Le Soleal in Pictures by Andrew Sassoli-Walker

Le Soleal in the Solent

Andrew Sassoli-Walker is an amazing photographer and many of us are already aware of the magnificent images he captures during his day to day life around the Solent, through posts he shares on social media. There are also numerous books Andrew has put together which highlight the P and O and Cunard fleets. These are available to buy online here.

I was thrilled when Andrew agreed to join me onboard Le Ponant’s luxury yacht, Le Soleal when she visited Portsmouth earlier this year. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, and Andrew managed to capture some fantastic images of the ship.

To me, what makes these photographs so special is that they are taken by someone who has a true passion and respect for the vessels themselves. This shows through in the character of the images Andrew took on the day.

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

Le Soleal is more of a private luxury yacht than a cruise ship. She is only 142 metres long and has a guest capacity of 264 passengers.

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne


Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

It was hard to believe we were in Portsmouth but easy to imagine life onboard the luxury yacht basking in the Mediterranean Sun.

Le Soleal Flavia Gray Luxury Cruise Blog

Le Soleal Le Ponant Ships and Champagne

Ponant is the only French owned cruise line.

Ponant are very happy to allow guests to view the bridge whenever possible.

The casual dining restaurant onboard Le Soleal.

Spectacular all balcony suites onboard Le Soleal.

Luxurious spa treatments available onboard using Sothys range of products.

The onboard cinema.

My personal favourite, the lounge bar with stunning views, comfortable seating and beautiful skylight.

French bread anyone?

As expected, the food, wine and service was impeccable, with food served under a cloche.

More information can be found on my blog post Ponant – Luxury and Expedition Cruises

You can follow Andrew on Instagram.















Mini Cruise Review onboard Celebrity Eclipse

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse

Most travel agents will let their customers know when there are great deals to be had. Not me. I have great customers that find the deals and call me to book. They are so good at knowing a deal that when I see what the price is, I want to book it for myself! This was the case with the two-night taster cruise. Kat emailed me or messaged me on Facebook and said she wanted to book this cruise for her and her friend. When I checked the price I went into overdrive and held off her cabin and two cabins for a friend and I.

Fast forward to 19 May 2017 and we boarded the elegant Celebrity Eclipse. We were welcomed onboard with a glass of champagne.

As we walked towards the atrium to get our bearings, we spotted the speciality restaurant staff, taking reservations. I took the opportunity to get our dining times sorted as we were not able to get the times that worked with the nursery online.

With that done, we headed for the pool deck.

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse watching the water fountains

The dancing fountain display was beautiful and had a very calming effect on me. We found a nice little spot to set up camp and distracted Josh with an extra large chocolate chip cookie, while we flagged down a poolside waiter.

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse Poolside Lounger

After a few glasses of Prosecco (all included in the drinks package), and the mandatory dip in the pool, followed swiftly by a warm up in the hot tub, we headed back to our rooms to prepare for the compulsory muster drill.

Celebrity Cruises have adopted a different approach to the muster drill, which caused some controversy between passengers. It was presented as a kind of James Bond spoof, where one of the agents was on a mission and in order to complete it, they were put through a series of emergency procedures. Personally, I thought this was a refreshing change to the usual safety video.

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse Grass Lawn

We took a stroll to the Sunset Bar at the aft of the ship for spillway, passing the stunning lawn club. If you ever cruise with Celebrity, you really must do this, it was absolutely breathtaking. People were sitting on blankets on the lawn and chatting and taking in the view. The glass balcony means you can sit on the grass on what feels like the edge of the ship and look straight down to the water as you start to move away from the dock. Cafe del Mar style upbeat jazz tunes play through speakers located around the lawn, and there is a kind of cool, sophisticated, buzz in the air. The diversity of people was refreshing and ranged from my 3 year old running around on the lawn, to romantic couples of all ages. There was a group of same sex couples chilling out together and ladies letting their hair down for a well deserved weekend away. Some of which had never cruised before, and others who were almost part of the furniture.

After sailaway, I dropped Josh off at the X-Club and excitedly headed to one of Celebrity’s speciality  restaurant I have always wanted to try, Qsine.

Taster Cruise Celebrity Eclipse Qsine Disco Shrimp
Trying the disco shrimp in Qsine

I think the Celebrity Cruises trainer, Leon Hand, aptly describes the experience as Heston Blumenthal meets Willy Wonka. That’s probably as close as you can get to an insight into this crazy, fun, delicious, quirky experience.

Taster Cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse Sushi Lollipops
Sushi Lollopops in Qsine onboard Celebrity Eclipse


We docked in Le Havre but I decided I would rather stay onboard and enjoy the facilities on the ship. So did most others and the Solarium was quite full. I didn’t mind it too much until a lady opposite me decided to FaceTime someone, only they didn’t answer the first three times she called them. I politely GLARED at her when she first started calling, but I think that just made her more insistent that she would proceed with the call.

That is the one downside of a taster cruise. You do get a higher proportion of inconsiderate passengers. I don’t know why that is, but it’s just the way it is. Now one of the big benefits of a taster cruise, means you can book your next cruise whilst onboard and get a lower deposit, extra on board credit and cheaper prices (because you are booking earlier). We booked balcony cabins for a 10 night Canary Island Cruise in October. It cost us around £1300pp. I checked the prices yesterday and although the cruise is almost sold out, what balconies are left are starting at £1900pp. So there is a good booking tip for you. Make sure you put it in the name of your travel agent who should be able to give you a loyalty discount for booking with them.

So, after wandering around the ship and bumping into some familiar faces, we found the lawn club was once again the place to be. It was tranquil and spacious. The grass has a surprisingly calming effect on people for some reason. The pool area with the hot tub was more of a party atmosphere, but the lawn club was a real retreat from it all. We bumped into my friend and customer Kat, and her friend, and sat on the grass having a good old chat. It threatened to rain for a moment, but fortunately it passed.

Taster Cruise Onboard Celebrity Eclipse Lawn Club

That evening we a meal in Murano. Known for its fine dining.  We opted for the wine pairing menu which was magnificent. The food, the staff, the service and the ambience were all exceptional. We raised a glass to the next cruise and enjoyed the rest of our evening.

Taster Cruise Celebrity Eclipse
Scallop Wellington was an excellent starter.

The after dinner plan was to visit the Martini Bar where we knew other people onboard would be. After bumping into a couple of familiar faces, Captain Greybeard and Jo Rzymowska, we headed to the shops to spend our remaining on board credit. With cap in hand and a bag of goodies we were still left with some change. So we payed what was supposed to be a quick visit to the Roulette table. It seemed it was my lucky night, not because I was stood next to an extremely inebriated ex-colleague, but because I kept winning.  Eventually we had to go because the kids club was closing. It was 1am!!

So it was no Martini bar for us on this occasion, but a great couple of days spend onboard a stunning ship and two (and a half) very excited people to be hopping back on board for 10 days in October.









Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers Let Guests #SeekDeeper

Royal Caribbean's SeaSeekers

The Ultimate Immersive Experience with Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers

Once again Royal Caribbean have taken the latest technology and media trends to another level. Passengers are now able to enjoy the beauty of the marine life around them on the ocean floor, without even dipping a toe in the water.

Adopting the cutting-edge application of Snapchat Spectacles, Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers are the focus of a vibrant aquatic event being held by the cruise line that enables the viewers to explore the mysteries of the deep. This five day event was launched on the 21st of June and you can follow it on social media channels using #SeekDeeper.

Royal Caribbean's SeaSeekers

Royal Caribbean’s SVP of Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer, Jim Berra said “The SeaSeekers will enable all adventure-seekers to get a front-row seat to the thrilling adventures found underwater in a way that has never been possible before. Snapchat continues to be a favorite channel for curious travellers and is the ideal platform for this first-of-its-kind undersea exploration. We are excited to find an innovative way to use the Snapchat Spectacles with our SeaSeekers mask so that we can bring the underwater experience to our guests as they visit the incredible destinations we sail to.”

Meet the Divers Behind Royal Caribbean’s SeaSeekers

Roberto Ochoa is a well known Conservationist and Marine wildlife photographer, He will be giving viewers the very rare glimpse of the annual migration of Whale Sharks as he dives into the Mexican waters of Cozumel. After which, guest will then be shown a coral reef restoration project by Marine Biologist Gabriela Nava.

Royal Caribbean's SeaSeekers

To top off the incredible experience, free diver Ashleigh Baird visits the Great Blue Hole In Belize. It is believed to be the largest underwater sinkhole of its kind.

Royal Caribbean are hoping to offer this event exclusively to it’s guests and have applied for a patent for the SeaSeekers mask.

“Our event promises the participants the blood-rushing excitement as in the aquatic adventure events. We are organizing this event to raise the awareness on the underwater kingdom. We are overwhelmed with the reaction of the participants. The credit for the success of this event is completely owed to the participants who have been out patron to crown this effort of us with success. The success of this event will motivate us to conceive more such events in the forthcoming time”, stated the spokesperson.

Although this five day experience draws to a close today, we very much hope that Royal Caribbean will look at bringing more events like this to it’s guests.

Cruising With Royal Caribbean

If you are new to cruise, here are my top 10 reasons for taking a cruise.  Or have cruised before but not tried Royal Caribbean, take a look at my Allure of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas cruise reviews for insights. I love them, they are one of my favourite cruise lines. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions you would like me to answer.

Royal Caribbean Weekly Deals





Body Confidence – The Best Bikini

Finding The Best Bikini for Body Confidence.

I had to share this with you all today. I have found the best bikini online and have just ordered one for myself. To all my male readers, you owe it to your female friends and relatives to share this article with them.

“To look good in the water you have to pick the right swimsuit. I own close to 500.” – Amanda Beard ( seven-time Olympic Medalist)

Sexy photo of Amanda Beard in a bikini on the beach
“To look good in the water you have to pick the right swimsuit. I own close to 500.” – Amanda Beard

When I am on a cruise, I do avoid the chips (french fries for my US friends) and cookies (thats biccies for the Brits), but for some reason the salad REALLY bloats me! So the odd gelato and a few beers isn’t going to hurt is it?

“What woman doesn’t want to feel comfortable in a swimsuit? It’s incredibly empowering.” – Sara Rue (American TV Actress)

Sara Rue in cute bikini
What woman doesn’t want to feel comfortable in a swimsuit? It’s incredibly empowering.” – Sara Rue

There are loads of colours and patterns available, so there is something for everyone. But the key selling point to me has to be that lovely loose fitting top.

Now THIS bikini design is perfect to hide that little bulge and I think it is very cute. So save yourself a day of walking around the shops to find your perfect holiday bikini and buy yours online now.

Nicetage Women’s Two Piece Floral Luau Beach Love Bandeau Halterneck Swimsuit Tankini Top

“I always say, ‘Do you have a body? Then you’re swimsuit ready.’ That’s all you need to worry about.” – Emily Ratajkowski (American Model and Actress)

“I always say, ‘Do you have a body? Then you’re swimsuit ready.’ That’s all you need to worry about.” – Emily Ratajkowski

To browse the various styles of this bikini or to buy click here.







How To Work on a Cruise Ship


I have lost count of the amount of times people have asked me to do a blog about how to get work on a cruise ship. It’s no insiders secret but I guess when you have so many agencies online it can be daunting. If you have read my post about my journey in the industry, you will know how much I loved every minute of it. So here is a guide to avoid the scammers and improve your chances of a life at sea.

Finding work on a cruise ship

Cruise line or Agency?

When it comes to finding work on a cruise ship, there are a number of things that you can do to increase your chances of success. It is a competitive industry and anything you can do to help with that dream job should be considered. One thing you can do is get an agency to help you find a job, especially if you are looking to work as part of the entertainment team.

Because of the high volume of job applicants, cruise lines use agencies to help them find the best candidates. They will interview the applicants and do all the hiring on behalf of the cruise line. They will also get your cv up to a high standard to maximise your potential.

Agencies make their money by earning commission when you start working, so their goal is to get you that job. They also have the contacts to make things happen, and they will probably know the right people to approach to find you the work. This is a huge advantage for someone just starting off in the business.

You can also send an application directly to the cruise line. There are some useful links at the end of this post. If you do decide to use an agency, make sure you use the ones that don’t charge you an fees upfront as they will receive a commission from the cruise line when they have secure you a job on a cruise ship.

A Smile Goes A Long Way

Work on a cruise ship

One thing you must do to increase your change of getting your dream job, is to include a photograph with your cv. This always goes down well with the cruise lines as it offers something a little bit extra, expecially if you are applying for a position that is front of house. A warm genuine smile goes a long way. You would be surprised by the amount of people who do not send a photo, so give yourself the best chance of success and include one in your application.

It does not have to be a professional photograph. As long as it is a pleasant photograph that shows you looking smart and smiling, that is all they are looking for. After all you will be representing the brand as a crew member, so look at it from their point of view.

What Sort of Work on a Cruise Ship Can I Do?

Work on a cruise ship

There are so many different jobs to choose from, with so many ships at sea these days. For instance, certain cruise lines will have more entertainment jobs, whereas others will have more hotel services positions available.

You can read my interviews with Marc Walker, Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean and Lee Mudkins, Guest Relations Manager for Fred Olsen, to get an idea of their day to day life.

Obviously you will be working, but you will also be traveling. To get days off in ports and spend as much time ashore as possible, work out schedules with your fellow co-workiners. You may be thinking that sounds like a daunting task, but trust me its not big deal and can be sorted out fairly simply. Some departments get to make their own schedule. Casinos and shops are not allowed to open while in port so if you work in one of those areas you will have more opportunity to get off the ship.

Websites To Apply For Work On A Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean Shipboard Careers

Carnival Careers At Sea

MSC Cruises Careers



What Is A Keel Laying Ceremony?

Keel Laying Ceremony

A keel laying ceremony is carried out by the owners of the shipyard and the vessel and is formal recognition that the ship’s construction has begun.

Before we modernised ship building with pre-fabricated sections, the keel laying was the action of placing the first section of timber or steel in the building dock. This served as the backbone of the ship and referred to as the keel.

Sometimes coins are placed under the keel or in the hull for good luck at the keel laying. This is known as a coin ceremony.

It’s not usually a glamorous event as it will be held in a shipyard and for health and safety reasons, guests will be required to wear hard hats.

Keel Laying Coin Ceremony

Handy Tips to Get The Most Onboard Credit

How Much Do You Spend On a Cruise

Why would you need free onboard credit on your cruise? Well, despite having your food, entertainment and activities included in the price, there are many non essential extras on offer.  You could try a shore excursion or two, maybe have some professional photos to take home and treasure, or treat yourself to a relaxing treatment which is hard to resist when you have access to a spa like this one on the Allure of the Seas.

Certainly they are not an essential part of your cruise, and many people prefer to simply do their own thing in ports.  With the introduction of all-inclusive you won’t even need to pay for drinks or gratuities in some cases.  So why would you want free on board credit? The trouble is, the better value for money you get with your cruise fare, the easier it is to excuse that little treat, like this Dreamworks character breakfast on Christmas Morning.

Best Dollar Rate For Holiday Money

Firstly you need to check the type of currency that will be used onboard. Here is my currency guide to help you. It used to be advantageous to buy extra on board credit with the cruise line before you travelled. However since the fall of the sterling rate to the dollar, this may not be the case. For example, Royal Caribbean have dropped their rate for pre purchasing onboard credit, to approx $1.25 to £1 GBP.  If you settle your on board account by credit or debit card, you may be given an option for the currency to be converted by the ship or your bank. It is always far better for you to allow your bank to convert the currency. They give you a much more favourable rate of exchange.

Cash Out in the Casino

So, what if you have qualified for free onboard credit at the time you booked your cruise, but there is nothing you want to spend it on?  This is what I did on my last cruise on Celebrity Eclipse. The casino will give you $5 promotional chips to use on the roulette tables or you can use the credit for slot machines.  This was my first time on the roulette table and although it can appear quite intimidating, once you get comfortable, you get to meet some really fun and lovely people.

The Sting (well not quite)

So, stick to betting on black or red. Watch a few spins until the same colour has appeared two or three times, then start betting on the opposite colour. There’s no guarantee that you will win, but the law of average is the opposite colour will come in soon. Remember the zero can put a spanner in the works. Here you can either start again from scratch or carry on. I tend to carry on. Place your $5 promotional chip on your chosen colour when you are ready. If it wins, you get to keep your promotional chip and are given an additional $5 casino chip, which can be cashed out. Put that chip aside and continue to play with your promotional chips until you’ve lost them all. Hopefully, you’ll have converted some of your promotional chips to real chips.

If your colour doesn’t come in the first time, simply double your bet each time to cover your loss. So your first bet will be $5. If no win, place $10, then $20, then $40. If you start with $200 on board credit in chips then that should give you a run of up to 6 bets on any one colour. Please remember that this is not risk free if you want to keep your free on board credit, however it will not cost you anything from your own pocket. Be prepared to lose the entire $200 on board credit. My suggestion is to quit after 4 bets in a row and then start again from $5.

Image of Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas Casino
Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship Casino

For a guide to cruise ship casinos, check out my post here.

*Information is accurate as of 0900 28 September 2017 and is subject to change at any time.





Which is the Best Cruise Line For Vegans?

Vegan Salad

A Culinary Journey for Vegans

Deciding which cruise line is best for vegans, has become a lot easier since Oceania Cruises announced the introduction of an extensive vegan menu. Oceania already boast the only cold-pressed raw juice and vegan smoothie bars at sea. These are located on the pool deck onboard Oceania’s Marina and Riviera ships.

From 7am until 11am, guests can choose from an extensive menu, which includes options such as

  • Rise & Shine juice
  • Coco Island juice
  • Tropical Green smoothie
  • Sweet Green juice
  • Yellow Sunshine smoothie
  • Cacao Joy smoothie
  • Cold Brew latte
  • Acai Berry bowl
  • Chia Cashew Yogurt bowl
cruise line is best for vegans
Terrace Cafe will be serving a wide range of vegan food.

In addition to its already extensive vegetarian meal options, Oceania is the first cruise line to introduce a vegan menu of over 250 dishes. These are available in the Grand Dining Room as well as the Terrace Café on Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, Marina, Riviera, and Sirena.

President & CEO of Oceania Cruises, Bob Binder said “We are delighted to expand our culinary offerings to please an even wider array of palates and offer our guests more diverse choices to suit today’s wellness-focused lifestyles. Whether guests are looking for a healthy and invigorating start to their day or a refreshing and rejuvenating mid-day pick-up, the Raw Juice & Smoothie Bar has something to delight every palate.”

Examples of What To Expect on the Menu

cruise line is best for vegans
Versace charger plates in the Grand Dining Room onboard Oceania Marina.


  • Vegan Tortilla Española with potato, onions, and tofu
  • Vanilla waffle with freshberries; apricot and pistachio muffins
  • Cream of wheat or oatmeal served with cinnamon powder, organic sugar and choice of nuts
  • Vegan link sausage and Lyonnaise potatoes

Side dishes always available include: grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms,


  • Tuscan-style bean soup with garlic croutons
  • A Fantasia Italian salad with assorted greens, roasted bell peppers and toasted garlic bread
  • A succulent Involtini stuffed with tofu, spinach, and capers served with pasta and olive tapenade sauce
  • Italian chocolate vegan-ricotta pie with vanilla and raspberry sauce.


  • Quinoa salad and vegetable tartare
  • Creamy truffle flavoured parsnip soup with chopped tarragon,
  • Thai red vegan curry with steamed jasmine rice
  • A decadent dessert of vegan strawberry sable,
  • A shortbread with passion fruit cream and strawberries.

Do you agree that Oceania Cruises is the cruise line is best for vegans? Would you like to see more cruise lines make these menu additions? What would be your ideal vegan meal to be able to order onboard a cruise? Please share you comments or ask any questions below.

If you would like to see more of Oceania’s ships, take a look at my photos taken onboard Marina and Nautica.

Recommended Reading



by the Hardihood





by Ella Woodward






by Nick Knowles




Lunch at The Dorchester Grill Room


May-Fair Lady

It’s easy to get yourself out of bed when you know you are have a luxurious lunch at the Dorchester Grill Room to look forward to. If you haven’t been to the Dorchester Hotel, it is located on Park Lane in Mayfair, opposite Hyde Park. There is valet parking on site, so we just pulled up, got out of the car and walked straight in. Look for the huge Plane Tree (named one of the Great Trees of London) towering outside the front of the hotel, you can’t miss it.

One of the great Plane trees of London outside The Dorchester Hotel
One of the great Plane trees of London outside The Dorchester Hotel

Ain’t Misbehavin’

I thought I had high expectations of the most prestigious and expensive hotel in London, but these were surpassed the moment I emerged from the revolving door into the lobby.

The revolving door leading into the marble lobby at The Dorchester
The revolving door leading into the marble lobby at The Dorchester

Retired doorman of 50 years Ted Whitcombe, has seen some of the most famous stars and royalty arrive at the hotel. In an interview in 2008 he recalls “Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin had brought cases of rare Jack Daniel’s but were asked to leave because they were misbehaving with women in the corridors. They went to the Savoy and never came back for their case. It took us ages to get through all that booze.”

Afternoon Tea on The Promenade

The Promenade at The Dorchester is famous for it's afternoon tea
The Promenade at The Dorchester is famous for it’s afternoon tea

On entering the lobby you find yourself standing at the entrance to the promenade adorned with green and white blooms. We had arrived early so we walked the length of the promenade to find a coveniently located cocktail bar at the end. A refreshing gin and tonic was the order of the day, and although it was midday and quiet, within ten minutes the bar was buzzing with businessmen and ladies that lunch, as well as the occasional hotel guest.

The Grill Room

Designer Bruno Moinard worked with the Grade II Listed gold ceiling and doors to create a contemporary elegance.

Grade II listed gold doors at The Dorchester Grill Room
Grade II listed gold doors at The Dorchester Grill Room
An ornate hand blown Murano glass chandelier hangs from the grade II listed gold ceiling in The Dorchester Grill Room
An ornate hand blown Murano glass chandelier hangs from the grade II listed gold ceiling in The Dorchester Grill Room

Food That’s Better Than……..

Yes, I’m not going to say it, but it’s true. I must have sounded like the lady in the Herbal Essences advert with every dish I tried (who remembers that?). It was a gastronomic delight as I worked my way through the recommendations made by Arthur, our charmingly French waiter with good looks to go with it.

I grilled him (excuse the pun) on the source of the ingredients for every dish. Since they boasts on their website of the use of finest locally sourced ingredients where possible, I wanted to know the origin of the food.

We selected the set menu which is amazing value for money. An à la carte menu is also available.

The set menu is amazing value for money.
The set menu is amazing value for money.

Bon Appétit

A selection of bread includes their own recipe stilton bread. Arthur proudly informed me that some guests of the Dorchester Grill Room come to the restaurant purely because of this bread. I don’t know what they do to that bread, but with a smattering of butter, it is dangerously divine.
The Grill Room's freshly baked stilton bread is dangerously divine
The Grill Room’s freshly baked stilton bread is dangerously divine
Raw and cooked beetroot and goat's curd salad complimented with a lovely french dressing
Raw and cooked beetroot and goat’s curd salad complimented with a lovely french dressing
Delicate chicken liver terrine with red oignon chutney
Delicate chicken liver terrine with red oignon chutney
The 24 hour braised Scottish beef just melts in the mouth
The 24 hour braised Scottish beef just melts in the mouth
The Dorchester Grill Room have created a sweet soufflé menu which is the first of its kind in London
The Dorchester Grill Room have created a sweet soufflé menu which is the first of its kind in London

Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse’s protégé, Guillaume Katola is the executive chef leading the talented Grill Room team. Thanking him for a delicious meal, he insisted it was a combined effort and gave credit to his Pastry Chef, Ludovic Cuny and the rest of the team. We were honoured to be taken for a tour of the kitchen which is so big it is on two floors has an escalator to take you down to the lower level.

Chef’s Table

If you are looking for an immersive dining experience, you can book a meal at the Chef’s Table. This is located on the lower floor inside the kitchen. The glass windows are frosted, but with the press of a button they become transparent. The entertainment for the evening is a front row seat at the creation of your meal.

A unique dining experience inside The Dorchester kitchens at the Chef's Table
A unique dining experience inside The Dorchester kitchens at the Chef’s Table

The Girl Who Had Everything

Elizabeth Taylor was a frequent guest at the hotel in the 60’s and 70’s, so much so that it was like her second home. It was during a stay in the rooftop Harlequin Suite that she received news that she was to become the first actress to be paid $1 million, for her role as Cleopatra.

Entrance to The Harlequin Suite (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
Entrance to The Harlequin Suite (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The Harlequin Suite Master Bedroom where Elizabeth Taylor's second home (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The Harlequin Suite Master Bedroom where Elizabeth Taylor’s second home (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The Harlequin Suite living room (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The Harlequin Suite living room (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)

A pink marble bathroom was installed in the second bedroom especially for Elizabeth Taylor. It remains the same to this day.

The original pink marble bathroom installed especially for Elizabeth Taylor (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)
The original pink marble bathroom installed especially for Elizabeth Taylor (pic: The Dorchester Hotel)

You make your dining reservations at the Dorchester Grill Room via Bookatable. They offer excellent deals on all dining venues at The Dorchester Hotel, including Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, one of only four 3-Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK.

Hotel information:

The Dorchester Hotel, 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA
Switchboard: +44 (0)20 7629 8888.   Reservations: +44 (0)20 7317 6530

Recommended Reading

Grand Livre De Cuisine: Alain Ducasse’s Desserts and Pastries

by Alain Ducasse




Britannia Rules The Waves

9 Things I Love About Britannia

So it wasn’t actually my first time onboard Britannia, but as you can imagine, the launch event was pretty hectic. An opportunity to revisit P & O Cruises newest ship came up, so I jumped at the opportunity to take another look.

1. Grand Atrium

If you have been on any of Britannia’s predecessors, you will notice the difference in her interior design. The atrium is contemporary and more luxurious than the rest of the fleet. The chandelier dominates and Wows you as you walk in. The bar looks lavish with its sparkly lighting and black marble top. In my opinion, a ship’s atrium sets the scene for the rest of the cruise experience. It kind of gets you in the mood for what is to come.

P-and-O, Britannia, Atrium, Cruise-Ship, Interior
The Atrium onboard Britannia has a contemporary and more luxurious feel.
P-and-O, Britannia, Atrium-Bar
The glitz and glamour of the atrium bar is a new addition to P & O Cruises design.

2. The Pool Deck

The most important part of any cruise ship in my opinion, is the pool deck (ok apart from the lifeboats). Britannia offers two pools in this area, as well as jacuzzis, attractive sun loungers, a platform/stage which has been graced by Ant and Dec in the Saturday Night Takeaway hosted onboard, and of course a pool bar.

P-and-O-Cruises, Britannia, Pool-Deck, Ant-n-Deck, Saturday-Night-Takeaway,
Britannia’s Main Pool as seen on Saturday Night Takeaway
P-and-O-Cruises, Britannia, Jacuzzi-on-deck,
Relax in one of the Jacuzzi’s onboard

3. Cabins and Staterooms

The main difference between Britannia and the other P and O ships, is that there are no oceanview staterooms. What I mean is that you can have an inside, or a balcony but nothing in between. They do have single cabins and accessible cabins available, but these do get booked up quickly.

P-and-O-Cruises, Britannia, Balcony-Cabin,
A nice seating area in the balcony cabins.
P-and-O-Cruises, Britannia, Ship-Tour, Balcony-Cabin,
A very comfy looking bed in the balcony cabins

4. The Crow’s Nest

It wouldn’t be a P and O ship without one, and Britannia is no exception. The Crow’s Nest is a real favourite with the regular P and O cruisers, and it’s not hard to see why. With stunning views of the ocean, ample seating, a piano and a bar, it is the perfect place to relax and take in the scenery as you cruise to your next destination.

P-and-O-Cruises, Britannia, The-Crow's-Nest,
The Crow’s Nest offers amazing sea views
Crow's-Nest, Britannia, P-and-O-Cruises
Enjoy the views while a pianist plays your favourite tunes
A great place to sit and enjoy panoramic ocean views (have I mentioned the views?)

5. Luxuriate in the Retreat

Whether you are looking to get away from the kids or just like that bit of extra luxury, the Retreat is a private adult only area to relax and unwind.

Cabannas-in-the-Retreat, Britannia, P-and-O-Cruises
Relax and enjoy the serenity of the retreat
Cool down with a dip in this pool of tranquility
Relax in bistro style 
What could be more luxurious than a treatment in this outdoor spa room

6. Relax in the Oasis Spa

So you are not a sun worshipper, or the itinerary you are sailing on is not quite warm enough. This is a great excuse to take a trip to the Oasis Spa. With hundreds of different types of treatments on offer, you can pamper yourself to your heart’s content.

Feel the warmth penetrate your back muscles as you relax on one of these heated loungers
Step into thalassotherapy pool as your cares melt away

7. A Food Hero for Everyone

We all need a hero, but P and O have five of them. I’ll take James Martin and you can all fight over the rest. In fact, we heard James was onboard the same day as us and I was hoping to say hello, but it wasn’t to be. We can but dream. Having said that, my knees did buckle when I came face to face with Marco Pierre-White on Ventura once, but to me James seems more of your boy next door type. Oh what am I talking about, I’d accept a date with either of them! 

The Cookery Club

This is a great addition for P & O Cruises but they won’t let me onboard when James or Marco are hosting their cookery classes. 

ships-and-champagne, luxury-cruise-blog, Britannia-Cruise-Ship

The Epicurean

A speciality restaurant that offers an afternoon tea created by French Pastry Chef Eric “Cake Boy” Lanlard. This is a not-to-be-missed experience whilst cruising onboard Britannia, and comes at a fraction of the price you would pay in a London Hotel. And it includes champagne.

ships-and-champagne, luxury-cruise-blog, Britannia-Cruise-Ship
Enjoy Eric Lanlard’s afternoon tea at the Epicurean

The Glasshouse

One of my favourite features onboard P & O ships is Olly Smith’s  Glasshouse. Find out more when I took part in a wine tasting class onboard Ventura.

The perfect place for your #shipsandchampagne moment


As a cruise line that caters primarily for the British market, P and O made a good call when creating the onboard Indian restaurant Sindhu with 2 Michelin Star chef Atul Kochhar. 

ships-and-champagne, luxury-cruise-blog, Britannia-Cruise-Ship
Beautiful mahogany decor at Sindhu adds atmosphere to the fine dining Indian cuisine

8. The Limelight Club

This is my favourite feature onboard Britannia. It was first described to me as a sort of Ronnie Scott’s at sea. There is a cover charge for this venue and you can enjoy a beautiful meal, followed by performances from first class musicians. 

ships-and-champagne, luxury-cruise-blog, Britannia-Cruise-Ship
The Limelight Club invites you to enjoy an evening of fine dining and live performances.
A lovely atmosphere awaits in The Limelight Club


When I attended the Britannia launch event, I was adamant not to miss out on seeing Jaki Graham performing live. As an 80’s chick, it was a big deal to me.  

9. I Love P & O Cruises No Hassle Caribbean Fly Cruise

P & O Cruises have designed a unique hassle free Caribbean fly cruise experience. Depart from your preferred regional airport and once you check in your luggage, you won’t see it again until you get onboard the ship. You fly out the same day and as the aircraft is chartered, everyone is going to the same destination. There is no need for an Esta as you are not visiting the United States and no need to overnight in a hotel before your cruise.

ships and champagne luxury cruise blog Britannia


The Best Bit – You can upgrade to Premium Economy for extra legroom and luggage allowance. 

Flavia’s Top Tip:

Treat yourself to an airport lounge pass for stress free pre flight experience. 

Related Books Available On Amazon




by James Martin





by Marco Pierre-White







by Eric Lanlard




by Atul Kochhar






by Gustav Temple and Olly Smith



Celebrity Edge Closer To The Ocean

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Introducing Celebrity Edge

Celebrity Cruises have kept us waiting for 10 years to find out how they could create something more impressive than a real grass lawn on a cruise ship. So what makes Celebrity Edge a revolution in cruise ship design?

Well over the coming weeks and months, Celebrity Cruises will reveal more of what’s to be expected. But for now they have done a pretty good job of making the cruise industry sit up and pay attention.

Unique Experiences

So let’s start with the Magic Carpet. This multi purpose cantilevered platform the size of two tennis courts, extends out from the starboard side of the ship.

Celebrity Edge Luxury Cruise Blog Magic Carpet

On port days the Magic Carpet provides an enhanced tender experience for guests. This is something Royal Caribbean President and CEO, Richard Fain has been looking to improve for a long time, rather than the traditional metal gangway. However, once the idea started to become a reality, he didn’t stop at that?
Celebrity Edge Luxury Cruise Blog Magic Carpet

The Magic Carpet provides luxurious seating, a dining area and a cool and trendy bar. During the day, the platform is positioned on deck 5 for Al Fresco dining. Later in the day guests can board the Magic Carpet off the renamed resort deck and enjoy a sunset cocktail with live music. In the evening Deck 16 is the place to be, where guests can experience evening culinary events and enjoy Dinner on the Edge.

Croydon born architect Tom Wright who’s work includes the Most Luxurious Hotel In The World – Burj Al Arab, can be credited for the design of the Magic Carpet, as well as the Rooftop Gardens, which replace the Solstice Class Lawn Club. This groovy looking space was created for guests as an area to get away from it all. The tree sculptures incorporate a small platform for musicians and dancers to provide a unique entertainment venue. With it’s own movie screen, the Rooftop Gardens is the perfect place for Celebrity’s new dining concept Taste of Film.

Celebrity Edge Rooftop Garden Luxury Cruise Blog

New Suites

No one designs cruise ships like Celebrity Cruises. The mix of sleek, contemporary luxury is what gives Celebrity it’s Modern Luxury uniqueness. To guarantee their new ship class took the experience to another level, one of my favourite female entrepreneurs, British Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen MBE, created the most luxurious areas of the ship for guests occupying a suite.

The Iconic Suites and Edge Villas have been designed to give the feel of your very own luxury home. The two 2,600 sq.ft Iconic Suites with two bedrooms and two bathrooms are located above the ship’s bridge. The panoramic windows offer breathtaking 270 degree views that will take your breath away.

Celebrity Edge Iconic Suite Luxury Cruise Blog

The other addition to the suite class are these gorgeous six, two-storey Edge Villas. As well as stunning views, each one has it’s own private plunge pool.
Celebrity Edge Villa Luxury Cruise Blog

Celebrity Edge Villa Luxury Cruise Blog

Innovative and Spacious Staterooms

A new class of stateroom has been created with the introduction of the Infinite Veranda. The rooms offer 23% more footage and the bathrooms are 10% larger. The room can transform at the touch of a button. Watch the video below to see it in action.

Price Tag

Celebrity Edge’s inaugural sailing will be from her homeport of Fort Lauderdale on December 16, 2018. The itineraries will alternate 7 night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

These one of a kind suites are being snapped up quickly, with the two Iconic Suites already booked up for the Christmas 2018 cruise.

We know you can’t put a price on experience, but if you were looking to book an Iconic Suite today, you would have to wait until 3 February 2019 for the first available room. Yes they are all booked up until then. But based on 3 February 2019 sailing for a 7 Night Western Caribbean cruise here are today’s prices based on two people sharing.

Iconic Suite £16,979pp* including gratuities, wifi and drinks.

Edge Villa £8,079pp* including gratuities, wifi and drinks.

Infinite Veranda £1413pp* including drinks.

Interior Stateroom £1013pp*.

*prices subject to availability and change at any time. Prices correct at 0700 GMT on 16 March 2017

Emirates – Ultimate Luxury Business and First Class

Emirates Business Class

Emirates Business Class Lounge

I always recommend using a business lounge when travelling and find the No.1 Lounge at Gatwick airport is perfect for when I go on holiday or if I’m flying out to take a cruise from to the Mediterranean or Caribbean.  However on this occasion I was boarding Emirates A380 at Heathrow airport which gave me the opportunity to experience the luxury of their business lounge.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
London Heathrow Terminal 3

All Business Class travellers receive a complimentary chauffeur up to a 70 mile radius of the airport, regardless of the fare and ticket type purchased. So no need for an expensive airport taxi cab.  There is also a website where you can see how much extra it will cost for distances further than 70 miles.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Emirates Meet and Greet Chauffeur Service Terminal 3 Heathrow

Inside the arrivals area is the Emirates Business arrivals lounge.  Daily papers, internet cafe and light refreshments can be enjoyed as well as a concierge service for any assistance.  There is a lovely, relaxing and friendly atmosphere.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Arrivals Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Heathrow’s Busy Runway

Daylight streams through the floor to ceiling windows inside the Business Lounge. With incredible views of one of the busy Heathrow runways, it is the perfect place to relax pre departure.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Emirates Business Lounge Terminal 3

One of the A380s went by in it’s fabulous England Rugby World Cup livery, dwarfing the neighbouring Boeing 747.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Emirates A380 Taxiing at Heathrow

The Emirates Business Lounge extends the luxury of their in flight facilities to provide everything you would want and expect as a luxury traveller.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Emirates Business Lounge Dining area

There was plenty of time …………………………..

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury

Great Runway Views

The lounge offers luxurious bathroom and shower facilities.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Private Shower
Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Buffet Area

There is large variety of refreshments available.

Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Enjoying a glass of bubbles
Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
A selection of starters
Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Fillet Mignon?
Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
A selection of pasta, thai curry and other lovely hot food.
Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Gray Luxury
Salad….. and cakes

After a delicious lunch I boarded the aircraft.

Emirates Business Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
Stairs to upper and business class

Once onboard, I climbed the staircase to the Business and First Class section of the plane.

Emirates Business Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
The Bar Area for Business Class
Emirates Business Class Lounge Heathrow Flavia Emirates Business Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury Luxury
If travelling with someone you can choose seats together
Emirates Business Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
If you are travelling alone, you can choose seats apart
Emirates Business Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
The same applies to the window seat if you want privacy or want to talk to the person across the aisle
Emirates Business Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
Flat bed buttons, ipad and a mini bar together with all the plug sockets you could want.
Emirates Business Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
Pop your feet in there and recline into a flat bed.
Emirates Business Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
Here you can see how each row alternates so look for the configuration you want when checking in on line.
Emirates First Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
Now you’re in First Class
Emirates First Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
This is the luxury you deserve.
Emirates First Class A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
There are two shower rooms available on board the A380 for First Class travellers.

Emirates Flight Deck A380 Flavia Gray Luxury
It was only polite to say hello to the flight deck

Ponant – Luxury and Expedition Cruises

Luxury Cruise Blog Ships and Champagne Le Ponant


If you love the idea of an adventure or expedition cruise, but want an intimate and luxuriously elegant onboard experience, then you are going to love this.

A luxury cruise onboard these French-style Ponant ships, combines chic with casual to provide a je ne sais quoi more familiar to that of a private yacht.  With one staff member for every two guests, you will find yourself being welcomed onboard by name. The personalised service continues throughout your cruise, as the staff will remember your food and drink preferences from day one.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

The intimate ships are small with the largest having just 132 staterooms. Interior decor for four of the ships is contemporary with a nautical feel.

In the evenings there is entertainment which includes parties outside on the top deck.  Music is provided by a DJ who plays Mediterranean club style music.

On selected sailings during the summer, children of the ages 4 and over are catered for with a small kids club, and children onboard tend to be well mannered and well behaved.

Destinations and Themed Cruises

Thanks to a reinforced hull, Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial have been awarded Ice 1C certification. This gives the ships access to polar regions that are not readily available to most cruise ships.

For details on Ponant’s Polar Cruises click here

Due to their size, not only are these ships able to reach every corner of the globe, but they can get much closer to the most stunning scenery.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

Destinations for 2017 include The Arctic, Northern Europe and The Baltic, Asia, Oceania, Mediterranean, Canada and North America. 38 destinations include visits to Unesco World Heritage Sites.


The four sister ships Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial are joined by the cruise lines flagship Le Ponant. With only 32 staterooms, this sailing ship is a truly exquisite experience.

Le Laperouse is the first of four new expedition ships for Ponant. Designed to be able to explore deeper than other vessels, the ships also feature an underwater lounge for a unique multi-sensorial experience.

Ponant Explorers Blue Eye Underwater lounge

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

In 2018 the fleet will be expanded with two of its four new explorer ships, Le Laperouse and Le Champlain with two to follow in 2019. These incredible ships will be smaller then their four predecessors and combine the sleek, contemporary design of the current fleet, with new environmentally-friendly equipment. New features also include a modular marina platform and infinity pool.


Onboard accommodation comprises 2 berth Deluxe and Prestige staterooms, 3 berth Superior staterooms, 2 berth Deluxe suites and 4 berth Prestige suites. The top suite is the Owners Suite which has the capacity for two guests.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises

All rooms are equipped with:

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises

Individual Air Conditioning

  • King Size or Twin Beds
  • Shower (and Bath in Owners Suite)
  • French bath products
  • Mini Bar and 24 hr room service
  • Flatscreen
  • Satellite TV and video on demand
  • Desk with stationary, Internet access wifi
  • Ipod players
  • Safe, Hairdryer and Bathrobes
  • Satellite direct line telephone
Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises

Onboard Facilities

An onboard theatre provides a venue for talks and lectures as well as shows, musical performances and film screenings. The fitness room with state of the art gym equipment, will ensure your workout regime doesn’t get disrupted whilst you are busy travelling the world.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

Of course no luxury cruise ship would be complete without a spa to pamper and indulge. The well-being centres onboard Ponant ships provide an extensive range of treatments using only the best French Sothys products.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises

Luxury lounge areas decorated in soft nautical tones and sumptuous seating, allows you to relax during your cruise and take in the incredible views.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)


The ships offer two restaurants onboard. The Grill Restaurant on deck 6 has an open air dining area. The relaxed buffet restaurant serves a variety of delicious cuisine for guests looking for a faster meal service.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises

On deck 2 is the gastronomic restaurant. Here you will experience the sophisticated elegance of traditional French service and cuisine, combining the best of the local flavours and fine wines.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises

An extensive complimentary room service menu is available 24 hours a day.

Environmental Commitment

Ponant are members of Charge Bleue d’Amateurs de France and IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators). They actively support Le Cercle Polaire and donate 10 Euros to Fablab every time a guest opts to receive electronic documents rather than paper copies.

The four sister ships use electric propulsion systems which are quiet and economical. The engines use less polluting Marine Diesel Oil which has earned them “Clean Ship” status.

Ships and Champagne Ponant Luxury Yacht Cruises
(Image credit: PONANT)

In summary, Ponant’s French refinement combined with expedition and adventure cruising, makes this a firm favourite on my bucket list.

For More Information

Go to ponant.com for further details.

Things To Do In London – Parliament Square

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Next Stop Westminster

Last week I had a business meeting in Westminster, so I took advantage and arrived an hour early to take in the sights of Parliament Square.

As I stepped outside Westminster Tube Station, I looked up and saw Big Ben towering above me. It was breathtaking. My appointment wasn’t until two so I had a little time to spare. No excuse for being late around here.

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

Houses of Parliament

Walking alongside the Houses of Parliament gave me the opportunity to really take in the intricacies of the architecture.

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

The lovely old lampposts and big wooden doors wreak of days gone by.

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

Beautiful Golden Gates with stained glass windows.
Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

Audio Tours start from £18.50. For more information about Parliament or to book tours visit the UK Parliament website.

Westminster Abbey

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

The main entrance to the Abbey is a wonder of art and architecture in itself.  You can get more information and book tours here.

Parliament Square

Big Ben, The London Eye, red double decker buses and black cabs, you know you’re in London.

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

This statue sits in the centre of Parliament Square. Churchill still keeping an eye on what’s going on. I have a huge fondness for Churchill. Not only was I brought up with my mother referencing his speeches and beliefs, but my late uncle, Carl Foreman wrote the screenplay to the 1972 film Young Winston.

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

The Cenotaph

The UK’s official national war memorial is located a few steps away from Parliament Square in Whitehall. There are flags on each side of the Cenotaph. Each one is there to represent The Royal Navy, the British Army, the Royal Air Force and the Merchant Navy.

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

How to Get There

You can get to Westminster by using the District or Circle line or simply stroll across the Golden Jubilee Footbridge from Waterloo Station, and bear left onto Whitehall. This is a pleasant 10 minutes walk. See Transport For London for more information.

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square


There are plenty of souvenir stands, but I took a little look around the official Houses of Parliament gift shop. This made me giggle.

Ships and Champagne Things To Do In London Parliament Square

Destinations Show – London 2017

Ships and Champagne London Destinations Show

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Find Inspiration at Destinations

The internet is a great place to research destinations for your next holiday.  You have everything at your fingertips.  Sometimes however, it is nice to just be able to chat to an expert and pick up a few brochures.

At the Destinations Show, held annually in London and Manchester, you can spend a leisurely day walking around the exhibits and getting your questions answered by the experts. This year’s expert speakers included Michael Palin, Simon Reeve and Blowfish, the world’s only heavy metal marine biologist. There are plenty of other things to do such as entertainment, food samplings, experiences, competitions and more.

Don’t forget to enter my competition at the bottom of the page.

Ships & Champagne London Destinations Show 2017

Czech Baroque
Ships & Champagne London Destinations Show 2017

First stop for me was Czech Tourism. Ok so the lure of cold beer was part of the reason I stopped, but I was also interested to know what the Czech Republic had to offer visitors apart from a city steeped in history and stunning architecture.  Well, there are 12 stunning countryside wine trails to start with, as well as cheap local beer which attracts party groups.  Another popular activity is cosmetic surgery. Apparently the procedures are much cheaper in the Czech Republic, and as they have an amazing selection of luxury spas, it seems you get much more value for money than in the UK.

Un-interesting Fact: In 1994 I was working as a Production Runner on a film called Good King Wenceslas. It was filmed just outside of Prague in a place called Brno. Stephanie Powers was in the movie and needed a costume within 24 hours. The cheapest way to deliver it was in person. So off I went for a couple of days to Brno. I was extremely fortunate in being able to have dinner with Charlotte Chatton (Titanic) and the legendary, late Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey).  It was just the three of us and it is an evening that I will never forget.

Tempting Thailand
Ships & Champagne London Destinations Show 2017

Next stop, Amazing Thailand. I attended one of the Thailand Roadshows last year. It was held at an amazing restaurant in Guildford, Surrey called Thai Khun. If you get a chance to eat there, you must.

The fruit carvings at the show were impressive to say the least. They were offering Thai massages on the stand as well as a lady playing traditional Persian music on a Khim.

Nordic But Nice
Ships & Champagne London Destinations Show 2017

Now that Viking have made their mark in ocean cruising, I felt it necessary to go and get more of an insight into what they are all about. I know they have three amazing ultra luxury ships, but that was it.  So what did I find out? Firstly, and most importantly, they are all inclusive. I know we have to use that phrase carefully in the cruise industry so I will elaborate. 

What’s Included:

  • Return scheduled economy class flights from London and selected local airports
  • A guided tour in each port
  • All on board meals including speciality restaurants
  • House wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board
  • Music, art, cooking, dance and history classes
  • Tea and coffee anytime
  • 24-hour room service
  • Free Wi-Fi onboard (restrictions apply)

An Alternative Way to Cruise America

Ships & Champagne London Destinations Show 2017

Despite being a lady of luxury, the idea of travelling from town to town in an RV, really appeals to me. I guess it’s my beach bum / hippy alter ego.  It seems I wasn’t the only one finding this type of holiday appealing.  After a bit of lurking and two return visits, I was finally able to talk to the representative. Once in conversation, he explained he was out of brochures and business cards. So clearly this has been a successful event for them. If you are interested in finding out more simply go to their website Cruise America

The World Stages

The Destinations Show has four world stages split into Africa, Europe, The Americas and Asia.  With experiences ranging from rum tasting, Eccles cakes sampling to pan pipes and traditional Chinese dancing, you could really get a sense of the destinations.

I stopped to listen to a drummer and was so pleased I did, as a belly dancer appeared a few minutes later and she was incredible.

Feeling A-Mused
Ships and Champagne London Destinations Show 2017

When my two favourite things go hand in hand, I know I am in the right place. Silversea most definitely tick the ships and champagne box.  It was great to finally see a familiar face, as I heard Silversea’s Luke Clarke call my name.

Although I have not stepped onboard a Silversea cruise ship, I couldn’t have acquired CLIA Master status, without being aware of these ultra luxurious cruise ships.  In April this year, Silversea will be welcoming their new ship Silver Muse to the fleet. Spending her first summer in the Mediterranean, some of the incredible ports appearing in her itineraries include Portofino, Venice, Monte Carlo, Saint Tropez and Bordeaux. Silversea have created a ground-breaking 360˚ virtual tour for you to Discover Silver Muse for yourself here. 

The Best of the Rest

Other exhibits I visited on the day were Hurtigruten, WWF, Beaches and Sandals, Palm Springs – California, Rocky Mountaineer and Via Rail.

The Destinations Show really does offer something for everyone.  Even if you are not looking to book a holiday, it is certainly a great day out.


If you found the picture at the top of this page interesting, I have some coffee table Baroque themed magazines to give away. Simply make a comment below and I will contact the lucky winners. I will let you know when the competition is closed.

A Cruise For Everyone at the London Cruise Show 2017

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

There’s A Cruise For Everyone

The London Cruise Show 2017, is promising its biggest and most exciting luxury cruise show ever.  If you don’t think cruising is for you, I challenge you to go to the show and see what’s available. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

London Cruise Show 2017
Star Clippers

There are expedition cruises, adventure cruises, luxury cruises, river cruises, family cruises, informal relaxed cruises.  You can choose your itinerary too. So if you want to have lots of days relaxing at sea, or experience a quick overview of many places, or if you prefer to take your time and immerse yourself in the local culture with a few days at the same port, it’s up to you.

If you can’t or don’t want to fly, you can cruise from the UK, choosing to take adult only cruises or family cruises. There are short breaks for a taster to see if you like it, or just a fun weekend away with your mates.

With so many cruise styles and so many destinations around the world, I will eat my hat if you can’t find something that tickles your fancy at this show.

London Cruise Show 2017

My London Cruise Show 2017 top picks are:

  • Avalon Waterways
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Silversea
  • Star Clippers

READER’S TICKET OFFERLondon Cruise Show 2017

I am able to offer my readers reduced price advance tickets to the show with a 2 for 1 offer of just £6. Get your tickets for only £3 each (that’s a saving of £7 off the door price!!) by quoting
‘S&C’ when booking tickets online at www.cruisingshow.com or when calling 
0871 620 4024. (Calls cost 13p per minute plus network extras).

Opening Times and Getting There


Top 10 Reasons I Choose To Cruise

Choose To Cruise

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Why Do I Choose To Cruise?

Well here are my top ten reasons;

1. Kids Club

The main thing is that the kids are genuinely having lots of fun. The hours are flexible and between the hours of 9am to 8pm it’s free of charge. Most cruise lines offer a later service which may be chargeable. 

2. Convenience

All your needs are taken care of and there is so much available to you all in one place.  One of the big advantages for those lovers of high heels is that, you don’t have to worry about tired feet ruining your evening. You simply totter into dinner, looking all sophisticated and then later in the evening pop back to your room and slip on a pair of Tipsy Feet then return to the party ready to hit the dancefloor.

Choose To Cruise
Travel Blogger English Mum and I crossing paths on the Quantum of the Seas wearing our Tipsy Feet.

3. Staff

Cruise ship staff are amongst the nicest, kindest, genuine and hard working people I have ever met. The smiles, the friendliness, the fact that nothing is too much trouble.  They make everything run seamlessly.  The stateroom attendant will somehow manage to clean and tidy your room twice a day and you will hardly ever see them. But you will know they have been there, because they will leave one of these creatures behind.

Choose To Cruise
One of our animals from Jewel of the Seas cruise 2016.

4. Pool Deck

Ah yes, my favourite place on a ship. A tequila based cocktail, music, sunshine and a pool and I am in heaven. Most cruise ships now have an outdoor movie screen for added entertainment.

Choose To Cruise
Pool Deck onboard the Disney Magic

5. Dining

You name it….  you can pretty much get it on a cruise.  Self service buffets range from healthy salads, Indian and Asian dishes to burgers and pizza, fresh fruit and delicious desserts. You can choose to have table service in the restaurant if you prefer something more intimate.  Most cruise lines have so many dining options that you won’t get to try half of them unless you are on a World Cruise. 

Choose To Cruise
From Marco Pierre White’s Menu onboard Britannia – Delicious New England Lobster in Mornay Sauce

6. Adult Only Areas

One concern I hear about from people not travelling with children, is the worry they will be surrounded by children when they are on a cruise. This is not the case. Most ships that are very child friendly will have a pool area designated for adults only. The sun loungers are usually a bit more plush in these areas too. So a great place to relax and unwind.

Choose To Cruise
Quantum of the Seas Adult Only Solarium

7. Professional Photographs

I have heard people say that they think the photographs are a rip off, however I beg to differ. The best photos I have are those that were taken onboard a cruise by a professional photographer. Have you ever tried to arrange a family photo session? It can cost hundreds of pounds. On top of which you have to get all the family members together at the same time, on the same day and all looking wonderfully happy. Guess what, on a cruise you are already all there and hopefully you will all be  looking wonderfully happy. So you just pay for the photos you want, there is no obligation.

Choose To Cruise
Josh and I on Ruby Princess – May 2014 (His 2nd cruise)

8. Street Parades

Royal Caribbean have always put on incredible sailaway parties. During the course of the cruise they have themed street parties such as 70’s, 80’s or maybe Abba or Michael Jackson. The Halloween parties are not for the feint hearted.

However since their partnership in 2010 with Dreamworks, Royal Caribbean have taken these parades to a whole new level. As you can see in our video below, we had a great time on Allure of the Seas for Christmas 2015.

9. Shows

In my opinion Royal Caribbean are the best cruise line when it comes to providing entertainment. From Aqua Shows to Ice Shows, Musicals to Comedy Acts, they have it all. So here are two examples of the great entertainment you can find onboard.

10. Gym and Spa

If all gyms were like the ones at sea, I would go every morning. The views of the ocean or a different port every day are simply stunning. The newest cruise ships offer state of the art fitness centres and you can enjoy one of  hundreds of different relaxation or beauty treatments in the spa. Here is a little taster of the Vitality Spa onboard Allure of the Seas.

What’s Your Top 10?

Reasons why you cruise, or reasons why you don’t or won’t. I’d love to read your comments in the box below.

The Globe Travel Awards 2017 – London

Ships and Champagne Globe Travel Awards 2017

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

My Lucky Day

I couldn’t believe my luck when I received an email from Anna at Cosmos Tours inviting me to be a guest at their table at the Globe Travel Awards.  I have never been to the Globe Travel Awards before, and have drooled enviously whilst reading Facebook posts and tweets of others over the years.

This year the awards were being held in the Great Room at London’s prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane.  What better way to brush off the January blues than with a black tie travel industry event and an opportunity to catch up with some of my favourite industry peeps.

Ships and Champagne Globe Travel Awards 2017

The Great Room was the perfect venue for “The most prestigious accolades in the travel industry, as voted for by readers of Travel Weekly and Mail Newspapers”

Ships and Champagne Globe Travel Awards 2017

This was just one half of the room!

Be Prepared

To make sure we had a great time and no excuse to let our hair down, Cosmos Tours had kindly provided us with a Morning After Pack.  Goodies in the glittery gift bag included a selection of sugar boosts, gum for that ‘morning after’ breath, lip balm, eye drops, pro plus, paracetamol and for ultimate protection, a condom. Needless to say the last item raised a few eyebrows and comments (although nothing else amongst a table of women only).  Janet was insistent that it was Giles’ idea, and when the guilty party visited the table, he pointed the finger at Janet. So we shall never know the truth, but I invite you to speculate in the comments below!

Ships and Champagne Globe Travel Awards 2017

Outstanding Contribution 

Now I don’t know about you guys, but I am one of those people who read into things and when something that means a lot to me happens, I thing that is a sign that it was meant to be.  For those who read my post on LGBT, you will know how much I love and respect Jo Rzymowska.  So when Jo received the Outstanding Contribution Award I was thrilled to have been there and to be part of it. 

Two of our lovely Cosmos hosts, Janet and Anna along with the lovely. Claire Brighton who we all know and love from Advantage Travel.

That’s Entertainment

Then there was a break in proceedings and we were treated to an incredible performance by Duke. Watch the video below and prepare to be amazed.

Celebrity Host

The best kept secret for the awards each year is the name of the Celebrity host.  The wait was finally over and Lucy Huxley took to the stage and introduced the one and only David Walliams.  It’s a shame he didn’t come on as Melody, his check-in girl character from the hit tv series Come Fly With Me.

I spoke to Michael English, Celebrity Cruises Head of Sales – Business Development UK & Ireland, after winning Best Premium Cruise Company.  He said “We are delighted to get the endorsement from our the travel industry that they have voted Celebrity Cruises the Best Premium Cruise Line. We are committed to working with our travel partners and delivering our guest an amazing cruise experience. With FREE Drinks savings of up to £500 per stateroom and flights from £99 we deliver exceptional value for money.”  Certainly sounds like a good deal to me!

Ships and Champagne Globe Travel Awards 2017

MSC had their own VIP lounge and took the opportunity to put their name in lights.

Ships and Champagne Globe Travel Awards 2017

Wendy Wu gave an element of eastern promise with their elaborate decorations. They didn’t go home empty handed.  Wendy Wu’s Global Sales Manager in the UK, John Warr, told me they were “So proud to receive the Best Specialist tour operator to SEAsia. We strive to achieve excellence, and although 97% of our customers say we are good or excellent pre and post departure we will continue to work on building once in a life time memories.”

Ships and Champagne Globe Travel Awards 2017

Ships and Champagne Globe Travel Awards 2017

Award Winners

Innovation in Travel Award, sponsored by Travelport: Black Tomato
The Penny Akam Unsung Hero Award, sponsored by Affordable Car: Hire Caroline Brown
Outstanding Achievement Award, sponsored by Avis: Jo Rzymowska, Celebrity Cruises

Consumer awards, sponsored by Mail Brands UK

Favourite Airline: British Airways
Favourite Escorted Tours Operator: Kuoni
Favourite Ocean Cruise: P&O Cruises
Favourite UK Operator: Center Parcs
Favourite Ferry Company: P&O Ferries
Favourite Hotel Chain: Hilton Hotels
Favourite Long Haul-Operator: BA Holidays
Favourite River Cruise Company: Viking River Cruises
Favourite Online Booking Website: Booking.com
Favourite Short-Haul Operator: Thomson

On the Water, sponsored by Zolv

Best Ferry Company: P&O Ferries
Best Mainstream Cruise Company: Royal Caribbean International
Best Premium Cruise Company: Celebrity Cruises
Best River Cruise Company: Uniworld
Best Specialist Cruise Company: Azamara Club Cruises
Best Luxury Cruise Company: Silversea Cruises

Destination Sector, sponsored by Travelzoo

Best Tourist Board: Dubai Tourism
Best All-Inclusive ResortOperator : Sandals
Best Hotel Chain (worldwide): Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
Best Attraction (worldwide): Walt Disney World Resort

On The Move Awards, sponsored by P&O Ferries

Best Rail Company: Rocky Mountaineer
Best Mainstream Touring Company: Titan Travel
Best Premium Touring Service: Insight Vacations
Best Car Rental Company: Affordable Car Hire

Flying Sector Awards, sponsored by The Holiday Team

Best Short-Haul Airline: Jet2.com
Best Long-Haul Airline: Emirates
Best UK Airport: Manchester
Best Premium Airline Service: Emirates

Long-haul Awards, sponsored by Air Travel Guide

Best Long-Haul Operator (multi-destination): Gold Medal
Best Long-Haul Specialist Operator: Wendy Wu Tours
Best Luxury Operator: Kuoni
Best Consolidator: Gold Medal

Short-haul Awards, sponsored by Hurtigruten

Best Short-Haul Operator: Jet2holidays
Best Activity and Adventure Operator: Inghams
Best Accomodation-Only Provider: Bedsonline

Serving the Industry Awards, sponsored by Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Best Add-Ons Provider: Attraction World
Best Technology Provider: Travelport
Best Insurance Provider: Holiday Extras
Best Trade Sales Team: Attraction World
Best Trade-Friendly Brand: Gold Medal & Travel 2

At Home Awards,  sponsored by Visit Britain

Best UK Hotel Chain: Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Best UK Attraction: Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour London
Best Operator UK Holidays: SuperBreak

Travel Tips – Best Travel Toiletry Bag

Travel Toiletry Bags Organizer

Travel Toiletry Bag Organiser

Don’t leave home without one of these babies, but be aware that your liquids will still have to be able to fit in a small transparent bag if you have it in your hand luggage at the airport.

These lifesavers are handy in so many ways. Not only does it make it easier for you to find you stuff, it also has that handy little hook at the top. So for those of us who love a cruise, we know how important it is to maximise storage facilities. This bag will just hang on the back of most cabin bathroom doors, leaving your sink area clutter free.

I particularly like the Hipiwe, because it offers water-resistant material and has thick padding which gives the contents good protection. It is machine washable and has a lot of different little compartments for different shapes and sizes.

There are a good range of colours so this would be a great gift for men, women and kids. It’s use doesn’t have to be restricted to toiletries. I could see myself using it as an in-flight entertainment pack for my three year old son. A few little cars, crayons, tissues and small snack packets.

I use mine for my travel essentials. Apart from the usual toiletries I have to have:

  • Lip Balm – I’ve become so dependent on mine.
  • Hand Cream – obviously to prevent drying but I just love the smell of some of them.
  • Wipes – Sticky fingers, make up removal/face freshener and for those little spills.
  • Hair bands or clips – Especially when travelling from cold to hot climates you gotta get that hair up.
  • Nail file – One of the things that drives me insane is a jagged nail that catches on everything.
  • Pain killers – Not necessarily for me, but have you ever been sat next to someone who doesnt stop moaning about a pain they’ve got? Problem solved. I take a wide range from Day and Night Nurse to Nurofen plus which are great for migraine.
  • Headphones – Music, audio books etc.
  • Throat sweets – Nothing worse than a sore throat.
  • Tinted Moisturiser – I don’t wear much make up, but this is a nice little skin tone evener.
  • USB travel charger – Stay connected. No battery equals no job!

What are your favourite things that you cannot travel without?


Click here to browse styles and prices.



Celebrity Cruises Bring Two Xtra Ships To The Galapagos

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A Decade of Galapagos Luxury

In March 2017 Celebrity Cruises will be adding two ships to it’s Galapagos fleet. In addition to Celebrity Xpedition, there will now be Celebrity Xperience for 48 guests and Celebrity Xploration for just 16 guests.

Celebrity Cruises are the only cruise line to offer an all-inclusive cruise experience in the Galapagos region. For ten years their 100 passenger cruise ship Celebrity Xpedition, has provided guests the opportunity to discover a diversity of wonderful and rare wildlife.

Ships and Champagne Celebrity Cruises Galapagos

Famous for inspiring Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador.

Ships and Champagne Celebrity Cruises Galapagos


Celebrity Cruises have partnered with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to support the growth, awareness and availability of ecotourism. In reducing the ships carbon footprint, Celebrity Xpedition holds the Standard of Excellence by Ecuador’s Secretary of Tourism.  Here are some of the highlights of the partnership between Celebrity Cruises and WWF:

  • Since 2006, Celebrity, and their guests, have contributed over $1.5 million to conservation projects throughout the islands
  • Their programmes are designed to improve the quality of life for the islands’ residents
  • The hulls on all three ships are painted with silicone – helping them to move more efficiently, using less fuel and reducing their carbon footprint
  • Celebrity Cruises work in collaboration with the US-based Galapagos Conservancy to collect donations from guests for the Galapagos Fund
  • They created a fishing co-op that allows local fishermen to store their catch and sell it more efficiently
  • Their bicycle programme was designed to provide residents with affordable, environmentally responsible transportation
  • Celebrity Cruises buy chocolate from an eco-friendly, local chocolate company who donates part of its proceeds to Galapagos conservation efforts
  • They developed a hybrid tomato that grows in the distinctive Galapagos soil

6 Unique Itineraries – 15 Islands – 30 Ports of Call

Celebrity Cruises have a choice of 15 Islands to visit. The animals on the Islands have no fear of humans, so imagine what an unforgettable experience this is.  Learn the scientific importance of the Galapagos with a range of shore excursions varying from low, medium to high impact.

Ships and Champagne Celebrity Cruises Galapagos

It Really Is All-Inclusive

You’ve heard it before, but there is always something extra that you have to pay for.  Not on Celebrity’s Galapagos cruises.  Included in your cruise:

  • All meals including complimentary room service and in-stateroom dining during meal hours
  • Complimentary drinks including select wines, spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, coffee and tea
  • Complimentary internet access
  • All onboard entertainment, including programmes and lectures by onboard Galapagos National Park certified naturalists, wine tastings and more
  • Complimentary snorkelling equipment (masks, snorkels, fins, wet-suits and flotation devices) as well as binoculars and walking sticks
  • All gratuities
  • National Park admission fee and Galapagos Tourist Card fee
  • All shore excursions, with a choice of activity levels and locations
  • All transfers and air to/from Baltra (luggage weight limit of approx. 21kgs on flights between Quito and Baltra)
  • Pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodation and tours

Losing George Michael – My First Love

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

You Have Been Loved

A beautiful man, a talented singer songwriter, George Michael was the superstar who showed his humanity to the world.

Initially we fell in love with George because he was sexy and fun and had a rebellious side to his music.  Then with the release of Careless Whisper we fell in love with his vulnerability and his incredible voice.

George went from having “Soul on the Dole”, to the sophistication of Careless Whisper which incorporated sweeping views of Miami, five star hotels. private jets, sports cars, luxury yachts and glamorous women (no offence Pepsi and Shirley).

Everyone loved him and everyone wanted him. From those of us girls and women who emphatically denied any notion that George Michael was gay, to the entire gay community who ‘told us so’ when he came out in a way in which only George could.

Waiting For The Day

My obsession with George Michael began when I was 11.  I ripped a picture of George out of my Smash Hits magazine and placed it sideways on the wall next to my bed.  When I woke up in the morning I would be looking at him as if he was lying next to me.

I had read that his Mum lived in Coldharbour Lane, Bushey in Hertfordshire. I used to beg my relatives to drive me there so that I could wait and see if George Michael turned up.  I found out the local dialling code for Bushey and would spend hours in the phone box with my friend just trying different combinations of numbers in the hope that we would get lucky enough to get George’s Mum’s house. When the phone was answered I would ask “Is George there please?”. We were convinced we would get lucky one day. We didn’t.

Another time, Wham were playing a few dates at Wembley Arena.  I rang the box office and asked to speak to George. I said I was his sister and I needed to speak to him.  They politely told me they were not able to put me through but would pass on the message.

Then when videos first came out, I saved up my pocket money for weeks to buy the Make It Big video.  I was so proud to own it, despite not having a video player to watch it on.

Heal The Pain

I wanted to write this post about George Michael because I needed to pay my tribute to him. I know there are millions of others that are feeling the same way today.  Those of us who have been lifelong fans of his are probably agree that we wished we could have let George know how much he meant to us individually. I wished he had known that he has been with me through the most important years of my life. Puberty, adolescence, finding love, making love and breaking up. Days when you need uplifting and you dance in your room to Outside or Flawless. When you are at a club or a party and you’ve been playing it cool and acting sophisticated all evening, then you hear “da da da Jitterbug…”. You grab the nearest poor unsuspecting guest to you and head to the dancefloor mowing down anyone who dares get in your way. Or when you hear Wham Rap and you and your brainwashed teenage daughter proudly recite the rap word for word.

It ain’t no joy for an uptown boy whose teacher has told him……


What can really be said to make this tragic loss any less painful? Nothing. But we can share our love for George and unite as a community. He was our brother, he was there for us throughout our darkest and happiest moments. I hope he knows what a massive contribution he made to our lives and those around us. George you have been loved, you will always be loved and you will always be in our hearts and an integral part of our lives. You live on in us. xxxx