Caribbean, Cruising

The paradise capers

I have certain writing rules built up over years of scribbling about Travel, one of which is never to use the cliche ‘paradise’ but every rule has an exception and that applies to Grand Cayman and the paradise capers.

The story begins, as so many do on a foreign shore.

And a Travel fair, the American IPW, when an invitation came through to visit Grand Cayman.

Which, alas, I was unable to attend because there were still parts of America I had to explore.

Lie back and think… Of the Eastern Caribbean

Fortunately though I was in a position to share the love.

And I knew exactly the person who would do such a trip to the Eastern Caribbean justice, my fellow award-winner Melanie May.

And so I went about my travels and Melanie got her passport out and scribbling pad for the Caribbean.

Come what May

Tree-mendous: Fort Lauderdale

Of course she returned with a headful of ideas, pictures and honeyed phrases to do the island justice.

And all that was left for me to do was to design it into my award-winning Travel section.

And put an eye-catching headline on it… Grand Cayman the paradise capers.

All of which I was reminded of when my old friends at Platinum Travel got in touch to promote their 10-night Eastern Caribbean cruise with Celebrity Cruises.

A seven port, three sea days trip around the fabulous Caribbean with the sumptuous ocean liner is just the sort of pick-me-up.

If you’re trying to get through the cold, dark, winter months.

So get on board Celebrity Silhouette departing from Fort Lauderdale on March 13.

And soon you’ll be lounging on Aruba‘s impeccable white-sand beaches.

Coral singing

Lapping it up: In Bonaire

And dive in the vibrant waters of Bonaire, full of pristine coral reefs.

Now, I’m sure you’re all naturals with the scuba-diving.

So you won’t make the mistake of the amateur who stands on and kills the reef in, say the Maldives.

You’ll visit Curacao too which, of course, my own Scary One has visited.

On her well-told voyage around the world from when she came back from Australia as a child.

She usually reminds me after I get the Blue Curacao out for our Saturday cocktails.

For those of you who like to tick off continents too.

Colombia is a picture

All the colours: Cartagena in Colombia

Then you’ll be pleased to know that you get time too in the cathedral city of Cartagena in Colombia.

And when you’re in the south Caribbean then the urge is to mark South America on your map.

As was the case when we visited Tobago on the doorstep of Venezuela.

Deal us in

If you’ve been saving, or if you can put it on the long finger then the 10-night cruise comes in  at from €2,6999pp including flights from Dublin, drinks, wi-fi and tips.

And $400 on board spend per person.

Now go ahead book before December 5 for up ot 75% for a second guest and up to $800 onboard credit per stateroom.

And drink in the Eastern Caribbean and Grand Cayman and the paradise capers.



Countries, Cruising

Dipping in with a mini-cruise

If you’re weighing up whether to sail the seven seas it then it’s worth starting by dipping in with a mini-cruise.

And I can vouch that should you wake up in Barcelona and pull back the curtain.

And see the statue of Christopher Columbus pointing towards America you’ll be hooked.

Our old friends at Irish holiday digital dream makers Click&Go agree.

And they have put Barcelona at the heart of their mini-cruise offers this winter.

The Catalan capital too is close to my heart as the beginning and latest cruise experience.

And while that cruise company which took us from Nice to Barcelona to Majorca has since docked for good.

Cruising around the world

On Celebrity Cruises’ Edge

I’ve stretched my sea legs on the Channel, the Norwegian fjords, and between Florida and the Bahamas.

With many a dock visit in Dublin too when passengers go off on a day excursion

And travel professionals file on to be wined, dined and entertained.

Sometimes too you are invited out to the great cruise capitals such as Barcelona to do a bit of paddle boarding with a surfing professional…

It’s a hard life!

Perfect partnership

Barcelonaaaaa: In dock in Barcelona

Like ourselves, Click&Go believe we all deserve a bit of R&R on the sea…

And like us too they know that MSC will look after your every need.

Their two-night cruise prices are from just €399 including flights with the four and five-night cruise prices starting at just €599 including flights.

And as with all cruise holidays all your meals and snacks are included.

As is your on-board entertainment and with MSC your gratuities are included too.

The Click&Go and MSC offer will see you travelling out on March 25 for two nights.

And take in Barcelona and Columbus’s home city of Genoa.

Thataway: Columbus in Barcelona

So you really feel like a navigator.

And the four-nighter will see you depart Genoa for La Spezia (Pisa/Florence) and then on to Rome and finish off in Majorca.

Of course with all things cruising more is so much more.

And if you want to stretch that to five then travel out on April 15 for five nights.

Dock in Genoa and cruise to your heart’s delight with stops off in Rome, Sicily, Ibiza and Valencia.

Reward yourself

In the frame: On MSC in the Fjords

So why not reward yourself with that trip you’ve always been promising yourself.

And you don’t have to break the bank, just get dipping in with a mini-cruise.




Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Europe

Where Princess rules the waves

It’s the only place on God’s earth where we’re happy to pay royal homage… where Princess rules the waves.

We’ve come to stand in awe port-side over the years at the majesty of the ships that transport us to the four corners of the globe.

And so we are instantly drawn to the new ship on their rank, the Sun Princess.

Their biggest ever, it houses 4,300 passengers.

It’s telling too that the name ‘Sun Princess’ is returning to operation because as we all know the sun is our guiding star.

The Sun King

No place like Dome: On the Sun Princess

Just as Louis XIV was to the French of the 17th and early 18th century who called him Le Roi Soleil ‘The Sun King’.

And whisper it in the 13-hour queues in London to catch a glimpse of the unopened coffin of the queen but…

French Louis is still the longest-serving monarch in history at 72 years and 110 days.

Sun Princess will have all the majesty we’ve come to expect for the livery.

Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard it’s scheduled to debut in February 2024.

And if you’ve been paying attention, again the 175,500-tonne vessel is the largest Princess ship ever constructed.

A slice of Piazza

Glass act: And plenty of Vitamin C

It embraces Italian heritage by featuring the brand-iconic Piazza and new feature ‘The Dome’.

It’s a cutting-edge entertainment space inspired by the terraces of Santorini.

Sun Princess will also feature the exclusive Princess Medallion badge, worn by the best.

It, of course, extends Princess’s leadership position in delivering exceptional personalised experiences.

Sun Princess will sail an inaugural spring/summer season of Mediterranean cruises from February 2024.

And then Western and Eastern Caribbean voyages out of Port Everglades, Florida in autumn 2024.

So let’s take you inside the palatial ship.

Where the Piazza is the centre-point, spanning three storeys with oceanside views.

An LED screen is also showcased in the centre of the Piazza that can be moved and configured to deliver live entertainment programming.

Oh, did we say there are 29 (count them) bar and dining experiences?

Dome from home

Toast of the seas: Princess

The other stand-out structure onboard Sun Princess is The Dome which is inspired by the terraces of Santorini.

The first glass-enclosed Dome on a cruise ship, here’s a multi-level covered deck.

It features an indoor/outdoor pool, and a unique water feature in a comfortable and relaxed space.

At night, the pool becomes a stage, and The Dome transforms into an entertainment venue with a South Beach vibe.

Shweet suites

Lie back and think of… Princess Cruises

And more on the numbers… it has 2,157 total staterooms, including 50 suites and 100 connecting rooms.

The 21-deck Sun Princess features more outdoor balcony space and all balcony accommodations feature an in-room sofa.

Also launching exclusively on Sun Princess will be a new level of suite accommodations, the exclusive Signature Collection.

Club Class accommodations and all other ships, will now be called Reserve Collection, the best-located mini suite staterooms.

Within the Reserve Collection will be Reserve Collection Cabana rooms, resort-style staterooms that offer a balcony.

And private cabana, an extra-large outdoor lounge space.

These premium accommodations also include access to the Reserve Collection Restaurant.

Trips of a lifetime

Badge of honour: Medallion Man

The inaugural season begins in February 2024 with Mediterranean itineraries. The ship’s first three voyages went on sale at 00:01 on Friday, September 16.

Fares start from €2,075pp for a 10-night Grand Mediterranean voyage, departing 28 February 2024.






Countries, Cruising

Magellan’s sail 500 years

Magellan’s sail 500 years. And we will sail 500 more. Yes, it’s half a millennium since Ferdinand Magellan became the first man to sail around the world.

And set in motion the ultimate bucket list, the round-the-world cruise.

Which 450 years later my future Mrs M replicated, albeit another route, and through a now built Panama Canal.

As her family came home on a working ship from her father’s commission in Australia.

Ferdie’s bucket list

Ferdi, steady go: Magellan

For Ferdi, in truth, he didn’t fulfil his bucket list.

He kicked the bucket in the Battle of Mactan in the modern-day Philippines so never did make it back to Seville.

And it was left to Juan Sebastian Elcano to complete the journey.

And isn’t it always the way, you complete the boss’s work and they still get all the credit.

Magellan, we obviously know from school geography and history.

Strait up

Full steam ahead: The Laconia

And he has his name carved into the map of the world in the Magellan Straits.

The strip at the foot of Chile between the Atlantic and the ocean he modestly named not for himself but the Pacific.

He took the name from the Spanish and Portuguese Mar Pacifico which means peaceful sea.

Now it may have taken 300 years for the first round the world cruise, Cunard’s RMS Laconia, we have been catching up since.

And there’s a swell range of cruises for next year to get away from it all.

Fair winds

On Celebrity Cruises’ Edge

So if you wanna stop the world because you want to get off then we’d like to put you onto the cruise specialists.

They’ll do the heavy lifting for you for the Cunards, Princess Cruises, MSC, Royal Caribbean Celebrity Cruises et al.

And that just leaves you to turn off the heating, put the key in the latch and take off.

Because wasn’t that just what Magellan would have done… and he didn’t have any fuel costs to worry about.

Because he worked on wind power, ah… Magellan’s sail 500 years.



America, Canada, Countries, Cruising, Deals

New York Princess

They start out a wide-eyed wanderer but end up a New York Princess. And may it always be so.

And for every Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) there’s a Josephine from Monaghan, Kathleen from Donegal and Celia from Galway.

My Irish aunties could only have dreamt of beginning their new lives in America off a cruise.

And spend 11 nights in luxury accommodation with entertainment and the best food and drink.

All of which you’ll get aboard Princess Cruises on September 24.

Cassidy Travel will fly you out from Dublin and stay in an inside cabin in this majestic fleet with full board basis from €1,099pp.

And, of course, this isn’t just a one-stop to Ellis Island.

The itinerary

Ronan reigns: Saoirse Ronan

You’ll sail from Southampton and visit Corner Brook and Sydney in Canada (no, me neither).

And Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and then New York.

Southampton, we know, it being the cruise capital of England, and it is that tbf, a through town.

September is the best time we’re told to see Corner Brook in Newfoundland with the trees just starting to change colour.

Captain Cook it

It’s there: Captain James Cook

But did you know that Captain Cook (yes, him) was here?

He made his name, of course, discovering Australia, although to be fair the Aborigines knew about it for thousands of years already!

Sydney we all know is Thomas Townshend, Baron Sydney, the-then UK Home Secretary at the time of Sydney’s foundation.

One can only baulk at the thought of some poor immigrants shack town in Rwanda being built with the signpost Pateltown (or Palace).

Another Sydney

Another string to its bow: Sydney, Canada

Sydney found himself in the post at a special time of change with the American War of Independence raging at the time.

And the Canadians, or more specifically the Nova Scotians, found themselves on the wrong side and ended up with the Brits… and the Home Sec.

In keeping with its Scotianess you won’t be surprised to see the Cape Breton Highlanders Museum.

And I guess that’s what The Big Fiddle is all about, the largest in the world.

Mad George’s wife’s town

Skip to it: King George


Charlottetown, named for Mad King George’s wife, has echoes of an olde world, with what looks suspiciously like jarvie racing (they call it harness racing) at the Red Shores Horsetrack.

Don’t hang around though, get a gallop on, because you know the ship won’t wait for you.

And the Big Apple

Laddie and Lady: On the Hudson

Whether you’re a prince or a New York Princess.

The Big Apple is waiting and there’s no time to waste.



Countries, Cruising, Europe

France, somme-nous déjà-la?

And it is the question every English Francophile child in Dover is asking: France, somme-nous déjà-la?

Only we doubt whether improving their French is top of the prep just now.

And for those who do have any French they’re more likely to shout: bâtards Francais.

Because nothing turns you against a country more than waiting hours and hours to get into it.

Do the English hate the French?

Francophobe: Rees-Mogg


Of course the Francophobia is there already… in spades.

With Dickens character Jacob Rees-Mogg weighing in.

Even suggesting that the French want to make life difficult for British tourists?


Now where once the favourite car game was I Spy now it’s phoning in your radio station to Bash the French.

This is a quintessentially English obsession, a neighbourly dispute which sustains both but which disrupts the hood.

Good neighbours

Tres bien Monsieur Bean: Franglais

My own wee country of birth, Scotland, has a historical alliance with the French, the Auld Alliance.

Born out of mutual interest, to be fair, and a suspicion of the neighbour.

As is the case with those across the road, the Irish, who have often let the French in, to try to oust the English from their plot.

The mad thing though is that if the English dislike the French so much why are so many flocking to get over there.

Walking on water: In France

There are, of course, a multitude of reasons why there’s such gridlock in the English ports.

And no one party is to blame.

Maybe though if it’s possible not everyone head for the coast at the same time.

And if it’s because of school holidays, well, you don’t have to go in the first week.

Camp brand new

Plain sailing: And at least the boat is moving

The good news is that when you get there.

And your Stena or Brittany Ferries crossing will be smooth, comfy and good value, you’ll get a fab break.

France, particularly Nord, Normandy and Brittany are all about La Famille.

And their campsites are a long way from the basic scrub land we tried to pitch a tent in back on that post-school break to Saint-Raphael.

So the kids may ask France, somme-nous déjà-la?

But it will be worth it when you can say Enfin.




Countries, Cruising, Europe

Cannes do attitude with Click&Boat

You don’t have to be as rich as Croesus to sail the Coat D’Azur just a Cannes do attitude with Click&Boat.

It helps, of course, to have amis, and speeding with the nose to the sky past Pierre Cardin’s Tellytubby House is a buzz.

But then it is all too fleeting.

With Click&Boat you’ll get to go at your own pace, island hopping with sailboats, motorboats, yachts, catamarans and RIBs.

And you can choose from, and select, the level of crew support needed.

Caters for everyone 

Go at your own pace: The French Riviera

All sailing skills can be catered to, from experienced sailors taking boats out alone to renters taking on a captain, crew and full catering staff.

Chic Cannes is the ideal starting-off point on the French Riviera.

From La Croisette, the Gulf of Napoule, and the Lerin Islands, there is plenty to see on board in Cannes.

And go-to destinations such ad Nice and Antibes are just a short cruise away.

Electrique dreams

Cool: On Cool Runnings in Barbados

Trimara Electrique – Orphie 29 is among the best.

And how!

It has a capacity for 11 people on board (skipper included).

Boasting large sunbathing areas on the XXL trampolines, it is an ideal boat for family and friends outings at sea.

Now adults are urged when you go out on your boats not to jump up and down on these trampolines.

Not that that would put eight-year-old Eric, the star of the Cool Runnings party whizz around Bridgetown in Barbados.

Riviera of dreams

Lie back and think of France: Click&Boat

Back to the French Riviera, and on your Click&Boat vessel you can go out to visit the underwater museum and the Lérins Islands.

With this electric trimaran itis an unforgettable experience for everyone.

Equipment includes paddle/kayak and snorkeling masks…. and years on from snorkelling mishaps I’m getting a hang of this.

The best option

Soak if up: The sun

Now, of course you’ll have your own idea of what makes a good trip.

But we’d always recommend jumping on the options… you can always scrimp and save later at home.

And the extras are…Scubajet Pro underwater thruster Paying option: meal service on board, packed lunches, DJ entertainment, cocktail entertainment, decorations, etc.

Ask us for a personalized proposal for your events.

Because after all it’s that Cannes do attitude with Click&Boat which will ensure smooth waters in the French Riviera.


Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food & Wine

Trollmops and Princess cruises

This gives you food for thought, a Scandi Culinary Cruise… trollmops and Princess cruises if you will.

Darina Allen, John Torrode and Matt Tebbutt are taking to the High Seas to reach us all how to cook.

Of course, not cook (except in my case) but cook better.

And where better than on a cruise, with the fruits of the sea under us?

And around Scandinavia and the Baltic where they love getting pickled, particularly those Trolls.

Enchanted journey

In the pink: John Torode with Gregg Wallace

Passengers on Enchanted Princess can watch live culinary demonstrations from a line-up of TV chefs in a new culinary-themed cruise.

The ‘Culinary Star’ voyage will be hosted on the UK homeport ship, Enchanted Princess, on a seven-night Scandinavia voyage departing August 26.

The cookies are:

  • John Torode – The straight-talking co-host and judge of MasterChef and regular guest chef on ITV’s This Morning.
  • Matt Tebbutt – Matt has been one of London’s fixtures at prestigious restaurants, including Marco Pierre White at the Oak Room, Criterion, and Alastair Little. He also presents Saturday Kitchen on BBC1, Best Bites on BBC2, and Food Unwrapped on C4.
  • Rachel Allen – And the Irish TV chef, bestselling cookery writer, and celebrated teacher at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School.

For starters

Catherine the great: With Catherine Fulvio

Of course I would come equipped with inside knowledge from disciple and celebrated chef in her own right, Catherine Fulvio, of Ballyknocken fame.

Enchanted Princess joined the Princess fleet in November and will join Sky Princess, Emerald Princess, and Island Princess to sail out of Southampton this year.

Fare play

I’ll drink to that: Princess

All-inclusive balcony fares for the seven-night Scandinavia cruise on Enchanted Princess start from €1,044pp.

The itinerary sails roundtrip Southampton with stops in Oslo (Norway), Skagen (Denmark) and an overnight stay in Copenhagen (Denmark).

Fare includes all-inclusive premium drinks, unlimited Wi-Fi and crew appreciation.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, or by calling 1800 939 608.

Or by keeping on here because this is the type of Princess I will bow to in deference.





Countries, Cruising, Deals

Keeping up with missus round the world

Now whatever and wherever I go I’ll be keeping up with the missus round the world.

Bandanini and Bandanettes, my regular visitors here, will know that she returned to the UK from Australia as a child on a working ship.

And she still has the coral necklace from Tahiti, while there are pictures galore from the Panama Canal crossing, Curacao and Portugal.

Sail the seven seas

A seafaring craft trip is still the quickest and most exotic way for globetrotters to see the planet.

And while rowing seems to be the most fashionable way.

And I discovered in Barbados last week that ‘everyone’ is now paddling across the Atlantic from Ireland and the UK, I’ll stick to cruising.

Our friends at Ambassador have the very thing.

120 days on the sea

For 2023/2024, Ambience will be sailing a brand new 120-night ‘Grand Round the World Cruise’.

It is the cruise line’s longest itinerary to date.

And for those who feel no place is like home then they have a new ship on the seas.

Ambition will depart from both Ambassador’s home  port of London Tilbury.

And six new regional UK ports… Newcastle, Dundee, Liverpool, Belfast, Bristol and Falmouth.

The Big Ship: Ambience

Ambassador are the first British cruise line to launch in over a decade.

And this will be their second ship Ambition’s inaugural season.

Ambassador pledges too premium value, authentic cruising experiences for the British market.

So they will be no-fly itineraries that are adult-focused.

And here’s the kicker… it’s primarily aimed at the 50-plus market.

Get back to me when I get there.

Nifty Fifties

Lounge around: On Ambience

Now for all you Nifty Fifties, get saving for January 6, 2024.

And if you’ve got a spare £10,000 then you’ll get change as it’s £9,229.

You’ll visit six continents, 24 countries and 34 ports of call, and the Panama Canal (OK, we know SHE’S been there).

This world cruise spans 34,759 nautical miles.

Where you goin’?

Full steam ahead: On Barbados

Sailing via the Azores and the Caribbean, Ambience will transit the Panama Canal.

You’ll call at beautiful islands of the South Sea and onto New Zealand and Australia.

Before you’ll explore Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Tropical Indian Ocean islands are more stepping stones to the excitement of Kenya.

Guests can also experience South Africa, and Durban and Cape Town, as well as Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world.

Cross the Atlantic to Brazil to explore Rio, before sailing home via Cape Vede, Casablanca in Morocco and Lisbon.

And there’s more

On a theme: The themed cruises

Both Ambience and Ambition’s 2023-2024 itineraries will offer a number of themed cruises.

As well as a selection of multi-generational sailings.

And this way you’ll be keeping up with the missus around the world.



Countries, Cruising, Ireland, UK

P&O no no, Stena’s who to know

We’re loath to diss operators here but there’s no defending torpedoing of staff… it’s P&O no no Stena’s who to know.

Like many of the Fiftysomething Irish-Scots variety I knew my way around a ship long before I stepped on a plane.

And Townsend Thoresen from Cairnryan to Larne were as familiar a transport provider to me as the 44 bus across Glasgow to school.

P&O took over TT in 1987 by which time I had disembarked to England and started flying to Ireland.

A different ship

Land ahoy: But one more for the road

And with Ryanair emerging to fly us at budget prices ferries were reserved for family holidays and house moves.

When Stena had emerged as the protectors of la famille Murty from Scotland to Ireland and back.

Now ships have certainly upgraded from the Seventies when I would run the toy cars on deck which I had bought from the ship shop.

I have been fortunate enough to be hosted by Stena in dock in Dublin, viewed their cabins and cinema hubs, bars and restaurants.

Treat your staff well

Child’s play: Better than running toy cars

I pride myself on the courtesy I was taught by my parents never to look down on staff.

If only the same could be said for P&O.

Stena offers a sample three-day return from Cairnryan to Belfast from £119.

Alas, The Scary One insisted our last Stena trip to Scotland was a single!

If you tolerate this

Big kid: And I’m not getting off

So, if you want to protest against P&O, and in the words of Manic Street Preachers…

‘If you tolerate this, then your children will be next.’

Film on the sea: All the entertainment

Then sail with our go-to ferry company, you won’t be disappointed.

So from us it’s P&O no no Stena’s who to know.