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Santorini – My Favourite Cruise Port

Ever since my first trip to Greece at the age of 11, I have been a lover of all things Greek. The fabulous beaches, the friendliness of the people and particularly the food. I absolutely LOVE Greek cuisine. Pitta gyros, stifado, lamb kleftiko, feta cheese. My mouth is watering just typing this! And then there is the wine. Retsina certainly isn’t to everyone’s liking but I think it’s great. And it doesn’t give you that dreaded hangover.

So imagine my delight when I saw a cruise sailing with Costa Cruises that took in 5 Greek islands in a one week cruise. Sailing out of Heraklion in Crete we visited Kos, Rhodes, Samos, Mykonos and the jewel in the itinerary for me, Santorini.

Capture2Spectacular Santorini for me, is without a doubt the most scenically dramatic of all the Greek Islands and its whitewashed churches and clifftop houses are probably the most recognisable image of the Greek Islands. This was the port of call I was waiting for! And I didn’t have long to wait. Day 2 of the cruise and we were there. After breakfast on board, we took the short tender to the port, Thira (pictured left). There are 3 ways up to the town, the cable car, by donkey or on foot up the 588 steps.

Whichever way you choose, the views are certainly worth it. I honestly don’t believe the pictures do the scenery justice. Well mine certainly don’t anyway.

After wandering around the quaint cobbled streets and watching a local wedding party celebrate a new union we got on a bus to explore the island. Our first stop was Kamari on the east coast of the island. Kamari is a cosmopolitan beach resort which has been awarded the Blue Flag. The water is deep and blue, the sand is black and a lovely stone paved promenade for strolling runs parallel to the beach. Offering a wealth of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops this area is closed off to traffic during the summer season.

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Kamari Beach – Santorini

After some of that fabulous Greek food for lunch we moved down the coast to Perissa which is a picturesque little village dotted with whitewashed villas. Home to a 7km long Blue Flag beach and a promenade packed with chill-out bars and tavernas this was the perfect place to quench our thirst with a couple of ice cold pints of Mythos for me and a cocktail for the wife.

Back on the road again we decided to get a taxi back to Thira as we realised that we probably needed to go back to the port to make sure we weren’t rushing to get back to the ship in time. That’s when we realised we hadn’t been to Oia which is another cliff side town with stunning views. We were disappointed but at least it means we have to go back for another visit.

When we got back to Thira we decided before going back to the ship that another couple of beers and a light snack would be required. After all who wouldn’t want to sit in a taverna and take in those views while they had the chance.

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A table with a view in Thira

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Time to take the 588 steps back down to the bottom and set sail for the next port. One thing is for certain though, this will not be the last time I visit this wonderful island. I guess that is one of the main reasons why cruising is such a great way to travel the world. You get to see several places all in one cruise and it gives you an insight in to places that inspire you. Places that you would love to visit again. Santorini is definitely one of those places!

Thanks for reading, until next time keep searching for YOUR Best Destination….

Our Top 10 Reasons To Cruise

ReflectionLast year over 1.9 million UK holidaymakers took to the high seas for a cruise holiday, many of them being repeat customers. This year, that number is expected to grow. Will you be cruising this year? If not, why not?

Below are my top ten reasons to cruise, hopefully this will help to dispel some of the myths that may be stopping you from trying a cruise.

  1. Visit multiple destinations but unpack only once – Cruising is a luxury alternative to a multi centre holiday but unlike the land based multi centre you only have to unpack your case the one time, giving you more time to enjoy your holiday.
  2. Great value for money – One of the biggest myths about cruising is that it is very expensive. OK so they do tend to be a little bit more than a land holiday but if you consider everything that is included (fine dining, Broadway style shows, drinks packages) a cruise will more than likely cost less than you think.
  3. Food, glorious food –  Cruises are pretty much all-you-can-eat but unlike some all-inclusive holidays the emphasis is placed on quality. The main dining room will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cafes and pizzerias are dotted around the ship and the buffet restaurant will usually be open right through the day. Most ships also have speciality restaurants (cover charges apply) with chefs such as Marco Pierre White, James Martin, Jamie Oliver and Atul Kochhar all having restaurants on the high seas.
  4. Watch a show in the theatre – Personally I think the entertainment on a cruise is a massive reason to go on one. For instance, shows like GreaseWe Will Rock You and Saturday Night Fever are all Broadway shows currently being performed on Royal Caribbean ships and they are all included in the price of your holiday. Now you don’t get that on a land holiday!

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    Grease is on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

  5. Hit the gym – It is a well known fact that when you go on a cruise it is very easy to pile the pounds on! I for one can’t seem to resist sampling one of each dessert on offer! All cruise lines have state of the art gyms on their ships with personal trainers on hand to help advise how to shed some of those extra pounds. Independence of the Seas even has a boxing ring in the gym.

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    The gym on Independence of the Seas

  6. Take in some retail therapy – Cruise ships all have fantastic shopping facilities. Everything that you would expect in a small shopping mall, designer jewellery and clothing, handbags (my wife’s favourite), numerous types of novelty gifts and of course duty free. This tends to be where my on board credit disappears.
  7. Learn to cook on board – You can watch a cookery demonstration on many ships these days. P&O Britannia has a state of the art kitchen where you can enjoy expert tuition and make your own culinary masterpieces and Oceania Marina and Riviera have a cookery learning centre in association with US magazine Bon Appetit.
  8. Great for families – Water-slides, rock climbing walls, mini-golf, sports courts, arcades, modern ships really do cater brilliantly for kids. The children’s clubs are brilliant and once they’ve done a cruise, your children won’t want to holiday any other way!

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    Mini Golf is just one of many children’s activities you will find on a cruise

  9. Dance the night away – Every time I go on a cruise there is never a shortage of guests looking to dance the night away in the ships night club venues! Why not let your hair down and join them?
  10. Relax – After all, the whole point of going on holiday is to relax and get away from the stresses of every day life. Lie by the pool and take in the rays of the sun! Enjoy being waited on hand and foot, sip a few cocktails whilst listening to the relaxing music that plays. You deserve it!

Whatever you choose to do out there, enjoy it!

Thanks for reading, until next time keep searching for YOUR Best Destination….

Destination Australia – Visit Perth

perth-1368337_1920So far we have told you about Sydney and Cairns, today we take you across to the capital of Western Australia – Perth.

Perth has an attractive setting on the Swan River and has several stunning beaches close by that are a lot less crowded than those on the east coast. A relatively young city that is constantly evolving, the city centre has been revitalised over recent years with a waterfront development, which is like a mini-version of Darling Harbour, Sydney. There are also many more cafes, restaurants and small bars that add a lot to the city.

When I visited this area I stayed in Scarborough, just north of the city centre. Below I will list my 5 favourite things to do when in the area.

Our top 5 things to do in Perth, WA.

  1. Take a day trip to Rottnest Island – Located 18 kilometres off the coast, this is a premier island getaway with over 60 beaches and bays.There are no cars on the island so Rotto is best explored by bicycle, making it a very relaxing and enjoyable experience for people of all ages. Other activities on the island include fishing, swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, and diving.booked-e83cb20e2e_1920
  2. Take a Swan River Cruise – Take the trip from Perth down to Fremantle on a relaxing cruise down the Swan River. Take in spectacular views of the city skyline, marvel at some of the most expensive real estate in the country and the many sailing boats. We actually did our cruise at night and the glittering lights looked fantastic as they shine down from the city and reflect on to the water.
  3. Sundays at Cottesloe Beach – Cottesloe is  about 15-minutes drive away from Perth and the crystal clear waters make it a popular place for swimming, snorkelling, surfing and it’s a great spot for families too. Get down to the beach by mid-morning as the famous ‘Fremantle Doctor’ breeze comes in off the Indian Ocean around 2 o’clock, making your beach day a much less pleasant experience. Don’t let that send you packing though, Cottesloe has several bars and cafes on the sea front and Sunday’s in particular are very busy with a great atmosphere. And if you get the taste and end up staying for a while then it is also one of the best places to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.
  4. Visit Margaret River – Just three hours south of Perth, Margaret River is one of Western Australia’s most renowned food and wine regions. Take a tour of the cellars and taste local brews at the boutique breweries. A trip down to Margaret River wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the farmer’s markets to try the artisan cheeses, local handmade chocolates and delicious fudge. At the end of the day find somewhere to dine on fresh crayfish straight from the ocean or the local beef and truffles. Yum!
  5. Explore the historic town of Fremantle – this makes for a really nice day trip. Located just 30 minutes from Perth, Fremantle is brimming with cafes, bars, seafood restaurants and heritage buildings and maritime history. In fact it is known as ‘the world’s best-preserved example of a 19th-century port’ 

 

Whatever you choose to do out there, enjoy it!

Thanks for reading, until next time keep searching for YOUR Best Destination….

Destination Australia – Visit Cairns

Hello again travel fans. Following on from my last blog, we’re moving north from Sydney to Cairns in north Queensland.

Catching a flight from Sydney to Cairns is relatively cheap and is only a 3 hour flight. I would recommend booking your accommodation in Cairns city so you’re nice and central.

As one of Australia’s biggest tourist towns and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is certainly a vibrant place with plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to keep you happy. Whilst a visit to Cairns is generally about getting yourself out to the Great Barrier Reef, the surrounding area and nearby rain forest are certainly worth exploring.

Our top 5 things to do in Cairns

  1. Day trip to the Great Barrier Reef – heart-reef-e833b5062a_1920 as I mentioned above the main reason for a visit to this part of Australia is to experience this true wonder of the world. At over 2,300km long the Great Barrier Reef consists of 900 islands and 2,900 individual reefs. It is the world’s largest coral reef and the largest living structure on the planet. Whether you go for a full scuba dive or just snorkel on the surface, this is one of the only places in the world that I have been to that I tell people that they MUST DO!!
  2. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park –  this is a great, down to earth way that the local people share their culture. Enjoy dancing shows and learn about the didgeridoo, learn to make a fire with sticks, learn about bush medicine and food, and get the chance to throw boomerangs and spears.
  3. White Water Rafting – if you are a bit of an adrenaline junky then head down to the Tully River. Experience the magnificent landscape of  the World Heritage Rainforest while navigating the white water rapids of this mighty river.rafting-eb3cb20a2c_1920
  4. Relax at the Cairns lagoon –  in the north you get really hot summers but you can’t swim in the sea as they’re full of jelly fish (the kind that can seriously harm you, even kill you).  Luckily the man-made Cairns lagoon gives you crystal waters, beach views and a cool place to relax.
  5. Take a sky dive! – OK so this one definitely isn’t for everybody but why not. A skydive over Cairns is guaranteed to be an unforgettable lifetime experience! The Cairns drop zone offers spectacular views of the Great Barrier Reef, The World Heritage Rainforest and Trinity Inlet. If you are ever going to do it, I doubt there is a better place to do it.

Whatever you choose to do out there, enjoy it!

Thanks for reading, until next time keep searching for YOUR Best Destination….

Destination Australia – Visit Sydney

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G’day travel fans. This week at Best Destinations our feature destination is probably on most people’s bucket list – Australia. But Australia is a vast country, almost the same size as the USA, so writing a blog about this country just isn’t going to cut it. So we are going to break this fabulous country down for you, starting with Sydney.

When you visit Australia you simply cannot miss out Sydney. Besides being Australia’s largest and probably most famous city, there are many other reasons why Sydney is also the most visited city. The stunning harbour side location, iconic beaches, fantastic cafes and pubs, excellent restaurants, world heritage sites, terrific shopping, fabulous festivals, and good year round weather.

Our top 5 things to do in Sydney:

  1. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge – climbing one of the most famous bridges in the world is a once in a lifetime experience. Take either a dawn, day, twilight, or night climb and take in the breathtaking views. If the thought of climbing the bridge fills you with dread, another option is to simply walk across for FREE and take in the views from a lower level.
  2. Catch the ferry to Manly – a great way to experience the beauty of Sydney Harbour, with stunning views of the city is to catch the ferry to Manly. Manly is a beach-side suburb of northern Sydney, most notable for its beaches which are popular tourist destinations. Take a walk down the palm tree-lined streets towards the beach, walk around the bay to picturesque Shelly Beach, or grab an ice cream or a cold beer on the promenade. If you time your return ferry trip back to Circular Quay right, you will arrive back in Sydney with the sun setting behind the harbour bridge.
  3. Explore The Rocks District – this historic area of Sydney is probably my favourite part of the city. Home to some of Sydney’s oldest pubs, cobbled streets, weekend markets, and great views of the harbour.
  4. Visit The Royal Botanic Gardens – the serenity and harbour views from the gardens make this a must. Take a picnic and admire all the different types of plants the gardens have to offer.
  5. Hit the beach – Sydney is famous for its beaches, none more so than the world famous Bondi Beach, a must visit at least once. There is a lovely coastal walk from there to Bronte beach which will take about 40-50 minutes.

bondi-beach-587813_1920Bondi Beach – Australia’s Most Famous Beach

Thanks for reading, until next time keep searching for YOUR Best Destination….

Fred. Olsen Reveals New River Cruise Programme

Brabant

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has this week released a new river cruise programme, sailing in Europe in 2018. The line’s new dedicated river boat is called the Brabant, named after Fred Olsen’s passenger ship from the 1920s.

The river programme will travel on the Danube, Rhine and Moselle rivers, with 30 departures operating from April to November 2018, ranging from 5 to 25 night durations.

The 110-metre-long Brabant, which was built in 2006, has just four decks and will accommodate 156 guests in 80 rooms and suites. The vessel will be staffed by 40 crew members. Fred. Olsen says that, being smaller than many river boats, the Brabant will offer their guests an approach to cruising that is very similar to that of its ocean cruises.

As Brabant is smaller than most river boats, so guests will enjoy the usual hallmarks of Fred. Olsen’s ‘closer’ approach to cruising. In fact Fred. Olsen believe she will have the atmosphere and style of a country house hotel. What makes this programme unique is the daytime leisure sailing, meaning you get to sit back and relax on deck and take in the breath taking views

River cruising is becoming more and more popular for UK passengers so it is brilliant news that Fred Olsen will operate this new venture in the same manner as their cruise ships, with high standards and their award winning customer service. The itineraries and pricing will be available from 26th May 2017 but if you can’t wait that long here’s what you can expect the itineraries to look like

Itineraries on board Brabant for 2018 will include:

Düsseldorf, Germany to Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Düsseldorf to Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg to Budapest, Hungary

Budapest to Hirsova (Bucharest), Romania

Düsseldorf to Basel, Switzerland

Hirsova (Bucharest) to Düsseldorf

Prices will start from just £999, based on two adults sharing, including flights from the London and return transfers.

 

If you would like to register your interest please fill in your details details below.

If you would prefer to speak to us then please call our dedicated travel advisers on 01254 388627.