the light fantastic and The grandest canyon.

So join me to support #DontCancelPostpone and #tourismstrong.

Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Messi around on the water

Only one man walks on water in Barcelona.

He’s everywhere – in every shop window, on the backs of every family of tourists or parading his skills before 100,000 worshippers at the Cathedral of Sport, the Camp Nou.

Only on the day I visited the Spanish city, he’s not.

The ubiquitous Lionel Messi is back in his native South America on International duty playing for Argentina rather than curling in free-kicks for his adopted Barca.

Barcelona has a vacancy for a sporting hero then…

And I’m thinking if I nail it I might just get my name on the back of the football top that big fluffy bear is wearing.

He’s sitting in a sports car on the shopping area of a cruise ship in port at the foot of La Rambla.

Such are the trappings of fame… and I want some of it.

And I have the chance.

To walk on water on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas’ surf simulator FlowRider.

And I only have the best in the business to get me up to speed, Irish surfing superstar Gearoid McDaid.

We’re lucky to have Gearoid here, his feet rarely touch the ground.

Gearoid is not ling back from a couple of months surfing in Chile, was in Indonesia before that and is on his way to Portugal.

Gearoid is not what I expect though, no man bun, goatee beard, tattoo sleeve… just a regular Sligo boy.

Although he is pals with Kian Egan.

Thankfully there is one Fiftysomething who keeps up appearances with his bandana and windswept beard.

But boy can he surf… Gearoid, that is!

The simulator is on the 15th deck of the €1.4bn Oasis of the Seas cruise ship which is on its way to Majorca, France and then Italy…

With 6,300 passengers. enjoying five pools and numerous bats, restaurants and shows… and a park, ‘Central Park’ (you’ll forget you’re at sea).

But alas without us who’ll have to get off kicking and screaming before sail time, if they can find us hiding away down in the staff quarters.

The idea of the simulator which is 40ft long, is that a rush of water shoots out to build up the swell.

Which you then surf against.

It’s all in the knees, back and arms – and the trick is to sway and not panic.

Too late, the board went that way and the bandana and everything under it the other way.

It’s official. I don’t walk on water (but my family could tell you that). Maybe I’ll have better luck on my knees.

Eureka or ‘goooooal’ as Lionel Messi might shout.

I manage to master those waves in the prayer position on a boogie board with more than a little help from Mauritian teacher Kai.

Suddenly I feel indestructible. And here I was worried that I’d be caught with my shorts down.

And quite literally I almost was at half-mast.

I hadn’t pulled the cord tightly enough before the surfing class and the waves carried me away.

To be avoided – particularly if you’ve booked up for my next challenge, the 82ft Zip Line.

Nobody nine decks below on the Boardwalk wants to have Stars and Stripes boardie trunks land on them, believe me.

When they’re out shopping having an early-afternoon drink or are on their way to lunch.

Thankfully I can’t do much damage in the Spanish restaurant, other than embarrass myself and my party by getting my maracas out (steady!)

Well, once in we weighed into the plates and plates of tapas and a big jug of sangria (when in Spain).

Fuelled with patatas and shrimp al ajillo we swagger off the ship, only taking time to pass by an eight-year-old boy twisting and turning on the other simulator..

And onto the famous La Rambla shopping and market thoroughfare.

Christopher Columbus is still there where I remember him from the last time I visited Barcelona 15 years ago.

And drew back the curtains of my balcony cabin.

He is proudly guarding the city and pointing out to sea.

To be fair, the arm is right, though I’d maybe bend the elbow and those legs are way too straight.

Sorry, Chris, but you’d be no use on a surfboard either.

TRAVEL FACTS

The deal: Sail the Western Mediterranean for seven nights on Oasis of the Seas from €1049pp based on two sharing, departing Barcelona. Visit Palma, Marseille, Florence/Pisa, Rome (Civitavecchia), Napless and arrive back at Barcelona. www.royalcaribbean.ie. Flights not included.

How to get there: Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair www.ryanair.com.

Where to stay in Barcelona: Hotel Concordia www.hotelconcordiabarcelona.com is a central hub and has a rooftop pool that will tempt you to linger. Pride was on when we visited and the neighbourhood was jumping. €135 per room per night.

Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

In defence of… cruises

The world is a book. And those who do not travel read only one page – ST AUGUSTINE

And I don’t remember the page where it says pandemics were God’s message to us to stop travelling.

In defence of Travel

So while we are confined to barracks let me get some things off my chest and address why Travel is essential to our very existence in my Defence of Travel.

Despite what the naysayers, who are dancing a jig because some dolphins have been seen in the Grand Canal in Venice, are saying.

You’d think cruise ships were parking at the Rialto Bridge than far off.

While I know one or two who would only be too happy to discuss cruise ships too… and you’d want to keep your social distance for your own safety.

We’re all of us seafarers

Of course those of us who are Travel professionals, and those for whom it’s their life investment, are in the frontline when it comes to this release of schadenfraude.

Cruises: There is a fanatical, almost religious zeal which drives those who want to remove cruise ships from the face of the earth.

Who mock cruiseheads as ‘overfed, newly-wed and almost dead’ and guess what cruise chiefs have a sense of humour snd cams up with that themselves.

It’s not a sin to have fun

While they moved on from that years ago and we now have cruises for every age and every niche…

While also providing the best food, drinks, entertainment, activities, shows and stop-offs.

And for whom the sight of cruise companies docked in port and suspending operations because of Coronavirus was seen as vindication.

Dolphins in Venice

And which reached fever pitch with the return of those dolphins to the Venice lagoon, seen by many as divine retribution for the ‘sins’ of cruising.

I never have felt stained by taking the decision to cruise, and nor should you.

Because don’t we celebrate the journeys of Odysseus My Greek odyssey, Sinbad, Marco Polo, Drake, Magellan, Columbus Messi around on the water, Francis Chichester, Ellen MacArthur.

And we should never forget today’s sailors…

Let’s hear it for the crew

The crew’s untiring work, their distress at the loss of passengers, the 24/7 work done back at base to compensate customers and the loss too of their livelihoods.

And that people are at heart seafarers… after all didn’t we all come from the sea anyway, haven’t we been harvesting it since the day dot?

And for all those divine retributionists I guess they would have been screaming for Health & Safety to burst down the doors of Noah’s Ark.

To arrest the oul’ fella and release the animals two by two.

#DontCancelPostpone

So #DontCancelPostpone, and support our cruise companies.

Be rest assured that I’ll be hopping on board to promote cruise companies when we get back on board with…

MSC https://www.msccruises.co.uk and https://www.msccruises.ie, Celebrity Cruises https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk and https://www.royalcaribbean.com/gbr/en. http://www.princess.com

All of whom I’ve sailed with… The call of the fjords, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here and A Royal Party.

While I’ll also flag up those I haven’t sailed with, but you have, and I will.

I love a dolphin too

And now to show you that I love a dolphin as much as the next man, or woman, I’ll talk to you tomorrow about how we can tackle Flygskam, or ‘flying shame’.

I hope you’re reading, Greta Thunbetg.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Uncategorized

Cruiseday Tuesday – a port in Porto

There are some destinations whose names tingle in your mouth every time you say them… Porto, Bordeaux, Pilsen, Buckfast.

Well, maybe not the last one but you can give the monks a pass on that one… it can be a solitary existence.

Broken only, I guess, if the bar/restaurant is pretty much on the premises as is the case with the Strahov Monastery Brewery in Prague http://www.klasterni-pivovar.cz.

Uniworld is offering an eight-day Douro River Valley trip on July 19, Porto-Porto on board the new SS Sao Gabriel in a. Open Stateroom.

You’ll enjoy six days of excursions and a private tour and port tasting at the prestigious port wine estate Quinta do Seixo.

And I’ve saved the best for last… Uniworld has granted a final extension of jts 100th anniversary celebration offer.

So you’ll save 30% on select 2020 luxury river cruises now until March 30.

Sail on Tenerife

As I’ve flagged up on this site already, Tenerife https://www.visitingtenerife.com has led the way in jumping on top of its Coronavirus challenge.

And it’s definitely open for business.

Why not do like Nelson and sail into Tenerife… and you’ll have a better result A walk through the ages… Tenerife?

TUI www.tuiholidays.ie is offering an additional €300 per booking with code May300.

So try: Dublin to Tenerife. Canarian Flavours on the Marella Explorer. All-inclusive, seven nights inside cabin From €779pps.

Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe

Cruiseday Tuesday – Santorini

It’s the Swap Shop (ask your Dad) question which cruise captains are invariably most often asked: ‘Where is your favourite port!’ And invariably the answer is Santorini.

The Greek island with its classic azure blue domed rooftops does stand out on the sea (I’m told). Hint!

Cassidy Travel agree. They are running a seven-night cruise Greek Odyssey from €817pps including flights from Dublin.

Old relics in Athens

Aboard the Norwegian Spirit you’ll leave from Athens (Piraeus) en route to Rhodes, Kusadasi in Turkey, Patmos, Mykanos, the sights of Agostoli, Corfu.

And onto Santorini. Flights depart April 26. Visit www.cassidytravel.ie.

And here’s a Greek Odyssey of my own… www.athensattica.com and https://visitkythera.com. And My Greek odyssey.

Where’s your favourite port? Let me know.

Sail out of Majorca

Watch out for the bathers: Majorca

Most holidaymakers leave Majorca by air but for the best experience come in by ship.

Our friends at TUI www.tuiholidays.ie have Majorca from three Irish airports.

Save €300 by using the code MAY300.

Cork to Majorca: 2 May on Marella Discovery – Highlights of the Mediterranean, inside cabin, AI, seven nights from €939pps.

Dublin to Majorca: 19 May, Marella Dream: – Spanish Delights, inside cabin, AI, seven nights, from €979pps.

Shannon to Majorca: 16 May, Marella Discovery – Cosmopolitan Classics, inside cabin, AI, seven nights from €1149pps.

A prince and Princess

Real leadership

And because I’ve seen first hand how hard and how genuinely caring Princess Cruises ate about their guests.

Here picked up from the old Twittersphere a tribute from a First Officer to his captain.

They are few and far between and I’m still looking… a good boss.

Captain Arma was last to leave #DiamondPrincess. He is a hero in our eyes.

You want to know where they’re sailing?…

How about up to €450pp flight discount on select America-based sailings departing in 2020 and 2021. The deal runs from today – April 30, 2020. 

The flight discount is available on over 120 voyages, ranging in length from seven – 28 days.

The sailings cover destinations across northern and central America including, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Panama Canal and South America. 

Several sailings on the 3,660-guest Sky Princess, feature as part of the offer, as well as the 3,660-guest Enchanted Princess, which will be christened in Southampton at the end of June this year. 

Voyages include: 
·  A 7-night Mexican Riviera cruise onboard Royal Princess, departing October 10, 2020. Sailing roundtrip from Los Angeles, ports of call are Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Prices from €1495pp 

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

Adventure, Africa, Asia, Countries, Cruising, Flying, Food, Food & Wine

Under the Red Sea

We’ve all been let down by the promise of a panorama which turns out to be a speck in the distance… but get this, you can see four countries from the Red Sea.

The one I’m in in Aqaba, Jordan, The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time and three others Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Sail on: It’s actually blue

Which also means two continents – Asia and Africa.

Now having dipped my toe in the Jordan part of the Ref Sea, I’m ready to try Egypt, Israel and Saudi.

The only way to ride

Now let’s start with Egypt and our friends Travel Department www.traveldepartment.ie and let’s start in its capital, Cairo.

There you will absorb the ancient sites including a full-day guided city tour.

Taking in the Egyptian Museum and a visit to the Khan El Khalili bazaar.

Then head for the Pyramids of Giza and thr Great Sphinx on a half-day guided tour.

Fancy a relaxing river cruise on the 4* HS Radamis II down the Nile?

Sphinx can only get better

With a range of excursions along the way taking in the Temple of Horus, the Valleyof Kings, the High Dam and the Temples of Karnak and Luxor.

Finally, you’ll enjoy a three-night stay in Hurghada, the beautiful beach resort toen stretching 40km along Egypt’s Red Sea coast.

Egypt is over there somewhere

Prices start from €1,629pp for 12 nights including return flights, 7 night full-board 4* river cruise, 4* and 5* B&B/half-board hotel accommodation, transfers, and excursions with expert local guides, departing April – November 2020

For more information click here. And visit www.traveldepartment.ie

Australasia, Cruising, Deals, Europe

Cruiseday Tuesday – Classic Amadeus

Continental Europe is the great treasure on our doorstep but it is caught in something of a musical time warp.

Walking the Camino I stopped off at a wayside inn where they were tapping their feet to the Falco (who?) song Rock Me Amadeus.

Which is my circuitous way of flagging up the building of river cruise ship Amadeus Cara for next year.

Blue for you: The Danube

The new cruise ship boasts 73 spacious luxury cabins (17.5m²) and 12 AMADEUS suites (26.4m²).

Yes, you’ll be rolling down the river but you’ll also have plenty to do including:

– Modern fitness area 
– Hair and massage salon 
– Panorama Restaurant
– The Panorama Bar which offers space for events and talks and where the AMADEUS musicians perform every evening  
– Lift between decks 

The maiden voyage of AMADEUS Cara will be the 8-day Danube Rhapsody cruise from/to Passau at the end of April 2021.

For the remaining season, the cruise ship will be travelling on the Danube to the Black Sea, as well as between Amsterdam and Basel on the Rhine.  

River of dreams: With Herself in Amsterdam

And you all know what I think of Amsterdam… Pictures of Amsterdam.

Prices start from £499.00 per person, cruise-only on a three-night ‘Interlude on the Danube’ itinerary, based on 16 August 2021 sailing.

This round-trip from Passau is the perfect taster for anyone new to river cruising.

Prices start from £1,699.00 per person on a Three Rivers Cruise, based on 2 September 2021 sailing.

Rhine for any season

Travel along the Rhine, Main and Danube on a sailing that includes a transit of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal and the chance to visit the fairytale streets of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

For more information or to make a booking, call on 0808 115 8312 or email sales@amadeus-rivercruises.co.uk

Princess diary

I’ll drink to that: Princess and Medallion

Princess Cruises is increasing by six months the Australia and New Zealand season of the 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess.

The ship will now arrive in Australia on May 1 and sail Down Under for 12 months. 

This adds a total of 47 new cruises from five major Australian cities to the season. 

The ship was previously scheduled to sail in Asia from May-October. 

Sapphire Princess will arrive into Perth (Fremantle) following a multi-million dollar refurbishment. The full season comprises 171 port calls including: 

Night at the opera: Sydney

· A 10-night Coral Coast voyage sailing from Perth (Fremantle), visiting West Australia’s coastal destinations such as Broome, Geraldton and Exmouth. Departing May 4, 2020.

· A 17-night Northern Explorer between Sydney and Perth (Fremantle) visiting destinations such as Geraldton and Cairns. Departing Perth (Fremantle) on June 8, 2020 

· Roundtrip voyages to Fiji from Brisbane and Sydney including a 12-night Fiji cruise sailing from Sydney visiting Dravuni Island and Lautoka. Departing June 25, 2020 

· Australia Circumnavigation voyages from Sydney, Adelaide and Perth (Fremantle) including an inaugural 28-night Round Australia cruise out of Adelaide.

Beach life: In Fiji

Visiting Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island, Port Arthur, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane, Yorkeys Knob, Alotau,  Darwin, Kimberley Coast (Scenic Cruising), Broome, Geraldton, Perth (Fremantle), Margaret River (Busselton) and Adelaide.

Departing from Perth (Fremantle) 10 August, 2020 

The new cruises are on sale from Thursday, February 27. 

Sapphire Princess will receive MedallionNet WiFi from June 4, offering guests the fastest Wi-Fi at sea. 

And I love my little Princess. Cruiseday Extra – Loyal to my Princess.

Visit www.princess.com.

Adventure, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Cruiseday Tuesday – have a bumper time

Everybody loves a bumper holiday – better still a bumper holiday at sea. Better still bumpers on sea.

For a feardie like me (I blame my brother for throwing me on the waltzer when I was a small kid) the bumper was always my go-to at the fare.

Only I knew them as dodgems, and they became part of my holiday experience.

With Tramore, Co. Waterford and Salthill, Co. Galway particularly fond memories.

With the crew

So what must it be like to be driving around in circles bumping your Mum while on a cruise ship?

Dip your toe in

A gondolier, anyone?

Adventure, America, Asia, Countries, Cruising

My Sporting Weekend – Olympic ‘sports’

It might have escaped your attention but Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis broke the world record this week.

Which beggars the question: what’s the point apart from the bit at the end of the stick?

I mean who pole vaults anyway, or shot putts, or throws discuses?

Bending over backwards. www.wikipedia.com

Field of screams

Javelins have their place… partly because of bonkers Tessa Sanderson who I interviewed in my first job and the force of nature that is Fatima Whitbread.

They could make it even better if they were to time it to when the long-distance runners were on the track.

Long jump? Nothing exciting has happened since Bob Beamon jumped out of the pit.

And high jump? Since Dick Fosbury flopped over the bar in the Sixties.

Give it a hurl www.wikipedia.com

Home run

Baseball: I’m surprised it isn’t in the Games already but it hasn’t been since 2002.

But seeing that the Japanese are pretty good at it..,

Anyway, because I’ve got some game from the Washington Nationals… if the UK team want a Joe DiMurtio.

And check out my Washington adventures Easy DC.

Capital: Slugger Murty

Chairman of the board

For flip’s sake www.wikipedia.com

Skateboarding: Born out of the old outdoor swimming pool in Venice Beach, it should remain there.

Venice Beach life should be experienced though https://www.venicebeach.com as should Muscles Beach https://www.musclebeachvenice.com but they wouldn’t introduce body-building, would they?

Aw, hell, I’ve only gone and given the IOCC ideas.

And also check out www.visitcalifornia.com.

Kicking on

Karate kid

Karate: I’m only surprised it isn’t.

I never got near the oul’ Martial Arts other than having a dressing gown which was dangerously close to a Del Boy fashion item.

Hardly a spectator sport

Get your rocks off

Sport climbing: I don’t even know how they judge this.

But I do know a crowd who do… the Coloradans who spend their days climbing the Rockies.

And their evenings getting stoned at their craft beer and organic restaurants… Go West and www.colorado.com.

Everybody’s gone surfin’

Surfing: And here’s another newbie that I’m pitching myself for.

After roadtesting the Royal Caribbean Flow Rider in Barcelona.

And then throwing some shapes at Surf City USA, Huntington Beach https://www.surfcityusa.com.

I’m only surprised the Japanese haven’t tried to get sumo wrestling included… I’d watch that.

Visit https://www.japan.travel/en/uk/ and https://tokyo2020.org/en/.

MEET YOU AT THE GAMES

Asia, Cruising, Deals

Cruiseday Tuesday – Transatlantic

I think I’ve mentioned before that in the Fifties my three uncles swapped the metropolis of Glasgow for that little town on the Hudson, New York.

Their ship though wouldn’t have been the type of floating pleasure palace we have now.

Take Celebrity Summit and Click&Go’s www.clickandgo.com 15-night Transatlantic cruise from €2199pp.

Magical island: Iceland

Departing on August 16 from Dublin, Summit will visit Cork Akuyeyri and Reykjavik (overnight).

Before heading up to Prins Christian Sund and Qawortoq, Greenland and Sydney (I never knew) Nova Scotia and then Boston.

With an overnight stay in Beantown where I spent a summer living in the Combat Zone… you’ll be in the comfort zone.

Before being flown home.

All on board

Now I’ve been here before only Majorca was the destination rather than the starting point Smooth sailing around the Western Med.

TUI though are starting you off in Palma and zipping you around Piombino (for Siena and Pisa).

Temples everywhere: Bangkok

Back in Bangkok, you’ll jump onto a flight to Phuket and check into Paradise Resort on Koh Yao Island for the remainder of the trip.

The locals ought to know the way

You’ll have the services of a local English-speaking guide.

Air-conditioned support vehicle, bike hire, flight from Bangkok to Phuket, all entry costs and attractions listed on the itinerary.