Month: July 2016

talk cruises with rich

Talk Cruises with Richard Cross

Talk cruises with Richard Cross

Talk cruises with Richard Cross.

Richard is a television presenter with Vision Cruise and the Holiday and Cruise Channel. His knowledge of cruises is expansive and as such is an ideal person to interview for those considering taking the plunge and booking a cruise.

Rich talks Cruises

Hi Richard, please introduce yourself.
  • I currently work as a TV Presenter for Vision Cruise and also Producer & Director for the Holiday & Cruise Channel.  I have worked in the travel industry for over 8 years, mainly specialising in cruises.   I have cruised or visited in excess of 35 different ships. Ranging from small ships to floating resorts in my job as Presenter & Producer.
You represent many companies whilst presenting for Vision Cruise, what makes every cruise a little bit different?
  • Every single cruise is different, it all depends what you want from your holiday.  This year I traveled with Hurtigruten to Norway. This was a small ship with just 600 passengers on board, mainly focusing on the destination and not the ship itself.  I had the privilege of fresh mussels that had been caught that day on board!

I Believe you saw the Northern lights, an experience like that just has be mentioned.

  • There are mega ships that carry 6000 passengers which focus on facilities on board from rock climbing to surfing and from dodgems to waterparks!.  When I only get to pop on board for a few hours whilst a ship is in port for filming, I usually get taken on a whistle stop tour of all the facilities and I’m always discovering new places and hideaways around the ship.  Cruises are great for meeting new people. I meet people on my trips all the time and keep in touch with them and swap stories about our adventures at sea.

I understand you also like to talk cruises over social media also!

Why would you recommend a cruise over other styles of holiday?
  • A cruise holiday offers so much more than a land based holiday and offers great value for money! For starters a cruise is full board, and when it comes to dining, this is when a cruise holiday really shows the value.  You may choose waiter or buffet service every evening with 5 or 7 course meals all included in the price. Not forgetting of course breakfast, lunch and snacks are included also.
    Entertainment is included, if you go to a theatre in a town or resort, how much does this usually cost?  Waterparks are included in the price of your holiday.
    Plus at the end of the evening, there is no waiting, or paying, for taxis, simply return to your cabin.
    Of course these floating cruise ships take you to different destinations and countries, taking in different cultures and adventures, all this and you have only unpacked once.  If you are choosing to cruise from the UK, then there is no luggage restrictions. You can take as many cases with you and once you have arrived at the terminal, all porterage is taken care of, you can step on board with no stresses of airport queues and your holiday can begin.

When you put it that way, its an  odds on favourite.

What has been your best personal experience of a cruise? and shore excursion?
  • It’s hard for me to single out the best personal experience, there are so many of them!.  I would have to say it is the treatment from the staff on board though.  They are always there for you, no matter what your problem or query is, they are on hand 24 hours a day.  The restaurant staff remember how I like my steak cooked, the bar staff remember what drink I like, it’s this sort of personal service that you just want get anywhere else.
    An organised shore excursion is a great way to see the destination you are visiting. Everything is taken care of so you need not worry about a thing.  I have done so many excursions in ports, I do love Norway and the funicular railway up Mount Floyen  up to the top. Where it offered breath-taking views, I can’t wait to head back!

Sounds lovely, so cameras always at the ready?

Seasickness is a common thought that puts people off a cruise, is it really such an issue?
  • People have the misconception that the ship will be rocking.  Modern cruise ships have stabilisers so often its hard to believe you are actually at sea!.  There are some occasions when there maybe inclement weather, the crew will do their hardest to miss this but sometimes its unavoidable.
    There are tablets you can take from reception or from high street chemists before you go.
Whats your best advice for a first time cruiser to prepare for the cruise?
  • For a first time cruiser I would say be prepared.  Make sure you have all of your documentation including tickets and passports ready before setting off.  Prior to that make sure you have check the countries you are visiting and have the correct currency, check the on board current to see if you need any adapters to take with you.  Plan the clothes you are going to take, are you dressing up on formal night and how many formal nights are there?. Check the weather forecast, do you need swimsuits and sun cream or a light jacket?. Research your destinations so you know how far the ship docks from the centre of town, even look at excursions, you can save money by pre-booking them sometimes.
What is one place you dream of visiting still?
  • The Caribbean!  I can’t think of anywhere better than hopping from island to island on a Caribbean cruise and spending a day on the beach relaxing and chilling!

The TNC team agree with you on that Richard

What is the etiquette for tipping even if gratuities are included in the price?
  • The majority of cruise lines do not include tips or gratuities, therefore these will be added to your on board account.  Cruise lines have a usual set amount for tips. This can be £5 per person per day for a British cruise line and $8-$12 dollars per person per day for an America cruise line, your travel agent can advise at the time of booking. The amount is divided equally between your cabin steward and waiter. They will prepare your cabin twice daily, your waiter who will look after you for the whole of your cruise.
    Looking at the price for a British cruise, would you say that £2.50 for each of them per day is a far price. I would say it’s too cheap!.  You can choose to have tips removed and you can pay what you want for the service you feel you have received.  There are some luxury cruise lines that offer all inclusive, this means all tips are taken care of in the cruise fare. This allows you to budget for your holiday.
Are the hidden extras as bad as they seem? would buying into a drinks packages for example be better than paying separately on board?
  • Things not included in the price of your holiday. Drinks, excursions, personal shopping and spa treatments, so you can budget with this in mind.  Drinks packages are available to buy on the majority of cruise lines so no nasty bills at the end of the cruise.
    Some cruise lines include drinks in the price. 
    On board a British cruise line, you can expect to pay the price you would in South West England pub prices.
I personally don’t like sitting around, the thought is wonderful but in reality I would want to be doing something. When on a sea day what can people expect to keep busy?
  • Sea days are some of the best days!.  Every person is different, many people will be happy sat around the pool. Enjoying a book or a tablet device all day.  Others like to be active, you can do things like surfing at sea, rock-climbing, ice-skating, bumper cars or 10-pin bowling!. 
    Facilities vary depending on cruise lines. All cruise lines have a daily programme so you can be as active as you want.
    If you wish to go to port talks and learn about the destination, or dance/gym classes these are all available.  Most of the activities on a sea day are all included in the price of the cruise.    If you are cruising with the family, Many of the cruise lines offer kids clubs, most are included in the price. Kids clubs are great whilst you enjoy your time!
Finally Shore excursions, any tips for reducing these costs? would you recommend going on shore and just exploring?
  • Firstly you can reduce cost of your excursion by pre-booking them with a travel agent before you get on board. Booking them with a cruise line before you go, or whilst you are on board will be the same price.  Booking them in advance also means you can guarantee you are on them.
    Some excursions have limited places and waiting to book them until on board could have you disappointed!. Going on a cruise holiday is all about seeing new places and learning about the destination. I would recommend going on excursions to maximise your time in the destination and to learn about its history.
    There are all types of excursions from walking tours, open top bus tours, to helicopter rides and zip lining!. Taking a cruise line excursion, if you are late back the ship will wait for you before departing.
    You are free to explore the port on your own. 

We will eventually get you on that Zip Line. You could combine your Caribbean cruise with Zip-lining in St Lucia.

Thank you Richard for joining us to talk cruises. You can find Richard on Twitter, Facebook and Vision Cruises

Travel Bucket list, Dreams and Achievements

Travel Bucket list, Dreams and Achievements

Have you written a travel bucket list? I have! well its a 50 before 50, some of the things I have achieved and others maybe pipe dreams. I do believe that once you have fulfilled one dream you can work towards the next. Whats on my list that I have achieved?

Included in achievements: I camped last year at Yosemite before starting my epic adventure of cycling from there to San Francisco, you will see its part of my 50 before 50 (Californian road trip). Next time it is in a car with the children to follow the path I did whilst cycling.

Not forgetting swimming with Dolphins which again I would love to do again but with daughter also next time.

One of my Dreams is to whisk my daughter away for her 21st to Vegas, to fulfill our dream of spending quality time together and have some amazing adventures. Fly in a helicopter to the Grand Canyon. Ride a trike down the strip and see the sights from a new angle. (this will not happen now, see final destination of post).

My 50 before 50 has other things on it not just travel but in no particular order here is my top 10 travel bucket list.

 

Travel Bucket list

 

Why and When for some of them.

Route 66 – the wind blowing through my hair, the sun shining and my camera handy, riding along on trike is the dream for both my husband and I we really both want to do this but not sure it will be done before the big 50. As I’m sure the little person wont have left home by then.

California Road trip – as mentioned I want to trace my cycling journey in the car with the family but also add on travel further south including Santa Cruz and Monterrey Bay.

A Cruise – I have ultimately always fancied a cruise and would love the inclusion of Belize on it. Visiting different countries and seeing beautiful scenery from each different place, you ask why Belize?  Well many years ago just after the Falklands conflict my husband served in Belize and its the only place he served that he talks about and he dreams of going back.

Northern Lights/Lapland and Cuba – are on the list for Little Man – even though he’s 11 he still believes and a trip to Lapland before he stops is dream for us all, Cuba well he has a fascination for all cars and seeing the cars around Havana is a dream of his. (he sits and googles them)

New Orleans – with camera in hand seeing the sights around Bourbon Street, the Mardi Gras. All the colours and sounds that New Orleans has to offer who wouldn’t want to go?

The Olympics (well the Paralympics really) – little man is disabled, he uses a wheelchair occasionally because of issues with his joints and muscles and has ASD. The Paralympics shows him that there are no boundaries and he can be what he wants.

Disney

Disney – Now who could forget Disney? not us we are going thanks to a charity called Dreams Come True, it is little mans dream. He has everything planned in his head and in time it will written up as a social story.

A Villa in Orlando 1 week with a private pool. A trip to Epcot for the test track. A trip back to Epcot for the test track. Personally daughter and I would like to visit Harry Potter and also watch the fireworks at the Magic kingdom.

A week in St Petersburg in a villa again. Visit different stadiums and watch an American football game. Watch the Pelicans play Rugby and his final wish….

A day at the beach with music, family and friends on his Birthday.

Now if anyone wishes to pay for this we would not say No. It could save the charity money (1 adult and 1 child is paid for via the charity) and go towards another child’s Dream. 😉

So whats on your Travel Bucket List?

 

Virgin treasure hunt

Virgin treasure hunt

Where have I been this week?, I have been on a treasure hunt with Virgin Group. No need to get on a plane, furthermore you do not have to leave your house to join in. I can hear you say what is she rambling on about again.

Let me begin at the start. Many months ago I downloaded an app, just to be nosy. The VirginRed app a place to enter prize draws and receive offers, someone out in the world then created a game. A game so good that that it has social media in a frenzy. A game that reaching the final destination has amazing prizes to be won. This is a travel blog so why am I excited? 9 days ago #VMarksTheSpot went live. What can you win? Wine, a virtual train experience, Virgin flying club miles and ultimately a trip to Necker Island… You read that correct Necker Island. A reason for this blog to get excited. Although in short, vault 10 is the favourite for us, just to complete the treasure hunt will satisfy.

It is easy to play along, download the free app, log in daily, solve the clues. From time to time it is possible to gain extras from searching Virgin’s many websites, also watch out for the physical locations here and there.  Many of the physical clues are located in the city, all the better for those who live near one.

Gold Coins

Having trouble adding the codes to receive the points?

  • firstly Open the app
  • press V Marks the Spot image
  • top right hand corner coin symbol with a plus sign
  • press the symbol
  • enter code
  • press done
  • finally Show me the treasure (bottom)

Necker Island

Necker Island a 74 acre sanctuary in the British Virgin islands. A Place to explore paradise, find amazing wildlife, relax and be looked after by more than 100 staff it is the ultimate Paradise for those looking for peace and quite. Not to mention the array of activities:-

  • Kite Surfing
  • Snorkelling
  • BVI Cruise
  • Island Walk
  • Paddleboarding

This activity excites the thrill seeker here very much, Zip Lining from the great house to the far end of the beach in spite of the short length you are greeted with Champagne at the end.

By the time evening comes a beach party will be always be welcome.

V Marks the Spot

In Conclusion what are you waiting for? are you still here…get downloading and join in the fun with many others, remember to use the hashtag #VMarksTheSpot

Terms and conditions of entry

images courtesy of Virgin red and the Virgin group