Canada, Countries, Cruising

Rideau of your life with Le Boat

The French called the twin waterfalls curtains, Le Rideau, and you’ll have the rideau of your life with Le Boat.

Now unless you’ve got a family name behind you, like say a Trudeau.

Then you’ve got to do the whole nine yards.

Or more seeing that this is the second biggest country on earth to get a seat in the Canadian parliament.

State of the art: Le Boat

Better then getting a relaxing seat on your own boat meandering into Ottawa.

And that’s what Europe’s largest self-drive boating company is offering with its fleet of 32 Horizon cruisers in Canada.

All of which can access the new base on Ontario’s Rideau Canal.

Parlay at the parliament

Eternal flame: Ottawa House of Commons

Le Boat has included Ottawa in its self-drive itineraries since its launch on the UNESCO World Heritage Rideau Canal in 2018.

And the new base is a response to demand generated by Le Boat’s guests to include more convenient one-way trips to the Canadian capital.

And for those who don’t know the capital it’s more than just the parliament, regularly named one of the top ten parliaments in the world.

With its huge clock tower, the Peace Tower, which stands in the middle of the building.

Ottawa features world-class museums, beautiful scenery and a variety of unique neighbourhoods.

On the horizon

And on dry land: Get off your boat and bike it

Le Boat’s guests will benefit from six new itineraries, including convenient one-way trips to Ottawa from its main base in Smiths Falls, Ontario, or vice versa.

For the 2023 Season, Le Boat will be accepting delivery of two new Horizon Plus Cruisers (Horizon 1 Plus and Horizon 4 Plus) from Delphia Yachts.

Bringing their fleet on the Rideau to 32 boats.

The boating season on the Rideau Canal starts on 19 May and ends on 9 October 2023.

Clients will be able to cruise on the Horizon 1 Plus, Horizon 2, Horizon 3 and Horizon 4 Plus from Le Boat’s new base in Ottawa.

Justin time: Justin Trudeau

And will have the option of choosing short breaks (three to six nights).

Or longer journeys (seven-ten nights one-way or round-trip cruise options) starting in Ottawa or Smiths Falls.

Boating holidays start from just £1,121/€1187 for a four-night cruise.

Or from £1,874/€2161 for a seven-night cruise. Le Boat (+44 (0) 23 922 2177,

You’ll certainly have a Rideau of your life with Le Boat.



America, Countries, Cruising

To Miss With Love From Lulu

A twist on the old favourite To Sir With Love… To Miss With Love From Lulu.

This Miss is Mississippi and the good news is that Sixties icon Lulu will be rolling, rolling, rolling down the river.

On a cruise along the river and through the American heartland.

Imagine Holidays bills its 12-night package thus: ‘From its rich complex history to its multitude of dialects, bubbling mix of cuisine to its colourful neighbourhoods and passion for music…

Dolly’s bridge: Memphis

‘The bold and beautiful Deep South is a region that dances to its own unique rhythm.’

For anyone who has witnessed the journey of Marie Lawrie (her real name) from wee Glasgow lass to transcontinental superstar will know. 

Forever young: Lulu

That she has a multitude of dialects as she showed in one return for the 1990 New Year’s Day celebrations in George Square in Glasgow.

Of course, I couldn’t talk… no, literally, I was too far gone to. And when I did find my voice I was speaking in tongues.

Rolling down the river

Shout, shout: Lulu back in the day

Lulu, of course, is the consummate professional and she will of course nail it.

The Mississippi is very much on the radar of my own little songbird here at home.

And I have promised to take her out there to Memphis which of course is a hotbed of music.

And that is embedded in the very river itself where one of the bridges is named the Dolly Parton bridge (you work it out yourself).

Memphis magic

Welcome to the Jungle: Elvis’s Jungle Room

You’ll get three nights in Memphis before the off staying in a swanky hotel.

Arriving during the vivid and thrilling Carnival Season, you’ll be immersed in Memphis’s colourful streets, with bunting and festival decor.

Naturally you’ll visit Elvis’s Graceland and learn about the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll during a visit to the Smithsonian Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

From here, you’ll embark American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built, for a journey along the Mississippi.

The Big Easy

Dance away: New Orleans

Take in the antebellum mansions, the historical port of Vicksburg, the oldest city on the Mississippi.

St. Francisville boasts a lifestyle of a bygone era, and Nottoway, an exclusive stop where you’ll visit the largest standing antebellum mansion in the south.

Your cruise ends in the unique New Orleans and enjoy two nights in the Big Easy.

Exploring the French Quarter and the charming neighbourhoods of the Garden District and Treme.

Learn about city culture and history as you venture along Frenchmen Street and Esplanade Avenue, and marvel at magnificent sites including St. Louis Cathedral, Cabildo, The Presbytere.

Queen of ships

Bridge of Highs: The Mississippi

The American Queen certainly lives up to its name judging by the specs.

We’re encouraged to dine on delectable flavours in the elegant J.M White Dining Room.

Soak up the sun from the top deck and enjoy live music performances including the lovely Lulu.

And expertly crafted cocktails in the Engine Room Bar.

While there’s also award-winning, Broadway-calibre entertainment in the Grand Saloon.

So why not take up the offer To Miss With Love From Lulu. Prices from £3499pp, depart February 16 2024.



Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe

Split for Croatia

It’s certainly worth checking out when a German couple you meet by the Rialto Bridge in Venice tells you that Dalmatia is even better… and you should split for Croatia.

We’ll never downplay the City on the Lagoon of course only I expect Wolfgang and Ingrid were hankering back to another stunning coastline without the hordes.

The good news though is that you don’t have to choose one over the other.

Adriatic see

Game for anything: Croatian Game of Thrones

As our old Irish Travel friends Cassidy Travel know only too well.

They are only offering a luxury Italy & Croatia fly/cruise all-inclusive offer for a week.

For August of this year.

Suite spot

Venice: & let’s catch a gondola to Padova

You’ll sail out from Fusina, across the lagoon on the mainland.

And as well as Venice on your doorstep you’ll visit Trieste with its James Joyce links, Zadar and Hvar.

While ‘the Pearl of the Adriatic’ Dubrovnik, Split and Opatija (Kvarner Bay) are also on your itinerary.

The price includes return flights from Dublin with luggage allowance, private door to door pick-up and private transfers.

Your seven nights cruise will be in a Vista Suite and include all excursions,

You’ll get $300 on board spend and your very own butler!!

And what’s more there is a January sale attached with the price from €4,600pp (Exclusive offer – Save €500!)

Trust Cassidy

Paradise on Earth: Dubrovnik

Now, of course, the cruise is the ultimate in you-do-it-yourself holiday where every one of your needs is taken care of.

And that’s always best when I try the old independent travel lark.

Having had to depend on my old Travel pal Constance Harris to get me and my pal ‘Dragon’ back on the train to Padova for a function.

While left to my own devices I had to get off my bus from Medjugorje to Dubrovnik because I had my old passport on me.

Best then to let Cassidy look after everything and help you split for Croatia…

And for those who like to hear the friendly sound of your Travel dream-maker at the other end, then call 01 8779890.



America, Countries, Cruising, Europe

2023 will be a cruise

It’s felt pretty bumpy over 2022 so let’s make a promise here… 2023 will be a cruise.

Our old friends Irish travel specialists Cassidy Travel are already on it with a trio of top offers to tease us for next year.

With cruise experts we know and love.

Now while the waters around us are familiar to us we recommend dipping your toe back in for a return visit.

While it’s always worth broadening your horizons.

And we confess that stepping off Huntington Beach into the Pacific we stared out yonder.

And dreamt of the next land ahoy…

So without further ado here is what Cassidy has planned for us.

Med in heaven

I’ll be back: The Trevi Fountain in Rome

And you always remember your first time and journey only we didn’t get the extra Italian helping so that’s reason enough.

Western Mediterranean Fly/Cruise 

Royal Caribbean – Symphony of the Seas

Travel 8th October 2023.

7 Nights – Full Board & Gratuities

From €1539pp (based on 2 people sharing)

Itinerary: Sailing from Barcelona, visiting Palma,

Provence, Florence/Pisa, Rome & Naples

Includes: Flights, baggage, transfers, 7 nights cruise,

full board basis in an interior stateroom & gratuities!

Deposit only €99pp!

Drop into any Cassidy Travel shop or contact our cruise team or call


Fjord fiesta

Norway would: And it’s cruisetime


And we’ve a picture by my award-winning snapper above the telly to remind us of an early morning off Geiranger to remind us.

Norwegian Fjords Fly/Cruise 

Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Apex

Travel 18th June 2023.

7 Nights

From €1619pp (based on 2 people sharing)

Itinerary: Sailing from Amsterdam, visiting Kristiansand,

Haugesund, Geiranger & Alesund

Includes: Flights, baggage, transfers, 7 nights cruise,

drinks, wifi, gratuities & $200 on board credit!

Hula lot of fun

Hello flower: Hawaii

Now this would suit my own little Princess who globetrotted as a kid but missed out on Hawaii, the jewel of the Pacific.

Particularly with the Princess of the Seas.

Hawaiian Island Fly/Cruise 

Princess Cruises – Emerald Princess

Travel 6th July 2023.

16 Nights – Full Board

Inside Cabin – Upgrades Available

From €2099pp (based on 2 people sharing)

Itinerary: Sailing from Los Angeles, visiting Hilo, Honolulu,

Kauai, Kahului, Ensenada – Mexico, Los Angeles

Includes: Flights, baggage, 16 nights cruise, meals, snacks & entertainment

Drop into any Cassidy Travel shop or contact the cruise team or call


And make sure 2023 will be a cruise.



Africa, America, Asia, Countries, Cruising, Europe, Oceania, South America

Swanning about the world

So all we do is go swanning about the world. Wrong, we let somebody else pilot the ship.

And that somebody would be Swan Hellenic who will show you the Arctic, Antarctic and rest of the world – from Brazil to Papua New Guinea, Norway to New Zealand, Australia to Africa, and Madagascar to the Mediterranean.

Swan Hellenic are introducing a new lady to the fleet for next year with SH Diana joining SH Minerva and SH Vega from the past two years.

So as with all things cruise let’s see the numbers.

There are 192 guests across 96 staterooms and suites, many with balconies.

Diana rules the waves

Ice one: And total peace

Diana’s passengers features a multifunctional room next to the observation lounge, a private dining room and two tenders.

And so the polar class 6 ice-strengthened hull plus extra-large stabilisers make the journey as smooth as silk for you to enjoy the Arctic and Antarctic.

There are new itineraries too on the roster, such as New Zealand in Depth and immerse yourself in its Maori culture and its Long White Cloud.

Dip your toe in: Luxury on board

Then there’s Papua New Guinea with its active volcano and Eclectus parrots.

For Japanophiles then you can explore the Land of the Rising Sun further than ever before.

And its Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples and the forested island of Yakushima.

Of course, all these exotic destinations bill themselves as the Land of something or other.

Dance away: Maori culture

And that is no different with Iceland, the Land of Ice and Fire.

In Iceland in Depth you can cruise along the fjords, something we’d encourage anybody in the Nordic or Scandinavia, nations. 

And so to the Land of Carnival, the Spirit of Brazil will give you those rhythms, beats and buzzing cities.

But you’ll also get to see humpback whales in the Abrolhos Archipelago.

While if Africa is more your thing then you can check out their Unspoilt Wilds of Southwest Africa.

And talk to the animals… the elephants, buffalos, lowland gorillas and chimps. And you’ll feel good.

Before learning about the wonders of voodoo in Benin.

Deal us in

Antarctic explorers: Off to see  wildlife

Prices range from £2,500pps to £19,000pps depending on the length and location of the expedition cruise.

That includes return regional flights to the port of embarkation and/or disembarkation (where specified)…

Group return transfers from the airport to the cruise port, one night pre-cruise accommodation with breakfast in a four/five star hotel or onboard, all meals onboard, 24-hour room service, coffee, tea, soft drinks and selected alcoholic beverages available 24-hours per day.

There will be a lecture programmes by Swan Hellenic’s experienced expedition team and guest speakers, Wi-Fi, onboard gratuities and port taxes.

And one selected shore excursion/expedition activity per port of call, and branded Swan Hellenic expedition parkas and use of rubber boots in Polar Regions.

Phew. So get swanning about the world.


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.