A Sad day

April 17, 2013

Today, on the day of the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, My thoughts are with the family and also for the country as will will not see another great statesperson again.

My thoughts are also for the Falklands, often in our hearts, but Maggie was always there for her and its fitting they are playing a large part in her funeral.

Pity political protocol insisted that the ambassador had to be invited so she could make a show of declining, but glad the family insisted no invite to CFK.

In fact Argentina should be grateful to the “Iron Lady” for assisting in the downfall of the Junta, or did they really want it to end, makes you think.

My thoughts are in London and in the South Atlantic on this sad day.

One of the best quotes of the day was from one of her close friends, when asked what she would have made of the protests and people showing anti thatcher banners, they said she would have just looked and raised an eyebrow, but been personally happy, as it would have proved her right about how some people in this country have been brought up to act, that respect in our once great nation has weakened, personal back biting more important than standing together as a nation. She would have also been happy to see how even the Labour party have to accept many of the policies she fought to get in place, were needed for our country and have helped restore our country from the doldrums it was in.

She did not actually divide a nation, she inherited a divided nation and healed those parts that were able to use the help to heal themselves, but unable to just help those who just wanted constant help

Cruise where and with whom

August 22, 2012

If you were able to take any cruise, anywhere and take along a companion (living or dead), what would be your choices.

Many people have a number of reasons for their choices and I find it interesting to listen to.

Personally, I would chose to sail on the SS Normandie with Winston Churchill on one of the Blue Ribbon crossings.

My reasons are that the Normandie was one of the greatest Ocean Liners and it was unfortunate she was destroyed by careless American dock workers during her refit as a troop ship.

Secondly, Winston Churchill is a great hero of mine, and I would love to have been able to ask him some questions, even if some of the responses would be rude.  It would be fantastic.

How about anyone else?

Please help Richard Branson and in turn help the country

August 20, 2012

I have had a passion for railways for years.  It has often upset me that our railways are worse now than they were in the Victorian times.

The British Empire stretched accross the globe and we introduced railways to India and the subcontinent, and now these railways are better than our own.

There was one exception to the rule.  Virgin railways, Richard Branson took an under performing line, and transformed it into an efficient and well loved line.  New Pendalino trains, very friendly staff, what more could you ask, “a faster line” well that falls to railtrack and the Government, but things were improving.

Unfortunately the days of moving forward have stopped, with the Government opting to reward a large company with a patchy success in other parts the franchise for this line.  Even though all the hard work was done by Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains.

The Government’s actions can be likened to that of choosing G4S for the Olympic Games security (remember the failiure to provide staff) or indeed the Governments failiure to protect Concorde.  The worlds only supersonic aircraft, now languishing in museums when there was still life in the plane, and could have been used for research to assist in the next generation of air travel, again by Richard Branson and Virgin planes.

Does the Government have issues with our true home grown millionaire entrepreneur, it certainly seems like it.

Stand up and be counted against this bad choice.

Richard Branson should not have lost the tender to some short term, quick gain decision that will muck us up in the future like choosing G4S for the Olympics as they offered more money

Please sign the Government petition against the decision.


Does the choice of a vehicle matter?

August 20, 2012


This is a strange question but a valid one.  I am driving a representative of one the planet’s biggest search engines, and I was asked which company vehicle I wished to use.  I instantly opted for the Alfa Romeo Spyder rather than the Ford Focus and was instantly ridiculed as being snobbish.

My personal choices had included a comfortable passage for my passenger but has also included the nice soft leather seats and decent air con unit, rather than the cramped interior of the Focus.

Was there an unintentional though of the importance of the passenger and picking a better car.  Personally I don;t think so.  I think most people go for comfort not looks.

It’s the same with cruise ships.  Some passengers will book a cruise, because they want a big name like Cunard so they can tell their friends, but many like myself, will return to the same ship or cruiseline, due to the comfort they received or indeed the destinations of the ship

I suppose at the end of the day, we all make our choices for our own reasons, and that’s what makes us all different.

What should I wear on a cruise? Destinations affect your choice

August 16, 2012

Many people are choosing cruising as a holiday option, and one of the first questions that arises, is what to wear.

One of the problems with this question, is that there are so many answers, and these depend on the cruise, the destination, time of year and indeed the ship itself.

We will concentrate on Destination

When booking  a cruise, one of the many options is the destination of the ship, the itinerary.  This is important to many people as it will have a huge bearing on the climate and the sorts of ports the ship will stop at.  For instance, if a cruise is travelling around the Mediterranean during the summer, there is a great likelihood that the weather will be mainly hot, and many of the ports the ship visits will indeed also be hot and dry climates.

For a cruise of this nature, men would want to pack loose trousers or shorts and a variety of cotton shirts or t shirts.  Ladies should consider packing long loose dresses with a variety of shawls or sari’s for both the option to mix and match, and also the chance to cover up bare flesh both from the sun, and any religious sites you may wish to visit. You should be well prepared for dirty, dusty roads, so although white is a great colour for reflecting heat, it will also show dirt very quickly.  Most ships will either have a laundry service or indeed a self-service laundrette.

Footwear is also important.  Men will need to be persuaded to take more than one pair of shoes A smart pair for on-board the ship and something for ashore.  Ladies are best to take some sensible flat shoes for walking and some nice ones on the ship, some ladies prefer not to wear very high heels, due to the rare chance of some movement on the ship, but this comes down to personal preference.

Evenings are a completely different affair.  Whilst on shore and around the pool, a relaxed casual dress code is normal, evenings on board the ship become a completely different entity.  All ships become semi-formal in the evenings after 6pm.  The degree of formality depends on the ship and indeed the evening.  Pool wear or ultra-casual clothing would be frowned upon.  After 6pm, passengers are expected to dress for the evening, with gentlemen wearing a shirt and trousers, and ladies some form of dress.  One of the best ways to describe the evening wear on most ships, is one of smart, the sort of clothing you would wear if you were going out in the evening to restaurant of some quality.

indeed, care should be made to enquire how many formal nights are undertaken on the ship, as formal nights take the dress code on step forward, and men are expected to wear a dinner jacket or at least a smart dark suit, with a shirt and tie, whereas ladies are expected to wear some form of evening dress or smart trouser suit.  Although formal dressing is on the wane, dressing on formal nights is the one occasion when dressing for the cruise comes into its own.

In fact, new passengers will find that it is not only the dresses and suits that appear in the evening on formal nights, but also the bags, and shawls and jewellery. Indeed, on a formal night, the ships are usually spending a day at sea, and a passenger new to cruising will be shocked to find, the on-board hairdressers, massage and treatment rooms all fully booked, as many passengers prepare for the evening.

If the fun and games of formal nights are really the sort of thing you enjoy on holiday, there is a steady and slightly growing trend of formal night avoidance.  This is where passengers who do not wish to dress up formally, actually keep away from the main rooms on the ship. This sounds drastic, however, there are usually alternate dining rooms, especially the buffet ones, which will operate as normal on a formal night, and will not expect the full dinner jacket and cocktail dress attire, however, some passengers feel awkward doing this, so again it comes down to personal choice.

A slightly alternative option is to choose an informal cruise and try to keep these occasions to a minimum or indeed removed completely, or chose a ship that offers the alternate dining and entertainment options.

Why not take a look at My Cruise Wardrobe, they have an outstanding selection of outfits, both poolside and evening wear suitable for cruising along with advice. You can also check out http://www.cruising4holidays.com for information on the various destinations and cruise ships, which will hopefully assist you in booking a cruise in the future.

When booking a cruise, you may wish to spend some time checking the ships language.

August 15, 2012

If you are like me and have a very poor grasp of many foreign languages, one thing you may want to do is check the ships language or at least enquire.

If you book through a UK travel agent, they will probably make you aware of this, but you need to also check If it is the ships language or one of the languages.

Booking a cruise with one of the UK cruise companies such as Cunard will ensure it’s a British ship with English language, alternatively a Thomson cruise will also be English.

Ships such as those of the Costa line, are classed as multi lingual so some English is spoken, but this can sometimes be very fragmented, especially from some staff not always in the front line.   You will also be confronted with ship announcements being repeated in several languages, with English sometimes last, which can be annoying especially in terms of evacuation or limited numbers for shore parties.

Take a look at the various cruise companies and their ships on www.cruising4holidays.com and check in advance for the sort of ship you are looking for.

There is of course an alternative, you could indeed learn a new language.  Even if you choose not to, you could always introduce your children to new languages, and let them do the work whilst you are away.

There is a great little company with a website, that sells books teaching children to read in other languages.  The books are great and cover the major languages and also some like Urdu. Why not make it a joint learning experience.  The website is http://librobooksandtoys.co.uk/  and is great.  I have had a house in France for seven years and still struggle with French, but I’m not ashamed to admit I have considered buying a children’s book to help with my French reading.

What should I wear on a cruise?

August 11, 2012

Since the cruise ships first became fashionable, the question soon arose, “what should I wear”.  Back in those days, passengers would arrive at the dock with special “steamer trunks” designed to take a whole selection of clothes.

With the introduction of aeroplanes and long distance flights, cruising lost the need and interest of the masses, with passengers bound for America and beyond now travelling by plane.  The transatlantic steam ships became less attractive.

However, we have seen a resurgence of the cruise industry, the aeroplane did not destroy the cruise industry, in fact it had revitalized it.

Passengers now fly to faraway shores and board huge cruise ships, designed not to travel point to point at the best speed in comfort, but to sail around areas of interest whilst offering the passenger fantastic foods and extravagant shows.

However, as we are all aware, the restrictions on flight luggage means the modern cruise traveller has to be more discerning.  No longer can passengers take twelve trunks, more often they are restricted to one 20 – 25kg suitcase.

So whilst the plane has returned cruising to the masses, it has created a wardrobe dilemma, what should I wear on a cruise, especially as there is not much space.

Male passengers are fortunate as many other men will not compare clothes and spot a repeat selection.  Day time men are accepted in casual shorts and t shirts, or jeans especially if going ashore.  Some thought should be given to shore excursions if these include religious buildings or restaurants as these will have set dress codes.  Evenings, although Tuxedos are still seen on ships, these are often only worn on the formal nights and these are now becoming less common, as ships relax dress codes and some ships reduce or remove formal nights.  The best option for gentlemen is a good dark suit and shirt with tie.  Most ships are still smart after 6pm, and this will not look out of place.

Women are harder to consider.  Formal evening wear is nearly always a must, even on the more relaxed ships; many women prefer to dress up and why not, a cruise is the perfect place to show off a fantastic outfit or a new pair of shoes.  The problem is the weight and size restrictions will mean compromises, however some space savings can be made with wraps and cover up sarongs which can be mixed and matched.  The evening dress conundrum can be answered with some beautiful long cotton dresses (although care needs to be made on packing to avoid too much ironing on-board).  A good way to plan outfits is to think of what you would wear to a expensive restaurant in town.  A combination of separates creates outfits which can be mixed and matched, giving the illusion of a larger wardrobe plus plenty of lightweight accessories that will complement the look.

Why not take a look at My Cruise Wardrobe, they have an outstanding selection of outfits, both poolside and evening wear suitable for cruising along with advice.

Alternatively, you can visit cruising4holidays.com to read more about various  cruise ships and cruise destinations.

Have you considered the Argentinian political situation before choosing a cruise?

August 9, 2012

Sounds like a strange question.  After all, the last conflict with Argentina was over 30 years ago.  However, unfortunately, the Argentinian government are still, 30 years later causing problems for the Falkland Islands over their belief that they should hold sovereignty over the islands as they are closer to Argentina than to the United Kingdom, ignoring the will and rights of the islanders themselves.

How does this affect your choice of cruises? Well unfortunately Argentina has decided that they will block any ships using their ports if they have visited the Falkland Islands.  This economic blockade has already affected two cruise ships that visited the Falklands, before attempting to dock at Ushuaia, a popular destination based right at the southernmost tip of Argentina,  on the southern shore of the island of Tierra del Fuego.

The two cruise ships in question had to forgo any plans for this port and move on to Chile.

Many cruise companies will be adjusting their routes or making other plans, but it is worth bearing in mind that your plans may be altered at very short notice.  Both the ports of Ushuaia and Port Stanley are excellent places to visit, it would appear for the time being, cruises will have to visit one or the other.

The website www.cruising4holidays.com has a brief highlight of both destinations for you to read further.

Firstly take a look at Ushusia in Argentina

then look at Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands

Whichever port you visit on your next cruise, you are bound to have a great time

Is formal wear and formal nights becoming less popular on cruise ships?

August 9, 2012

When planning and booking a cruise holiday, is the chance to dress up part of the holiday attraction.

Many cruise ships are focussing on a more casual basis to enable passengers the choice whether to participate in the formal nights or not.

This can be seen in a number of ways, with the increase in buffet style restaurants, the removal of some of the formal nights, the removal of enforced dress codes after 6pm.

Personally, having sailed on over 17 cruises around different parts of the world, I would argue no.  Many passengers still look forward to those special nights, when the “posh frocks” and smart tuxedos appear.  Admittedly, there are a growing number of people opting to avoid the formal dinner and dine in the alternate restaurants, but in terms of percentage of total passengers, I would guess this number is less than 20%.  Now on a large new ship carrying 3,000 passengers, this is 600 people, but  this is not a majority.

Indeed, if there is one element of a cruise that still draws the gasps, the photo opportunities and the glamour of cruising; the formal nights are still loved by many.  You only have to glance at the photo gallery after a formal night, to glance at the familiar faces, seen around ship for the previous days, to suddenly notice the big beaming smiles and sparkling eyes, as the photographers have captured those special moments as a couple or family have been “snapped” as they enjoy the evening dressed in their finery.  In fact, it is probably these pictures which will grace a wall at home or mantelpiece.

I personally enjoy seeing the variety, from the full tuxedo, the full Scottish outfit including kilt to the official blazer of a former armed unit or organisation.  The trail of children following their parents, each immaculately groomed, always watched with a mental estimate on how these must have taken to prepare and indeed how long they remain that way. Each well presented by a proud wearer. Yes, passing to other areas of the ship, I will notice the occasional open shirt and top at the buffets and bar, but these do not stand out.   Even the waiters and waitresses, changed from their normal smart serving outfits, sport the working versions of fine evening wear.

As passenger preferences change, and cruise lines try to match passenger expectations to their services, I believe that the market will adapt to some ships specialising in casual cruising, whilst some retain or indeed capitalise on the fact that some passengers enjoy and insist on the magic of a formal night.

This can already be seen on some lines such as the Island Escape, operated by Island Cruises or EasyCruise One, operated by Easy Cruise.  These  ships have little or no formal nights, and the atmosphere created is intended to be less formal .

Websites such as www.cruising4holidays.com have been created to give passengers an insight into the ships themselves, whilst websites such as http://www.mycruisewardrobe.com have been made to highlight some of the fabulous outfits that can be worn on ships, be they formal or informal.

Whatever ship you decide to cruise on, cruising is very addictive and one cruise will soon become more.

Cunard Cruise Lines

June 2, 2012

Cunard Cruise Lines

Cunard Cruise Lines, a sign of quality in the Cruise market.  Cunard may only have a small amount of ships, but each one exhibits pure quality.

Each ship is named after a queen.  The fleet consists of Queen Victoria, Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth.  Cunard will however, always be known for the Queen Mary and The Queen Elizabeth II (or QE2 for short).  Both of these fine ships were retired, with the Queen Mary, now a resident of Long Beach California where she is a hotel, and the QE2 is now moored off Dubai, with a fate unknown, although she is supposed to also become a hotel in the future.

For a cruise you will never forget, you may try a cruise with Cunard