Countries, Cruising, Flying, Food & Wine

New Year Revolutions

And as the Alt-Right tries to wage a Second American Revolution in the US a look at the revolutions we do need.

The air

United we atand

And clearly the challenge is carbon emissions where EasyJet can take a bow.

The budget airline topped a London School of Economics report in a top five which also includes Alaska Air, Qantas, my old friends at United who flew me to the Deep South and JetBlue.

The seas

Norway wood: In the Norwegian fjords

And high up for the haters in this Covid and Climate crisis are our cruise ships.

Where my old faves MSC whom I sailed with around the Norwegian fjords, Royal Caribbean who showed off their wares in the English Channel and in Barcelona.

And Celebrity Cruises who treated us all like, well Celebrities, off the coast of Florida on their $1bn state-of-the-art Edge.

A nod here to Princess Cruises who had us on board when they stopped off in Dublin on their way round Britain and Ireland.

And Paul Gauguin Cruises who drew us a picture of tantalising Tahiti who have been keeping us going through lockdown with their images and news.

The food

Food for thought: A tajine

And now more than ever we have to watch what and where we eat.

So that means avoiding markets we know little about in countries we are visiting for the first time.

So for me that was Morocco and I should have gone with the professionals.

Northern Africa and the Middle Eastern food is bright, spicy and often new for Western palates so don’t be afraid to ask.

And if you can find Zuhair, G AdventuresJordanian host extraordinaire then all the better.

All our cultures and culinary ways should be celebrated around the world and animal welfare should be central to our approach.

A joint resolution

I’ve probably already broken my own personal resolutions already so it might be presumptuous to ask my Travel pals to take on these targets.

But, in truth, we’re all in it together…

This past year’s challenges have brought opprobrium upon Travel professionals but lockdown has only reaffirmed how vital it is to us all.

So let’s build it back even better this year.

America, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

New Year’s Holiday Snaps – Happy New Aer

And because America is at a turning point don’t we all want to get on board.

Especially when on board is with our friends at Aer Lingus who early last year had me all booked up for the Florida Keys when…!

Ireland’s national airline carrier has a January €148 sale for this summer to North America which is Toronto.

Waving the flag for DC and Aer Lingus

While my old favourites Boston, New York and Washington is pitched at €164.

And you know the deal it’s each way as part of a return trip.

Cruise into ’21

Yea, they’ve got forks too!

Or a Happy Blue Year, the kind of blue you only find on the sea

Or the blue of Greece. So let’s put them together.

Royal Caribbean have on the Eastern Mediterranean sailings we’ve zeroed in on in 2021.

Oh, how I would have loved to have spent the last year on a wee Greek island.

My pals at Royal Caribbean only have a range of Eastern Med packages as we plan to cruise again in 2021.

An old relic and the Acropolis

A six-night Greece and Croatia cruise, leaving from Venice (Ravenna) on Rhapsody of the Seas from €569pp taking in Split, Olympia and Athens.

And you know what I always say… there’s no party like a Royal party.

United in tribute to The Doc

Me and ‘Baby Doc’ Peter

And it might be apt that former Scotland manager Tommy Docherty, an old friend of the Murtys, should die on Hogmanay.

The Doc’s son Peter was one of my earliest pals in Glasgow before his Dad took the family off to Manchester.

Of course being a football man and someone who joked that he’d had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus there’s no single destination to point you too.

But perhaps Manchester United is the club he’s most associated with.

So let’s point you in the direction of a football match day package.

If you’re an Irish United fan, and there are many, you’ll no doubt know about Celtic Horizons and Abbey Travel.

And the important thing is that we will all be together again soon in a football ground.

Africa, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Europe, Flying, Ireland

Christmas cards on the table

Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale and a Happy Christmas to you all.

And merci, gracias, grazie and thanks a lot to all my friends who have sent me Christmas cards this year.

I’ll even let you off cancelling your Christmas parties and not sending me a Christmas hamper this year.

So here are a few of the Christmas cards I’d like to show off to you…

Christmas in my Sandals

Open-toed: In Barbados

And yes that’s just how they roll at Sandals and in the Caribbean.

Where what they lack in chimneys and fireplaces they make up for in mango trees.

And Santa can soothe his feet in a Sandals swim-up pool.

My old friends in Ireland

Top point: Harvey’s Point

And while my Dear Old Mum will be spending her Christmas in a Glasgow care home, a nod to her homestead of Donegal.

Donegal, in the north-west of Ireland has all the warmth of the peaty sod and will be wonderful this Christmas.

So here’s to all Donegallers everywhere and thanks to the award-winning Harvey’s Point.

Scandi Claus

When I was thinking of going to Sweden this year my first port of call was my old Irish pal and Scandiphile Alan.

Happy Christmas… in Swedish

And a God Jul to you too and destination specialists Hadler DMC.

I got a tantalising view of Sweden on my MSC Cruises trip from Kiel, Germany through Denmark and up to Norway.

Cruises WILL be back in the New Year and of course that means river cruises too as well as the big seabreakers. Anyone for MS Arena?

Another year younger

And how long they look: Ethiopian Airlimrs

I’ve told you once or a hundred times about the lifegiving qualities of Enkutatash, Ethiopia’s New Year.

Because they live by the old calendar.

Back in the day an invite came through for Women’s Day from Ethiopian Airlines and a trip to celebrate womenhood in Ethiopia.

From where Lucy, the first women we have bones for derives.

I offered to drag up. But in the end I sent a colleague.

Bohemian wrapsody

Prague rocks

Of course we know who looked out on the Feast of Stephen.

Only the bustling Wenceslas Square will be empty this Christmas.

The Czechs are the most wonderfully resilient people, situated as they are between Europe’s great powers.

They will be back and so will we… Urquell in hand by the beautiful Vlatva River.

We wish Wu a Merry Christmas

Panda-monium

And isn’t it just like that? You get a card in and you panic that you haven’t sent them one.

So to Wendy Wu and the two Johns thank Wu for everything this year, particularly the legendary Chinese New Year lunch in January in Dublin.

And I know you’ll look after The Son and Heir when he heads to China next year.

And a Felice anno nuovo too

These Italians have style

And in the most fallow of fallow years I will always treasure my Autumn trip to Bergamo with Omio.

Miei amici have gone back into the strictest zone as they predicted when I visited but I’m sure it will all pay off.

And we’ll all be eating stracciatella gelato soon in Citta Alta.

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Mac Black Friday – your Scots pal’s round-up

And the first Black Friday had nothing to do with shopping and everything to do with sheeping.

The Scottish Highlanders were only 128 miles from London on Friday, December 6, 1745, when they decided to turn their army around and head back to their sheep.

It was an ill-fated retreat and their English pursuers caught up with them at Culloden, near Inverness, on April 16, and smote them, a thing they did then and very sore.

These days the only injuries you’ll pick up are sore shins in the shopping rush, although this year it’ll be ‘digital finger’.

Your favourite Travel blogger is always happy to take one for the team so here’s my round-up.

Flyday Friday

And it’s not just off-the-rail fashion or white goods that are Black Friday regulars… we all love our airline giveaways too.

Ireland’s national airline Aer Lingus carrier have a headline offer of €100 off for a family of four bringing two checked bags to Gran Canaria in May.

While also flagging up plenty of other sun spots from which to choose.

Ryanair pride themselves on giving more away more often and are championing ‘Every Friday is Black Friday.’

Friday cruiseday

And our floating hotel firms are all about the sails.

Princess Cruises are offering deals with peak season sailings from €769pp through November 30.

They have 14 UK-based voyages from seven to 14 nights, departing between May and October.

Eleven of those voyages will travel round-trip from Southampton to destinations across northern Europe (maybe taking in here), the Med (and this) and the Canary Islands (us too).

The 3,560 guest Regal Princess will be based in the UK from April to October 30.

Fares start at €769pp for a seven-night cruise during peak season and €1209pp for a 14-night cruise.

And I’ll drink to that. On board Royal

Royal Caribbean is combining Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

And they are recommending booking a cruise this weekend and get up to $400 onboard credit and save up to $150 instantly.

And why wait? Because this is what you get and here too.

Friday skiday

Slope off to the mountains, where there’s plenty of social distancing, with Crystal Ski and get €150 off any booking up to April 2022.

All 2020/2021 holidays come with Covid Cover and free amends up to 28 days before departure.

And because Andorra is a favourite of Irish skiers. Depart January 10, stay self-catering in 3* Sant Roma Apartments, Arinsal from €292pps (four people sharing).

While Italy is mine. And why not spend yours in Sainte D’ouix, at the 3* Hotel Martin, half-board, from €544pps.

Offer runs through to Monday. Includes flights from Dublin.

And I’m not stopping there… more Black Friday deals coming up.

WATCH THIS SPACE

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying

Flyday Ferryday Friday

I’m channelling my inner Oleta Adams (the darling of the Gulf War soldiers) by saying I don’t care how I get there I’ll get there if I can.

And so I’m flagging up airplane, sailboat and maybe even camel too today although Oleta it’s not just an Arab man who uses the ‘ship of the desert’.

Canary Orange

The future is orange

And obviously this caught our attention. Prosaically because the latest map for the European Centre for Disease control has classified Ireland and the Canaries orange.

Which means that anyone returning from the Canaries doesn’t have to restrict their movements upon their return, having done a pre-departure test 72 hours before departure.

Unlike the canary Aer Lingus isn’t flying out there until December 27.

But from then you can be sure of availability out to Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and my old fave Tenerife.

A word on canaries and the Canaries and, no they’re not named after the birds but after the latin name for dogs because they had big mutts.

And as for orange canaries, well they’re really Red Canaries which can have an orange hue. Now you know.

French fancy

We are sailing

France, we’ve missed you. Like so much else this year I had my bag packed ready for an arts and culture trip to see you when this pesky bug got buggier.

But we and my ferry friends aren’t going to let this beat us and Irish Ferries are preparing for a better year next year.

Irish Ferries will operate daily overnight sailings from Dublin to Cherbourg with their new cruise ferry WB Yeats (or WB Yachts as I call it) throughout next summer.

I’ve met WB, the ship that is, but that was in Dublin Port… next stop Cherbourg 2021.

And it truly is a pleasure to sail around French shores

Cruise away to 2022

Enchanted Princess

And the thing about cruises is that you usually have to save up for them.

So Princess Cruises are giving us plenty of time to do just that with their 2022 brochure.

They will have five ships on the seas.

Pick of them (heck they’re all mouthwatering) is Enchanted Princess which will be sailing around Russia snd Scandinavia from Copenhagen.

While we’re intrigued about their festival packages.

So you can take the Crown Princess to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo,

And I promised you a camel

He’s got the hump

Now this is the one I rowed back on, the 15-day G Adventures Jordan and Israel Adventures trip.

Because I didn’t feel it was right to leave my work without me for that length of time!

It’ll take you from Amman whose charms and that of Jordan I did enjoy, to Jerusalem and every stop in between. From £1954 (was £2999). Valid from January 15.

And as I now know after making new Israeli friends at the World Travel Market you’re just as likely to need a camel here too.

Because the land of milk and honey is a half sand.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES, SEA AND SAND

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Our New Common Market

Back in the days when Britons got on with Europeans (a lot of us still do) we called it the Common Market.

Alas, Cummings and Johnson have forced us all to pack up our stalls and leave the Common Market (or European Union)

But in a parallel universe, the one all of us Travel nuts inhabit, there is a much bigger market still, the World Travel Market.

The way it was: WTM in London

Which I’ve admired from afar for years but not been able to get to because of The Man who wouldn’t give me the time off.

This year though I’m my own Man and as for getting there all I’ve got to do is travel to the West Wing of New Murty Demesne.

This year’s Virtual World Travel Market won’t have the bright lights and entertainment of London.

And the Great Old City only grows in our affections because we can’t get there.

But I’ll thrust my London mementoes to the front of my desk, chief among them my Peter Pan piggy bank.

And only promote my international keepsakes when meeting up with the representatives from Jamaica to Japan.

Life as a Wanderer is a different normal to most at the best of times and while these are anything but we’ll make the best of it.

We’ll have the staple of travel fairs, the presentations, talks and stall visits.

And the meeting up between old friends who see each other every second week of November in London.

Now you know what they say, if we can’t get out to see the world let the world come to us.

Asia, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Sing for the Canaries

And at last they listened. To me, my English Canarian pal Mathew Hirtes and to the Tinerfinos and their cousins across the islands.

The Canaries are back on the UK exempt list, and I’m breaking out the Malmsey, the Canarian wine, much beloved by Shakespeare.

Part of the scenery: Jimmy, the Tinerfino

The Canaries, as I reported this week, have been returning rates of Covid infections way down on the UK.

And as Mathew has been telling us for months we’re safer over there than we would be here.

It’s also worth restating here how liberating this is for the Holiday Trinity that always infuses our sector… the holiday providers, the hosts and the holidaymaker.

And so without further ado…

Deal me in

My walking party

Jet2.com and Jet2Holidays, the UK’s largest operator to the Canaries, are recommencing flights.

To Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, from Friday from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Belfast and six other UK airports.

TUI holidaymakers haven’t seen the Canaries for 89 days but are already carrying their clients to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

There must be a plane waiting for me. And happen that my Tinerfino walking guide Eva is waiting for me to take me to Afur.

With Canaria Ways, of course.

A quick walk around the Maldives

And again…. sarong, but oh, so right

It’s more ambling than walking on Kuramathi.

The holiday notes advise you wear flip-flops and you can walk around the Maldives island in just half an hour.

While if you run out of puff in the all-year round 30C heat you can pull up a lounger or have a dip in your own villa infinity pool.

All with a regulatory Strawberry Daiquiri, of course.

And again I know a man who is in Kuramathi right now… and another man in Ireland from Turkish Airlines who will get you there and look after your every need.

While in the UK you want Kuoni.

A trip around the Greek islands

My waterfall: Kythera

And it’s a bit like the hokey-hokey with Greece.

Mykonos is in, but Crete, Lesbos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos is now out.

Which means you don’t have to self-isolate on your return from my own two faves, Corfu and Attica island Kythera.

And with Greece obviously, you never know where your odyssey will take you…

Wonderful Copenhagen

Bet you didn’t expect that: Copenhagen

And finally Denmark, the Little Mermaid et all.

I took my own Little Mermaid there on my cruise around the Norwegian fjords with MSC Cruises, and check out how their recovery is going.

As well as seeing the Little Mermaid, you need to get your photie taken with Hans Christian Andersen.

Not many people there: Leichtenstein

But sorry Leichtensteiners

No, me neither. I don’t know why tiny Leichtenstein has been removed from the exempt list.

Or if indeed it’s right to use the plural.

Well, this is what Leichtenstein has to offer. I’ll just have to get out there to find out for myself… when I’m allowed.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Cruiseday Wednesday – Marvel heroes in Tenerife

And because the Canary Islands and all other small groups of islands have been something of a cause celebrate for me over COVID, and they are jewels of the world at any time.

This one, from our pals at MSC, is for those of you love your action heroes.

Spider sense

You’ll sail on the MSC Magnifica, departing Southampton on May 16. You’ll call first at Tenerife.

Where you’ll get to walk around Europe’s most popular national park, the awesome Teide National Park.

The Wildman of Teide and his pals

And seeing you’re a comic book nut then you won’t need me to tell you that this is the backdrop for the much-anticipated The Eternals.

And that famous battle scene, which is set for release next year.

Princess diary

While you all should know by now our misadventures on our trip around the fjords with MSC.

Prices start from €1495pp for a 12-night sailing based on two people sharing a cabin.

Catch a tram in Lisbon

And you’ll visit Lisbon, Funchal. Las Palma de G.Cranaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Arrecife de Lanzarote and Vigo.

The price includes a premium drinks package and service charge.

Hay’s days are here again

And I’m always interested in meeting fellow cruiseheads which is why I’m sharing a virtual spot today by the rail with Hay’s Travel.

So let’s jump in with their Iberian Special.

Hays are offering as their Cruise of the Day this wet old day (at least here in the OoooK) six nights visiting Spain & Portugal with a balcony cabin for May 28 for just £599.

You’ll sail from Southampton on Princess and you’ll get to avail of their Medallion magic key which gets you everything you wanna on the ship.

You’ve found me by my Medallion

And I have mine burning a hole in my drawer from seeing how it works on Princess’s stop off in Dublin last year.

But if you want a reminder Hays recaps that it will allow you to order food and drinks from your Medallion wristband.

Or you can clip it on the tape of your shirt.

Karaoke cruising

While it also helps you track down your loved one.

Well, there are bars galore on the ship if your Scary One needs to find you, if you’re anything like me, that’s where you’ll be!

Again what would a cruise be if you didn’t get a chance to warble on the karaoke machine and The Voice at Sea will give you that.

While there are Movies Under The Stars.

And I kid you not on one cruise they had Dirty Dancing on when I passed by the pool one evening.

Which meant I had to look out for a waif of a woman to lift above my head for my Murty Dancing reprise.

If it’s pampering you want then Princess has been voted Best Spa at Sea.

And get this! There’s a free upgrade to balcony class.

A new cruiseday

And if you’re checking your calendars, yes, you’re Cruiseday Tuesday special has now moved a day to become Cruiseday Wednesday.

I could tell you it’s a well thought out master plan. Let’s go with that and see if it sails.

MEET YOU ON THE SEA

 

Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Ireland, UK

Cruiseday Tuesday – Bahamian rhapsody and a tale of two Serenas

And it remained tantalisingly close but not out of reach… the Bahamas.

From my $1bn Royal Caribbean wonder ship Celebrity Edge.

We’d got off their revolutionary tender which moved up and down the side of the ship to take on the theme of the floor it attached to… the Eden lounge, the bar etc.

That’ll be Nassau then

And when we all got on the smaller boat for a spin out on the sea we saw the Bahamas in the distance which is where you’d be going on your shore excursion.

Now the Bahamas had come on to my radar years before of course when I dallied with a home-made career in Cocktail making and the Bahamas Breeze.

A tale of two Serenas

You don’t need me to tell you you’ll want dark rum, banana liqueur, apricot liqueur, coconut rum, grenadine syrup, honey, lemon juice and orange juice, pineapple juice and ice cubes.

And there are some tips on measures, although if you’re on a Royal Caribbean ship there’s no scrimping.

Bahamian queen: Serena Williams, left
The other Serena Willams

While back in the office in Dublin I felt that somebody was calling me to get me out to the Bahamas, although not any somebody you might expect.

Serena Williams called me one day to ask when I would be publishing an article I had sent a writer on.

And, yes, as her email makes capital out of it… No, not that one. She is, of course, a Bahamian smasher.

Love me tender

All this Bahamian fun is because my old friends at MSC have been in touch to tell us of their plans for 2021 which include

Their Escape to the Tropics offer where you’ll spend three nights in Miami .

Feast of Exen

And then four nights on board MSC Armonia en route to Nassau and the exclusive private island Ocean Cay MSC Mraine Reserve.

Prices for this cruise on May 3 start from €401pp for a four-night sailing based on two sharing a cabin, price includes a premium drinks package and service charge (gratuities).

America, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Cruiseday Tuesday – Mrs Happy in Mississippi

It wouldn’t be the Mississippi without the steamboat, and standing on the Dolly Parton Bridge (think about it) in Memphis gets you thinking about when you’ll hop on one.

Which might be earlier than you think.

Because their small ships are exempt from the no-sail order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Go on… roll down the river

The American Queen Steamboat Company is offering an eight or nine-day New Orleans to Memphis (or reverse).

Running from now through November you will have a choice of ships… American Countess ($2299pp), American Queen ($2499pp) or American Duchess ($2999pp).

Now here’s a beauty from Dolly to get you in the mood https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9UzdIcnLv-w.

And some memories from Memphis and Mississippi while, of course, for all things Deep South, visit https://www.deep-south-usa.com/.

Girls’ getaway

Floating palace

You know when you wish you had just kept your thoughts to yourself.

And thanks my friend Jennifer from Royal Caribbean and my old stomping ground of Greystones, Co. Wicklow in Ireland for flagging up this one.

And you’ll always find a cocktail

Because she’s flagging up A Girls Getaway taster cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.

Five nights full board (all meals and entertainment) for May 4. Two sharing £390pp/€463pp. Deposit £150pp/€165pp.

You’ll depart Barcelona and visit Provence, Florence/Pisa and Rome. Just add a flight to Barcelona.

All the colours

She also mentions that it would be just as suitable for a lads or family trip but the fact that they headline it as a Girlie trip..

Well, that only alerts You Know Who. Again, thanks Jennifer.

And a reminder of what I get up to when I’m away (that’s printable) A Royal Party and https://www.google.com/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/24/messi-around-on-the-water/amp/.