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.

MEET YOU BACK ON THE SEAS

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.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Go! Monopoly around the world

We may never know why Vincent Van Gogh lost his ear, though here is a fine crime fiction on the subject, but who is to say it wasn’t after a row about Monopoly?

Our pals at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam are the latest to join the Monopoly club.

With the release of their own Vincent board game for Christmas.

Becoming one of hundreds of Monopolys around the world.

With at the latest count, the game being licensed in 103 countries and printed in more than 37 languages.

The Van Gogh version substitutes the Great Man’s art for the traditional streets.

Just painting

While among the pieces naturally is a paint tube though perhaps tastefully no ear.

Monopoly for most of us is as much part of Christmas as Santa, who often brought it fir our stockings, and Christmas turkey.

But it was also brought out when friends came over, or relatives, from home or abroad.

And this was when it got really exciting to see the names of their streets and public transport.

O’Monopoly

So when my Irish relatives got their Dublin board out it had such names as O’Connell Street, Shrewsbury Street in Ballsbridge where I got to stay, and the Busaras on it.

It was very much a point of honour that your country had its own Monopoly.

It was a sign that you were not under the English yolk.

Although when you did get down to London when you were older you didn’t feel such a tourist as you ambled along the Strand, Pall Mall and Fleet Street.

Big Appley

Most spectacular of all was the New York edition where you could say you owned Broadway.

All us poor Scots had to dream of was buying Mayfair, Park Lane or Old Kent Road.

Until the manufacturers stumbled on the rather obvious idea of giving us all what we wanted.

McNopoly

And so we got Edinburgh, and the Royal Mile, Princes Street, the two football stadiums, Easter Road and Tynecastle Park and the rugby ground, Murrayfield.

Now, of course there are now football clubs, film and TV franchises Monopoly merchandise.

D’Ohpoly

In fact you name it and Monopoly have probably adapted it to your needs.

And so I have in my attic a Royal Caribbean cruise game as well as a Simpsons game.

From my travels in Europe and in Orlando.

Of course Monopoly, while having a deeply suspicious Property speculation message in its origins back in 1935, has really become a vehicle for imagination.

And discovering about foreign destinations…

By plane, ship, car… or my personal favourite, a wee Scottie dog.

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, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Sweet Caroline, so good!

Hands, touching hands/Reaching out, touching me, touching you – Sweet Caroline/Neil Diamond

And this’ll have you bopping on land or sea… Sweet Caroline, oh, oh, oh, good times never felt so good (so good, so good, so good).

Reaching out: Neil Diamond

You always know you’re onto a rousing stadium song and party favourite when the crowd know their cues.

And so randomly here are some of the places where those good times with Neil Diamond have never felt so good.

The duel in the crown

I don’t know what you’re having

Pat O’Brien’s duelling pianos, Universal Orlando: And you’ll need to bring a fistful of dollars with you (no, not the film though I dare say they’d play that soundtrack too).

Somebody will almost certainly ask for Sweet Caroline, and Piano Man, so that leaves the field open for your other faves.

Randomly I asked for (and got) Barry Manilow’s Mandy… ‘And I came and I gave without taking, and you sent me away, I’m Murty.’

Summer in New York

Holding hands… well, almost

The Beast, The Hudson River, New York: And on the hottest day of the summer with no space on the sidewalk (remember that) then the best place to go is the Hudson.

You’ll want to take the 70ft powerboat The Beast building up to 45mph around the Statue of Liberty.

And as you pass by New Jersey on the other side there’s a nod to that state’s favourite sons Bon Jovi and Livin’ On A Prayer.

Check it out as part of your New York CityPASS.

A gran old time in Austria

And that’s Ehrwald Presley there on the keyboards

Ehrwald, Austria: And what do you give a group of Irish senior walkers for musical entertainment?

The octogenarian oompah-oompah man laid on by Top Flight for Schools had tried some Austrian music and some Elvis.

But one of our group pointed out that we were an Irish group and ran off a list of Irish Wedding Songs… and obviously Sweet Caroline.

Booze cruise

And wait till the party gets started

Royal Caribbean, the English Channel: And we’re in the main shopping and entertainment area, of the Independence of the Seas rockin’ on our final night.

We’ve had the DJ belt out Hi Ho Silver Lining, 500 Miles, Delilah and It’s Not Unusual.

But the one that really rocks the boat is… you guessed it Sweet Caroline. So good, so good, so good.

Adventure, America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

The rapids adventures of an old Bandanaman

In the event of injury and you dying, and the rapids are nice and lively today. Woaaaaah! Give me a Yeaaah!

Maybe rewind to the bit about dying!

We’re driving down the highway to the Colorado White Water Rafting Center.

And tattooed, man-bunned Brad is banging the top of the roof with the palm of his hand.

Out Travel providers are turning to Adventure tourism as a plank of our comeback.

But will you need a plank yourself, or oar, to dig you out of choppy waters!

Here are five thrills and spills for the future:

Rapids eye movement

White-water rafting, Colorado: Rub-a-dub-dub, three men and three women in a tub.

And one goes overboard, the first ‘jumper‘ of the season.

Thankfully not from our raft, and a support kayaker is there to rescue her.

Your bandanaman hangs in there througb the rapids and my beer at the end of the course has never tasted so good.

Will I try it again? Well, the dudes at Yosemite Tuolomne are trying to tempt me to their Californian canyon. Yeaaah!

Zip-a-dee-doo-da!

Zip-lining, Las Vegas and Barcelona: And yes this should be flying through the air on the Cloud scraper Zip Line the highest in America.

12,000ft above the Arkansas River from one side of the Royal Gorge to another.

But it’s gentle zip lining on SlotZilla through Downtown Old Vegas, Frenont Street.

Where a member of our party got stuck halfway across the street because he was too light!

No such trouble for Bandanaman, or on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas where thankfully the harness kept the shorts up.

A surf bet

Walking on water: Anaheim

California and Barcelona and Portugal: And I’d backed myself to surf after being put through my paces on Royal Caribbean‘s FlowRider in Barcelona.

You see international surfer and Sligo’s own Gearoid McDaid walked on water on their surf simulator and had me doing the same (ŵ

Trouble was when I got to Anaheim later in the year I double booked (not for the first time) and missed out on the surf class.

So I did the next best thing and pulled a surfing pose on Huntington Beach instead.

California is synonymous with surfing but the biggest wave pulled was in Portugal.

And you can check out the water sports at VILA VITA Parc in the Algarve from €330p per night.

While Original Travel offers four nights from £975pp based on two sharing a garden view room or £795pp based on four sharing a family suite.

Hottie for Trotti

Scoot… down the Alpine valley.

Downhill Trottibikes, Switzerland: Now you always have to be ready for the challenge when it is thrown down.

Which it was in the Grindewald area of Switzerland when a Korean took me on.

No, not the slopes, but these scooters… through the forest and onto the main road, weaving between onrushing cars.

Until I passed her and swerved into the bar for my celebratory Aperol Spritz.

OK, it’s a bit of a leap to mountain biking in Mammoth Lakes, California, but I can only work with what I’m given.

And besides I did hone my cycling skills in the Campus, Quinta do Lago, Portugal… til I took a corner too sharply and fell off!

Life is a…

The Cyclone on Coney Island

Yes, Ronan Keating, but I bet you’ve never been on The Incredible Hulk at Universal Orlando or SheiKra at Busch Gardens.

You won’t like me when I’ve got an angry stomach, and, yes, I was green around the gills by the end.

Will I be back? Well, I’ve been on rollercoasters from A-B, Aberdeen to Blackpool to C Coney Island to Ooooooohlando.

So yes, and I’ll have my motion sickness tablets with me too.

MEET YOU ON THE THRILL RIDE

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/.

Countries, Europe

The beers are on Munich

Conversations naturally turn to steins in Munich and at the home of their faves Bayern Munchen who are the talk of football this week.

Because of their stop the traffic 8-2 trouncing of the lauded Barcelona in the Champions League.

The Stein I had in mind back in the day in the mid-Eighties as we watched Bayen beat Nuremberg 1-0 was Jock Stein.

The storied Top Deck beer bus

And a rather circuitous conversation played itself out as I tried to educate Hans about the Scotland manager Jock Stein.

Drink up!

I squeezed a couple of litre steins, one a big glass one, another a decorative one, into my backpack which have pride of place in my cabinet.

Who had died of a heart attack in a Cardiff dugout just weeks before.

Stocking up at the airport

Football and drink haven’t always been good bedfellows but Bayern embrace Munich’s beer and Oktoberfest links.

And you can see evidence in Munich Airport where branded steins and beer packs are on sale in their shops.

Frau did she do that?

And where check-out staff don lederhosens.

Although not the ticket office where Stern Frau is the order of the day although I shouldn’t complain.

As she did organise a new ticket for me after I had gone to the wrong gate and missed my flight to Athens.

Fur he’s a jolly good fellow

In Barcelona, of course, they say it is mes que un club, more than a club.

And Leonardo Messi has as much prominence, if not more, than Christopher Columbus who dominates the entrance to La Ramblas.

Mr Stein

What happens next for the Argentine magician… and dare we think the unthinkable that next season he’ll be in a different shirt.

Mr Stein

A final word now on the football… the mini-World Cup format of the COVID-19 Champions League is proving a roaring success.

In fact the best European Cup since Celtic became the first British team to lift the trophy in 1967 with a team drawn all from the West of Scotland.

When Jock Stein was their manager.

It is a spiritual experience for Celtic supporters and they often double it up with a trip to see Our Lady in Fatima to give thanks.

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

Holiday Snaps – a drive-thru the UK and US

We’d seen them on the movies and heard them on Meatloaf songs but when it came to my time my first drive-in movie was with my BROTHER!

It was a James Bond movie, The Living Daylights, in a Canadian field?

But it was magical all the same.

Today is National Drive Thru Day and drive-in movies here in Scotland are selling out fast.

Lots of social distancing in California

In California naturally, they do things bigger.

And drive-thru everything from a giant sequoia in Yosemite to views of statues, bronze babies and murals in Greater Palm Springs.

Derry’s Galway Girl

The girls and one boy in the Derry mural

‘Humour’s so subjective really’… and so it would appear is location really.

With everyone’s favourite Derry Girl fessing up to not really being a Derry Girl. Really!

Nicola Coughlan, aka gullible Clare, has revealed her Galway roots for Tourism Ireland.

Tourism Ireland and the iconic Abbey Theatre in Dublin have put on a digital experience.

With 50 writers and 50 actors in a collection of ‘theatrical postcards’.

Howabiteye? Clare. Visit all Ireland but she makes a great case for Galway and Derry/Londonderry.

I’ll ask her

And as brutally as the Cruisestapo are trying to kill cruising after shaming us all for years.

As fervently we will work to get our ships back on the water.

American Holidays are looking to 2021 with their Alaska Cruises.

Now I know first hand the fun and games you can have on board.

With ziplines and surf simulators in Barcelona with Royal Caribbean

But on your Alaska cruise you’ll be wanting to get out on land and trek to a glacier and go on whale watching excursions.

A trip of a lifetime with a hot offer of from €1699pp, one night Seattle snd seven night cruise