Cruises with a difference

Cruising is not just for pampered passengers sailing to exotic destinations on a vessel packed with every luxury. I’ve just come across a one-day cruise with a twist – a special day out to celebrate National Marmalade Week.
Surprisingly, it’s not to Seville, where marmalade oranges come from. This voyage doesn’t even put to sea; it’s on board a steam boat on Ullswater in the Lake District.
This food-focused cruise will leave Pooley Bridge, at the northern end of the lake, at 11.00am on Thursday February 4. Passengers will sample some of the best marmalades in the country, washing these down […]

This week’s top cruise deals

I flew back this week from a week in the Red Sea on board the Thomson Celebration. You could go on the same cruise next month for as little as £629. Fly from Gatwick or one of several regional airports on February 11 to join the ship in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh and sail to Aqaba in Jordan for an overnight stay and an excursion to Petra. Then it’s off to Port Sokhna, from where it’s a two-hour drive to Cairo and the pyramids, followed by a two-day stay at Safaga, for the long […]

New ships heading for Europe

That’s the trouble with going away on a cruise . . . I’ve been so busy visiting the impressive sights on my Red Sea cruise and enjoying the delights of Thomson Celebration, that I haven’t had time to keep up with breaking news from the cruise ship world.
But I’m back in the UK (after enduring the nightmare that is Sharm el Sheikh international airport – but more of that later) so here’s a quick round-up.

The biggest news in many ways is that Norwegian Epic, to be launched in July and which will be sailing Caribbean cruises for 10 months […]

The magic of Celebration

Thomson Celebration is not the newest or the glitziest cruise ship afloat, but it certainly lives up to Captain Roy Dearman’s claim to be one of the friendliest at sea.
Originally launched in 1984, as Holland America’s Noordam, the ship gives away its age in significant design features, a complete absence of balcony cabins, for example, and a maze of corridors, some apparently going nowhere.
There are small details, too; when did you last see a toilet roll holder with a built-in ashtray? They are particularly redundant – the ashtrays, I mean, not the toilet rolls – now that smoking is […]

Delight me with your Tweets to win a Celebrity Eclipse shipyard trip

Want to be one of the first people to board the new cruise ship Celebrity Equinox, and take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience sailing 26 miles from the shipyard to the open sea?
If so, I can help you.
Celebrity Cruises has launched a competition using Twitter to give away an exclusive preview of their newest ship, which will be named at a ceremony in Southampton on April 24.
Any UK and Ireland user of social media website Twitter can enter the contest by stating – in just 140 characters or less – why they want the chance to sail in mid-March […]

It’s a first for Captain Roy

After 23 years as a captain on cruise ships, Roy Dearman thought he had seen everything. From his first command, MV Astor, through the launch of easyCruise, and now on to Thomson Cruises, there has been little he could not cope with, partly thanks to his early maritime training at HMS Conway, in Anglesey.
But this week’s gala dinner on board Thomson Celebration in the Red Sea brought a first. As he stood at the entrance to the ship’s Broadway show lounge, his right arm feeling weak after more than a thousand handshakes, and his eyes burning from just as […]

Indiana wants me – in Petra

It’s a relaxing day at sea on board the cruise ship Thomson Celebration, as we thread our way through the oil platforms of the Gulf of Suez en route to Port Sokhna in Egypt.
We left Aqaba in Jordan yesterday evening, most of the passengers subdued after their strenuous all-day excursion to the fabulous city of Petra. The monuments and tombs hewn into the red sandstone of a narrow valley hidden 3,000 ft up in the mountains may be familiar to anyone who has seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but the moment when the spectacular Treasury first […]

A warm welcome from Jordan

My mobile phone is going dizzy with text messages from service providers. Beep! Welcome to Egypt. Beep! Welcome to Saudi Arabia. Beep! Welcome to Jordan. The only one missing is Beep! Welcome to Israel, which is surprising, because at this maritime Middle East crossroads I can see the town of Eilat across the bay.
It’s welcome, in fact, to Aqaba, where we arrived this morning on board Thomson Celebration after leaving Sharm el Sheikh last night. On the way, according to cruise director Keith Maynard, we passed the spot which archaeological evidence is said to have pinpointed as the place […]

Make a date for the Cruise Show

Wondering where to go on your next cruise? Looking for advice from the experts on which ship to choose? Then put a date in your diary for the Cruise Travel Show on March 27 and 28 at London’s Olympia.
The organisers seem to have learned from the mistakes made at last year’s event at the difficult-to-reach ExCel Centre, where exhibitors had little on offer aside from brochures and interactive TV screens.
This time around, Royal Caribbean are erecting a rock climbing wall just like the ones on their bigger ships. Fred Olsen are bringing along a golf simulator, and there will […]

Follow me to the Red Sea

I’m flying to Sharm el Sheikh today to board the Thomson Celebration for a seven-night cruise in the Red Sea. If I can get a dependable internet connection, I shall be keeping you up-to-date with what’s happening on the ship and on excursions to Petra and Cairo. Stay tuned.