Adventure, Asia, Countries, Cruising, Europe

To have and to have yacht

To have and have yacht… that is a question because the most expensive don’t look like yachts at all I know them, you know the ones with floaty sails.

So I’m admitting that that’s the first thing which came into mind when I was sent a list of the world’s most expensive yachts.

Now if only it came earlier… I’ve already bought the Scary One’s Christmas present.

And so I have been doing my homework has left me little clearer other than to discover that they are originally Dutch and need to be fun and racy.

I also discovered King Charles II returned back to England on a jaght.

And that he loved to compete with his brother James along the Thames.

The haves and the have yachts

It seems then that yachts are fast fun boats for filthy rich people.

And that’s just what PayDayLoansNet have given us.

Supreme yacht

Plain sailing: History Supreme

The most expensive yacht in the world is History Supreme costing $4.8 billion.

And it belongs to Malaysian Robert Kuok, who we guess must live on it as he is domiciled in Deep Water Bay in Hong Kong.

At 100ft long, and weighing in at 220,462 pounds the yacht is covered in 100,000kg of gold, platinum and jewels.

It took over three years to produce, the yacht includes:

A deck, dining area, rails, anchor, all crafted from precious metals.

The vessel’s base is wrapped in a thin layer of gold.

With the master bedroom featuring a statue made from genuine Tyrannosaurus Rex bones.

Almost as old as Bob, who has young bones and is still going strong at 98.

Well, you would with all that luxury around you.

Roman’s empire  

Roman luxury: Mr Abramovich’s pad

Chelsea FC owner doesn’t normally settle for second as his multitude of managers will testify.

But History Supreme eclipses Roman’s Eclipse.

It costs an eye-watering $1.5 billion.

The luxe yacht is spread across nine decks, featuring two helipads, two swimming pools, 24 guest bedrooms, a disco hall and a mini-submarine.

The facilities aboard Eclipse include a gym, dance floor, underwater lights, beach club, wifi connection, beauty salon, tender garage and deck jacuzzi etc.

Monaco mariners

See you on the yacht: Roman

Now if you want to be part of the Monaco fast set you want to take to the waters which I did on our speedboat on the Cote d’Azure.

And we passed by the mansions of the Great and the Good and their harbours.

Roman, who it’s fair to say likes a yacht, is said to be the billionaire backer of this super yacht.

The Streets of Monaco is said to have cost $1.1 billion.

And it is designed to encapsulate the beautiful streets of the French Riviera onboard.

The 508-foot-long superyacht includes an onboard casino, racetrack, three swimming pools and a mini-submarine helipad.

There are seven guest suites, a mini waterfall and a restaurant with an underwater view.

All of which have stylised interiors that mimic the city’s iconic surroundings.

Azzam bam

That’s Azzam craft: The yacht

The ‘Azzam’ is a deluxe yacht that flaunts incredible complexity in its detail and design costing $600 million.

The superyacht can accommodate up to 36 guests with a crew of 60 people is required onboard to maintain the yacht.

At 180 metres in length, it is the longest private motor yacht in the world.

So in a world where the divisions are growing wider it is worth reflecting.

On how the rich live and where you’re only worry is… to have and to have yacht.

Countries, Cruising, Sustainable Tourism

Ambassador for the seas

What would qualify you to be an ambassador for the seas? An empathy for those who live in it, obvs.

Doh! But it’s taken Ambassador Cruise Line to put the fishies first.

Ambassador has teamed up with marine conservation charity ORCA and they have launched the first cruise line anti-whaling campaign. Ambassador’s CEO (and

I guess we call him Ambassador then) Christian Verhounig has written to the Faroese Prime Minister Barour a Steig Nielsen that…

If there are recurring incidents of the dolphin hunt that took place last September that he will reconsider Ambassador’s three future sailings to the islands.

The cruise line is also keeping an eye on the Faroese’ commercial whaling policy and will reserve the right to cancel such ports of call.

A little more conservation

The big ship: Ambience

Ambassador is going even further by deciding not to include any oceanariums or experiences that include captive marine mammals.

ORCA will also be placing two Ocean Conservationists onboard Ambience in 2022 and 2023 on 11 sailings.

The Ocean Conservationists will visit countries such as Iceland, Greenland and sail the Iberian coast, Black Sea and Irish Sea.

Two of the 11 cruises will be Ambassador’s multi-generational cruises in the summer of 2022.

Playtime: Our friends where they belong

ORCA will be providing a multi-generational focused education programme.

They will also be working with families to teach them about the marine environment.

And this will involve them in some conservation projects on the ship.

The charity will also have a permanent presence on Ambience.

With a dedicated enrichment area which will include activities about whales and dolphins.

Watching the Orcas

Talk to the animals: In Orlando

Now in the interests of full disclosure I have sat in the stands at SeaWorld in Orlando and watched the orcas perform.

And I will only say that you should make up your own mind of where you stand on this.

Only to add that the keepers I met who looked after the critters must have been very good actors.

Because they looked to dote on their charges even down to taking the penguins home at night.

Although I did feel they had more space to waddle around off the coast of the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

Introducing the Ambassador

Marquee Theatre: The Ambassador’s party

The premium-value cruise line is the first new British chain of ships to be launched since 2010.

Ambassador which is aimed at the 50-plus market (and I’ll imagine myself in those sailing shoes) will sail from London Tilbury.

The first ship, Ambience, will sail next Spring and is designed to carry up to 1,400 guests in 798 cabins.

After completing its inaugural season in Spring the cruise line plans to extend sailings from additional regional ports.

With the inaugural voyage a short break cruise to Hamburg on Wednesday, April 6.

And yes, that’s a city where it’s all about the party animal.

And so we are glad to have met your acquaintance Sir and believe you are the perfect Ambassador for the seas.    

Countries, Cruising, Europe, Music

Malta’s Cirque de Soleil

Yes, they’ll be bending over backwards for Malta’s Cirque de Soleil, the first by the troupe in Europe since lockdown.

Now I’ve been entertained by the super-bendy acrobats on a couple of occasions and it was tickety-boo (I was told).

And in time-honoured fashion I’ll go around the subject, like Cirque de Soleil do, until returning to the matter in hand later.

At any rate the world’s leading producer of high-quality live entertainment, and Visit Malta have got together.

For a brand-new production created exclusively for Malta.

FIERI spectacle

A drop of Malta: Back in the day

FIERI will be presented in the capital, Valletta starting November 25.

And it’s the ideal backdrop for any production with Valletta harbour equal to any anywhere.

‘We are delighted to return to Malta, a country steeped in history, to pay tribute to this resilient nation and its people” said Diane Quinn, COO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.

‘Now more than ever in our absurd world, Cirque du Soleil’s power to bring joy and hope to our audiences is not only welcome but necessary.

‘So I welcome you to this show and to the magic that descends as the artists take the stage.’

Special treat

Ship of dreams: And MSC and Cirque de Soleil are pals

Now magical it is and I’ve enjoyed their show on MSC Cruises stop-offs in Dublin Port.

And, of course, MSC is all about the entertainment as we found in the Norwegian fjords.

Back to FIERI and Malta is clearly thrilled.

From the sponsors

Night spectacle: Malta

‘FIERI by Cirque du Soleil will be another opportunity to showcase Malta’s credentials in the cultural and entertainment sector,’ said Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Clayton Bartolo..

While Johann Buttigieg, CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority weighed in.

‘Having a month full of uplifting shows inspired by the cultural roots of Malta is a stamp in quality for our country’s hospitality industry.’

‘The last time that the majestic auditorium of the Mediterranean Conference Centre welcomed audiences for a musical production was March 8, 2020.

‘Countless sacrifices were made since then.’

Return to Malta

I was scooting along: In Gozo and Malta

Now our Maltese friends have been holding court at the World Travel Market in London this week.

And they are backing all this up in a destination I know and love.

I did make a certain lovestruck young woman’s dreams come true there.

When I bent down to tie up my shoelaces after all and she screamed yes.

And I returned there to the Med’s jewel, alas without her, 20 years late.

And I found that the same restaurant still there although the free Champagne offer had lapsed.

It was all a dream

Back to our Cirque de Soleil pals and I must confess that I slept through their bells and whistles performance of The Beatles LOVE in Las Vegas.

In my defence my body clock was Back in the UK.

So do what I say rather than what I do… and get bending over backwards for Malta’s Cirque de Soleil.

Tickets for the 75-minute performances of FIERI by Cirque du Soleil in Valletta from November 25 to December 19 are available online at www.visitmalta.com

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe

Fun on the slide at sea

A relative once chided me ‘to grow up’ but where’s the joy in that? The best people are really just big kids, the types who love to have some fun on the slide at sea.

They are a multitude of reasons why cruiseheads love being out at sea.

Messing about on the water: In Barcelona

But for me one of the top things is doing stuff which you really shouldn’t be possible out on a ship at sea.

Such as a fairground.

Being thrown around on a water slide is my idea of delirium at the best of times.

Making a splash

What it says on the spin: Storm

And I’ve splashed around with the best of them in Majorca and Orlando.

All of those experiences have been on dry land (well you know what I mean).

But think about the exhileration of being spent spiralling out over the ship.

And then be twirled back around and down the chute to safety.

Royal games

Tidal Wave: Of Emotion

Well, it all goes on on Royal Caribbean.

And our pals at RC have opened the gate for us to enjoy the thrills and spills both out on the water on the English Channel and in port in Barcelona.

In no particular order, they’re offering The Edge of Ultimate Abyss (plummeting ten stories), The Blaster, The Perfect Storm (race to the bottom), Tidal Wave (plunge and propel).

And the only headfirst mat racer at sea where you’ll ride the riptide.

Rule the waves

Master: Blaster

Your appetite whetted… well you’ll want to get on board.

The new Wonder of the Seas has a seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise, sailing from Barcelona, from €1009.

So get your togs or swimsuit on and have fun on the slide at sea.

 

 

 

 

Australasia, Countries, Cruising

Yes we haka can New Zealand

It was more iconic every ten years, but times change, and yes we haka can New Zealand now.

The haka is the ceremonial war dance the New Zealanders (and one bold Scots schoolboy) conduct ahead of rugby matches.

No not me but Mad Timmy Teague (the clue us in the nickname) who boasted to us that he too would do the Haka.

All Black Magic


Flying Kiwis: New Zealand

So when Graeme Mourie’s all-conquering All Blacks arrived in Edinburgh Timmy practised his moves.

Before surprising everyone, not least us, by actually appearing with the New Zealanders before kick-off.

His punishment? In those more innocent days it was to be ejected from the ground before being allowed back in after the break.

And that was the real punishment as the All Blacks rolled over Scotland in the second half.

Land of sails: Auckland

The time was that only Scottish rugby players, explorers and Highlanders cast out from their crofts went to NZ.

But now it is the ultimate long-haul trip, now back on our schedule.

The Long White Cloud

New Zealand: And a Long White Cloud

Our friends in the Land of the Long White Cloud even went the extra mile by taking us all out there.

Without leaving our bedrooms through the magic of Zoom.

It is the first of a four-part video series of trips to NZ (Auckland and New Zealand) which will run through December.

Get out there

Meet the locals: Many cultures, one country

Of course there is nothing like actually getting out there.

Easier, of course, if you’re in the vicinity, returning to the UK by ship.

Which regular readers will know was the Scary One’s mode of transport back in the day.

The rest of us can only dream.

Or check out the many airlines who take us there… and I’d recommend my old friends Flight Centre to do the heavy lifting.

While I can always go in style (with pitstops) on the big ship with my Princess.

Yea we Haka can New Zealand. And particularly at the The All Blacks Experience in Auckland. 

And as a postscript, the New Zealanders picked out some lucky winners to have 100 plants put down in their islands as part of our eco fightback to put new life back into our planet.

Long Live the Land of the Long White Cloud.

 

 

Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food & Wine

Vin, biere et Le Supermarche

Vin, biere et Le Supermarche. For many the first port of call, or the very reason to visit France.

Back as a cub reporter the big newspaper promotion was cheap car ferry deals to fill your boots with booze.

But the Francophiles for a day, of course, missed the point… you need to stay and enjoy the country for a while.

Irish Ferries to France

Irish Ferries is bringing back its wine mini-breaks.

Across Le Manche to France, with a special wine-tasting in Cherbourg from €99pp each way pps.

And a detour here on our journey, as is our wont, down La Voie de Mémoiire.

Back as a schoolboy on my first trip abroad with my pals and my palette hadn’t evolved enough to appreciate the grape.

Which meant I had to seek out bier from Le Supermarche to drink by our tent and on the beach.

Only all the lesser-known, cheaper brands are en francais.

And so what I thought were 24 bottles of bier ended up being shandy. Un faute d’élève.

Of course I couldn’t admit it to my wine-drinking pals.

Stop that train

Ra boys: Chris, Mackie, an early Bandanaman and Adam

Another challenge presented itself when we were heading for the train back from Saint Raphael.

And while the boys had stocked up on vino… moi? I had to find some take-away beer.

It being Gaul and not Glasgow there were no off-licences and Le Supermarche was on the other side of town.

Which meant me only getting back to the train to see it pulling away and Mackie, Adam and Chris at the window, glasses of red in hand.

How did I get back? That’s another l’histoire.

Norman request

Stormin’ Norman: Normandy

You wouldn’t want to have to find your own way back to Ireland… nor should you.

When you’re chasing down vin, biere et Le Supermarche.

Particularly as Irish Ferries will give you two nights in Normandy at €99pps each way.

And a special wine-tasting ceremony in Cherbourg in conjunction with Wine Beer Supermarket.

Sailing dates available are September 9, 16, 23, 30.

Poetry in motion

Just a prompt: Get the drinks in

You’ll be sailing on the swanky WB Yeats (or WB Yachts) as I like to call it.

Where you don’t have to rush around town or chase down trains.

There’s vin, biere et Le Supermarche. 

 

 

Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Something written in the heart of Denmark

Here’s something written in the heart of Denmark. Who’s to say if he once was an ugly duckling but the world flock to Copenhagen now because of Hans Christian Andersen?

I meet an old university pal Tom off my cruise ship.

No, not by The Little Mermaid which is some way out from Copenhagen’s main square, but by Andersen’s statue.

Red and white dynamite

Once upon a time we…

No, you don’t want to read our story but Andersen’s and Copenhagen’s which are, of course, so richly entwined.

Hans was an only child, schooled in Elsinore, yes that Elsinore made famous by a certain prince.

Hans across the water

But it was to the sophisticated capital of Denmark that he made his life.

As first an actor and then a prolific writer of salutary children’s and adult books.

He took up residence in Nyhavn which is the big hub of Copenhagen today and a magnet for tourists.

You can’t help feeling his fairytale world all around you in Copenhagen’s chocolate box buildings.

Fancy a twirl?

A royal city

Probably because you’re in the Tivoli Gardens.

It was opened in 1843 and is the world’s second oldest operating amusement park.

And was the inspiration for Disneyland.

Swinging time at Tivoli Gardens

The best view that you can get of Copenhagen is from the 80m swing-carousel Star Flyer, one of an abundance of thrill rides in the park.

Twirling around with only air, the park and Tom and Sarah below I feel like one of Hans’s characters.

And there in the distance is my ship to whisk me off to a far-away land.

Street entertainment

And my little mermaid wants a swim.  

Yes, just something written in the heart of Denmark.

And for more scribbled on a ship on the way to the fjords with MSC…  

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Irish Ferries across La Manche

You won’t be the first Irish to cross the sea from England to seek a fortune but will be the first on Irish Ferries across La Manche.

The Irish have a long-standing historic friendship with La France.

From the Flight of the Earls from Donegal to France.

To Napoleon sending his troops to help one of those ill-fated Irish rebellions.

The Wine Geese

Best seat in the house: Isle of Inishmore

And the Wine Geese, the Irish wine manufacturers who made their millions in France.

And the next time you’re cradling a glass of Hennessy then toast Corkonian Richard Hennessy who conquered the French and global market.

Irish men of letters too were drawn to France with James Joyce and Samuel Beckett domiciling there.

Men of letters

French style: On the Riviera

With Beckett’s signature play Waiting For Godot originally written in French as En Attendant Godot.

While WB Yeats spent many un jour in France most notably at his muse Maud Gonne’s chateau.

And spent his final days in the Hôtel Idéal Sejour in Roquebrune Cap Martin on the French Riviera.

Where we’re told his wife George AND his mistress Edith Shackleton Heald are said to have took turns at his bedside.

Ooh-la-la. It’s the French way.

And so when we learned that Irish Ferries would be sailing across the English Channel we hoped WB Yeats would be taking the journey again.

WB Yachts

Lyrical: The WB Yeats

WB Yeats being the pride of the Irish Ferries fleet, its most recent acquisition which they invited their passengers to name.

And which I’m still smarting about not winning my lifetime of free journeys with my suggestion WB Yachts.

Fear not though you will be sailing on the newly refurbished Isle of Inishmore.

Fares are from £69 one way for a car and up to nine passengers, with up to ten sailings daily.

Channeling my inner mariner

Shoo till you drop: On the Isle of Inishmore

As impressive a feat of engineering ingenuity as The Channel Tunnel is tunnels have their place.

And it’s romantic to consider that we are sailing too in the ripples of all these great Irishmen and others.

I’ll maybe leave out that the last time I sailed La Manche I couldn’t keep my baguette down.

But that was more down to overindulging on Belgian beer.

So here’s to Irish Ferries across La Manche.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

 

 

 

America, Countries, Cruising, Europe, UK

What’s cookin’ in the cruise kitchen?

What’s cookin’ in the cruise kitchen.., down in the galley where none us cruiseheads go?

Unless you’re with the VIP recce parties that is, who are invited on board when ships dock on port on stops.

One Scots chef on such a day out from the office showed us around his place of work.

You dancer: Cruising again

And didn’t he just rattle off multiple stats of what is cooked.

What grabbed me (always) was how they are still able to craft those extravagant delicate sweet treats for small armies of cruisers.

Roux cracker

Wonder no more! Our friends at Princess Cruises have a cast of celebrity cooks and bakers coming on board for the new season.

If you’re like me, Saturday morning is probably a trade-off for the TV so you can watch the Euros football later.

So that means The Scary One watching Saturday Kitchen.

Roux la la: Michel Roux Jnr. http://www.radiotimes.com

Chefs have gone stratospheric this Millennium and you can’t move between channels without bumping into a floppy-hatted cook.

Now they say food is the way to a man’s heart but I think that that applies more to women.

Which is why the likes of Michel Roux Jnr have my own little sous chef rapt when I’m aiming to be heard, or seen.

Of course, now we can plan again for London (and how good does that sound?)…

Then get in an early booking for Michel’s two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche restaurant.

John Torode with co-host Gregg Wallace. http://www.radiotimes.com

Master class

Or if BBC MasterChef judge Aussie John Torode is more your prawn on the barbie.

Then our majestic cruise chums are unveiling this Antipodean artiste too.

Thing is with celebrity chefs that their easy skills can make you feel so inadequate.

Fear not. Our cruise pals have put us at ease here by serving up someone just like us.

Us if we’re Great British Bake Off fans, and aren’t we all experts when we’re picking apart contestants’ soggy bottoms?

She’s gottie the Lottie: Lottie Bedlow

Well, we all remember Princess of the kitchen Lottie Bedlow who charmed the nation.

And even won a Hollywood Handshake from the Great Man for her Florentines.

Hottie Lottie

Well, Lottie is on board our Cruise too.

That cruise being a three-night Seacation, departing 10 September from Southampton and showing off our beautiful island.

Radio Times TV and film critic Andrew Collins will host the themed Culinary Stars cruise

Toast to the Princess

All-inclusive fares for a Balcony Stateroom on Princess’s three-night Seacations start from €452pp.

Fees include premium drinks, unlimited Wi-Fi crew incentive and the cost of any Covid testing which may be required at the time of Travel.

So what’s cookin’ in the cruise kitchen?

I’ve shared my culinary treats with you on the high seas (and docks) from Bergen and the Bahamas to Barcelona.

And I will again and pick up some culinary skills to pass onto The Scary One for half-time refuelling for watching the Euros.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

 

 

 

 

America, Countries, Cruising

Edging closer to getting back on the seas

For some it’s the fanciest hotel, for others an exclusive resort, for us it’s a ship on the ocean…. we’re edging closer to getting back on the seas.

Our friends at Celebrity Cruises have brought us joyous news with this teaser about their flagship Celebrity Edge.

Edge will be the first Celebrity ship to sail from the US since March 2020.

Happy Days

We’ll be in the capable hands of Captain Kate departing on June 26.

And Europe too

Now we’ll take any shores just now and if you’re European then Celebrity have got this continent covered too.

Celebrity Apex is sailing to the Greek islands from Athens.

Tortoises anyone?

While further afield those giant Galapagos tortoises aren’t going anywhere but you could be.

On Celebrity Cruises’ Edge

There are three expedition ships all scheduled to resume services in the coming months.

So we’re edging closer to getting back on the seas.

Next question, what gives Edge, well the Edge?

Well in a word ‘luxury’. And in another couple its unique moving tender.

Let’s play on the tender slide

A memory stick in the shape of the ship sits on my terminal so that I can drift off to my days and nights on the inaugural cruise.

From Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas.

A touch of Scotland

Here are the unprofessional pics taken by your unprofessional cruiser (well, you have to)!

Mind you, I was the one who turned in early while the rest of our party took to the dance floor on our last night.

The cruise gang

There were some sights the next morning although the gorgeous Alesha Dixon didn’t have a hair out of place.

And I got the benefits as I was ship-shape for my day in Miami before I flew home… to get lost.

But that’s another story.

Edging closer to getting back on the seas? I’m already there in my head.