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.





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.

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.

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.






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.


Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe

Cruiseday Tuesday – Rome’s port

All roads may well lead to Rome but all ships sail to Civitavecchia, so as we bring back our cruise series here’s Cruiseday Tuesday – Rome’s Port.

Civitavecchia, or Centumcellae was the piece de resistance, and I should remember the Latin for that, of the emperor Trajan who built the port between 103-110 AD.

Ancient Civitavecchia

And that means St Peter, the first Bishop of Rome and Pope, would have sailed in here.

But not obviously on the fancy Royal Caribbean cruise ship Allure of the Seas.

Classical Rome

Seeing that you’ll arrive nice and early for your cruise as it’ll go without you take a jaunt around Civitavecchia.

The Old Rock

Pope Julius II commissioned Fort Michelangelo to protect the port from pirates.

Now your seven-night Royal Caribbean Western Mediterranean cruise might be the most romantic trip you ever take.

But many a sailor left a lovelorn maiden back on shore.

A kiss before you sail

The bronze Kissing in Memory of a Port statue remembers all those who went off to war and to mark the Allied bombing of 1943.

Swell of history 

So what were the Classical Roman ships like?

Behind Pope Julius II’s 14th-century Old Rock is a reconstruction of a Luburna, a warship of the emperor’s fleet.

So you’ll be sailing in the swell of history as you make your way down to Naples.

The answer to your prayers in Barcelona

Before checking into Barcelona, Palma, Provence (Marseille), Florence/Pisa before checking back to where it all began, Civitavecchia.

Port of exit

Now I’d always recommend exploring your exit port before your cruise, whether that’s Southampton, Kiel(central to Germany’s war history) or Fort Lauderdale.

So start your Allure of the Seas cruise with a Civitavecchia tour before your seven-day from €724pp in 2022.

So glad to have you back and where better to start than Cruiseday Tuesday – Rome’s Port.




Countries, Cruising, Deals, Ireland, UK

Alton Towers by royal appointment

Good enough for Princess Diana and kiddies Wills and Harry, Alton Towers is the rollercoaster rip-up by royal appointment.

A big kiddie at heart, and let’s remember she was barely out of her nappies herself when she had them, Diana’s memorable visit to Alton Towers put it on the global map.

Probably best though to forget the jolly japes of the It’s a Royal Knockout jolly japes Olde England tournament.

The Royal Carousel

Only to say that this corner of the unfashionable Potteries area of the English Midlands has the royal seal of approval.

Thrills and spills

It is too just a hop, skip and a jump over the water for theme park fans from Ireland.

Queasy tummy time

And this is where our friends at Irish Ferries come in with a two-day family getaway.

You and your 2.2 family (under-11s) will stay at the Best Western in Stoke-on-Trent just 15 miles out from the park.

More my pace

And you’ll get a one-day pass to the park.

Irish Ferries will get you there and back and the ferry crossings have certainly changed since I were a kid.

Irish Ferries

Gliding across the water: Irish Ferries

As I know from being hosted in their lounges, bars and entertainment hubs on their ferries, albeit docked in port,

So let Alton Towers be your theme park fun break this year.

Model rollercoaster

Disney World and Disneyland and Universal Orlando will always be there.

Scots wahey: With Bev in Orlando

And we’ll always come back, but do try Alton Towers.

And at times too where Alton Towers has led the world has followed.

Vertical hold

From here to Oblivion: Alton Towers

So when you ride Falcon’s Fury (my fave) in Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida, remember this is a variation on an Alton Towers original.

Oblivion, a 180ft drop opened in 1998, reaches a top speed of 68mph, boasts a G Force of +4.5G and lasts 1.15secs.

Hang on to your lunch

You’ll be in good company on your Alton Towers rollercoaster by royal appointment.

And don’t be surprised if you see a tall, balding, upper-class type, his brunette wife and three kids on the log flume in front of you.



Countries, Cruising, Deals, Ireland, UK

The UK’s Four Nations approach is a cruise

It’s been one of the catchphrases of politicians over this Covid year but I prefer it when the UK’s Four Nations approach is a cruise.

And as we look into the horizon to the days (next year hopefully) when we can all cruise around foreign shores again, let’s celebrate our own British Isles.

And that’s what our old friends at Royal Caribbean are doing with their All roads lead to the British Isles pitch.

Whistlestop tour

Now Royal Caribbean helpfully give us a Four Nations approach.

That’s a whistlestop digital tour of the British Isles which geographically (and not politically) also includes the Republic of Ireland to make it five.

All of which we’ll leave to others to debate as cruiseheads leave the outside world behind when we’re on the waters around our shores.

Deal me in

Kings and the Castle: Edinburgh

Royal Caribbean is offering three 12-night options on Jewel of the Seas which leaves from Amsterdam… and, of course, Royal Caribbean will keep you abreast of the latest Travel guidelines.

But so that you can get saving here’s their offers:

RC has an interior room for €1369 for August 19, 2022, which checks in at Edinburgh with its Castle, its historic Royal Mile and Greyfriars Bobby statue.

Then up to seee Nessie at Loch Ness, Greenock from where James Watt, the father of steam power, originates.

Onto Liverpool, home of the Beatles and the Son and Heir, over to Cork, the last stop for Titanic before its transatlantic voyage although maybe best not mentioned in shipping circles here.

St Peter Port in the Channel Islands will be your last stop on this tour and obviously we’ve inserted a Jersey Cow heere.

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Before checking out the White Cliffs of Dover, and we won’t spoil a classic song by mentioning that Bluebirds don’t fly over here and that they’re really found in the US of A.

I said we won’t.

Those white Cliffs of Dover

Before you’re back in Amsterdam, and seeing that this trip is for next year and we’ll all be back to normal spend some time in one of the world’s great cities.

We want more

The Giant’s Causeway: Northern Ireland

The €1399 package for June 8 for an interior room includes Belfast  Holyhead in Wales an Waterford in Ireland too.

The Travel pack in Dublin

While for €1599 for an interior room you can get the jewel in the Irish crown, Dublin amongst the other highlights on the other offers.

And seeing you’re on holiday you can also check out their upgrades to balcony rooms… and you know you’ve got savings for just this option.

So we’re all behind the Four Nations approach… sorry, make that Five!


Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Cruiseday Tuesday – British isle be back

And a return of an old favourite feature here on the back of MSC’s announcement of summer cruises around Britain.

The cruises which will be for us British only will begin with a series of short cruises from May 20 followed by seven-night sailings.

Safe entry: With MSC

My old pal, the exquisitely named UK&I MD Antonio Paradiso assures us that vaccinated and non-vaccinated passengers will be allowed on board.

Just make sure you have a negative test within 72-hours of embarkation.

And MSC will even get you on shore for excursions though having enjoyed their on-board dining and entertainment….!

Barbados is plain sailing

Ruby do: With Ruby in Barbados

Barbados was my first jump-off point too… jumpin’ into the Caribbean to swim with turtles, and jumpin’ at the Crop Over carnival.

And it is the new jump-off too for Royal Caribbean for your island hopping.

Royal Caribbean is offering up to €350 off your stateroom.

They have a lead-in seven-night South Caribbean island hop holiday price.

On Grandeur of the Seas from €434 from Sunday, December 19.

We’re talking Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao (home of the blue liqueur), St Lucia and Dominica.

Greek island hopping

And we still have a few Greek islands to hop.

Travel Department is running a nine-night holiday staying in Athens and on board the medium-sized ship The Celestyal Experience.

The Greek Islands & Aegean Sea Cruise is all yours to book for September or October from €2,139pp.

Including everyone’s favourite cruise stop-off Santorini.


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

On a clear day – Ireland and Wales

And on a clear day in my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow in Ireland I could see Wales.

As the nearest neighbours from the east of Ireland, Wales was always the first port of call.

Either for workers, families going over to see loved ones, or later holidaymakers.

And before air travel and budget fares the Land of the Dragon was a seaport of call rather than an airport of call.

Green for go: Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries and the boat to Holyhead are as familiar to travellers as the Luas tram.

It is heartbreaking to see boats carrying haulage on the big sea while us passengers are forced to stay home.

But there is light on the horizon and that is that glimmer of Wales you can see atop Bray head.

Haven holidays we know from family holidays way back then in England’s Lake District.

And of course we know of their Welsh sites too from visiting North Wales too.

Not too deep

Presthaven Beach: North Wales has some of the most unspoilt beaches around even before social distancing.

Haven are offering seven nights at a 25% discount down from €846 to €621.

Everyone loves a slide

Hafan y Mor: And as you can see this is packed with family fun.

What would have cost you just short of a thou for seven days (€989) is now 752.

Upwardly mobile

Quay West: Billed as boasting breathtaking views of New Quay harbour and Cardigan Bay.

This €1125 package for seven days has been reduced to €868.

You’ll have the run of two-bedroom deluxe mobile homes for up to six people on dates in June.

So for a little bit of Haven then just look across the water.